THE OCCULT CONSPIRACY: the Secret History of Mystics, Templars, Masons and Occult Societies. By Michael Howard


Chances are, you've read Dan Brown's thriller, The Da Vinci Code, and like most of us, found it a fun read, fast-moving, and thought-provoking. Dan Brown has a unique gift for integrating history and background into the plot, and, no question about it, The Da Vinci Code has reawakened interest in the story of the Holy Grail.

One of the questions I'm asked, as author of The Grail Conspiracies, is whether The Da Vinci Code "inspired" me. In other words, did I dash off a quickie book to jump on that bandwagon?

I've been asked the same question about my other related book, Joining Miracles: Navigating the Seas of Latent Possibility, and how it relates to The Secret, the book and video by Rhonda Byrne.

I began The Grail Conspiracies and Joining Miracles long before The Da Vinci Code and The Secret came to market. (Indeed, it seems I began long before Dan Brown and Rhonda Byrne even got the inspiration. From what I've read in the media, Dan Brown began on DVC around 2001, and Rhonda Byrne on The Secret around 2004. I had been reading and researching the area for quite a long while, though Grail really got started when I visited the old port of the Knights Templar in La Rochelle, France, in 1990, and Joining Miracles spun off from it, as I’ll get into below.)


Here I'd like to share some additional background on that thriller, The Grail Conspiracies, and on some of the key ideas presented there. I'll also be referring to my Joining Miracles: Navigating the Seas of Latent Possibility, as Grail and Joining were developed simultaneously, are linked in a way you'll see when you read The Grail Conspiracies.

Traditionally, the Holy Grail is the cup of the Last Supper, perhaps also the vessel used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect the blood of Jesus as it fell from the Cross. By legend, that contact with the divine imbued the cup with mystical powers that were there to be tapped by whoever held it. (But, as we'll see, that traditional version of the Grail story is only one of several.)

The Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail

I read The Da Vinci Code when it came out in 2003, more than a decade after I had begun researching the deeper implications of the Grail. In the course of that research, I'd had the chance to visit various sites in Europe with Grail connections in the course of researching and developing The Grail Conspiracies.

I enjoyed reading Dan Brown's take, and I understood why he used certain accounts as his basis, but felt then and believe even more strongly now that The Da Vinci Code missed the point of the real Grail truth — the impact of other dimensions of a deeper reality than we normally experience.

Did The Da Vinci Code get the Grail story right? Is the Holy Grail in fact what Dan Brown suggests? Is the Holy Grail what other books, including the earlier book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail,  propose as the true grail? Was the "grail" (as The Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail propose) nothing more than a coded reference to the womb of Mary Magdalene, carrying the unborn child of Jesus to form one of the royal bloodlines of Europe? Is the story of the Grail in fact part of a cover story created by a conspiracy stretching back to the time of Jesus?

Have we been misled by a false story created and carried on for most of 2,000 years by a secret cabal? Have we been the victims of a kind of inside joke on us all, for all these years?

The Holy Grail and the Knights Templar

In 1990, when I was taking an extended break from my work as a management consultant and lawyer, I explored many of the same strands that Dan Brown later followed in researching The Da Vinci Code.

As I mentioned, I went to La Rochelle, the main Atlantic seaport of the legendary Knights Templar —  the mysterious order of warrior-monks who were, by legend, guardians of the Grail. I walked through the Templars' Commanderie (headquarters), steps from the port they built a thousand years ago.

(Interestingly — synchronicitously? —  the video camera I was using stopped working while I was inside the Templar Commanderie in La Rochelle, but began working fine again as soon as I left that area. I “loaned” this experience to one of the characters in The Grail Conspiracies, a former investment banker now writing a thesis entitled “Searchers for the Latent Miracle Power: The Knights Templar and the Alchemists.”)

I learned that in October, 1307, the King of France, in alliance with others, ordered the arrest of all Knights Templar and seizure of their property. The strike came on Friday, October 13, 1307, and the Templars —  at the time the strongest fighting force the world had ever known —  mysteriously surrendered without resistance. But the Templars apparently had warning of what was to come, and sent caravans loaded with their treasures to be loaded onto ships at that port of La Rochelle. Where did those ships go? Was what we think of as the Holy Grail among those Templar treasures? (Later, with the approval of a Pope who was strongly under the influence of the French King, the Templar knights were tried as heretics.)

Even then, as I was just starting on what would become the spiritual thriller, The Grail Conspiracies, I sensed that there was another hidden truth of the potential of other dimensions within the story of the Grail, and that the Knights Templar did in fact have a role in that deeper Grail —  a Grail that had been protected not only by the Templars and others, but protected by a thousand-year disinformation campaign designed to mislead those who came with bad intentions.

“What is the Grail? Who is it to serve?”

These, of course, are the two classic questions of the Grail stories and legends that have shaped our culture over the centuries.

What indeed IS the Holy Grail?

Is the Grail, as most of the legends say, the cup or chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper? By legend, that contact imbued the cup with divine powers.

Or is the Grail --- as two recent best-selling books, The Da Vinci Code, and Holy Blood, Holy Grail --  claim, not a cup, after all, but rather the bloodline of Jesus, as passed down through Mary Magdalene? In this version, "Grail" was a code-word used by conspirators over the past 2,000 as a tool for deluding and distracting the attention of those who were not initiated into that conspiracy.

Or is there a third answer to that question, "What is the Grail?" Perhaps the "Grail" WAS indeed a code word for a secret known only to a few. But, as you'll discover in the spiritual-political thriller The Grail Conspiracies, that secret was not a bloodline, nor a hidden lineage.

What WAS that secret encoded within the Grail legends? Perhaps it was, as hinted by Jesus and other spiritual teachers through the ages, the message that we, all humans, have sleeping within us "mystical" or "miracle" powers to shape — or "unfold?" — reality in ways that most of us cannot yet perceive.

What is that deeper Grail?

In looking beneath most versions of the Grail legend (other than the one relied on in The Da Vinci Code) we find that the Grail seekers were, ultimately, on a “. . . quest for mystical union with the otherness that lies buried in the depths of each individual psyche " . . . a divine spark that is part of the Absolute." (The quote is from Mind and Magic, Francis X. King.)

It is this aspect of the Grail quest —  as tapping into that inner spark that links with the Divine — that I think Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code missed, as did other books, such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail. They got it partly right: there was indeed a cover-up of the truth, with the story of the quest for a physical Grail cup used to direct attention away from the deeper "Grail," which is much more than just an artifact.

The story of the Grail as just the physical cup is, I became convinced, an early and very successful instance of "disinformation" – putting out one story to cover a deeper truth. While the stories seemed to be about the quest for a physical cup, in fact they were accounts of a deeper quest for a mystical power within the individual.

Thus while The Da Vinci Code and others got it partly right —  that there was disinformation around the Grail stories —  my studies have convinced me that they missed the deeper truth: that the true Grail relates to a dormant human power latent within us. That is the deeper secret of the Holy Grail. The Grail quest, like the search of the Alchemists, is, on a deeper level, a quest for the secret of how to tap that mysterious, mystical miracle power that is within us all, waiting to be awakened.

In short, as one of the characters in The Grail Conspiracies puts it, "What I'm proposing is that the true, deeper Grail quest was for the same thing as the true quest of the Alchemists: to find the secrets of tapping the higher potentials of the human mind."

The Grail Conspiracies is by no means just another telling of the traditional Grail story. For one thing, it is set in contemporary times. For another, it takes a very different look at what that dormant miracle power within us might be, and how we might access it.

The Grail Conspiracies is on one level, a thriller, a “speculative” spiritual thriller. But it is a mystery story as well — suggesting the deeper possibilities, the possibility that we are all potential miracle workers, that we were born with a sleeping mystical power, and that we have the ability to use that dormant power within to play an active role in unfolding the events of our lives. (For a different take on that deeper secret of the dormant human powers, see the companion book to The Grail Conspiracies, entitled Joining Miracles: Navigating the Seas of Latent Possibility.)

The Grail Conspiracies and Joining Miracles

At the start, and for the first couple of years of tinkering, I thought I was writing just one book, a spiritual thriller, The Grail Conspiracies. But it didn't come together; it felt like forcing a big foot into a small shoe.

The Aha! hit one evening while visiting an aunt, and when I got home I immediately began separating the two. Yet they were still very much related. My solution: As you'll see, parts of what is now Joining Miracles remain in The Grail Conspiracies as "dividers" setting the tone for each day. That's why in this website I refer to them as "companion books."

Joining Miracles and The Secret

Joining Miracles is a spiritual fable of our limitless human potentials.

Without spoiling the plot, suffice it to say that The Grail Conspiracies is about uncovering what the "true" Grail really is.

The Grail, in my view, is not the bloodline of Jesus (as suggested by The Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail.) Nor do I think that the real Grail is the cup (or at least just the cup of the Last Supper).

Without giving away too much, my research over a good many years and in a variety of disciplines has led me to believe that there is disinformation around the real Grail, and that there has been a deliberate conspiracy to keep us from recognizing what that deeper Grail is.

I've read that the teachers and advocates of The Secret say that, among several explanations, quantum physics, particularly "measurable energy frequencies or vibrations," along with "The Law of Attraction" are, so to speak, the secret of The Secret.

If so, then in that sense, Joining Miracles and The Secret have some points of similarity. I think that the interplay of human consciousness and what we term quantum physics is at the core of our wider human capabilities.

But when you read Joining Miracles: Navigating the Seas of Latent Possibility you'll find a significantly broader tapping of the possibilities of the hidden aspects beyond what we perceive as "reality." You'll find ways of focusing your consciousness and using other aspects of what we term quantum physics, to affect the reality as it is presented to you.

The Grail Conspiracies and Deeper Secret

Early on, The Grail Conspiracies was briefly test-marketed under the title Deeper Secret, the "market" told us that The Grail Conspiracies was the better title! The two books are essentially the same.

Michael McGaulley
Author, The Grail Conspiracies, and  Joining Miracles: Navigating the Seas of Latent Possibility.


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