A French jeweler turned esoteric teacher and a Belgian homeopathic doctor were at the origin of the murderous organization.
by Massimo Introvigne
To understand the suicides and homicides in the 1990s of the Order of the Solar Temple (Ordre du Temple Solaire, OTS), we started with a survey of the neo-Templar tradition to which the OTS belonged, while emphasizing that other neo-Templar groups obviously carried no responsibility for the Solar Temple crimes.
In the previous article, we discussed the mystical revelation French esoteric author Jacques Breyer claimed to have received in 1952 in Arginy, when secret Masters ordered him to establish a new neo-Templar order, and the activities of the Sovereign Order of the Solar Temple (OSTS), established by Breyer, and the Renewed Order of the Temple (ORT), founded by two well-known characters in the French esoteric milieu, Raymond Bernard and Julien Origas, as part of the “Arginy Renaissance.”
On March 21, 1981, the leaders of OSTS and ORT converged in a ceremony in Geneva to swear allegiance to a “once and future” supreme secret Master of the Temple. They met on the premises of a third organization, also associated with the ceremony and recognized by Breyer as part of the Arginy movement: the Golden Way Foundation established by Joseph Di Mambro (1924–1994), the future leader of the Order of the Solar Temple. The ceremony of March 21, 1981 was, according to Di Mambro, at least as important as Breyer’s 1952 Arginy experience, and was later cited as the founding date of the Order of the Solar Temple.
The ceremony did not imply any merger between the OSTS, the ORT, and the Golden Way Foundation. Although the OSTS leaders Breyer and Marsan were in touch with Di Mambro and Origas, they kept their organizations strictly separate. This point is worth noting since Marsan’s friendship with both Prince Ranier III of Monaco and Di Mambro led in 1997 to the extraordinary claim by some media that Princess Grace (née Kelly, 1929–1982) was a member of the Order of the Solar Temple.
There is no evidence that Prince Ranier III and Princess Grace were members of OSTS either. Princess Grace died in 1982, whereas the Order of the Solar Temple as such was established in 1984. The name of Princess Grace was not mentioned in any of the surviving Solar Temple papers found in Switzerland.
Di Mambro was born in Pont-Saint-Esprit (Gard, France) in 1924. A jeweler by trade, in 1956 he joined the Rosicrucian organization AMORC. He had some responsibilities there and left it around 1970. Di Mambro displayed considerable skill as a spiritualist medium channeling discarnate Masters, and he was looking for experiences stronger than AMORC. He joined the Arginy movement and traveled to Egypt and Israel (where he allegedly conceived his son Elie [1969-1994] on Mount Carmel, a mountain associated with the biblical prophet Elias).
After a minor skirmish with French justice in 1971 for writing bad checks, Di Mambro moved to Annemasse near the Swiss border, and later to Switzerland. There, he started in 1973 a full-time career as a teacher of yoga and occult philosophy. From that time on, Di Mambro established an astonishing number of secret (and not so secret) societies, organizations, and associations, whose names may easily confuse both the initiates and the scholars. His main venture in the 1970s was La Pyramide (1976–1978), in which his closest students lived communally.
In 1977 Nicole Koymans (1928–1994), a yoga teacher in Geneva and a member of Di Mambro’s inner circle, brought to La Pyramide her student Christine Meylan (1944–1994) and the latter’s husband, Michel Tabachnik, already well known in musical circles as a promising young conductor. In 1978 Tabachnik joined Di Mambro’s new venture, the Golden Way Foundation. Tabachnik moved to an apartment within the Golden Way property in Saconnex-d’Arve near Geneva with his second wife, Sabine, a student of Di Mambro who had divorced Christian Pechot (1945–1994).
The latter later married Tabachnik’s ex-wife Christine Meylan, and both joined the OTS and died in the 1994 tragedy. In 1979, Tabachnik became the president of the Golden Way Foundation, whose real leader remained Di Mambro.
At this stage Di Mambro’s ideas were still largely derived from the Rosicrucian order AMORC, with little emphasis on Knights Templar or neo-Templarism (although he knew Origas since their AMORC years). The core membership of Di Mambro’s group was composed of the “brotherhood” living communally in Saconnex-d’Arve.
In 1982 the Golden Way was joined by Luc Jouret (1947–1994), a Belgian homeopathic doctor who had established a practice in Annemasse. Jouret was born in Kikwit, Belgian Congo (present-day Zaire), to Belgian parents in 1947. After graduation as a medical doctor in Brussels in 1974 and military service as a paratrooper, his interests had focused on alternative and New Age medicine, particularly homeopathy. He also had contacts with a number of Belgian New Age, Masonic, and occult groups, and had visited the Far East.
In 1977 Jouret and his wife-to-be Christine Pertué (1952–1994) became affiliated with the World Teacher Trust (WTT), an organization established in 1971 in India by Ekkirala Krishnamacharya (1926–1984) called “Master E.K.” The WTT combines ideas about the Masters derived from the Theosophical Society and esoteric author Alice Bailey (1880–1949) with a strong emphasis on homeopathic medicine.
Jouret and Pertué visited Master E.K. in India, and were instrumental in promoting the WTT throughout French-speaking Europe. After his meeting with Di Mambro in 1982 and Master E.K.’s death in 1984, Jouret lost contact with the WTT. He also divorced Pertué after five years of marriage in 1985. However, she remained in the OTS and died in the Swiss tragedy in 1994.