Grigori Rasputin was a Russian peasant who claimed to have mystic healing powers, and he even went so far as to say he was the second coming of Christ. He formed his own cult, and even manipulated the members of the royal Romanov family into believing he truly was a holy man. Once he had everyone wrapped around his finger, he used his influence over the Russian government, and his decisions contributed to the downfall of the Romanov dynasty. For years, he claimed that he struggled between the forces of good and evil. Many priests believed that his powers didn’t come from God at all, and that he was actually the Antichrist.
Grigori Rasputin was born in January 20th 1869 in a Siberian village called Pokrovskoye. For years, Siberia had been a dumping ground for Russia’s criminals, and living there were prison colonies full of men doing hard labor. There were also people who had been exiled to Siberia for their religious or political beliefs. It is one of the coldest and most difficult places to live, and survival is a constant struggle.
Rasputin’s father was a peasant farmer and courier, and his mother gave birth to seven children before he was born. All of them died during childbirth or in early infancy, so he was the first to actually survive the harsh Siberian winter. As a boy, he claimed that he would have visions of the future, and that angels appeared to him in his dreams. He knew things about his neighbors that he couldn’t possibly know, which was enough evidence to make the locals believe him. He could heal horses who were sick just by touching them. Some villagers believed that he was the second coming of Christ, and that he was touched by God. Others believe that he was demonic and could potentially be working with the devil. In his teens and early 20’s, it would seem that the latter was true, because he was apparently very badly behaved. He would drink, steal, and generally get on everyone’s nerves.
At 28 years old, he was married and had four children with his wife, who he met in a neighboring village. He had a reputation of being an abusive alcoholic, and cheating on his wife. One day, he stole a horse. When word got out that he was a horse thief. Instead of facing the consequences, he galloped towards a local monastery for sanctuary, and ended up staying with the Christian brothers for several months. They had convinced him to find God and change his evil ways. A man named Makarij (pronounced like Mah-Kah-Ree. Silent J.) became his mentor, and he decided to actually join the order and become a monk. He abandoned his family in favor of traveling from place to place evangelizing to various villages.
Many historians believe that if he spent so much time walking through the forest of Siberia, it was almost guaranteed that he would run into a cult called the Khlystys. (pronounced like the girl’s name Kristy, only with an L. KLi-Stee) These people were an offshoot of the Russian Orthodox Church, and many of their members would actually show up to a normal mass on Sunday, and have secret meetings in the woods. They believed that salvation could only be achieved by purging sin. They would perform ceremonies where they choked one another and let go at the last moment so that they would get high on asphyxiation. They spoke in tongues, and would spin and dance until they felt drunk. They would work themselves into a frenzy, and then fall to the ground. Then, they would let out their pent-up desires by having sex with whoever was laying next to them in a massive orgy.
Rasputin continued to travel and evangelize the Christian faith, but this wasn’t your normal run-of-the-mill visit from someone with a Bible. These monk “wanderers” were not allowed to bathe, and Rasputin sometimes wore shackles as he walked to make himself feel pain on purpose. This was supposed to be an atonement for his sins.
By the time he returned to his village to see his family and friends again, he was a completely changed man. His eyes stared on with a frightening intensity, and he said that his visions from God were stronger than ever. Even though he only just got home, he told his wife that he needed to use the basement as a meeting place for his religious group, where he continued to have orgies with his Khlysty friends.
The Devil’s In St. Petersburg
One day, Rasputin claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared before him, and told him to go to St. Petersburg to help the royal family. The idea that the royal family could need help from a peasant man in Siberia was completely insane. So how on earth did someone like Rasputin make his way into the royal palace?
It turns out that his mentor from the monastery, Makarij, was actually the former religious adviser to the Romonovs. He was able to use Makarij’s connections to attract noble clients who truly believed in Rasputin’s abilities, and people were amazed at his powers. Rich people were willing to travel all the way to Pokrovskoye to be healed by him. Makarij sent a letter of introduction to one of his friends in St. Petersburg, and Rasputin went on the long journey to the city. He met Bishop Hermogen, and a high level priest named Sergei Trufanov, who is better known as “Illiador”. At first, the men were shocked by Rasputin’s disheveled appearance. He smelled awful, and his stare was truly terrifying. He was able to dilate his eyes at will, making them appear to be almost fully black. But once the priests witnessed his healing ability, he said that he must be a saint who was gifted by the powers of God.
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But Rasputin truly did not care at all about what people thought of him. He would pick his nose and eat it in front of dignified people, and mock aristocratic women for their airs. He became good friends with Princess Milica and Anastasia of Montenegro, who were nicknamed “The Crow Sisters” because of the shape of their noses. They were not Russian, but they still managed to marry into the Romanov family. They had actually both been heavily involved in mysticism and the occult, and they both manipulated their way into marrying members of the royal family. They were often treated as outcasts by the rest of the aristocracy, so they bonded with Rasputin, and took him under their wing.
All of this was perfect timing, because Tsarina Alexandra Romanov had just lost her first spiritual advisor, a man named Dr. Phillipe. She believed that he helped her and Tsar Nicholas have a son and heir to the throne after having only daughters. He claimed, on his deathbed, that she would meet another Holy Man very soon to take his place. Almost immediately after this, The Crow Sisters introduced Rasputin to the Tsar and Tsarina at a party. The sisters had been the ones to help Tsarina Alexandra find her previous mystic, Dr. Phillipe. So when Alexandra learns the stories of Rasputin’s miraculous healing abilities, she knew that she wanted him to help her son Alexei. He was born with hemophilia, which is a condition that prevents blood from clotting. This means that even a small scrape can lead to massive blood loss.
They never told Rasputin about their son’s condition at the party, and it was a secret that they had attempted to keep quiet. Alexandra was still considering whether or not she could trust this peasant from Siberia. But one day, Alexei fell and scraped his knee, and bleeding was not stopping. Rasputin showed up out of nowhere to the royal palace demanding to see the boy. He said that he had a vision from God- without him, the prince would die. In reality, he most likely learned about this insider information from The Crow Sisters, but to the guards and the royal family, they were shocked, wondering how he could have possible known.
Once he was allowed to go see him, he told the doctors to leave so that he could use his healing powers. Almost immediately, Alexei actually did begin to heal. this was enough to convince Alexandra that he truly was a holy man who had magic healing powers. Modern day scientists and historians believe that this was not magic, but that he was actually preventing the doctors from giving Alexei aspirin, which would thin his blood and only make his haemophilia far worse.
Within just a few months, Rasputin became a regular installment in the Romanov family mansion. He began to give drugs like opium, morphine, and cocaine to the Tsar, claiming that they would help with his various ailments. They would get high together on a regular basis. The Tsar became addicted, which only made him want Rasputin to come by the palace more often. The Tsarina would get migraine headaches and suffered from anxiety, and Rasputin was able to take away her pain and get her to relax. Soon enough, the Tsar and Tsarina both began to feel a dependency on him, and he started to visit at least once a week.
Rasputin called Alexandra and Nicolas “Mama” and “Papa” as if he was one of the kids. He begin to pray with the children at night, and tell them bedtime stories. This made the nanny very nervous, because the oldest daughters were already beginning to go through puberty. One of the maids also claimed that Rasputin had raped her. However, the Tsarina trusted Rasputin so much, she accused the maid of lying, and fired her. The nanny tried to kick Rasputin out of the nursery. The children claimed that Rasputin was their friend, and complained that the nanny was mean, so she was fired her, as well. It was clear that he had his claws in deep with the royal family, and he could get away with just about anything. Newspapers around St. Petersburg began to print stories about the incident, saying that Rasputin was very literally let into the princess’ beds.
The Cult Following
Rasputin lived in an apartment in St Petersburg where his followers would come to have meetings together with him. These women would all show up with a hot dish, and they had potluck style parties. They gathered around a table with him sitting at the head. Rasputin would sit in silence staring into space, when suddenly, he would begin to mumble something. The women would immediately stop talking, in hopes of understanding what he was even trying to say. he would grab a pieces of paper and desperately write down his ideas of whatever was on his mind. For some insane and explicable reason, this was incredibly attractive to these women. They believed that he was the second coming of Christ, and they would offer to go with him into his bedroom to have sex with him.
One disciple in particular, Olga Lokhtina, had so much faith in him, that she left her husband and children in order to live in his apartment. She forced everyone to address him as “God”. Witnesses opened the back door to witnesses Olga holding his penis and screaming, “You are Christ, and I am yours!” And whoever walked in on this unfortunate scene slowly backed away, shutting the door on their way out.
After learning about the scandal, police officers were ordered to follow him to see what he would do. They reported that he would hire prostitutes on almost a daily basis and bring them into bath houses. Now, you would think if he was paying for a bath on a daily basis, he might actually smell good. But according to testimonies, he would bring a prostitute into a private room where they would both get undressed. He would take his leather belt and begin beating the woman, claiming that he would beat the sin of lechery out of her soul. Then, he would have sex with her, and leave the bath house without ever touching the water.
He was witnessed leaving a bathhouse holding his head and screaming at the demons that he could feel inside of him. He claimed that he could see the devil himself, and that they were struggling in a battle over his soul. Obviously, this sounds like he was tripping on one of the many drugs he happened to be taking. But remember those two priests, Bishop Hermogen and Iliadore? Well, they heard about Rasputin screaming about demons in public, and it was ruining their reputation, since they were the ones to introduce Rasputin into St. Petersburg society in the first place.
Hermogen and Iliadore ambushed Rasputin to confront him about what he was doing. They accused him of using the Devil to have these healing powers. Hermogen grabbed Rasputin by the penis, and screamed that he was thinking with that, rather than his brain. they came prepared with a giant wooden crucifix which they used to beat him just as bloody as he would a prostitute in a bathhouse. But the power of Christ did not compel him. Rasputin tattled on them to the Tsarina, saying that they were trying to murder him. Hermogen and Iliadore were both sent into exile, and Iliadore fled to Finland dressed like a woman so that no one could trace where he was going. At the same time, Rasputin decided that he needed a break from the city and visited his home village in Siberia.
The Failed Assassination Attempt
It turns out that Iliadore truly was trying to kill Rasputin, and he later confessed to all of the details in a later biography. He was convinced that Rasputin was the Anti-Christ, so he hired a disfigured prostitute named Khioniya Guseva to kill him. This woman had been so abused by a former client, that they cut her nose off of her face, leaving a gaping hole. Iliadore told her the stories of how Rasputin beat and abused other sex workers. She showed up to his village and waited for him outside of his home.
Rasputin received a telegram in the mail and when he left his house. He needed to go to the post office to send a reply, when he noticed the woman standing there staring at him. He decided that she looked like a perfect convert, so he walked over to to give her some alms and preach the gospel to her. When she got close enough to him, she stabbed him in the stomach repeatedly. She was so insistent on trying to kill him that she even dug her hands into his stomach and pulled out his intestines.
That very same day, Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and it was one of the many events that triggered the beginning of World War I. Instead of being by the Tsar and Tsarina’s side to give his advisement, Rasputin was stuck in a hospital in Siberia healing from his injuries. After hearing the news of the impending Great War, Rasputin wrote a letter to the Tsar pleading with him to not go to war. He wrote, “We will all drown in blood. The disaster is great, the misery infinite.” But the Tsar did not want to listen to Rasputin. For the first time in his career, people were actually cheering for him in the streets, and supporting fighting for the glory of Russia.
The Tsar left the royal palace so that he could fight with the Russian soldiers. Alexandra was all alone, and after Rasputin healed, he returned to the royal palace and became her right hand advisor, and Tsar by proxy. Over the course of two years, Rasputin personally appointed several Ministers of the interior, but he was completely uneducated in politics, so the men he put into power were completely incompetent.
Millions of Russian men died in the war. People were struggling to find work, and the cost of bread doubled. On top of all of this, the Tsarina trusted a madman. The entire country had had enough. The Russian people had almost had no choice but to have a revolution.
The Beginning of The End
Even though her survived the assassination attempt, Rasputin’s health began to decline, and soon enough he could no longer heal people. He wrote in his journal that he knew he would die soon, and he had already made peace with it. He believed that God was about to make him a sacrifice in order to save the Russian people, similar to Jesus Christ dying on the cross.
He wrote to Tsarina Alexandra, “If one of your relations brings upon my death, then none of your family will remain alive for more than two years. They will all be killed by the Russian people. Tell your relatives that I have already paid for them in my blood. I shall be killed. I am no longer among the living. Pray and be strong.”
During a meeting in Parliament, one of the politicians actually called Rasputin a dark force, and said that he was sick and tired of this dirty peasant controlling the country and that he would personally kill him himself if the man was not taken down out of power.
Tsarina Alexandra’s nephew was a man named Felix Yusupov, and he was one of the many people who wanted him dead. He heard a lot about Rasputin’s reputation with the ladies. Yusupov was married to a woman named Irina, and she was considered to be one of the most beautiful women in the city of St. Petersburg. It was rumored that Yusupov was bisexual, and that the couple were swingers with an adventurous sex life. He invited Rasputin to join them, claiming that Irena had taken their open relationship too far, and that he believed that she was stricken with a sex addiction. He said that he needed Rasputin’s help to heal the demons inside of her. After gaining Rasputin’s trust, Yusupov met up with to two of his co-conspirators. They were actually planning to assassinate him.
The men picked up Rasputin in a car and drove him to the Yusupov mansion, where they lead him into a basement dining room. The table had been set up to appear as though they had just had a large party. They told him that Irena was with her guests upstairs and that she would come downstairs later to have her “healing ceremony”. They encouraged him to eat and drink while they waited for her. So, they started to hand him tiny cakes and glasses of wine. Rasputin had no idea that all of the food and drink was laced with cyanide.
Two and a half hours later, Yusupov could not believe that Rasputin had not dropped dead yet. He began to believe the rumors that he truly did have demonic powers, and that poison would not be enough to kill him. He rushed upstairs grabbed his revolver and returned to the basement, pointing the gun at Rasputin. The monk simply stood there, staring ahead. He did not beg for his life, or show any sign of fear. He shot Rasputin, who crumpled down to the floor. The men cheered and went upstairs to party.
After some time into the celebration, Yusupov began to feel a sense of dread. He walked down to the basement together with the doctor, and leaned in to check for a heart beat. Rasputin’s eyes opened, and he lunged at Yusupov. The doctor fainted on the spot.
Yusupov pushed the demon off of him, and scrambled upstairs to tell his friends that Rasputin had come back to life. They ran down into the basement, and he was gone. He had crawled up the basement stairs and was slinking his way across the courtyard. Yusupov shot him point blank in the head, and five other men pulled their revolvers to riddle his body with bullets.
They stuffed Rasputin’s body in the trunk of the car and drove him to the river, where they shoved him into a hole in the ice. When his body was later found, his hands were up, as if he was pressing them against the ice in an attempt to escape. There was water in his lungs, suggesting that he was still breathing, even after all of that. After hearing this story, people were convinced that he truly would come back to life again as a zombie. So they dug up his body, and burned the remains, but not before cutting off and preserving his legendary penis. It is now on display in a museum in St. Petersberg.
Soon after his death, Rasputin’s prophecy really did come true. The entire Romanov family was executed during the Bolshevik revolution, and Russia would never be the same again.