The fliers appeared Thursday, August 15, on telephone poles across Capitol Hill, tantalizing readers with some heavy questions: "How much prior knowledge did our government have about the attack of 9/11? Who stands to profit in a war with Afghanistan? Is there another agenda behind the war? Are you ready to know the facts?"

The answers to these and related queries were promised to those brave enough to attend a five-hour "workshop" the following Saturday at the Seattle Metaphysical Library on 14th Avenue. Important questions answered, for only $15 a head. It had to be a bargain....

The workshop's leader, a balding, ponytailed guru-scholar, wore jeans, a vest, sunglasses, and cowboy boots (all black). A master of astrology and divination, he played videos by far-right conspiracy theorists and cast his pearls before Seattle listeners in a small room adorned with astrology posters and bookshelves crammed with New Age texts. As he spoke, his insights formed an explanatory vortex of hidden truths and revealed secrets. Finally, at long last, his audience understood the frightening meaning of the attacks of September 11.

Did you know, he asked, that the 9/11 attacks were only the latest manifestation of an ancient struggle, originating on the island of Atlantis, between an elite, evil secret society (known as the Illuminati) and the forces of good? And that all through history, these Illuminati have manufactured false crises to consolidate and expand their power?

"Forget everything the national media says--that's useless groupthink," he thundered. He knew the real skinny: "The [American] government has been behind a whole series of terrorist attacks. This has been their policy through the decades." Not just September 11, but so much more....

FDR knew Pearl Harbor was coming, but allowed it to occur to further his plan to create the United Nations. Our own government assassinated JFK because he intended to abolish the federal reserve system. The first World Trade Center bombing, in 1993? The work of the FBI. Oklahoma City? Forget Timothy McVeigh; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms blew that building up with multiple high-tech explosives.

The 20-odd attendees listened, enthralled. As the story built, as the pundit produced his shocking revelations one by one, as he embedded conspiracy within conspiracy, they voiced their approbation: "Ohhh." "I knew it!" "Ahhh." "Yes!" "That's so true!"

"This is sooo stimulating," one middle-aged lady in flowing robes told another. "I hear he has friends in British intelligence," a third whispered to her compatriot.

Who was this mysterious expert? Meet Michael Tsarion, the "son of an Indian clairvoyant" and "grandson of a renowned mystic teacher." He is also a "sidereal mythologist," the creator of "Archetypal Stellar Taroscopic Astrology," and the world-renowned author of that tour de force of historio-scientific scholarship, Atlantis, Alien Visitation and Genetic Manipulation.

In the library, Tsarion's revelations continued. The media, for instance, isn't telling you the truth about Iraq. "How much more criminal and backward would Iraq be if Saddam wasn't in power?" Tsarion asked. "Think how huge the human rights abuses would be then." This elicited knowing nods and more exclamations from his choir of the converted.

Did you know that on 9/11 the planes weren't hijacked? Or that if they were, the hijackers were under the "mind control" of government handlers? Or that perhaps the planes were flown by remote control? And did you know the Towers did not fall because of the planes' impact, but because the buildings were wired with explosives by the government?

And so it went, on and on, as New Age crystal credulity came to grips with the harsh reality of international terrorism through the prism of far-right, government-is-evil conspiracy theory. "Militia types, right-wingers, fundamentalist Christians, all have a piece of the truth," Tsarion asserted--pieces made whole in tandem with his powers of divination and insight into the "metaphysical" structures of history. The existence of a massive government conspiracy is undeniable, he assured.

It was not a marriage made in Judeo-Christian heaven. At times the "factual" and "objective" far-right "evidence" sent Tsarion veering dangerously close to white- supremacist Zionist Occupation Government territory, as when he urged listeners to vote for anti-Semitic militia leader Bo Gritz, or when he confidently claimed that Israeli corporations vacated the WTC in the week prior to the attacks, "even breaking leases to do so."

"I didn't know that," one of the seekers exclaimed.