1890s hoax of exposure by Léo Taxil
The Taxil hoax was an 1890s hoax of exposure by Léo Taxil intended to mock not only Freemasonry but also the Catholic Church’s opposition to it.[1]

Poster advertising the work of Leo Taxil

Taxil and Freemasonry[edit]
Léo Taxil was the pen name of Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès, who had been accused earlier of libel regarding a book he wrote called The Secret Loves of Pope Pius IX. On April 20, 1884, Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical, Humanum genus, that said that the human race was:

separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ… The other is the kingdom of Satan… At this period, however, the partisans of evil seems to be combining together, and to be struggling with united vehemence, led on or assisted by that strongly organized and widespread association called the Freemasons.[2]
The so-called “Diana Vaughan”, dressed as “General Inspector of Palladium”. Photograph by Van Bosch, published in the book Mémoires d’une ex-palladiste parfaite, initiée, indépendante (1895)
After this encyclical, Taxil underwent a public, feigned conversion to Roman Catholicism and announced his intention of repairing the damage he had done to the true faith.
The first book produced by Taxil after his conversion was a four-volume history of Freemasonry, which contained fictitious eyewitness verifications of their participation in Satanism. With a collaborator who published as “Dr. Karl Hacks”, Taxil wrote another book called Le Diable au XIXe siècle (The Devil in the Nineteenth Century), which introduced a new character, Diana Vaughan, a supposed descendant of the Rosicrucian alchemist Thomas Vaughan. The book contained many tales about her encounters with incarnate demons, one of whom was supposed to have written prophecies on her back with its tail, and another who played the piano while in the shape of a crocodile.[3]
Diana was supposedly involved in Satanic Freemasonry but was redeemed when one day she professed admiration for Joan of Arc, at whose name the demons were put to flight. As Diana Vaughan, Taxil published a book called Eucharistic Novena, a collection of prayers which were praised by the Pope.[citation needed]

In the Taxil hoax, Palladists were members of an alleged Theistic Satanist cult within Freemasonry. According to Taxil, Palladism was a religion practiced within the highest orders of Freemasonry. Adherents worshipped Lucifer and interacted with demons.
In 1891 Léo Taxil (Gabriel Jogand-Pagès) and Adolphe Ricoux claimed to have discovered a Palladian Society.[4] An 1892 French book Le Diable au XIXe siècle (The Devil in the 19th Century”, 1892), written by “Dr. Bataille” (actually Jogand-Pagès himself)[5] alleged that Palladists were Satanists based in Charleston, South Carolina, headed by the American Freemason Albert Pike and created by the Italian liberal patriot and author Giuseppe Mazzini.[6]
Arthur Edward Waite, debunking the existence of the group in Devil-Worship in France, or The Question of Lucifer, ch. II: “The Mask of Masonry” (London, 1896),[7] reports according to “the works of Domenico Margiotta and Dr Bataille” that “[t]he Order of Palladium founded in Paris 20 May 1737 or Sovereign Council of Wisdom” was a “Masonic diabolic order”. Dr. Bataille asserted that women would supposedly be initiated as “Companions of Penelope”.[8][9] According to Dr. Bataille, the society had two orders, “Adelph” and “Companion of Ulysses”; however, the society was broken up by French law enforcement a few years after its founding.[10] A supposed Diana Vaughan published Confessions of an Ex-Palladist in 1895.

On April 19, 1897, Léo Taxil called a press conference at which, he claimed, he would introduce Diana Vaughan to the press. At the conference instead he announced that his revelations about the Freemasons were fictitious. He thanked the Catholic clergy for their assistance in giving publicity to his wild claims.[11]
Taxil’s confession was printed, in its entirety, in the Parisian newspaper Le Frondeur, on April 25, 1897, titled: Twelve Years Under the Banner of the Church, The Prank Of Palladism. Miss Diana Vaughan–The Devil At The Freemasons. A Conference held by M. Léo Taxil, at the Hall of the Geographic Society in Paris.[12]
The hoax material is still cited to this day. The Chick Publications tract, The Curse of Baphomet,[13] and Randy Noblitt’s book on satanic ritual abuse, Cult and Ritual Abuse, both cite Taxil’s fictitious claims.[14]

A later interview with Taxil[edit]
Parisian newspaper with the account of Leo Taxil’s confession to the Taxil hoax
In the magazine National Magazine, an Illustrated American Monthly, Volume XXIV: April – September, 1906, pages 228 and 229, Taxil is quoted as giving his true reasons behind the hoax. Ten months later, on March 31, 1907, Taxil died.

Members of the Masonic orders understand the false exposure heaped upon that organization in anti-Mason wars. The Catholic church and many other religious orders have been the victims of these half-written and oftentimes venomous attacks. The confession of Taxil, the French Free-thinker, who first exposed Catholics and then Masons, makes interesting reading bearing on the present situation today. Similar motives actuate some of the “muck rakes” of today, as indicated in the following confession:
“The public made me what I am; the arch-liar of the period,” confessed Taxil, “for when I first commenced to write against the Masons my object was amusement pure and simple. The crimes I laid at their door were so grotesque, so impossible, so widely exaggerated, I thought everybody would see the joke and give me credit for originating a new line of humor. But my readers wouldn’t have it so; they accepted my fables as gospel truth, and the more I lied for the purpose of showing that I lied, the more convinced became they that I was a paragon of veracity.
“Then it dawned upon me that there was lots of money in being a Munchausen of the right kind, and for twelve years I gave it to them hot and strong, but never too hot. When inditing such slush as the story of the devil snake who wrote prophecies on Diana’s back with the end of his tail, I sometimes said to myself: ‘Hold on, you are going too far,’ but I didn’t. My readers even took kindly to the yarn of the devil who, in order to marry a Mason, transformed himself into a crocodile, and, despite the masquerade, played the piano wonderfully well.”One day when lecturing at Lille, I told my audience that I had just had an apparition of Nautilus, the most daring affront on human credulity I had so far risked. But my hearers never turned a hair. ‘Hear ye, the doctor has seen Nautulius,’ they said with admiring glances. Of course no one had a clear idea of who Nautilus was, I didn’t myself, but they assumed that he was a devil.

“Ah, the jolly evenings I spent with my fellow authors hatching out new plots, new, unheard of perversions of truth and logic, each trying to outdo the other in organized mystification. I thought I would kill myself laughing at some of the things proposed, but everything went; there is no limit to human stupidity”.
The Luciferian quote[edit]
A series of paragraphs about Lucifer are frequently associated with the Taxil hoax. They read:

That which we must say to the world is that we worship a god, but it is the god that one adores without superstition. To you, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, we say this, that you may repeat it to the brethren of the 32nd, 31st and 30th degrees: The masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the Purity of the Luciferian doctrine. If Lucifer were not God, would Adonay and his priests calumniate him?
Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade, no beauty without ugliness, no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods; darkness being necessary for light to serve as its foil as the pedestal is necessary to the statue, and the brake to the locomotive….

Thus, the doctrine of Satanism is a heresy, and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness and Evil.
While this quotation was published by Abel Clarin de la Rive in his Woman and Child in Universal Freemasonry, it does not appear in Taxil’s writings proper, though it is sourced in a footnote to Diana Vaughan, Taxil’s creation.[15]

Popular culture[edit]
The Palladists are the name of the Greenwich Village Satanist society in Val Lewton’s film The Seventh Victim.
The Palladists play a major role in the latter part of Umberto Eco’s novel The Prague Cemetery (2011).

See also[edit]


written by Noah Nicholas and Molly Bedell (2006-08-01). “Mysteries Of The Freemasons — America”. Decoding the Past. A&E Television Networks. The History Channel. Archived from the original on 2007-05-09.

^ Pope Leo XIII (20 April 1884). “Humanum Genus”. The Holy See.

Hause, Steven C. (Spring 1989). “Anti–Protestant Rhetoric in the Early Third Republic”. French Historical Studies. 16 (1): 192. doi:10.2307/286440. JSTOR 286440.

^ Waite, Arthur Edward The Hermetic Museum 2006 Lulu

^ Characterised by Waite as “a perfervid narrative issued in penny numbers with absurd illustrations of a highly sensational type; in a word, Le Diable au XIXe Siècle, which is the title given to his memoirs by the present witness, connects in manner and appearance with that class of literature which is known as the “penny dreadful.” (Waite, Devil Worship in France, ch. VII (on-line text).

^ p.204 Hastings, James, Editor Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 12 Varda Books

^ “On-line text”.

^ Reported word-for-word in Lewis Spence, An Encyclopaedia of Occultism, 1920 (reprinted 2006) p.314

^ As seen in the blurb for The Internet Sacred Text Archive edition of Devil Worship in France and the conclusion, Waite was debunking the story of Palladists

^ “”Pagan Protection Center” website”. Archived from the original on 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2008-07-26.

“The Confession of Leo Taxil”. April 25, 1897. Retrieved 2007-10-25.

^ Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? Authors: de Hoyos, Arturo and Morris, S. Brent, 1988, 2nd edition, pp. 27–36 & 195–228, Chap. 3, Leo Taxil: The Hoax of Luciferian Masonry, and Appendix 1, The Confession of Leo Taxil ISBN 1590771532

^ also called “That’s Baphomet?”

^ King, EL. “Book review: Cult & Ritual Abuse — Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America”. Retrieved 2009-04-05.

^ de Hoyos, Arturo; Morris, S. Brent (1998). “Albert Pike and Lucifer”. Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? (2nd edition (revised) ed.). Silver Spring, Maryland: Masonic Information Center. Archived from the original on 2006-08-15. Retrieved 2007-10-25.

Further reading[edit]
Melior, Alec (1961). “A Hoaxer of Genius-Leo Taxil (1890-7)”. Our Separated Brethren, the Freemasons. trans. B. R. Feinson. London: G. G. Harrap & Co. pp. 149–55.
External links[edit]
“A hoax”, l’Illustration, May 1. 1897- No. 2827: Paris, France.
Abel Claren de la Rive (1855-1914)
Freemason site on the Palladium
Devil-Worship in France, by A.E. Waite complete e-text of Waite’s debunking of Taxil.
Lady Queenborough, Edith Starr Miller
Leo Taxil’s Confession
The Prague Cemetery, a novel by Umberto Eco, 2010
National Magazine, an Illustrated American Monthly, Volume XXIV: April, 1906 – September, 1906
The Prank of Palladism Taxil’s confession
Knights Templar page on the Palladium


William Boyd (writer)


Léo Taxil

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