Leo Taxil

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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 anti-masonic 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 anti-Satanist conspiracy books have been written.


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 Ex-Palladiste, parfaite Initié, Indépendante. Paris, 1895-97.

Waite, A. E. Devil Worship in France. London, 1896.

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Taxil, Leo

Pseudonym of Gabriel Jogand-Pagès, a French journalist of the nineteenth century, who sustained a prolonged occult hoax alleging devil-worship amongst French Freemasons.