This past week, former America Unearthed host Scott Wolter appeared on a Freemason podcast to discuss his usual round of nonsense, devoting most of the time to reminiscing about his favorite America Unearthed episodes from the previous decade and his beloved Kensington Rune Stone claims from the decade before that. However, there were a few interesting highlights, mostly surrounding his enhanced view of goddess worship and his growing acceptance of outdated early twentieth century views of Christianity as an astrological myth.
The interview starts out with Wolter discussing the line of jewelry and fashion accessories he is now selling with his favorite “hooked X” rune, with the hosts drooling over what Wolter calls his “bling.” Wolter claims that “a lot of guys are using the ‘Hooked X’” as their personal symbol, for which he takes credit, claiming it to be the true symbol of Freemasonry and its (imaginary) Templar origins. Ten percent of the podcast involves this QVC-style fashion and jewelry at-home shopping segment. I’m not sure QVC has ever had a guest say “Screw the academics!” with quite so much glee.
Wolter claims that Freemasonry has given him insights into ancient history not available to those outside the Craft. This involves Enoch and the Watchers, the popular but false story, in its very late and corrupt Masonic form. Beyond this, Wolter offers a wild collection of fringe ideas. He alleges that the Fibonacci sequence, for example, is the “key” to understanding all life in the universe.
A discussion of feminine symbolism in Freemasonry follows, and Wolter alleges that he has secret documents that he has spent four years vetting that prove that a “goddess” is the secret source of Masonry. He claims that Roman Catholics “infiltrated” Freemasonry in order to suppress goddess worship. At times he speaks like the anti-Catholic bigots of the nineteenth century, and he seems utterly oblivious to the fact that he is buying into propaganda and counterpropaganda that swirled around Catholics and Freemasons during the French Revolution and its aftermath.
Wolter spends much of the interview very excited about the astrological implications of Venus’ current position in the western sky. He adopts some early twentieth century Jesus-myth ideas (the idea that Jesus never existed but was just a myth), alleging for example that the three-day death and Resurrection of Jesus represented the winter solstice when the sun appears to stand still for three days before the days lengthen. The Virgin Mary in this reading is Venus, or something like that. Some of the Jesus-myth writers like Edward Carpenter wrote similar things in the early twentieth century, such as Carpenter’s Pagan and Christian Creeds: Their Origin and Meaning (1921), but surely there is some irony in the fact that Wolter’s ideas about goddesses and masculine fraternity and the manly he-men secretly venerating the goddess to subvert the Church and all that so closely parallels the famous book of Carpenter, who was a gay man and a socialist—basically the most opposite you can possibly get from the imagined dictatorship of the enlightened Wolter imagines for the Templars. Wolter imagines Freemasonry as perfecting human civilization. Carpenter called civilization a disease.
Later, Wolter discusses the failure of America Unearthed, and he implies that UNESCO’s condemnation of Wolter’s follow-up History Channel series Pirate Treasure of the Knights Templar made him toxic to the History Channel when the latter show caused controversy during failed negotiations to renew the former in 2015. In his telling, Wolter is blameless in the affair, and everyone else was responsible for the fiasco in Madagascar that led to UNESCO’s fury. He omits that History moved Pirate Treasure to Saturday afternoons to burn off episodes out of prime time, and he repeats the obviously ego-soothing claim that America Unearthed did not end because History found Scott Wolter toxic after that, but instead because his show was “too smart” for History Channel viewers. The show currently sits on permanent hiatus at the Travel Channel, after the network did not renew the show.
Wolter tells many familiar stories about the shooting of America Unearthed, which began eight years ago. He references his long-ago days playing football. He talks about professional football. He blathers on about the “old Theban alphabet” and pretends that this early modern cypher code is somehow an ancient alphabet from primordial times. Eventually, the conversation between Wolter and the hosts devolves into a discussion of how to have a personal relationship with God(dess), unintentionally revealing yet again that the secret underlying so many of these pseudohistorical conspiracy theories is that they are a rationalizing veneer glued on top of a desperate effort to reenchant the world and undo the painful progress of science and reason since the French Revolution. This includes a crude sex joke from Wolter in the midst of his discussion of feminism and veneration of the feminine, which he crudely equates with female bodies. “Women don’t need to venerate themselves,” he adds in defending Freemasonry’s all-male membership. “They already know they’ve got it going on.”
Near the end of the episode, the hosts do a lightning round in which they ask quick questions about Wolter’s theories. In response to a question about the imagined connections between Knights Templar and Freemasons, Wolter surrenders the floor to his wife, Janet, who claims that the Templars were descendants of ancient mystery schools (they were not) and were privy to the secrets of alchemy (there being none) and the worship of the goddess (contradicted by all extant evidence). Wolter himself adds that Freemasonry has the “same” teachings as “Templarism,” and reemphasizes goddess worship. Wolter repeats his ridiculous claim that the Kensington Rune Stone is the true “founding” and “claim” to America and that the Founding Fathers were Templars. Somehow the same Templars who respected and interbred with the Natives also needed to claim the Native land for themselves even though their kids were already its heirs—or something like that.
I don’t expect consistency, but … wow.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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