I have never read The Da Vinci Code nor anything else by Dan Brown or books ‘surrounding the hype’. Still, about a year and a half ago David Shugarts started sending me emails with questions, asking my opinion about things, etc. Shugarts said that he was investigating what Dan Brown’s next novel would be about in order to come up with a Secrets Of… immediately after. Shugarts has been part of both Secrets Of The Code and Secrets Of Angels And Demons, both edited by Dan Burstein who wrote the introduction to David’s own book. The new Brown novel gets phonephoned again and again, so eventually Shugarts decided (like other people) to publish a book with his findings anyway. And so you get “the mysteries surrounding the sequel to The Da Vinci Code“.
Shugarts started investigating these subjects when his eye fell on smaller and larger mistakes in The Da Vinci Code. Also he noticed that there are codes in all of Dan Brown’s novels which may give a hint of what to come. According to Shugarts, (the meanwhile anounced) the Solomon’s Key will continue where the Code left off, with Masonic conspiracies, Illuminati and this time, the first days of the United States of America.
So while reading how Shugarts’ investigation went and why, you will read about Freemasonry, the Founding Fathers of the USA, esoteric systems such as Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah and magic and a lot about the Masonic construction of Washington. All this may surprise, or even shock, many people, but when you keep in mind that many Freemasons went to the new land during the colonisation of the continent, I find it rather logical that they used their masonic insights and symbolism in the construction of buildings and cities. Maybe many people no longer know that many of the Founding Fathers and later presidents of the USA were/are Freemasons. Shocking? At best surprising. Or of course you should believe the many conspiracy theories that Freemasons want to take over the world with their satanic ideology (the first is highly unlikely, the second downright idiotic). But of course it is nice to read about pentagrams in the map of Washington, the East-West and North-South orientation of the streets and major monuments, etc., etc. This was earlier done in The Temple And The Lodge, but I suppose The Secrets Of The Widow’s Son and especially the new Dan Brown will reach a much larger audience. Much of the information is very basis and for people who need one more step after Brown’s books. People like myself who are more familiar with some of the subjects touched upon, may raise an eyebrow here and there while reading Brown, but also while reading Shugarts. Here are a few things my eyes fell on.
1- p.50 “In 1580 [Giordano] Bruno wrote the Clavis Magna, or Great Key. It was about a mind-alteringtechnique called the Art of Memory.”
Actually there never was no Clavis Magna or it has been lost. Some scholars believe that it is a collective name for Bruno’s works on the Art of Memory.
2- Shugarts writes quite a bit about Freemasonry, but may better have started with a short history. He keeps saying that Freemasonry has no central authority. I don’t know about nowdays Freemasonry in the USA, but at the dawn of Freemasonry there indeed wasn’t much authority, but in 1717 the Grand Lodge of London was founded as umbrella organisation and until the present day a new lodge has to be recognised by the Grand Lodge in order to be ‘regular’. All ‘regular’ lodges (‘true Freemasonry’) live upto the same rules or otherwise they run the risk to be expelled. Yes, the lodges have certain freedom, but to say that there is no central authority? More even, the fact that there is ‘regular’ Freemasonry, means that there is also ‘irregular’ Freemasonry. Indeed there is, but also here are ‘grand lodges’, but for example called ‘Grand Orient’. Unfortunatly there is nothing about this in the book.
3- p. 53 “This secret order [of Rosicrucianism] hit the public mind with the publication around 1616 of the Alchemical Marriage”.
Most scholars agree that there was no Rosicrucian order, just a group of students who -in the flow of alchemy and Paracelsus of those days- wrote three manifestoes. The first of these was the Fama Fraternitatis (1614), the second the Confessio Fraternitatis (1615) and then the Chymische Hochzeit, usually translated as ‘chemical wedding’ (1616), was published. The information about the Rosicrucians on page 68/9 is better.
4- p.76 “Quakers -believe it or not- became associated with these influences [alchemy]. Always troublesome to authority, the early Quakers were unfairly accused of being a “Family of Love” sect (i.e. free lovers).”
David, do you mean what I read here? The Quakers owe a great deal to the famous alchemist Jan van Helmont and also to the founder of the strict religious movement ‘Huis der Liefde’, the Dutchman Hendrik Niclaes. Niclaes was closely related to the Antwerp printer Plantin who also printed books by Agrippa, Giordano Bruno, John Dee, Guillaume Postel and Niclaes, but it can’t be proven that they all knew eachother. Niclaes and also his follower (and later opponent) Hiel (a pseudonym for Hendrik Janszoon van Barrevelt) went to the UK early in their carreers where their writings were translated and published. The movement was for some reason not called ‘house of love’ in the UK, but ‘family of love’ or simly ‘familists’. In 1660 many familists would join the Quakers having a massive influence on their thinking.
Since the ‘Huis der Liefde’ / ‘Family of Love’ was regarded heretical (they were radically protestant) of course many things are said about them, but the word ‘love’ refers to the love of Christ and not ‘free love’ or anything like that.
5- “Jacobite (French reign of terror)”
Jacobites are British followers of the royal house of the Stuarts. In 16/17th century UK power went back and forth between Protestant (Stuarts) and Catholics (Tudors). After the famous virgin queen Elizabeth, it was time for a Catholic period, so many Protestants fled to France where came a fairly large Jacobite society. Indeed, they tried to have their influence in their home country and also in France. Also the Jacobites brought Freemasonry from the UK to the continent where it started to bloom.
6- On page 108 the writer says something about women and Freemasonry. Women couldn’t join (and still can’t in regular Masonry), but they could participate in affiliated organisations, such as the Order of the Eastern Star. I am not totally sure, but I think the Eastern Star is an American thing. Fact is that here in Europe there is both female and mixed Freemasonry, but (of course) not regular. But regular and irregular lodges often use the same building/temples, so the division is only theoretically.
7- I got a bit confused by the following, but the writer is not to blame for this. Shugarts writes “Agapa” for the letters Robert Moray’s pentagram of love, while I usually read “Agape”. The word in Greek could (should) be written in our letters as AgapÍ£, while you pronounce the last letter as a “a” in English or an “e” in Dutch, so this is mainly a confusion of languages.
8- A similar confusion is risen by the different translations that are given of the term ‘hieros gamos’ or ‘sacred marriage’, which is sometimes ‘alchemical wedding’ in the book.
9- p. 141 “the library of Alexandria”
Most people say that there were two, but indeed it seems that also many write about one.
10- “Sephiroth or angels”
The Hebrew word “sephira” means “vessel”, I have never heard it translate with “angel”. Of course it may be possible to contribute angels to the sephiroth, but then you will have to come up with ten names…
11- On page 165 Shugarts tells us a bit about Kabbalah. He uses the terms “Gra” and “Ari” for two kinds of trees of life. I had never heard of these terms! They come from Crowlegian circles it seems. I find the two trees given not the best and there are others as well.
Enough for the nagging. You shouldn’t immediately belief anything you read, even what I write may be wrong!, but I wanted to render some of my questions while I was reading. Also…
I read the book in three nights and it is 200 pages, so this proves that it reads easily. Every now and then there is a “a closer look”. I am sure that people who like The Da Vinci Code and want ‘one step higher’ will love a book like this and either or not may then continue their search. Personally I think the information is too brief and fractured, but this is because I am already quite familiar with the information. The more serious approach of the subjects than in the novels of Dan Brown may bring a new audience on the interesting field of investigation of these kinds of subjects who can take smaller steps with a book like this when they want to start searching for themselves.
All in all it is nice to read some time and German and Dutch translations are anounced to follow soon.