Pussy Riot and Jesse Cripes' Twisted Messiah --political protest rock

Sometimes fiction follows fact; other times the reverse -- a thought that came to mind as I was watching the  60 Minutes segment "Pussy Riot punk band remains defiant of Putin's Russia". To go to that 60 Minutes segment on Pussy Riot

The all female Pussy Riot music protests echo the group Twisted Messiah in my technothriller THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES, with both similarities and differences.

Pussy Riot was formed to protest alleged election abuses and other anti-democratic action in Putin's Russia. The protests were apparently confined to Moscow. So far as I know, Pussy Riot was not in it for the money. Nor did the Pussy Riot members (or any allies) have political ambitions beyond cleaning up their own governments.

Both the real Pussy Riot and my fictional Jesse Cripes and Twisted Messiah have  names chosen to be deliberately offensive . . . in a variation of the old politician's slogan, "Say anything you will about me, good or bad, just spell my name right."

Pussy Riot (so far) is confined to Russia.  Twisted Messiah (fictionally) takes advantage of rock super-stardom to springboard into a world-wide politically-oriented force.  A (fictional) CIA agent says The Company has come up with the bureaucratic-speak term:  NGPF (Non-Governmental Political Force), a take-off on NGO (Non-Governmental Organization).

The women of Pussy Riot seem to have the aim of doing good for their country; Twisted Messiah and the powers behind it have a very different aim. As a CIA agent says in THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES,

"The Twisted Messiah fans . .  .most of them, are totally dumb bastards. There's nothing constructive they want to do or build or achieve with their lives so they're choosing the other direction, to be destructive, to wallow  in anger, hatred, darkness.  That's why we consider them the world's worst nightmare.

"Twisted Messiah, the movement, is not just a fan club, it's the functional equivalent of a covert army with terrorist potential, scattered in cells all over the world. Millions of fans, most of them dumb shits with nothing to lose, an army of dead-end kids all around the world, all willing to drink the Kool-Aid. And they've got tons of money, and the contacts to obtain any kind of weapon, even WMD.

"Believe me, you don't want to think about those scenarios when you wake up in the middle of some dark night."

Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" and The Grail Conspiracies

Cropped cover for blog 2-22-12


When we were designing the cover of my speculative spiritual thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES, a montage of Da Vinci's classic drawing, termed the "Vitruvian Man" on "The Eye of God," the NASA photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope seemed a natural.

God + Da Vinci teaming up  on your cover? Of course! Go for it!

What triggered this blog was my happening on the review of a new book: DA VINCI'S GHOST: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image.

I only came on the review today, so haven't gotten to the book itself, but it sounds fascinating.

You'll find Don Oldenburg's   review  in USA Today.

The  book, in both print and Kindle versions,    is available at Amazon and other sellers . . . ESPECIALLY your local bookshop (which needs your business a lot more than does Amazon).

The book cover was designed by Russ Shoemaker JoinMirac431x650(rshoemaker@bigplanet.com) who also designed the cover for my related book, JOINING MIRACLES.


Young German Neo-Nazis, fans of Twisted Messiah, and other angry young people

I was in Munich in the spring of 1992, only a couple of years after the Berlin Wall fell and East and West were reunited into one Germany.

We paused for lunch at an outdoor cafe in the shade of the Cathedral, and happened to share a table with a German lady whose profession was as a specialized translator and tour guide, primarily for business and organizational groups that had a particular interest not just in seeing the landmark sights, but even more in understanding the changes taking place in the economy and society.

First she recommended a special beer that was still brewed by monks in a monastery not far away, beer that (as I recall) was sold only here at this Cathedral cafe and at the monastery.

Then the conversation moved to the changes in the former East Germany, and her concerns of a very significant cadre of angry, disaffected young people roaming and terrorizing. I hadn't heard about that aspect of life in the new Germany, as most of the media focus was on the positive sides of the unification, or on the financial sacrifices resulting as two very different economies struggled to merge.

That image--- of roaming bands of angry, rootless youths drifting and destroying --- stuck with me, and became the model for  the fans of the fictional rock group Twisted Messiah in what would become my speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

In fiction, I saw Twisted Messiah evolving from just another entertainment group into a world-wide political force, pulling together an "army" of disaffected young people in every nation  . . .angry young with no aims, just a craving for excitment and destruction. And I saw Twisted Messiah (and the powers behind) seeing it as the potential for a non-governmental quasi-political force.

By last summer, The Grail Conspiracies was finished and out in the world. Then life began following the book's plot, beginning with the riots in England.  I posted here in this blog:  ("Twisted Messiah" fan riots improbable? Reality strikes in England! )

"Last week across England it was as if the fictional Twisted Messiah's underground "army" had come to life in their "pre-celebrations". Fact can be at least as strange as fiction, and fiction can "pre-intuit" the facts that may come. One of the characters in The Grail Conspiracies even characterizes people like these: "those who choose to lose.""

In that same blog post I quoted some words from an article by Max Hastings, former editor of two different respected London newspapers, and author of a string of books on World War II and other political topics:

"The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call 'lives': they simply exist." And a bit later: "They have their being only in video games and street-fights, casual drug use and crime.

Another from that Max Hastings article: "So there we have it: a large, amoral, brutalised sub-culture of young British people who lack education because they have no will to learn, and skills which might make them employable. They are too idle to accept work waitressing or doing domestic labour, which is why almost all such jobs are filled by immigrants.

"They have no code of values to dissuade them from behaving anti-socially or, indeed, criminally, and small chance of being punished if they do so.

"They have no sense of responsibility for themselves, far less towards others, and look to no future beyond the next meal, sexual encounter or TV football game. "


Later in the summer came the various "Occupy" events. Initially, they were mostly peaceful sit-ins, and they did raise some valid points. (A wide variety of unformed points, some have said.) But then . . .

Now the word among the pundits of left, center, and right is that the Occupy movement has the potential of becoming a very significant force, but currently lacks direction and leadership.

Is Occupy waiting for a  leader with a direction in mind?  Let's hope that leader is not on the model of  Twisted Messiah.


Apropos the above: In Germany, a new film is causing much controversy. The title is HIDDEN HATRED and explores the world of young people in Neo-Nazi type groups. From an  article    on the young people as portrayed in the film,  in the German news magazine SPIEGEL:

"Disillusioned and disconnected, many young people are searching for simple answers, and find them and a sense of belonging in the far-right scene," [said the director of the film in an interview].

My comment: yes, exactly so.  But I think whether they go for the far-right, far-left, or far-out-whatever,  is up for grabs.  The answer may be different in different countries and different cultures.  But, again, I hope the leader (s) is/are not in the mold of Twisted Messiah.




Michael Talbot's books on the new physics, science, faith and the implications of holography

I've been posting some of the most helpful books I relied on as background for  my speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

Three are by the late Michael Talbot, who, sadly, died at not quite age 40.  This from his bio page on his Amazon author's page:

Michael Coleman Talbot (September 29, 1953 – May 27, 1992) was an American author of several books highlighting parallels between ancient mysticism and quantum mechanics, and espousing a theoretical model of reality that suggests the physical universe is akin to a giant hologram. According to Talbot ESP, telepathy, and other paranormal phenomena are real and are a product of his holographic model of reality.

His books that I used:

MYSTICISM AND THE NEW PHYSICS.  (I used the British edition, Rutledge and Keegan Paul, 1981.)

BEYOND THE QUANTUM: How the secrets  of the new physics are bridging the chasm between science and faith.  (c) 1987, Bantam in the US.

THE HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE.  (c) 1992. New paperback version published in 2011.  This also touches on Karl Pribam's application of holography in his holographic theory of the mind.

Link to Amazon's overview page of Michael Talbot's books


The Nazis and the occult -- a surprise!

My speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES, largely kicked off with a trip to La Rochelle, France, which was the main Atlantic port of the Knights Templar. It's a picturesque place to visit, and I highly recommend it for a  holiday.

The old harbor of the Templars is still there, and it's easy to sit at a cafe and visualize Templars moving past, carrying goods to and from their  ships.  It's also easy to visualize them at the end, when the forces of the King and Pope were closing in, racing to load their ships with the "Templar treasures"--- whatever those treasures consisted of: worldly goods, lost occult wisdom, maybe even the Holy Grail (whatever that really is).

You can sit at another cafe and look across the the Templar Commanderie (headquarters) in many ways unchanged these thousand or so years. The Templar cross still remains carved into the stone of many of the buildings around the Commanderie.

But in La Rochelle, there are also still traces of the Nazi occupation: most visibly the mammoth concrete buildings by another harbor where the German submarines came in for repair and refueling.

Those two strains--- Templars and the Nazi occupation--- fit together for the story. Note that I am not  suggesting that the Templars were in any way predecessors of the Nazis. But it seems that many in the Nazi hierarchy did, and indeed sent teams from the Ahnenerbe or "Occult Bureau" to look for clues . . . and perhaps even the Grail itself.

In the summer of 1943, as one instance, an Ahnenerbe team scoured the area around the last Cathar fortress at Montsegur, south and inland of La Rochelle, looking for the Holy Grail or other supposed secrets of the Cathars. (Mind you, this was in the middle of the war, so it was not as if they were looking for a training exercise to keep the troops occupied.)

This isn't the place to go into  detail, but both the Templars and the Cathars (also known as Albigensians)  were declared heretics because of their supposedly unorthodox beliefs --- and because of envy of their rumored "unlimited wealth." (It was rumored that the Templars were also alchemists! Horrors to the orthodoxy!)

Both groups were alleged to be custodians of the Holy Grail; by one account, the Grail was spirited off the mountaintop that was the fortress of Montsegur, and entrusted to the Templars for safe-keeping away from the hands of the forces of the Papacy and the temporal kings.

It seems that the Nazi team did not find much of any of the Cathar (or Templar) hidden wisdom.

But who might have, how, and what that secret knowledge consisted of is the core of THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.  (Warning: plot point. Among the bad guys in my book are the followers of the rock-group Twisted Messiah, a neo-Nazi force leading an "army" of rootless, malevolent angry young people.)


The surprise I promised: When I started writing this note on some of the books I used in researching it, I looked them up on Amazon to see if they were still available. And I was shocked at what I saw.

One example: Michael Fitzgerald's STORM TROOPERS OF SATAN: An Occult History of the Second World War is now offered new on Amazon at prices ranging from $849 to $1061, and used at $198 and up. Those prices are not misprints! 

Amazon: Fitzgerald's STORM TROOPERS OF SATAN  (The edition I used was published by Robert Hale, London, (c) 1980.)

Another was Dusty Sklar's THE NAZIS AND THE OCCULT. (c) 1977, sorry I don't have it at hand so don't know the publisher. I think mine was the British edition. Amazon carries it under the title GODS AND BEASTS: THE NAZIS AND THE OCCULT. When I looked, the only copy available was offered at $250, new.  Amazon: Dusty Sklar's THE NAZIS AND THE OCCULT

In Sklar's book this fascinating, chilling, and all-too-true quotation from Hitler: "What luck for the rulers that men do not think."


About an hour's drive east and inland from La Rochelle are the remains of the small French village of Oradour. On a sunny June Saturday in 1944, a Nazi SS team rounded up everyone in the village and killed them in retaliation for the work of the French Resistance in killing one SS officer. I don't recall the exact number of villagers killed, but it was arond 500 men, women, even children.

The village has been left just as it was, and you can walk the streets and look in at the remains of the butcher's and baker's shops, and the church were the last were rounded up. You'll see rusting cars and cycles that the owners never drove again.

And, as I did, you'll wonder what Force drove the Nazi mindset to the bloodshed of innocents like that. STORM TROOPERS OF SATAN -- Fitzgerald's book title sums it up, it seems to me.

When I got home, I read Robin Mackness' account of it in  MASSACRE AT ORADOUR, (c) 1988.

Amazon: Robin Mackness. MASSACRE AT ORADOUR

Coded knowledge and hidden human potentials

Adapted from The Grail Conspiracies, a spiritual
thriller by Michael McGaulley, and is based on his research for that 
book.  Keep in mind that The Grail Conspiracies is a work of fiction,
and some of the content has been adapted to fit the narrative.

For additional sources, see the links at the bottom of this page, or to
hyperlinks embedded within the body of the text.


From The Grail Conspiracies

I nearly missed the clue when it came: that word “disinformation” again,
but in a different context.

What if, the author suggested, all those legends of the search for the
physical Grail—the actual cup of Jesus—were in fact deliberate

What if, as another book put it, the Grail stories were “decoys to distract
the uninitiated or unworthy onto a search for something physical, when
in fact the core of the true Grail was a coded reference to the hidden
potentials of the human mind.”

I reread that line—a coded reference to the hidden potentials of the
human mind—not realizing then that I’d soon be hearing something very
like it from a very different source, in a different country.


From later in The Grail Conspiracies

She paused to see how I was taking this. I nodded, saying nothing,
wanting her to continue.

“That may be the source, but it’s been obscured, even hidden. Sad but
true, awareness of that Power has been one of the best-kept secrets
over the centuries.”

“Why hidden?”

“The elites—typically priesthoods—were determined to keep the
knowledge to themselves, as a way of monopolizing power and control.
In other places and other eras, it was dangerous to speak of these
things, because they conflicted with the settled approaches of other
elites. That, as you know, is why the alchemists and others coded their
knowledge, to avoid persecution.”

“Coded? How?”

“Language itself can be coded—messages can be written in a different
alphabet, or in numerical equivalents, or in an unknown language. It can
be by means of symbols, with the Christian cross being a common
example, which—”

She began again: “We associate the cross with the religion and the
death of Jesus on the Cross. But there’s a further code within the
symbol: the cross itself is an ancient symbol for the concept of spirit
entering into matter—the vertical, the spirit, intersecting into the
horizontal, material plane.”

“I’d never heard that before.”

“Knowledge can also be encoded in the form of stories that operate on
multiple levels. The Parables of Jesus are one instance. On one level,
they’re stories about shepherds and birds and ordinary people of a
certain time and place. But they carry universal messages on a deeper
level. The Grail legend is of course another example of a story carrying
a deeper message.”

I listened, part enchanted by her personality, part enthralled by the
excitement in her eyes as she talked about these things. Enthusiasm is
infectious—and magnetizing.

She paused for a sip of beer before going on. “Beyond stories or
legends, the knowledge can be encoded in rituals, which act out the
deeper reality. Both the Catholic Mass and the rituals of the Masons
come to mind in that regard—rituals which operate on the deeper levels
of the mind as the participants act out the roles. Knowledge can even
be encoded in structures, as in the case of the pyramids and the Gothic

That triggered something I’d read from that pamphlet on the Templars,
the one I’d been given back in La Rochelle: “I read that perhaps the
Knights Templar had financed the wave of cathedral construction that
swept across Europe around the 1200's, and that those Gothic
cathedrals were encoded knowledge. What do you think? Any truth to

Something clicked behind her eyes, and she pulled back in the chair.
“Why did you ask me that?”


From later in The Grail Conspiracies

“I believe one of your areas of interest is in coded knowledge,
particularly as it relates to the alchemists and the Knights Templar?”

He went on, now echoing some of what I had already turned up, though
adding new twists. The legends of the quest for the Holy Grail, and the
stories of the alchemists’ quest to turn base metals into gold, were
probably both intended as coded descriptions of an inner, mystical or
spiritual process that referred to developing the hidden powers of the
human mind. Put bluntly, it seems that the Great Work of Alchemy may
have been an encoded expression of a ‘technology’ for getting beyond
the usual human boundaries in order to access the higher powers.”

That idea, of alchemy being perhaps a kind of how-to or technology for
attaining altered states of consciousness echoed what Katje had said.

“Both of these quests,” he continued, “Alchemy and the Grail, were
expressed as stories—to encode the deeper realities behind the
narratives. Why encoded? First, because they wanted to pass on the
great secret—that we humans are able to tap higher powers, that there
is meaning and design, that we can take greater control of the flow of
physical reality. The initiates wanted to keep that knowledge alive, yet
had to encode it to protect themselves. After all, they and the
knowledge they possessed were dangerous to the status quo. This was
the era in which alchemists were burned at the stake, alongside witches
and other supposed heretics.”

He sipped his beer, then went on: “Second, and no less important, they
coded the knowledge in order to ensure that their secrets didn’t fall into
the hands of those who would corrupt and misuse it.”