Thursday, 9 October 2014

Conspiracies: Rasputin


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The Russian royal family at the turn of the century was completely dominated by the charismatic power of a defrocked monk turned psychic healer and fortune-teller: Grigori Yefimovich, known as Rasputin. The former holy man possessed the power to maintain the health of the Czar’s son, Alexei, who was dangerously anaemic. The hold this gave him over the Russian royal family is well-documented, and Rasputin used his influence to great personal gain.
That the ‘Mad Monk’ greatly destabilised the Russian imperial government is a matter of historical fact. He used his influence to put his followers in positions of power and authority, demanded extortionate bribes in return for persuading the Czarina Alexandra, the Empress, to favour certain courtiers, business people or plans of action, and charged great sums for dispensing his ‘healing’ amongst the lesser nobility. He was already a national scandal by 1911, and by 1915 had become the Czarina’s chief advisor.
He also had a voracious sexual appetite, and would fequently demand sexual intercourse as part of the payment for his services – often insisting that he sleep with the teenage children of a supplicant, if such were available. He also had no end of groupies available, partly because of his power, and partly because of his 13-inch erection. In both cases, either sex was acceptable. His exploits outraged the general public, but the royal family were totally under his spell, and reports from the time suggest that his healing and his precognition were both entirely genuine. Letters from Alexandra to Rasputin also hint that he was having an affair with her too.
Finally, a cabal of Russian nobles decided his influence was corrupting the state, and he had to die. Led by Prince Feliks Yusupov, the cabal lured the healer to a private party hosted by Yusopov, where he was murdered, on December 30, 1916. It was too late to save the reputation of the royal family though, and shortly afterwards the revolution swept away the old order.
Grigori Yefimovich aka Rasputin
The tale of Rasputin’s death certainly lends credence to his healing powers. Arriving at the party, the holy man was given a banquet laced with enough cyanide to kill a dozen normal men by one of the conspirators, a medical doctor called Lazovert. When he failed to show any ill effects from this feast and became suspicious that Yusupov was not eating, the Prince panicked, and shot Rasputin at close range, as did a back-up member of the conspiracy, Grand Duke Pavlovich, the Czar’s nephew. Enraged but still seemingly mobile, Rasputin chased Yusupov out of the house and into the coutyard, where a gang of conspirators beat him to a bloody pulp with big iron chains. Dr. Lazovert examined the monk, and declared him still alive, so they wrapped him in the chains and dumped him in a hole cut into the ice of the River Neva.
Spiritual Avatar
Perhaps the most common theory is that Rasputin genuinely did possess the healing and precognitive powers that history has granted to him, including the ability to mesmerise women. He used these powers to gain his position of authority, and it was his sexual prowess that led to his being murdered. The powers were derived from the fact that Rasputin was in fact a spiritual avatar or genuine saint.
St Germain
Rasputin was in fact the immortal known to medieval Europe as the Count de St. Germain, smoothing the way for the Russian revolution so that history could follow its proper course. When he found himself stuck in the water and unable to tunnel out, Rasputin/St Germain decided that the best course of action was to feign death and lie low. He was dug out of the Neva by the conspirators, and hastily buried. From a shallow grave, he found it relatively easy to tunnel out. His enemies were certain he was dead, so he was free to make an unpursued escape. Rumour suggests that St Germain may now be in Los Angeles, having spent the 1980s in Eastern Europe bringing Communism to an end.
Alien Invader
Rasputin’s unnatural vitality was not a result of psychic ability at all. The healer was actually an alien, a rogue member of a small exploration team who decided to indulge himself in a few years of orgiastic amusement. Because his physiology was different to ours, the assassination was almost ineffective. In the end, it was lack of exposure direct sunlight that killed him, not the temperature or lack of oxygen.
Rasputin’s frozen corpse was finally retrieved several miles down-river from where it had been dumped. He had shaken loose of his chains somewhere up-stream, and had been trying to claw his way out of the ice from the inside when he had finally succumbed – after having been totally submerged in freezing water for at least six hours.
Perhaps the oddest feat of Rasputin’s survival is his capacity to consume such a huge dose of cyanide, medically administered. Equally as strange though is an artifact that surfaced in Paris in the 1960s – Rasputin’s mummified penis. One observer described it as ‘like a blackened banana, about a foot long’. There is no record of any of the conspirators castrating their victim, however.
It is just about possible that the poison was old and ineffective, that gunshots failed to hit any vital organs, that the beating was mostly surface damage, and even that the cold of the river Neva slowed tissue damage from oxygen starvation so much that Rasputin was able to revive for long enough to lock his fingers in the ice. Also, if he was so precognitive, why did he not foretell the danger of taking Yusupov up on his invitation?
Red Phone Box, a darkly magical story cycle written by myself, Warren Ellis and twenty-six other writers, and edited by the sublime Salomé Jones, is out now. I think you'll like it.

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