A conspiracist worldview implies a universe governed by design rather than by randomness.
The emphasis on design manifests itself in approximately three principles that can be found in virtually every conspiracy theory:
Nothing happens bro accident. Conspiracy implies a world based on intentionality, from which accident and coincidence have been removed. Anything that happens occurs because it has been willed.
At its most extreme, the result is a fantasy world far more coherent than the real world like:
Nothing is as it seems. Appearances are deceptive, because conspirators wish to deceive in order to disguise their identities or their activities. Thus the appearance of innocence is deemed to be no guarantee that an individual or group is benign.
Everything is connected. Because the conspiracists’ world has no room for accident, pattern is believed to be everywhere, albeit hidden from plain view. Hence the conspiracy theorist must engage in a constant process of linkage and correlation in order to map the hidden connections.
In an odd way, the conspiracy theorist’s view is both frightening and reassuring. It is frightening because it magnifies the power of evil, leading in some cases to an outright dualism in which light and darkness struggle for cosmic supremacy. At the same time, however, it is reassuring, for it promises a world that is meaningful rather than arbitrary. Not only are events nonrandom, but the clear identification of evil gives the conspiracist a definable enemy against which to struggle, endowing life with purpose.
Conspiracy and secrecy also seem indissolubly linked. Yet conspiracy beliefs involve two distinguishable forms of secrecy. One concerns the group itself; the second concerns the group’s activities. A group may be secret or known, and its activities may be open or hidden.
Here we have type I, a secret group acting secretly, is a staple of conspiracy theories. Indeed, such groups are often believed to hold virtually unlimited power, even though people who claim to expose them assert that these groups are entirely invisible to the unenlightened observer. For example, the famous anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion purports to reveal the existence of a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. Concocted at the end of the nineteenth century, it was published in Russian between 1903 to 1905 and in English in 1920. Despite its early unmasking as a forgery, it has continued to be disseminated. Including in 2002 on Egyptian and just last week (November 2003) on Syrian TV.
A comparably tenacious mythology revolves around the Bavarian Illuminati, a Masonic organization founded in 1776 that was supposedly the catalyst for the French Revolution and subsequent upheavals worldwide. The Illuminati was quickly dissolved by suspicious governments, but it lives on in countless conspiracist tracts.
By contrast, type II lies outside conspiracy theory, for it concerns a group that, while concealing its existence from the public, nonetheless acts openly. An example might be a group of philanthropists who desire to keep their benefactions anonymous. Thus they conceal their identities, though the beneficiaries are free to reveal the nature of the gifts as long as they do not expose the identities of the givers.
Type III returns us to the conspiracist world, for it combines known groups with secret activities. A stock feature of conspiracy theories is the known group or institution that engages in some activities so sinister it must conceal them from public view. The implication is that such an organization exists on two levels, one at least relatively open and benign, but serving to mask the true, hidden function. Among the groups that have been described in this fashion are the Masons, the Trilateral Commission, and the CIA.
Finally, the residual type IV includes all those known and open associations that proliferate in democracies, including political parties and interest groups, whose identities and activities are reported and made parts of the public record.
Although all conspiracy theories share the generic characteristics described earlier, they may be distinguished, principally by their scope. They range from those directed at explaining some single, limited occurrence to those so broad that they constitute the worldviews of those who hold them. They may be categorized, in ascending order of breadth, as follows:
Front conspiracies. Here the conspiracy is held to be responsible for a limited, discrete event or set of events. The best-known example in the recent past is the Kennedy assassination conspiracy literature, though similar material exists concerning the crash of TWA flight Boo, the spread of AIDS in the black community, and the burning of black churches in the 1990s. In all of these cases, the conspiratorial forces are alleged to have focused their energies on a limited, welldefined objective.
Systemic conspiracies. At this level, the conspiracy is believed to have broad goals, usually conceived as securing control over a country, a region, or even the entire world. Awhile the goals are sweeping, the conspiratorial machinery is generally simple: a single, evil organization implements a plan to infiltrate and subvert existing institutions. This is a common scenario in conspiracy theories that focus on the alleged machinations of Jews, Masons, and the Catholic Church, as well as theories centered on communism or international capitalists.
Superconspiracies. This term refers to conspiratorial constructs in which multiple conspiracies are believed to be linked together hierarchically. Event and systemic conspiracies arc joined in complex grays, so that conspiracies conk to be nested within one another. At the summit of the conspiratorial hierarchy is a distant but allpowerful evil force manipulating lesser conspiratorial actors.
These master conspirators are almost always of the type I variety groups both invisible and operating in secrecy. Superconspiracies have enjoyed particular growth since the 1980’s, in the work of authors such as David Icke, A’aldamar Valerian, and Milton William Cooper .
Conspiracy theories purport to be empirically relevant; that is, they claim to be testable by the accumulation of evidence about the observable world. Those who subscribe to such constructs do not ask that the constructs be taken on thith. Instead, they often engage in elaborate presentations of evidence in order to substantiate their claims. Indeed, as Richard Hofstadter has pointed out, conspiracist literature often mimics the apparatus of source citation and evidence presentation found in conventional scholarship: “The very fantastic character of conspiracy theories’ conclusions leads to heroic strivings for `evidence’ to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed.”
But the obsessive quest for proof masks a deeper problem: the more sweeping a conspiracy theory’s claims, the less relevant evidence becomes, notwithstanding the insistence that the theory is empirically sound. This paradox occurs because conspiracy theories are at their heart nonfalsifiable. No matter how much evidence their adherents accumulate, belief in a conspiracy theory ultimately becomes a matter of faith rather than proof.
Conspiracy theories resist traditional canons of proof because they reduce highly complex phenomena to simple causes. This is ordinarily a characteristic much admired in scientific theories, where it is referred to as “parsimony.” Conspiracy theories – particularly the systemic theories and the superconspiracy theories discussed above are nothing if not parsimonious, for they attribute all of the world’s evil to the activities of a single plot, or set of plots.
Precisely because the claims are so sweeping, however, they ultimately defeat any attempt at testing. Conspiracists’ reasoning runs in the following way. Because the conspiracy is so powerful, it controls virtually all of the channels through which information is disseminated – universities, media, and so forth. Further, the conspiracy desires at all costs to conceal its activities, so it will use its control over knowledge production and dissemination to mislead those who seek to expose it. Hence information that appears to put a conspiracy theory in doubt must have been planted by the conspirators themselves in order to mislead.
The result is a closed system of ideas about a plot that is believed not only to be responsible for creating a wide range of evils but also to be so clever at covering its tracks that it can manufacture the evidence adduced by skeptics. In the end, the theory becomes nonfalsifiable, because every attempt at falsification is dismissed as a ruse.
The problem that remains for believers is to explain why they themselves have not succumbed to the deceptions, why they have detected a truth invisible to others. This they do through several stratagems. They may claim to have access to authentic pieces of evidence that have somehow slipped from the conspirators’ control and thus provide an inside view. Such documents have ranged from The Protocols to UFO documents that purport to be drawn from highly classified government files. Another stratagem is to distance themselves ostentatiously from mainstream institutions. By claiming to disbelieve mass media and other sources, believers can argue that they have avoided the mind control and brainwashing used to deceive the majority.
Further, the connection made between conspiracy and paranoia has two interrelated origins. The first, and more general, source is the similarity between the delusional systems of paranoids and the plots imagined by conspiracy theorists. The second source is Richard Hofstadter’s widely cited essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics, first presented the month of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and published in its final form in 1965. Hofstadter sought to make clear that his use of paranoid was metaphorical rather than literal and clinical. Indeed, he argued that, unlike the clinical paranoid, the political paranoid believes that the plot is directed not against himself or herself personally, but “against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others. Despite this caveat, Hofstadter, partly by the force of his writing and argument, introduced clinical terminology into the stream of discourse, where it could be employed more broadly by others.”
Unlike Hofstadter, some have argued that the clinical and the political may overlap. Robert Robins and Jerrold Post assert that the domain of political paranoia encompasses a range of exemplars, including such clinical paranoids as James Forrestal and Joseph Stalin; borderline paranoids whose “delusion is likely to involve exaggeration and distortion of genuine events and rational beliefs rather than pure psychotic invention; and cultures in which, at least temporarily, conspiracy beliefs become a culturally defined norm. In this view, conspiracy beliefs become neither determinative of paranoia nor divorced from it. Instead, conspiracism straddles a blurred and shifting boundary between pathology and normalcy.
Likewise, conspiracism is not a suficient condition for millennialism, for all conspiracism does is to impose a strongly dualistic vision on the world. It does not necessarily guarantee that good will triumph or predict that such a triumph will mean the perfection of the world. Indeed, conspiracism can sometimes lead to an antimillenarian conclusion, in which the evil cabal is depicted as virtually invincible. Fixation on a conspiracy whose indestructible tentacles are believed to extend everywhere can give rise to the belief that the forces of good are perilously close to defeat. Some conspiracy-minded survivalists have retreated into the wilderness at least in part because they fear that if they do not, they risk being destroyed.
Despite the absence of a systematic connection between conspiracy and millennialism, the two are in fact often linked. Many millenarian movements are strongly dualistic and often ascribe to evil a power believed to operate conspiratorially. As Stephen O’Leary notes, “The discourses of conspiracy and apocalypse … are linked by a common function: each develops symbolic resources that enable societies to address and define the problem of evil.” Conspiracy theories locate and describe evil, while millennialism explains the mechanism for its ultimate defeat. Hence the two can exist in a symbiotic relationship, in which conspiracism predisposes believers to be millennialists and vice versa, though each can exist independently. They are thus best viewed as mutually reinforcing.
There is reason to believe that conspiracy theories are now more common elements of millennialism than they were in the past. I described a shift in millenarian “style” that I believe accounts for their increasing prominence. The traditional religious and secular-ideological styles have now been joined by a third variety, which I call the improvisational style. Religious and secular millennialism, however different they are from each other, have two common characteristics: each one’s adherents consciously place it within a well-defined tradition, often positioning it as an alternative to sonic reigning orthodoxy; and each is centered on a body of canonical literature or teaching (e.g., the Bible or Marx’s writings), whose exegesis is believed to illuminate the essence of history.
Religious and secular millennialism have certainly not been immune to conspiratorial ideas, but they have normally adopted only those grounded in the particular vocabulary of a specific tradition. Thus, Christian millennialists could develop conspiracy ideas by elaborating the scriptural Antichrist, while Marxists could develop notions of a capitalist plot. Neither religionists nor secularists, however, could easily construct conspiracy theories not already rooted in their own texts and traditions.
Improvisational millennialism, by contrast, has a much freer hand. It is by definition an act of bricolage, wherein disparate elements are drawn together in new combinations. An improvisational millenarian belief system might therefore draw simultaneously on Eastern and Western religion, New Age ideas and esotericism, and radical politics, without any sense that the resulting mélange contains incompatible elements. Such belief systems have become increasingly common since the 1960’s, and freed as they are from the constraints of any single tradition, they may incorporate conspiracist motifs whatever their origin. As we shall see, this has given conspiracy theories an unprecedented mobility among a wide range of millenarian systems.
Because improvisational millennialisms are bricolages, they can be treated both holistically and in terms of their constituent elements. The latter become particularly important, as they can appear simultaneously in a broad range of belief systems, having a slightly different significance in each, depending on the other elements with which they are combined. The chapters that follow examine a series of conspiratorial ideas both individually and in combination, among them concentration camps run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), implanted mind-control devices, and the Illuminati. Each can be separately traced, as well as related to other ideas with which it may appear, and each moves among different audiences. Because the dualism inherent in conspiracy ideas makes them ideal vehicles for apocalyptic anxieties, their prevalence in the years leading up to 2000 was scarcely surprising. Ideas and images about the end of the world, Daniel Wojcik has said, “permeate American popular culture and folklore, as well as popular religion.”
The nature of conspiracy ideas can best be illuminated through the category of folklore known as the urban legend. According to one of its most prominent students, Jan Harold Brunvand, “Urban legends belong to the subclass of folk narratives, legends, that -unlike fairy tales- are believed, or at least believable, and that -unlike myths are set in the recent past and involve normal human beings rather than ancient gods or demigods.” These stories are almost always false, “but are always told as true.” As Patricia A. Turner points out, urban legends those that deal with distinctively modern themes- are closely related to rumors. Both purport to be true, or at least to be believable, and both circulate rapidly, though legends are likely to be more long-lived and complex. Beliefs that originally circulate as rumors may subsequently appear as elements of legends.
There is, however, one complication in dealing with conspiracy beliefs as urban legends: the modes of transmission. The bias of folklorists is toward oral transmission as the primary medium. Legend texts are often secured in tape-recorded examples with accompanying data about the teller and how he or she learned the story. Conspiracy ideas clearly circulate widely in oral form, as evidenced by Turner’s important study of conspiracy legends in the African American community; but the media-rich, technologically sophisticated society that exists in both the United States and other developed countries opens up new avenues for transmission.
Brunvand, writing in 1981, conceded that “today’s legends are also disseminated by the mass media.” During the succeeding two decades, the Internet has emerged as a major new medium. Wojcik notes: “Folklore is not only transmitted through printed sources and electronic media but now through the Internet and e-mail, as members of global subcultures who never interact face-to-face exchange and create folklore in cyberspace. Despite predictions to the contrary, technology and industrialization have not necessarily destroyed traditions but have altered the ways that traditions are expressed and communicated, and have helped to generate and perpetuate new types of folklore.” Such technological innovations are particularly important for the subcultures in which conspiracy theories have taken root.
Conspiracy ideas are particularly prevalent in what I call the realm of “stigmatized knowledge” claims that have not been validated by mainstream institutions. Subcultures dominated by belief in some form of stigmatized knowledge – such as those defined by commitments to political radicalism, occult and esoteric teaching, or UFOs and alien beings are therefore most likely to nurture conspiracy ideas. These are also precisely the kinds of subcultures most attracted to the Internet.
The Internet is attractive because of its large potential audience, the low investment required for its use, and -most important- the absence of gatekeepers who might censor the content of messages. To some extent, of course, the subcultures referred to above have access to conventional mass media. They publish hooks and periodicals, though these are often restricted to distribution by mail or only the largest bookstores, which may also screen out overtly anti-Semitic or racist material. Access to radio and television appears limited to shortwave stations and community-access cable channels.
There have been, to be sure, exceptions, such as the newspaper The Spotlight, once the rightwing publication with the largest circulation in the United States, and which ceased publication in 2001; and the Australian New Ageconspiracy magazine Nexus. For the most part, however, stigmatized knowledge subcultures are at a distinct disadvantage as far as mass media are concerned, for the latter are precisely the mainstream institutions best positioned to confer stigma on certain knowledge claims, including those that are overtly conspiracist. This contempt is reciprocated by conspiracists themselves. Not only do conspiracists distrust the mass media as distorters and concealers of the truth; they also regard them as part of the conspiracy, a tool controlled by the plotters in order to mislead the public.
Consequently, those, whose worldview is built around conspiracy ideas find in the Internet virtual communities of the like-minded. Copyright and other issues of intellectual property appear to count for little among many who engage in Internet posting. Multiple versions of the same document are likely to appear in various places, some identical, sonic slightly different, some with annotations by the poster. The result is not unlike the variant accounts of urban legends that circulate by word of mouth. Unlike oral versions, however, all of the variants may in principle be simultaneously accessible to the Web surfer, who may then be tempted to judge the credibility of a story by the number of times it is told. Here repetition substitutes for direct evidence as a way of determining veracity. The dynamics of rumor provides a helpful analogy, for it is in the nature of rumors to appear precisely in those situations in which normal means of determining reliability are not available, so the potential consumer of rumors may end up determining truth on the basis of how widely a particular one circulates. This gives to rumors -and, by extension, to Internet conspiracy accounts- a self-validating quality. The more a story is told, and the more often people hear it, the more likely they are to believe it.
In a somewhat different way, search engines’ placement of a page in a list of responses can reflect searchers’ preferences. Google, for example, ranks pages produced in response to a search on the basis of both the page’s content and the frequency with which it is linked to other pages. The more frequently other pages include it as a link, and the more prominent the pages that include the link, the higher the placement.
This communications milieu, in which self-validating rumors and urban legends can spread with unrivaled rapidity, has had particularly important implications for the spread of millenarian and apocalyptic betics. The result has been millennialism that is not only pervasive but increasingly varied in form. While many of the older religious and ideological forms remain -as, for example, among fundamentalist Protestants- these have been joined by many other varieties that resist easy classification. These are the examples I call improvisational millennialism, and it is to improvisational millennialism that conspiracists have most often been drawn.
It has become a commonplace that America is in the throes of an unrivaled period of millenarian activity. In 1978, William McLoughlin spoke of a religious resurgence that constituted a new “great awakening.” He expected it to end by about 1990. Instead, it intensified, driven in part by the proximity of the year 2000. Even the heyday of the Millerites, Shakers, Mormons, and Oneida Perfectionists in the 1830s and 1840s cannot compare to it. There is no sign that millenarian anticipation will diminish anytime soon. The uneventful passage from 1999 to 2000 has had little effect on many millenarians, who merely set the date of the apocalypse ever further in the future.
What makes the present period an era of particular interest to observers of millennialism, however, is less the sheer volume of activity than its bewildering diversity. Attempts to map contemporary millennial ferment have become increasingly difficult and frustrating. The reason, I suggest, is not simply that there is so much “out there,” but that old categories no longer fit well. Much of the proliferating millennialism is neither of the old religious variety, whose roots lie in the theological controversies of earlier centuries, nor a product of secular ideological battles that dominated the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In cult archeology (formerly called New Age) texts, Egypt is more commonly invoked as the homeland of specific techniques and doctrines.
Ancient Egyptian roots are also claimed for methods of ritual healing resembling Reiki, called Seichim and Sekhem, which in light of conventional historiography appear to date back no further than to 1984. Seichim is a system of ritual healing created by a Patrick Ziegler. Ziegler is said to have stayed overnight in a pyramid, and “experienced many initiations including an electric blue-white ball.”
Some New Age texts even continue to locate the origins of the tarot deck in ancient Egypt. As mentioned above, this legend has its origins in fictional, fringe-Masonic and esoteric writers like Antoine Court de Gébelin. For example his Le monde primiti, book VIII, also contains the origin myth that has been reproduced in numerous tarot books since then . Among modern writers, Eden Gray relies on the French occultist Gérard Encausse (Papus) as a source, while Cynthia Giles Tarot.- the Complete Guide, refers to Court de Gébelin’s encounter with the tarot deck and explains:
“As far as we know, the entire idea of the Tarot as an esoteric and divinatory element, so familiar to us now, began at that moment [ ] Court de Gébelin, on seeing the exotic and obviously symbolic Tarot trumps, immediately believed them to be Egyptian.”
Today Court de Gébelin’s books are only sold in occult bookstore sections yet again co author with Graham Hancock of TALISMAN, R. Bauval during the completion of the latter book wrote:
“The modern esoteric Tarot Cards, which were invented in the 1770s by a Scottish Rite Freemason in Paris, Court de Gebelin. But here is a curious thing: the 31th, 32nd and 33rd degrees, which are the most crucial to the ‘rebuilding’ of the Temple of Solomon, also are found in the actual geographical latitudes or parallels that encompass the modern State of Israel. Modern Israel is, in fact, contained, as it were, between those latitudes. Indeed, the 32nd degree parallel passes just a little south of the city of Jerusalem. It has often been remarked that the ‘Mother Lodge’ of the Scottish rite Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree was fixed at the city of Charleston in South Carolina because, in fact, the 33rd degree parallel passes almost right through it. Coincidence? Perhaps. But there is more. On some certificates of the Scottish Rite 33rd degree, the actual geographical latitude given in degrees is shown alongside the name and location of the issuing lodge indicating, perhaps, some sort of mystical connection between the “Degree” rituals and the geographical latitude “degree” of the lodge. One can easily see, therefore, how radical Muslim fanatics might perceive the creation of the modern State of Israel which they believe was masterminded in secret deals between the Zionist Organisation and F.D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman in the 1940s.”
“Another bizarre link could exist between the Tarot, the ‘Egyptian’ occult tradition and Satanism, and that may have a bearing on the 11th September attacks. It is well-known that the modern Tarot has been heavily influenced and promoted in the 1900s by the infamous British occultist, Alistair Crowley, who was a Scottish Rite Freemason and the Grand Master of the notorious Order of the Golden Dawn. Crowley claimed that he and his wife, Rose, whilst in Cairo in 1904 had been ‘channeled’ a book, the so-called Liber Al (Book of the Law), from a spiritual entity called ‘Awaiss’. The latter was an emissary of the Egyptian god, Horus, and was also associated to the Shaitan (Satan) of the Arabs, represented by the Cabalistic number 666. The Satanic nature of Aiwaz was apparently made visible in the Morning Star, the Light-Bringer i.e. Lucifer. This ‘star’ is identified to Sirius by Crowley and his followers and, by extension, to Tarot Card No. 16 ‘The Star’. Apparently for the fulfillment of the divine blueprint to take place would require that the God-Jehovah of the Jews redeems himself by recognizing in himself Satan and thus admit that he is not God but one among the Angels. In short, the Jewish-Jehovah must be ‘destroyed’ by Satan-Aiwaz so that he can be reborn i.e. a sort of grandiose ‘Messianic’ event that will bring about the new age.”
We have seen how the so-called 32 Paths or ‘degrees’ of enlightenment were associated with the ‘rebuilding’ of ‘Solomon’s Temple’ as well as with the idea of the Masonic ‘Blazing Star’ or pentagon. We have seen how this ‘star’ was also linked to the Egyptian five-pointed symbol of Sirius, especially in the Tarot card called the ‘Star’ and represented by a woman wearing a star on her head. Often the Sephiroth or Tree of Life, with it’s distinct 22 ‘paths’ and 10 ‘emanations’ is also shown next to the woman with the star. ‘The Star’ is card numbered 17 and is preceded by cards 16, known as ‘The Tower’, and then card 15 known as ‘The Devil’. ‘The Tower’ card, which is thus in the middle of this series, depicts a gruesome scene showing a very tall building whose top part has been struck by lightning and has caught fire, and with people falling off the building. Often next to this burning tower is shown the Sephiroth. Card 15, ‘The Devil’, shows the so-called ‘goat of Mendes’ (i.e. Satan) on whose forehead is placed a five-pointed star ‘Blazing Star’ or pentagon. In view of the striking imagery of these triad series of the Tarot cards when compared to the actual targets of 11th September 2001, it would be foolish to discount a possible link with the state of mind of the fanatical terrorists that hatched this abominable plan. For when we project these Tarot images on the actual geographical landscape of the 11th September attacks, we can easily correlate two of the target areas: the ‘Tower’ Card with the WTC in New York City, and the ‘Satan-Pentagon’ Card with the US Pentagon in Washington DC, the HQ of the ‘Great Satan’ in the mind of the terrorists. But assuming we are reading this gruesome ‘message’ correctly, then there should also be the ‘women with the star’ in this bizarre scheme. More precisely, this symbol should be seen somewhere on the ‘other side’ of the WTC towers. And so when we look for this symbol there, well there she is, the Statue of Liberty: a ‘women’ wearing a ‘star’ on her head. What, if any, could be the connection with our analysis so far? Firstly, the cornerstone ceremony for the Statue of Liberty was conducted in 1884 by the Masonic lodges of New York, including the Scottish Rite. So far so good. But if this is match perfectly with the gruesome imagery of the Tarot traid, then there should also be an association between the Statue of Liberty and the ‘Blazing Star’, the Tarot ‘Star’ and, consequently, the ‘star of Isis’ Sirius. Absurd? Surely there is no possibly connection here? Well, odd enough, there is. For the Statue of Liberty, when it was designed by the French sculptor Bartholdi in the 1860s and built by the French Engineer, Gustave Eiffel (both men were well-known Freemasons), was not originally a ‘Statue of Liberty’ at all, but originally intended for the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt in 1867. Bartholdi, like many French Freemasons of his time, was deeply steeped in ‘Egyptian’ rituals and, consequently, it has often been suggested that he had at first imagined the statue’s prototype in Egypt to be a giant effigy of the goddess Isis but only later converted it to a ‘Statue of Liberty’ for New York harbour when the idea was rejected by the Egyptian Khedive due to lack of funds. Another factor to consider here is that during the French Revolution, many celebrations had taken place in honour of ‘Liberty’, with one notable celebration at the Place de la Bastille in 1793 where a huge statue of ‘Isis’ representing ‘Liberty and Reason’, was raised. So bearing all this mind, and in view of Barthlodi’s involvement with ‘Egyptian rituals’ and Masonic affiliation and thus his familiarity with association of the ‘Isis’ with ‘Liberty’, the star that was placed on the statue’s head could well-have been regarded as Sirius, that special star whose rising in ancient times in Egypt had marked the ‘Beginning’ of a Messianic age.