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Luc Jouret was a homeopathic doctor who founded the New Age cult Solar Templar in the 1980s.
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Luc Jouret was born to Belgian parents in the Republic of Congo on October 18, 1947. Educated as a physician, he turned to homeopathic medicine and became interested in the paranormal. In 1984, he co-founded Solar Templar, a cult movement dedicated to bringing in the New Age movement of the 20th century. In 1994, facing questions about the movement's legitimacy and doubting its mission, Jouret and nearly 60 disciplines committed mass suicide/murders of many members.
"Liberation is not where human beings think it is. Death can represent an essential stage of life."
Luc Jouret was born in Kikwit, in the Belgian Congo, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. His parents brought him to their native Belgium in the 1950s, where he attended the Free University of Brussels and received a medical degree. Two years after graduation, in 1976, Jouret joined the paratroopers of the Belgian army. He saw action in the Congo (known as Zaire at the time) to rescue Europeans that were caught up in the civil unrest.
After leaving the army, Jouret began studying homeopathy—a popular medical treatment in French-speaking Europe—and became a homeopathic physician. He traveled widely, studying various forms of alternative and spiritual healing. In the early 1980s, Jouret established a practice in Annemasse, France, near the Swiss border, and lectured widely throughout Europe and Quebec, Canada, on alternative medicine and the paranormal.
During one of his lecture tours, Luc Jouret met Joseph Di Mambro, who had founded several New Age organizations and shared mutual interests with Jouret. Di Mambro asked Jouret to conduct a series of lectures at his Golden Way Foundation, located in Geneva, Switzerland. Then, in 1984, the two founded the Solar Temple, a secret order based on the Knights of Templar. The Temple offered a program of personal and spiritual enlightenment through meditation, and rituals invoking a spiritual hierarchy of grand masters to bring in the New Age.
Jouret was the charismatic front man of the organization, spreading the word and recruiting new members. Di Mambro was the organization's director and financial agent. The Solar Temple grew throughout the 1980s to more 400 affluent members, many of whom gave large donations. Di Mambro bought property in several European countries, as well as Australia and Canada. However, in the 1990s, the organization came under investigation by authorities in several countries over the organization's finances and legality. Jouret and Di Mambro became pessimistic as pressure mounted and members began to leave the cult in the early '90s; the world was not responding to their message and there were no signs of the New Age that they had hoped was coming. By 1994, the two founders began to devise an alternate plan to escape the world and transition to a higher reality.
In October 1994, Solar Temple members Tony and Nicki Dutoit had a son named Christopher Emmanuelle. The couple quit the cult and took their infant son to Quebec, Canada. Di Mambro saw this as a challenge to his daughter Emmanuelle's status as his successor, and condemned the boy as the Anti-Christ. On October 3, 1994, the Dutoit family was murdered, and their two assailants committed suicide. It was believed that Di Mambro ordered the murders. That same day, 22 people were found dead in Cheiry, Switzerland. On October 5, Jouret and Di Mambro hosted a "last supper" at a local restaurant, and mass suicides and murders were committed in Cheiryl and Salvan, Switzerland. More than 55 people died—some by bullet wound, others by tranquilizer injestion or suffocation through smothering—including Jouret and Di Mambro. Soon after, Solar Temple was disbanded and its surviving members melded back into the population.
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Combine a charismatic personality with fringe beliefs and an appetite for violence, and you get some of history's most notorious cult leaders. Charles Manson terrorized frightened Americans in the late 1960s, convincing his followers to commit heinous murders in his name. David Koresh led the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, leading to a standoff with the federal government in 1993 that resulted in the death of Koresh and 75 of his believers. Learn about these leaders, and many more, who inspired hundreds to follow their unconventional philosophies—often with tragic results.
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