The Confession of Leo Taxil

Le Froundeur, April 25, 1897

Twelve Years Under the Banner of the Church



A Conference held by M. Lo TAXIL
at the Hall of the Geographic Society in Paris

Part 4 or 6


The time had come now for me to step aside, otherwise the most fantastic hoax of modern times would have failed sadly.

I started looking for the first collaborator I needed. It had to be someone who had traveled a lot and who might be able to describe a mysterious investigation in the luciferian Triangles, in the dens of this Palladism described as secretly directing all the Lodges and Back-Lodges of the entire world.

I happened then to meet again in Paris with an old college friend of mine, who had been a doctor aboard ships.

At first, I did not put him on to the secret of the hoax at all.

I let him read various books of authors enthralled at my wonderful revelations. The most extraordinary one was authored by a Jesuit bishop, Msgr. Meurin, bishop of Port-Louis (Mauritius), who came to Paris in order to consult me. One can imagine how well informed he became!...


This excellent Msgr. Meurin, an erudite Orientalist, came out equal with the Polish archeologist who had recognized a fragment of an equestrian statue in the middle of a place in my underwater city. (New laughter)

Starting from the determined idea that Freemasons worship the devil, and convinced of the existence of Palladism, he discovered the most extraordinary things behind the Hebrew words used as passwords, etc., in the innumerable degrees of masonic rites.

Sashes, aprons, ritualistic tools, he scrutinized everything. He examined the smallest embroidered figures on the most insignificant pieces of material having belonged to a Freemason and, in the best faith in the world, he found my Palladism everywhere.

Among the most joyous times of my life, I will always recall the hours during which he read his manuscript to me. His thick volume, Freemasonry, Synagogue of Satan, was a wonderful help in convincing my doctor friend that there truly was a secret luciferian meaning in all of the masonic symbolism.

In fact, the doctor did not care a rap. But he had really studied spiritualism out of curiosity as an amateur. He knew that believers in supernatural manifestations, phantoms, ghosts, werewolves, etc. existed throughout the world. He knew that within small groups of occultists, likable pranksters let specters appear to good people who forgot all of Robert-Houdin's technique. But he did not know that such operations ever occurred in freemasonry. He did not know that there was a specific rite of luciferian and masonic occultism. He knew nothing of Palladism and of its triangles, of the Elected Wizards and of Templar Mistresses, and of all the astounding supreme organization imagined by me, the existence of which became scientifically established through the productions of Msgr. Meurin and others.


In my book, Are There any Women in Freemasonry?, I created the part of a Grand Mistress of Palladism, a Sophia-Sapho, disclosing only the initial letter of her alleged true name: a W. I confided the whole name to my doctor friend. He believed in the existence of Sophie Walder.

Let us understand each other right. Because of books such as Msgr. Meurin's, the doctor believed in Palladism and in the various individuals, heroes of my hoax, who began to appear therein. But I did not try in the least to make him believe in the reality of the supernatural manifestations which had to be told.

(Renewed tumult. A monk bursts out laughing and begins to applaud. There is deep amazement by priests who sit next to him.)

This is how I asked my friend the doctor to work together with me.

"-Do you want to collaborate on a work on Palladism?... As for me, I am thoroughly familiar with the subject, but the issue of rituals is far less interesting than recounting adventures as a witness, especially unbelievable ones.... Besides, to move good souls best, the narrator must himself be a hero. Not a convinced Palladist, but a zealous Catholic having put on the luciferian mask in order to make this mysterious inquiry at the peril of his life.... I will give you a pseudonym, because we shall say that for all sorts of reasons, the author cannot surrender his name to publicity: for example, he still has to write an inquiry about the nihilists.... (Laughter) You will be known only to a small group of ecclesiastics, that will be enough.... You will hand over to me the route of your voyages whereupon I shall design an outline which you will only have to embellish. Then I shall recopy your manuscript, correct it, cut out some parts and above all add a few ones.... Yours will be the medical part, the description of towns and some narratives. Mine will be the technical aspects of Palladism, information on all the individuals who are going to appear, and most of the added episodes.... I need your collaboration for some thirty or forty installments altogether.... Now don't worry about denials.... As you noticed in the works I gave you to read, there are two kinds of Palladists: nuts who really believe that Lucifer is the Good-God whose cult must be kept secret for a few more years still, and the wire-pullers who use the nutty ones as excellent subjects for their occultist experiments.... Neither sort will be able to protest publicly, since the first condition of belonging to Palladism is the most rigorous secrecy. Besides, should some of them protest, their denials would be without effect, since they would appear to have been made in self-defense."

My doctor friend agreed and in order to strengthen his own belief in the existence of Palladism in spite of the hoax of marvelous facts attributed by us to its Triangles, I let him receive several letters from Sophie Walder. Sophie was indignant that he pretended to have met her.

The doctor faithfully related these letters to me.

After receiving three or four of them, he told me:

"-I am afraid that this woman is going to make a scandal and demonstrate that the load of crap we spout about her is sheer nonsense." (Laughter.)

I answered:

"Calm down. She protests for form's sake; in reality, she is thrilled to read that she has the talent of walking through walls and owns a snake who writes prophecies on her back with the tip of its tail. (Laughter) I got in touch with her and was introduced to her. She is a good girl. She is a Palladist hoaxster. She laughs her head off about all that. Do you want me to introduce you to her?"

He wanted to indeed! Boy! Was he happy to strike up an acquaintance with Sophie Walder! Several days later, I forwarded to my friend a letter from the Palladist grand-mistress. She agreed with the introduction. We were to meet at my house, and go from there to Sophia-Sapho who even invited us for dinner.... My friend came to my house in ceremonial full dress as if he was invited at the Elyse.[13] I showed him the table in my house and then told him everything ... or, at least, almost everything.

Sophie Walder, a myth! Palladism, my most beautiful creation, only existed on paper and in a few thousand brains! He could not believe it. I had to show him some proof. Once convinced, he found the hoax even funnier and kept on working with me.


Among the things I forgot to tell him, there is one which he will learn at this conference, namely the reason why I picked Dr. Bataille as his pseudonym. --Allegedly, it was to stress the offensive character of war against Palladism. But my own true reason, my intimate reason as a dilettante hoaxster, was this: one of my oldest friends, deceased by now, a hoaxster of the supreme category, was the illustrious Sapeck, prince of hoaxterism in the Latin Quarter.[14] In a way I was bringing him to life again without anybody's notice. Then Sapeck's true name was Bataille. (Long laughter.)

However my doctor friend was not enough to work my plan out. In The Devil in the 19th Century, my plan was to set the stage for the conversion of a luciferian Grand-Mistress.

The book I had authored introduced Sophia-Sapho under the blackest colors. I had taken pains to make her as distasteful as possible for the Catholics: the accomplished type of an incarnate she-devil, wallowing in sacrilege, a true Satanist, such as one meets in Huysmans' books.


Sophia-Sapho, or Miss Sophie Walder, was there only to serve as a contrast to another luciferian, a sympathetic one, an angelic creature living in Palladist hell through the chance of birth. Her existence was to be revealed to the Catholic public through a work signed by Bataille. (A voice: Oh! The rogue!... Oh! The base villain!)

Now, since this exceptional luciferian woman was to convert at a given moment, I had to have someone in flesh and blood on hand, should it become necessary to produce her.

A little while before meeting again with my childhood friend, the doctor, the necessities of my profession let me meet a typist who was a European representative of one of the large typewriter manufacturers in the United States. At that time, I gave her lots of manuscripts to type. I met with a woman who was intelligent, active, sometimes traveling for business. Further gifted with a playful humor and an elegant simplicity, as in most of our Protestant families. One knows that Lutheran and Calvinist women, although proscribing luxury in the way they dress, nevertheless make concessions to fashion. Her family was French, father and mother French but deceased, the American origin went back to her great-grandfather only. In spite of the similarity in names, she had no family ties with Ernest Vaughan, former administrator of L'Intransigeant.[15] There are several Vaughans in France. In England and in the United States, Vaughans are innumerable. I have to say that, because one might believe that Mr. Ernest Vaughan, with whom I was acquainted in the past and whose brother-in-law always remained one of my best friends, one might believe, as I say, that Mr. Ernest Vaughan was more or less indirectly an accomplice in my hoax. Such a misunderstanding should be avoided at all cost. Miss Diana Vaughan is in no way related to him, the homonymy is no more than sheer coincidence.

My luck could not have been better. Nobody was better qualified than Miss Vaughan to assist me. The question was: would she accept?


I could not ask her point-blank. I studied her first. Little by little, I interested her in devilry, which greatly amused her. She is, as I said, rather a free-thinker than a Protestant. Consequently, she was amazed to find out that in this century of progress, there are still people who believe seriously in all the nonsense of the Middle Ages.

A voice: But we didn't come to listen to these things!

Other voices: Keep on! Keep on!

M. Lo Taxil --It is surprising that those who get mad at what I am saying now are precisely the same persons who, in their newspapers, urged me to speak.... I proceed....

My first approach to Miss Vaughan was on the subject of the letters of Sophie Walder. She agreed to let them be written by one of her friends. I had the proof, thusly, that women are much less talkative than one says and that if their weak point is curiosity, on the other hand one can count on their discretion. Miss Vaughan's friend never boasted to anybody to have written Sophie Walder's letters. Besides, there weren't many.

Finally, I convinced Miss Vaughan to become my accomplice for the final success of my hoax. I drew a fixed agreement with her: 150 francs per month for typing manuscripts as well as for letters which should be copied by hand. It goes without saying that should trips be necessary, all her expenses would be defrayed; but she never accepted any money as a gift. In fact, she enjoyed the prank quite a lot and took a liking to it. Corresponding with Bishops, Cardinals, receiving letters from the private secretary of the Sovereign Pontiff, telling them fairy tales, informing the Vatican about the dark plots of luciferians, all this set her in an inexpressible gaiety, she thanked me for associating her with this huge prank. Had she possessed the great wealth we attributed to her to make her prestige greater, she would have never accepted the price agreed for her collaboration, and further she would have paid for all the costs wholeheartedly.

She was the one who let us discover the existence of private postal agencies in order to reduce expenses. She had had the opportunity to have recourse to one of them in London, and told us about it. She also told me about the Alibi-Office in New York.

The Devil in the 19th Century was mainly written to introduce the existence of Miss Vaughan who was to play the main part in the hoax. Had her name been Campbell or Thompson, we would have given our sympathetic luciferian the name of Miss Campbell or Miss Thompson. We merely turned her into an American, born by chance in Paris. We let her family originate in Kentucky. This allowed us to make her part as interesting as possible by multiplying extraordinary wonders concerning her, which nobody was able to check. (Laughter) Another reason was that we located the center of Palladism at Charleston in the United States, with the late General Albert Pike, Grand Master of the Scottish Rite in South Carolina, as Founder. This celebrated Freemason, endowed with vast erudition, had been one of the highlights of the order. Through us, he became the first luciferian Pope, supreme chief of all freemasons of the globe, conferring regularly each Friday, at 3 p.m., with Master Lucifer in person. (Explosion of laughter)

A most curious point in the story is that some freemasons joined in the prank without in the least being asked to. Compared with the tugboat I had dispatched hunting for sharks in the coves of Marseille in my early years, the boat of Palladism was a true battleship.

With the help of Dr. Bataille, the battleship turned into a squadron. And when Miss Diana Vaughan became my auxiliary, the squadron grew into a full navy.[16] (New laughter)

We saw indeed some Masonic journals, such as La Renaissance Symbolique, swallow a dogmatic circular about luciferian occultism, a circular dated July14, 1889, written by myself in Paris, and which I disclosed as having been brought from Charleston to Europe by Miss Diana Vaughan on behalf of Albert Pike, its author.

When I named Adriano Lemmi second successor to Albert Pike as luciferian Sovereign Pontiff-then Lemmi was not elected pope of the Freemasons in the Borghese palace, but in my office-, when this imaginary election became known, some Italian Masons, among which a Deputy at the Parliament, took it seriously. They were annoyed to learn through indiscretions of the profane press that Lemmi was secretive toward them, that he kept them aloof from the famous Palladism which the whole world spoke about. They met in Congress in Palermo, constituted in Sicily, Naples and Florence, three independent Supreme Councils, and named Miss Vaughan an honorary member and protectress of their federation.

A voice. --That was a successful prank!

Another listener. --These freemasons were your accomplices!

M. Lo Taxil --You bet!... May I say again that I had only two auxiliaries who were in the secret of the prank: my doctor friend and Miss Diana Vaughan.

An unexpected auxiliary-though by no means an accomplice, in spite of what he said-is Mr. Margiotta, a Freemason from Palmi, in Calabria. He began as one of the hoaxed, became more hoaxed than all the others and, what is most amusing, he told us he had met the Palladist grand-mistress during one of her trips to Italy. (Laughter) It is true that I had gently induced him to entrust me with this confidence. I had put in his head that the trip had really taken place; I had created around it an atmosphere of Palladism; I let him meet a chamberlain of Lo XIII in Rome who had dined with Miss Diana some times before. (Loud laughter and protests) Then I mentioned that during Miss Vaughan's imagined trip of 1889, when she was supposed to have brought the alleged dogmatic Albert Pike's circular letter to Europe, she had entertained many Freemasons in groups, in the course of two evenings in Naples, at Hotel Victoria. I knew that Mr. Margiotta, who is a poet, had dedicated a volume of verse to Bovio, and I had taken the trouble to tell him that the Freemasons were introduced to Miss Vaughan in 1889 by Bovio and by Cosma Panunzi. I added that these brothers had taken tea with her but were so many that she couldn't remember their names or faces. Timidly at first, Mr. Margiotta risked some allusions about this former meeting. Then, seeing that it seemed to work and that Miss Diana did not contradict him, he went all the way. He went indeed much too far. --Later, when I decided to prevent the mystification from collapsing under the silence of a Commission, our prank having been unmasked in the mean time in Germany, when I agreed with the doctor to tally-ho the panic of the mystified Cardinals, when Bataille and I, always in agreement, faked shooting at each other, Mr. Margiotta, having at last opened his eyes, feared ridicule and chose to declare himself an accomplice rather than a blind volunteer in our navy.

But we shouldn't appear more numerous than we actually were. We were three and that was enough. The editors themselves were mystified all the way. Anyway, they have nothing to complain about. First of all because our marvelous revelations brought them the most encouraging Episcopal congratulations, not counting those of the grave theologians who didn't bat an eyelid when our crocodile played the piano and Miss Vaughan traveled to various planets. Then, because our triple collaboration let them give two works to the public, which can compete with A Thousand and One Nights, works which have been devoured with delight and will still be read for a long time, not with conviction any more, possibly, but out of curiosity.


Translated from Le Frondeur, April 25, 1897


Alain Bernheim, A. William Samii, and Eric Serejski

Reprinted from Heredom
The Transacations of the
Scottish Rite Research Society
vol. 5, 1996, pp. 137-168

(c) 1997 Scottish Rite Research Society
All Rights Reserved
1733 16 St., N.W., Washington, DC 20009-3103

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