Order of the Solar Temple

An enigmatic group blending esoteric Christianity, New Age philosophy, and apocalyptic prophecy.

Religion: Syncretic (Christianity, New Age, and Esotericism)
Founder: Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro
Founded: 1984
Location: Switzerland, France, and Canada (primarily)
Other Names: Ordre du Temple Solaire (in French)

The Order of the Solar Temple (OTS) is infamously remembered for its esoteric beliefs and the tragic deaths that unfolded as a consequence of its practices, including murders, suicides, and arson. This international chivalric organization, founded in 1984 by Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro, captivated the attention of the public with its esoteric beliefs and charismatic leaders. However, behind the allure and mystique lay a dark and tragic reality that would unfold over the course of a decade.

The Origins of the Order

The roots of the Order of the Solar Temple can be traced back to the early life of Joseph Di Mambro. Di Mambro was deeply fascinated by esoteric knowledge and spirituality, becoming a member of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC in 1956. Although he officially left the order in 1969, its influence on his ideas and practices remained evident throughout his life.

In 1973, Di Mambro founded the Center for Preparing the New Age, a group dedicated to spiritual exploration and communal living. It was during this time that he began developing his own unique beliefs and practices. Di Mambro believed that the world was on the verge of a profound transformation and that he and his followers had a crucial role to play in preparing for this new age.

The Arrival of Luc Jouret

In the early 1980s, Di Mambro crossed paths with Luc Jouret, a charismatic and knowledgeable individual who would become an integral part of the Order of the Solar Temple. Jouret had been involved with the Renewed Order of the Temple (ORT), a group that combined Templar and Rosicrucian ideas. When Jouret joined Di Mambro’s groups in 1982, he brought with him a new level of charisma and expertise that would help propel the Order to greater heights.

The Structure of the Order

From its inception in 1984 until 1990, the Order of the Solar Temple operated under a three-tiered structure. The first level, known as the Amanta Club, aimed to disseminate the group’s philosophy and attract individuals interested in spiritual enlightenment. The second level, the Archedia Club, provided more advanced knowledge to selected members, enabling them to progress further on their spiritual journey. The third and most exclusive level was the International Chivalric Organization, where members gained access to special publications and initiations.

Membership in the Order reached its peak in 1989, with 442 members spread across various countries. However, as the 1990s unfolded, conflicts and doubts began to arise within the group, leading to a decline in membership and financial contributions.

Recruitment Practices of the Order of the Solar Temple

The Order of the Solar Temple’s recruitment strategies were as enigmatic and layered as the organization itself, drawing in individuals from various backgrounds with the promise of spiritual enlightenment and a pivotal role in the impending apocalyptic transformation. Understanding the “order of the solar temple recruitment” practices offers insight into how this group managed to attract a considerable following across Switzerland, France, and Canada, despite its esoteric and secretive nature.

Target Audience: The Order primarily appealed to middle and upper-class professionals, including doctors, lawyers, and businesspeople, who were seeking deeper meaning beyond their material success. This demographic was carefully chosen for their ability to financially support the Order’s activities and their influence within society.

Initial Contact: Recruitment often began in seemingly innocuous settings, such as seminars on spirituality, personal development workshops, and lectures on the esoteric interpretations of the Bible. These events served as the first tier of engagement, introducing prospective members to the Order’s philosophies without revealing its full doctrine.

Gradual Initiation: Those who expressed interest were gradually introduced to more of the Order’s beliefs and practices. This phased approach, moving from the Amanta Club to the more exclusive Archedia Club, allowed the Order to slowly vet and prepare individuals for the deeper, more esoteric teachings and rituals that lay at the core of the Solar Temple’s spiritual path.

Charismatic Leadership: A key element in the recruitment process was the charismatic appeal of the Order’s founders, Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro. Jouret, in particular, with his persuasive oratory skills and profound knowledge of spiritual matters, played a crucial role in attracting new members. His ability to connect with individuals on a personal level, offering them a vision of spiritual ascension and salvation, was instrumental in convincing many to join the Order.

Exclusive Knowledge and Community: The allure of exclusive, hidden knowledge and the promise of being part of a select community preparing for a new age were powerful motivators. The Order of the Solar Temple marketed itself as a conduit to ancient wisdom and a key player in an impending global transformation, appealing to both the egos and the altruistic desires of potential recruits.

Use of Media and Publications: The Order also utilized a range of media, including newsletters, brochures, and later, videos, to disseminate its message and attract a wider audience. These materials were carefully crafted to highlight the spiritual vacuum in modern society and the unique solution offered by the Solar Temple.


  1. Foundation in Christian and Templar Mythology: The Order of the Solar Temple drew heavily on Christian esotericism and the mythology surrounding the Knights Templar. They believed in a form of Christianity that was infused with mystical practices and esoteric knowledge, seeing themselves as part of a lineage of spiritual warriors defending true spiritual values.
  2. Belief in a Coming Apocalypse: Central to the group’s beliefs was the conviction that the world was approaching an apocalypse, which would bring about a transformation of society. They believed that this catastrophic event was necessary to purge the world of its materialism and moral decay, leading to a new age of spiritual enlightenment.
  3. Solar Cosmology and Reincarnation: The cult emphasized the importance of the sun in spiritual transformation and believed in a form of reincarnation. They held that human souls were part of a cosmic journey, evolving towards a higher spiritual state with each reincarnation, ultimately aiming to achieve a form of solar godhood or unity with the divine solar principle.
  4. Initiation and Esoteric Rituals: Members of the Order underwent various initiation rites and participated in elaborate rituals, which were designed to advance their spiritual development and prepare them for the coming new age. These rituals were secretive and drew on a range of esoteric traditions, including alchemy, Rosicrucianism, and Gnosticism.
  5. The Concept of Transmigration: The Order believed in the transmigration of souls, a process by which members could achieve a higher spiritual existence and escape the cycle of rebirth. This belief was linked to their apocalyptic vision, suggesting that certain chosen members would transcend physical death and be reborn into a new, purified world.
  6. Environmentalism and Planetary Concerns: The Order also expressed concerns about the environment and the survival of the planet, incorporating elements of ecological awareness into their belief system. They saw the degradation of the environment as a sign of the moral and spiritual decay of society, which further necessitated the apocalyptic transformation they anticipated.
  7. Leadership and Charismatic Authority: The Order was led by charismatic figures who were believed to possess esoteric knowledge and spiritual authority. These leaders played a central role in guiding the beliefs and practices of the group, and their teachings were considered revelations that were critical to the spiritual advancement of the members.
  8. The Importance of Community and Ritual Spaces: The Order of the Solar Temple created sanctuaries and ritual spaces that were considered sacred sites where spiritual transformation could occur. The communal aspect of the Order was significant, with members participating in shared rituals and living in close-knit communities that were seen as models for the new society to emerge after the apocalypse.

Internal Conflicts and Decline

In the early ’90s, some members, including Di Mambro’s own son, Elie, started questioning the authenticity of the group’s mystical powers and the messages claimed to be received from higher beings. Elie discovered that the supposed spiritual visions witnessed by members were actually staged using special effects and holograms. This revelation caused a rift within the group, with some members leaving and others remaining skeptical.

Additionally, concerns grew over Di Mambro’s change in lifestyle, as he began living in opulence while other members lived humbly. His authoritarian behavior and demand for unconditional obedience further strained relationships within the group. Critics also pointed out that the group’s plans to open health centers never came to fruition.

These internal conflicts, coupled with a drop in membership and financial contributions, led to a sense of decline and disillusionment within the Order. The group’s revenue dropped significantly, and doubts about Di Mambro’s leadership and the group’s credibility continued to grow.

The Path to Tragedy

As the 1990s progressed, the beliefs and practices of the Order of the Solar Temple took on a more apocalyptic tone, with members beginning to embrace the idea of ‘transit’—a voluntary departure to another world to create a new reality. While initially conceived as a change in consciousness, the concept of transit evolved into a literal departure from Earth.

Di Mambro, in his desire to mythologize the group’s transit, wrote letters to public figures explaining their departure and attempted to destroy all documentation to preserve the mystery. However, the tragic events of the Waco incident in 1993 overshadowed the group’s plans. This led Di Mambro to believe that their own transit would be even more spectacular.

In October 1994, the group carried out its first transit. A series of coordinated fires took place in Switzerland and Quebec, resulting in the deaths of 53 members. The methods used varied, including stabbings, poisonings, and shootings. The victims believed that they were sacrificing themselves to save the world and pave the way for future transits.

Further acts of violence and suicides occurred in subsequent years, culminating in a total of 74 deaths associated with the Order of the Solar Temple.

The Tragedies and Victims

  • Switzerland (Cheiry and Salvan), October 1994
    • 48 victims in total were found in two locations in Switzerland. This included the Order’s leaders, Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret, among others. The victims were found in burned homes and showed signs of murder-suicide, with some having been drugged, shot, or smothered.
  • Canada (Morin Heights, Quebec), October 1994
    • 5 victims were found in a burned house in Canada, including a member of the Order who was believed to have been involved in the murder-suicides in Switzerland.
  • France (Vercors region), December 1995
    • 16 victims were found in a star formation in the mountains of the Vercors region, specifically within the secluded and dense Vercors Forest, again showing signs of a murder-suicide pact. It was believed that these deaths in the Vecros Forest were also orchestrated as part of the group’s belief in a transcendental journey following death.
  • France (near Saint-Casimir, Quebec), March 1997
    • 5 victims were found in a burned house, in what appeared to be a final act of mass suicide/murder related to the Order.

The Disbandment and Aftermath

After the mass suicides and murders in Switzerland, France, and Canada between 1994 and 1997, the Order of the Solar Temple was widely believed to have been disbanded. The shocking events led to intense scrutiny by law enforcement and the media, effectively dismantling the organization’s structure. However, the aftermath of such a cult’s disbandment is complex and multifaceted. The aftermath of the Order’s collective ‘transit’ attempts—resulting in mass suicides and murders—left a legacy that continues to puzzle and fascinate researchers and the public alike.

The Survivors

A small number of members who did not participate in the suicides or were not present at the cult’s locations during the events survived. Some of these individuals have attempted to rebuild their lives, often distancing themselves from their past association with the Solar Temple. Due to the stigma and trauma associated with their involvement, many have chosen to remain out of the public eye. There are few public records of their whereabouts or current activities, as privacy laws and personal choices limit the information available.

Legal and Societal Repercussions

In the years following the Solar Temple tragedies, various countries initiated legal proceedings against surviving members who were believed to have been involved in planning or facilitating the mass deaths. Some were convicted, while others were acquitted or received reduced sentences.

The mass deaths also prompted a reevaluation of how societies and governments deal with new religious movements and cults, leading to increased surveillance and regulation in some jurisdictions. This has sparked a debate about religious freedom, the right to privacy, and the extent of state intervention.

Speculations and Continued Interest

Speculation about the continuation of the Order of the Solar Temple’s beliefs and practices persists. Some believe that splinter groups or lone individuals may continue to adhere to the teachings of Di Mambro and Jouret, although there is little concrete evidence to support this. The story of the Solar Temple has also become a subject of interest for researchers, documentarians, and the curious public, contributing to a broader discussion about cult phenomena, group psychology, and spiritual seeking.


Occult Crimes Ep. 2 – “The Order of the Solar Temple: Adorned with Templar capes, flamboyant swords, rituals, and theatrical speeches, the Order of the Solar Temple resembles a circus show… if only the sect hadn’t been one of the deadliest side-shows in history.”

Sirius – “Explores the story of the Order of the Solar Temple, a cult whose members believed they would travel to the star Sirius after they died

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *