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 modern myth of the continuing existence of the Knights Templar. OTS was started by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret in 1984 in Geneva. The 1980's saw the charismatic Jouret, a doctor by trade, which added an air of credibility to his presentations, lead a very successful lecture tour that took him throughout Switzerland, France and Canada. The result of the recruiting drive lectures was that the order was divided into three distinct groups or levels of membership.
The first, called "Amanta" consisted of those brought in by Jouret's lectures and seminars. The next level "The Archedia Clubs" consisted of those who wished to go a little further with the ideas and teachings of the order. Lastly was the initiative arm of the order, "The International Chivalric Organization of the Solar Tradition." Beliefs Jouret's more advanced members believed that he was a Knight Templar in a previous life and that he would lead his followers to a planet orbiting Sirius. The Solar Temple founder also believed that he was a third reincarnation of Jesus Christ, or at least that is the image he put forth to the rank and file member. The beliefs of the Solar Temple, which changed from time to time, seemed to be a blending of neo-Templarism, New Age philosophy, Christianity and survivalist paranoia.
The cult taught that life was an illusion and that followers would be reborn on a planet revolving around the Dog Star Sirius. This is most evident in a quote of Jouret's own words; "Liberation is not where human beings think it is. Death can represent an essential stage of life." The group under Jouret's teachings believed that the end was neigh and that the world would end by fire; concepts that were an undercurrent in Jouret's earlier lecture circuit. As leader of the cult, Jouret became increasingly eccentric. Prior to the order's ritual he would have sexual relations with one of the women in the flock in order to supposedly give him "Spiritual Strength" to enact the ceremony, which consisted of a "dog and pony show" where spiritual beings seemed to appear. These apparitions were nothing more than some expensive electronic projection devices operated by Di Mambro. Di Mambro, although a backstage member, was not behind the scenes when it came to his own share of authoritarian tendencies. He, like Jouret, was fond of engaging in sexual liaisons with the female members of the order, whether they were married or not. They complied willingly and unquestionably as members of a cult often do. There were many instances of couples being broken up by Di Mambro and Jouret if they were found not to be "cosmically compatible."
A member, Dutoit, his wife Nicky and child were murdered in their home in Morin Heights, Quebec. The murder was most grisly. Police reports showed that Tony was stabbed some 50 times, while his wife Nicky was stabbed four times in the throat, eight times in the back and once in each breast. Their infant child was stabbed six times. His body was wrapped in a black plastic bag on which was placed a wooden stake. While many have said that the murder was part of the groups peculiar beliefs and that members felt that the Dutoit's baby, Emmanuel, was the anti-Christ, the evidence seems to support that the murder was the result of the public exposure of the group's practices. (Dutoit was the first to say that everything was smoke and mirrors).
Adding insult to injuy, Di Mambro own son, Elie publicly claimed that he witnessed fakery at the hands of this organization, which caused dozens of dissaffected to leave the group. This was a major blow to the beliefs of Di Mambro, since the group believed that Elie was a child of destiny and the product of "theogamy," which the dictionary defines as a marriage of the gods. Di Mambro made the claim that under direction of the Masters of Zurich, the supposed true leaders of the order and a group later shown to be fictitious, Elie was conceived in Israel on March 21st, the Vernal Equinox. This was a similar situation to Jouret's son, born in 1983, who was to be the premiere Grand Master of the "Temple of the New Age of the Era of the Virgin."
This was a destiny that did not meet with the child's mother who raised him in a normal fashion. As if the defection of Di Mambro's son was not enough of a blow to the order, the two founders were engaged in a growing series of disputes over the direction of the Order of the Solar Temple. The one thing that the two men seemed to be in complete agreement on was that they needed to start preparations for the "transit" to another world. While the order had always carried an apocalyptic tone in their teachings, this new direction would lead, at the end, to a fiery consequence.
On the night of October 4th, 5th, 1994 residents of Chiery and Granges-sur-Salvan, Switzerland became aware of fires burning in the towns. By the next morning would be found the remains of 53 members of the Order of the Solar Temple. While it at first appeared to be a mass suicide, the bodies at Chiery told a slightly different tale. Autopsy reports showed that two of the victims died of suffocation while another twenty-one were administered sleeping pills before being shot to death. According to a Time Magazine article of 1994, some of the victims had as many as eight bullet wounds in the head. Another ten victims were found with plastic bags over their heads. There was also evidence that several of the victims had shown signs of struggle, which indicates that the deaths were far from a willing suicide pact. A year later on December 23rd of 1995, at the time of the winter solstice, the bodies of another 16 members would be found in a burned out chalet in the Swiss Alps. The bodies were arranged in a star pattern with their feet towards the ashes of a fire. Among the dead were the wife and son of Jean Vuarnet of skiing and sunglasses fame. Like the murder / suicide of 1994, the victims had been either shot, stabbed or poisoned. Two years later, the beliefs of the order would take a final five lives in St. Casimir, Quebec in the burned home of Didier Queze, a member of the order. Four of the bodies were found in an upstairs bedroom arranged in the shape of a cross. The final body, Didier's mother, lay on a sofa in the living room; a bag over her head. Unlike previous Solar Temple suicides, the children of these final victims were spared. Awaking one morning to find that their parents had placed numerous propane tanks, hot plates and other paraphernalia to start fires, throughout the house, they realized that something was afoot. They negotiated with their parents to be spared and agreed to take sleeping pills in a workshop near the home, realizing that when they awoke both their parents and the family home would be no more. In all 74 members of the order met with a fiery and gruesome death at the hands of this neo-Templar cult.
"It is with unfathomable love, pure joy and no regret that we leave this world. Men, do not cry for our fate, but cry for your own,"