CHEIRY, SWITZERLAND — On October 5, 1994, doomsday came early for more than 50 members of the Odre du Temple Solar (OTS) — or, in English, The Order of the Solar Temple.
OTS orthodoxy combined the teachings of occultist Aleister Crowley with Freemason rituals and the rantings of charismatic gurus Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret, the latter of whom was a former physician who claimed to be the third incarnation of Jesus Christ.
One core OTS belief was that a looming environmental apocalypse would herald a coming of heaven on earth. Naturally, OTS members would rule the planet after it all went down.
Frustrated by years of waiting for those endtimes, though, OTS bigwigs decided to speed up the process — in horrifically dramatic fashion.
Di Mambro and Jouret told their disciples that if they all just abandoned their physical bodies on this plane of existence, they could meet en masse on a planet that was circling the star Sirius. What a great way to start over!The quickest route to that new beginning, of course, would be mass murder and suicide for all involved, the bulk of whom lived (and would soon die) in Canada, Switzerland, and France.
Given this fresh perspective, the cult’s first order of final business was to dispatch “the Anti-Christ.” Members believed that the devil himself had arrived three months earlier in the form of Emmanuel Dutoit, a human infant born in the OTS’s Quebec outpost.
Acting fast then, OTS clergy fatally stabbed baby Emmanuel with a wooden stake, along with his parents, on September 30.
In the meantime, Di Mambro, Jouret, and their 12 closest apostles reenacted the Biblical “Last Supper” in Switzerland as they prepared for their own Armageddon ahead.
Five days later, mass death befell the OTS in two separate Swiss village farmhouses and at a temple in Quebec. Fifteen cult bigwigs poisoned themselves. Thirty died from being shot and/or suffocated. Eight more succumbed to other injuries.
Post-mortem fires set by timed devices brought emergency workers to the two farmhouse locations, where they discovered the carnage. Authorities pulled out more than 50 bodies overall, most clad in ceremonial robes with plastic bags fastened over their heads.
Along with several prominent members of European society that fell in with the sect, OTS honchos Di Mambro and Jouret also lay among the deceased.
Incredibly, though, more slaughter remained to come.
In December 1995, 16 OTS members died in France. Their bodies had been laid out in a star formation. Investigators determined that 14 of the victims had been shot by a pair of believers who then offed themselves.
Five more Canadian OTS members committed suicide in March 1997. Their house burst into flames, but three of the dead cultists’ teenage children managed to escape.
Since then, the OTS has remained effectively dormant, just another reminder that, along with Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple and the Heaven’s Gate UFO sect, that unchecked faith, no matter how well-intentioned, can reap deadly consequences.
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Main photo: Still from an Order of the Solar Temple video [YouTube/screenshot]