By Richard B. Spence, Ph.D., University of Idaho
There’s a lot of intrigue surrounding the Green Dragon Society. The perception of this supposed secret society with origins in Japan varies widely. Let’s take a look at some of the literary sources we have that inform us about the Green Dragons, and try to determine if it’s really a secret society or just a fiction.
The Black Dragon Society is an open book compared to the more elusive Green Dragon Society. The big question about the Green Dragons is whether they existed at all.
A key bit of evidence appears in the memoir of one of Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek’s wives, Ch’en Chieh-ju. She recalled that her husband wanted to create a “secret system of private investigators” modeled on the Green and Black Dragon societies of Japan.
The Green and Black societies also furnished Chiang with money. So, she clearly distinguishes between the two societies, and both seemed to be involved in political intrigue. But why were there two secret societies doing the same thing? And which came first, Green or Black?
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‘The Seven Heads of the Green Dragon’ First Mentioned Green Dragons
Some propose that the true origins of the Green Dragons lay in China, or Tibet. It’s also claimed that unlike the Black Dragons, the Greens didn’t deal in political action but in occult influence. Arguably, they were parallel societies, pursuing the same ends by different means.
The Green Dragons, like the Black, operated globally. Their reach supposedly extended to tsarist Russia and Nazi Germany. Emperor Hirohito, Adolf Hitler, and Rasputin have been tied to them, fairly or not.
The earliest, and maybe most intriguing, mention of the Green Dragon Society is the 1933 French novel Les sept têtes du dragon vert, or The Seven Heads of the Green Dragon. It’s a play on the dragon of ‘seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns’ mentioned in the book of Revelation. Except the biblical dragon is red, not green.
This French novel is pulp fiction but chock-full of real people and real events. The author, Teddy Legrand, is a pseudonym. His real identity is disputed. Some say he was Pierre Mariel, a self-proclaimed expert on the occult. However, more likely he was Xavier de Hauteclocque, a journalist and French spy.
De Hauteclocque died mysteriously in 1935; poisoned on a trip to Nazi Germany. Regardless, the book portrays the Green Dragon as a shadowy sect bent on world domination.
It was allegedly run by 72 secret masters, a number identical to the ‘72 Unknown Superiors’ revered by various occult orders. To achieve their nefarious aims, these unseen masters generated war, revolution, and chaos.
The Seven Heads of the Green Dragon claimed that the Greens’ invisible hand was behind the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, as well as in the Bolshevik Revolution, and the murder of the Romanovs, the 1922 assassination of German foreign minister Walther Rathenau, and the 1932 death of Swedish industrialist Ivar Kreuger.
A French secret society, the Martinist Order, is named as a tool of the Green Dragon. Founded in the 1880s, the Martinists were a very real offshoot of Rosicrucianism, with a very real taste for political intrigue.
The novel is set in 1929-30. The mysterious Greens are then facilitating the rise of Adolf Hitler. The tale’s hero is a British secret agent named James Nobody. His attention is first drawn to an icon found on the body of the late Russian Empress Alexandra. It bears a cryptic inscription: S.I.M.P. The Green Dragon. You were absolutely right. Too late.
S.I.M.P stood for Superieur Inconnu, Maitre Philippe, ‘Unknown Superior, Master Philippe’. Was Master Philippe one of the 72 secret masters? Regardless, Philippe was a French occultist, and an early spiritual guide of the Empress Alexandra. Her later adviser, the infamous Grigori Rasputin, was also linked to a mysterious group called ‘The Greens’.
Russian researcher Oleg Shishkin identifies Rasputin’s Greens as a Baltic German occult lodge called Baltikum. Their symbol was a green swastika. Of course, the Baltic was the same place Baron Ungern was from. Another Green Dragon agent identified in the book is Baltic Baron Otto von Bautenas. Bautenas was real, and a member of Baltikum.
The story culminates in Berlin, where Agent Nobody comes face to face with the so- called Man with the Green Gloves. He’s described as an Asian who looks like a living statue yet is able to converse in “excellent Oxford English”.
James Nobody concludes that the Green Dragon is nothing less than a vast “conspiracy against the white race and Western Civilization”, with a grand plan to restore East Asia as the center of the world.
This is a transcript from the video series The Real History of Secret Societies. Watch it now, Wondrium.
The Green Dragons in the Occult Book The Spear of Destiny
The Green Dragons later appeared in British author Trevor Ravenscroft’s 1973 book The Spear of Destiny. Appropriately, Ravenscroft was a secret society initiate. He was a follower of anthroposophy, a mystical movement founded by an Austrian philosopher and occultist named Rudolf Steiner.
Steiner despised the Nazis. So, Ravenscroft obligingly portrayed Hitler as a pawn of dark forces. Ravenscroft connected the Green Dragon to one of Hitler’s early mentors, German geo-politician Karl Haushofer.
Haushofer was indeed well-versed in the occult, and he’d spent years as a military attaché in Tokyo. Haushofer, according to Ravenscroft, “gained … extraordinary gifts through membership of the Green Dragon Society of Japan in which the mastery of the Time Organism and the control of the life forces in the human body is the central aim of ascending degrees of initiation.”
Ravenscroft claimed that the Green Dragons’ origins stretched all the way back to Atlantis. Also, he insisted, “Only two other Europeans have been permitted to join this Japanese Order, which demands oaths of secrecy and obedience of far more strict and uncompromising nature than similar secret societies in the Western world.”
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No Reliable Sources for Existence of the Green Dragons
A very similar tale appears in German author Wulf Schwarzwaller’s 1989 book The Unknown Hitler. Schwarzwaller claimed that the aforementioned Karl Haushofer was a master of Eastern mystical traditions, who had “familiarized himself with the Zen teachings of the Japanese Society of the Green Dragon”.
The big problem with Ravenscroft and Schwarzwaller is that their sources are hazy to nonexistent. Ravenscroft seemed to have gotten some of his ideas from an equally vague 1960 book, The Morning of the Magicians by the French journalists Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier.
They don’t mention the Green Dragon by name, but do state that Haushofer “is said to have been initiated into one of the most important secret Buddhist societies and to have been sworn, if he failed in his ‘mission’ to commit suicide in accordance with the time-honored ceremonial”. For what it’s worth, Haushofer did kill himself in 1946 by drinking arsenic.
Ravenscroft also claimed that the Green Dragon Society set up shop in 1920s Germany. It supposedly joined forces with a group of Tibetan monks called the ‘Society of Green Men’.
The leader of these Tibetans was a mysterious ‘Man with the Green Gloves’, the same name as the mysterious figure in Teddy Legrand’s novel. In Ravenscroft’s version Mr. Green Gloves is supposedly a representative of the Adepts of Agartha and their king of the world.
Ravenscroft also claimed the Green Dragons and the Green Men had joined forces to guide Hitler. There actually was a figure in Weimar Germany sometimes called the ‘Magician with the Green Gloves’. However, he wasn’t a Tibetan but rather a Jewish mind-reader and astrologer named Erik Jan Hanussen. Hanussen briefly served as soothsayer for Hitler and the Nazi Party.
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Are the Green Dragons and Black Dragons Connected?
One line of thought is that the Green Dragons were the ‘inner cabal’ of Genyosha and the Black Dragons. Just as Mitsuru Tōyama spun off the Black Dragons to handle political intrigue, it’s possible he invented the Greens to handle mystical skullduggery.
It’s also worth noting that a Green Society or Green Gang was (and arguably still is) a major force in the Chinese underworld. Was their relationship to the Green Dragon similar to the yakuza’s with the Black Dragon?
So, we can wonder whether the Green and Black Dragons were simply two heads of the same beast, one ruthless and political, the other subtle and esoteric? But there are no clear answers in regards to the Green Dragon Society.
Common Questions about the Green Dragon Society
The Green Dragon society finds mention in a memoir of one of Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek’s wives, Ch’en Chieh-ju. It is also mentioned in the novels Les sept têtes du dragon vert or The Seven Heads of the Green Dragon, The Spear of Destiny, and The Unknown Hitler.
There is no evidence of a connection between the Black Dragons and the Green Dragons. One line of thought is that the Green Dragons were the ‘inner cabal’ of Genyosha and the Black Dragons. Just as Mitsuru Tōyama spun off the Black Dragons to handle political intrigue, it’s possible he invented the Greens to handle mystical skullduggery.
The books don’t mention the Green Dragon by name, but it is hinted. In The Spear of Destiny, it is claimed that the Green Dragon society joined forces with a group of Tibetan monks called the ‘Society of Green Men’. The leader of these Tibetans was a mysterious ‘Man with the Green Gloves’. The Green Dragons and the Green Men had joined forces to guide Hitler. There actually was a figure in Weimar Germany sometimes called the ‘Magician with the Green Gloves’. While in The Unknown Hitler, the author claimed that Hitler’s early mentors, German geo-politician Karl Haushofer, was a master of Eastern mystical traditions, who had “familiarized himself with the Zen teachings of the Japanese Society of the Green Dragon”.