New Orleans—home to the Mistick Krewe of Comus of the Mardis Gras revels and the ritual “Killing of the King”—was the seat of the cabal behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, to which belonged Kerry Thornley. Along with Esalen celebrity Robert Anton Wilson, Thornley was responsible for developing a parody religion known as Discordianism, an occult-based prankster cult which exercised an important influence in the development of chaos magic, as well as computer culture, to ultimately give rise to transhumanism and the subversive online community of the alt-right which helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency.
Discordianism is founded on the notion of the trickster, first proposed by renowned psychologist Carl Jung, to explain the recurring archetype of the Devil and its variations. It represents the attempt to revive what has been interpreted to be the “dying-god” cults of ancient times, but often colored by modern interpretation. In other words, the same tradition of the “wise fool” that eventually inspired the Mistick Krewe of Comus, the oldest organization of New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities.
The first to recognize the recurring archetype of the dying and rising gods was James Frazer in The Golden Bough, first published in 1890, which has had a substantial influence on European anthropology and thought. Frazer’s thesis of the dying-god and the sacred king had an immense influence on a large number of authors inspired by the occult, such as Robert Graves, William Butler Yeats, H.P. Lovecraft, Sigmund Freud, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, Aleister Crowley, Ezra Pound and Julius Evola. T.S. Eliot acknowledged indebtedness to Frazer in his first note to his poem The Waste Land. Also influential was Margaret Murray, the principal theorist of witchcraft as a “pagan survival”’ in The Witch-Cult in Europe. Although modern pagans would deny it, claiming the worship their “horned-god” was ignorantly disparaged by the bigotry of the Church, the dying-god was universally viewed as a god of evil. Borrowing from Frazer’s thesis of the dying-god, the “horned god” of modern pagans is the lord of the underworld, and the Sun while the goddess is the Moon.
In The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Jung lists the Feast of Fools as a European adaptation of the trickster archetype. Similarly, Wiccan priestess Margot Adler, in Drawing Down the Moon, which provided the first comprehensive look at modern pagan religions in the US, begins her chapter on Discordianism by mentioning the work of Harvey Cox, who in Feast of Fools “develops a theory of play, asserting, like others before him, that our society has lost or mutilated the gift of true festivity, playful fantasy, and celebration.” Adler was the granddaughter of Alfred Adler, who collaborated with Freud and founded the Adler’s Society with Dimitrije Mitrinovic. She is the niece of Alexandra Adler, a neurology instructor Harvard Medical School. Margot also cites the classic study on play written in 1944 by Johan Huizinga, who wrote that play and ritual are interrelated, and that all sacred rites are performed in the spirit of play, noting that “The outlaw, the revolutionary, the cabalist or member of a secret society, indeed heretics of all kinds are of a highly associative if not sociable disposition, and a certain element of play is prominent in all their doings.”
However, according to David Carlyon, the romantic notion of the “daring political jester,” which has been popularized over the last few decades, especially since the protests of the 1960s, is “apocryphal.” Carlyon concludes that “popular culture embraces a sentimental image of the clown; writers reproduce that sentimentality in the jester, and academics in the Trickster,” though it “falters as analysis.” As Carlyon points out, the trickster cliché is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s conception of the jester, and examples of truth-telling fools in the Twelfth Night, As You Like It and King Lear. Sir Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe (1819) and Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) are two literary examples of the enduring fashion. As Carlyon notes, “The jester, comic sidekick in that era’s medieval mania, was imagined saying to the king what no one else dared say.”
According to Carlyon, Soviet philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the ‘‘carnivalesque,’’ to playfully invert social conventions through humor and chaos, is another obvious influence. The idea of the carnivalesque originated in Bakhtin’s Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1929) and was further developed in Rabelais and His World (1940). Bakhtin traces the origins of the carnivalesque to the concept of carnival, itself related to the Feast of Fools. It was one of the leading Situationists, Raoul Vaneigem, in his book The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967), who inspired the May 1968 student movement with what could be called Carnival liberation theory. Vaneigem observed that “a strike for higher wages or a rowdy demonstration can awaken the carnival spirit,” and “revolutionary moments are carnivals in which the individual life celebrates its unification with a regenerated society.”
Archetypes, according to Jung, are fundamental human themes found throughout world mythology, and are the product of what he calls the collective unconsciousness. Included motifs are the mother, the child, the trickster, and the flood among others. Reinvented from culture to culture in mythology and folklore, the Trickster is presented as god, spirit, man, woman, anthropomorphic animal, supernatural being or the occasional mischievous fairy who disobeys rules and conventional behavior, causing chaos while also inspiring some kind of change to occur. The Trickster is a shape-shifter and so has the possibility of transformation. The Fool or the court jester survives in modern playing cards as the Joker.
As suggested by G.P. Hansen in The Trickster and the Paranormal, the term “Trickster” was probably first used in this context by Daniel G. Brinton in 1885. Brinton, an American archaeologist and ethnologist, graduated from Yale in 1858, where he had been a member of the Scroll and Key secret society. In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a character in a story (god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphisation), which exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge, and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behavior. Tricksters are archetypal characters who appear in the myths of many different cultures.
Lewis Hyde describes the Trickster as a “boundary-crosser.” The Trickster crosses both physical boundaries and often breaks societal rules. Tricksters “…violate principles of social and natural order, playfully disrupting normal life and then re-establishing it on a new basis.” According to Lewis Hyde in the Trickster Makes this World:
I want to argue a paradox that the myth asserts: that the origins, liveliness, and durability of cultures require that there be a space for figures whose function is to uncover and disrupt the very things that cultures are based on.
The trickster archetype is an important model for modern occultism, particularly through chaos magic and Discordianism, which is dedicated to the worship of Eris, the goddess of chaos and a trickster. Their pranksterism, according to Ian Bear, writing in the neopagan journal Green Egg, is referred to as “Divine irreverence”:
The trickster is able to bring up in a humorous way issues that may still be too controversial to begin serious debates over. Willingness to parody ourselves protects us from becoming truly ridiculous, and renders parodies of us by our enemies utterly useless. If the New Agers were more willing to parody themselves, their culture might have filtered out some of its more absurd notions, and spared itself much vicious lampooning from without. It is the job of the Discordian to disrupt unhealthy patterns, including one’s own. It should be noted that making pointless wisecracks just as the energy is peaking in a ritual is not a positive use of irreverence.
On a larger scale the chaos magician is able to work vast changes unattainable through ordinary, orderly means.
As such, the model of the Discordians is the Wise Fool, possessed with Divine Madness, who, like Nietzsche, peered into the abyss and cracked. In “Nietzsche’s Madness,” prepared but not published for the last issue of Acéphale in 1939, George Bataille says, “He who has once understood that in madness alone lies man’s completion, is thus led to make a clear choice not between madness and reason, but between the lie of ‘a nightmare of justifiable snores,’ and the will to self-mastery and victory.” Symptoms of mental illness found among mystics and shamans have often been characterized as “Divine Madness,” which is usually explained as a manifestation of religious or ecstatic experience found in many cultures. Plato in his Phaedrus and his ideas on theia mania, and a “mad saint” tradition exists in Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Jewish Hasidism, and the “Holy Fool” of Eastern Orthodoxy. Tibetan Buddhists generally referred to “madmen” as Mahasiddha, a term for someone who embodies and cultivates the “siddhi of perfection.” A siddha is an individual who, through the practice of sādhanā, attains the realization of siddhis, psychic and spiritual abilities and powers. Mahasiddhas were practitioners of yoga and tantra, or tantrikas, whose historical influence reached mythic proportions throughout the Indian subcontinent and the Himalayas, as codified in their songs of realization, or namtars, many of which have been preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon.
The focus of James Frazer’s research was to attempt to discover the source of the ancient religious tradition of the sacred killing of the king. In ancient paganism, the king was perceived to be the living embodiment of the dying-god, and therefore the fertility of the land was considered dependent on his health. As the king became frail with old age, the success of crops would become at risk, and it was therefore necessary to execute him to allow him to be succeeded by a more virile heir. Ancient monarchs eventually exercised their influence, such that a replacement, or scapegoat, was put in the king’s place for a time, and allowed to revel in his temporary role, until he was himself sacrificed in the king’s stead, during an annual New Years festival.
The origin of the sacred killing of the king was the Zagmuk, or New Year’s festival, corresponding to our Easter, when Babylonians celebrated the death and resurrection of their chief god Marduk, the patron deity of Babylon, also known as Bel. Three important ceremonies were performed for Bel. These acts of worship were fertility rites, referring to the agricultural cycle of nature, with the death of crops in winter and the return of life in the spring, but were also viewed as actually recreating the cosmos itself. In Uruk the festival was associated with the god An, the Sumerian god of the night sky. Both are essentially equivalent in all respects to the Akkadian Akitu festival.
Zagmuk, which literally means “beginning of the year,” was a Mesopotamian festival celebrating the triumph of Marduk, over the forces of Chaos, symbolized in later times by Tiamat. As the battle between Marduk and Chaos lasts twelve days, so does Zagmuk. The peak of the festival took place on the Spring Equinox. First, the Enuma elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, was read, which recounted when the Anunnaki gods gathered together to find one god who could defeat the gods rising against them. Annunaki, seven judges of the Underworld, the children of the god Anu, who had once lived in heaven but were banished for their misdeeds, are the origin of the numerous accounts of legendary giants, known as the Anakim in Flood story of the Bible, otherwise recognized as the Fallen Angels, or the Titans of Greek mythology.
Marduk answered the Annunaki’s call and was promised the position of head god. Marduk sets out for battle, mounting his storm-chariot drawn by four horses with poison in their mouths and defeats the leader of the Anunnaki gods, who is the Dragon, Tiamat. There was a dramatic representation of the conflict between Marduk and Tiamat, during which the god is vanquished and slain, but is raised from death by magical ceremonies, and eventually overcomes the Dragon. Secondly, the king is brought before the image of Marduk, his insignia are removed, and he is slapped in the face by the high-priest. An omen was taken at this point, that if the blow produced tears, the year would be prosperous and vegetation would grow. Finally, in a ceremony known as a sacred marriage, the king, acting the part of the god, practiced ritual copulation with a priestess, symbolizing the union of the god and the goddess. At the festival’s end, the king was slain. To spare their king, Mesopotamians often utilized a mock king, played by a criminal who was anointed as king before the start of Zagmuk, and killed on the last day.
In common with Jesus, Mithras was born in a cave surrounded by animals and shepherds at the Winter Solstice in December, dates that had specific astronomical significance. In the Julian calendar, the twenty-fifth of December was reckoned the winter solstice, and was regarded as the Nativity of the Sun, because from this date the length of the day began to increase, and therefore, was regarded as the day of the rebirth of the Sun-god and the rejuvenation of life. The Gospels, however, say nothing as to the day of Christ’s birth, and accordingly the early Church did not celebrate it. In time, though, the Christians of Egypt had come to regard the sixth of January as the birth of the Savior, and that date gradually spread until, by the fourth century AD, it was universally established in the East. Finally, however, at the end of the third or the beginning of the fourth century AD, the Western Church, which had never recognized the sixth of January as the day of the Nativity, adopted the twenty-fifth of December as the true date.
The later Roman Empire celebrated the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Nativity of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25. It was preceded by the Roman festival of the Saturnalia, which according to James Frazer, was an accommodation of a more ancient Babylonian ritual of Zagmuk. The Roman playwright Accius (170 – c. 86 BC) traced the Saturnalia to the ancient Greek festival of the Kronia, dedicated to Cronus.
In the Saturnalia of Macrobius, the proximity of the Saturnalia to the winter solstice leads to an exposition of solar monotheism, the belief that the Sun (Sol Invictus) ultimately encompasses all divinities as one. The Saturnalia, which is the source of Christmas, was celebrated in honor of Saturn, the origin of Santa.74 The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. A common custom was the election of a “King of the Saturnalia,” who would give orders to people and preside over the merrymaking.
As reported by Strabo, the Persians celebrated a festival called Sacaea, named after the Sacaea, which derived from the ancient Babylonian Zagmuk, which involved the killing of the king. According to Strabo, the Sacaea as it was found in Asia Minor was celebrated alongside the worship of the Persian goddess Anaitis, the mother of Mithras. Strabo describes it as a Bacchic orgy, held at the spring equinox, at which the celebrants were disguised as Scythians, and women drank and reveled together day and night. James Frazer pointed out what he considered a striking parallel to the killing of the king ritual, found among the limited monarchy of the Khazars, “where the kings were liable to be put to death either on the expiry of a set term or whenever some public calamity, such as drought, dearth, or defeat in war, seemed to indicate a failure of their natural powers. The evidence for the systematic killing of the Khazar kings, drawn from the accounts of old Arab travellers, has been collected by me elsewhere.”
Consistent in the Templar confession was the admission of having worshipped a head called Baphomet, usually metal with black, curly hair, with silver-gilt on the neck and shoulders. Descriptions varied from “a foul and black idol” to one which “seemed to be white with a beard.” Two witnesses claimed that it had three faces. One witness heard it said that it was the head of the first Master of the Order, Hughes de Payens, and from the nape of the neck to the shoulders it was completely encrusted with precious stones of gold and silver. It was represented as the true power, as opposed to Christ, who was a false prophet and had not been sent to earth for the salvation of mankind. On the contrary, the head was the source of salvation in the next life and the fertility of the earth in this one. Some argue the head referred to rituals involving the alleged relics of John the Baptist.
In his book De Occulta Philosophia published in 1531–1533, the German occultist and magician, Henry Cornelius Agrippa, mentioned the Templars in connection with the Gnostics and the worship of the pagan fertility god Priapus, the ugly son of Dionysus and Aphrodite, whose symbol was a huge erect penis, and the Greek, half man—half goat god, Pan. The worship of pan was associated with a Medieval variation of the Green Man, a motif often related to fertility deities found in different cultures throughout the world, such as the Celtic god Cernunnos, Green George, Jack in the green, John Barleycorn, Robin Goodfellow, Puck, and the Green Knight of Grail legend. A more modern version is found in Peter Pan, who enters the civilized world from Neverland, clothed in green leaves. At Temple Church in London, there are twelve carvings of Green Man heads above the portal to the round church, with four foliate shoots growing from the mouths in the shapes of ‘X’.
The equivalent in Islamic mysticism is al Khidr of the Sufis, whose equivalent is Elijah and Saint George. The popularity of Saint George in later medieval times was a result of the Crusades. There were reports that in 1063 in a battle in Sicily between Normans and Fatimid Muslims, a vision of Saint George was seen in shining armor with a white banner. In Constantinople the crusaders saw the splendid church of Saint George and when they reached Antioch and Jerusalem, visions of George were reported. A church at Fordington in Dorset has a bas-relief over its doorway depicting George’s appearance at Antioch, and paintings of him dated to the twelfth century exist in Westmeston and Hardham in Sussex. It has been said that Richard the Lionheart saw a vision of George in Palestine, placed his army under the saint’s protection, and promoted the cross of Saint George as a national emblem. Khidr also shows certain affinities with the ancient dying-god by also representing fertility, which is offered as the reason for his association with the color green. Likewise, Elijah’s association with fertility and rain production is widespread in Biblical and rabbinic literature.
Feast of Fools
As in the case of the Bacchanalia, after centuries during which very little is known about the ancient festivals, celebrations like the Saturnalia make their reappearance during the late Medieval period. The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the third and fourth centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, many of its customs were recast later celebrations in western Europe occurring in midwinter, particularly traditions associated with Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and Epiphany.
The twelve days of Christmas, like the Saturnalia, were marked by massive eating, drinking and game playing and also by rituals of inversion. Present-day Christmas traditions such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from Yuletide, a twelve-day pagan festival, indicating the month of “Yule” (January). Yule was observed by the historical Germanic peoples, connected to the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht. The Wild Hunt, is a European folkloric motif that typically involved a ghostly or supernatural group of hunters passing in wild pursuit. The hunters may be either elves or fairies or the dead, and the leader of the hunt is often a named figure associated with Odin. The Yule later underwent Christianized reformulation resulting in the term Christmastide. Odin’s role during the Yuletide has been theorized as having influenced concepts of St. Nicholas, and later Santa Claus, in a variety of facets, including his long white beard and his gray horse for nightly rides.
Within these twelve days, December 28, the day on which the Church commemorated the Massacre of the Innocents—Herod’s slaughter of the male infants after Jesus’ birth—was celebrated in part of medieval Europe, notably in France, with a particular ritual inversion known as the Feast of Fools. In England, the Lord of Misrule, known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason and in France as the Prince des Sots, was an officer appointed by lot during Christmastide to preside over the Feast of Fools. The historical western European Christmas custom of electing a “Lord of Misrule” have its roots in Saturnalia celebrations. James Frazer claimed that the appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from an ancient custom known as the “Killing of the King,” such as the one practiced during the Roman celebration of Saturnalia. In ancient Rome, from December 17 to 23 in the Julian Calendar, a man was chosen to mockingly take the place of the king during the feast of Saturnalia. In the guise of the Roman deity Saturn, at the end of the festival, the man was sacrificed.
The Feast of Fools held on or about January 1, particularly in France, in which a mock bishop or pope was elected, ecclesiastical ritual was parodied, and low and high officials exchanged places. A report from the year 1198 noted that at the Feast of the Circumcision in Notre Dame in Paris, “so many abominations and shameful deeds” were committed that the locale was desecrated “not only by smutty jokes, but even by the shedding of blood.” In 1444, a letter from the Theological Faculty of Paris to all the French bishops complained that “even the priests and clerics elected an archbishop for a bishop or pope, and named him the Fools’ Pope.”
Victor Hugo recreated a picturesque account of a Feast of Fools in his 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which it is celebrated on January 6, 1482 and Quasimodo serves as Pope of Fools. This is shown in Disney’s 1996 animated film version of the novel through the song “Topsy Turvy,” whose lyrics include, “It’s the day the devil in us gets released; It’s the day we mock the prig and shock the priest; Ev’rything is topsy turvy at the Feast of Fools!” Victor Hugo cites Jean de Troyes who in the fifteenth century remarked that what “excited all the people of Paris” on January 6 was the two age-old celebrations of the Feast of the Epiphany and the Feast of Fools. The day included a bonfire on the Place de Grève, a mystery play at the Palais de Justice, and a maypole at the chapel of Braque.
The European Carnival (Mardi Gras) also resembles the Saturnalia. The word Carnival is of Christian origin, and in the Middle Ages, it referred to a period following Christmastide that reached its climax before midnight on Shrove Tuesday. Some folklorists have also claimed that Carnival derives from the Bacchanalia and even that it takes its name from the wheeled ship (carrus navalis), which carried the ithyphallic image of the god.
A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected on May Day as a part of various European folk festivals, around which a maypole dance often takes place. May-poles were remnants of the ancient phallic Asherah poles dedicated to the worship of Baal. Phallic symbolism has been attributed to the maypole in the later Early Modern period, as one sexual reference is in John Cleland’s controversial eighteenth century erotic novel Fanny Hill: “…and now, disengag’d from the shirt, I saw, with wonder and surprise, what? not the play-thing of a boy, not the weapon of a man, but a maypole of so enormous a standard, that had proportions been observ’d, it must have belong’d to a young giant.”
An illustration of Robin Goodfellow (Puck) from 1639 represents the influence of Pan imagery giving Puck the hindquarters, cloven hooves and horns of a goat and an erect penis like Priapus, surrounded by circle of dancing witches and sorcerers and a black cat. In 1584, Reginald Scot identified Robin Hood with the Germanic goblin “Hudgin” or Hodekin and associated him with Robin Goodfellow. Robin Hood was a species of “fairy” derived ultimately from the old Celtic and Saxon fertility god or vegetation deity, the so-called “Green Man.” In popular folklore, Robin Hood was interchangeable with Green Robin, Robin of the Greenwood, Robin Goodfellow, who at the summer solstice, presides over fertility, sexuality, and nuptials.
Priapus, like Pan, was a European adaptation of the dying-god, in other words, a pagan version of Lucifer, associated with modern adaptations of the Bacchanalia or Saturnalia. Robin Goodfellow, like Puck, was often associated with Satan in the literature of medieval and Tudor England. “Puck” is related to both the Old English word paecan, to deceive, and the Gaelic puca, a malicious spirit, which later became a common term for the devil. The earliest surviving reference to Robin and his pranks is from an undated medieval text from the beginning of the fourteenth century, where he is allegorized as the devil. In Anthony Munday’s comedy Fidele and Fortunio, the Two Italian Gentlemen (1584), a character who conjures up a body from the dead, lists “Robin Goodfellow” among the evil spirits who include “the devil and his dam.” In the pamphlet Tell-Trothes New-Yeares Gift (1593), Robin visits “from hell.”
William Bell, a philologist of the mid-nineteenth-century, traced the etymology of “Puck” to a local Celtic variant of “Bog,” a pre-Christian Aryan god from whom the Greek god Bacchus is also allegedly descended. Most Slavonic languages still derive their word for God from “bog.” Dazbog (a.k.a. Devac), was represented by a white goat. The ancient proto-Slavic Koliada (Yule) festivals honoring the god always had a person dressed as a goat, often demanding offerings in the form of presents. This connects to the Yule goat as a Scandinavian and Northern European Yule and Christmas symbol and tradition. A man-sized goat figure is known from eleventh-century tradition of Childermas, where it was led by a man dressed as Saint Nicholas, symbolizing his control over the Devil. Most late Tudor and Stuart representations of Puck/Robin have him pronouncing “ho ho ho.”
The cult of the pagan goddess was incorporated in the Robin Hood legends as Maid Marion. Alongside the veneration of Mary Magdalene, the cult of Mary the Gypsy was widespread in England during the Middle Ages. In the early days of Christianity, the Emperor Constantine banned the veneration of Mary the Gypsy, but her cult continued, and it was introduced into England from Spain. Mary the Gypsy, as sacred harlot, was ritually portrayed by the Anglo-Saxons as the May Queen, and her dancers, Mary’s Men, still perform their rites under the corrupted name of Morris Men in English rural festivities. Another reference to Mary’s Men is found in the Merrie Men of the Robin Hood tales. On Midsummer’s Day, every village virgin would become, metaphorically, Queen of the May. Many of them would be ushered into the “greenwood” where they would undergo their sexual initiation at the hands of a youth playing the role of Robin Hood or Robin Goodfellow, while Friar Tuck, the “Abbot of Unreason,” would officiate, “blessing” the mating couples in a parody of formal nuptials.
Knights of the Helmet
In Advancement of Learning, Bacon argues that just as there are “brotherhoods” in families and those associated with certain skills (crafts guilds), there should also be a “fraternity in learning and illumination.” By 1586, the Fra Rosi Crosse Society, or the Order of the Rosicrucians, which became a degree in the Knights of the Helmet. Bacon this later gave the group the name of Acception Masons, who were to carry out the long-term objectives of societal reform outlined in the Advancement of Learning:
…we here deliver [not] an option, but a work; and assure themselves we attempt not to found any sect or particular doctrine, but to fix an extensive basis for the services of human nature… That they do not despair, as imagining our project for a grand restoration, or advancement of all kinds of knowledge, infinitely beyond the power of mortals to execute… Indeed, as our state is mortal, and human, a full accomplishment cannot be exposed in a single age, and must therefore be commended to prosperity.
As summarized by Peter Dawkins, the founder-principal of the Francis Bacon Research Trust:
In The Honourable Order of the Knights of the Helmet, Francis Bacon presented his philosophical ideals and an Order of knighthood dedicated to carrying them out. The purpose of the Order was to correct the errors of the past and bring order out of chaos. The knights vow to keep nineteen articles, full of Baconian philosophy and precepts, including vows to defend God and the State, to attack ignorance, and to defend truth and virtue ceaselessly and secretly. The name of this philosophical Order of knights refers to the divine Spear-shaker, Pallas Athena, the Tenth Muse and Patroness of the Arts and Sciences, whose helmet guards the sacred diadem of the Prince of Purpoole. In addition, the goddess presents helmets to her knight-heroes, hence the Order of the Knights of the Helmet. These helmets were said to bestow invisibility on the wearer as well as being “will helms” (the derivation of “William”), meaning “helmets of strength”, a symbolism that has the further cabalistic meaning of righteousness, virtue, clear perception and judgement. All such knights are, metaphorically, spear-shakers or shake-speares, like the Gemini and St George. They are also “invisible brethren,” a term used to describe the Rosicrucian fraternity.
At Gray’s Inn, Bacon was a member of the Order of the Helmet, dedicated to the goddess Pallas Athena, who was most often represented dressed in armor like a male soldier, holding a spear in her right hand, with a serpent writhing at her feet, and wearing a Corinthian helmet raised high atop her forehead. Developed in the early seventh century BC, the “Corinthian style” helmet had no ear holes, but had solid nose guard a phallic cap-shaped crown. It is also known as the Cap of Hades, Helm of Hades, or Helm of Darkness. Wearers of the cap in Greek myths include Athena, the goddess of wisdom, the messenger god Hermes, and the hero Perseus. Rabelais called it the Helmet of Pluto, and Erasmus the Helmet of Orcus, a Roman god of the underworld.
In classical mythology, the helmet was also known as the Cap of Invisibility that can turn the wearer invisible. According to Bacon, “the helmet of Pluto, which maketh the politic man go invisible, is secrecy in the counsel, and celerity in the execution.” Thus the members of the Order of the Helmet likewise served “invisible” to the world, much of their labor being published anonymously or under pseudonyms. To signify their vow of invisibility the knights of the order all had to kiss Athena’s helmet. Pallas Athena was known as “the Spear Shaker” or the “Shaker of the Spear,” while the cryptically hyphenated version of the name “Shake-Speares” appeared on the title pages of certain plays of Shakespeare, and on every page of the first edition of his sonnets.
Lord of Misrule
The intellectual development of dramas in schools, universities, and Inns of Court in Europe allowed the emergence of the great playwrights of the late sixteenth century. In contrast to Cambridge and Oxford, who produced theatre as a literary study, the London Inns of Court produced theatre as a means of entertainment. Until the end of the seventeenth century, these performances typically took the form of masques written by law students at the Inns of Court. Once the Inns of Court transitioned from masques to plays, the so-called third university served as a cradle for classical English drama. Eventually, by the early seventeenth century, writers such as Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare began producing English comedies at the Inns of Court, thus expanding the range of materials performed.
The style of the plays of Shakespeare, Marlowe and Jonson is referred to as English Renaissance theatre, also known as Elizabethan theatre. Academic drama refers to a theatrical movement that emerged in the mid sixteenth century during the Renaissance. With the rediscovery and redistribution of classical materials during the English Renaissance, Latin and Greek plays began to be restaged. Dedicated to the study of classical dramas for the purpose of higher education, universities in England began to produce the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, and Seneca the Younger (among others) in the Greek and Roman languages, as well as neoclassical dramas.
Academic drama stems from late medieval and early modern practices of miracles and morality plays as well as the Feast of Fools and the election of a Lord of Misrule. The Feast of Fools includes mummer plays, folk plays performed by troupes of amateur actors, traditionally all male, known as mummers or guisers. Early scholars of folk drama, influenced by James Frazer’s The Golden Bough, tended to view these plays as survivals of pre-Christian fertility ritual. Mummer refers particularly to a play in which a number of characters are called on stage, two of whom engage in a combat, the loser being revived by a Doctor character. This play is sometimes found associated with a sword dance. Mummers are generally performed seasonally or annually, often at Christmas, Easter or on Plough Monday, more rarely on Hallowe’en or All Souls’ Day, and often with a collection of money, in which the practice may be compared with other customs such as those of Halloween, Bonfire Night, wassailing, pace egging and first-footing at new year. The principal characters are a hero, most commonly Saint George, King George, or Prince George (Robin Hood in the Cotswolds and Galoshin in Scotland), and his chief opponent, (known as the Turkish Knight in southern England), named Slasher elsewhere, and a quack Doctor to restore the slain man to life. Other characters include Old Father Christmas, who introduces some plays, the Fool and Beelzebub or Little Devil Doubt, who collects money from the audience. Despite the frequent presence of Saint George, the Dragon rarely appears although it is often mentioned.
Ingrid Brainard argues that the English word “mummer” is ultimately derived from the Greek name Momus, the god of carnivals. In Greek mythology, Momus was the personification of satire and mockery. In Aesop’s fables Momus is asked to judge the handiwork of three gods: a man, a house and a bull. He found all at fault: the man because his heart was not on view to judge his thoughts; the house because it had no wheels so as to avoid troublesome neighbors; and the bull because it did not have eyes in its horns to guide it when charging. For that reason, Plutarch and Aristotle criticized Aesop’s story-telling as deficient, while it was defended by Lucian, who is best known for his tongue-in-cheek style, with which he ridiculed superstition, religious practices, and belief in the paranormal. In Lucian’s The Gods in Council Momus takes a leading role in a discussion on how to purge Olympus of foreign gods and barbarian demi-gods who are lowering its heavenly tone.
Bacon describes the precepts put forward in The Advancement of Learning as based on knowledge ourselves and knowledge of others, citing the example of Momus, who found fault in the human heart for its lack of a window. During the Renaissance, several literary works used Momus as a mouthpiece for their criticism of tyranny, while others later made him a critic of contemporary society. Leon Battista Alberti wrote the political work Momus or The Prince (1446), which continued the god’s story after his exile to earth. Since his continued criticism of the gods was destabilizing the divine establishment, Jupiter bound him to a rock and had him castrated. Giordano Bruno’s philosophical treatise The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast (1584) also harkens to Lucian’s example. There Momus plays a central role in the series of dialogues conducted by the Olympian deities and Bruno’s narrators as Jupiter seeks to purge the universe of evil.
Gray’s Inn, as well as the other Inns of Court, became noted for the parties and festivals it hosted. During the reign of Elizabeth I, Gray’s Inn rose in prominence, and that period is considered the “golden age” of the Inn, with Elizabeth serving as the Patron Lady. Gray’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court, professional associations for barristers in England and Wales. The four Inns, established between 1310 and 1357, are Lincoln’s Inn, Gray’s Inn, the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple. The Temples takes their name from the Knights Templar, who originally leased the land to the Temple’s inhabitants (Templars) until their abolition in 1312. After the Templars were dissolved in 1312, their land was seized by the king and granted to the Knights Hospitaller. With the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, the Hospitallers’ properties were confiscated by the king, who leased them to the Inner and Middle Temples until 1573. James VI of Scotland, who would succeed Elizabeth as King James, granted the land to a group of noted lawyers and Benchers, including Sir Julius Caesar and Henry Montague, and to “their heirs and assignees for ever.”
In winter 1561, the Inner Temple was the scene of an extraordinary set of revels and a performance of a play called Gorboduc, before Queen Elizabeth, that celebrated the raising of Robert Dudley as the Temple’s “Christmas Prince.” Dudley was granted the role in gratitude for his intervention in a dispute with the Middle Temple over Lyon’s Inn, one of the Inns of Chancery that had historically been tied to the Inner Temple. Dudley’s influence swayed Elizabeth into asking Nicholas Bacon—as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, and father of Francis Bacon—to rule in favor of the Inner Temple, and in gratitude the Parliament and Governors of the Inner Temple swore never to take a case against Dudley and to offer him their legal services whenever required. This pledge was always honored, and in 1576 the Inner Temple Parliament referred to Dudley as the “chief governor of this House.” The play was partially documented by Gerard Legh in his Accedens of Armory, a book of heraldry woodcuts, which described Dudley as bearing the shield of Pallas, and being Prince Pallaphilos, the second Perseus, lieutenant of the goddess Pallas Athena—personifying Queen Elizabeth—and patron of the order of Pegasus, the horse of honor.
Printed in 1688 from a manuscript apparently passed down from the 1590s, the Gesta Grayorum is an account of the Christmas revels by the law students at Gray’s Inn in 1594. On 28 January 1594, Bacon took over the role of Treasurer of Gray’s Inn, where he was responsible for the revels. It was decided that the Inn was to be turned into a mock royal court and kingdom, ruled by a “Prince,” in jesting imitation of the royal court of Queen Elizabeth, complete with masques, plays, dances, pageants, ceremonial. The revels, which took place over the Twelve Days of Christmas, were called The Prince of Purpoole and the Honourable Order of the Knights of the Helmet. The title referred to the Manor of Purpoole or Portpoole, the original name of Gray’s Inn. Like the mummers, the theme of these revels centered around the idea of errors being committed, disorder ensuing, and a trial held of the “Sorcerer” responsible, who then restores order.
The entertainment would have included drinking the health of the Prince of Purpoole, usually a student elected Lord of Misrule for the duration of the Festival. The Lord of Misrule was sometimes called “Captain Christmas,” “Prince Christmas” or “The Christmas Lord,” being the origin of Father Christmas, and later Santa Claus. In the Inns of Court, the Lord of Misrule was represented by lawyers dressed as a prince: the Prince d’Amour for the Middle Temple, the Prince of the Sophie for the Inner Temple, the Prince of the Grange for Lincoln’s Inn, and the Prince of Purpoole for Gray’s Inn. The Lord of Misrule to John Milton, in a masque of the same name, was the pagan god Comus. In Greek mythology, Comus is the god of festivity and revelry, and the root of the word “comedy.” Ben Jonson associated Comus with Bacchus in Poetaster (1602): “we must live and honor the Gods sometimes, now Bacchus, now Comus, now Priapus.” In Jonson’s Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue, Comus, the god of cheer, the Belly-god appears as a character, riding in triumph with his head crowned with roses. The Neo-Latin play Comus (1610) by Erycus Puteanus was performed in Oxford in 1634. Ben Jonson dedicated Every Man out of His Humor to “the noblest nurseries of humanity and liberty, the INNS OF COURT.”
All the World’s a Stage
For the Christmas of 1594, Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors was performed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men after a day of banqueting and revelry at Gray’s Inn presided over by the Prince of Purpoole. Dame Frances Yates observed in The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, “Shakespeare’s preoccupation with the occult, with ghosts, witches, fairies, is understood as deriving less from popular tradition than from deep-rooted affinity with the learned occult philosophy and its religious implications.” Early editors of Shakespeare also saw echoes of Rabelais in As You Like It.
The story for As You Like It features, which many of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches such as “All the world’s a stage,” “too much of a good thing” and “A fool! A fool! I met a fool in the forest,” was derived from Rosalynde, Euphues Golden Legacie (1590) by Thomas Lodge (c. 1558 – 1625), a member of Lincoln’s Inn. Rosalynde features the rivalries between the sons of a Knight of Malta. As the author of A Fig for Momus, Lodge has been called the earliest English satirist. Lodge had published a historical romance, The History of Robert, Second Duke of Normandy, surnamed Robert the Devil, based on a medieval legend about a Norman knight who discovers he is the son of Satan. The original of Robert the Devil was Robert, father of William the Conqueror, and sixth Duke of Normandy. Owing to uncertainty over the numbering of the Dukes of Normandy he is usually called Robert I, but sometimes Robert II with his ancestor Rollo the Viking as Robert I.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is replete with occult symbolism. The play also intertwines the Midsummer Eve, referring to the traditional pagan holiday of the summer solstice, and May Day. Both David Wiles of the University of London and Harold Bloom of Yale University have strongly endorsed the reading of this play under the themes of Carnivalesque, Bacchanalia, and Saturnalia. Shakespeare’s Puck, a Robin Goodfellow, is a “shrewd and knavish sprite,” mischievous fairy, sprite, or jester who delights in pranks and practical jokes, is the Lucifer character.
The idea of the mischievous Puck, like Comus, also inspired the archetype of the wise fool, which Shakespeare greatly helped popularize in the English theater through incorporating the trope in a variety of characters throughout many of his plays. The paradox of the wise fool is famously demonstrated through the jester in Shakespeare’s King Lear, who works in the royal court and remains the only character who Lear does not severely punish for speaking his mind about the king and his precarious situations.
The wise fool is a literary paradox that can be found in a wide range of early literature around the world, from Greco-Roman works to the oral traditions of folk culture, but the paradox received especial attention during the Renaissance. More than Shakespeare or Cervantes’ Don Quijote, Erasmus of Rotterdam, who praised Momus as a champion of legitimate criticism of authorities in In Praise of Folly (1511), a satirical attack on superstitions and other traditions of European society as well as on the Western Church. Rotterdam is often credited for creating the definitive wise fool through his portrayal of Stultitia, the goddess of folly. Influential to all later fools, she shows the foolish ways of the wise and the wisdom of fools through delivering her own eulogy, The Praise of Folly.
In Praise of Folly is considered one of the most notable works of the Renaissance and played an important role in the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. Even Pope Leo X and Cardinal Cisneros are said to have found it amusing. The essay is filled with allusions to classical mythology delivered in a style typical of the leading humanists of the Renaissance. It was originally written in the space of a week while sojourning with Sir Thomas More, the author of Utopia, at More’s house in the City of London. The Latin title Moriae Encomium had a punning second meaning as In Praise of More.
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night includes numerous references to the Feast of Fools. The revelry of the Saturnalia included the appointment in each community of someone to personify Saturn as the Jester or Lord of Misrule. Similar to the real fools and jesters of the time, fools in Shakespeare are usually clever peasants or commoners that use their wits to outdo people of higher social standing. The jester is related to the harlequin, the best-known of the zanni or comic servant characters from the Commedia dell’arte. The harlequin inherits his physical agility and his trickster qualities, as well as his name, from a mischievous “devil” character in medieval passion plays.
Many royal courts throughout English royal history employed entertainers and most had professional fools, sometimes called licensed fools. In Renaissance times, aristocratic households in Britain employed licensed fools or jesters, who sometimes dressed as other servants, but generally wore a motley coat, hood with donkey’s ears or a red-flannel coxcomb and bells. Regarded as pets or mascots, they served not simply to amuse but to criticize their master or mistress and their guests. During the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I of England, William Shakespeare wrote his plays and performed with his theatre company the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later called the King’s Men). Clowns and jesters were featured in Shakespeare’s plays, and the company’s expert on jesting was Robert Armin, author of Fooled upon Foole. In Twelfth Night, Feste the jester is described as “wise enough to play the fool.” The English word “clown,” which was first recorded c. 1560, is used as the name of fool characters in Shakespeare’s Othello and The Winter’s Tale. The sense of clown as referring to a professional or habitual fool or jester developed soon after 1600, based on Elizabethan “rustic fool” characters such as Shakespeare’s.
The work that that launched Jan Matejko (1838 – 1893) to fame was a depiction of Jan Stanczyk (c. 1480–1560), probably the most famous jester in history, whose fame and legend were already strong during his own time, the Renaissance, who was employed by Sigismund the Old and Sigismund II. Stanczyk, the leading example of the “wise fool,” had a tremendous importance to Polish culture of later centuries, appearing in works of many artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Sigismund the Old was the grandson of Albert II of Germany and Elizabeth of Luxembourg, the daughter of Emperor Sigismund, founder of the Order of the Dragon. Sigismund II’s sister, Anna Jagiellon married Stephen Báthory, sponsor of John Dee and uncle of Elizabeth Báthory, the “Blood Countess.” The emblem of the Order of the Dragon was retained on the coat of arms of several Hungarian noble families, such as Bathory.
Christopher Marlowe was also a member of the School of Night, a modern name for a group of men centered on Sir Walter Raleigh that was once referred to in 1592 as the “School of Atheism.” It was alleged that each of these men studied science, philosophy, and religion, and all were suspected of atheism. Marlowe was the author of Doctor Faustus, which is the most controversial Elizabethan play outside of Shakespeare. It is based on the German story of Faust, a highly successful scholar who is dissatisfied with his life, which leads him to make a pact with the Devil, and exchange his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. There is no firm evidence that all of these men were known to each other, but speculation about their connections features prominently in some writing about the Elizabethan era.
Thomas Morton (c. 1579 – 1647), who maintained contacts with the School of Night, was an early American colonist from Devon, England, famed for founding the British colony of Merrymount, which was located in what is now Quincy, Massachusetts, and for his work studying Native American culture. In the late 1590s, Morton studied law at London’s Clifford’s Inn, where he was exposed to the “libertine culture” of the Inns of Court, where bawdy revels included Gesta Grayorum performances associated with Francis Bacon and Shakespeare. It is likely there that he met Ben Jonson, who would remain a friend throughout his life. Morton eventually settled into the service of Ferdinando Gorges, an associate of Sir Walter Raleigh, who was governor of the English port of Plymouth and a major colonial entrepreneur. Gorges had been part of Robert Devereux’s Essex Conspiracy, Essex’s Rebellion was an unsuccessful rebellion led by Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, in 1601 against Elizabeth I of England and the court faction led by Sir Robert Cecil to gain further influence at court. Gorges escaped punishment by testifying against the main conspirators who were executed for treason.
Gorges’ early involvement in the settlement of North America as well as his efforts in founding the Province of Maine in 1622 earned him the title of the “Father of English Colonization in North America,” even though Gorges himself never set foot in the New World. Gorges had sought to undermine the legal basis for Puritan settlements throughout New England. In 1607, as a shareholder in the Plymouth Company, he helped fund the failed Popham Colony, in present-day Phippsburg, Maine. Just when the Pilgrims were trying to establish New Plymouth, an English war veteran named Ferdinando Gorges claimed that he and a group of investors possessed the only legitimate patent to create a colony in the region. These financiers believed that they possessed a claim to all territory from modern-day Philadelphia to St. John, Newfoundland a point they emphasized in their charter. In 1622, Gorges received a land patent, along with John Mason, from the crown’s Plymouth Council for New England for the Province of Maine. In 1629, he and Mason divided the colony, with Mason’s portion south of the Piscataqua River becoming the Province of New Hampshire.
Morton would join forces with Gorges in his attempt to undermine the legal basis for the earliest English colonies in New England. By 1626, Morton had established a trading post at a place called Merrymount, on the site of modern-day Quincy, Massachusetts. Scandalous rumors spread of debauchery at Merrymount, including immoral sexual liaisons with native women and drunken orgies in honor of Bacchus and Aphrodite, or as the Puritan Governor William Bradford wrote in his history Of Plymouth Plantation, “They… set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing about it many days together, inviting the Indian women for their consorts, dancing and frisking together (like so many fairies, or furies rather) and worse practices. As if they had anew revived & celebrated the feasts of ye Roman Goddess Flora, or ye beastly practices of ye mad Bacchanalians.”
Morton declared himself “Lord of Misrule,” of the Feast of Fools. As historians note, the name “Merrymount” can also refer to the Latin phrase Mas Maris meaning “erect phallus.” On May 1, 1627, Merrymount decided to throw a party in the manner of Merrie Olde England. The Mayday festival, the “Revels of New Canaan,” inspired by “Cupid’s mother”—with its “pagan odes” to Neptune and Triton (as well as Venus and her lustful children, Cupid, Hymen and Priapus), its drinking song, and its erection of a huge 80-foot Maypole, topped with deer antlers—appalled the “Princes of Limbo,” as Morton referred to his Puritan neighbors. After a second Maypole party the following year, Myles Standish led a party of armed men to Merrymount, and arrested Morton. Morton returned to New England in 1629, where he wrote New English Canaan, that praised the wisdom and humanity of the Indians but mocked the Puritans, and made Morton a celebrity in political circles.
The second 1628 Mayday, “Revels of New Canaan,” inspired by “Cupid’s mother.” with its “pagan odes” to Neptune and Triton as well as Venus and her lustful children, Cupid, Hymen and Priapus, its drinking song, and its erection of a huge Maypole, topped with deer antlers, again scandalized his Puritan neighbours, whom he referred to as “Princes of Limbo.” The Plymouth militia under Myles Standish took the town the following June with little resistance, chopped down the Maypole and arrested Morton. He was marooned on the deserted Isles of Shoals, off the coast of New Hampshire, where he was essentially left to starve. However, he was supplied with food by friendly natives from the mainland, and he eventually gained strength to escape to England. The Merrymount community survived without Morton for another year, but was renamed Mount Dagon by the Puritans, after the Semitic sea god. During the severe winter famine of 1629, residents of New Salem under John Endecott raided Mount Dagon’s corn supplies and destroyed what was left of the Maypole, denouncing it as a pagan idol and calling it the “Calf of Horeb.” To the disappointment of the Pilgrims, Morton faced no legal action back in England. Instead, he returned to New England in 1629, settling in Massachusetts just as Winthrop and his allies were trying to launch their new colony. Morton was rearrested, again put on trial and banished from the colonies. The following year the colony of Mount Dagon was burned to the ground and Morton again shipped back to England.
Over the years, other rebels and free-thinkers have lived in Merrymount, which became Wollaston. The midwife Anne Hutchinson, who challenged the Puritan theocracy, lived there with her husband when they first arrived in New England in 1634. Hutchinson, who saw herself as a prophetess, became in involved in the Antinomian Controversy, which pitted John Winthrop and most of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Puritans against the Free Grace theology of her mentor John Cotton. John Hancock was born there, and John Quincy Adams, whose property in Quincy included the site of Mar-re Mount and who communicated to Thomas Jefferson his excitement upon finding a copy of New English Canaan after half a century. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “The May-Pole of Merry Mount” in his Twice-Told Tales (1837) and J. L. Motley’s Merry Mount (1849) are based on Morton’s colonial career.
Mystick Krewe of Comus
Mimi L. Eustis published a website in 2005, titled Mardi Gras Secrets, to share the deathbed confessions of her father Samuel Todd Churchill, a high-level member of the Mystick Krewe of Comus, a secret society founded in 1856 by Judah P. Benjamin and Albert Pike in order to meet and communicate the plans of the Rothschilds. The Mystick Krewe of Comus, which is named after John Milton’s Lord of Misrule in his masque Comus, is oldest continuous organization of New Orleans Mardi Gras, a modern adaptation of the Fbeneast of Fools festival. Prior to the advent of Comus, Carnival celebrations in New Orleans were mostly confined to the Roman Catholic Creole community, and parades were irregular and often very informally organized.
Judah P. Benjamin supported the founding of the Ku Klux Klan, which was the original military arm of the Knights of the Golden Circle. According to the organization’s histories, Albert Pike, who served as a general during the Civil War, was the “chief judicial officer” of the Klan despite the fact that Freemasons choose to insist that there is no documented evidence of his membership. The KKK had its origins in the Independent Order of the Sons of Malta, a fraternal order active in the mid-nineteenth century. Its initiation rites parodied more conventional fraternal orders such as the Freemasons. The entry for the Sons of Malta in the 1899 Encyclopedia of the History of St. Louis states that they were, “A mystic society, which came into existence in St. Louis in 1855, and which about the same time seems to have been represented in nearly all the larger, and many of the smaller, cities of the country.
The Sons of Malta are said to have originated in Mobile, Alabama, once the queen of mystic society cities, and to have been, in a sense, an outgrowth of Mardi Gras festivities.” The Mardi Gras was originally a Catholic festive season that occurs before the liturgical season of Lent. From Italy, Carnival traditions spread to Spain, Portugal, and France, and from France to New France in North America. From Spain and Portugal, it spread with colonization to the Caribbean and Latin America. Most Louisiana cities which were under French control at one time or another, also hold Carnival celebrations. The most widely known, elaborate, and popular US events are in New Orleans where Carnival season is referred to as Mardi Gras.
Although officially, the Krewe of Comus claims to descend from the Cowbellion de Rakin Society of Mobile, Alabama, Eustis’ father claimed the society was founded by Yankee bankers from New England, who used the society as a front for the House of Rothschild, as well as for Skull and Bones, which was a branch of the Bavarian Illuminati. Passage into the secret of the code number 33, the highest stages of membership within the Skull and Bones society, required participation in the ritual “Killing of the King.” Eustis says her father emphasized that most Masons below the 3º remained in ignorance, while those to who rose past the 33º did so by participating in the “Killing of the King” ritual.
According to Eustis, William H. Russell, the founder of Skull and Bones, had a key partner by the name of Caleb Cushing, who served as a U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts and Attorney General under President Franklin Pierce. Cushing was involved in the secret “Killing of the King” of Presidents William Henry Harrison (1773 –1841) in 1841, and Zachary Taylor (1784 – 1850) in 1850, who had both opposed admitting Texas and California as slave states. Cushing dispatched Albert Pike, where his mission was to further the cause of slavery and to foster the Civil War, and to establish a line of communication with other fellow Illuminati. Pike was chosen by Cushing to head an Illuminati branch in New Orleans and to establish a New World order. Pike moved his law office to New Orleans in 1853 and was made Masonic Special Deputy of the Supreme Council of Louisiana on April 25, 1857.
Cushing, recounted Eustis, dispatched Albert Pike to Arkansas and Louisiana. Pike’s mission was to further the cause of slavery and to foment a and America civil war, and to establish a line of communication with other fellow Illuminati. Pike was chosen by Cushing to head an Illuminati branch in New Orleans and to establish a New World order. Pike moved his law office to New Orleans in 1853 and was made Masonic Special Deputy of the Supreme Council of Louisiana on April 25, 1857. Eustis further asserts, Pike and Judah P. Benjamin needed a secret society in order to foster a civil war in the United States and to establish the House of Rothschild, for which purpose they founded the Mystick Krewe of Comus in that same year.
The Mystick Krewe of Comus was founded to observe Mardi Gras in a more organized fashion. The second-oldest krewe in the New Orleans Mardi Gras is the Krewe of Momus, Son of Night & Lord of Misrule, which was founded in 1872. The Knights of Momus has operated continuously since its founding, and remains a secret society. The 1877 parade theme, “Hades, A Dream of Momus,” caused an uproar when it took aim at the Reconstruction government established in New Orleans after the Civil War. Attempts at retribution by local authorities were largely unsuccessful due to the secrecy of the membership. Momus’s 1878 float was inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The inspiration for the Krewe of Comus came from Rosicrucian author John Milton’s Lord of Misrule in his masque Comus. The rebellious Thomas Morton declared himself “Lord of Misrule” during the pagan revelry in Merrymount in 1627, and his fellow celebrants were described by Young American Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 – 1864) in The May-Pole of Merry Mount (1837) as a “crew of Comus.” Hawthorne was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, where his ancestors included John Hathorne, the only judge involved in the Salem witch trials who never repented of his actions. Much of Hawthorne’s fiction, such as The Scarlet Letter is set in seventeenth-century Salem. In 1851, Hawthorne published The House of the Seven Gables, a Gothic novel whose setting was inspired by the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, a gabled house in Salem, belonging to Hawthorne’s cousin Susanna Ingersoll, and by his ancestors who had played a part in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. In Young Goodman Brown, the main character is led through a forest at night by the Devil, appearing as man who carries a black serpent-shaped staff. Goodman is led to a coven where the townspeople of Salem are assembled, including those who had a reputation for Christian piety, in-mixed with criminals and others of lesser reputations, as well as Indian priests. Herman Melville said the novel was “as deep as Dante” and Henry James called it a “magnificent little romance.”
Edgar Allan Poe, a fellow contributor to the Democratic Review, referred to Hawthorne’s short stories as “the products of a truly imaginative intellect.” Poe’s gothic works are replete with occult symbolism. Poe’s Cask of Amontillado enacts a Masonic ritual in a way that would be evident only to Masons. The story is set in an unnamed Italian city, told from the perspective of a man named Montresor plots to murder his friend Fortunato during Carnevale (Mardi Gras), while the man is drunk and wearing a jester’s motley. who, he believes, has insulted him. According to Robert Con Davis-Undiano, “the plot of story, from Montresor’s initial meeting with Fortunato during Italian Carnevale, through Fortunato’s final entombment, itself enacts an initiation rite for Freemasonry.”
The notion of Shakespeare’s wise fool has also survived into more modern examples, including the Royal Order of Jesters, the Merry Pranksters and most notoriously, the antics of Bohemian Groves. The Royal Order of Jesters is a male fraternal organization, founded in 1911, allowing only Shriners in good standing to join. The Jesters, whose past members have included movie stars, judges, prominent businessmen, and two presidents, is a tax-exempt organization that admits it is openly dedicated to the pursuit of mirth and merriment. According to the Jesters official website, “Whereas most Masonic bodies are dedicated to charity, The Royal Order of Jesters is a fun ‘degree,’ with absolutely no serious intent.” “Jesterdom” focuses on “humor, laughter, and mirth, with particular emphasis on the works of William Shakespeare.” Founding members are known as the “original cast.” Like the plays once performed at Gray’s Inn, the initiation ritual is a play of a mock trial, in this case, for the murder of Shakespeare. The motto of the Jesters is “Mirth is King,” because “all the world’s a stage.” The King is Momus. Some say that the Jesters wield undue influence over the Shriners. Also, they have risen through the ranks in every body of Masonry including the Scottish Rite, York Rite, Rosicrucians, Red Cross of Constantine, Eastern Star and the DeMolay organizations.
The Merry Pranksters were founded by Ken Kesey, who beginning in 1959, had volunteered as a research subject for medical trials financed by the CIA’s MK-Ultra. The name recalls The Mad-Merry Pranks of Robin Goodfellow attributed to Ben Jonson (1572 – 1637). Kesey was inspired by the “true fool natural” written about by Robert Armin, the leading comedy actor with Shakespeare’s Lord Chamberlain’s Men. When asked about the connection between Kesey the magician-prankster and his writing, he answered: “The common denominator is the joker. It’s the symbol of the prankster. Tarot scholars say that if it weren’t for the fool, the rest of the cards would not exist. The rest of the cards exist for the benefit of the fool.” Kesey’s role as a medical guinea pig inspired him to write One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1962, which featured the theme of Anti-Psychiatry popular at Esalen, which was founded on the notion of “divine madness.”
Bohemian Club hosts a two-week-long camp at Bohemian Grove. Bohemian Club was founded in 1872 in the San Francisco Bay Area from a regular meeting of journalists, artists, and musicians, including Mark Twain and Jack London. Bohemian Grove is a restricted campground located in Monte Rio, California, which brings together members of the some of the most prominent men in the world, including corporate leaders, celebrities, and government officials for relaxation and entertainment. The motto on the insignia of the Bohemian Club, “Weaving Spiders Come Not Here,” is a direct quote from Act 2, Scene 2, of Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The most memorable event is an elaborate ceremonial ritual called the Cremation of Care, which is held the first Saturday night, at the base of a 40-foot owl shrine, called the Owl of Bohemia, recalling the Illuminati Owl of Minerva. The ceremony involves the poling across a lake of a small boat containing an effigy of Care. Dark, hooded figures receive from the ferryman the effigy which is placed on an altar, and, at the end of the ceremony, set on fire. The “cremation” symbolizes the members banishing the “dull cares” of conscience. Music and pyrotechnics accompany the ritual for dramatic effect. One year, Cronkite provided the voice for the owl. According to the club’s librarian, who is also a historian at a large university, the event “incorporates druidical ceremonies, elements of medieval Christian liturgy, sequences directly inspired by the Book of Common Prayer, traces of Shakespearean drama and the 17th century masque, and late nineteenth century American lodge rites.”
 K. Karbiener & G. Stade. Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present, Volume 2, (Infobase Publishing, 2009), pp. 188-190.
 H.D. Muller. “Mythologie der griech.” Stimme, II 39 f; K. O. Miiller, Aeschylos, Eumeniden, p. 146 f; Stengel, “Die griech,” Sakralalterthimer, S. 87; cited in Arthur Fairbanks, “The Chthonic Gods of Greek Religion.” The American Journal of Philology , Vol. 21, No. 3 (1900), pp. 241-259.
 Carl Gustav Jung. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (New York: Bolingen, 1959), p. 255.
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 Ibid., pp. 14-18.
 Ibid., p. 16.
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 Ibid., p. 346.
 Henry Glassie. All Silver and No Brass, An Irish Christmas Mumming (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1976). p. 224.
 Peter Thomas Millington. The Origins and Development of English Folk Plays, National Centre for English Cultural Tradition (University of Sheffield, 2002), pp. 22, 139.
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 Stella P. Revard. John Milton Complete Shorter Poems (John Wiley & Sons, May 4, 2012), p. 90 n. 20.
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