Indiana Jones, the Nazi Occult Bureau, and The Grail Conspiracies

 I stumbled on the article, “Did Nazis really try to make Zombies? The real history behind one of our weirdest WW II obsessions” by Noah Charney in Salon August 22, 2015.

I almost skipped it because Zombies never have been my thing, but I recognized Noah Charney’s name as a respected and prolific author on art and related history (more on him later) so I took a look.

Glad I did.  I was already familiar with most of the Nazi explorations in the occult and strange science from my own research on various of my thrillers, particularly The Grail Conspiracies.

But for the “normal” person (not so well versed in this stuff!) Dr. Charney provides a brief but fascinating summary of the background on the Abnenerbe, the Nazi Occult Bureau, and some of its operations before and during the war.

(I had forgotten that an organization like the Ahnenerbe appeared in some of the Indiana Jones movies. For that background alone, the article is worth a look if you’re fascinated by these things—or just liked the Indiana Jones movies.)

As to the question posed, Did the Nazis really try to make zombies? Charney’s response ranges over related issues, including the weird experiences  of Dr. Josef Mengele, as well as other research on various chemicals and pills to increase stamina.

There is also a segment on the background on the George Clooney film,  Monuments Men, as the search for stolen art linked in a weird way with corpses apparently hidden away to rise again with the rise of a new Nazism. (Yes, the whole range of Nazi occult obsessions are, collectively, beyond weird!)

Anyway, I recommend the article. As to Noah Charney, Ph.D.: I had first come on his name as I was researching my upcoming thriller, Infinite Doublecross, as he has written several books and articles on art theft and forgery. (Full disclosure: I’ve never met him.)  I think the best overview is via his book list on Amazon:  Noah Charney 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

THE MURDERED MAGICIANS: The Templars and their Myth, by Peter Partner

In my research before starting to write the speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES, I read and reread Peter Partner's THE MURDERED MAGICIANS: The Templars and their Myth

As a matter of fact, I ended up buying the same book twice, and passed it on to one of my undercover sources for all sorts of interesting and weird stuff, whose name is Larry Crum.

Amazon: THE MURDERED MAGICIANS: The Templars and their Myth

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

In my researches before  starting to write my speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES, this is one of the books that I relied on significantly in my early readings on the background of the Knights Templar (or Templars), and other occult or secret societies.

In the British edition which I used (Rider  and company, 1989) the title is : THE OCCULT CONSPIRACY: the Secret History of Mystics, Templars, Masons and Occult Societies.

There is also an American edition, also 1989, though with a slightly different title: The Occult Conspiracy: Secret Societies--Their Influence and Power in World History.

Both are by Michael Howard.

Amazon: The Occult Conspiracy: Secret Societies--Their Influence and Power in World History


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.

The Grail: Not what we think it is. Not where we've been looking. The most powerful force ever known . . .  a dormant power within the human mind that can direct and focus energies from other dimensions . . . energies  that can be used for good, or malevolently for destruction and evil.

In cities around the world, flash-mobs made up of an army of  angry, rootless kids with nothing to lose riot in what they call “pre-celebrations” of the up-coming concert of Twisted Messiah.

 Twisted Messiah is an international  rock group with nihilistic neo-Nazi overtones, and has made clear its intention to lead this army. Pundits see this as a potential  worldwide "Non-governmental Political Force," a boundless rabble of the alienated ready to regroup as a cult.

500,000 of these kids will attend the live concert at an abandoned air base near Berlin. The concert will be simulcast around the world—an event that journalists will later refer to as  a “Nuremberg Rally on steroids updated to today’s mindset and technologies.”   Lead singer, Jesse Cripes, costumed at first as a Jesus look-alike, then after the intermission in Nazi regalia, introduces the “New Cross” movement.

In Washington, a pair of messages arrive within minutes. The first offers Greg Tapscott “the truth about your uncle,  Paul Tapscott, who was alleged to have been killed in action in France in June, 1944.” Paul was an OSS agent, and in the decades since, the family has been convinced of a long-term cover-up by the OSS, and its successor, CIA.

The second message, from a journalist friend, tells Greg that he is “a butterfly about to set off a storm that spreads around the world” and implies that there is a link between what his uncle turned up back then and what the Twisted Messiah inner cadre is seeking now.

In the old French port of La Rochelle, once the main Atlantic port of the Knights Templar, Greg hears that Paul was sent there to be sacrificed on a “disinformation” mission at the time of D-Day. But it seems that Paul surprised both the Germans and his American handlers by uncovering what was “perhaps the most powerful force or weapon ever known. Or perhaps even the Holy Grail, which is a coded reference to the highest human potential.

In Oxford, a professor who had been a consultant to the OSS during the post-war search for German technologies, breaks his long silence. Paul may have uncovered the deeper secret the occultists within Nazism had been seeking: "the elusive key to tapping a supposed power within the human mind that can direct and focus energies from other dimensions. Today’s scientific findings, particularly in quantum physics, are revealing that our world is far different, more wonderful and mysterious than we realize, and I have long suspected that what your uncle turned up is a crucial tool for understanding what our human capabilities are within that wider, more wondrous reality.”

In London, a man flashing apparent CIA credentials advises Greg to back off his search for information on his uncle, implying that the “chatter” picked up from a “certain terrorist group” (evidently Twisted Messiah/New Cross), indicates they are also on the trail of Paul Tapscott and what he turned up . . . and on Greg’s trail, as well.


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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.”