Sunday, 22 July 2012


Everything I know about the Illuminati, 
I learned from Leonard Cohen.

The first, but not the only, person who ever told me he had been in a flotation tank on LSD, was Leonard Cohen, back in the late 1970s. He dropped the subject casually into a conversation we were having. I had heard about sensory isolation at university when I took Sociology 101. Our professor, Pat Pajonas, told us about Dr. D.O. Hebb's famous experiments involving rats and I.Q.  Rats kept in environments with very low levels of sensory stimulation scored lower on intelligence tests than other rats.

Leonard told me he had very much enjoyed his experiences, and then asked if I had ever been in a flotation tank. I just stared at him blankly. To my knowledge at the time, I had not. But given what I now know about McGill's classified experiments on children, carried on by Dr. Ewen Cameron with the assistance of Dr. Nolan D.C. Lewis of Columbia University's Institute of Psychiatry, I think I may have been mistaken.

1951: McGill sensory isolation experiment

A few years ago, a filmmaker friend unwittingly emailed me this 1951 photo of one of the student volunteers in Hebb's experiments. I immediately recognized the blind-folded, immobilized student as Leonard Cohen. His facial features are easily distinguishable, despite the mask, and the preppy tie is another dead giveaway. And of course, I clearly recall him telling me about those experiments.

He also appears in this scene from The Ernie Game entertaining a group of hypnotized-looking people at a party. Trance-formation of a generation? Young Ernie, the protagonist of this 1967 NFB feature, was a mental patient, likely modelled on one of Dr. Cameron's mind control victims. Ernie eventually commits suicide, and the film ends on a disturbing note, while keeping the secrets of MKULTRA safely hidden from the public. After all, Canada's National Film Board was founded as an arm of military propaganda and the military were still funding Dr. Cameron's successors.

Leonard also appears to have received training in Ericksonian hypnosis, probably during his mysterious student days at Columbia, when he drifted through the same halls as Henry Kissinger, Zbiegniev Brezhinsky and (later) Barack Obama.


I don't laugh when people debunk David Icke's "absurd" theories on fourth-dimensional reptoid alien shapeshifters taking over the minds and bodies of many world leaders and celebrities. I owe my open-mindedness on this topic to memorable experiences I had had over the years with Leonard Cohen.

The most dramatic of these occurred in the Dublin Airport in December 1979, near the end of his UK tour. I had joined the tour in Manchester, and Leonard had generously invited me to follow him and his band, Passenger, through concerts in Scotland and Ireland. As we waited to board our flight, I wandered into the souvenir shop where I began browsing books and objects related to Celtic religions. Leonard was several meters away, talking to Jennifer Warnes, and then something seemed to attract his attention and he began walking toward me. When he was a few feet away, however, he came to a sudden halt, and his body and face became strangely distorted. He stared at me from an of angle, wriggling his fingers in the air like tentacles. He looked like some lizard contemplating a tasty-looking fly, or frog.

Of course, I thought he was joking. I waited for him to drop his little act, but he seemed frozen in this strange pose. His tongue flicked in and out of his mouth while his fingers continued their strange motion. Seconds passed, and to break the silence, I let out a nervous laugh. This seemed to jolt him out of his trance, but instead of acknowledging the joke, he hurried away as if shaken and disoriented. Maybe "scuttled" describes it better. He seemed not to know who I was or how he came to be standing next to me. I put it down to tour fatigue. He never explained, and I never asked.

On two other occasions, while sitting in his kitchen, once in Montreal, and another time on Hydra, I saw him "shift." His appearance didn't change, but he suddenly seemed to step out of this dimension and into another. I don't quite know how to describe this, but both times it happened, he grinned as if to say, "Did you see that?" For these and other reasons, I always found Leonard fun to hang out with -- at least in the beginning. He was witty, kind, and generous, and seemed to take a sincere interest in me. I couldn't imagine why at the time, but I thought it might have to do with my ability to perceive certain unusual traits and abilities that others overlooked.

Neuro-scientist John Lilly, who worked on sensory isolation with D.O. Hebb at McGill in the mid-1950s, wrote about his out-of-body experiences while floating in a tank on Ketamine and LSD, including numerous encounters with highly intelligent non-human entities who warned him of dire threats to life on earth. Sometimes I have wondered if any of these entities got hold of our Leonard.

Over the winter of 1980-81, on the island of Hydra, Leonard seemed to go through a religious conversion. He began expressing many right-wing political views and fundamentalist religious beliefs. In the three years since I had known him, he had struck me as mainly "apolitical and spiritual", but now he seemed obsessed with supporting Ronald Reagan's plans for a new America. He often came across as a totally different personality and I thought he might be having some sort of mental breakdown. He was spending much of his time drinking with a group of alcoholic millionaires and their hangers-on, including a former Swiss mercenary who had been in the Belgian Congo, and a Dominican woman who went by the nickname "Black Maggie."

I began realizing that the image I had of Leonard as a kind of older brother to the hippie generation, was highly inaccurate. He had even started combing his hair straight back in Reagan-esque fashion, and was spouting a new ideology that shocked me at the time. Later I would hear the same ideas from the mouths of high-profile neo-conservatives like Irving Krystol, William F. Buckley, and the Bushes -- but in 1980, it sounded like something out of a 1950s brainwashing manual. On one occasion, he told me that the world had been created 6,000 years ago by the collision of "black fire" with "white fire." I asked him, if that was so, how he accounted for dinosaurs and their relics. He said the dinosaurs were a hoax.I worried about his mental health.

He began expounding on the need for me to convert to Judaism. I was making my way through a book on the Kabbala, and was open to the idea of conversion. Judaism and Kabbala are not the same thing, however, and I abandoned my plan to convert after speaking to a rabbi.

LIFE Magazine : Hydra hootenanny
(note the tie, again)
October, 1960

Meanwhile, along with changes in personal style, Leonard had embraced drastic views about Armageddon and the ultimate destiny of Israel as a Light Unto the Nations. He made it seem that converting to Judaism would be a necessary life-raft in the End Times, which were already upon us. He seemed to be handing me an ultimatum: "You're either with us, or you're against us." I pondered his kind offer of marriage, although what he had in mind seemed to be some kind of collective wedding with himself as the Messiah, surrounded by an army of handmaidens.

Divine retribution, disaster, all-out war -- these were his themes. It was not my kind of scene, and neither was Hydra, where Leonard had got his start as a cult figure, even appearing in LIFE Magazine in 1960, several years before he had released any of his later-to-be famous songs. His lady friend, Marianne Jensen, appears in some of these photos, along with her estranged husband Axel Jensen and son Axel Jr., who as a child was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Ira Nadel's biography states that Leonard first went to Hydra in March of 1960 on the recommendation of Jacob Rothschild, whom he met in London. Baron de Rothschild's mother was involved with the Greek painter Nikos Ghikas, whose hillside mansion burned down soon after Leonard dropped by to visit. The story goes that he was refused entry to the Ghikas home and as he turned away he shouted "Curse this house!" -- only to see his wish come true in spectacular fashion. I find that Hydra legend a bit farfetched. It's  more interesting to explore the family and business connections that brought Leonard into the Rothschild sphere at the beginning of his career. The names "Henry Kissinger" and "Ronald Reagan" leap from the page at Wikipedia, not to mention that of newspaper magnate Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook), who had been a close family friend of Rothschild's second wife, Serena Mary Dunn. In fact, Beaverbrook even married her sister, Marcia Dunn -- I'm digressing just to give a sense of the incestuous elite world that Leonard entered in his rise to fame and fortune.Hydra has long been an island with strong links to British intelligence -- and a number of former operatives still had houses there in the 1980s and later. I met a few of them.

In case people ever got the impression that Leonard moved to Hydra on the recommendation of the Rothschilds and a secretive gang of international financiers, media moguls, arms dealers and eugenicists, Leonard came up with an innocuous-sounding explanation, worthy of the fancy-free poet and budding novelist:

On a dismal rainy afternoon in April 1960, after spending three months in a boarding house on Hampstead High Street completing a manuscript, the 25-year-old “grocer of despair” found himself wandering bleakly around London’s East End, his spirits further depleted by raging toothache.
Then he spotted a Bank of Greece sign on Bank Street, entered the bank and saw a cheery clerk sporting a deep suntan and a defiant pair of shades. Cohen asked what the weather was like in Greece and was assured it was already springtime. On the spot, he decided to pack his bags.
Arriving in Athens on 13 April 1960, Cohen took a steamer to Hydra, a five-hour journey in those days. The destination wasn’t random, he’d heard from friends that there was a flourishing group of expat artists and writers on the island.

So, did he just accidentally stumble onto Hydra because he hated the English climate, as this tale implies, or was he sent? I guess the "friends" who had tipped him off to the artists and writers colony, would be Jacob Rothschild and Serena Dunn, who were also art collectors. Maybe Hydra proved too Bohemian for the boy from a family of haberdashers. Also, Greek winters can be disappointing, rainy and cold. Maybe those photos in LIFE Magazine spurred his career.


It's doubtful Fidel Castro sent out a call, a few weeks ahead of the US invasion, for the folksingers of the world to come to the aid of the Cuban people. Nevertheless, in the spring of 1961, Leonard flew to Havana, scene of a communist revolution that the CIA's Allen Dulles was intent on putting down with the aid of a couple of brigades composed of anti-Castro fighters and assassins. The leader of one of these brigades was Joachim Sanjenis Perdomo, who would pop up years later as the doorman at the Dakota Hotel on the night John Lennon was shot.

In one of his more confessional songs, written a decade later, Cohen would confide a few details to his audience, most of whom would think he was just kidding about being a spy:

Field Commander Cohen was our most important spy
Parachuting acid into diplomatic cocktail parties
Urging Fidel Castro to abandon fields and castles
And, like a man, come back to poetry...

After all, he's a singer, right? Musicians don't lead double lives as intelligence operatives, do they?

Later, in letters to his Miami brother-in-law, Edgar, the globetrotting poet/singer would vociferously declare his deep commitment to anti-communism. Given his past connections with Allen Dulles' MKULTRA brainwashing program at McGill and Columbia, it's just possible that Leonard was on a list of bright young men chosen for assignments like hanging out in the lobby of the Havana hotel where Castro had set up his revolutionary headquarters. It's possible he even arrived with a few blotters of LSD, from the CIA's own laboratory, stashed in his pocket. He claims he was there on vacation, but this photo shows him with a beard and military-style outfit, hobnobbing with men who appear to belong to one of the local militias. No tie, though. Too hot, I guess.

Havana, 1961. Leonard, the tourist.

Is it possible during his short stay, in which he was apprehended, questioned and nearly detained as an American agent, that he also ran into the beautiful, 19 year old Marita Lorenz, who was sharing Castro's bed at the Havana Hilton? The daughter of a CIA agent, Marita's life is the stuff of legend, and her book Dear Fidel is a rivetting read. Also, Marita is not a very common name in Canada: could she be the very same "Marita" who appears in the famous 1963 poem which Cohen would scrawl on the wall during a trip to the men's room at Le Bistro a Jojo , a well-known Montreal watering-hole for journalists, artists and other operatives?


Oh, and one final knot: there's a nice video about Leonard's early years growing up in Montreal, with photos and 8mm film footage of him as a child. It seems he wore a tie even when riding his wee tricycle. Oddly, it is reported that a few weeks after his father died the 9-year-old Leonard buried one of his dad's bowties, wrapped in paper on which he had written some verses.The sound track to this video features an interview, interspersed with a live performance of Passing Through, the lyrics of which are worth another look as they echo, in certain ways, the point of view of the singer/narrator in The Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil

"I was at Franklin Roosevelt's side
on the night before he died
He said 'One World must come out
of World War Two --'(Ah the fool)"

Did Roosevelt really say that? And who was with him on the night before he died? My research says it was OSS mastermind Allen Dulles, who signed the treaty with the SS that wrapped up the war the following day, against Roosevelt's orders, opening the door to Operation Paperclip, Nazi rat-lines and the future One World Government aka The New World Order.

We have to thank Leonard for passing on inside information, while never making his position clear. But then, that's another trait the Illuminati are known for.

One tie at a time.

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