Features & Columns
I FIRST encountered the illustrations of John Thompson while experiencing a copy of the reality-shattering Robert Anton Wilson masterpiece Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati. In that book, Thompson's imagery seemed the perfect accompaniment to Wilson's hysterical tour de force of quantum physics, conspiracy theory, mathematics, ancient Egyptian mythology, dope, occultism, Korzybski semantics, the Freemasons, yoga and surveillance technology.
I just wish I had been old enough to ingest that book in the '70s, since it predated Holy Blood, Holy Grail and talked about many of the same elements of the grand conspiracy complex suggested by that book and, later, by Dan Brown's third-rate airplane novels.
After a conspiracy column I wrote a few years ago, Thompson and I exchanged a zonked bouillabaisse of emails, thrashing out everything from Mormon conspiracies, the CIA's remote viewing program, the Order of Melchizedek, secret NASA research, Mesopotamian lore, the Journal of Electronic Defense and much more. We bonded immediately.
A longtime resident of Carmel, Thompson wrote hundreds of columns on these matters back in the '90s, many of which are now compiled in the first limited edition of Secret History of Carmel, from a new outfit called Satya Designs. Satya, Thompson told me, is a Sanskrit word for wisdom, truth or correctness. For example, in the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, satya means "right" in regards to right speech, right action, etc.
Secret History of Carmel begins right where Robert Anton Wilson left off. The first 5000 words will explode off your ebook device and reprogram your entire intellectual capacity regarding the Carmel Mission. The star-shaped window of the mission, says Thompson, might be connected to Masonic lore, the summer solstice, Gnostic wisdom and a plethora of native astronomical interpretations.
Three pages later, after brilliantly hysterical digressions through Johannes Kepler, the Knights of Malta and the Cult of the Black Virgin, our author, Saint John of Thompson, arrives, of course, at the Merovingian dynasty of France including Godfrey de Bouillon—the medieval crusader and fixture of every bloodline-of-Jesus conspiracy known to man.
Thompson's analysis paints a refreshing and alternative picture of the mission, suggesting that the building may not be what it seems. It may secretly honor very different entities than what its own employees realize.
Saint John of Thompson also calls into question the entire textbook history of Father Junipero Serra, the famed padre who traveled up the coast from San Diego, beginning in 1769. Disputing the traditional story, Thompson argues that Serra cannot be simplified as a Catholic priest who subjugated the natives.
In reality, says Thompson, Serra was quite receptive to the spiritual beliefs of the natives and felt comfortable combining his Catholicism with the animism and sacred astrology of the indigenous folks. Thompson relates how Junipero Serra was born on the isle of Majorca, a place populated by mystical heretics who had escaped the Inquisition: "Alchemists like Raymond Lully and geomancers took refuge on the island of Majorca during the Inquisition, along with occult Bethlehemites, passing down their lore. When Serra taught philosophy at Majorca's royal monastery at Palam, he knew the island's most astute scholars."
As Thompson claims, Serra took that knowledge and appreciation with him to the New World and noticed similarities between the metaphysical cosmologies of the indigenous peoples and those of his native European heretics. He had this in mind when he built the missions.
It doesn't stop there, of course. Thompson covers such intrigues as the plethora of Japanese tourists who flock to Carmel. He researches the Asian influence on the Central Coast, lambasting the populace of rich art ladies in Carmel who often hire feng shui consultants without even realizing the Chinese probably first landed in the area long before anyone else did.
In other chapters, Thompson illuminates the histories of when Jack London, John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson each traveled through the area. He writes about Carmel's feminist movement, its first music teacher, and Robinson Jeffers' dealings with the Carmel sewage district. Thompson even places Dashiell Hammett's novel The Dain Curse in Carmel. The novel, says Thomson, drops enigmatic clues that can be understood only by those versed in esoteric subjects.
Secret History of Carmel