Inside the Priory of Sion

Interview with Robert Howells
Author: Jaime Leal Anaya

More than two thousand years later, the life of Jesus the Christ, a celebrated king in his own right of the lineage of King David, is still inspiring millions of people not only in the West but everywhere across the planet. We have now reached the controversial year of 2012, patiently awaited by many as if it were a second coming of the Messiah and a herald of change, drastic change desired in all levels of life and society and the birth of a new era where people live in harmony with each other and our planet.

Yet the story of the life of Jesus, his true heritage, and message are still under heated dispute to this day. Not everyone has the same storyline. Most agree on the main characters but not on all the key and crucial elements that pose a challenge to religion, political parties, tradition and culture, history, and the human potential inherent in all, regardless of creed, race or gender.

New archaeological finds, such as the Nag Hammadi Library, where we see a very different picture and role of Mary Magdalene as beloved companion and keeper of secret teachings from Jesus, have stirred up the discussion in recent years. But possibly no one has brought attention to the mystery of the life of Jesus to the general public greater than the bestseller book and movie, The Da Vinci Code. There we hear about an influential and powerful secret society — the Priory of Sion — who has been guarding the truth behind the mystery for generations to this day.

English author Robert Howells has been investigating “secret societies” for several decades and, while he was manager of the famed Watkins Books in London, he was unexpectedly contacted by members of the Priory of Sion. His contacts inside Sion guided him also through the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau in the south of France in an attempt to reveal to him part of the secret guarded by the Priory. He has now published what he has learned of their secrets, intentions, and mission — and what they are preparing to reveal to the world in the near future in an attempt to guide the course of humanity — in his book, Inside the Priory of Sion. Do not miss this SuperConsciousness exclusive interview with Robert Howells. The story just got a lot more interesting!

SC: Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and what ignited your interest for secret societies and their hidden knowledge in the beginning?

Robert Howells: I have spent the last twenty years investigating the mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau and the Priory of Sion. During this time I have built up an extensive knowledge and experience of secret societies, symbolism and esoteric thought. As a manager for five years of Watkins Books in London, one of the oldest esoteric bookshops in Europe, I extended my research into transpersonal psychology, sacred geometry, Gnosticism and alchemy. I came into contact with a number of secret societies during this time, including the Priory of Sion, the Freemasons, the Order of Lazarus, various neo-Templar orders plus Sufis, and other religious groups.

From 2003 to 2007, I worked as lead consultant and researcher on Bloodline – the Movie, an independent documentary by 1244 Films, which premiered in New York in 2008, and I have done talks and radio interviews in the USA and UK to promote this film.

During the making of Bloodline, I acted as mediator between the producers of the film and the Priory of Sion. When contacting Sion, I offered them the opportunity to put the record straight on the controversy sparked by The Da Vinci Code. In response, the Priory of Sion imparted a wealth of information including over 300 emails, images and documentation, and have continued to do so to this day. Along with my own research, I compiled the information into my most recent book, Inside the Priory of Sion.

I have also worked in other writings, such as a feature film script titled “Belief in an Age of Chaos” and a television series based on secret societies called “The Hidden,” articles for magazines, and am currently working on a second book.

A number of threads came together for me early on. My father was an avid reader of mysteries and alternative history so I was exposed to the works of Immanuel Velikovsky and various mythologies from around the world from an early age.

I also experienced astral projection and lucid dreaming at times before I had any idea those terms existed or what they meant. From the ideas in circulation and from direct experience, I began to form a different view of the world to the one being taught in education, a different point of view on life.

From this starting point I continued with both the external researching of mysteries and the inner work as a form of personal development.

I wanted to know if the secret societies had any real secrets. It’s clear from any reading around history and religion that much has been suppressed or destroyed. And now we live in an age where so much information is available it I would seem difficult to keep any secrets. I read into Freemasonry and the Rosicrucians and other secret societies and there was this sense of a secret Christianity that is not represented in churches.

SC: You mention in your book that you had never come across the name Priory of Sion before in your research, until the book “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” came out in the 1980s. Had you been exposed to the mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau at all before that book came out? You also mention that initially you did not trust the information from Pierre Plantard, who influenced the writers. Can you also tell us about these alleged confessions from Plantard in the 1950s and 1990s?

RH: No, even in the late 1980s there was very little in English on the subject. I read everything available in the space of a few months and even went to Rennes-le-Chateau to see for myself the “evidence” linking the mystery to the Priory of Sion. Initially I was deeply unsatisfied with what I found.

What fueled my interest was the simple search for truth that is an internal search within my own psyche and is mirrored in my external life. It is like a pilgrimage as a physical, spiritual and psychological endeavor. The Rennes mystery has a sense of unfinished business for me and I find myself drawn to it periodically.

To some extent I think every quest we undertake has the potential to develop us.

Plantard’s era is long before my time so it is difficult to have a clear view of his exact intentions. He seems to have been given the task of revealing information about the heresy of Jesus and Mary Magdalene being married and having children whose descendents live to this day. This was the conclusion reached by The Holy Blood, Holy Grail authors, but then it was felt by other members of Sion that he had gone too far and he was instructed to retract the information.

By then the damage was done but this also suits the Priory of Sion as they often release information in a way that the believers can ignore or discredit while those that are interested will take as real.

SC: Can you tell us about your discoveries that led you to write your new book, “Inside the Priory of Sion”? And how did you gain access inside the Priory of Sion?

RH: I spent a lot of time visiting the area of Rennes-le-Chateau and also St Sulpice in Paris. My library of research was also growing as I was still reading all related information.

I had first encountered the Priory of Sion when working as a manager at Watkins Bookshop in London. Nicolas Haywood, my contact for Sion, was a customer and a collector of rare manuscripts although I didn’t approach him at first.

What fueled my interest was the simple search for truth that is an internal search within my own psyche and is mirrored in my external life. To some extent I think every quest we undertake has the potential to develop us.

After The Da Vinci Code came out, there was such renewed interest in the mystery and yet many of the documentaries that came out on the subject were completely ignorant of the Priory of Sion’s existence. Then a friend of mine, filmmaker Bruce Burgess, asked if I would lead the research on a documentary called Bloodline, so I offered the Priory of Sion the opportunity to put the record straight.

Nic accepted on Sion’s behalf to act as a representative and we worked together on the documentary. However, over the course of three years Nic sent to me a number of original documents that had never before been published, and over 300 emails of information from him and other members of the order. It was obvious that only a fraction of this would make it into the Bloodline documentary so I decided to add my own research and compile it into a book.

I had a framework that I already used to structure the mystery in my own research so I set these out as chapter headings and began to compile everything I had or had received under these headings. I was also aware that there were three strands to the story: what the Priory of Sion is, what they believe, and how they disseminate that information, and I had to separate these out.

Even with this structure in mind the mystery covers such broad spectrum including bloodlines, alchemy, history, Christianity, geometry, etc., that to some extent more time was spent compiling the information and moving it around than actually writing. It was difficult to mention a topic such as the Rosicrucians without explaining them to the reader at length or referring them backwards and forwards throughout the book.

SC: You mention in your book that the purpose of the Priory of Sion is to manipulate society with the goal of achieving steps in its evolution. I find the idea of manipulating society for a “grander” goal and global unity somewhat similar to the concept and efforts of a One World Order. Can you comment on this? How are their efforts different from the Illuminati?

RH: They are releasing ideas into the public domain through art, literature and even political events to change the consciousness of individuals. To some extent it is a humane endeavor to remove the mind-sets brought on by religious dogma and superstition. Fear and repression are the chastity belts of spiritual evolution.

They are releasing ideas into the public domain through art, literature and even political events to change the consciousness of individuals. To some extent it is a humane endeavor to remove the mind-sets brought on by religious dogma and superstition. Fear and repression are the chastity belts of spiritual evolution.

The New World Order idea is almost wishful thinking on the part of conspiracy theorists. I have never seen anything from Sion that had the intention of controlling people — it would go against what they are and what they believe. Their aims, it would appear, are to find those who are on the path to gnosis and help them along. The more enlightened we are as individuals the less need we have for political power or religious control.

The Priory of Sion seem to exhibit only a passing interest in politics whereas the Illuminati of the 1700s and Adam Weishuapt’s political ends and pretentions would seem to have been his primary concern. That’s not to say Sion would not have agreed with some of his aims, such as a united Europe and other politically “enlightened” ideas of the time. In terms of actually enlightenment, I think Sion is closer to the mythic version of the Illuminati than perhaps even Weishaupt was.

SC: The book explains that the ideals of the Priory of Sion are pre-Christian, yet the order was founded much later during the Crusades with the Templars in Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon. Can you tell us more about the pre-Christian roots?

RH: There is some confusion over this as with all secret societies. Ideals and information is passed down through members — and families, in Sion’s case — and the name of secret society may change over time. Based on those original ideals the Priory of Sion as an organization comes together at various points in history when it deems such a structure would be useful to its’ aims. Sion is based upon a set of ideals that can date back to ancient Egypt, or before, but need only coalesce at certain times into a functioning group.

SC: A question many people continue to ask is “Why are they keeping the mystery secret still, when the claim is made that it could benefit the world and bring about enlightenment to many?” Why continue with the secrecy today?

RH: There are a number of reasons. For example, there is an internal struggle within the Priory of Sion over how quickly information should be released. This is due in part to a Catholic faction within the order that wishes to maintain the status quo.

Secondly, it is important that information that is potentially shocking is not revealed until people can cope with the impact of it. Books like Holy Blood, Holy Grail have seeded the idea of the bloodline into the public domain. The Da Vinci Code took the idea to a wider audience and, even then, there was a backlash from Christians. Perhaps once the idea has settled into consciousness more can be revealed.

SC: I found that the various paintings and art the Priory of Sion brought to your attention show the loving relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene more clearly and convincingly than even the ones from Leonardo used by Dan Brown in his novel, The Da Vinci Code. In your book you mention Poussin’s “Last Supper,” “The Shepherds of Arcadia,” and the stained glass windows of Saint Martin’s Church at Limoux in the Languedoc. Can you comment on this aspect of the story preserved through works of art and why Jesus and Mary Magdalene are an important part of it?

RH: Art remains uncensored for the most part and can hide a wealth of symbolism. Symbolism is a universal language that can hold layers of meaning and these symbols are transmitted down the ages. They hold the bloodline and teachings of Sion.

The actual marriage of Jesus is not that important but the existence of descendents pose a direct threat to the idea that the Pope is God’s representative on Earth. The descendents also carry the true teachings of Jesus, which oppose the dogma of the church. With the passage of time much is lost, families die out, wars destroy history, but art survives and with it symbols, rituals, and teachings.

SC: You make several passing references to Tantra in your book as having some relevance to the mystery. Can you elaborate on this more for us?

RH: It’s from personal experience. Tantra is not seen as a traditional part of alchemy but I find that there are many connections between the two traditions. I find Tantra to be a means to manifest spiritual experience in a physical, energetic form. The grail is often described as an example — as is the philosopher’s stone of alchemy — of something that is both spiritual and physical. This is not a Sion teaching as far as I’m aware but I could see the parallels as if they all draw on an archetypal experience of the divine.

The actual marriage of Jesus is not that important but the existence of descendents pose a direct threat to the idea that the Pope is God’s representative on Earth. The descendents also carry the true teachings of Jesus, which oppose the dogma of the church.

SC: You make the point in the book that the discovery of the “body of evidence” necessary to really shake the foundations of our society in a significant way must be something that would affect everyone deeply. You explain that finding the body of Mary Magdalene or proof of her relationship to Jesus would not be enough to accomplish this. Can you tell us about your views on what this “body of evidence” really is about that warrants preserving it for centuries through secret societies?

RH: Early in my conversations with the Priory of Sion it became apparent that there was evidence that could, according to Nic Haywood, “undo the great lie of the last 2000 years.” I had questioned many times if they had proof to back up their claims that Jesus and Mary were married, and in response they spoke of a “body of evidence” being in the vicinity of Rennes-le-Chateau. As the relics of Mary Magdalene are on display in Vézelay, in Burgundy, it didn’t seem to me that the discovery of her tomb would be sufficient to cause any major upheavals. She might be part of a family tomb that includes the children and supporting documents, but with so many faked relics in circulation it would still be hard to prove as legitimate. In the book I conclude that the body of Jesus is more likely to be present and make a case for how his corpse would have ended up in France.

SC: I remember in the late 80s, while studying theology at the Pontifical University of Ireland, that a body was found in India that many believed was the body of Jesus. I remember my Syrian Orthodox friend, now the Metropolitan head of the Syrian Orthodox Church in U.S.A., asking me what I thought of the find and how it would change our faith if it were true. Actually, the story of Jesus possibly surviving the cross — it is even hinted at in the Gospels themselves — and living in India after the crucifixion has a long tradition in the East, going back centuries. The recent news headlines about the body of Jesus, such as the ossuary of Yeshua ben Joseph fond in 2007, have not changed people’s minds or religious views drastically at all. How exactly does the Priory of Sion believe their secret “body of evidence” can really have the potential to change our modern society?

RH: I think the key to the impact that such a discovery has lies with how conclusive the evidence is and whether members of the Vatican speak out to support it.

I was once told by a Catholic Priest who had studied in the Vatican that within the Vatican there is the outer order that promote Catholicism and an inner order that hold very different beliefs. It stands to reason that members of the Vatican would know the truth about the life of Jesus but they have maintained their external religion as a means of control for their followers.

This would make sense in the Middle Ages but now we are able to read and interpret scripture for ourselves, so we see the contradictions and can find our own path to God. In this sense I think the orthodox view has become a burden to the Catholic Church.

The emergence of a body purported to be that of Jesus would give the Vatican an opportunity to evolve Catholicism, and there are members of Sion within the Vatican who would potentially come out in public to support such a find.

SC: In the final chapters of your book, your sensitivity for the importance of discovering and revealing the truth in a manner that bears in mind a higher, edifying, and liberating objective comes through your words in a heartfelt and inspiring way. Is that sentiment something very personal to you or was it also reflecting part of the vision and ideals you learned from the Priory of Sion?

RH: It is personal as mentioned before. The journey into this mystery is a quest for the truth but also a quest of understanding my own spirituality. Also, one of the key factors in my relationship with Sion is how I handle the material they share with me. These are religious matters that are deeply important to people of faith and therefore they must be handled with respect. It is not for me to deny those who gain so much from organized religion, to take that away form them. It gives a lot of people a lot of comfort so we must tread carefully. I had to find a balance between this and wanting to tear down the artificial edifice of the church.

SC: Are there any hints in the “body of evidence”, that you have been able to so skillfully piece together, of a new technology, perhaps, as part of the treasure hoard, that could provide the world with a new source of energy, a cleaner energy for the environment and the planet?

RH: Not that I am directly aware of. The philosophy of alchemical transmutation is ever present but not something I can ever imagine being revealed or understood beyond the few who walk that path. There are other phenomena associated with the region of Rennes-le-Chateau that might bring new insights into time and nature but I think they are more naturally occurring.

SC: You elaborate on the biblical concept of the Apocalypse in your book as part of the mystery, and although it may refer to a spiritual concept, there appears to be a real physical element to it. Can you comment on that in light of so many apocalyptic expectations for 2012 today?

RH: The idea that the region is linked to the apocalypse came not from Sion originally but from the Catholic Priest I mentioned earlier. He told me that the Rennes mystery was linked to the apocalypse and the third secret of Fatima, which has never been truthfully revealed. Sion also confirmed the apocalypse to be part of this mystery, though they are reticent to talk about it.

I don’t buy into the New Age 2012 interpretations of a date for an apocalyptic event and Sion is entirely silent on giving an actual date beyond “it will happen in your lifetime,” but I do think it will be a physical event that could potentially destroy a lot of life on Earth.

There is a sense that things are speeding up within Sion and that despite some parties dragging their feet more will be revealed in the coming year. It might be that they decide to use the 2012 date as an opportunity to release more evidence.

There is a sense that things are speeding up within Sion and that despite some parties dragging their feet more will be revealed in the coming year. It might be that they decide to use the 2012 date as an opportunity to release more evidence.

Robert Howells personal Web Site:

Inside the Priory of Sion by Robert Howells


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