In 2011, Watkins Publishing of London publishes Inside the Priory of Sion: Revelations from the World’s Most Secret Society—Guardians of the Bloodline of Jesus by Robert Howells. Howells compiles twenty years of research about esoteric thought, secret societies, and geographic mysteries into one volume. His book also features a foreword by Nicholas Haywood, an alleged spokesperson for the Priory of Sion. Howells also states that he was the go-between for the producers and directors of Bloodline: the Movie, a documentary that follows the investigative journey of Bruce Burgess into the mysterious workings of the Priory of Sion. In all, Howells tries to piece together the very few clues he has in order to tell the rest of the world about this society’s underhanded influence.
My father had brought home a few books from the local library and had placed them on the dining room table when I came upon this book. Having read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and watched Bloodline: the Movie, I became interested in the book and borrowed it to see if any new information could shed more light on the idea that Jesus begot posterity. Sadly, the contents of the book muddle up what is already a murky swamp of conspiracies, speculation, and hullabaloo. (Please note: I like The Da Vinci Code because it blurs reality and fiction into an intriguing and entertaining story. I do not like Bloodline: the Movie because the creators take themselves too seriously. I incredulously question the supposed discoveries of what is hidden under Rennes-le-Château, France, as asserted by the creators. Further, the film plays out like a badly written fan fiction episode of The X-Files.)
Howells writes well and covers his bases thoroughly, but his conclusions fall far short of conviction. He claims that the Priory of Sion claim that they have proof concerning the reality of Jesus Christ (i.e., they have his body stashed away somewhere that could rock the foundation of Christianity if revealed to the world). This type of hearsay only concludes that Howells was not inside the Priory of Sion, but an outsider looking in. If the society truly does have the body of Jesus, then why doesn’t the Priory of Sion just come out with it at once and have an end of Christianity already? It seems silly to imply that an organization has such irrefutable proof when it hides behind symbols and decoration. Either the society doesn’t have it, their members don’t know how to keep secrets, or they are amateur political players on the international stage.
I have gleaned some valuable insight from this book, but it relates to literary theory more than to supposed secret truths of esoteric traditions. Howells mentions the use of Asmodeus as an archetypal figure for Freemasons and Knights Templar. (I tried to investigate the purpose of Asmodeus in Mariano José de Larra’s “Todo el año es carnaval,” but unfortunately my professor wrote more words in his feedback than I did with my essay, thus stopping short any further investigation or potential research. Had I known about this aspect of Asmodeus, I may have had a better time with my research.) In Howells’s context, Asmodeus takes on a Jungian function or role. In another area, Howells elaborates on pilgrimages and religious journeys. His explanations of the purposes of pilgrimages have relevance to Spanish culture and provide a glimpse of the significance to revere relics in their religious state. Howells also plainly explains the purpose of symbols and rituals in such a way that even a normal person can understand.
As a whole, Howells writes a well-written thesis about the Priory of Sion’s involvement in Rennes-le-Château, but ultimately the premises he makes are unbelievable. Unless you really take a liking to suspicious secret societies and their mystical murkiness, you can leave this book on the shelf.