Vaughan, Diana
The mythical figure in a famous nineteenth-century occult
hoax initiated by Leo Taxil, pseudonym of Gabriel JogandPagés,
a French journalist. From 1885 to 1886, Taxil published
a sensational story that one branch of Freemasonry was following
a form of devil-worship called Palladianism, of which
Diana Vaughan was the High Priestess. Allegedly, she was the
descendent of the seventeenth-century alchemist Thomas
Vaughan.
These revelations synchronized with Roman Catholic opposition
to Freemasonry (based upon their support of democratic
trends in nineteenth-century Europe) and were profitable for
Taxil. Diana Vaughan was supposed to have repented to her
Satanist background and embraced the Catholic Church. Her
memoirs were read with satisfaction by the pope himself.
An announcement appeared that she would appear at a
press conference on Easter Monday 1897. Instead, Taxil appeared
and calmly revealed his hoax, stating that he was merely
anxious to see how far he could dupe the church. News of this
deception was badly received, for the plot had lasted three or
four years, and Taxil had to be smuggled away under police
protection. In Britain, the hoax was exposed by occult scholar
Arthur Edward Waite in his book Devil Worship in France
(1896).
Sources
Waite, Arthur Edward. Devil Worship in France; or, The Question
of Lucifer A Record of Things Seen and Heard in the Secret Societies
According to the Evidence of Initiates. London, George Redway,
1896.

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