BY the year 1891 Masonic revelations in Paris had become too numerous for one more or less to fix the volatile quality of public interest unless a new horror were attached to it. Passwords and signs and catechisms, all the purposes and the better half of the secrets—everyone outside the Fraternity who concerned themselves with Masonry and cared for theoretical initiation knew these, or was satisfied by the belief that he did. The literature of Anti-Masonry became a drug in the market, failing some novelty in revelation. The last work of Leo Taxil was eminently a contribution towards this missing quantity. He was already in a certain sense the discoverer of "Female Freemasonry," that is to say, he was the only equipped person who seriously maintained that the exploded androgyne system was worked in modern France, and when he added the development of the Palladium as the climax to the mystery of iniquity, it is small wonder that his book achieved notoriety to the extent of five thousand copies: He was assailed as a venal pamphleteer and his past achievements in literature were freely disinterred for his own benefit and for public instruction, but he was more than compensated by the approbation of Mgr. Fava, bishop of Grenoble, with whose opinions upon Satanism in Masonry we have previously made acquaintance. The Church indeed had all round agreed to overlook Leo Taxil's early enormities; she forgot that she had attempted to prosecute him and to fine him a round sum of 60,000 francs; the supreme pontiff forgave him the accusation of poisoning, and transmitted his apostolical benediction; he was complimented by the cardinal-vicar of Rome; and he is in the proud position of a man who has received felicitations and high approval from eighteen ecclesiastical dignitaries, whether cardinals, archbishops, or bishops. With his back against the turris fortitudinis, he faced his accusers stoutly and returned them blow for blow. Nor did he lack his lay defenders, one of whom, by the mode which he adopted, became himself, somewhat unexpectedly, a witness of Lucifer.
To those who disbelieve in the existence of Female Freemasonry, Leo Taxil had offered two pieces of wise advice: Go to the Bibliothéque Nationale, search the files of the Masonic organ La Chaine d’Union, and you will find proof positive of your mistake. Next proceed to the Maison T------, there is no need to reproduce the address, but it is given by Leo Taxil in full, and obtain their current price-list of lodge furniture, insignia, and other accessories, and you will find particulars of aprons for sisters, diplomas for sisters, garters for sisters, jewels for sisters. Except upon the signs of initiation, the catalogue is not surrendered, but in view of the literature of revelation the signs are no longer secret, &c.
All this is clearly outside the subject of Satanism, but it leads up, notwithstanding, to the discovery of M. Ricoux. As to this gentleman himself there are no particulars forthcoming; he has promised an account of his adventures during four years as an emigrant in Chili; and he has promised a patriotic epic in twelve cantos, but so far as my information goes they remain in the womb of time. But he has a claim on our consideration because it occurred to him that he would put in practice the advice of Leo Taxil, which he did accordingly in. the autumn of 1891, and demonstrated to his own satisfaction that "Are there Women in Freemasonry?" is a book of true disclosure, and a question that must be answered in the affirmative. He performed thereupon a very creditable action; he wrote a pamphlet entitled "The Existence of Lodges for Women: Researches on this subject," &c., in which he stated the result of his investigation, collected the controversy on the subject which had been scattered through the press of the period, and defended Leo Taxil with the warmth of an alter Ego. But he had not limited his researches to the directions indicated in his author. Encouraged by the success which had attended his initial efforts, he determined upon an independent experiment in bribery, and after the same manner that Leo Taxil procured the "Ritual of the New and Reformed Palladium," so he succeeded in obtaining the "Collection of Secret Instructions to Supreme Councils, Grand Lodges, and Grand Orients," printed at Charleston in the year 1891. "This collection," he tells us, "is certainly a document of the first order; for it emanates from General Albert Pike, that is to say, from the 'Pope of the Freemasons.'" On this document he bases the following statements:—(a) Universal Freemasonry possesses a Supreme Directory as the apex of its international organisation, and it is located at Berlin. (b) Four subsidiary Central Directories exist at Naples, Calcutta, Washington, and Monte Video. (c) Furthermore, a Chief of Political Action resides at Rome, commissioned to watch over the Vatican and to precipitate events against the Papacy. (d) A Grand Depositary of Sacred Traditions, under the title of Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry, is located at Charleston, and at the time of the discovery was Albert Pike, Some of these statements, it will be observed, require rectification, in the light of fuller disclosures made by Palladian initiates, from whom the material of my second chapter has been chiefly derived, but it will be seen that it is substantially correct. M. Ricoux further states that "Albert Pike reformed the ancient Palladian Rite, and imparted thereto the Luciferian character in all its brutality. Palladism, for him, is a selection; he surrenders to the ordinary lodges the adepts who confine themselves to materialism, or invoke the Grand Architect without daring to apply to him his true name, and under the title of Knights Templars and Mistress Templars, he groups the fanatics who do not shrink from the direct patronage of Lucifer."
The most serious mistake which has been made in the use of' the material is an unconscious attempt to read into the "encyclicals" of Albert Pike a proportion of Leo Taxil's material, for which the long citations given by M. Ricoux do not afford a warrant. What he really appears to have obtained is the instructions of Pike as Supreme Commander Grand Master of the Supreme Council of the Mother-Lodge of the Ancient and Accepted Scotch Rite of Charleston to the Twenty-three Supreme Confederated Councils of the Globe. And the Scotch Rite is, by the hypothesis, apart from the Palladium. In other respects, the information comes to much the same thing. The long document which the pamphlet prints in extenso exhibits Albert Pike preaching Palladism in the full foulness of its doctrine and practice—the "resolution of the problem of the flesh" by indiscriminate satisfaction of the passions; the multiplication of androgyne lodges for this purpose; the dual nature of the Divine Principle; and the cultus of Lucifer as the good God. The most curious feature of the performance is that here again it is from end to end a travesty of Éliphas Lévi, slice after slice from his chief writings, combined with interlineal additions, which give them a sense diametrically opposed to that of the great magus. Now, it is impossible that two persons, working independently for the production of bogus documents, should both borrow from the same source; hence Leo Taxil and M. Ricoux, if they have been guilty of imposition, must certainly have collaborated. It is unreasonable, however, to advance such an accusation in the absence of any evidence, and if we accept the contribution of M. Ricoux as made in perfect good faith, we must acknowledge that it exonerates Leo Taxil from the possible suspicion of himself adapting Lévi; and then the existence of a theurgic society, based on Manichæan principles, instituted by Albert Pike, and possessing a magical ritual taken in part from Lévi, wears a more serious aspect than when it rested on the unsupported assurance of one witness. The discovery of M. Ricoux is obviously of the first importance, and it is certainly to be regretted that he has not substantiated it by depositing the "Collection of Instructions" in the National Library, supposing it to be in his possession, or by photographing instead of transcribing, supposing he was pledged to its return.
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