Devil-Worship in France/Chapter VIII
DEALINGS WITH DIANA
The philosophy of Horatius is supposed to represent incompletely the content of heaven and earth, but neither earth nor heaven, as at present constituted, would be capable of enclosing the entire content of Dr Bataille's memoirs. Miss Diana Vaughan, with whose history we are next concerned, comes before us under a different aspect. I have failed to ascertain under what circumstances she first became known in France. Le Diable au XIXe Siècle may have constituted her earliest introduction; she was certainly unknown to Leo Taxil when he published the Palladian rituals, or she would not have escaped mention in the account he there gives of Miss Sophia Walder. However this may be, we have made her acquaintance in the course of the previous chapter, but I am constrained to state that she has, up to the present, shown herself exceedingly circumspect in substantiating the evidence of her precursor.
The whole world is aware, and I need not again repeat, that Miss Diana Vaughan was converted to the Catholic Church some time after Dr Bataille completed his astounding narrative. A Palladist of perfect initiation, comprehending the mysteries of the number 77, and doing reverence to the higher mystery of 666, Grand Mistress of the Temple, Grand Inspectress of the Palladium, and according to him who, in a sense, has prepared her way and made straight her paths, a sorceress and thaumaturge before whose daily performances the Black Sabbath turns white, Miss Vaughan quarrelled, as we have seen, with a sister initiate, Sophia Walder, and conceived for the Italian Grand Master, Adriano Lemmi, the charity of the evil angels, which is hatred. When the Supreme Dogmatic Directory of Universal Freemasonry was removed from Charleston to Rome and the pontificate passed over to Lemmi, as the revelations allege, Miss Vaughan closed her connection with the Triangles, carrying her colours to a vessel equipped by herself, and founded a new society under the title of the Free and Regenerated Palladium, incorporating the Anti-Lemmist groups, and soon after began a public propaganda by the issue of a monthly review, devoted to the elucidation of the doctrines of the Lucifer cultus and to the exposure of the Italian Grand Master. To hoist the black flag of diabolism, as Miss Vaughan would now term it, thus in the open day, naturally elicited a strong protestation from the Palladist Federation, so that she was in embroilment not only with Lemmi but also with the source of the initiation which she still appeared to prize. At the same time she exhibited no indications of going over to the cause of the Adonaïtes. Becoming known to the Anti-Masonic centres of the Roman Catholic Church only through her hostility to Lemmi, she was always a persona grata whose conversion was ardently desired, but on several public occasions she advised them that their cause and hers were in radical opposition, and that, in fact, she would have none of them, being outside any need of their support, sympathy, or interest. She would cleave to the good God Lucifer, and she aspired to be the bride of Asmodeus. At length the long-suffering editor of the Revue Mensuelle, weary of his refractory protégé, would also have none of her, though he surrendered her with evident regret to be dealt with by the prayers of the faithful. One month after, M. Leo Taxil, through the medium of the same organ, announced the conversion of Miss Vaughan, and in less than another month, namely, in July, 1895, she began the publication of her “Memoirs of an ex-Palladist,” which are still in progress, so that, limitations of space apart, my account of this lady will be unavoidably incomplete.
Her memoirs are, unfortunately, not a literary performance; and their method, if such it can be called, is not chronological. Beginning with an account of her first introduction to Lucifer, vis-à-vis in the Sanctum Regnum of Charleston, on April 8th 1889, they leap, in the second chapter, over all the years intervening to a minute analysis of the sentiments which led to her conversion, and of the raptures which followed it, above all on the occasion of her first communion. It is not till the third chapter that we get an account of her Luciferian education, or, more correctly, an introduction thereto, for the better part of five monthly numbers has not brought us nearer to her personality than the history of an ancestor in the seventeenth century. As the publisher is still soliciting annual subscriptions to the enterprise, and offering a variety of advantages after methods not unknown in England among the by-ways of periodical literature, the completion of the work is probably a distant satisfaction for those who take interest therein.
Now, having regard to the narrative of Dr Bataille, and having regard to the statements set forth in my second chapter, it is obvious that Miss Vaughan is a witness of the first importance as to whether there is a Masonry behind Masonry, which, more or less, manages, or attempts to manage, the entire society, unknown to the rank and file of its initiates, however high in grade; as to whether its seat is at Charleston, with Albert Pike for its founder, and as to whether its doctrine is anti-Christian, and its cultus that of Lucifer, supported by magical wonders, concerned with sacrilegious observances, and either a disguised Satanism, or drifting in that direction. As already hinted, the mythical and miraculous element,—in a word, that portion of Doctor Bataille’s narrative which does violence to sense and reason,—Miss Vaughan has not at present imperilled her position by substantiating, but as to the points I have enumerated, she has most distinctly come forth out of Palladism to tell us that these things are so, and to reinforce what was previously stated by unveiling her private life.
It is therefore my duty and desire to do her full justice, and with this purpose in view, I propose to recite briefly the chief heads of her memoir, so far as it has been published up to date. I must, however, premise at the beginning that she does not come before us with one trace of the uncertainty of accent which might have been expected to characterise the newly-acquired language, not merely of Christian faith, but of its Roman dialect. We find her speaking at once, and to the manner born. Could anything, by possibility, be narrower than certain perished sections of evangelical religion in England, it would be certain sections of ultramontane religion in France; but Miss Vaughan has acquired all the terminology of the latter, all the intellectual bitterness, all the fatuities, as one might say, in the space of five minutes. When she has wearied of her memoirs at the moment, or has reached, after the manner of the novelist, some crucial point in her narrative, she breaks off abruptly, brackets à suivre, and proceeds to an account of the latest wonder-working image, or a diatribe against spirit manifestations in the typical manner of the French clerical press. To be brief, Miss Vaughan has adopted, body and soul, precisely those abuses which Catholics of intelligence earnestly desire to see expunged from their great religion. She has probably never heard of the Forged Decretals, but she would defend their authenticity if she had; she has probably never heard of the corrupted, or any version of the Epistles of St Ignatius, but she would accept the corruptions bodily upon the smallest hint that they savoured better with the hierarchy, and she would do all this apparently in good faith on the authority of a purblind party within the Church, which exists to keep open its wounds. Now, I submit that a volte face is possible, especially in religious opinions, but that a pronounced habit of religious thought cannot be acquired in a day, so that, in the history of Miss Vaughan’s conversion, there is more than can be discerned on the surface. The precise nature of the element which eludes must be left to the judgment of my readers, but, personally, I reserve my own, out of fairness to an unfinished deposition.
There is a generic difference between Doctor Bataille and Miss Vaughan. He is an ordinary human being, and if we may trust the many pictures which represent him in his narrative, exceedingly unpretending at that. We have also some portraits of Miss Vaughan, who is aggressive and good to look at; but this is not the generic distinction. Doctor Bataille, poor man, is the scion of an ordinary ancestry within the narrow limits of flesh and blood. Miss Vaughan, on the contrary—I hope my readers will bear with me—has been taught from her childhood to believe that she was of the blood royal of the descending hierarchy, and I cannot gather from her vague mode of expression whether she has altogether rejected the legend of her descent, which is otherwise sufficiently startling.
The position of authority and influence occupied by Miss Vaughan in what she terms high Masonry is to be explained, as she modestly informs us, not by her personal qualities, but by a traditional secret concerning her family, which is known only to the Elect Magi. Miss Vaughan and her paternal uncle are the last descendants of the alchemist Thomas Vaughan, whom she terms a Rosicrucian, and identifies with Eirenæus Philalethes, author of “The Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King.” On the 25th of March 1645, she tells us, on the authority of her family history, Thomas Vaughan, having previously obtained from Cromwell the privilege of beheading the “noble martyr” Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury—the title to nobility, in her opinion, seems to rest in the probability of his secret connection with Rome—steeped a linen cloth in his blood, burnt the said cloth in sacrifice to Satan, who appeared in response to an evocation, and with whom he concluded a pact, receiving the philosophical stone, and a guaranteed period of life extending over thirty-three years from that date, after which he was to be transported without dying into the eternal kingdom of Lucifer, to live with a glorified body in the pure flames of the heaven of fire.
After this compact, he wrote the “Open Entrance,” the original MS. of which, together with its autograph Luciferian interpretation on the broad margins, is a precious heirloom in the family. Some two years later, in the course of his travels, he reached New England, where he dwelt for a month among the Lenni-Lennaps, and there in an open desert, on a clear night of summer, while the moon was shining in splendour, he was wandering in solitary meditation when the luminary in question, which was in the crescent phase, came down out of heaven, and proved to be an arched bed, very luminous and wonderful, containing a vision of sleeping female beauty. This was the nuptial couch of Thomas Vaughan and its occupant was Venus-Astarte, surrounded by a host of flower-bearing child-spirits, who conveniently provided a tent, and provided also delicious meals during a period of eleven days. Several curious particulars differentiated these Hermetic nuptials, undreamed of by Christian Rosencreutz, from those which govern more ordinary proceedings below the latitude of the Lenni-Lennaps. In the first place, goddess succubus, Astarte provided the ring, which was of red gold enriched with a diamond, and placed it on the finger of her lover; in the second place, transcendental gestation, celestial or otherwise, fulfils the mystery of generation with exceeding despatch, for Astarte was delivered of an infant on the eleventh day independently of medical assistance, whereupon she demanded the return of the nuptial ring, and vanished with tent and sprites astride of the crescent couch. The fruit of their union was left in the arms of Thomas, who was directed to trample on all sentiments of paternal affection, and to deliver the child into the charge of a tribe of fire-worshipping Indians. He does not appear to have sued for the restitution of conjugal rights, and cheerfully surrendered the human hybrid to a family of Lenni-Lennaps, together with his medallion portrait drawn by an artist from devildom, so that the daughter might recognise her father after the method which obtains among novelists. Thomas Vaughan placed the broad ocean between himself and the scene of his marriage, and he never re-visited his daughter, who, in spite of her miraculous origin, does not appear to have distinguished herself in any way, at least up to the point at present reached by the history.
Miss Vaughan says that all the Elect Magi do not accept this legend of the blood royal, and she admits her own doubts subsequent to her conversion. As an article of intellectual faith I should prefer the birth-story of Gargantua, but it satisfied Miss Vaughan till the age of thirty years, and her father and grandfather before her, even supposing that it was fabriquée par mon bisaïeul James, de Boston, as hazarded by elect Magi whom a remnant of reason hinders.
The “Memoirs of an Ex-Palladist” have not at present proceeded further than the translation of Thomas Vaughan into the paradise of Lucifer, but from the “Free and Regenerated Palladium” and from other sources the chief incidents of Miss Vaughan’s early life may be collected and summarised briefly. We learn that she is the daughter of an American Protestant of Kentucky and of a French lady, also of that persuasion. She was born in Paris, and a part of her education seems to have been received in that city; her mother died in Kentucky when Diana was in her fourteenth year, and I infer that subsequently to this event she must have lived with her father, who had considerable property in the immediate vicinity of Louisville. When the Sovereign Rite of Palladism was created by Albert Pike, Vaughan became affiliated therewith, and was one of the founders of the Louisville triangle 11 + 7; he presided at the initiation of his daughter as apprentice, according to the Rite of Adoption, in 1883. She was raised to the grade of Companion, and subsequently to that of Mistress, and at the age of 20 years, says Dr Bataille, she crossed the threshold of the Triangles, as the Palladian lodges are termed.
Three issues were published of “The Free and Regenerated Palladium,” but since the conversion of Miss Vaughan, they have been withdrawn from circulation, except among ecclesiastics of the Roman Church, and up to the present I have failed to obtain copies. For the autobiographical portions of this organ, I am indebted to the notices which have appeared in the Revue Mensuelle. They contain an account of two apparitions on the part of the demon Asmodeus, accompanied by phenomena of levitation and fortified by arguments against the theory of hallucination. These early experiences are, however, of minor importance, nor need I again refer to the sensational incidents which accompanied her initiation as Templar-Mistress at the Paris Triangle of Saint-Jacques; but it appears from her memoirs that the intervention of Albert Pike was not in virtue of the supremacy of his personal authority, and that the ordeal of sacrilege was spared her by the clemency of Lucifer himself, who is supposed to appear in person at the Sanctum Regnum of Charleston and to instruct his chiefs, Deo volente or otherwise, every Friday, the supreme dogmatic director, who had made his home in Washington, having the gift of “instantaneous transportation,” whensoever he thought fit to be present in the “divine” board-room.
On the 5th of April 1889, the “good God” assembled his Ancients and Emerites for a friendly conversation upon the “case” of Diana Vaughan, and ended by requesting an introduction in three days’ time. After the best manner of the grimoires, Miss Vaughan began her preparations by a triduum, taking one meal daily of black bread, fritters of high-spiced blood, a salad of milky herbs, and the drink of rare old Rabelais. The preparations in detail are scarcely worth recording as they merely vary the directions in the popular chap-books of magic which abound in foolish France. At the appointed time she passed through the iron doors of the Sanctum Regnum. “Fear not!” said Albert Pike, and she advanced remplie d’une ardente allegresse, was greeted by the eleven prime chiefs, who presently retired, possibly for prayer or refreshments, possibly for operations in wire-pulling. Diana Vaughan remained alone, in the presence of the Palladium, namely, our poor old friend Baphomet, whom his admirers persist in representing with a goat’s head, whereas he is the archetype of the ass.
The Sanctum Regnum is described as triangular in shape; there was no torch, no lamp, no fire; the floor and the ceiling were therefore not unnaturally dark, but an inexplicable veil of strange phosphorescent light was diffused over the three walls, the source of which proved on examination to be innumerable particles of greenish flames each no larger than a pin’s head. Seated in front of the Baphomet, Miss Vaughan apostrophised Lucifer sympathetically on the subject of the unpleasing form in which he was represented by his worshippers, and as she did so the little flames intensified, while floor and ceiling caught fire after the same ghostly incandescent fashion; a great dry heat filled the vast apartment, and, still spreading, the flames covered her chair, her garments, her entire person. At this point the inevitable thunder began to roll; three and one and two great thunders, after which came five breathings upon her face, and after those breathings five radiant spirits appeared, the first act closing impressively with a final salvo of artillery.
The unhappy Baphomet, dismayed by these extreme proceedings, vanished entirely, and, no expense being spared through the whole of the costly tableaux, Lucifer manifested on a throne of diamonds, but whether the gems were furnished from the treasury of Avernus or from the pockets of bamboozled Freemasons through the wide world, les renseignements do not state. Need I say that Miss Vaughan’s first impulse was to fall in worship at his feet? But the sordid apparition, instead of accepting the homage with the grace which is native to empire, had recourse to the method of the novelist, and stayed her intention by a gesture. Even at this late date, and with the millstone of her conversion placed in the opposite scale, Miss Vaughan’s description of her quondam deity would tempt sentimental young women to forgive all his devildom to a being so “superb” in “masculine beauty.” I will refrain from spoiling the picture by much of her own minuteness, or by the exclamatory parentheses of her fury against the magnificent gentleman who deceived her. I should like also to omit all reference to the conversation which ensued between them, but for the sake of true art I am constrained to state that Lucifer descended to commonplace. M. Renan tells us that since he left Saint Sulpice he did nothing but degenerate, and the inference is obvious, that he ought to have gone back to Saint Sulpice, despite the literary splendours of the Vie de Jésus. Since he last broke a lance with Michael, the devil has debilitated mentally, and the substance of his causerie with Diana reminds one of Robert Montgomery and even worse exemplars. In the unexplored regions of penny periodical romance I have met with many better specimens of supernatural dialogue. As to the sum of his observations, it goes without saying that Diana was chosen out of thousands, and this is what justifies my opinion that his proceedings on this occasion were more fatuous than any of his undertakings since he tried conclusions with divinity.
Very silently during the course of this interview the eleven prime chiefs had returned like conspirators as they were, of course in the nick of time, to hear that Miss Vaughan was appointed as the grand-priestess of Lucifer, at which moment there was a fresh burst of circumambient flame and the young lady was transported by her divinity to take part in a grand spectacular drama, divided into two acts.—I. Appearance of Asmodeus with fourteen legions. Exchange of endearing expressions between this personage and Diana. Manifestation of the signature of Baal-Zeboub, generalissimo of the armies of Lucifer, written in fire upon the void. Spiritualisation of the sweetheart of Asmodeus. Diana hungers for the fray. Great pitched battle between the genii of Lucifer and the genii of Adonaï, termed Maleakhs, without the gates of Eden. The Terrestrial Paradise carried by storm after severe fighting. Grand panorama of Paradise. Explanatory dialogue between Diana and her future husband. Appearance of a snow white gigantic eagle on which Diana is to be transported to Oolis, "a solar world unknown to the profane, wherein Lucifer reigns and is adored." II. Miss Vaughan having been transported on another occasion to this mystic planet in the arms of Lucifer himself, the episodes of the second act are held over. She was, however, ultimately returned, safe and sound, to the Sanctum Regnum at Charleston, on the back of the white eagle.
Such is Miss Vaughan's statement, and once more she proceeds to give reasons why she could not have been hypnotised or hallucinated. As in the case of Doctor Bataille I propose to postpone criticism until other witnesses have filed their depositions. At the moment it is sufficient to recognise that, apart from the supernatural element which admits of a simple explanation, if Miss Vaughan be a credible witness, then the central fact of the New and Reformed Palladium must be admitted with all it involves.