This religious group was formed in Geneva in 1984 by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret. Originally known as Ordre du Temple Solaire (OTS), the sect became renowned for their mass suicide acts beginning in 1994 and spreading until 1997. In total, 74 members of the Order of the Solar Temple have died in an attempt to escape from a world they see filled with hypocrisy and oppression.
History of the Order of the Solar Temple
Co founder of the group, Luc Jouret began his career in the health field after obtaining a medical degree in 1974. He quickly became disillusioned with the modern day health practices, and feeling that this role was not right for him, he left his job in the health industry. He travelled the world, seeking alternative forms of medicine and spirituality for a decade, and it was during his journey that he met Joseph Di Mambro.
Di Mambro was once described as “a confidence trickster who made a successful career out of masquerading as a psychologist,” who was charged in 1972 with fraud. Regardless of his fraudulent past, Joseph Di Mambro went on to found the Centre for the Preparation for the New Age and encouraged his students to dispose of their financial assets in order to achieve a certain state of meditation.
Luc Jouret joined between 1979 and 1981, and the pair founded the International Chivalric Organization Solar Tradition in Geneva, Switzerland. Quickly, Jouret formed the Amenta Club and hosted several lectures on alternative medicine and spirituality. Not only did this bring in additional funding, but it attracted a wide circle of new followers. Those who were particularly interested in his message were also introduced to a further set of beliefs and joined the Amenta Club. A select few from this club would be introduced and recruited into the Order of the Solar Temple, providing they were prepared to hand over their money and adhere to the strict rules. The headquarters were located in Zurich, where a council of 33 members lived, all of whom were considered as leaders. Regional lodgings began to spring up in other countries, such as France and Canada.
It was 1986 when Jouret and Di Mambro moved to Quebec, and established yet another home for the religious group. Describing the new chalet complex to Swedish followers, as The Promised Land, Jouret convinced his loyal followers to move with him. Within a few years, Jouret had become convinced that the world would soon become ruined by war, and that only Quebec would be saved from the death and famine. Many of his early colleagues began to question his mental state, becoming concerned with his obsession with the end of the world. They saw that he had a strong hold over many of his followers, and began to note their cult-like qualities.
The secret society is heavily based around the notion that the Knights Templar are still alive. The main aims of the group were to:
- Correct notions of authority and power in the world.
- Prepare for the second-coming of Christ as a solar God-King.
- Anticipate the union of all Christian sects and Islam.
The groups activities and religious practices consisted of a mixture of Protestant Christianity, New Ageism and Freemason rituals. The group was predominantly for the wealthy and influential people of society, making the group extremely secretive and unavailable to the general public.
The central authority was based in Zurich, and was entitled the Synarchy of the Temple. The top, leading members were known as the Elder Brothers of the Rosy Cross , aka the Rosicrucians. This council formed many lodges, which were each run by a Regional Commander, alongside three Elders. Each Lodge consisted of altars, ritual instruments and ceremonial costumes and was the site for many group rituals including initiation. During such ceremonies, members bought lavish gifts and paid an upfront tuition fee. Afterwards, they would wear their robes and hold the sword which Di Mambro claimed was an authentic Templar artefact, given to him in another life.
It was the 1980’s that saw an apocalyptic attitude rise from the OTS. Jouret began preaching in his lectures of cataclysmic upheavals which threatened the planet’s survival. He had convinced his followers that he had once been a member of the Knights Templar in a previous life, and that he was now the third incarnation of Christ. His teachings showed that he spoke of members leaving their bodies on Earth and meeting again via Death Voyages, which would take them to the star Sirius.
Whilst preaching of eternal life and hope, he also taught the message of doom on destruction here on Earth. According to Jouret, the world would end due to an environmental catastrophe caused by human neglect and damage. Some fortunate members would be eventually chosen to depart the planet and make the ultimate transition to Sirius, leaving through fire.
Many members began to note a change in Jouret’s behaviour after 1990, seeing that he was becoming increasingly erratic and obsessed with sex. It was commonly known among the group that he would have sex with one of the women before each ritual, to give him strength for the coming ceremony. As this behaviour from Jouret continued, Di mambro began joining in, exercising the power over their followers in order to gain sexual favours and money. The pair ordered the break up of many marriages, claiming the couples were not ‘cosmically compatible’ whilst having sex with the newly single wives.
Reports also show that the pair had employed cult member Tony Dutoit to install mechanical gadgets inside the core sanctuaries to project images used for tricking their followers. When Tony spoke out and mentioned this to other cult members, they were outraged that they were being manipulated in such a way and many people left the group.
Soon, Tony and his family were targeted by the group, and their infant son was declared by Di Mambro as the Antichrist. On October 4th 1994, Di Mambro ordered two members of the cult to perform a ritual murder on Tony Dutoit, his wife Nicky and their young son, Emmanuel. Tony was stabbed a total of 50 times, his wife was stabbed eight times, and Emmanuel was stabbed six times. Emmanuel was wrapped in a black plastic bag with a wooden stake placed on his chest, in what many experts declare as a prefix to their own deaths which were to follow shortly.
Within 12 hours of the killing of the Dutoit family, a chalet was reported as being on fire in Switzerland. The firemen entered the building and found a dramatic scene of mirrored walls, crimson fabric and a total of 22 bodies arranged on the floor in a sun-shaped pattern. Among the 22 dead included nine men, 12 woman and a 12 year old boy, many of whom were found wearing the ceremonial robes of the Order of the Solar Temple. It is reported that 19 of the dead members had been shot in the head, many of whom were also draped in hooded plastic bags.
Just hours later, another fire broke out in Switzerland; a farmhouse which belonged to the OTS. When police and firemen entered the building they found another 25 dead bodies who had all died from drug overdoses, including five children, one of whom was Di Mambro’s ‘cosmic child.’ The group founders, Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro were also found among the dead, along side the two assassins of the Dutoit family. Swedish investigators searched the property and located a tape, dating from around March 1994, with Jouret and Di Mambro discussing the group’s imminent departure:
JDM: People have beaten us to the punch, you know.
LJ: Well, yeah. Waco beat us to the punch.
JDM: In my opinion, we should have gone six months before them . . . what we’ll do will be even more spectacular . . . .
As the world was still recovering from the double mass suicides, another death pact broke out in France. Just over a year later from the other suicides, in December 1995, another mass suicide occurred, with all 16 bodies laid out in a sun-shaped pattern, much like the mass suicides in Switzerland. In keeping with the previous death scenes, the members were drugged, shot and were found wearing plastic bags on their heads. Studies show that the group were shot by two men, who then killed themselves afterwards.
A year an a half later on March 22nd 1997, a fire was reported in Quebec City. Firemen quickly arrived and began to extinguish the flames, as a group of children came out from a shed nearby. They told the officers that their parents wanted them to die alongside them, but they managed to negotiate their way out of it and escape, despite being heavily drugged. Five bodies were found dead inside the burning home, bringing the OTS death count up to 74 people.
As the majority of the members of the Order of the Solar Temple were drugged and shot, questions have arose as to whether they were actually willing participants. These people did not die from their own hand, and many of them were discovered with old and new bruising, indicating previous violence had happened to them.
Many experts argue that the suicides are not finished, and that more living members are prone to follow their former leaders. However, it is imperative to report that no further suicides have been announced.