Order of the Solar Temple
The Order of the Solar Temple also known as Ordre du Temple Solaire (OTS) in French, and the International Chivalric Organization of the Solar Tradition or simply as The Solar Temple was a secret society based upon the existence and ideals of the Knights Templar (see Origins of the Solar Temple below). OTS was started by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret in 1984 in Geneva as l'Ordre International Chevaleresque de Tradition Solaire (OICTS) and renamed Ordre du Temple Solaire.
Some historians allege that the Solar Temple originates with French author Jacques Breyer who established a Sovereign Order of the Solar Temple in 1952. In 1968, a schismatic order was renamed the Renewed Order of the Solar Temple (ROTS) under the leadership of French right-wing political activist Julien Origas. Some reports have claimed that Origas was a Nazi SS member during World War II.
According to "Peronnik" (a pseudonym of temple member Robert Chabrier) in his book, "Pourquoi la Résurgence de l'Ordre du Temple? Tome Premier: Le Corps" ("Why a Revival of the Order of the Solar Temple? Vol. One: The Body") 1975, pp. 147–149, the aims of the Order of the Solar Temple included: establishing "correct notions of authority and power in the world"; an affirmation of the primacy of the spiritual over the temporal; assisting humanity through a great "transition"; preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus as a solar god-king; and furthering a unification of all Christian churches and Islam. The group reportedly drew some inspiration for its teachings from British occultist Aleister Crowley, who headed the Order of Eastern Temple from 1923 until his death in 1947, and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a 19th century Rosicrucian Order Crowley belonged to briefly. Both occult groups had a grade system somewhat similar to the Solar Temple. Another Rosicrucian group, the Rosicrucian Fellowship headed by Max Heindel, also mentioned Rosicrucians worship Christ as "The Solar Logos" (Rays from the Cross Magazine, June, 1933), although this is not traditional Christian doctrine.
There were Solar Temple lodges in Morin Heights and Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Quebec, Canada, as well as in Australia, Switzerland, Martinique and other countries. The Temple's activities were a mix of early Protestant Christianity and New Age philosophy using variously adapted Freemason rituals. Jouret was interested in attractive, wealthy and influential members, and it was reputed that several affluent Europeans were secret members of the group.
According to the literature of the OTS, the central authority was the Synarchy of the Temple, whose membership was secret. Its top 33 members were known as the Elder Brothers of the Rosy Cross (an alternative name for the Rosicrucians), and were headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland. The Council of the Order formed Lodges which were run by a Regional Commander and three Elders. Progression in the Order was by levels and grades, with three grades per level – the levels being The Brothers of Parvis, The Knights of the Alliance and the Brothers of the Ancient Times in ascending order. There were many organizations associated with the OTS including the International Archedia Sciences and Tradition, Archedia Clubs, Menta Clubs, Agata Clubs and Atlanta Clubs, all of which offered the teachings of Luc Jouret both to the general public and privately to OTS members. The Lodges had altars, rituals and costumes. Members were initiated at each stage of advancement in ceremonies which included expensive purchases, jewellery, costumes, regalia, and the payment of initiation fees. During ceremonies, members wore Crusader-type robes and were to hold in awe a sword which Di Mambro said was an authentic Templar artifact, given to him a thousand years ago in a previous life.
Mass murders and suicides 
In October 1994 Tony Dutoit's infant son (Emmanuel Dutoit), aged three months, was killed at the group's centre in Morin Heights, Quebec. The baby had been stabbed repeatedly with a wooden stake. It is believed that Di Mambro ordered the murder, because he identified the baby as the Anti-Christ described in the Bible. He believed that the Anti-Christ was born into the order to prevent Di Mambro from succeeding in his spiritual aim.
A few days later, Di Mambro and twelve followers performed a ritual Last Supper. A few days after that, apparent mass suicides and murders were conducted at Cheiry and Salvan, two villages in Western Switzerland, and at Morin Heights — 15 inner circle members committed suicide with poison, 30 were killed by bullets or smothering, and 8 others were killed by other causes. In Switzerland, many of the victims were found in a secret underground chapel lined with mirrors and other items of Templar symbolism. The bodies were dressed in the order's ceremonial robes and were in a circle, feet together, heads outward, most with plastic bags tied over their heads; they had each been shot in the head. It is believed that the plastic bags were a symbol of the ecological disaster that would befall the human race after the OTS members moved on to Sirius. It is also believed that these bags were used as part of the OTS rituals, and that members would have voluntarily worn them without being placed under duress. There was also evidence that many of the victims in Switzerland were drugged before they were shot. Other victims were found in three ski chalets; several dead children were lying together. The tragedy was discovered when officers rushed to the sites to fight the fires which had been ignited by remote-control devices. Farewell letters left by the believers stated that they believed they were leaving to escape the "hypocrisies and oppression of this world."
A mayor, a journalist, a civil servant and a sales manager were found among the dead in Switzerland. Records seized by the Quebec police showed that some members had personally donated over $1 million to the group's leader Joseph Di Mambro. There was also another attempted mass suicide of the remaining members which was thwarted in the late 1990s. All the suicide/murders and attempts occurred around the dates of the equinoxes and solstices in some relation to the beliefs of the group.
Another massacre related to the OTS took place during the night between the 15 and 16 December 1995. On 23 December 1995, 16 bodies were discovered in a star-formation in the Vercors region in France. It was found later that two of them shot the others and then committed suicide by firearm and immolation.
On the morning of March 23, 1997, five members of the OTS took their own lives in Saint-Casimir, Quebec. A small house exploded into flames, leaving behind five charred bodies for the police to pull from the rubble. Three teenagers aged 13, 14 and 16, the children of one of the couples that died in the fire, were discovered in a shed behind the house, alive but heavily drugged.
Michael Tabachnik, an internationally renowned Swiss musician and conductor, was arrested as a leader of the Solar Temple in the late 1990s. He was indicted for "participation in a criminal organization," and murder. He came to trial in Grenoble, France during the spring of 2001 and was acquitted. French prosecutors appealed the verdict and an appellate court ordered a second trial beginning October 24, 2006. He was again cleared less than two months later on December 20.
- "Peronnik", Pourquoi la Résurgence de l'Ordre du Temple? Tome Premier: Le Corps (Monte-Carlo: Éditions de la Pensée solaire, 1975).
- The Eye in the Triangle, Israel Regardie, June, 1993
- "Conductor cleared of cult deaths". BBC News. December 20, 2006. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
- Daraul, Arkon. A History of Secret Societies. (NY: Citadel, 1995)
- Galanter, Marc. Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989)
- Moran, Sarah. The Secret World of Cults. (Surrey, England: CLB International, 1999)
- Cult Members say Solar Temple Leaders Ordered Mass Suicides, AFP, April 19, 2001, www.rickross.com
- Davis, Eric. Solar Temple Pilots, The Village Voice (October 25, 1994)
- "French Magistrate rejects idea that outsiders killed cultists," AFP, (April 24, 2001)
- Haight, James A. And Now, the Solar Temple. Free Inquiry, Winter 1994-95.
- Hassan-Gordon, Tariq. Solar Temple Cult Influenced by Ancient Egypt, (Middle East Times, Issue 18, 2001)
- Mayer, Jean-François. Apocalyptic Millennialism in the West: The Case of the Solar Temple, Critical Incident Analysis Group, hsc.Virginia.edu, retrieved, January 4, 2003.
- Musician Denies Solar Temple Murders, The Scotsman, Edinburgh (April 18, 2001)
- Palmer, Susan. Purity and Danger in the Solar Temple, Journal of Contemporary Religion 3 (October 1996) pages 303–318
- Probert, Robert. Solar Temple: Tabachnik Acquitted, Center for New Religious Studies, (June 25, 2001)
- Ross, Rick. Solar Temple Suicides, Cult Education and Recovery, www.culteducation.com, (Sept. 1999)
- Serrill, Michael S. Remains of the day, Time, (October 24, 1994)
- "Solar Temple," www.religioustolerance.org, (January 4, 2003)
- Spanish cops arrest cult leader, Associated Press, (January 8, 1998)
- Gordon, Sean (25 October 2006). "Trial highlights Canadian cult link". Toronto Star. p. A3. Retrieved 2006-10-25.
Further reading 
- James R. Lewis (editor), The Order of the Solar Temple: The Temple of Death (Ashgate Publishing Company, Ashgate Controversial New Religions Series, 2006). ISBN 0-7546-5285-8
- Religious Tolerance: Solar Temple
- CBC Digital Archives - Solar Temple: A cult gone wrong
- Order of the Solar Temple - Britannica