Jogand-Pagès, Gabriel (1854–ca. 1906)
Nineteenth-century French journalist who, under the name
‘‘Léo Taxil,’’ perpetrated an extraordinary and prolonged
hoax in which he claimed to have exposed devil worship within
Freemasonry. Jogand’s motives are not entirely clear even
today, but it seems that his hoax was also designed to embarrass
the Roman Catholic church.
In 1892 a book entitled Le Diable du XIXe Siècle was published
in Paris, attributed to ‘‘Dr. Bataille.’’ For a time the book
was thought to be the work of Dr. Charles Hacks, who contributed
a preface entitled ‘‘Revelations of an Occultist.’’ Hacks was
a real, although shadowy, figure. It was not until five years later
that the hoax was revealed by Jogand himself.
The groundwork for the hoax began as early as 1885 when
Jogand, as Léo Taxil, edited an anticlerical newspaper. He
began to publish exposés of Freemasonry, claiming that there
were lodges that practiced rites deriving from the Manichaean
heresy. With the publication of ‘‘Dr. Bataille’s’’ book, Jogand
introduced a sinister high priestess of satanic Freemasons. She
was Diana Vaughan, said to be a descendant of the seventeenth-century
alchemist Thomas Vaughan. She had been chosen
as a high priestess of Lucifer to overthrow Christianity and
win the world over to Satanism, Jogand wrote. Diana was supposed
to head a feminine cult of Freemasonry named Palladism.
Periodicals claiming to emanate from the Palladium were
published by Jogand.
His next audacious stroke was to announce that Diana
Vaughan had been converted from Satanism to the true Roman
Catholic faith. Her Memories d’une Ex-Palladist (1895–97) attracted
enormous interest and enthusiasm. They were read by
Pope Leo XIII, together with a short devotional work supposedly
composed by Vaughan, and His Holiness responded with
a papal benediction. It seemed that Jogand himself had repented
of his former freethinking and created a saintly impression.
He was received in private audience by the pope, who had expressed
approval of his anti-masonic writings, and an antimasonic
congress was summoned in 1887 at Trent, famous for
its sixteenth-century council.
By then there was great pressure for Diana Vaughan herself
to be produced from the unnamed convent where Jogand
claimed she was residing. It was announced that she would appear
on Easter Monday 1897 and give a press conference in
Paris. Instead, Jogand himself appeared and calmly announced
that he had invented the whole conspiracy. He claimed that he
himself had written Diana Vaughan’s confessions, but asserted
that Diana actually existed. She was his secretary, he said, and
it had appealed to her sense of humor to be involved. After this
astounding denouement, Jogand calmly left the hall by a side
door and enjoyed a coffee and cognac in a nearby cafe, while
a riot erupted in the lecture hall and the police were called in.
The whole affair was so extraordinary and deceived so many
people, including exalted ecclesiastics, that much confusion
still remains about Jogand’s motives. Clearly he was a great liar,
and even some details of his brazen confession are suspect. In
general he seems to have developed the hoax to discredit both
the Freemasons and the Catholic Church, but there also seem
to be elements of personal neurosis. Jogand came from a deeply
religious family but rebelled against his father’s authority. As
a young man, he early came into contact with Freemasonry and
revolutionary circles, for which he was punished by being sent
to a special school. He developed an aversion to authority and
became a freethinker, later earning his living as a journalist
concerned with freethinking publications.
Many questions remain unanswered about his great hoax as
‘‘Léo Taxil.’’ The book by ‘‘Dr. Bataille’’ is a substantial work,
and some of its revelations appear to be an imaginative embroidering
of known facts. They provided the believable base from
which the hoax could be worked. It is undoubtedly true that
there were some Rosicrucian elements in certain masonic temples,
and some of Taxil’s inventions are not unlike the claims
made against the Templars. Other individuals were evidently
parties to the hoax, including Hacks and someone willing to
pose as Diana Vaughan for photographs and for correspondence
that was unlikely to have been written by Jogand.
The hoax was forgotten by all but a few students of occult
history, but Taxil’s books reemerged in the 1980s as source material
from which contemporary anti-Mormon and antiSatanist
conspiracy books have been written.
Sources
Bataille, Dr. [Gabriel Jogand-Pagès]. Le Diable du XIXe Siècle.
Paris, 1892.
———. Memoire à l’ Adresse des Members du Congrès de Trent.
N.p., 1897.
Jastrow, Joseph. Error and Eccentricity in Human Belief. New
York Dover Publications, 1962.
Lea, H. C. Léo Taxil, Diana Vaughan et l’Eglise romaine. Paris,
1901.
Vaughan, Diana [Gabriel Jogand-Paqés]. Mémoires d’une ExPalladiste,
parfaite Initié, Indépendante. Paris, 1895–97.
Waite, A. E. Devil Worship in France. London, 1896.