As readers of this blog know, my attention lately has been entirely taken up with Dan Brown's forthcoming novel, The Lost Symbol, especially since his publisher began posting clues regarding the content of this novel to Twitter. (I have my own book coming out, Discovering The Lost Symbol: Dan Brown's Novel and the Truth About the Freemasons; it is thus my business to stay on top of every legitimate scrap of information about Brown's novel.) After looking over the 42 clues that Doubleday has issued about the novel (which I considered in detail in my blog, Key to The Lost Symbol Clues), I have come to several conclusions:
- Freemasonry is going to be featured prominently in Dan Brown's novel, The Lost Symbol.
- The Scottish Rite in particular is going to be featured prominently in this novel.
- The Scottish Rite in general, and Albert Pike in particular, are going to take it in the chops.
In the remainder of this post, I lay out my evidence for these beliefs. In a future post or posts, I will explain why Freemasons in general (North and South; Blue Lodge, York Rite, and Scottish Rite) ought to do something about this; and, what it is that we might do.
The Lost Symbol will be Dan Brown's third novel to feature Robert Langdon, a "symbologist" at Harvard University who has a talent for getting involved in the investigation of murder mysteries involving centuries-old conspiracies. The previous novels in the series are Angels & Demons (book, 2000; film, 2009) and The Da Vinci Code (book, 2003; film, 2006).
Judging from his earlier two novels, Brown is consistent in using one or more secretive societies to drive his plot. In Angels & Demons, the "bad guys" were supposedly the Illuminati (although those who have read the novel or seen the movie know that, in Brown's story, the Illuminati were merely taking the rap for another person's secret agenda). In The Da Vinci Code, the true "bad guys" are a secret Council of Shadows, working within the Vatican; they use an operative from Opus Dei as an assassin.
In The Da Vinci Code, Brown introduced a new wrinkle: a secret society of "good guys," in this case the Priory of Sion. The medieval Knights Templar are portrayed in a positive light, as well.
I know that many of us had hoped that Brown would feature the Freemasons as the "good guys" of his new novel. Judging from the clues issued by Brown's publisher, Doubleday, it is not going to be as simple as that.
Freemasonry in The Lost Symbol
[Note: below, when I refer to "Clue #x," I mean the xth clue from the bottom of the list appearing on the Twitter clue website. Please ignore the numbers on the left-hand side of the website.]
That Freemasonry will be featured in the novel is certain. The clues include the use of an initial-letter cipher, such as Masons often use to conceal the text of rituals in ritual books (Clue #1). Some clues focus on the Illuminati (Clue #5) or the founder of the Bavarian Illuminati, Adam Weishaupt (Clue #33). Other clues focus on historical personages who are prominent in the real history of Freemasonry -- such as William Wirt, the presidential candidate of the Anti-Masonic Party (Clue #6) -- or who have long been rumored to have been Masons, such as Francis Bacon (Clue #7), the German artist Albrecht Durer (Clues #9 and #22), and Isaac Newton (Clue #17). The symbol of the eye in the pyramid is popularly thought to be a Masonic symbol, of course; this symbol shows up, directly or indirectly, in some clues (including Clues #10, #12, and #35). Freemasonry is often thought by popular opinion to be deist in its religious outlook; deism is featured in Clue #37. Several of the U.S. Founding Fathers who were Freemasons are mentioned or suggested in the clues, including Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Hancock, Paul Revere.
The Scottish Rite in The Lost Symbol
Beyond this, it is clear that the Scottish Rite will figure quite prominently in The Lost Symbol. Imagery of some Scottish Rite (SJ) degrees shows up in the clues, including the word "INRI" (Clue #18), Jacques de Molay (Clue #23), and the Rose Croix (Clue #25). The biggest indication that the Scottish Rite will show up, of course, is the fact that the newly unveiled cover art of the novel features, right in the center, a blob of red wax with the impression of a seal of a double-headed eagle, a crown, and the number "33" within a triangle -- in other words, a version of the seal of the Scottish Rite Supreme Council (see cover, above, and Clue #31).
Albert Pike and the Scottish Rite Portrayed as Confederate Spies After the War
So far, so good. However, some of the most recent clues have unfortunate implications for the way the Scottish Rite is portrayed in the novel.
A couple of the recent clues make reference to the activities of the Knights of the Golden Circle, or KGC, an actual organization which supported slavery before the Civil War, and supported the South during the war itself (hinted at very subtly in Clues #34 and #36). If the KGC sounds vaguely familiar, that is because they are featured in the film, National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007, also known as "the second National Treasure film," or, "the one that wasn't so good").
The problem here is that the only half-way serious book on the KGC claims that they were aided in a conspiracy to prepare for a second Civil War, funded by stolen gold -- and assisted by Albert Pike, using the resources of the Scottish Rite. I am referring to a book by Warren Getler and Bob Brewer, titled Shadow of the Sentinel (2003) and issued in paperback as Rebel Gold (2004). Getler and Brewer served as consultants on National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and the impression I have is that they are looking to The Lost Symbol to revive interest in their theories.
I say this because someone claiming to be Warren Getler has posted two brief but provocative comments on my blog regarding The Lost Symbol. In relation to Clue #18, he stated the following (posting as "getler99"):
It seems that Albert Pike will be a central figure in The Lost Symbol. Dan Brown said to me back in 2003, while discussing my non-fiction book, Rebel Gold (Simon & Schuster): "My next book will be about Albert Pike."
There is, of course, no way to verify this. As if this were not enough, though, in a comment on Clue #33, the person posting as Mr. Getler mentioned the following, in relation to the book cover:
Notice in the word "CODE" there's a dot in the middle of the letter O. This is the alchemy [sic] symbol for gold. And.....if we take a close look, that symbol for gold lies on top of the zodiac circle in the faint background. This might be a reference to The Knights of the Golden Circle, a Scottish Rite Masonic and Confederate secret society that is the core subject matter for my non-fiction book, Rebel Gold. [Boldface-plus-italics emphasis added.]
Another commenter and I each took "gettler99" to task for claiming that the KGC was in any way connected with Scottish Rite Freemasonry. However, that is what he claims in his book -- with no real evidence, lots and lots of conjecture, and great enthusiasm.
I have since obtained a copy of Shadow of the Sentinel. I plan to publish a brief review of it on this blog, and I shall submit a more detailed review for publication. However, my initial impression is that, as regards the authors' take on Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite, the authors have done an extraordinarily poor job of research. They take possible connection for plausibility, and then for proof itself. They misunderstand the structure, purpose, and nature of Scottish Rite rituals.
However, if Dan Brown is using their book as a central source, he will definitely paint Albert Pike as a KGC secret officer, and the Scottish Rite -- both in the North and the South! -- as an important source of KGC power. Getler and Brewer specifically state that, following the Civil War, Pike used the Scottish Rite, in both the North and the South, to further KGC purposes and prepare for a second Civil War. Of course, this portrays Pike as a treasonous scoundrel, and the Rite as a vehicle of conspiracy.
We need to do something about this. More next time. However, now is the time to reserve your lodge and valley buildings for open houses in late September or early October. It will be an opportunity for us to get the truth out about the Order.