The Taxil Hoax

Discover the incredible tale of the Taxil Hoax: a stunning testament to human gullibility. Unmasked by its mastermind, Leo Taxil, this elaborate scheme shook the world by fusing Freemasonry with diabolical plots, all crafted from lies. Dive into a story of deception that highlights our capacity for belief and the astonishing extents of our credulity. A reminder – question everything.

Freemasonry features prominently in numerous conspiracy theories.  Depending on the theory, we are part of a Jewish cabal with the goal of world domination, behind Communism, tied to the Ku Klux Klan, responsible for US income taxes, faked the moon landing, were behind the September 11 attacks, and are really part of the race of Reptilian shapeshifters.

While most of these accusations are generally scoffed at by even those who are the most anti-Masonic, there is one that lingers after over a century and is believed by many: the real god worshipped by Freemasons is a demon known as Baphomet.

Marie Joseph Jogand-Pagès (better known as Leo Taxil) was born in France in 1854 and spent his youth attending school at a Jesuit seminary prior to becoming an author and journalist.

Becoming disillusioned with the Catholic Church, he later wrote a number of scandalous books against the church and was even brought to criminal trial for his publications until, in 1885, he publicly announced his conversion to Catholicism.

The year before Taxil’s conversion, Pope Leo XIII had published a letter claiming that Freemasons were closely tied with the ‘partisans of evil’ and of the ‘kingdom of Satan’.

The church welcomed Taxil as he disavowed his own previous works against the church and, instead, began writing various exposes of Freemasonry.

Taxil wrote several books accusing Masons of various forms of heresies including participating in Satanism and summoning and interacting with demons. He became wildly popular in Catholic circles and was even allowed a private audience with the Pope.

In 1892, his writings introduced the world to a woman named Diana Vaughan. Vaughan, according to Taxil, was a high priestess of Lucifer and closely intertwined with Palladism.

Leo Taxi
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Palladism, as Taxil said he had discovered, was led by Albert Pike and consisted of a Satan-worshipping sect in the highest orders of Masons. 

It was during rituals of the Palladists that one demon used its tail to write prophecies on Diana’s back, and another demon took the form of a crocodile and played piano.

The goals of this group were the overthrow of Christianity and to herald in Satanism throughout the world.  Eventually, Taxil would announce in his writings that Ms. Vaughan had herself converted to Catholicism after she mentioned the name of Joan of Arc and thus made the demons flee. 

Taxil informed his readers that she was being kept safe in an unnamed convent and did not make public appearances.

There was such demand for Diana to be seen publicly- in fact many began doubting her existence- that Leo Taxil announced she would make an appearance on Easter Monday, 1897, at a press conference in Paris. 

However, the press conference did not reveal Diana Vaughan but rather a sly Leo Taxil informing everyone in attendance everything from his conversion to Catholicism to Diana Vaughan was an elaborate hoax and entirely made up. He was escorted out of the hall by police.

Taxil would later call himself the ‘arch-liar of the period’ and say that he assumed his stories would be seen as an obvious fake but later realized there was money to be made in the gullibility of the people.

He said, “Ah, the jolly evenings I spent with my fellow authors hatching out new plots,” and, “I thought I would kill myself laughing at some of the things proposed, but everything went; there is no limit to human stupidity.”

Article by: Mike Bryant

Mike Bryant is a Software Architect who lives in Kentucky with his wife Maudie.

When not playing classic rock music with his band, he enjoys Jeep off-roading and camping.

Mike is Past Master and current Secretary of Breathitt Lodge #649, Past High Priest of Jackson Chapter #160, member of Booneville Lodge #939, founding member of Henry Bannister Grant Lodge of Research #996, and founding member of Breathitt Allied Masonic Degrees Council #556.

He can be reached at or


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