The sect of the Solar Temple: a former follower testifies

Repentant today, he was a follower of a sect that hit the headlines: The Order of the Solar Temple. Yannick Jaulin is our guest. In a gripping documentary series, broadcast on the Salto platform, he has the courage to tell, facing the camera, the enthusiasm, the fascination, the sectarian spiral. The Order of the Solar Temple hit the headlines in the 90s. A tragedy that became a news story. What to forget, sometimes, that women, men, lived it in their flesh.

The Order of the Solar Temple

On December 16, 1995, France discovered with horror the existence of the Solar Temple: sixteen people (thirteen adults and three children aged 2, 4 and 6) are found immolated at a place “Hell’s Hole”, in an isolated clearing on the Vercors plateau in Isère. The Solar Temple was not yet its first massacre, a few months earlier, a first tragedy had taken place in Quebec. How could this neo-Templar esoteric group founded in Geneva by Luc Jouret and Jo Di Mambro in 1984 prosper for ten years, recruit followers and commit these despicable collective suicides? This is what Yannick Jaulin, a former follower, answers.

Jo Di Mambro and Michel Tabachnick
Jo Di Mambro and Michel Tabachnick

– Stephane Ruet/Sygma

In search of meaning

Yannick thus recounts his indoctrination at the age of 25. He has just left the Catholic religion, because he considers it meaningless. Again on a spiritual quest, he became interested in the Templars, these soldier monks who put themselves at the service of the rest of the world. Spiritual aspirations that stick with the utopias of his age. He joins the OTS, a New Age-inspired group which offers him teachings, gatherings and also many rituals supposed to allow him to connect with the cosmic masters. The indoctrination begins for Yannick: “When you say to yourself that life can’t be just that, that this materialistic world is desperately depressing and doomed to its end, inevitably, you consider another story. Little by little, we enter into a vision of the world that becomes more and more dense, complex, and that distances us from reality. » Initially still lukewarm in the face of the discourse of the sect, the arrival of Luc Jouret, co-founder of the OTS will make it rock. Homeopath, outstanding lecturer with hypnotic charisma, he will end up seducing him to fully integrate the sect. Convinced that to change the world, you have to change yourself and then the others around you, Yannick joins the Order. He will ultimately spend eight years there.

A genius manipulator

Yannick also talks about his meeting with the other co-founder, Jo Di Mambro, whom the former follower describes as a genius manipulator coupled with a psychopathic personality. This somewhat stocky man in a leather jacket is in charge, with a man named Tony, of taking care of the special effects during the gatherings: “He made the Grail appear in a wall to convince a billionaire to give his money. » Little by little, Yannick and his wife are walled in their convictions. Alerts from those around them do nothing. Convinced that they are saving the world, the couple becomes increasingly dependent on the sect.

Thierry Huguenin giving communion to a child according to the rites of the Sect of the Order of the Solar Temple. He managed to escape before the Salvan massacre.
Thierry Huguenin giving communion to a child according to the rites of the Sect of the Order of the Solar Temple. He managed to escape before the Salvan massacre.

– Alain Nogues

No impediment to leaving the sect

The former follower also recounts the rules of community life, such as cooking only in pairs to avoid polluting the food or even cover the seats of public transport with a plastic bag to avoid absorbing the bad vibrations of the person who sat previously. But the sect is above all dedicated to collecting as much money as possible from its followers: “Everything paid off. But despite myself, I did not feel entitled to earn money at the time. Those who refused to pay left. What is very paradoxical is that it was easier to get out than to get in. There was no impediment, that’s where the indoctrination was very strong. »

54 mins


Yannick also evokes co-founder Luc Jouret’s slide into madness. The sect begins to arm itself, the police are more and more interested in it, Luc Jouret is arrested for the first time in Canada. Little by little, his mentor plunges into a terrible paranoia. It is finally this madness that he saw from the guru that will convince Yannick and his wife to flee in 1993, thus allowing them to escape the tragic fate reserved for the followers between 1994 and 1997.

Rebuild after the unimaginable

Yannick speaks with emotion about how he learned of the massacre, how he had to rebuild and the guilt he felt for not having denounced the madness of the gurus after his departure. For him, the death of the followers is the consequence of the delirium of Jo di Mambro who would have wanted to eliminate all traces of his actions. A year later, despite the suicide of the gurus, another group of followers, considering themselves abandoned by their masters, put an end to their days to join them on Sirius.

The documentary “La secte” is available on the Salto platform

To find out more, listen to the show…

55 mins

The sect of the Solar Temple: a former follower testifies