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Cast of Characters in SotG

13 Dec

Here is a list of the principal characters in Stone of the Goddess (for those of you who asked)

Solange Lenoir (nee Bermond): Chief Curator of 17th and 18th century paintings at the Louvre, wife of Bernard and mother of Giselle.

Bernard Lenoir: investigative judge with a former career in the SDT (Surveillance du Territoire, the French secret service). Husband of Solange and father of Giselle.

Antoine Mignonette: currently chief of staff of the Prefect of Paris, started his career in the Paris police force. The Fakhar Al Islam murder was his first big case.

Fakhar  Al Islam: a man of uncertain provenance, possibly of Pakistani origin, possibly a private secretary to the Qarmati Emir, also possibly an emissary for the Priory of Sion. Is found dead at the beginning of the book.

Ali and Mustafa: two young Qarmatis, followers of Imam Baydi.

Imam Baydi: charismatic religious leader, member of the Qarmati sect and head of its Paris mosque.

Eugene Sue: Prefect of the Paris police.

 Capitaine Henri Bagnols: up and coming officer of the Gendarmerie, liaison officer between both the National Gendarmerie and the Prefecture of Paris and between the Prefecture of Paris and Interpol.

Yvette Garcin: Director of research at the OMR (Acronym for the Observatory of Religious Movements, a French government bureaucracy) who finds herself a principal investigator in the case of the obsidian mirror murders.

Armand Dulac de Cromlec: Assistant curator in the Louvre’s department of 17th  and 18th century paintings, Solange Lenoir’s right-hand man and longtime friend.

Charles Henri Lerch : Director in chief of the OMR, Yvette’s boss.

Colonel Didier Pelapol: head of the regional Gendarmerie of the Languedoc-Roussillon, where Perpignan and Rennes-le-Chateau are located.

Capitaine Dodu: head of a squadron of gendarmerie mobile.

Ermengarde Dulac de Cromlec: Armand’s grandmother, currently presides over the castle of Rennes-le-Chateau. Has a long and colourful past, including a stint as a decorated heroine of the French Resistance, friend of various prominent figures including Otto Rahn and Anthony Blunt, and reputed current de facto head of the Priory of Sion.

Emir Abu Shalaghlagh: head of the Qarmatis, a small Islamic religious sect. A world-renowned art trafficker, he was exiled from Yemen in 1964 and has lived in a villa outside Rome ever since.

Robert Abboud: the Emir’s current (and last) private secretary.

Colonel Zolfini: head of the GIS (Gruppo d’Intervento Speciale, a counter-terrorism unit of the Italian army)

The Camerlengo: a high Vatican official, whose duties include administering the patrimony of the Holy See, determining the Pope’s death, and presiding as interim head of state until a new Pope is elected.

Giselle Lenoir: daughter of Solange and Bernard, a graduate of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA, one of France’s grandes ecoles, the post-secondary institutions which produce most of France’s political, administrative and business elite.)

Otto Rahn

6 Dec

Otto Rahn was a German medievalist best known for his expertise on the works of Wolfram von Eschenbach. In studying Wolfram’s writings, in particular Parzival, he became convinced that the poem’s Grail Castle of Munsalvaesche was the castle of Montsegur, in the south of France. Rahn therefore began a series of visits, each one lasting longer and longer, to the south of France in the hopes of proving his theory.

His presence there, specifically in the department of the Ariege, is first attested in the middle of 1930. A year later, in November 1931, he established a more permanent base as a tenant or lodger of a Mademoiselle Bernadac, in the village of Ussat-les-Bains (which is not too far from Rennes-le-Chateau). A few months later, in March of 1932, the local newspaper, La Depeche du Midi (the same newspaper which would first publicize the story of Rennes-le-Chateau two decades later: see Priory of Sion, November) ran an article speculating on the presence of many amateur archeologists, especially Germans, in the area around Ussat-les- Bains, and mentioned Rahn’s name. The paper claimed they were looking for the Cathar treasure allegedly hidden in the local caves of Ornolac and Lombrives . Rahn’s presence was defended by Antonin Gadal, an esotericist and local historian who would guide him in his research. Whether Rahn met Gadal as a result of the article or knew him before is uncertain, but within a short time he befriended a large number of locals, in particular one Countess Pujol-Murat, whose salon was a focal point for esotericists and devotees of Cathar history.

Rahn’s first book, Crusade Against the Grail, came out in 1934 and attracted the attention of Heinrich Himmler, who urged him to join the SS. He did so in 1936, but soon ran afoul of his superiors and resigned in 1939. Shortly thereafter, he was found frozen to death on an Austrian mountainside.

That,at least, is the official story. In his book Le Mystere Otto Rahn (The Otto Rahn Mystery), French writer, Ussat-les-Bains native and relative of Rahn’s first landlady Christian Bernadac draws on his family background and connections to reconstruct a much more detailed picture of Rahn’s activities. He unearths police reports which had mentioned Rahn and his associates, among them one Nat Wolff, invariably called Karl (as well as various other aliases) a German spy living in the area under a fake American passport. Karl Wolff was also the name of an SS general and close associate of Himmler’s, who would end his career as military governor of northern Italy during the Second World War and secretly negotiate the surrender of German forces with OSS envoy  (and later CIA director) Allen Dulles. Bernadac also notes that there were reported sightings of Otto Rahn in Beirut as late as 1945, long after his supposed death. He speculates that Rudolf Rahn, German ambassador to Italy during the war, was in reality Otto Rahn after extensive plastic surgery. This, however, is unlikely.

In Stone of the Goddess, Rahn plays a peripheral background role in Ermengarde’s history of the Priory of Sion. He is alleged to have met Anthony Blunt during the early thirties, when they were both staying in the south of France, and to have conspired with him to smuggle the Grail to a location of safety. He may also have been in Beirut at the same time as either Kim or St.John Philby (see Cambridge Five,November), and this might also have had to do with the occultation of the Grail.