Later, when the authorities pieced it together, it became obvious that the three mass killings were planned as one. The five deaths in Morin Heights near Montreal, the 22 in Cheiry, and 25 in Granges, both in Switzerland, shared both a date and a modus operandi. Most of the victims wore some kind of exotic regalia that matched drapery and other ceremonial arcana decorating the rooms where they were found; and the bodies were arranged to form circles, extending outwards like the rays of the sun.
All the victims belonged to the secretive cult of the Order of the Solar Temple, known to authorities in France, Switzerland and Francophone Canada as a surprisingly haut-bourgeois affiliation of roughly 450 subscribers to a paternalistic hierarchy which promised to initiate them, by degrees, to its esoteric secrets borrowed randomly from Rosicrucian sects. At a time when unbridled capitalism felt threatened by social disintegration, it wasn’t hard for the Temple’s founders to find suggestible adherents with lots of money to donate ($93 million by 1993, when Canadian police began a general surveillance).
Those ‘chosen’ to evolve would have ‘to leave in fire’ – abandon their physical bodies in ‘arks of safety’ afterwards be burned to prevent earthly contamination – and make a ‘death voyage’ to a higher consciousness on the star Sirius. As Swiss Forensics discovered, waverers were shot or stabbed or suffocated, including the children.
The Solar Temple’s founders were among the Swiss dead, but even that didn’t prove they believed their own utopian fiction. Evidence clearly showed that one or more members with intimate knowledge of the Temple’s affairs was both alive and on the loose. For anyone prepared to organize it, the Temple provided a perfect scenario for mass murder: people paid you money, and went, willy-nilly, to their salvation. There was always a genuine mass suicide to take the blame.
When: October 4 1994
Where: Cheiry and Granges-sur-Salvan, Switzerland, and Morin Heights, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All the buildings were owned by the Solar Temple.
Death toll: 52 dead, around two-thirds of whom were suicides.
You should know: The Solar Temple massacres continued, in 1995 16 died in France; in 1997 five died (after freeing three deeply unwilling teenagers) in Quebec; and in 1998 police prevented another mass suicide of 30 members in the Canary Islands. It is not known how many of the dead were ’awakened’, and thus allowed to poison themselves after shooting the others. Anyone deemed a ‘traitor’ was executed without being ‘transitioned’ to safety on Sirius.