Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009


Is this the Castillon pin-up girl at a younger age?

Still watching for the bears! Am I permitted to call you Jill or shall we keep it formal?
Attaching picture of the "mystery woman." Is it Semiramis? Maybe some other woman Rodrigo was involved with. Is it Mademoiselle Senza perhaps? Whoever she was. Was she Semiramis? All these unanswerable questions. La Senza couldn't have been his daughter as I understand his only child Paolina died in infancy and that could have been the cause of the rift between Rodrigo and Elena. Of course he could have married again and had more children or she could have been a love-child who he acknowledged. What I need is a Time Machine or some form of retrogression. Your friend Marlene King does she ever do any ghost writing?
Colin AH

Rennes-le-Chateau Visit - May 1900

Greetings Jill
Hope you are well. As you will see I have something for you which may be of interest even it it ends in anti-climax.The translation gave me considerable trouble trying to get the style right. Hope your researches and writings are going well. Anything new of interest? I didn't realise the RAF did flying training in Arizona still I suppose as far as climate goes its good for simulating the Middle East and Afghanistan perhaps. Read something in the New York Times the other day (online edition) about electronically tagging Saguaro Cactus in Arizona to try to prevent theft for use in gardens. Please keep in touch when you have the time.
Kind regards

The following are entries for May 1900. Castillon has been spending some time as a guest of La Diva [Emma Calve?] at her "little castle" i.e. the Chateau de Cabrieres in the Aveyron.

Staying at La Diva's "Castle" the Chateau de Cabrieres in the Aveyron not far from the town of Millau in Languedoc. A bit of an out of the way place to get to but worth the journey. La Diva bought it in 1895 or thereabouts. It came about this way. You could say it was the call of the soil crying out to a woman who comes from good Provencal peasant stock indeed her father, a trained engineer, was forced at one stage, by economic circumstances to go back to working the family farm. They were only tenant farmers and after her father took his family to Spain in search of better things the farm reverted back to the landlord so their was no family home to inherit. She didn't set out to buy a castle what she had in mind was large farmstead and land but when she made enquiries about suitable properties at an agent's in Millau she was told about this estate comprising chateau, farm, lands and so on but it could not be split up so no chateau no farmstead. During it's long history (built originally in the 11th century they say and according to La Diva had in the 13th century connections with the Knights Templar who had a treasury here and according to local tradition it held "a great treasure." Indeed when the Order was suppressed some knights were kept here in the dungeons and put to death when no treasure was found in the castle and they refused to divulge its whereabouts) it has been owned by several noble families interconnected by marriage but the last of these (the Des Esseintes) finally died out about 90 years ago since when the chateau has stood empty but the farm, lands, forest rights, shooting rights, fishing rights have been let out to tenants. La Diva has spent lavishly on renovating and restoring with a certain amount of modernisation to make it amenable to present day expectations of comfort whilst retaining its medieval atmosphere. The work is by no means finished yet.

The party of guests comprised Castillon of course, JB described as La Diva's manager; CD a composer and his mistress EB the wife of a prosperous Parisian banker and previously mistress of GF another composer, she is an accomplished "amateur" singer; P a Polish exile, a pianist; Leconte, "a symbolist poet, effete and languid, writer of erotically charged verse usually about the devotees of Sappho on the Island of Lesbos and other like classical themes. CD is at present setting some of these to music." [the words in inverted commas are Castillon's own]; Marcel "a novelist of fragile health who is writing the novel of the 20th century having tired of and been revolted by what he calls the sweaty, heaving, realism of Zola and his clique of the late 19th."; JO "an odd fish, big, burly man with the appearance of a common labourer or deckhand rather who claims to be an English citizen, despite a pronounced guttural teutonic sort of accent, ship-owner and mercantile trader operating out of Gibraltar. Has a yacht moored at Port-Vendres."; JO's wife Molly "she is definitely teutonic, Viennese actually it transpires, plump, attractive embonpoint, blonde, singer in light opera and operetta."; the Ser "apparently the high-priest of the Symbolists and a founder of the Rose+Croix." So very interesting company and as far as the ladies are concerned quite a nest of nightingales. [This house-party lasts from the 14th to the 17th May. Castillon grumbles about being alone following the desertion of Semiramis but nevertheless confesses to enjoying himself immensely. What they got up to is described at some length but is not really relevant to the next entries.]

18 MayAfter the departure of her guests and also JB her manager and eminence grise and ? - who had urgent business in Paris (Another and younger mistress Leconte whispered to me gleefully as he too left for the railway station in Millau.) La Diva declared herself to be in need of a little holiday and put it to me that as I was obviously in no hurry to return to Paris or anywhere else that I accompany her on a tour of the South with a visit to a most interesting priest with whom she had become acquainted in 1893 in Paris. They met in the Church of St. Sulpice where she often goes to hear Mass. He introduced himself saying that he was a devotee of the opera. He also gave evidence that he is an initiate of the Craft. Delighted she invited him to one of her soirees and they have kept up some sort of correspondence since. This priest Sauniere holds the benefice of some backwoods place called Rennes le Chateau deep in the Languedoc. All that part of the Languedoc is, according to La Diva steeped in history, mystery, supernatural happenings, a cradle of kings, a refuge for Cathars and Templars with hoards of hidden treasure waiting to be discovered in undiscovered caves and grottoes and powerful occult secrets too waiting to empower those who can uncover and interpret them, to those who can decipher certain clues hidden in nature and man-made structures and monuments also. She told me all this as we took our ease that warm drowsy Spring afternoon on the lawn at the foot of the castle walls. It would appear that this curé is a man with a special gift for divining such things something akin perhaps to a dowser or water diviner and that he is also a man with a SECRET. I emphasize this because La Diva put plenty of emphasis on it as she told it to me. She would not explain further as to what this SECRET might be no, not even to me a fellow Martinist and Traveller in the Path. Does she know what it is? After she came into possession of the Chateau de Cabrieres Sauniere wrote a letter in which he claimed to have in his possession a manuscript chronicle of events in and around Rennes for roughly three decades from 1290 to about 1320 written in Occitan by a wandering Franciscan Friar which states that the last Seneschal of Cabrieres, a Templar named Eustache de Rastaignac passed through Rennes in June 1309 with a squire and six heavily laden pack mules bound for the monastery of Montserrat in Catalonia but that close pursuit by officers of King Philip forced him to hide whatever the mules carried somewhere in the vicinity of Rennes. Raistagnac was soon afterward apprehended at the Chateau Blanchefort in a state of physical exhaustion alone, no mules, no squire. He was tortured and executed. Tantalizingly she said that the letter also contained other "esoteric" information. She did not offer to show it to me however.We were annoyingly interrupted at this point by the arrival of a Monsieur de Senmaret the architect responsible for work on the chateau and they must needs talk business. [There is more in this entry but none of it directly relevant - they obviously did not get back to discussing Sauniere - they had an early dinner and were early to bed in order to start out on their travels - also - musings on what a fine bosom La Diva has and Molly O also and does singing lead to a well-developed bosom in a woman i.e. constant deep expansion of the lungs = expansion of breasts! and so on]

19, 20, 21, MayWe travelled down to this place Rennes le Chateau in easy stages in La Diva's luxurious new touring automobile, a Panhard-Levassor apparently especially built to her specifications operated by her chauffeur Nodier. We visited en route Montpellier, Beziers, Narbonne and went as far south as Perpignan which last city despite it being my birthplace I had never hitherto visited. La Diva was incognito; she travelled as Madame Tavelec and at our overnight stops insisted that I play the part of Monsieur Tavelec and that we were to pass ourselves off as a sightseeing couple from Brittany. This little charade amused her enormously and she entered into it with great gusto giving a performance of which even the Divine Sarah could have been proud. It was however purely a brief marriage de convenance and I observed all the gentlemanly proprieties as was expected of me so that it was never consummated. That would have been too much to hope for. But after all hope springs eternal or should that be infernal. Perpignan is a pleasant enough little town with a distinctly Spanish character which, given its proximity to the frontier is not surprising. It has an imposing citadel and a fine Cathedral but as I do not wish to turn this diary into a second-hand Baedeker I will not expatiate further on its touristy attractions. We spent a night at the Hotel Pyrenees. We then proceeded to Carcasonne with its splendid medieval walls and the whole place redolent with turbulent history and we spent several tiring hours in perambulating the sights. La Diva is very knowledgeable about these parts and particularly their ill-fated Cathar past. Put up at Royal Hotel. [Not much of interest in rest of entry, sight-seeing, a good dinner, early to bed and he ponders the fascinating (to him) fact that no matter to which large city or town you travel in France you will always find hotels with English names.]

22 MayLeft Carcassonne for the town of Limoux. The roads become more and more difficult for automobile travel and there is of course the question of kerosene or whatever it is that they fuel up these conveyances with.. Limoux on the Aude is a pleasant enough little town and I am told that they produce very good wines hereabouts. The majority of the populace persist in speaking the old Occitan tongue much to the annoyance of the Government officials. It is not of course taught in the schools. We stopped at what appeared to be the only hotel of any size, which rejoices in the name Hotel Moderne, for coffee and here the proprietress advised against trying to get to Rennes le Chateau in the automobile because of the terrible state of the road even though it is only about 18 miles distant and suggested that we hire a carriage so she summoned a lad from the stables to fetch "old Janou" from the square. Presently an old Victoria pulled by two aged nags appeared, Janou the coachman did not seem to be very eager to go to Rennes. La Diva is quite fluent in Occitan besides being naturally charming but the old man proved stubborn and it was some time before he could be persuaded and his change of heart was only brought about by the promise of what I thought was a quite outrageous sum of money. On the journey he was taciturn and uncommunicative. The road was indeed in a diabolical state of repair and after passing through a place called Cuiza and as we approached the village itself became even worse especially as it rose up steeply on the final stretch. At first sight Rennes appeared to be a typically wretched Provencal Hill Village a fact I remarked on to my companion to which she replied rather to my amazement that yes it was sad indeed when one considered that this had once been an important Visigothic city a place of cultural and religious significance named Rhedda (not sure of spelling here). "The people around here are poor today, as you can see most of them scratch a living from the land but in the not too distant future thanks to the secret of Father Sauniere (the SECRET again) their prosperity will be restored" she declared somewhat portentiously I thought.Janou drew up in the public square in the shade of the plane trees and put nosebags on his steeds. We made our way to the Presbytery having been directed by some ancient stting on a seat in the square.Disappointment awaited us. In answer to our knocking on the presbytery door it was opened slightly and we were asked our business. La Diva explained and the door swung open to reveal a small, slim, dark woman of uncertain years clad in rusty black. "Oh Madame, Madame, Father Sauniere has been summoned to Rome, yes Madame to Rome the Bishop himself came from Carcassone to give him the summons and he was off two days ago no doubt to meet the Holy Father himself at last his greatness is to be recognised maybe he will come back a Cardinal wouldn't that be one in the eye for all the backbiters, backstabbers and gossips around here who say that he is nothing but a rogue and a graverobber and that I am a witch and that we cast evil spells to make the earth give up its treasures if only they knew the truth but they never will not this bunch of clodhoppers but I know and soon the Holy Father will too and then there will be some changes round here you mark my words." This astounding tirade was poured forth with breathless haste and real malevolence which showed on her dark, narrow, pinched and altogether unpleasant countenance. It was obvious that La Diva was somewhat annoyed at this news and also by the not unsurprising (to me anyway) fact that the concierge had no idea as to who she was. La Diva then explained that she was a friend of Father Sauniere from Paris who had travelled a long way to see him and at that we were invited inside and taken into a rather dingy and sparsely furnished parlour where La Diva was installed in the only comfortable looking chair in the room. The concierge offered us some refreshment and bustled off to get it. I looked around the room and opening a door in the inside wall found myself in what must have been the priest's study. It was as poorly furnished as the parlour, a large desk, a bookcase two or three upright chairs and a wall-clock. On the dingy walls besides the usual religious objects, crucifix, statuette of the Virgin, etc. was a large scale map of Rennes and the surrounding countryside with certain locations ringed in red ink and also three well framed prints quite diverse in subject matter and looking somewhat incongruous in the study of a country priest. One was of what appeared to be the Temptation of St. Anthony clearly in the Dutch style but by an artist I did not recognize, the second a portrait of a Pope identified by a label as Celestine V, Saint of whom I then knew nothing and the third Poussin's masterpiece Les Bergers d'Arcadie, closer inspection revealed that this was not in fact a print but a fine copy of the type done regularly in the Louvre by accomplished copyists and would have commanded a fair price. The books in the bookcase from what I could see through the dusty glass doors were mostly devotional works but I also noted Michelet's History of France, Reclus' Universal geography, a history of the Merovingian Kings, Ulfilas' History of the Goths, some treatises on applied mathematics and a Surveyor's Manual. Another door led from this room into what was clearly a storeroom full of crates some open revealing laboratory equipment, piles of books some corded into bundles, a hunting rifle and bandolier, fishing rods and what looked like a surveyor's theodolite and distance measuring staffs. I was about to edge into the room when I heard a voice saying "Pardon Monsieur but Father Sauniere does not like strangers to enter his private rooms." Turning I mumbled an apology of sorts to the concierge and rejoined Madame in the parlour. La Diva looked at me with a wry smile and said "So Rodrigo you now know what curiosity did to the cat but never mind have a glass of Madame Denarnaud's excellent lemonade." The lemonade was indeed excellent and afterwards La Diva expressed a desire to be shown round the Church which she understood to have been recently restored. "Oh yes Madame it is now so beautiful and all thanks to Father Sauniere who generously paid for it all for he loves this place with all his heart and soul though nobody thanks him for it either here or in Carcassone but they know that he has a special power and so they let him get on with it and wasn't the Bishop only too ready to come and say Mass and Bless the Church when it was finished and smile and smarm as though he'd done it all himself" This second breathless tirade having come to an end we made our way the short distance to the church. The church is dedicated to Sainte Marie Madeleine who commands a special devotion in this part of the world; indeed she is supposed to have ended her days in Provence. It is fairly typical of churches in this region and not architecturally outstanding and has undergone exterior restoration and repair at various times although dating from the 11th century. The plainness of this exterior hardly prepares one for what lies inside, quite magnificent decoration which completely transforms what is otherwise a mere insignificant little church into a quite wondrous place of worship.From the entrance which is guarded by a wonderful painted plaster effigy of the devil supporting the holy water basin to the magnificence of the altar with its terracotta bas-relief of the Magdalene in a grotto, the bas-relief on the west wall, a beautifully painted fresco, statues of St. Joseph and the Virgin each holding a Christ child and a set of terracotta Stations of the Cross. The whole effect which it invokes is one of deep reverence and respect. The concierge especially singled out the Stations of the Cross which were all done to special designs drawn by Father Sauniere adding that he was extremely particular that they were done accurately and that he had sent three back to be corrected. La Diva inspected them with great care but to me they looked merely conventional products of church interior fitters. When we left the church La Diva having declared that she felt quite overcome by the experience and would with Madame Denarnaud's kind indulgence rest a while in the parlour I decided to stroll around the village. After the splendour of the church interior the village, despite the bright Provencal Spring sunshine seemed drabber than before and I could find no building of particular interest there is a chateau but although inhabited it is in a very ruinous state. I eventually found an estaminet of sorts and refreshed myself with a glass of cider and naturally as an outsider I attracted from the few loafers who were in there and there was much audible whispering, in Occitan of course. Then one asked in French, "You sightseeing Mister?" "I nodded. "Not much to see though is there." They all laughed. You have a beautiful church here I replied and I had hoped to see Father Sauniere. "Slippery Sauniere eh weren't he there then? Probably out treasure hunting." More laughter. "That witch would be there though weren't she." Madame Desnarnaud yes she showed us round. "Madame Desnarnaud eh you mean Black Marie the hatmaker's daughter."I made no reply. "Did she tell you where the good Father gets his gold from then?" "His brother should have had some of that gold Mister he helped on the church he found the documents that made Sauniere rich." Interjected another. No I said we did not discuss that. "I bet she didn't graverobbers that's what those two are did she tell you they tore up the graveyard." The talk was becoming heated. "Graverobbing and black magic." added another. "You mean he gets gold from base metal," I ventured. "More like from the ground Mister when he goes out with his fancy paraphernalia and his magic umbrella." More general laughter. "He and she they summon up spirits, old kings and knights they give them knowledge." All this is fascinating gentlemen I said (as indeed it was) seeking to extricate myself which I accomplished by instructing the publican to give them all drinks and providing a generous sum to do it with. I left with shouts of "Here's to you sir, come back soon but not at full moon." And raucous laughter. I went straight back to the presbytery.Madame Desnarnaud having provided the necessary means La Diva wrote a note for Father Sauniere which she entrusted to that worthy woman and we walked back to the square where with some difficulty we woke Janou from deep slumber and endured a painfully slow journey back to Limoux and, needs must, put up at the Hotel Moderne for the night. Imust say in their favour that they served us a good dinner that night. La Diva was not very communicative during the evening except to reiterate her disappointment at the absence of the priest (I forbore from saying that a telegram might have been helpful) and that Madame Desnarnaud had told her that Sauniere has big plans for the further development of Rennes proposing to build a Retreat for city priests and a tower to house his library. We retired early. [ coded passages follow and when this happens I suspect that some form of sexual activity takes place - maybe La Diva made him a happy man after all but that is just conjecture and in view of what was said earlier probably unlikely. ] Next day we left Limoux and it became obvious on the way that the automobile was not in good shape, Nodier recited some technical details, meaningless to me but he nursed the beast into Carcassone. I left La Diva at the Hotel Royale and made my adieus. She replied,"Ah well Rodrigo we may have been on a fool's errand but at least we had a pleasant trip and you are a most congenial and discreet travelling companion." I assured her that the pleasure had been all mine. I returned to Milau and onwards to Paris by train. Thank God for steam. Sadly I never got to meet the priest with the great SECRET.........

Pulp Fiction

Friday March 7th 1902

Travelled to Ivry-sur-Seine at the invitation of old Guillemard my one-time "publisher." Business to discuss he said in his telegram which I had received a week previously. This was totally out of the blue as it was some years since I had had any dealings with him but not having any more pressing business to attend to at this time and having I must admit a sort of nostalgic regard for the old rogue I decided to go and sent off a telegram informing him of this. So today I met him at his office at Guillemard Educational Publishing, that run-down seedy-looking place (in keeping with his seedy enterprise) which I remembered all too well from times past. It is in an industrial zone with a sweat-shop tailoring concern on one side and a foul-smelling tannery on the other and a variety of noxious and dubious enterprises crowding upon them and rows of dilapidated houses, the warrens of the working class who labour here. Guillemard continues to turn out cheap school stationery, school primers and other educational requisites and this business serves as a cover for that more lucrative business of his, the publishing of erotic (i.e. pornographic) novels and magazines and series of postcards (from photographs taken by his son Emile) which are sold under such titles as "Aids to the Study of Anatomy and Physiology for Medical Students and Students of Art" and "Homage to the Beauty of the Female Form for the Discerning Connoisseur." I understand that Emile recruits many of his models from the poor young women who labour in the next door dress factory, Madame Ena's Chic Modes. These poor little midinettes will willingly take their clothes off for a little, probably very little, extra cash to try to improve their wretched lives. It was always rumoured that in addition to these enterprises the G's supplied capotes anglaises, pessaries and other prophylactic requisites. Guillemard must be well over seventy by now but he still, he informed me, keeps a close eye on everything as indeed I suppose he must not being able to trust anyone else with the running of the place. Guillemard greeted me affably ushered me into his dingy little sanctum and offered me a brandy. Having a long memory from days of yore I politely declined his rot-gut liquor. He poured himself a generous measure, "to a long, profitable and pleasurable life," he exclaimed with a smile as he quaffed the stuff in one swig. and after some conversation of a reminiscing nature he got down to business. Apparently quite recently he received a letter from an old gentleman in Austria who is a longtime customer of his, a "Discerning Connoisseur" no doubt, lamenting that the current crop of novels put out by old G are but dross compared to the sparkling gems of a few years ago particularly those by "Manolo Sanza." Ah yes Manolo Sanza my old nom de plume! ergo old G wants me to write three more novels for him, continuing the adventures or rather misadventures of Mademoiselle Suzie Cathcart-Smythe, my innocent English governess, orphaned and alone in France and her ordeals at the hands of the dastardly Count Raoul de Lanrezac and his even more evil Italian mistress the Contessa Antonietta Della Palma in the bedrooms and cellars of the Chateau Douloureux. I was less than enthusiastic. It is true that my financial situation has worsened recently due to the unwise speculations of my broker and my own prodigal attitude towards money but the miserable sums Guillemard is likely to offer would not make any appreciable difference to that. He is the one who will profit of course. Besides the novels I had written for him in the past I now viewed as part of my mis-spent youth, indeed the first one was written as the result of a sort of light-hearted competition with three other students to see who could write the most outrageous Sadeean pornographic extravaganza inspired by one of Guillemard's publications "Submission to the Lash; or the Pleasures of Pain" which had been passed around amongst us. We had all submitted our works to Guillemard and he had published mine and paid me for it. I was not that light-hearted young man any more with a life of promise ahead of him. I pointed out that it was a long time since I had last written that kind of stuff and that I was well out of practice adding jocularly that Mademoiselle Suzie would be quite long in the tooth by now if not a grandmother. He disregarded this and said that he wasn't expecting Les Miserables adding somewhat unnecessarily I thought that he hadn't heard that I had moved on to higher things in the literary world. In the end I agreed, at least it will help to pass the time if nothing else. So I will be exercising my literary talent once more or rather my alter ego Manolo Sanza will. He will get LL to do the illustrations. LL! I expressed surprise that this rake was still alive and that he hadn't yet succeeded in drinking himself to death with absinthe. Business concluded he invited me to lunch and took me to a working-men's bistro a short distance away. Old G was quite at home here and was effusively welcomed by both the proprietor and his wife who came from her kitchen to embrace him warmly, pressing him affectionately to her enormous bosom and he was soon exchanging rough banter and coarse quips with the rest of the clientele. I must admit that we were served an excellent rabbit stew and tarte aux pommes.

Diary Time-Line

I am sending you a brief summary of some of the more memorable events in the Diaries. I realize that the one for May 1900 will interest you most and I am working on it. Arizona and the South-West sounds even more fascinating now from what you have told me.


1900Initiates divorce proceedings.

May 18 - visits Emma Calve at the Chateau de Cabrieres. From there they go to Rennes le Chateau. This of course is the interesting part for you.Not yet fully translated and transcribed.

July-August in Germany studying German Mysticism especially Tauler, Jacob Boehme, Rosicrucianism and the Illuminati. In Munich meets various like-minded people and also attends a meeting of a group calling itself The Society for Aryan Advancement but is put off by its obvious glorification of all things Teutonic and its covert anti-Semitism. This group is composed of well to do businessmen and army officers.

September - goes on trip to North Africa - Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauretania. Investigating Sufism. Travelling companion is a Frau Jennie Waltersdorf a wealthy woman from Munich married to a brewer who "neglects her." He certainly seems not to mind her going off with Castillon. They are dissuaded from visiting the interior of Morocco because of the state of unrest in the country they visit Tangier and Casablanca only. Instead they travel to Egypt where they visit various Mawlids (Sufi Festivals). This tour ends in November when he returns to France - no further mention of Frau Waltersdorf.

Semiramis seems to have vanished from his life also.

1901 Appears to have been a pretty humdrum year and entries somewhat slapdash. Does a lot of journalism - articles on religion, mysticism, music, art and so on.Writes three "erotic" pulps at the urgings of his publisher who says they sell like hot cakes to connoiseurs of the genre. No trips to exotic lands this year.

1902This is not a happy year for him. In March he receives disquieting news about his finances - he is no longer as wealthy as he thought - unwise investments (mainly in South American minerals)on the part of his broker in whose hands he seems to have unreservedly placed his fortune have reulted in heavy capital losses. Outwardly he seems quite stoical about it and reflects on the irony that his money was originally made in South America and that now it has been lost there.In July he hears through his notary that Elena is very ill - she has cancer. He is grief-stricken and visits her in Vaulx. She tells him that her English "fiancee" (the Hon. Selwyn) has given in to family pressures aand discontinued their relationship. This happened before her illness became apparent and he knows nothing of it. He arranges for her to be seen by an eminent specialist from Berlin (at that time a centre of excellence for cancer study and treatment) who informs Castillon that it is terminal. Castillon arranges for her to spend her last days at a clinic in Switzerland where she dies in November. He is with her. After her death he sells the villa in Vaulx and resides permanently in an apartment in Paris.


Confesses to feelings of deep depression and despair. Meets a Louisa Salomon, a lady of Russian origin who has studied the new psychoanalytic techniques in Vienna under Wilhelm Stekel a member of Sigmund Freud's inner circle. She puts him through a course of therapy with beneficial results. Salomon is a rich and emancipated woman (she is married to a certain Alois Andersson a German linguist proficient in Oriental languages then teaching at the Ottoman Imperial Military Academy in Constantinople but theirs is an "open marriage") who all her life has had a close relationship with artists, writers, musicians, philosophers a sort of intellectual groupie one could say although that would not do justice I think to lady's own intellectual capabilities.In May he is invited by her to take part in a tour of Russia together with R an upcoming poet,an Austrian living in Paris, E a French doctor and mage and C an English initiate of the Golden Dawn. They declare their interests - Salomon, sex and religion (especially the Khlysty and Skoptsy); R, meetings with Russian poets and artists and hopes to visit the aging Tolstoy (he is writing articles on the history of icon painting); E, shamanism, thaumaturgy;C, qabbalah. R the poet seems to have taken Salomon as his muse, she seems to be a mother figure to him.

Sadly there is no more diary terminates abruptly on the eve of their departure due to mutilation i.e. pages torn out.

From "Irmine"; "As for other names, I've not yet had chance to think about them, but I'll let you know if I come up with anything.

Edit - PS The poet R has got to be Rilke".

Can you guess who "C" might be?

Letter of Condolence
Firstly Jill if your relative is willing a genealogical search could be useful. Rodrigo Manolo Saenz de Castillon resident in Vaulx en Velin, Lyon, France at a villa named as Ara Coeli between 1860-1890 say then in Paris and later apparently in London from 1910-1914 also Liliane Sanza age unknown living in London in 1921. Are you sure this will be ok I mean genealogical researchers usually put a high value on their time.
Secondly yes any ghost writing, perhaps I should say editing, yes editing is better would be in respect of the diary.
I have now completed a translation of that letter which I call a letter of condolence which may interest you and which I incorporate in this e-mail.


Chere Mademoiselle Sanza,

It will no doubt seem strange and perhaps a little macabre to you to be receiving a letter of condolence for your late guardian after all this time(and this from a person most likely unknown to you) but the reason for this is that until now I have not been in a position to communicate with you. However I would now like to extend my deepest sympathy to you for your grievous loss and give you some information (as a first-hand witness) as to the events of that fatal day, 22nd September 1914, when Rodrigo was lost to us, apparently forever, although I know that in the official military records he is still listed as missing and I am sure that that is how he will be regarded by you and rightly so as much work is still being done to try to finally ascertain the facts concerning the many thousands of our gallant soldiers whose final fate is similarly unknown.I had known your guardian since the days of our military service in 1886 - oh those happy far-off days which seem so sweet now in recollection - we served our time in the 88th Regiment of Infantry. In recent years I had lost touch with him but when I reported for duty in August 1914 to the Depot at Chalons there he was and our friendship was renewed. I was not a little surprised when he told me that due to some financial difficulties he had been living in London since 1910 but that he had felt honour bound to return to serve France in her hour of need. During our conversations he mentioned you and told me that you had brought much happiness into his life after the end of his marriage. He showed me your picture which he carried with him at all times. We were sent to the Front almost immediately and took part in the disastrous frontier battles which ended in our almost catastrophic retreat - the Boche seemed unstoppable. Rodrigo behaved with the utmost bravery at all times which seemed to some of his fellow officers to border on the reckless but those were desperate times for us.Then came the rightly named Miracle of the Marne and the Boche were in their turn in retreat and the 88th Regiment of Infantry was in pursuit. It was a pleasant experience to be advancing again after what had seemed like an eternity of retreat and on the night of 22nd September we rested on the outskirts of Saint Remy La Calonne a small town to the south-east of Verdun that bore the scars of the Boche passing through. The next morning we received orders to attack a strong enemy position on a hill opposite to attempt to prevent the Boche from consolidating his position there but as we moved forward through open fields we came under heavy and prolonged shell fire and the order was given to halt and dig defensive positions until our own artillery could be brought up, however Rodrigo led his company forward regardless (perhaps he had not heard the order, I don't know) and as the shelling became more intense he and his men vanished into storm of steel and smoke and we could hear the rattle of machine-gun and other small-arms fire. That was the last seen of them. We frantically dug what trenches we could as the shells rained down and many men were killed and wounded and then the Boche counter-attacked in force and overwhelmed our position. I was wounded and rendered unconscious by loss of blood and when I regained consciousness I was in an enemy field dressing station where my wounds were being treated. From there I was taken to a field hospital behind their lines and when I had recovered sufficiently I was transported to Germany to begin a long internment (almost 5 years) in a prisoner-of-war camp - a medieval Schloss in East Prussia. We were fairly treated under the Geneva Convention but as the war dragged on and Germany was reduced to famine almost by blockade things became more difficult and we were sent by day to work on the land which was a welcome relief in many ways from the intense boredom of confinement in that grim castle.The war ended but our repatriation was held up by the outbreak of revolution in Germany and the chaotic state of the transport system. When I finally got back home in the late Spring of 1919 in a weakened state I fell easy prey to la grippe but was lucky enough to survive that deadly disease and am now fully restored to health apart from a permanent limp, the result of my wounds. I realise how fortunate I am to have survived the hecatomb that devoured the lives of so many gallant men, so many of them my friends and acquaintances. I recently made a pilgrimage to Saint Remy la Calonne where the War Graves Commission is establishing a necropolis and where many men of the 88th are now re-interred in proper graves. At present in its unfinished state it is a cheerless place but in time no doubt it will be as pleasant as these places can ever be. As I stood there in that place of sacrifice I felt a terrible sense of guilt at having survived where so many better men had died and knowing how precious you were to Rodrigo I determined to write and tell you that I feel for you deeply and that I too will not forget him. It took me some time to find your address but eventually I obtained it from his notary here in Lyon.Dear Mademoiselle Liliane if I can at any time be of assistance to you do not hesitate to call on me.

Yours most respectfully


Marc-Henri Dutourd

More Finds

Greetings MAB,
Have read your article on Saunier. Fascinating stuff. I didn't realize just what a complicated web of intrigue and conspiracy surrounds the whole affair of Rennes-le-Chateau.The Johann Salvator business is particularly intriguing and I may have found something in the diary that could be relevant to this - but more of that later. In connection with Rodrigo and his diary I have made an interesting find or finds. Reading the manuscript diary (which by the way runs to about 215 pages) made me turn back to the books from the chest which I held on to. I went through them all most carefully in the hope that something useful might have been left between the pages. After all people do use all manner of things (from the mundane to the bizarre) as bookmarks even personal papers which they then forget about. However no joy with the novels although I did retrieve 3 decorative bookmarks all advertising patent beauty products of the time! Then I remembered that there was another book which I thought particularly interesting and potentially valuable namely "Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie," by Maxime du Camp. This is a large book of photographs by du Camp taken for the French Government when he accompanied Gustave Flaubert on his travels in 1849/50 and on a later journey solo in 1851 and published in 1852. It may have inspired Castillon to make his own travels. But I digress. In the back of this tome is a pocket for large folding maps, the maps are still there and I took them out and discovered folded into them several postcards of North African scenes and dusky North African maidens (bare-breasted) of the type taken specifically for tourists by the firm of Lehnert and Landrock in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries. Eight in all, four(the scenic ones) had been used (saying the usual things tourists say when writing home) and were addressed to Mme E. Saenz de Castillon at Villa Ara Coeli, Vaulx-en-Velin all in Rodrigo's handwriting. Not very earth-shaking but there was also a studio portrait photograph of a woman (not a postcard this) who I would like to think could be Semiramis but as there is nothing written on it that is pure conjecture on my part. There is also a letter from a French Officer who served with Rodrigo in World War I. This is a letter of condolence, unfortunately there is no envelope to go with it but it is written from an address in Lyon. Most interestingly though it starts off:-
"Chere Mademoiselle Senza...." Not Madame de Saenz de Castillon. Another mystery.
Hope I am not trying your patience with all this. Good luck with the giants!

Madame Saenz de Castillon


Monday April 2nd Today received a telegram from Elena asking me to please visit her at the villa in Vaulx as soon as convenient as she has important matters to discuss. Does this mean perhaps that she is seeking some new arrangement in our personal relations, would a legal separation be too much to hope for? After all given her strong religious convictions divorce seems too much to ask. I duly set about making my my arrangements and will travel down tomorrow. I intend to stay at a hotel in Lyon. I find that nowadays the villa depresses me and if it wasn't for Elena I would have no hesitation in disposing of it. I intend taking Semiramis along with me if I can detach her from her "spiritual guide" La Pregashvili, the Princess. I will leave her at the hotel whilst I visit Elena. She can do some shopping which will no doubt turn out to be costly for me but worth it I hope for the physical consolations she can offer me. Sent off a telegram to Elena informing her of my travel arrangements........ [goes into code here]

Tuesday April 3rdIn Lyon. Arrived last night and staying at Hotel Boscolo. When I had approached Semiramis about a trip to Lyon The Princess had insisted on accompanying her saying that if she was not present delicate spiritual channels opened by her in Semiramis could become blocked irreversibly whatever that may mean. Somewhat reluctantly I agreed reasoning that as S is a grown woman she could resumably please herself as to what she did when we got to Lyon. In this I reckoned without the Princess; what exactly the nature of the hold she so obviously has over S is I cannot conjecture. The Princess also suggested that it might provide an opportunity to carry out certain "sex magick" rituals known to her from a visit to Haiti. (I was always under the impression that Haiti was the land of Voudoo) In her opinion we would be an ideal couple for this. I stated that in my view a highly respectable bourgeois Hotel like the Boscolo hardly seemed the place for something that presumably involved the sacrifice of chickens and large loud drums. This provoked laughter from S but the Princess was obviously displeased by my levity and muttered something about those walking in the darkness of ignorance should be very careful not to mock those who had reached a far higher and more enlightened plane. According to the Princess the door of heaven is opened by sacred sexual union. But the woman must offer herself to the man without sexual egotism. There lies the great secret of magical love andthe future morality of the woman who would be mother or priestess. If she would be a mother, she gives birth physically;if she would be a priestess, she gives birth to the Light of Sex but if she commits the most abject crimes against nature and the supreme laws of the universe by ignoring this secret, she becomes a prostitute. Adding pointedly that that was why Semiramis must be kept pure and unpolluted by unsanctified sex to enable her to become a channel for the Ineffable Light. Feeling somewhat faitigued not only by journey but also by Princess and her prattle retired early to bed and was later joined by S who had slipped away from the Princess ........ [more coded bits]

Wednesday April 4thDescending to the Reception Desk this morning I found a message awaiting me from Elena. Received by telephone earlier that morning (it being early they had not wished to disturb my rest) it informed me that Madame Saenz de Castillon would be willing to see me tomorrow at any time after 2 o clock in the afternoon and would I please telephone first before I did so. Her telephone number was given. I had no idea that the telephone had been installed in the villa. What had become of Elena's reclusive nature I wondered. So everything seemed to be going along smoothly and I had hopes that our discussion of the "important matters" mentioned in her original telegram could be settled quickly so that I could return to Paris as soon as possible now that there was little chance of enjoying a few amorous days with S. the Princess having enforced upon her the vow of chastity it would appear When I told my companions the news that I hoped my business here would be speedily concluded and that I had to call upon my notary in Lyon thus leaving them to their own devices the Princess informed me that she hoped to renew an acquaintance with an old friend, a Countess Mirzoeff now resident in Lyon, who was an ardent seeker after truth. She had had some correspondence with her recently and been informed by her that Lyon was very promising territory being a centre for Martinism, Neo-Catharism and even Satanism and that useful contacts could be made for Semiramis. She also mentioned a nun, (expelled from a Convent in the Camargue) Sister Evangeline who was preaching the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, the Holy Prostitute as the Princess described her. This seemed to me to be a conradiction of what she had said the night before that for a woman sex must be sanctified as a woman who gave herself out of lust or for money was unclean but I forebore to comment having by now long experience of the inconsistency of the Princess's weird set of beliefs. So we parted for the day and after telephoning Elena I set out for the notary's. Charles Dubarry the man in question is an old friend from my student days and besides being a very astute and capable notary and a brother Martinist he knows my family history and personal circumstances almost as well as I do. He is also a most cultured man and he and his wife Annabelle held for many years at their summer retreat on Lake Annecy, soirees which were graced with the presence of many eminent figures of the literary and artistic world both French and from a wider Europe and the United States of America. Annabelle sadly died three years ago but he has a grown-up family and his youngest unmarried daughter keeps house for him. Surprisingly when I got there I was shown into the office of Monsieur Robert Dubarry the elder brother of Charles and the senior partner in the firm. Robert is the antithesis of Charles. Upholding the honour and integrity of the firm is everything to him. Dour, upright, unbending, a solid citizen, a life-long bachelor and a staunch and pious Catholic. After the usual exchange of politenesses he informed me that Charles was at present taking a long leave of absence from the practice due to a severe breakdown in his health.I expressed my condolences. Robert did not elaborate on what he had told me, no doubt the principle of remaining tight-lipped about the affairs of his clients applies even more strongly to his family's personal affairs. He informed me that he personally would be only too pleased to take over the management of my legal affairs and had been familiarising himself with my dossier to that end. After thanking him I said that would be perfectly acceptable to me and e discussed the matter which had brought me to Lyon namely Elena's "important matters" and I added that I hoped that I would shortly be instructing him to negotiate some kind of separation agreement which I hoped would eventually lead to a divorce. Despite his Church's teachings on the subject he did not baulk at this. On the way out after the consultation ended I had a word with Philippe Morel the Dubarrys' Head Clerk also a friend from student days. I arranged to meet him that evening for dinner at the Brasserie Georges, the Princess and S could well take care of themselves I reasoned. The evening passed off very pleasantly, Philippe is excellent company and the food was well up to the standard I remembered. Philippe as Head Clerk knows most of the secrets of the Dubarry Chambers which makes him so indispensible to them. He told me more about the circumstances which had led to the absence of Charles. It appears that Charles had not really been himself since the death of Annabelle and of late his behaviour had become more and more erratic so that Robert had had to take almost complete responsibility for keeping the business going with the invaluable assistance of Philippe of course. Then Charles had developed what Philippe described as religious mania frequenting the meetings of various extreme sects and finally had become a follower of an unfrocked Jesuit priest called Boulez or Boullan or some such name. Anyway this chap had teamed up with a disgraced nun Sister Evangeline who reckons she is a reincarnation of the Mary Magdalene and was behaving accordingly. She latched on to Charles as an avatar of the Redeemer and this unholy (Morel's word) trio went about distributing leaflets and preaching and finally got themselves taken into police custody for blasphemy and outraging public morals. Robert managed to use his not inconsiderable influence to get Charles turned over to him and took him off to Switzerland where he is now being treated at a private clinic in Berne. The nun Sister Evangeline was handed over to the Catholic Church because although expelled from her convent she was still regarded as their responsibility and she is now languishing in some holy nuthouse location unspecified (his words again) from which it is unlikely she will ever again emerge alive (Philippe is violently anti-clerical). As for the ex-priest Father Boulez, Boullan or whatever (it turned out that he is not an unfrocked priest but a plausible confidence trickster with many aliases) he was bound over to keep the peace and promptly decamped for parts unknown. We rounded off with a visit to a cafe-chantant where the star attraction was a large wonderfully blowsy blonde lady singer called Babette who Philippe informed me was quite willing to entertain favoured clients in her rooms upstairs. In the event I did not sample her charms but left Philippe there and took a cab back to the hotel. No sign of Princess or S so took myself off to bed where I lay awake for some time in reverie.

Thursday April 5thTo Vaulx, the Villa Ara Coeli. Three years since I was here last. Seemed to me as gloomy as ever. Ghost-ridden and one in particular, that of the child Paolina, my beloved daughter. Elena received me in the library. She is still a very attractive woman. All that thick, lustrous, red-gold hair and that erect upright carriage and she still has her beguiling smile. Ah I thought if only Paolina had lived - but what is the good of repining? Elena was at her disarmingly cordial best and after a few conventional politenesses got down to the "important matters;" our matrimonial relationship or perhaps I should say the lack of the same. However I cannot say that I was not surprised by what she had to say on the matter. First of all she surprised me by saying that within the last two years or so she hadtaken to going out and about in society much more. In particular frequenting the salons of the Duchesse de Louvencieres, Madame de Courbouleix and other well known Lyonaisses all patrons of literature and the arts. There she had met a most charming and cultured man an English milord no less (well not exactly a Lord but the younger son of one and an Honourable; how seriously the rosbifs take their nobility, here in France we have titles yes but officially no aristocracy only the aristocracy of hard cash!) well educated, cultured and a dabbler in art and literature and the author of a well-received collection of poetry. A perfect paragon of all the virtues and not lacking in either land or lucre apparently thanks to the generosity of his dear departed mamma who had been an heiress in her own right. He is apparently besotted with Elena and she with him and he has behaved in a truly honourable fashion towards her (in the true English manner!) but he wishes to make an honest woman of her and is prepared to wait until she is free. Well well what a change in her attitude but I welcome it although I cannot in all honesty say that I did not feel a sudden pang of jealousy as she related all this to me. I did point out however that we would have to have an official legal separation for three years before divorce became possible adding that if she had not been so obstructive in the past she would by now have been a free woman. She agreed with that so I replied that I would put the matter into Dubarry's hands without delay and that of course the financial arrangements between us would continue unchanged until such time as she was free. She thanked me and said that when it is possible they intend eventually to make their home in England the Honourable Selwyn having a mansion London's West End as well as a country seat. We parted amicably enough and I returned to Lyon. No sign of the Princess or of S when I returned to the hotel.

Friday April 6thHave returned to Paris alone having received a note from the Princess saying that she and S had, at the Countess's suggestion moved into The Mirzoeff residence for a few weeks. That Princess could certainly charm the birds from out of the trees! So I returned feeling greatly relieved both in the matter of Elena and at getting rid of the Princess. Her wild and exotic and I am beginning to think unhealthy beliefs are fast beginning to pall on me. Having perhaps run the gamut of the exotic myself I am beginning to think that perhaps the purely spiritual as embodied in the teachings of La Diva's Indian teacher the Swami could very well be the true path to enlightenment. Then of course I am honest enough to admit that it is more than likely that my animal nature will sooner or later reassert itself........


The Trunk

Thanks for recent e-mails. Lots of questions and food for thought in them. Firstly - I acquired the diaries/journals at a public auction at a small auction house in London some years ago. This auction house specialised in second-hand funiture and bric-a-brac mostly from house clearances and their clientele tended to be landlords of small flats who were always on the lookout for cheap furniture. The diaries were part of a job lot - books and magazines and prints in a large wooden chest - it was the chest that really interested me as a potential storage unit also it was obviously craftsman made and to me very attractive. I later found out that it probably dated from the 17th century and was most likely of Spanish origin so it was probably a family heirloom. I got it cheaply as no one else seemed interested. All the books, (cheap novels mostly) and magazines (popular illustrated monthlies and weeklies of the 1900's to about 1940) and prints (sentimental/romantic subjects) were French. There was no indication as to previous ownership of the chest and the auctioneer told me that it had come to them as part of a house clearance put into the auction by the firm that had carried out the clearance. He had not bothered to sift through the contents as they looked pretty run-of-the-mill stuff to him. I didn't pursue it further at the time.
The books, magazines and most of the prints I disposed of to a second-hand book dealer all apart from some copies of George Sand, Flaubert, Balzac, Gautier, et al which were in good condition and in some cases with uncut pages which would indicate that they had not been read much if at all. I still have these in my personal library. Some of them have the initials "E. M. J S-C." inside the front covers and dates ranging from 1892 to 1905. These are I presume the initials of Rodrigo's wife Elena. The journals I put to one side as something I might find amusing at a later date. I was working then and very busy in my position as a lecturer in Modern History in a Polytechnic Institute (now metamorphosed into a University no less) but now I am retired with plenty of spare time.

Emma Calve

I have read some of Calve's autobiography entitled (not very originally) My Life. She is very reticent about her private life and her beliefs, no mention of esoteric or mystical pursuits. Apart from Vedanta that is. She seems to have been a follower of Swami Vivekenanda who accompanied her on a world tour with a group of friends. She was born in Provence and then brought up in Spain from about 6 months old until age 6. She spoke fluent Spanish. She later bought a castle in Aveyron, Languedoc, the Chateau de Cabrieres which she says and I quote "the little castle of Cabrieres dates from was the refuge of a group of Knights Templars." Unfortunately she doesn't enlarge on this so whether they took refuge before or after the suppression of the Order I don't know. The Aveyron is a wild region (even wilder in her day of course) of gorges and caves. I attach a picture of this "little castle" taken from her book. It is still there of course who it belongs to today I have no idea but Calve spent her retirement years in the town of Milau (also Provence) where she taught. In Milau there is a street named after her and several Pensions and Hotels. Castillon knew her quite well because he had so he says written enthusiastic reviews of her performances at the Opera Comique in Paris when she was starting out and he was a great admirer. He visited the "little castle." Of course he had a Spanish background himself.


About myself. I was born in 1868 in Perpignan where my father who hailed from the region of the Pyrenees and was of Franco-Spanish lineage was in practice as a notary and a partner in a prosperous law firm, not that I remember him at all clearly because he was killed in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian War. He was a reserve cavalry officer and had been re-called to the colours in France's hour of need. He died a hero's death my mother was told. She bore her loss stoically. She was Spanish or rather Catalan and an orphan at the time of her marriage to my father. They had met when he was on business in Barcelona where she was working as a governess in the house of his client. He had been smitten by her dark beauty and carried her off in a whirlwind romance to Perpignan. At the war's end when things were settled down it was revealed that my father had brought the law firm and of course his partner to near ruin through embezzlement of clients' monies to satisfy his gambling losses and the needs of a series of mistresses. When all this had become public knowledge my mother fled precipitately from Perpignan to escape the ensuing scandal and found refuge for us in the household of a distant cousin of hers (her only living relative I was told) in Vaulx-en-Velin a small town on the outskirts of Lyon. All my mother said to me later was that this change in our situation was necessitated by my father's death; only when I was approaching manhood did I hear the true story. This "cousin" of hers, Francisco Lopez Ferrero Saenz, was an old man who lived a very reclusive, frugal life in a modest villa in a secluded part of town with extensive but rather neglected grounds around which he would take his daily walk accompanied by a large dog which looked fierce but in reality was more like a household pet. Other than that he spent most of his time in his library which was extensive. About once a month however he would go into Lyon on business accompanied by Hutier, a big powerful old soldier, who was manservant, coachman, and general odd-job man. Once a month also a group of twelve men would come to the villa and proceed with Tio Francisco to a detached building in the grounds which resembled in some ways a chapel but without any outward religious symbols. Their conclave's lasted for several hours. On occasions an old man in the dress of an Orthodox Jew would pay him a visit and they would spend several hours in the library together. During this time the library was barred to me and the household staff and the door firmly locked. Despite having an air of shabby gentility Saenz was in truth an extremely wealthy man who had inherited a large share in a family fortune originally made in the silver mines of Bolivia....Soon after her arrival my mother assumed the role of chatelaine...The old man insisted that I call him Tio Francisco, literally Uncle Francisco but with a wider meaning in Spanish family usage... So I grew up in his household and I had a free run of the house and grounds (except the detached building mentioned) providing I did not get in his way. From the age of seven however he acted as my tutor and laid the foundations of my education. He was a strict schoolmaster and a disciplinarian and not above using physical means to correct my shortcomings so that under his regime I became a quick and diligent student. His lessons were supplemented by my reading in his library to which I also had free access except for certain cases which were kept locked. I read widely. At the age of twelve I was sent to the best Lycee in Lyon and remained there until I received my baccalaurate at age eighteen. From there I proceeded to the University of Paris, with Tio Francisco's consent and encouragement and in addition a generous allowance, to study law. Before I went he told me that he found me an admirable young man of great potential and promise and that he was going to make me his heir on the one condition that I add the name Saenz to my existing one. I gladly consented. It was also at this meeting that he told me of my father's criminal conduct and that he Tio Francisco as a man of honour had made good the losses to my father's creditors when he had learned of them from my mother.In Paris I started out a model student but soon a multitude of distractions began to exert their influence over me. I became more interested in Literature, Art and Music than the Code Napoleon and the Digests of Justinian and I was inordinately proud to see some of my attempts at writing published in the more ephemeral journals and through these I gained a limited entree into Parisian intellectual life. Being not unhandsome I also acquired a mistress, a pretty grisette (naturally) called Antonietta... Despite all this I still managed to do enough work to pass my first year examinations creditably. I went back to Vaulx for the summer vacations. A great change had come over Tio Francisco he was in the last stages of a wasting disease and he died three weeks after my homecoming...Under his will he had left me the villa and grounds and a goodly portion of his personal wealth. This was to be in trust for me until I reached the age of twenty-five but I would receive an enhanced allowance until then. So at the age of nineteen I became a wealthy man...


Castillon continues to perplex. I am beginning to think he used a lot of pseudonyms for people he mentions, I am even beginning to wonder if his own name isn't a pseudonym. The Golden Dawn is a distinct possibility for identifying some of them. He may well have been into sex magick judging by some of the entries in his diary he was certainly of an amourous disposition shall we say and his tours of the Orient seem to have been of the "sex-tourism" kind often indulged in by the leisured rich of his time. He was certainly avid in his quest for religious/spiritual sensational experiences from Sufism, Dervishes, Yogis, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Masonry (he claims to be a Martinist?) to Russian Skoptsy and Khlysty.I believe that Rasputin was a member of the latter sect. Anyway I hope the code will be cracked soon and then maybe all will be revealed.

The Saenz de Castillon Diary


Hello MJA,
Thanks for your latest, always pleased to receive interesting material. Castillon's diaries are in French so presumably the coded bits when deciphered will be as well. As to transcribing it well as I said a lot of it is pretty banal day to day stuff which is interesting as a picture of the times but hardly spellbinding which means that anything really interesting must be in the coded bits. For example in one entry he describes attending a soiree at the house of a certain Comtesse Ernestine Vigy Le Breanne in Paris during the course of which a woman who appeared to be of "Middle Eastern" origin but who who was introduced only as "Semiramis" performed a rite which she, or rather her companion or manager or whatever,one Tamara Arkadovna Pregashvili. who claimed to be a Russian Georgian Princess, said was Ancient Babylonian and that Semiramis was an avatar of the Great Mother Goddess Cybele. Semiramis was clad in the sort of costume which seems to have been quite scanty and sounds from his description to have been of the type favoured by Mata Hari and other "exotic" dancers of that period i.e. jewelled bra and Turkish pants and slippers and gauzy veils, the sort of outfit "belly-dancers" wear today. Then of course, typically, when it comes to describing the actual performance of the rite he changes to his code - all very frustrating. The date for this entry is 10th October 1900. From later entries it would seem that he formed a close liason with "Semiramis" He was married but estranged from his wife Elena who lived a sort of reclusive life in the Castillon villa in Vaulx-en-Velin just outside Lyon. There is a lot of potentially fascinating stuff here I must admit if ever the code is cracked!