(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #76 – July/August, 2009. Note that any graphic mentioned, but not shown in the following article, can be viewed within the body of my original 2002 article, “The Pyramids of Scotland,” which can be read in my Articles Archive.)

Photo of North Berwick Law

The Internet has become the long and investigative arm of Everyman, and in no field of inquiry is this more apparent than in genealogy. The new breed of genealogical cybersleuth has shown that ordinary people share an abiding interest in their past, where they came from, and how they got where they are today.

If societies are the sum of their parts, we might then assume that the ancient Egyptians entertained those same motives when they built their pyramid complex at Giza exactly where they did.

But first, lets go to a more recent time.

Photo of Uri GellerOn February 11, 2009, several UK newspapers reported that the Israeli “spoon bender” of the 1970s, Uri Geller, had purchased Scotland’s tiny Lamb Island, and that my 2002 Atlantis Rising article, “The Pyramids of Scotland”, had inspired the purchase. It was enough to create a huge increase in my website traffic, and to waken my article from its seven-year slumber.

Lamb Island, a.k.a. The Lamb, sits about a mile from the seaside town of North Berwick, and was the central island of three that I claimed mirrored the layout of the belt stars of the constellation Orion, which, according to the hotly debated Orion Correlation Theory, were also mirrored in the layout of the “Gizamids.”

I had demonstrated how Orion’s stars, acting with Sirius, an important star in Egyptian cosmology, dictated the locations of several sacred sites connected to the Knights Templar, the order of warrior monks exterminated in 1307 for reasons that still spark controversy. One of those sites, Rosslyn Chapel, would later capture worldwide attention in Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.”

The correlation also showed connections with Tara, legendary seat of the High Kings of Ireland, and with Dunsinane Castle, one-time repository of Scotland’s Stone of Destiny, the fabled stone thought to have been brought to Scotland by followers of Egyptian Princess Scota, a legend told by Walter Bower, Abbot of Inchcolm, in his 15th-century history, “The Scotichronicon.”

Academics dismiss that legend as a tale fabricated to give Scotland’s monarchs an ancient lineage, and ignore such discoveries as the UK excavations of Egyptian artifacts, the superabundance of a common strain of Mitochondrial DNA in both regions, and a Bradley University report claiming that Egypt imported certain construction techniques from Scotland. Moreover, the Scotichronicon is not the legend’s only record. Travel writer William Dalrymple claims that a letter to Charlemagne from English scholar Alcuin refers to the Scots as “Pueri Egyptiaci,” the Children of Egypt, and author Ralph Ellis traces the story’s origin back farther, to Manetho’s 300BC “History of Egypt.”

But I’ve discovered much more.

Walter Ferrier, in his 1980 “The North Berwick Story,” explains the etymology of the town’s name, writing that Bere is the Old English word for “barley,” and Wic means “village.” In “Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning,” Richard Hinckley Allen reports that in the Egyptian “Book of the Dead” Orion was known as Smati-Osiris, the Barley God.

In my article I drew attention to a mid-17th-century map on which The Lamb was named Long Bellenden — curious because it is the shortest of the three islands. I then speculated that the islands may have been “one long island at some point, carved from the mainland by a cataclysm the ancient ‘mythmakers’ would only hint at, and then cut into three,” and that the nearby North Berwick Law, just three feet shorter than Giza’s Great Pyramid, might have been “shaped” into the pyramidal form we now recognize it by. My theories, needless to say, have met with some amusement in certain quarters, and I’m told that one alternate researcher has been known to go for a few cheap laughs at my expense.

Nevertheless, I’ve since found two local folk tales that suggest a bit of “terraforming” might indeed have occurred.

  • The Tale of the Saint: Legend has it that there once existed a rock that was a danger to shipping. A monk named Baldred miraculously moved it around the coast and out of harm’s way, creating a geological feature since known as St. Baldred’s Boat.
  • The Tale of the Devil: One day the Devil was strolling up the surf, and so frightened a local woman that she let out a shriek. Startled, the Devil dropped his walking stick and splashed away. His stick shattered, becoming the three islands in my article. The nearby Bass Rock, upon which can be seen the ruins of Baldred’s Chapel, is also known as the Devil’s Hoof.

And then there are the lions.

Lying next to The Lamb is the sleeping lion that many see in the shape of Craigleith Island, and 20 miles to the west stands Arthur’s Seat, the sphinx-shaped extinct volcano that dominates Edinburgh’s skyline. A third lion may be seen in Scotland’s Royal Standard, the flag that shows a red rampant lion, and archaeologist Mark Lehner has established that the Great Sphinx was once painted red.

The fourth lion is found in the Legend of Lyonesse, the tale of a land that sunk beneath the waves off England’s southwest coast. Etymologically, however, the name has been traced as an alteration of the French word Léoneis, which itself developed out of Lodonesia, the Roman name for Lothian. North Berwick lies in East Lothian.

Within a day of Geller’s purchase a conversation began on the Cabinet of Wonders website. One poster duplicated my original graphic and confirmed that Sirius, the alpha star of constellation Canis Major, did indeed fall on Inchcolm Island, where Walter Bower compiled his Scoticronichon (Map 1, below). Interestingly, the poster discovered that the constellation’s beta star, often referred to as “The Herald” because it rises before Sirius, fell within Edinburgh, and wondered if the spot held significance. In fact, it fell on an area I knew well – an area named Starbank Park, which has a star cut out in the slope of its hill, flanked by two crescent moons, with a circular area above, presumably the sun. I have been unable to discover how the park was named, but it is not unlikely that Edinburgh’s Grand Lodge of Freemasons might have had a hand in it.

Inchcolm lies within sight of Starbank Park, and there is a local tradition that names it “Isle of the Druids.” Eighteenth-century intellectual Thomas Paine, in his treatise on “The Origin of Freemasonry,” claims that the fraternity’s roots are found in the solar-centric religion of the Druids, the priestly caste extant in Britain during the Roman occupation, driven underground by the rise of Christianity. Paine attributes the importance of freemasonic secrecy to fear, observing, “When any new religion over-runs a former religion, the professors of the new become the persecutors of the old. We see this in all instances that history brings before us,” and concludes that “this would naturally and necessarily oblige such of them as remained attached to their original religion to meet in secret, and under the strongest injunctions of secrecy. Their safety depended upon it.”

By far the most obvious freemasonic symbology, however, appears to be rooted in Egyptian cosmology, but the fraternity has forgotten why. Also, in Masonic ritual great emphasis is placed on Geometry, exemplified by the enigmatic “G” within the craft’s ubiquitous square and compass insignia, and on the cardinal directions of the geographic compass.

Frank C. Higgins’ 1919 “Ancient Freemasonry: An Introduction to Masonic Archaeology” states that the 23.5º angle and its 47º double are two of Freemasonry’s “Cosmic Angles,” and that they “are encoded on coins showing pre-Christian Phoenician temples of Cypress, ancient Greek paintings of Hermes and Ceres, as well as in the Masonic Keystone and Compass of the present day.”

To those two numbers we should add a third — 33 — the highest attainable degree of rank in Scottish Rite Freemasonry, as well as the number of the latitudinal line along which, for reasons unknown, many of the world’s sacred sites are located. Using these three numbers I have discovered an ancient message encoded by the pyramid builders. To understand that message, and its implications, we must first consider the Prime Meridian.

The Prime Meridian is an invisible line that stretches between the North and South Poles, which, due to the rotation of the Earth, passes the sun every 24 hours. It calibrates the hours of the day around the world, and begins the first of 360 vertical slices of one degree each. Its position is arbitrary, but in 1884 it was agreed that Greenwich, UK, should mark the International Prime Meridian, and it has done so ever since.

The Great Pyramid sits 31.08 degrees east of Greenwich, and researchers Scott Creighton and Gary Osborn have recently demonstrated that Freemasonry’s cosmic angles of 23.5 and 47 degrees, relating to Earth’s axial tilt, have been encoded in its internal geometry, and Osborn has found those same angles encoded in countless works of art over many centuries.

I decided that any civilization advanced enough to build the GP would likely have used its position to mark its own Prime Meridian. Then I counted 33 degrees to the west, to Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, and established that the meridian that today runs north to south through a point 1º 52´ West of Greenwich would, to the pyramid builders, have marked their own 33rd meridian. So I then drew a horizontal line between the GP and that point, and then another directly north along that ancient 33rd (Map 2). Incredibly, my second line all but kissed four major English sacred sites on its way to the north — Stonehenge, Silbury Hill, Avebury, and Thornborough, the huge three-henge complex confirmed as “the world’s first monument aligned to Orion’s belt stars” — before nearing the border of Scotland at the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, perhaps indicating that this ancient 33rd meridian may have once been as sacred and important as today’s 33rd parallel, and possibly have been the Prime Meridian before Giza (Map 3).

But that’s when things got really interesting.

The four islands that had figured so mightily in my “Pyramids of Scotland” article — Orion’s Belt Star islands and the Isle of May — lay in the rectangle formed between the ancient 33rd and 34th meridians and the 23rd to 23.5 degree parallels north of today’s 33rd (Map 4). Astonishingly, using the three most significant Freemasonic numbers, two of which relate to Earth’s axial tilt, the geometry from the GP’s ancient Prime Meridian pointed the way to the North Berwick area and, once there, those same numbers helped enclose the area of the North Sea wherein my belt-star islands and The May lay. Even more incredible, I discovered that the line I had drawn between Tara and The May, seven years ago, followed a 47º angle, as did a line drawn from the eastern edge of Lindisfarne and The May, creating a 47º pyramid with The May at its apex — perhaps, symbolically, the GP’s missing capstone. Due to the enormous distance involved I have been unable to establish if the Lindisfarne line continues exactly to Giza, but I’d lay odds on it. And finally, I have calculated that the distance between the GP and North Berwick equals one-tenth the circumpolar circumference of the Earth.

The Isle of May that my original Orion Correlation pointed to was an important site of Christian pilgrimage in the middle ages. Recent archaeological excavations, however, have shown that the site has been in use since at least the Bronze Age. Could it be that the Great Pyramid, thought by some to be built by the survivors of the cataclysm that destroyed Atlantis, built the GP where they did in order to geodetically point the way back to their former homeland? Could it be that Princess Scota’s people, when they left Egypt, were not heading to parts unknown, but were simply heading home?

That inhabited land once existed between Scotland and Scandinavia has been confirmed by Exeter University’s Doggerland Project, named after the Dogger sandbank where prehistoric artifacts have been dredged up. Could the Isle of May have been anciently revered as the last remaining vestige of that sunken land yet remaining above the waves?

And could the Doggerland area have been just part of a much larger Atlantis?

Comyns Beaumont, in his 1946 “The Riddle of Prehistoric Britain,” speculates that Atlantis encompassed the entire British Isles, and that only some of it sank due to a comet strike that also tipped the Earth into its present-day 23.5º angle. Moreover, he says, the center of Atlantis lay on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. I have calculated that Mull is now precisely 23.5 degrees north of the present-day 33rd parallel and, if Beaumont’s comet-strike theory be given just a modicum of credence, would have then lain just a few miles to the west of the Straights of Gibralter, the Pillars of Hercules in Plato’s account of the sinking of Atlantis. Might not Plato have been hiding (yet ultimately revealing) the truth of things by couching his tale in geodesics? Might he not have just as surely been saying that Atlantis once lay just beyond where the Pillars of Hercules now lay, before it shifted 23.5 degrees to the north?

To sum up: There once was a land that sank beneath the sea due to a cataclysm that tilted the Earth’s axis into its present-day 23.5º angle — an event that was the source of all the world’s far-flung flood legends. The survivors built, or caused to be built around the world, huge structures that fixed their new location in the cosmos, and built the Gizamids to establish a Prime Meridian that mathematically memorialized an earlier Prime Meridian exactly 33º to the west, along which were built at least three of the best-known megalithic sites in Britain, thereby also encoding the location of their pre-deluvian homeland, 23.5º north of where it originally lay, and 33º south of today’s North Pole. What are the chances that the freemasonic numbers 23.5, 33, and 47 would lead us to a small patch of the globe containing three islands laid out in the pattern of Orion’s Belt, near a very pyramidal hill just three feet shorter than the Great Pyramid, only 20 miles to the east of a Sphinx-shaped extinct volcano with Arthurian connections, in a city that is the acknowledged world capitol of Scottish Rite freemasonry — all in a land with an much-decried Egyptian foundation legend? And finally, if we accept the dictum “form follows function” as an architectural law, we might recognize in the immense size and shape of the pyramids the ideal physical mass and form necessary to defuse the power of yet another mighty wave. Flood shelters, anyone?

In the 19th-century words of Thomas H. Huxley, a.k.a. “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his support of Darwin’s once-heretical ideas: “The known is finite, the unknown is infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land.”

Ladies and gentlemen: Hail, Atlantis!

(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #65 — September/October, 2007 — under the title “The Rosslyn Motet: What the Mainstream Media Didn’t Tell You about the Chapel’s Musical Cubes,” and republished in translation in the December 2007 edition of Italy’s Hera magazine.)

On April 30, 2007, Scotland’s newspaper of record, The Scotsman, published a short article headlined “Musical Secret Uncovered in Chapel Carvings,” about a father-and-son team of Edinburgh musicians, Tommy and Stuart Mitchell, who claimed to have “found a secret piece of music hidden in carvings at Rosslyn Chapel.” It was, Stuart said, like finding a “compact disc from the 15th century.”

Two weeks later, after the story had been picked up by the BBC, the AP and Reuters wire services, such high-profile newspapers as the New York Times and the Boston Globe, and the enthusiastic participation of internet bloggers everywhere, the Scotsman article had circumnavigated the globe, just in time for the May 18 world premier of the musical piece the Mitchells had titled “The Rosslyn Motet,” performed in the chapel that The Da Vinci Code had made famous.

Despite the fact that when the final notes of the Motet had been played the chapel had resisted, contrary to the expectations of many, giving up even one of its long-speculated secrets, the commercial success of the composition had been assured, and the product made available to shoppers around the world. Three more performances of the piece were quickly scheduled at Rosslyn and, by month’s end, a Google search of “Rosslyn Motet” netted an astounding 17,300 hits.

But the story about the discovery, already dubbed “The Holy Grail of Music” by the Mitchells, themselves, was not a new one, and was far from complete.

I first read about Stuart Mitchell 18 months earlier in an Oct. 1, 2005, Scotsman article titled “Composer Cracks Rosslyn’s Musical Code.” The article reported that Stuart took “20 years to crack a complex series of codes which have mystified historians for generations,” and that “his feat was hailed by experts as a stroke of genius.”

“The codes were hidden,” the article continued, “in 213 cubes in the ceiling of the chapel, where parts of the film of Dan Brown’s best-seller The Da Vinci Code were shot this week.”

I immediately posted a lengthy list of cautions about the claims put forth in the article to the Sinclair Discussion Group, a worldwide network connected, by blood or by interest, to the chapel’s founder, William St. Clair. One of those cautions was simply that the hailing “experts” touted in the article were represented by just one—James Cunningham, author of “The Medieval Diatonic Scale,” who said that it was a “stroke of genius to have discovered the cadences which inspired the music.” I told the group that a Google search for Cunningham and his tome would garner zero results—and except for results now connected to me, it still does.

Over the next 18 months, including the article that set the alternate history world on fire, the Scotsman published three more articles about Stuart Mitchell.

In the first of these articles, the April 27, 2006 “Tune in to the Da Vinci Coda,” Stuart’s father Tommy is introduced to us as the man who “spent 20 years cracking this code in the ceiling.” Stuart is now described as “orchestrating” his father’s finding for “The Rosslyn Motet.”

It is in this article that we get the first quasi-comprehensible description of the chapel’s hidden code, and how it was unraveled. I will try to make it better than it was.

At one end of Rosslyn Chapel is an area known as the “Lady Chapel,” the ceiling of which is supported by arched ribs reaching out and under it from the three pillars to its immediate west and the wall to the east.

From these ribs hang what have become known as the “Rosslyn Cubes,” and among the 213 existing cubes (two are missing) can be found 13 uniquely different carved patterns. Tommy’s breakthrough, the article says, came when he “discovered that the markings carved on the face of the cubes seem to match a phenomenon called Cymatics or Chladni patterns,” caused when a “sustained note is used to vibrate a sheet of metal covered in powder, producing marks.” The marks produced by different notes can “include flowers, diamonds and hexagons—shapes all present on the Rosslyn cubes.”

Believing that the similarity of the Chladni patterns with the carvings on the Rosslyn cubes was “beyond coincidence,” Stuart assigned a note to each of the 13 carved variations and, according to the article, is now “orchestrating the findings for a new recording called The Rosslyn Motet.”

It is the Mitchells’ hope that the music, as the article says, “when played on medieval instruments in situ, will resonate throughout the chapel unlocking a secret in the stone.”

As we now know, that did not happen. But with the well-timed assistance of the global media, combined with a public interest in all things Da Vinci and Rosslyn, it hardly mattered. The commercial success of the Motet was orchestrated to be a fait accompli, and it was.

Readers of the four Scotsman articles about the Motet, still available in the newspaper’s online archive, might find it curious that in none of them is Tommy Mitchell specifically credited as the “composer” of the piece, which we now know him to be. This is perhaps because by the time the third article had been written the newspaper had already produced, and would soon offer to its readers on May 15, 2006, the first podcast in a five-part Rosslyn Chapel series, meant to raise the paper’s profile in international cyberspace. Each of these five podcasts uses the Motet as its soundtrack, and lists Stuart as the composer in its end titles. It is inconceivable to me that after three articles and five podcasts the Mitchells would not have pointed out the paper’s error, and yet it seems they didn’t. The short Scotsman article that went round the world on April 30, 2007, still did not substantively contradict any part of its previous reports, but it is very interesting to those of us who notice such things that the newspaper has not touched the story since—not even to review the May 18 concert held just a few miles south of the paper’s Edinburgh headquarters.

But the story of the Rosslyn Cubes did not begin with the Mitchells.

As early as June 2002 the Scotsman had already published an article about the mystery of the cubes, and mentioned within it a name that might ring some bells with alternate history enthusiasts—Stephen Prior. A co-writer and researcher with the well-known writing team of Clive Prince and Lynn Picknett, this former head of the parapsychology division of the British Secret Service was, at the time, running the day-to-day operations of a hotel in Gullane, Scotland, named The Templar Lodge. Under Prior’s stewardship the hotel hosted, until his untimely death from a particularly aggressive form of cancer, several successful confabs of such “fringe” historical research groups as the Sauniere Society.

As far as the Rosslyn Cubes were concerned, it seems that Prior sincerely believed that the cubes could, as he says in the article, “hold the key to a health-giving chant from the Middle Ages,” and had already set in motion certain initiatives to finding that key, including commissioning a photographer to record every different variation in the carvings. He was also supplying a CD of those photographs to anyone who would like to look for that key. To sweeten the pot, Prior was offering a hefty monetary prize to the lucky code-breaker, a prize set up in the name of Clementina Bentine, widow of the UK’s famous “Goon Show” alumnus, comedian and author Michael Bentine who, shortly before his death, was made an honorary member of the modern order of the Scottish Knights Templar.

Three years later, in the Scotsman article that gives Stuart Mitchell sole credit for cracking Rosslyn’s musical code, Stuart claims that he “took photographs of the cubes and broke them down into sections.” Actually the photographs the Mitchells use in their YouTube Chladni pattern demonstrations are the same photographs commissioned by Stephen Prior, and the person who performed the Herculean task of mapping the layout of the cubes is a talented musician by the name of Mark Naples, a friend and associate of Prior at the time. Naples, incidentally, sings the vocal tracks on the only album of music actually recorded beneath the cubes of the chapel, “The Roseline Connection,” the title of which relates to the Scottish leyline subsequently made much of in Dan Brown’s blockbuster.

And then there is Brian Allan, author of the book Rosslyn: Between Two Worlds, who has also investigated the cubes/music connection. In a Feb. 8, 2006 article on the SacredFems blog, attributed to an earlier article in the London Sunday Herald, Allan says, “I think the true secret is not the musical score. I think what the cubes represent is something called the Devil’s chord, which is in fact an augmented fourth.” A low frequency sound in the range of 80 to 110 hertz, the Devil’s chord was outlawed by the Catholic church in the middle ages under the belief that those exposed to the chord would begin to enter altered states of consciousness. Allan believes that Rosslyn’s architect, William St. Clair, might have “felt an antipathy to the church which he couldn’t express openly—hence he might have done this in a manner that wouldn’t have been detected.”

In a subsequent Scotsman article, “Tune Into the Da Vinci Coda,” a careful reading makes it obvious that Stuart Mitchell was presented with Allan’s theory, although Allan is not mentioned within the body of the article, giving the article a bit of a disconnect that most readers would not notice, but offering Mitchell the opportunity to say that “In the ceiling is this jump of an augmented fourth, in fact [the music] opens up with an augmented fourth.”

The Mitchells’ first Eureka moment on their path of discovery came when Tommy recognized that the patterns on the cubes were strikingly similar to patterns discovered by German physicist Ernst Chladni in the second half of the eighteenth century. The Mitchells then hypothesize that Chladni’s patterns must have already been known by the fifteenth century and, on the basis of the layout of the 13 distinctly different patterns on 213 cubes, with only two cubes missing, are able to reconstruct the melody that has been hidden there for over 500 years.

In the spring of 2002 I attended an exhibit at Edinburgh’s National Galleries of Scotland titled “Rosslyn: Country of Painter and Poet,” and purchased the exhibit’s handsomely printed program. On page 51 are two remarkable lithographs by Samuel Dukinfield Swarbreck which show that in 1837 there were many more than just two cubes missing, throwing into doubt the 15th-century origin of the Mitchells’ composition if it was based on the layout we now see at Rosslyn. [These lithographs can be seen at the beginning of this article, and can be enlarged for closer viewing].

More intriguingly the Mitchells’ second Eureka moment came when they discovered what they have dubbed the “Stave Angel.” Mark Naples, in the description of his 2001 layout, cautiously suggests that this particular angel may be holding a “zimbala or portable organ.”

The Mitchells are not so cautious. This angel, they say, is holding a stave of music, and is pointing to notes on the stave that exactly correspond with the Chladni patterns shown on the first three cubes above the angel’s head and, astonishingly, that these three notes account “for 70 percent of the entire cube sequence.”

A close inspection of one of the Swarbreck lithographs shows that in 1837 the cubes above that angel were already missing and, indeed, the balance of the arched rib was also missing. Additionally, the shadow next to the angel’s right hand indicates that the hands Swarbreck depicted were not holding a musical stave but were, in fact, raised above an instrument being played on the angel’s lap.

The restoration of the interior of Rosslyn Chapel finally got under way in 1861, a quarter-century later, under the direction of architect David Bryce.

Are we now to believe that Bryce had a reproducible example of every cube that had been broken off in the four centuries since the chapel had been built, including the three that account “for 70 percent of the entire cube sequence,” as well as a schematic that enabled him to recreate the original layout planned in 1446, so that the Mitchells could announce the cracking of the hidden code in 2005?

There are those who will certainly bring that argument to the table, and point to the fact that Bryce was a Freemason to whom such knowledge could certainly have been imparted by his St. Clair employer. There are also those who will argue that Bryce, because he was a Freemason, might have played a little fast and loose in his restoration, making changes to the architectural fabric of the chapel that would eventually connect its iconography to occult knowledge, and tie the relatively modern Freemasons to the medieval Knights Templar in ways that the chapel’s founder had never intended.

I am happy to let both sides duke that debate out, and am satisfied to say just this:

Rosslyn Chapel, in my studied opinion, continues to be a place of great mystery that has yet to give up its secrets in any way that transcends speculation—including my own. There is a preponderance of oddities about the place that make it one of the most mysterious places on Earth, not the least of which is the importance of the chapel’s geographical location, elegantly described in Scott Creighton’s recent book, The Giza Oracle, and in my previous articles about the chapel.

The above would imply to many observers, that—contrary to what he says in the Oct. 1, 2005, Scotsman article—Stuart Mitchell may not have photographed the Rosslyn Cubes himself. Moreover, one may be forgiven for suspecting, that, in fact, those photos were actually downloaded from Mark Naples’ website for use in Mitchell’s YouTube video, “The Stave Angel,” which shows images of only 11 of the 13 patterns. It is important to note that on Naples’ website only 11 patterns are shown.

The evidence also suggests that Mitchell may very well have utilized Naples’ 2001 layout of the cubes. As the accompanying screenshots show, it appears that Naples’ simple freehand drawing has merely been dressed up for website presentation, albeit without giving credit to the source. Although it appears that, in the probable rush to publish, several mistakes were made, possibly the most suspicious could be this: Naples’ misspelling of the word “Altar,” is also included.

Finally, on Stephen Prior’s now defunct website there was an article titled “The Rosslyn Chapel Cubes Quest” which presented, at some considerable length, the possible connection between the cubes and the Chladni phenomenon. That article has also been archived on Naples’ website since Prior’s death in 2003.

There’s an old saw that says “a lie can be half way around the world before the truth has got its boots on.” Of the only words carved within the chapel, taken from the Old Testament Book of Ezra, the last three might rather mitigate the idea that any falsehood about the chapel can long survive: “Truth Conquers All.”

(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #63 – May/June, 2007. Rosslyn Chapel ceiling photos are by Antonia Reeve for the Rosslyn Chapel Trust)

In “Return to Rosslyn Chapel,” published in Atlantis Rising #48, I revealed my discovery of a Lorraine Cross encoded in Rosslyn’s five-course vaulted ceiling. Wayne Herschel, author of 2003’s “The Hidden Records,” has now added another layer to the mystery by claiming that a Vitruvian Man, a symbol made much of in Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” is also encoded there. His claim has led me to Rosslyn’s darkest secret.I had discovered the cross when, upon looking at the ceiling, I noticed that the architectural elements of the second and fourth courses looked uncomfortably crowded. As a trained graphic artist, whose job it is to bring visual order to chaos, I naturally wondered why.Pushing the crowding elements out to the left and right of the ceiling, until all of the elements were harmoniously spaced, revealed the two-barred Cross of Lorraine.While it is not within the scope of this article to repeat my theories about why a Lorraine Cross would be encoded there, it will be useful to keep in mind the following:

  • It is upside down. The shorter bar, symbolizing the INRI sign put above the head of the crucified Christ, should be above the longer.
  • Today’s Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ) uses the same reverse-barred configuration in its official insignia, but does not say why.
  • An equal-barred Cross of Lorraine was the first insignia granted to the Knights Templar. In Dagobert’s Revenge, Boyd Rice says that the equal-barred cross represents “the union of opposites, the intersection of creative force and destructive force, or the union of male and female principles;” that the bar “above” mirrors the bar “below” and, as such, is symbolic of the Hermetic maxim, “as above, so below.”

A few months ago a friend sent me a link to a page on Wayne Herschel’s website which showed how Herschel had combined a modified version of Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic Vitruvian Man with my graphic of Rosslyn’s Lorraine Cross. While the arms of Leonardo’s man are shown at both the 3- and 9-o’clock positions and the 2- and 10-o’clock positions, allowing him to graphically describe the proportional relationships of the human body to a circle and a square, Herschel had eliminated the 2- and 10-o’clock positions and added a 12-o’clock position, allowing him to show how human proportions relate to a pentagram. Herschel’s modification was based on a treatise that Leonardo was himself inspired by—a description of human proportions by ancient Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.

While I have not the space to relate where Herschel’s path of inquiry takes him, the pentagram he described struck a resonant note along my own—and it was chilling.

When I had counted the relative numbers of architectural elements in each course of the ceiling and had revealed the upside-down Lorraine Cross, there were five elements left over which I took to symbolize a five-pointed star—which can of course be drawn within the five points of Herschel’s pentagram. And if the configuration of the cross is upside-down, then by turning it rightside-up the five-pointed star and the star course turn with it.

In Manly P. Hall’s 1928 book, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Hall claims “when the upright star turns and the upper point falls to the bottom, it signifies the fall of the Morning Star.”

The disturbing significance of this will soon become clear.

I had also noticed a curious mistake in the order of the stars in Rosslyn’s star course. Instead of forming a perfect checkerboard, the sixth and seventh rows faced each other, thereby reversing that order. I then suggested that this reversal was meant to symbolize a day that many far-flung world mythologies say “the sky fell,” a day of cataclysm that Christians are taught to believe was the biblical flood, unleashed upon the peoples of Earth, by God Almighty, as punishment for their wickedness.

Could it be that the upside-down Lorraine Cross, Herschel’s Vitruvian Man in the pentagram, and the mistake in the order of the stars in Rosslyn’s ceiling were meant to act in concert to symbolize, for those with eyes to see, the darkest secret in the world—that we live on a flawed planet?

In Plato’s The Statesman, the philosopher has this to say about the various cataclysmic tales:

“All these stories and others still more extraordinary have their source in one and the same event. At certain periods the universe has it’s present circular motion, and after long intervals, this motion shifts such that during other periods it revolves in a contrary direction and inevitably at the time this reversal takes place, there is a great destruction of animals in general and only a small part of the human race survives.

“In his Timaeus, Plato continues that “there have been many and diverse destructions of mankind. We know this because we possess the records of those who witnessed the events and survived. Now the stories as they are told have the fashion of a legend, but the truth of them lies in the shifting of the bodies in the heavens that recurs at long intervals.”

In other words, Plato was implying that these “many and diverse destructions of mankind” were cataclysms of a cyclical nature. His “shifting of the bodies in the heavens” may have been witnessed, as he says, but it would have been the Earth the witnesses stood on that was moving, not the heavens. His scenario also brings into philosophical doubt the existence of either a perfect creator or a merciful god.

I have recently been in touch with Gary Osborn, whose forthcoming book, The Axis of God, will talk in fascinating detail about a recurring symbol he has discovered in an astonishing number of famous artworks, including those of Nicolas Poussin of “Et in Arcadia Ego” fame—the angle of 23.5 degrees. This angle, he reminds us, is the angle that the Earth is presently tipped at—a phenomenon that gives our planet its four seasons, and enables us to judge the passage of time, short or long, by the observably changing positions of the heavenly bodies throughout the year and, indeed, over the millennia.

Why would these artists encode the angle of the Earth’s tilt into their works? Was it simply to prove that they had greater knowledge than history has given them credit for, or was it for another reason? Could they have been warning us that the Earth’s tilt was not natural—that it had changed more than once before, and would change more than once again? Could they have been saying, in their quietly cryptic way, that cyclical cataclysms had not only happened, but also were predictable?

Taking a cue from Osborn’s astounding observation and my theory that the symbology of the Rosslyn Chapel ceiling was put in place to draw attention to a “day the sky fell,” I decided to look for the 23.5-degree angle in Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Remarkably, it was there. The angles between the man’s two left arms and two right arms, when connected to the prominent dots that Leonardo had so very obligingly drawn at the lower corners of the square delineating the proportions of his man’s head, measured exactly 23.5 degrees!

Wayne Herschel, while showing how the proportions of a body can delineate a pentagram, had eliminated the angle that Da Vinci had encoded. While I cautiously suggest that Herschel’s thesis will eventually maintain that human life on Earth came from elsewhere in the universe (a theory I and others subscribe to), my focus in this article is not to show where humankind came from so much as where it might be headed.

While Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man does not show the arms extended overhead, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio has this to say in his De Architectura, the only major book on architecture that survives from classical antiquity:”The navel is naturally placed in the centre of the human body, and, if in a man lying with his face upward, and his hands and feet extended, from his navel as the centre, a circle be described, it will touch his fingers and toes.”Let’s now reconsider Herschel’s crucifixion of his Vitruvian Man on the upside-down Cross of Lorraine, noting that the location of the man’s navel, as shown in Herschel’s graphic, lies between the second and third courses of the ceiling.

Freemasons Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight, in their 1996 book The Hiram Key, focus their attentions elsewhere. After speculating that the ground plan of Rosslyn Chapel mirrors that of Herod’s Temple, they calculate that an invisible Seal of Solomon, more commonly known as the Star of David, can be drawn above the floor within the chapel’s exacting architectural measurements, and draw the reader’s attention to a carved pendulum known as the Sinclair Engrailed Boss which hangs directly overhead:

“At the very centre of this invisible Seal of Solomon,” they say, “in the arched roof there is a large suspended boss in the form of a decorated arrowhead that points straight down to a keystone in the floor below.  It is, we believe, this stone that must be raised to enter the reconstructed vaults of Herod’s Temple and recover the Nasorean Scrolls.”

Lomas and Knight base their theory on the words of the first Templars as given in their fraternity’s Royal Arch Degree,” which read as follows:

“We determined to examine it [the vaults of Herod’s Temple], for which purpose we removed two of the stones, when we discovered a vault of considerable magnitude, and immediately cast lots who should descend. The lot fell on me; when, lest any noxious vapours or other causes should render my situation unsafe, my companions fastened this cord or life line round my body, and I was duly lowered into the vault. On arriving at the bottom, I gave a preconcerted signal, and my companions gave me more line, which enabled me to traverse the vault; I then discovered something in the form of a pedestal and felt certain marks or characters thereon, but from the want of light I was unable to ascertain what they were. I also found this scroll, but from the same cause I was unable to read its contents. I therefore gave another preconcerted signal, and was drawn out of the vault, bringing the scroll with me. We then discovered from the first sentence that it contained the records of the Most Holy Law, which had been promulgated by our God at the foot of Mount Sinai.”

Well, who knows?  Most books have a climax, and that was theirs.

No book, however, has brought more attention to Rosslyn Chapel than Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.” Because of that book’s enormous readership, guides at Rosslyn must now explain why there is no Star of David carved into the chapel’s floor, even though Brown clearly based his suggestion on Lomas and Knight’s speculations. There can be no doubt that what the questing public wants to get into are Rosslyn’s sealed vaults. Perhaps, when the current ticket sales start to decline, those seals will open—but that might take some time.

If there is indeed an invisible Vitruvian Man, however, crucified on the upside-down Lorraine Cross encoded in Rosslyn Chapel’s ceiling, then we must again consider the importance Marcus Vitruvius Pollio and Leonardo Da Vinci placed on the navel as the center of the circle.

If the navel of the Vitruvian Man is the center of the circle, then the positioning of Herschel’s Vitruvian Man presents us with a bit of a conundrum. While Lomas and Knight position the Sinclair Engrailed Boss above the center of their invisible Seal of Solomon, the Sinclair Engrailed Boss can be seen to be located in an empty and relatively insignificant space between the Vitruvian Man’s legs, between the third and fourth courses.

Could it be that the Vitruvian Man’s navel, between the second and third courses of the ceiling, hangs directly above another significant spot in the floor below? Perhaps beneath that spot is ancient documentation of humankind’s true past, as well as its destiny. Again, we shall have to wait until the vaults are opened.

In the meantime, no matter what might lie below, there’s plenty more to see above.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio decreed, in the 1st century BC, that great buildings should be built with the proportions of nature in mind. It is therefore not surprising that the ideal proportions of a human body would be incorporated into Rosslyn’s ceiling. What is surprising, however, is that the flaw in the order of the star course in Rosslyn’s ceiling would hint that civilization, as stated by Plato, is periodically destroyed by a cyclical cataclysm, and that the 23.5-degree angle found between the arms of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man would hint at the very same thing.

In his recently published “The Giza Oracle,” Glasgow-based writer Scott Creighton tips his hat to Gary Osborn’s 23.5-degree thesis and, although he reaches his conclusions from a different direction, concurs that the ancients took great pains to make sure that the truth about Earth’s cataclysmic history was encoded in the careful relative positioning of some of the world’s most awe-inspiring structures. Creighton places Rosslyn Chapel high on his list of those structures, and I must agree.

On the south side of the star course of Rosslyn’s ceiling are four architectural elements worthy of note—a sun, a dove, a moon, and a bearded head with a hand raised alongside. While two of those elements have been somewhat modified since as recently as 1892, as I talk at greater length about in my AR #38 “Secrets of Rosslyn Chapel,” the relative positions of those elements, one to the other, have not—and it is in those positions that further proof of Rosslyn’s darkest secret lies.

A line drawn between the moon and the sun creates an angle of exactly 23.5 degrees—a clear, indeed blatant reference to the positions of the heavenly bodies relative to Earth’s axial tilt that has been hidden in plain sight for centuries.

Whether or not our Earth once spun without a tilt, enjoying a “Golden Time” of endless Atlantean summer, and was knocked off kilter at the hand of a less-than-merciful god, a comet, an asteroid, a magnetic pole shift, the return of Zecharia Sitchin’s 12th Planet, or whatever planetary upheaval any combination of the above might visit upon us, it is not likely that so much effort would be put into telling us that our home had suffered a one-in-a-million-chance cataclysm. Since you can’t change chance, why bother?

It is far more likely they were warning us that the cataclysm documented in our “myths” had happened before, and would certainly happen again. In doing so they were showing that they cared more about us, then, than we seem to care about each other, now.

Perhaps they knew that all of us, no matter where we live or what god we have been taught to pray to, were adrift on the same rocky boat.Shouldn’t we have learned, by now, how to row together?

— END —


While I did not know it at the time the article went to press, I was soon informed that the 23.5-degree angle, and it’s 47-degree double, are two of Freemasonry’s “Cosmic Angles,” according to Frank C. Higgins in his 1919 book, Ancient Freemasonry: An Introduction to Masonic Archaeology. Higgins goes on to say that these angles are also encoded on coins showing pre-Christian Phoenician temples of Cypress, ancient Greek paintings of Hermes and Ceres, as well as in the Masonic Keystone and Compass of the present day. This was, of course, in Higgins’ “present day.” Today’s Masonic compasses are opened to 60 degrees.

It is interesting, however, that the 23.5-degree angle has become a part of modern-day Masonic ritual. In a 1998 Masonic Manual and Monitorial Instructions booklet I have consulted is a section titled “Manual of the Rod,” abridged as follows:

“The rods are carried by the Deacons and Stewards as emblems of Office. They are carried in the performance of official duties, either directed or implied, from the sound of the gavel which congregates the Lodge to the sound of the gavel which closes the Lodge … While they are marching, they carry the rod between the upper arm and the body, inclining it forward at an angle of 23 and one-half degrees …”

The Masonic Manual, though highly interesting in its entirety, does not elaborate on the significance of that angle, but I have been told that many Masons do in fact know that this is the angle of the tilt of the Earth.

I have been unable to discover whether those same Masons know why such an angle is considered important enough to be a part of their ritual, or whether they are simply satisfied that it is.

I suspect that the knowledge is very carefully parceled out, by degrees.

(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #57 – May/June, 2006)

Image for The Taking Of Christ

Numbered among The New York Times’ top-ten books of 2005, Jonathan Harr’s The Lost Painting describes the search for an Italian Baroque masterpiece by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio that had been missing for centuries. The search for Caravaggio’s “The Taking of Christ” is a fascinating journey through the little-known worlds of art historians, collectors, dealers, curators, and restorers, which alone make Harr’s excellent book well worth the read. But there are other, darker worlds left undiscovered in the book. This article is about those worlds.

I might never have read Harr’s book had a Times review not mentioned that in 1802 a wealthy Scotsman named William Hamilton Nisbet had purchased the painting. Thanks to a personal investigation into the genealogy of my clan, I knew a few things about William that the book does not touch upon–things I will reveal in due course.

But first let’s look at the painting.

Now known to have been commissioned in 1602 by Ciriaco Mattei, one of Caravaggio’s wealthy Roman patrons, “The Taking” depicts the moment Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss, revealing Christ’s identity to the soldiers sent to arrest him.

That Caravaggio had painted such a work was known to scholars through a 1672 description by Giovan Bellori, an art critic who had seen it hanging in Rome.

“Judas lays his hand on the shoulder of the Lord after the kiss,” Bellori wrote, “and a soldier in full armor extends his arm and his ironclad hand to the chest of the Lord who stands patiently and humbly with his arms crossed before him.”

Although it is discussed nowhere in Harr’s book, readers of this article will notice a major discrepancy in Bellori’s description–Christ’s arms are not “crossed before him.” In fact, Caravaggio’s rather bored-looking Christ, one eyebrow raised, appears to be doing little more than cracking his knuckles. To the far-right Caravaggio, in one of several self-portraits, holds up a lantern in true Luciferian fashion as though suggesting that this pivotal Biblical event may have been meticulously planned by the main participant–an idea that has found wider acceptance in the last 40 years than it had back in Caravaggio’s day.

But I get ahead of myself.

In Harr’s book two art researchers, Francesca Cappelletti and Laura Testa, gain rare access to the privately held Mattei archives in order to authenticate the provenance of a painting of St. John the Baptist. While there, they discover a mention of “The Taking,” and follow the painting’s paper trail across two centuries, from the time of its commission until the time it was sold to Nisbet. Along the way they discover a highly flawed inventory of 1793 that switches the painting’s attribution to Gerard van Honthorst, a known Caravaggio imitator.

Laura then discovers Nisbet’s export license in Rome’s Archivio di Stato, which puts the declared value for a six-painting purchase at 525 scudi, the Roman currency of the day.

Later in the book, Francesca makes her way to the U.K., where she finds a 1972 history of the National Gallery of Scotland’s collection, written by then assistant keeper of the gallery, Hugh Brigstocke, which listed a painting named “Tribute Money,” by another Caravaggio imitator named Serodine, as having been “bought as by Rubens from the Palazzo Mattei by William Hamilton Nisbet in 1802.” The Serodine, Brigstocke wrote, was part of a 1921 “bequest of 28 paintings” from Mary Georgina Constance Nisbet Hamilton Ogilvy, the last of William’s direct heirs.

If “The Taking” was part of that bequest, the Scottish National Gallery had let what would become, Harr writes, “the single most valuable painting of the group slip through its hands.” It is not made clear, however, whether the bequest actually included the misattributed Caravaggio. Most likely it did not.

While there are indeed at least two paintings of the original six Matteis currently in the National Gallery’s collection, I have a bit of a problem with Brigstocke’s description of the provenance of Serodine’s “Tribute Money,” specifically his claim that Nisbet had bought the painting “as by Rubens.”

In Nisbet of That Ilk, a genealogical tome written in 1941, I discovered a list of the bequeathed paintings transcribed from the gallery’s 1929 catalog that attributes “Tribute Money” to Jusepe de Ribera, yet another Caravaggio imitator. While I can appreciate that a painting’s misattribution might be discovered and rectified after its acquisition, it makes little sense that Brigstocke’s 1972 history of the National Gallery’s collection says that the Serodine painting was bought as a Rubens while the gallery’s own 1929 catalog indicates it was bought as a Ribera. It is also highly interesting that the research project that initially drew Francesca and Laura to the Mattei archives touched upon a dispute between two respected Caravaggio scholars over the attribution of a pair of almost identical paintings of John the Baptist. One of the paintings, long thought to be by Caravaggio, is later found to have been by Ribera. Jusepe de Ribera, it would seem, was the most accomplished Caravaggio imitator of them all.

I also have a problem with the number of paintings in the bequest. Harr writes that Brigestocke put the number at 28, while the 1929 catalog put the number at 29. There are clearly issues here that should be investigated: the number of paintings bequeathed to the National Gallery in 1921, and the attribution of “Tribute Money” at the time it was bought by Nisbet.

If and when these issues are resolved another “lost” masterpiece is found, I am ready to accept my fair share of the finder’s fee, thank you.

But back to the chase.

Three of the book’s investigators independently find it likely that Nisbet’s Caravaggio was later sold at auction, but none find a record of the buyer. One of the investigators, however, finds an intriguing document in Edinburgh’s Scottish Records Office–a receipt for the six paintings, signed by Duke Giuseppe Mattei in 1802, for 2,300 scudi, more than four times the price declared on Nisbet’s Italian export license. While the vast discrepancy in valuation would have saved Nisbet a tidy sum in customs duties, the misattributions, I feel, would have enabled him to take at least one national treasure out of Italy into the bargain.
Although Nisbet remains a man of mystery throughout Harr’s book, I will now put some meat on his bones.

William Hamilton Nisbet was the eldest son of William Nisbet of Dirleton, and Mary, heiress of the wealthy Hamilton family. He incorporated the name Hamilton upon the death of his mother, whose properties he inherited.

William’s only child, another Mary, married Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, in 1799, three years before William purchased the Caravaggio. And while William was striking his bargain with Giuseppe in Rome, Thomas, as British ambassador to Constantinople, was arranging the removal of what have become infamously known as the “Elgin Marbles” from the Athens Parthenon, underwritten in large part by the Nisbet family fortune and fueling a bitter debate between Greece and Britain which has raged ever since. Indeed, the term “Elginism” has become synonymous with the systematic and opportunistic plunder of the antiquities of less-powerful nations by more-powerful nations.

image of Hamilton and Bruce

Moreover, while Elgin and his father-in-law were conducting business in Greece and Italy, Elgin’s secretary, William Richard Hamilton, seized custody of the Rosetta Stone from the French following that country’s 1801 defeat at the Battle of the Nile. Key to the deciphering of hieroglyphics, that great prize, along with the Elgin Marbles, is among the British Museum’s greatest tourist attractions, and is still as much a bone of contention with Egypt as the Marbles are with Greece.

Quite the family business.

While British Admiral Horatio Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile greased the way for Elgin and his secretary to get the political leverage necessary to dismantle the Marbles from the Parthenon and relieve the French and the Egyptians of the Rosetta Stone, Napoleon’s 1798 occupation of Italy, on the other hand, had put the economic squeeze on many of that country’s wealthier families, forcing them to pay for the upkeep of the occupying army. It is at this point that the material wealth of the Mattei family begins to diminish, and just three years later William Hamilton Nisbet shows up with his moneybags and strikes a bargain for “The Taking of Christ” and five other paintings.

Could it be possible that the aforementioned highly flawed inventory of 1793, which misattributed so much of the Mattei collection, had been compiled in anticipation of Napoleon’s occupation and ultimate defeat, with the knowledge that molti scudi would soon be forthcoming from Britain?

It follows that there is another interesting bond between Elgin and his father-in-law that begs our attention and, given an admittedly speculative clandestine connection between all adversaries during the Napoleonic Wars, it should not be taken lightly.

William Hamilton Nisbet’s father was the 11th Grand Master of Scottish Freemasonry in 1746, and Lord Elgin’s grandfather Charles was the 23rd GM during 1761-63, the first GM to serve what became the customary three-year term. The significance of this relationship should become more apparent as we focus our attention on the Italian contingent of the Caravaggio saga.

I have little to say about Giuseppe Mattei, the man William bought six paintings from in 1802, except that he wrote two receipts–one for William to take home to Scotland, and one for the customs man–and furnished some form of documentation that considerably downplayed the true value of the paintings.

As the man who originally commissioned “The Taking,” however, Giuseppe’s ancestor Ciriaco deserves a closer look. Like the Freemasons, Ciriaco Mattei seems to have held a considerably more than pedestrian interest in Egyptian symbology. Indeed, his garden was graced by the only privately owned Egyptian obelisk in Rome, first raised by Rameses II in Heliopolis and brought to Italy during the Roman occupation of Egypt to be erected at a temple to Isis, the Egyptian goddess who weaves her way in and out of freemasonic lore. It is for Ciriaco that Caravaggio paints one of several depictions of John the Baptist, patron saint of both the freemasons and the Knights Templar, arguably the progenitors of the Freemasonic brotherhood. Interestingly, his “Beheading of John the Baptist” was commissioned by the Knights of Malta, a Catholic chivalric order similar to the Templars that Caravaggio was initiated into just two years before his death, and is the only painting Caravaggio is known to have signed, intriguingly placing his signature in the Baptist’s pool of blood.

Ciriaco was the brother of Cardinal Girolamo Mattei, one of several cardinals to also commission works by Caravaggio. Considering the rather revisionist Christian imagery to be found in “The Taking” and other works, it is surprising that Caravaggio’s talents would be much in demand by such princes of the church–and yet they were.

Let’s take just one other Caravaggio, “The Penitent Magdalene,” as an example.
The repentant Mary Magdalene was a popular subject of the day, but Caravaggio’s version should have been recognized as heretical, especially by the man who commissioned it–a Catholic Monsignor named Petrignani.

Image for Penitent MagdaleneThe painting shows a young girl seated on a low stool, one tear running down her cheek, with her hands in her lap. Once again, as in “The Taking,” it is the hands that give the telltale clue something is amiss here.

Unlike most of his contemporaries who drew their compositions from their own imaginations, Caravaggio used live models while working, He therefore became a master at depicting naturalistic poses, and so it is surprising that in this painting Mary Magdalene’s hands do not seem to be naturally placed in her lap, unless Caravaggio had instructed his model to pretend she is cradling a baby. Mary has also set aside the jewelry a baby might grab, and even has on her lap a baby’s support cushion.

Who would be the likely father of this invisible baby? Well, if we are to believe assertions put forth in such blockbusters as Holy Blood, Holy Grailand Dan Brown’s more recent Da Vinci Code, the most likely candidate would be Jesus, himself–a theory that contradicts two-millennia of Catholic dogma, but which continues to gain ever more purchase in the popular imagination. If true, could it be that Caravaggio’s painting was meant to show a 16th-century Mary Magdalene mourning a child who had been written out of history for the previous 1600 years?

Whether such a composition was Caravaggio’s vision or the vision of Monsignor Petrignani is a question well worth asking, and there are certainly “alternate” paths of historical inquiry that will suggest that at the upper levels of the Vatican a suppressed history of Jesus and Mary Magdalene had always been known, but had not been considered a good fit with the church’s scrupulously-considered and ongoing business plan.

You might well wonder how evidence of such a huge secret, if true, could possibly be kept hidden by so many for so long. The answer to that question may be that it has not been kept hidden; at least from “those with eyes to see,” because it’s known that the vast majority with eyes that cannot or will not see has always ignored the same evidence.

Image for Portinari TriptychCaravaggio was neither the first nor last painter to pictorially suggest that Mary Magdalene and Jesus may have had children. Just one example can be found in the right-hand panel of the “Portinari Triptych,” painted by Hugo van der Goes over a century earlier. Mary is the woman in white holding the jar. Saint Margaret of Antioch, patron saint of pregnant women, tellingly stands by her side. On display at the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, countless visitors continue to view the painting annually without giving Mary’s spectacularly distended abdomen a second of serious thought.

As previously mentioned, Bellori’s description of “The Taking of Christ” is woefully deficient when it says that the arms of Jesus are “crossed before him.” A 1999 article in the Catholic Herald describes Christ’s hands as being “folded in a gesture of submission” and, although a tad closer to the mark than Bellori’s description is still a far cry from the interpretation that Caravaggio’s composition begs upon viewing, no?

On February 17, 1600, Caravaggio’s Vatican patrons watched a Dominican monk named Giordano Bruno burn to death in Rome’s Campo dei Fiori. Giordano, an exiled Dominican monk, had the temerity to agree with the Copernican view that asserted the earth rotated on its axis once daily and traveled around the sun once yearly–an argument that subverted, too soon, a timeline of discovery perhaps already long set by the cognoscenti.

It is only nowadays that Bruno’s true danger to the “spin” of his day can be recognized for what it was, and what it continues to be–the danger that the unwashed masses might occasionally become inclined to think for themselves.

“Who so itcheth to Philosophy,” Bruno said, “must set to work by putting all things to the doubt.”


(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #52 – July/August, 2005)

I paid my annual visit to Scotland’s Rosslyn Chapel on March 22, and while I fully expected it to be a bit busier than it should have been at that early date, nothing prepared me for the sight that met my eyes as I drove near. Every space in front of the visitor’s center was taken, and the small auxiliary parking lot was close to full.

Since I’ve never had to use the auxiliary lot even much later in the season, it’s obvious that Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” which features Rosslyn Chapel as the book’s endgame unfolds, promises to bring a hectic summer to the chapel’s staff.

From the outside, Rosslyn still sports the unsightly canopy erected to allow the roof and walls to dry out after many years of moisture retention. Not due to be removed for another two years, the canopy continues to spoil the outer view of the otherwise pretty chapel. The inner view, however, is much improved, and all of the interior details now show no evidence of the green mold so evident on previous visits. The “cementinous slurry,” applied during the 1950s in an ill-considered attempt to stop the encroaching damp, is sadly still in place, softening the details of Rosslyn’s celebrated carvings.

Of the chapel’s visitors, two or three seemed to be using Brown’s novel as a guide of sorts, perhaps hoping to divine the hiding place of one of the ancient artifacts thought to be concealed within the chapel’s walls. But relic hunters should beware. A report from London’s Temple Church (the other UK site featured earlier in Brown’s book) indicates that “souvenir theft” is on the rise. No fewer than 27 of the church’s inscribed hymnals have disappeared over a recent five-month period.

Rosslyn Chapel is taking no chances. No longer placing its trust in the Lord, alone, at least two members of the chapel’s heavenly host of angels have been drummed into service. Ever vigilant at locations I won’t disclose, one holds a video camera. The other holds a mysterious rectangular object, the function of which I dare not even guess at.

So whether it’s the Holy Grail, the Head of Christ, a piece of the True Cross, or just anything that’s not nailed down that some of you might be after, I have just one word for you: “Fuggetaboutit!” Rosslyn’s Guardian Angels are on the job, and it looks like they mean business.

If you would like to visit the chapel early in the day, some further words of advice: While the Roslin Glen Hotel serves food continuously from noon until 9 p.m., it stops serving its excellent breakfast at 9 a.m., while the chapel, which opens at 10 a.m., only offers a small and uninspiring selection of pre-packaged cakes and “bickies” served up with coffee or tea.

(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #48—November/December, 2004—under the title “Return to Rosslyn Chapel”)

France’s Mary of Guise liked a good joke. When England’s King Henry VIII proposed marriage, Mary quipped that her neck was too slender—a cutting reference to the beheading of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Mary married Scotland’s James V, instead, and in 1542 gave birth to that nation’s best-known monarch, Mary Queen of Scots, just a week before James died. And in 1546, during her daughter’s minority reign, Mary made a curious “bond” with Sir William St. Clair of Rosslyn.

One passage of that bond has been much debated: “We bind and oblige us to the said Sir William, and shall be a loyal and true mistress to him. His counsel and secret shown to us we shall keep secret, and in all matters give to him the best and truest counsel we can, as we shall be required thereto.”

In 1999’s Rosslyn: Guardians of the Secrets of the Holy Grail the authors say that the “general tone of the letter is bizarre; it is more like that of a subservient person to a superior lord than that of a sovereign to her vassal.”

What secret was Mary shown at Rosslyn that brought about this strange relationship?

Among the many speculations are the Cup of the Last Supper, the mummified head of Christ, the Stone of Destiny, a piece of the True Cross, the Ark of the Covenant, and the genealogical records of a holy bloodline established by a marriage between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. And in a recent issue of Templar History magazine the Grand Herald of the Scottish Knights Templar claims he “once met a chap who was convinced the chapel had been built over an ET-type spacecraft, and presented an excellent case …” The mind boggles.

But while Mary may have been shown any of these things, I believe she was shown something else—something in the architectural fabric of Rosslyn Chapel that was singularly unique to a lineage she shared with William.

Let’s first consider who they were.

Mary was the granddaughter of René II of Anjou and Lorraine, the grandson of René I—a mover and shaker in the heroic career of Joan of Arc. Both Renés inherited the title “King of Jerusalem,” a designation descended from Godfrey of Bouillon’s brother, Baldwin, who first accepted the title. Godfrey had led the First Crusade to liberate the Holy Land from the “infidels.” It was Baldwin who granted the first nine Templar Knights quarters on Solomon’s Temple Mount, beneath which they were to busy themselves digging for a still-mysterious “something” over the next several years. Baldwin also granted the order its first insignia—the equal-and-double-barred Cross of Lorraine. Christopher Columbus acknowledges in his journals that René I granted him his first ship’s command, and it’s thought that Columbus voyaged westward with a cross on his sails. But did that cross have one bar or two? It is perhaps highly significant that René II commissioned the first map that shows the name “America,” dated 1507. That map, recently purchased for $5 million by the US Library of Congress, may ultimately prove to be little more than a spectacularly expensive piece of cartographical propaganda.

William was the grandson of Rosslyn Chapel’s builder, who was himself descended from several other notable St. Clairs: one who married Hugh de Payen, one of the original nine Templars mentioned above; one who was a mover and shaker in the career of great Scots hero Robert the Bruce; and one who may have led a voyage of discovery to the New World in 1398, 94 years before Columbus made the historically approved voyage.

Mary and her vassal clearly had a lot in common before she was shown the “secret” mentioned in her bond. Each of their respective families connects to the creation of a great national hero; each connects to one or more of the original nine Templars; and each in some way connects to the discovery of America.

In my “Secrets of Rosslyn Chapel” (Atlantis Rising #38), I talk about recent changes that have been made to the “star course” of Rosslyn’s ceiling, and suggest that the original architectural fabric of the chapel has been tampered with since it was written—not a popular view among Rosslyn’s many “book in stone” fans.

Now I’ll talk about all five courses of the ceiling, and the secret I feel William revealed to Mary when she visited the chapel in 1546, the 100th anniversary of Rosslyn’s foundation.

Let’s follow them inside.

I believe that William would have asked Mary to look up and ponder the chapel’s ceiling, drawing her attention to the fact that while two of the five courses are laid out in true checkerboard fashion with the same number of equally spaced architectural elements, the three remaining courses appear more crowded!

Bearing in mind that the architectural elements of each of those three courses would not only require more carving but would be significantly more difficult to lay out, he would then have asked her why she thought that this were so,

At this point, had Mary’s 16th-century dynastic mind not been moved into sudden revelation, William would have told her what I now tell you.

Rosslyn’s ceiling vault consists of five courses, each made up of its own unique architectural element of floral design, except the star course—what we will call the first course—which consists mainly of stars, laid out like the alternating squares of a checkerboard. The second course is chockablock with architectural elements, containing exactly twice the number of elements as the star course. The third has the same number of elements as the first. The fourth splits the difference between the first and the second and, though there is not as much carving as in the second course, would have been more difficult to lay out, since the easy-to-replicate checkerboard template was not used. The fifth course has less carving than the fourth, but the layout difficulties would have been as great.

I believe that William directed Mary’s gaze up to Rosslyn’s ceiling, drawing her attention to the overcrowding of certain courses, and then told her that his grandfather, 100 years previously, had hidden a huge Cross of Lorraine in it—with its arms tucked in!

As the accompanying graphic shows, when we move the “crowding” elements away from the ceiling vault, redistributing them according to the harmony of the checkerboard pattern found in the first and third courses, the Lorraine Cross is then revealed with its arms extended. It is not the original equal-armed cross mentioned above, however, but a later incarnation that exhibits a further eccentricity I will cover later.

The symbolism of the Lorraine Cross has been explained in different ways.

Writing in Dagobert’s Revenge magazine, Boyd Rice reports that French poet and essayist Charles Peguy claimed that the double- and equal-armed cross represent “the arms of Christ, the arms of Satan, and, strangely, the blood of both.”

Among other points Rice raises in his article are these: that the cross represents “the union of opposites, the intersection of creative force and destructive force, or the union of male and female principles;” that the bar “above” mirrors the bar “below” and, as such, is symbolic of the Hermetic maxim, “as above, so below;” that the House of Anjou, to which our Mary belonged, advocated “the Royal Art of hermeticism—a tradition which according to legend was passed down to man by a race of fallen angels;” that when the ancient hermetic text Corpus Hermeticum was first published in French, it was dedicated to Mary of Guise; and that Mary “adopted the Lorraine Cross as a personal symbol.”

Joan of Arc historians get irritated when it is suggested that Joan went to the stake clutching the Lorraine Cross to her breast. They point to the “official” documents which record she was given one cross by an English soldier who hastily fashioned it from two pieces of wood, and was given a second by an attending clergyman. But isn’t it possible that the truth of a thing can be secretly hidden in the lie of it? Might not the Lorraine Cross be symbolized by the two crosses the official records say she was given? And since the French Burgundians sold Joan to the English, and the French King she had led to the throne ignored her plight, might we not have here a hidden reference to the expression “doublecross?”

But back to Rosslyn.

It is not the equal-armed cross that William may have shown Mary of Guise, but a later style wherein one crossbar is half the length of the other. At some point, perhaps as a way of bringing an ancient hermetic symbol into the fold of Christian orthodoxy, the upper crossbar was shortened. This crossbar is occasionally referred to as the “INRI” bar, a reference to the inscribed board Pontius Pilate ordered placed above Christ’s head at the crucifixion.

But if we accept that the symbology embedded in the Rosslyn cross indicates that the star course should logically be the “above” part of the cross, and that the extended lower course would be the “below,” then we can see that the crossbars of Rosslyn’s cross have been reversed, with the shorter set below the longer.

Why so?

In my Rosslyn Chapel article I write that one of the Templars arrested on Oct. 13, 1307, and subsequently interrogated, claimed that during his initiation into the order he was shown the single-barred Christian cross, and was told “put not thy faith in this, for it is not old enough.”

In spite of the global controversy now surrounding the not-new theory promoted in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which speculates that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and established a bloodline which has survived down to the present day, might not this short statement by an interrogated Templar indicate that this marriage was just another union along the course of a much older bloodline, and that the original nine Templars had found indisputable proof of it hidden within the Temple Mount?

It would of course have been foolish to hot-foot this heretical proof to the Vatican—especially when there were yet only nine poor Templars in the entire world. Better that the keepers of this new-found knowledge bide their time, consider their options, and develop a viable business plan for the future—which is probably what they did. Over the next two centuries the Knights grew into the richest chivalric order in the world. History tells us that the order was barbarously suppressed in the early 14th century, but many believe its inner circle went underground in Scotland, taking its “truth” with it. I personally believe that the inner circle may have engineered the order’s demise as part of an overall “rightsizing” operation—not a popular theory among the Templars’ sizable fan base.

When William St. Clair and Mary of Guise met at Rosslyn in the chapel’s centenary year, the Church of Rome was in a bit of a tizzy. Catholicism was under siege by a new and troublesome adversary—the Reformation. In one fell swoop, the Christian world was cleft in twain. No longer would Rome be able to raise great armies from its subject nations to crush heresies wherever the Papal finger pointed. There was no longer just one big boy on the block. Another had moved in.

The mightiest church the world had ever known had been “divided” and “conquered.”

But the Reformed Church would not be allowed to remain squeaky clean. The life of Mary’s grandson, James VI, the first officially freemasonic king of both Scotland and England, would be threatened by a plot hatched by “witches” on Halloween, 1590. The celebrated but trumped-up case of the “North Berwick Witches” kick-started over a century of Scottish witch hunts, and proved that your average Presbyterian could be just as vindictive as your average Catholic when it came to fighting Satan’s minions. While an equilibrium had been established between the two great Christian powers, neither can yet lay claim to being the saintliest, and each still has that heavy cross of guilt to bear. Another perfect doublecross, perhaps?

Interestingly, the U.S. branch of today’s Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ) uses the same reverse-barred configuration as Rosslyn in its official insignia. Its blazer badge, “hand-stitched in gold bullion,” can be purchased through its website, and part of the purchase price will be donated to a worthy charitable cause in the order’s name.

In certain Heraldic tomes it is said that the double-barred cross with the shorter bar above the longer is known as the “Cross Patriarchal.” What if Rosslyn’s builder, as his own little joke, reversed the bars in order to hang a “Cross Matriarchal” in the chapel’s ceiling?

Mary of Guise would have enjoyed that joke, but would we?

Rosslyn’s founder certainly used some elegant math when he plotted the chapel’s ceiling, but it was not an exact fit. There are four architectural elements remaindered in the fourth course, and one in the fifth—a total of five. However, this “mistake” may have been perfectly planned.

I visited the Grand Lodge of Scotland’s museum during my last trip to Edinburgh, and was struck by an exhibit dated to the early 19th century. It shows the Masonic compass, square, and level, surrounded by a five-pointed star. The five points are described as “the five points of fellowship.” What is truly striking, however, is that the star is upside down.

In Manly P. Hall’s 1928 classic, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Hall has much to say about the five-pointed star, or pentagram. He claims that the figure is “the time-honored symbol of the magical arts,” and that “by means of the pentagram within his own soul, man not only may master and govern all creatures inferior to himself, but may demand consideration at the hands of those superior to himself.” He further claims that the star with two points upward is called the “Goat of Mendes” because “the inverted star is the same shape as a goat’s head.” The goat, as I mention in my “Joan of Arc Revealed” article (AR #42), is a recurring Masonic symbol.

Hall’s most apocryphal description of the inverted pentagram is the last sentence of his chapter about it: “When the upright star turns and the upper point falls to the bottom, it signifies the fall of the Morning Star.”

This is a troublesome concept, indeed.

While we watch the movements of the heavenly bodies, we do not expect to see them fall. By observing when and where they appear to us, we fix our place among them—and have done so far longer than documented history credits us. But Hall’s “fall of the Morning Star” eerily echoes the many far-flung world myths that talk of a cataclysmic day the sky fell. If it again becomes an observable phenomenon it will be we, not it, who are in motion.

I doubt we’ll find it funny.

(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #45 — May/June, 2004 — and republished in translation in Holland’s Frontier Magazine #10.5, dated Oct/Nov, 2004)

Illustration of Leonardo Da VinciDa Vinci Code author Dan Brown has done what many “alternative history” researchers wish they’d done: written a blockbuster mystery which presents to an enormous audience theories that fly in the face of mainstream history—and made a great deal of money doing it, dammit!

I enjoyed the book immensely, and don’t begrudge Brown his success. However, since a crucial section of the book deals with the freemasonic and Knights Templar heritage of Scotland’s Rosslyn Chapel, a subject I’ve written extensively about, I’d like to point out a major flaw in his data.

As the book’s endgame unfolds, Brown writes that Rosslyn’s “geographic coordinates fall precisely on the north-south meridian that runs through Glastonbury,” and that this “longitudinal Rose Line is the traditional marker of King Arthur’s Isle of Avalon and is considered the central pillar of Britain’s sacred geometry. It is from this hallowed Rose Line that Rosslyn—originally spelled Roslin—takes its name.”

Brown’s positioning of Rosslyn on the same longitude as Glastonbury Abbey at a pivotal point in his narrative is one of the grander hooks upon which his story hangs—but it is wrong.

Rosslyn’s north-south meridian does not run “precisely” through Glastonbury. In fact, it runs a whopping 17 miles to the west.

So precisely where is that “central pillar” of Britain’s sacred geometry?

In my “Pyramids of Scotland” article (Atlantis Rising #35) I talk about a strange geometry of leylines I’d discovered in Scotland’s landscape. One of those lines, I report, “stretched exactly due south from Craigleith Island to the Cistercian Abbey of Melrose. Founded contemporaneously by Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cistercians and the Templars are thought by many to be two arms of a single order.” I also write that “if the line is continued far to the south of Melrose it arrives, unerringly, at Glastonbury.” That article, with an enlargeable graphic of the geometry mentioned, is archived on this website.

But while the Rosslyn meridian misses Glastonbury’s by 17 miles, the chapel nevertheless lies on one of the other lines I mention in my article—and it’s a highly interesting line.

Let’s go back to August 5, 1999.

While visiting a friend in the village of Temple, the ancient Templar headquarters lying just five miles southeast of Rosslyn, I was shown an inscription beneath the belfry of the town’s ruined kirk (Scots for church). My translation of that inscription, which in part suggests that Jesus had sired children by Mary Magdalene, ran in the May 2001 issue of Fortean Times magazine, and is also archived on this website with some new and interesting endnotes.

I had visited Rosslyn earlier that day, and had photographed a tiny statue in the chapel’s crypt—a statue of a bearded figure, thought to be Saint Peter, holding a book and a key.

When I examined the photo some weeks later, I noticed that there was a pyramidal shape carved into Peter’s beard that cut across the natural flow of the hair in a way that no sculptor worth his salt would have done, except by design. Immediately below the pyramid’s capstone was Peter’s mouth. When I noticed that his mouth was disproportionately small, I suddenly began to make a series of decidedly spooky observations.

Hidden within St. Peter’s face was a smaller face that shared his mouth, but was proportioned correctly to it. The eyes peered out from Peter’s nostrils, with what appeared to be a hand, raised alongside as though either saying “Hello,” or waiting to whisper.

Then my spine tingled.

I noticed that the chin of that hidden face formed the head of an even-smaller being, and was connected to a complete body.

There he stood—left foot resting on Peter’s book and his arms making a grand thespian gesture along the shaft of Peter’s key. Situated on the crypt’s south wall, Peter’s key pointed in the direction one would take to go from Rosslyn, through Temple, to Melrose Abbey.

It is highly ironic that St. Peter points the way to the heretical inscription at Temple. In 1995’s Restless Bones, by J. Bentley, it’s implied that it was the Vatican’s custody of the earthly remains of that saint, as the rock upon which the Catholic Church was founded, that gave the Pope’s voice authority. Bentley states that “the Pope, whatever theoretical claims were made for him, in practice owed most of his authority to the fact that he was the guardian of the body of St. Peter.”

There also seems to have been no love lost between Mary Magdalene and Peter. In the Pistis Sophia, one of the Gnostic Gospels, Mary says “I am afraid of him because he hates the female race.” And in the Gospel of Thomas Peter says “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.” By using St. Peter to reveal a heresy that could undermine the credibility of the Vatican by emphasizing the long-suppressed importance of Mary Magdalene, Peter’s sculptor would have been exacting a fair measure of revenge on Mary’s behalf.

But that’s perhaps not all the statue was meant to reveal. Of the charges brought against the Templars at their trial, many mention the order’s secret reverence for severed heads. The first of those reads “in each province they had idols, namely heads, of which some had three faces.” Hmmm!

In my “Secrets of Rosslyn Chapel” article, however, I show there are elements of the chapel not part of its original architectural fabric. In fact, it seems they have been added relatively recently—and St. Peter is one of those elements. Architect Andrew Kerr, referenced in that article, makes no mention of the statue in his exhaustive 1876 survey published in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland. So why is it there now?

One researcher has dismissed that finding to the modern Scots Templars as follows:

“When any real comprehensive study, of any angle or aspect relating to Rosslyn chapel is made, one has to accept that the subject is not static, therefore to conclude anything is not true.”

I suppose that Kerr should not have believed the evidence of his own eyes, nor I his account.

I’ve visited Rosslyn several times since 1999, however, and must admit that I cannot see in three dimensions what I see in my photographs of Peter. Why so?

The answer may lie in the great interest shown in Rosslyn by photographic pioneer Louis Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype. In 1822 Daguerre invented the Diorama, a technique whereby two-dimensional paintings could be illuminated in a dark room to give the illusion of three-dimensional reality. He created a Diorama of Rosslyn Chapel, which received rave reviews. Could Daguerre have guided the hand of Peter’s sculptor in the opposite direction, hiding a secret in three dimensions that could only be seen in two, to create a tiny statue that would be introduced into the Rosslyn Crypt when the time was right? And is it possible that Daguerre may have even been chosen to inherit the knowledge that would later write his name large in the annals of photographic history? One might consider that the Shroud of Turin, recently debunked as a medieval forgery, is nevertheless a photographically “negative” image. In their 1994 book about the shroud, Picknett & Prince go so far as to suggest the relic was photographically created by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci.

But on to Temple’s ruined kirk.

Within the ruin is a curious graveslab, carved similarly to those described in Laurence Gardner’s Bloodline of the Holy Grail. “In Grail imagery, just as in graphic symbolism,” Gardner writes, “the Messianic succession is denoted by the female Chalice accompanied by the male Blade. At Rosslyn and elsewhere in Scotland, wall carvings and tombs of the Grail Knights bear this dual emblem. It is portrayed as a tall-stemmed Chalice, with the bowl face-forward. In its bowl, the Rosy Cross (with its fleur-de-lys design) signifies that the vas-uterus contains the blood of Jesus.”

The Temple graveslab clearly shows a chalice, but no blade. Why not? Let’s read the inscription.

“Beatrix Lucy, wife of Henry Herbert Philip Dundas of Arniston, third baronet, born 14th May, 1876, died 6th Nov. 1940.” It is actually the grave of a woman who died within living memory and, if we allow Gardner’s line of reasoning, carried forward the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene! Researcher Tim Wallace-Murphy claims that it’s always the female bloodline that’s important, not the male. “Mummy’s baby, Daddy’s maybe,” I suppose.

Temple was granted to the Templars by King David I, presumed by Gardner to be a Grail Family member. Upon the order’s dissolution it transferred to the Knights Hospitaller, and remained there until the Protestant Reformation, at which time it reverted again to the crown. During the reign of Scotland’s first officially freemasonic king, James VI, the property transferred to the Dundas family until recently passing into the stewardship of the Midlothian Council, where it still remains.

Beatrix was born Lady Beatrix Douglas-Home. The Douglases and Homes are two families whose names have long buzzed with possible Templar and freemasonic connections. Sir James Douglas was Robert the Bruce’s trusted lieutenant mentioned in my Bannockburn article. And Joan of Arc’s battle banner is thought to have been painted by a Home. It’s also rumored that a replica of Joan’s ring, inscribed “Jesus Maria,” was given to Home’s daughter. In Glastonbury Abbey is a similarly inscribed stone, and we might well wonder which Mary was meant to be immortalized in either case—the Virgin or the Magdalene.

Southeast of the Temple ruin stands an ancient archway, derelict in a field. It appears to lead to nowhere, yet is so oriented that if you walk straight through, as I did, you are heading on the same bearing as the line that connects Rosslyn and Temple to Melrose. Alternating stones in the arch are covered in a herringbone pattern that repeats the letter “M,” again and again, as though driving home a long-forgotten point!

Now to Melrose, 21 miles away as the crow flies.

Scots hero Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried in Melrose Abbey. History tells us that a dying Robert asked that his heart be buried in the Holy Land. Carrying Bruce’s heart in a silver casket, James Douglas duly set off in the company of seven knights, one of whom was William Sinclair of Rosslyn. After dallying a tad too long in Spain, they were pulled into a military engagement with the Moors. Four died, including Douglas and Sinclair, and Bruce’s heart was returned to Scotland by the remainder of the company. If we retrace our leyline just 44 miles to the northwest of Melrose, back through Temple and Rosslyn, we come within spitting distance of Dunfermline Abbey, where Robert’s body is buried. History does not tell why the two, having again come so close, were never reunited.

Much is made in The Da Vinci Code that the original spelling of “Rosslyn” was “Roslin,” tying a neat bow around the book’s “Rose Line” theme, and connecting Rosslyn with Glastonbury along the same meridian. But it is Melrose Abbey and Craigleith Island that lie exactly due north of Glastonbury, not Rosslyn—and “Melrose” also contains “rose” as a root.

One accepted etymology of “Melrose” puts the mason’s hammer, or “mel,” before the “rose-colored” sandstone used to build the abbey. While the abbey sometimes exhibits a pinkish hue in certain light, the root “mel” could derive from elsewhere. The Greek roots melas and mels mean “of a darkish color, or black” and “a limb,” respectively. Might I suggest that “Melrose” may mean a darkened branch of the rose or holy bloodline, brought to Scotland for safekeeping by the Templars and then branded into the landscape over a long-forgotten geometry that far preceded the birth of Christ?

And while etymology is on the table, let’s now consider cryptology. One of the several ancient spellings of Craigleith is Craglieth—an anagram of Grail Tech!

Beatrix Douglas-Home was daughter to the 12th Earl of Home and aunt to the 14th, Alec Douglas-Home. Alec was secretary to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain when Chamberlain’s appeasement policy calmed world alarm over Nazi excesses until the onset of World War II became inevitable. Alec was later appointed Foreign Secretary, and dubbed a Knight of the Thistle in 1962. At the height of the cold war, thanks to 1963’s Profumo Call-Girl Scandal, Alec became British P.M., and later Chairman of the still extant Bilderbergers, an elite association of international power brokers now thought by many to have engineered the state of the world we live in today—such as it is.

If, as the carving on Beatrix’s 20th-century graveslab may imply, the “holy blood” still flows—and more importantly is still known to flow by some—to what agenda has this knowledge been put over the centuries that we lesser mortals are not privy to? How many saints and heroes have been cobbled together to keep the common herd content with their lot, ever-eager “to do their bit” for God and Country? And how many sovereign heads have been toppled to bring us to this dark and uncertain world we find ourselves in today?

But conventional thought dictates that Jesus did not have children, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.

Nevertheless, I again claim that certain world myths have been hijacked over the millennia, and secretly woven into the warp and weft of the source documents historians use to write our textbooks. I’ve found in my own area of research, for example, that John Barbour’s The Bruce and Walter Bower’s Scotichronicon, both roundly criticized by academia as nationalistically biased, have nevertheless been vehicles through which the underlying truths of those myths have been slipped between the lines—truths which have gained ever-more purchase in recent years. It’s been my hope these truths would not be driven underground again by silence or disdain, the two reliable weapons that have so often helped shape the “approved” version of history we are taught in school.

But while hope ever “springs eternal in the human breast,” that hope is fading fast. I fear that particular human trait has been long recognized as a weakness, and has been used as a familiar tool, over the millennia, by those privileged few who pull our strings and yank our chains—those who safely push the model ships and tanks around on the great flat maps in war rooms all over the world. In that knowledge of our weakness has always been their strength.

Last year’s controversy was Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. This year’s is Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. While Gibson’s Passion points the finger of blame for a divine Christ’s crucifixion, Brown’s Code challenges Christ’s divinity by suggesting he had a mortal daughter who survived it. Christians and Jews are once again at odds over matters that mainstream history refuses to adequately examine, and that “faith” continues to inadequately explain.

“A truth is not hard to kill,” said Mark Twain, “and a lie well told is immortal.”

But to whom was Twain talking?

Originally published in Atlantis Rising #42 — November/December, 2003. The sky graphics were created using the Skychart III program, available at www.southernstars.com)

Joan Large RossettiOn May 30, 1431, a young girl was burned alive for heresy and witchcraft in Rouen, France.

According to one account of the day, when she had succumbed to the flames the fire “was raked back, and her naked body shown to all the people, and all the secrets that could or should belong to a woman, to take away any doubts from people’s minds. When they had stared long enough at her dead body bound to the stake, the executioner got a big fire going again round her poor carcass, which was soon burned, both flesh and bone reduced to ashes.”

Although history tells us the victim was Joan of Arc, a simple shepherdess known then as Joan the Maid, the account of her execution shows even her gender was in doubt at the time—a doubt put to rest perhaps just a tad too neatly in the historical record.

Joan deserves a closer look.

Born on January 6, 1412, Joan is one of history’s best-documented figures—hardly surprising considering that the records of her several trials still survive.

At age 13, a “voice” told Joan she had been chosen by the “King of Heaven” to bring “reparation to the kingdom of France, and help and protection to King Charles.”

With much of France under English domination, French sovereignty was in dire straits. The forces of England’s Henry V had invaded in 1415, dealing the French a crushing defeat at Agincourt. When Henry died, in 1422, the English controlled all of France north of the Loire River, and in 1428 laid siege to France’s last stronghold in the region—Orléans.

Making matters worse, the French throne was itself in dispute.

King Henry had married the daughter of Charles VI of France, and under the terms of the 1420 Treaty of Troyes Henry’s son was named heir to the throne over the Dauphin Charles, son of the French king. Adding insult to injury, the tale was spread that Charles was illegitimate—a tale his own widowed mother, Isabeau, endorsed. Isabeau was enjoying the protection of the French Burgundians, allied to England, so what’s a mother to do? While the Burgundians held Paris, the Dauphin held a pitifully ineffectual court at Chinon.

Then, on March 4, 1429, Joan showed up.

She is granted an audience with the Dauphin on March 6 and, with divine help, recognizes him even though he is in disguise. She impresses him by privately relating a “secret” only he should know. She is then vetted by a court which recommends that Charles sets Joan at the head of his armies, and the rest is a history well-enough known to be covered only briefly here.

Joan At StakeShe raises the siege at Orléans and drives the English out. She then leads the Dauphin to his coronation as King Charles VII and, after a brief yet glorious military career, is captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, tried and then burned at the stake while France’s new king looks the other way.

Twenty-four years later, Joan is tried again—posthumously—and in 1456 the original verdict is “nullified.” More than 500 years after her birth, Joan of Arc is canonized Saint Joan in 1920—cold comfort to Joan the Maid.

But the “sworn testimony” that paints the picture of Joan we are now expected to accept is a weird mix of the believable and the unbelievable, the commonplace and the miraculous. Although many swore to the testimony given, only a few privileged hands recorded it—so why must we believe what they have written? Perhaps instead of accepting what they wrote, we should look elsewhere.

In previous articles I have proposed the existence of a “secret brotherhood” with both the knowledge and clout to orchestrate certain historically pivotal events on earth, which simultaneously mirror the arrangement of the heavens, above. The articles suggest that these events are staged not only because out of the resulting smoke and thunder are born heroes and symbols guaranteed to weather the winds of time, but also because they are scripted to shape a nation’s sense of identity for centuries to come. Scotland has Robert the Bruce. America has the Star-Spangled Banner.

France has Joan of Arc.

One need only look at Joan’s entourage during her glory days, to see a troupe now recognized as players in the “underground stream of knowledge” game. Under the terms of the “Auld Alliance” between Scotland and France, many of her comrades were members of the Scots Guard, a group thought to have held strong ties to the Knights Templar, whose inner circle may have escaped from France to Scotland upon the order’s 1307 suppression for heresy, where they chose to quickly “disappear.” While today’s sizable Templar fan club subscribes to that theory, my own opinion is that the knights’ inner circle had taken the forward-thinking view that it was time to “rightsize” the corporation, and had done just that.

And then there is René d’Anjou, one of Joan’s companions on her trip to meet the Dauphin. One of René’s many titles was “King of Jerusalem.” Purely titular, the designation had nevertheless descended from Godfroi de Bouillon who, as the authors of “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” assert, had founded the shadowy Priory of Sion which, in turn, had founded the Knights Templar. René is known to have been a close friend of the young Leonardo da Vinci who, later in life, is thought to have been Grand Master of the Priory. “Many have made a trade of delusions and false miracles, deceiving the stupid multitude,” Leonardo wrote. He also held the highly heretical belief that Jesus was a twin! But more about twins, later.

One of the suspiciously precise details we know about Joan is her exact time of birth—one hour after sunset on January 6, a day variously known as the Feast of the Epiphany, the Day of the Three Kings, and the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Surprisingly, neither Joan’s mother nor any other witnesses at the “nullification” trial mentions that Joan’s birthday was an official holy day.

Considering the trial was meant to show that Joan’s mission had indeed been divinely inspired, I found that silence curious. And so I decided to consult a record I had discovered during my previous research—the arrangement of the heavens on the day in question.

SkychartShortly before dawn, the planet Mercury, Messenger of the Gods, rose above the bow of the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer, while Venus, the “morning star” and symbol of the goddess in many pre-Christian traditions, sat on the bicep of the arm that drew the bow. Then came the sun, hiding the heavens in the light of day.
In Shakespeare’s “Henry VI,” written 179 years later, the Dauphin challenges Joan to a mock swordfight. Soundly trounced, Charles calls Joan the “bright star of Venus, fall’n down on the earth.”

Let’s now consider the name “Arc,” which in French means “bow,” and has also come to mean the leap electricity makes between unconnected points. It’s intriguing that on Joan’s birthday Venus drew the bow, perhaps to indicate that a woman had been chosen to let fly an arrow of hidden truth into the future, while Mercury, a.k.a. Hermes, would speed it on its way. And while the Dauphin’s reference to Joan as Venus fits this scenario neatly, a prophecy that had caught the imagination of the day fairly shivers with resonance. Attributed to Merlin, the prophecy foretold that a virgin riding Sagittarius would save France!

Baphomet Goat Of MendesUranus followed the sun on Joan’s birthday. Oldest of the gods, Uranus sat on the head of Capricorn, the Goat—a figure of enormous Templar significance. The accompanying illustration shows a winged creature with the head of a male goat on a human torso, with female breasts and a mid-forehead star. It is presenting a bright moon “above” and a dark moon “below,” a very telling Hermetic image “for those with eyes to see.” Considered by some to be Baphomet, the entity the Templars were accused of worshipping, it waits 18 years to appear again in the life of Joan.

When Joan is received by the Dauphin, on March 6, Venus is riding the back of Capricorn, and in “Henry VI” a messenger brings news of Joan as “a holy prophetess new risen up.” In an initiatory rite of the Freemasons, a fraternity thought to have continued the legacy of the Templars, initiates are “raised” into the order from a symbolic death, and one of the persistent tales told about the rite is that initiates must also ride the back of a goat.

One freemasonic website has this to say:

Skychart 2“The Goat of Mendes or Baphomet whom the Templars were accused of worshipping is a goat-headed deity, being formed of both male and female principles, with a Caduceus of Mercury for its phallus. One arm points up and one down, with the Latin words ‘Solve’ and ‘Coagula’ written on them.”

The Latin words mean “dissolve” and “combine,” and might well describe the Templar business model upon the order’s dissolution.

But back to Joan’s nativity.

As the sun set in the west, the Orion constellation rose in the east. Since I have covered Orion’s significance in previous articles, I will not do so here—except to add that tiny and distant Pluto sat above Orion’s head like an invisible crown.

Skychart 3

To Orion’s left the planet Neptune, God of the Oceans, separated the Gemini twins, and the Twelfth Day of Christmas became Twelfth Night—the night that Joan was born. One hour after sunset, weather permitting, Orion and Gemini would be shining brightly in the eastern sky.

Scholars have long argued the significance of Shakespeare’s title “Twelfth Night, or What You Will” since the play offers no explanation. It is the story of twins, male and female, who are separated by a storm at sea, each thinking the other has drowned. The woman masquerades as a man and, until the end of the play, there is much gender confusion, with a little cross-dressing thrown in for good measure.

Since the historical record conveniently tells us that Joan was born on Twelfth Night, it’s interesting that Neptune, named after the god of the oceans, separated the Gemini twins on the night of her birth, just as Shakespeare’s twins were separated by a storm at sea.

Bacon Showing SunBacons Coat of Arms

Methinks perchance the Bard’s mighty quill writ two tales—one hidden in the other!

Next to the King James Bible, commissioned by Britain’s first officially freemasonic king, no books have enjoyed greater sales figures than William Shakespeare’s. And yet their authorship remains hotly debated. A top contender as the author/editor of both works is Francis Bacon, the English philosopher who lived contemporaneously. Thought to have played a key role in the birth of the Rosicrucians—an esoteric brotherhood with Templar and Freemasonic ties—Francis may have secretly worked to put in place a system whereby “lost” knowledge might eventually be rediscovered. He also shares resonant connections with the Goat and the Twins.

  • As the Goat of Mendes draws our attention to a moon above and a moon below, the accompanying title page to Bacon’s “De Sapientia Veterum” shows Francis drawing attention to the reflection, below, of the sun, above.
  • Bacon’s coat of arms shows two soldiers—likely Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins. His motto, “mediocria firma,” has been interpreted as “the middle ground is safest.” In an age when heresy could get you burned alive at the stake, perhaps Francis was just protecting himself by not taking credit for saying too much too soon—preferring to let his rather milquetoast motto speak sterner stuff in times to come.

In the 572 years since Joan’s death, historians have been plagued by two pesky groups of revisionists—the “bastardizers” and the “survivalists.” The bastardizers claim that Joan was not a simple shepherdess, but was in fact the illegitimate daughter of Queen Isabeau and her brother-in-law, Louis of Orléans, making Joan the half-sister of the Dauphin and also, consequently, the aunt of Henry VI of England through the marriage of the Dauphin’s sister to Henry V. The survivalists claim that Joan escaped execution thanks to the secret efforts of Joan’s principal judge, Pierre Cauchon, and others in the English camp.

Within 25 years of Joan’s execution several brave souls claim to be Joan of Arc. It is interesting that one of these “imposters” was pardoned in 1457 by no less a personage than René d’Anjou, Joan’s companion-at-arms and titular King of Jerusalem.

It is highly unlikely that Joan was born on the day that history accepts—a day when the heavens were so oh-so-conveniently arranged. It is more probable that she was born earlier, and then delivered to foster parents on that astronomically auspicious day—for the record. It is also more probable that Joan of Arc’s miraculous career was orchestrated by the will of a cognoscenti that followed a mutually agreed-upon secret agenda from opposite sides of the battlefield—a brotherhood that counted the many thousands of ensuing war casualties as acceptable collateral damage—and which would continue to quietly promote a spirit of nationalistic and adversarial competition that would become very useful when the time came to divvy up and populate the New World soon to be “discovered” to the west.

The first cartographic appearance of the name “America” appears on Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map produced under the patronage of Duke René d’Anjou II, who had inherited the title King of Jerusalem from his grandfather. The map has recently been purchased by the US Library of Congress for $5 million, and will be the “crown jewel” of its map collection. Caveat Emptor!

Finally, while the positions of the six “ancient” planets on Joan’s “official” birthday could have been easily predicted at the time, the positions of the three “modern planets” should have been problematic. Uranus, conveniently on the head of the Goat, would not be discovered until 1781; Neptune, between the Twins, in 1850; and Pluto, above Orion’s head, in 1933. Hmm!

Perhaps they were simply allowed to be prudently re-discovered, when the time was right!

Joan at the StakeFrancis Bacon wrote: “I begin to be weary of the sun. I have shaken hands with delight, and know all is vanity, and I think no man can live well once but he that could live twice. For my part I would not live over my hours past, or begin again the minutes of my days; not because I have not lived well, but for fear that I should live them worse. I envy no man that knows more than myself, but pity them that know less. Now, in the midst of all my endeavours there is but one thought that dejects me, that my acquired parts must perish with myself, nor can be legacied amongst my dearly beloved and honoured friends.”
Although the girl whose body climbed the sky in a plume of smoke over Rouen on May 30, 1431, may never be known for who she truly was, she might someday be known for who she was not. Francis Bacon, in his way, made sure of it.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Indeed!

(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #38 – March/April, 2003. All photos, except for the two pillars, are by Antonia Reeve for the Rosslyn Chapel Trust. The 9/21/1450 sky was calculated in the Skychart III program, available at www.southernstars.com)

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel sits just six miles south of Edinburgh, Scotland’s ancient capital city. Built in the 15th century by Earl William St. Clair of Rosslyn, the chapel has become one of the most mysterious and controversial buildings on Earth. Recent years have seen the controversy reach fever pitch as an adversarial band of alternate-history researchers, freemasonic “seekers of light,” and treasure hunters vie to unlock the secrets they feel are hidden within the chapel walls.

The stakes are high.

At last tally, these intrepid questers have variously speculated the chapel hides the Long-Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar, a piece of the “True” Cross, Scotland’s Stone of Destiny, the mummified head of Christ, and even that Holy Grail of relics—the Holy Grail, itself.

A world-class collection, no doubt—but none has yet been found. Rosslyn keeps its secrets well.

London businessman and St. Clair descendent, Niven Sinclair is fond of saying that William built Rosslyn Chapel “at a time when books could be burned or banned, so he left a message for posterity chiseled out in stone.” Niven’s pet project, into which he has sunk a great deal of energy over the years, is to prove that William’s grandfather made a voyage of discovery to America almost a century before Christopher Columbus made the voyage that history has approved.

Niven also believes that Christ did not die on the cross, but survived to sire children with his wife, Mary Magdalene. This marriage begat a bloodline that has flowed down the centuries through several high and mighty European families, including Niven’s own. But it is still the Biblical tale of Christ’s ascension that wins the popular vote in the credibility department, so Niven soldiers on.

While the expression “carved in stone” has become synonymous with the “unchangeable,” that’s not the case with Rosslyn. Some very significant changes have been made within the chapel walls, and then concealed.

Let’s take a look.

The interior greets the eye with such a visual feast of carved stone that one barely knows where to begin. Strange foliage and figures hang everywhere about the walls, arches and ceiling, like icing on a cake. And while the overall effect was clearly meant to be Christian, closer inspection reveals that many carvings have their symbolic origins in quite different ideologies, some of them decidedly Pagan.

Photo of Barrel Vault CeilingHere and there you’ll find the head of a “Green Man,” an ancient Celtic vegetation god, peering out from within the carved foliage, and on Rosslyn’s most celebrated structure, the “Prentice Pillar,” a daisy chain of dragons nibble away at the roots of what’s been interpreted as the Nordic “Tree of Life.” Add to the mix carved tales from the Hebraic Old Testament, and legends that resonate with Templar and Freemasonic lore, and you have an architectural recipe for perennial success. And except for a few dicey years during the Reformation, when Protestant zealots took stern issue with what they called “idolatry,” the chapel’s been successful ever since.

But while certain details have been added to the chapel over the years, it’s considered that the original language of Earl William’s “book in stone” has remained unchanged. On my last trip to Scotland, however, I found several dusty guides to Rosslyn that, here and there, tell a different tale.

Let’s walk to the center of the chapel and look up.

Rosslyn’s great barrel-vaulted ceiling is divided into five courses. Four courses have a floral theme, each with its exclusive tile, which repeats, in cookie-cutter fashion, over its entire course. But the fifth course is different from the others. Instead of flowers, it is full of stars—and other things!

Head Hand PhotoIn one corner of the course is a bearded head with an open hand raised alongside. Niven Sinclair has described it as the head of Christ with his hand raised in blessing of his ancestor’s pre-Columbian voyage of discovery. But according to an 1877 article, which ran in Volume XII of the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland, Andrew Kerr describes this feature as simply “an open hand,” and his observation is corroborated in an 1892 account written by the Rev. John Thompson, Rosslyn’s chaplain.

Where was Christ’s head and blessing when this “book in stone” was built, and why is it there now?

Three rows up from Christ’s head is the “sun in splendour,” and one row up from the adjacent corner of the star vault is the emerging moon, described in both accounts as a “crescent” moon and “small star.” Nowadays the moon appears to be full, complete with surface features that should not have been observable 159 years before Galileo’s telescope supposedly allowed him to look twenty times closer than anyone had before. What’s been carved into Rosslyn that the founder never intended?

Star CourseTowards the east end of the chapel stand two pillars that together form the basis for what has become Rosslyn’s most enduring legend—the murder of an apprentice stonemason by his master. Legend has it that the master mason, who had been on a junket to Rome to study the form of a pillar he meant to duplicate in Rosslyn, returned to find that his apprentice, inspired by a dream, had finished the job before him, The master, in a fit of jealous rage, slew his apprentice with a single blow to the head.

While both pillars are glorious, the Prentice Pillar clearly outshines the Master’s.

Kerr’s report, while giving lip service to the Apprentice Legend, refers to the Master’s Pillar as the Earl’s Pillar, and in John Slezer’s 1693 “Theatrum Scotiae” the Prentice Pillar is called the Prince’s Pillar. A 1774 account by Bishop Forbes of Caithness postulates that Slezer was referring to the founder’s “princely origins” as last Prince of Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

Confusing, I know.

Masters PillarPrentice PillarTo add to that confusion, back below the star vault is a carved head much studied by Freemasons. Tradition claims it is the head of the slain apprentice complete with fatal wound—a tale that resonates with the Freemasonic legend of the death of Hiram Abiff, architect of Solomon’s Temple, who died in similar fashion. It has been noticed, however, that the apprentice’s chin may have once sported a beard that was subsequently chiseled off. Indeed strange, considering apprentices did not grow beards back then.

Master, apprentice, earl or prince—who’s who? Is it possible that a fairly elegant “shell game” has been carved into Rosslyn’s “Book In Stone” that the founder never intended, leaving us still searching for his elusive pea of Truth?

In 1954 the chapel was diagnosed by Scotland’s Ministry of Works as suffering from extreme damp. It was decided to coat the chapel’s interior with a “cementinous slurry” meant to keep the moisture out. Instead, it made matters worse. But it did more than that. Since fresh paint can cover a multitude of sins, the recent changes are no longer noticeable, and I have it on good authority that the cost of the slurry’s removal, if even possible, would be prohibitively expensive. Rosslyn’s fabled “Truth that Conquers All,” it seems, must wait for better days. Or must they?

Increasingly thought to be the premier Illuminati of his day, Earl William built into his chapel something that could never be changed—something that has waited to be noticed for a very long time. And considering that the Knights Templar were ostensibly founded to protect Christian pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land, and that the Earl’s male progeny became “hereditary Grand Masters” of the Freemasons until the beginning of the 18th century, William’s wildcard might come as a bit of a surprise.

Rosslyn Chapel was founded upon St. Matthew’s Day, 21st September, 1446, and officially dedicated to that saint on the same day in 1450. Since September 21 marks the Autumnal Equinox, when the sun rises exactly due east of Rosslyn, I decided to see if the Earl had written something in the sky above, that might have reflected the truth he’d been carving on the earth below. I wasn’t disappointed.

My previous Atlantis Rising articles propose that an “inner circle” of the Knights Templar escaped the order’s suppression in 1307 France, going “underground” in Scotland, while continuing to send what they believed to be “Truth” forward to more enlightened times by secretly hitching rides on both the astrological mythologies of a past they believed to be rooted in “fact” and the astronomical discoveries they knew would be found “when the time was right.”

Thought to have introduced both Chess and Tarot Cards to medieval Europe, the brotherhood quietly and strategically wove long-forgotten truths into the warp and weave of the historical record—truths that would only be seen by those “with eyes to see,” and heard by those “with ears to hear.”

Earl William knew that even a book “carved in stone” could be pounded to dust, so he wrote his testament on the inviolable daytime sky, and hid it in the light.

In “Rosslyn: Guardian of the Secrets of the Holy Grail,” by Tim Wallace-Murphy & Marilyn Hopkins, the authors claim that the site had been “revered by the Druids as the oracle of Saturn, the supreme Guardian of Secrets.”

According to my research, it seems they are right.

When Rosslyn was dedicated on September 21, 1450, the sun had risen exactly due east. Throughout the day, behind the sun and in exact alignment with the Earth lay the planets Saturn and Neptune, a conjunction that occurs only once every 36 years. And they all rose invisibly in the light of day within the constellation Virgo, symbolic of various Goddesses found in diverse astrological traditions.

Rosslyn at Dawn Graphic

Following the parallels I’ve drawn in my previous articles between the belief systems of ancient Egypt and Scotland, however, it’s interesting to note that a Greek tradition proposes the Sphinx was originally constructed with Virgo’s head on Leo’s body. It’s also interesting to note that the head of the Sphinx we see today looks disproportionately small, and newer, when compared to the much-weathered body—as though carved “back” from a previous head. And before the weathering of the body, today’s head would have looked even smaller. Another tradition identifies Virgo with the Egyptian goddess Isis—clasping the infant Horus, last of the divine kings, in her arms. Since the advent of Christianity, however, Virgo has been identified as the Virgin Mary, with baby Jesus in her arms, But the Templars are thought to have venerated a “Black Madonna,” not the white one that Christian artwork has promoted for so long, so perhaps it was considered safe enough to leave the door to past belief systems open just a crack.

Far beyond our solar system, yet within the same alignment, lay the star Zaniah, known to the Chinese as “Heaven’s Gate.” The alignment’s next nearest star, Porrima, was also called Antevorta and sometimes Postvorta, two ancient goddesses of prophecy. Curiously, the star was eventually discovered to indeed be a two-star system, and so we might draw an interesting parallel between Porrima and the “debunked” theory of Africa’s Dogon tribe and it’s knowledge of Sirius B.

In any case, the alignment on Rosslyn’s dedication to St. Matthew indicates that several dedications were made—but only Matthew’s was “official.”

Before we leave Rosslyn, let’s again look at the star vault. The rows of stars alternate in chessboard fashion, except for two. Each of the two meets and mirrors the other, thereby reversing the order over the remainder of the course. Is this just another change that’s been made in the architectural fabric of Rosslyn, or is it a part Earl William intended to survive? Many world “myths” describe a day “the sky fell” and the heavenly order changed, an observed phenomenon much explained if the crust of the Earth had suddenly slid around its core, moving parts of the Earth out of (and parts into) polar regions, and causing the world’s oceans to slosh over the land in a cataclysm now known to Christians as the biblical flood! It makes sense that it was not the great Universe that moved—it was us. Two rows up from Rosslyn’s full moon is a dove with an olive branch in its beak. Could it be that William meant the dove to be Noah’s messenger of hope at the flood’s subsidence?

Barrel Vault Ceiling with Arrow

When the Templars were suppressed on Friday, October 13, 1307, it’s thought that the escaping Templar fleet, carrying the order’s inner circle, headed towards Scotland with their treasure and their truth. Hidden below that dark night’s horizon was the same rare alignment that rose at daybreak on Rosslyn’s dedication, but this time a second “undiscovered” planet, Uranus, had conjoined with it. Quite resonantly, considering the events of that Friday the 13th, the alignment lay within Libra, the Scales of Justice. It’s a strong possibility, given such a grand celestial “coincidence,” that the inner circle had decided that “the time was right” for the order’s demise, and had chosen the date to coincide with the alignment. What the hell—they’d all be dead and gone when “Truth” finally conquered “All!”

On November 4, when the Templars may have reached Rosslyn after first gathering secreted stores of arms in Ireland, the sun and moon entered the alignment at dawn—a truly spectacular six-body alignment. And exactly 400 years plus two days after Rosslyn’s foundation date of Sept. 21, 1446, Neptune was finally “discovered,” also during the same alignment. Quite the anniversary gift for those in the know!

[Note: Three years after writing this article I was advised that in 1846, the year Neptune ws discovered, the Autumnal Equinox took place on Sept. 23, so the actual 400th anniversary of Rosslyn Chapel’s foundation date was in fact more exact than I had originally calculated.]

Much has been speculated about what the Templars knew about Earth’s early history not deemed “prudent” to reveal at the time, and how much of that knowledge was passed on to the Freemasons that has since been lost.

Today’s Scottish Templars, whose connection with the original Templars is often hotly debated, have suddenly become uncomfortably pro-active in contemporary events. They have been granted special “consultancy status” with the United Nations, and their current pet project is to bring Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock under UN control. They meanwhile continue to keep an aloof silence about anything they please. Also avowed to “protect” Scottish history, they have shown no love for my version of it. I have been told in no uncertain terms that while I am entitled to my opinions, they are not “informed” opinions. When I suggested that perhaps “informed” opinions are opinions one has been “informed” about, and so may have little to do with “Truth,” I got silence in reply.

One of the Templars arrested on Oct. 13, 1307, and subsequently interrogated, claimed that during his “initiation” into the order he was shown the Christian cross, and was told “Put not thy faith in this, for it is not old enough.” Is it possible that all adversaries in the current conflict have been “played the fool” over the past few millennia, in order to precipitate the much-prophesized “crisis of faith” that will introduce a new faith the suddenly faithless will flock to?

Is it possible that in order to find the things that once made us friends, we must first discover who’s bright idea it was to make us enemies—and why?

Or is it already too late?

(Originally published simultaneously in Atlantis Rising #35 — September/October, 2002 — and Duat CD-Magazine #1)

Pyramids Image

Egyptian tycoon Mohamed al Fayed, owner of Harrods and father to Dodi, Princess Diana’s companion in their fatal 1997 car crash, has listed his ten favorite books on the Manchester Guardian’s website. One of them is “The Scotichronicon: A History Book for Scots,” described simply as “Scotland’s debt to Egypt revealed at last.”

What does he mean?

Completed in the 15th century by Walter Bower, Abbot of Inchcolm, the Scotichronichon begins with “The Legend of Scota and Gaythelos.”

The legend claims that Scota was daughter to the pharaoh who pursued the Children of Israel out of Egypt on their Exodus to the Promised Land. Gaythelos, an exiled prince of Greece, was Scota’s husband. Shortly thereafter, the couple is forced to lead an Exodus of their own out of Egypt—going first to Spain, then Ireland and, finally, to Scotland, which was named after Scota. Their bloodline flowed down the centuries through all the high kings of Ireland and Scotland. But Gaythelos’ pedigree was more ancient still—stretching back many more generations to Old-Testament patriarch Noah, eldest survivor of the Biblical Flood.

While historians argue that it was politically useful for royal families to invent fanciful lineages of great antiquity, could it be that the legend is more fact than fancy?

On March 27, 2000, I received the following comment from an eminent UK archaeologist regarding my report about an intriguing Scottish leyline configuration I’d discovered:

“I do understand your quest for knowledge,” she said, “but please, please beware of the whole leyline question. It is so easy to draw lines and make assumptions, from prehistory onwards, but that way madness lies.”


For those unfamiliar with the term, leylines are the curiously exact alignment of ancient archaeological sites, conjoined over many miles, that academics dismiss as mere coincidence and that those who discover them cannot explain the “why” of. Crossing mountains and large bodies of water as they do, leylines never seem to follow the easily trod path—only the straight one.

So what use were they?

I was studying the Knights Templar at the time—that enigmatic order of warrior monks barbarously suppressed in France during the early 1300s for believing in things that contradicted Vatican dogma at a most inconvenient time.

My discovery was as follows:

Orion MapI had noticed a geometrical connection between two pre-eminent Templar sites in Scotland—their earliest-known headquarters in the tiny village of Temple and that famed architectural repository of Templar and Freemasonic lore, Rosslyn Chapel. Each could be connected to a third by straight lines drawn through two small islands to the northeast in the Firth of Forth—the islands of Craigleith and Fidra. Each connected to the Isle of May, 20 miles further out, where one tradition tells us the Templar fleet landed after escaping from France. Historian Stuart McHardy has recently suggested that “the May,” as it’s locally known, is in fact the Isle of Avalon where legendary King Arthur is buried. Glastonbury supporters, staunchly supportive of their own pet site’s long-held Avalonian connections, are not impressed.

Exactly midway between Craigleith and Fidra was a tiny island known locally as “the Lamb,” which would enter the equation later.

I had then drawn three additional interconnected lines.

The first stretched exactly due south from Craigleith to the Cistercian Abbey of Melrose. Founded contemporaneously by Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cistercians and the Templars are thought by many to be two arms of a single order. Interestingly, I later discovered that if the line is continued far to the south of Melrose it arrives, unerringly, at Glastonbury.

The second line headed in a northwesterly direction from Melrose, exactly through both Temple and Rosslyn, to a place called Crossford, where it intersected the third line.

That third line headed due west from Craigleith, passing through Dunfermline Abbey along the way. Robert the Bruce, quasi-hero of my “Mystery of Bannockburn” article (AR#31), was buried at Dunfermline, but his heart was removed and carried on an ill-fated journey to the Holy Land. Brought back to Scotland from Spain, which is as far as it got before the “infidel” horde put a stop to its passage, the heart was interred at Melrose, just a day’s ride shy of a reunification with Bruce’s body. History does not tell us why.

In effect, I had found a compass and a square connecting several Templar and Freemasonic sites in southern Scotland. And as many of you will know, the compass and the square are important symbols of Freemasonry. They can be seen on every Freemasonic lodge in the world—surrounding the mysterious letter “G,” which has been variously interpreted as God, Gnosis, or Geometry.

My leyline configuration buzzed with a significance that seemed to preclude mere coincidence. But a cautionary finger had been raised on my leyline investigation, so I put it on the back burner—but not for long.

While researching my Bannockburn piece, I often viewed a computer simulation of the eastern sky as it would have appeared on the day of battle. Countless times I observed the three equidistant “belt stars” of the constellation Orion rise invisibly in the daylight sky, and at some point I noticed they were rising over Fidra, the Lamb, and Craigleith. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided that the Lamb deserved some attention—sanity be damned.

I then drew a line from the May, through the Lamb and the exact midpoint between Rosslyn and Temple, just to see where it might lead. It led to a tiny spot called Tara, far away in Ireland, where the high kings of that land were crowned—kings descended from Scota and Gaythelos.

Curiouser and curiouser!

Orion Rises

On a wall of Rosslyn Chapel’s underground crypt, the oldest and holiest structure in the building, is what’s been called a “working Masonic drawing.” It is shaped more like an obelisk than a pyramid, and yet it sang a siren song to me. The central line of the drawing passes through three pyramids—as viewed from above!

Why despoil a holy place, forever, with a drawing that could have been more easily scratched in dirt? Is that not curiouser still?

When it is visible, Orion is the most spectacular constellation in the sky—and little wonder. Of all the constellations, Orion is the least abstract—and is strikingly humanoid in shape. But of all its seven main stars, the belt stars have received the lion’s share of attention over the millennia. Called simply “three in a row” by native North Americans, their relative positions have been recently correlated, by researcher Robert Bauval, to the groundplan of the pyramid complex at Giza.

Orion and nearby Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, are inextricably linked to both the ancient Egyptian belief system and the mysterious symbolism inherent in today’s bizarre Freemasonic rituals, practiced since the brotherhood’s earliest days, but now little understood—even by Freemasons, themselves.

Could the key to what has long been referred to as “The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry” have been hidden in the light of day, east-southeast of Bannockburn, on June 24, 1314?

On a wild hunch, I decided to bring Orion and Sirius down to Earth, laying the three belt stars exactly on top of the three islands in the Firth of Forth. Incredibly, Sirius lay on tiny Inchcolm island, farther west in the Forth, where Walter Bower had written his Scotichronichon. In Richard Hinckley Allen’s “Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning,” the author cites a Hindu astrological tradition which personifies Sirius as a hunter who shoots a three-jointed arrow which pierces Orion through the waist.

It’s interesting that Walter Bower’s surname derives from the craft of bowmaking? Could it be that Bower, finishing his book, let fly an arrow of forbidden knowledge towards a more enlightened future?

The other stars in the Orion/Sirius configuration, however, were not so accommodating. Bellatrix, the star that marks Orion’s right shoulder, lay insignificantly in the sea, far from the May, the island my “compass” had suggested played a major role in what looked increasingly like a message from the past.

On another wild hunch I enlarged the stellar group, pivoting it on Craigleith, until Bellatrix lay on the May.

The result was riveting!

Sirius now lay on Torphichen, headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller—the Catholic military order that “absorbed” the remnants of the outlawed Templars and, by the grace of Rome, acquired most of their property to boot. Recent research, however, suggests the Templars may have continued to maintain a secret autonomy within the Hospitallers.

But that’s just the beginning.

A line drawn from Bellatrix through Orion’s left shoulder (Betelgeuse), led directly to Dunsinane Castle, immortalized in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”

Keith Laidler, author of “The Head of God,” relates an interesting tale about Dunsinane. He cites an 1809 newspaper article reporting that a large stone of “the meteoric or semi-metallic kind” had been discovered hidden beneath the castle. The stone was sent to London for study, but disappeared en route. Laidler goes on to say that it was Scotland’s real Stone of Destiny, and that the stone upon which British monarchs have since been crowned is a substitute. This real stone, he claims, is the Throne of Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh who tried and failed to establish monotheism in Egypt shortly before the Biblical Exodus. That stone began its journey to Scotland with Scota, who Laidler says was Akhenaten’s daughter, while Akhenaten led the Exodus to the Promised Land under the name given to him in the Bible—Moses!

Could today’s Christians and Jews be linked to a common Egyptian patriarch? The implications are staggering!

But where did Betelgeuse lie—the star between the May and Dunsinane?

My map showed a featureless landscape. But subsequent research revealed that an ancient stone circle, now “lost,” had once existed to the west of the nearby hamlet of Dunino. If the lost circle proves to lie under Betelgeuse, archaeologists will have a merry time losing it again.

The stars at Orion’s feet also lay in interesting locations.

Rigel, Orion’s right foot, stood on the lands of Yester. Built in 1297 by the “Wizard of Yester,” Hugo de Gifford, Yester Castle stands over a sizable underground cavern known as the “Goblin Hall,” where Hugo practiced his “magic,” and passed to the Hay family in the 14th century. Father Richard Hay later wrote a history of the Sinclairs of Rosslyn. Lord William Sinclair, it’s said, actually moved his castle to free up the chapel’s building site. Location was everything, I guess—even back then!

Saiph, Orion’s left foot, stood between the towns of Musselburgh and Prestonpans, on land once owned by the Cistercian monks of Newbattle, and later associated with the Templar-connected families of Seton and Kerr. Besides hosting one of Scotland’s first Masonic Lodges, the area also hosted the first meeting of the North Berwick Witches—accused in 1590 of plotting to murder Scotland’s first officially Masonic king by the “abomynable cryme of wytchcraft.” The trumped-up case helped kick off over 100 years of witch persecution in Scotland, barely covered in mainstream histories.

Here’s the kicker:

North Berwick Law PhotoA line drawn from Rigel, through Saiph, led directly to Bannockburn, site of the great Scottish battle for independence where, on Midsummer’s Day, 1314, a great message was hung invisibly in the dawn—a message meant to eventually reveal that we’ve been fooled for a very long time.

Surprise, surprise!

Last April I drove out of Edinburgh to take photographs of the three belt-star islands, and was struck by the shape of North Berwick Law, the peak that stands just to the south of Craigleith. It looked remarkably like a pyramid, so I made some calculations.

According to Hancock & Bauval’s “Message of the Sphinx,” the bottom of the square pit in the center of the Great Pyramid’s subterranean chamber lies 610 feet below the pyramid’s summit platform. North Berwick Law stands at 613 feet!

Care to split some very fine hairs, anyone?

From the top of North Berwick Law the islands of Craigleith, the Lamb, and Fidra lie stretched along the coast like pearls on a string. The questions cannot be avoided: How could they possibly be positioned, each to the other, like the Giza pyramids? How could they lie below the rising of Orion’s belt in the Bannockburn dawn? How could North Berwick Law be pyramidal? How could natural geological features be so conveniently where they are in the first place without divine intervention? And why, in that small corner of the world, do the voices of myth and history join to sing a siren song to people like me, and maybe you?

Perhaps I can suggest answers to some of those questions, and raise new ones.

Old Map ImageRisking the hoots and hollers of academia, I propose that North Berwick Law and the islands of the Forth are where they are due to large-scale “terraforming”—i.e. shaping the landscape to suit a purpose that is only now emerging from the mists of time.

On a mid-17th-century map of the area, supposedly based on the original but now mysteriously lost drawings of late-16th-century mapmaker Timothy Pont, the three belt-star islands are shown. But there are curiosities about their presentation. The orientation of the grouping is wrong, and the Lamb is called “Long Bellenden.” The name is especially curious because the Lamb is not long at all. In fact, it is the shortest of the three islands. Could it have been shortened to “sharpen” the aim over the vast distance from the May to Tara? Might not the islands have been one long island at some point, carved from the mainland by a cataclysm the ancient “mythmakers” would only hint at, and then cut into three? And might not North Berwick Law have been “shaped” from the tailings of such an enormous excavation? Just take a look at Fidra, sliced almost in two and bored clear through, and ask yourself if it was shaped by God, Nature, or the helping hand of man!

I realize I stand on shaky ground here, but not without consideration—and I welcome your arguments. Be warned, however, that this article could have been a lot longer. The simple grid shown here has blossomed into greater bloom—and I’m loaded for bear!

History tells us we’re the greatest civilization ever to walk the face of the earth. Wars have been fought since time immemorial over matters of faith—each side believing that God is on their side. But what if the things that make us swing our swaggersticks are wrong? Who’ll forgive us for the damage we’ve done, fool unto fool, believing in lies?

Orion was brought down to earth in Scotland, and then later nailed in place by tales of a legendary stone, a holy chalice, a magical sword, a battle the world would not soon forget, and a once-and-future king named Arthur.

Much care was taken, over dangerous times, to make us think. Perhaps now, more than ever, it’s time we did.

(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #33 – May/June, 2002)

Bombardment image

My “Mystery of Bannockburn” article, published in Atlantis Rising issue 31, proposed that the great 1314 battle for Scottish independence had been stage-managed by a clandestine brotherhood that stood on both sides of the battleline, and had been forever fixed in time as an event of great symbolic significance by uncannily mirroring a simultaneous encounter in the heavens above.

Bannockburn, I proposed, was an epic contract between enemies of convenience, written in the invisible ink of the stars at daytime, and sealed with the blood of battle. It follows that many of the rank-and-file who fought that day thought they were fighting only for Freedom, but in fact were also fighting so that certain “forbidden” truths could be sent quietly forward to a more-enlightened time. The brotherhood knew that books could be burned, and messages carved in stone could be crushed into dust, but the arrangement of the heavens would forever remain safe from tampering. And so it was there, supported by some pointed hints in the “official” record, that they hid their secrets!

500 years after the Battle of Bannockburn, that brotherhood would meet again to fix yet another date in time and to reaffirm their ancient contract. Once again they would pretend to be enemies, and once again they would hide their secrets in the sky.

Let’s go back.

Very early on the morning of September 14, 1814, a young American lawyer named Francis Scott Key stood on the deck of a British “truce” ship, waiting for the dawn. In a letter to a friend, Key would later describe dawn’s arrival as a “bright streak of gold mingled with crimson shot athwart the eastern sky, followed by another and still another, as the morning sun rose in the fullness of his glory, lifting ‘the mists of the deep,’ crowning a ‘Heaven-blest land’ with a new victory and grandeur.”

He had just witnessed the end of the 25-hour naval bombardment of Maryland’s Fort McHenry, the fort that guarded the entrance to Baltimore harbor.

The sight of an immense American flag, flying “o’er the ramparts” of the fort, would inspire him to scribble down the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” That anthem would be Key’s single claim to fame, and would commemorate the most-memorable event in America’s otherwise most-forgotten war.

Often referred to as America’s second war of independence, there were several reasons for the War of 1812, but the immediate reason was the British navy’s nasty habit of boarding American ships and “pressing” certain of the crew into its own ranks on the grounds that they were British deserters. The action rankled, and America went to war for the first time as a sovereign nation.

Much has been speculated about the early foundations of America. It has been proposed that the country was begun as a grand experiment of the brotherhood of Freemasons, a fraternity thought by many to have grown out of the Knights Templar, the mysterious order of warrior monks barbarously suppressed in France on grounds of heresy, among other charges, in 1307. It has also been proposed, however, that many Templars escaped to Scotland, and delivered the decisive blow against the English at Bannockburn. Going underground, the order then cobbled together yet another brotherhood within the civil sector that would survive the Protestant Reformation—the great church schism that gave the Vatican a new force to reckon with. Although the Templar connection is still hotly debated, that new brotherhood is thought to be the Freemasons.

Almost 300 years after Bannockburn, in 1603, the crowns of England and Scotland would finally unite under the first officially Masonic king, Scotland’s James VI.

Shortly thereafter, the great migration to the New World would begin in earnest.

In Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh’s “Temple and the Lodge,” the authors claim that many of America’s founding fathers were Freemasons, and that the precipitating acts of the American Revolution were planned by that brotherhood. Many Freemasons, they claim, were key participants in the famous Boston Tea Party. One of them was Paul Revere—famous for his “midnight ride” to Lexington, where “the shot heard round the world” was fired. It is interesting to note that from George Washington on down there was a disproportionate number of Freemasons among the American high command, including a General Arthur St. Clair, a descendent of Sir William Sinclair who built Scotland’s Rosslyn Chapel, the world’s most revered repository of Freemasonic lore. William, in turn, was a descendent of the man thought to have led the Templar charge at Bannockburn, who was himself ancestor of Prince Henry Sinclair of Orkney, who arguably may have organized a voyage of discovery to the New World in 1398, long before Columbus was a twinkle in his father’s eye.

Baigent and Leigh also imply, however, that the top British commanders were also Freemasons, and showed little zeal to win the war. It was perhaps thought more prudent to let the new land govern itself, while each country’s movers and shakers remained bound by brotherly bonds. A mutually beneficial dialog could then be quietly maintained, while highly motivated hordes of European immigrants proceeded to kick America’s indigenous people about, from place to place, in the great march west.

But they needed a flag to march behind.

It is well known that the first American flag was commissioned by Washington, and was sewn by Betsy Ross. But it is less well known that Betsy’s husband was a brother Freemason, and that Washington described the flag’s circle of stars as “a new constellation.”

While we are taught that the circle symbolizes the 13 original states, could Washington have had something else in mind? Might he have been secretly invoking the Hermetic dictum “As Above, So Below,” a phrase much bandied about whenever Templars, Freemasons, and “underground streams of knowledge” are discussed in the same breath? Could that stellar circle also symbolize the letter “O,” for Orion, the constellation that played such a pivotal role at Bannockburn?

America’s Declaration of Independence, signed by many brother Freemasons, is thought to have been inspired by Scotland’s Declaration of Arbroath, signed shortly after Bannockburn by many names still associated with the survival of Templar and Freemasonic ideals. That stirring document can still be interpreted as a testament to the equality of men and as strong advice to any temporal ruler unwise enough to hold the will of the people in contempt.

McHenry Dawn imageDuring the years following the American Revolution, however, the young nation somehow failed to develop a unity of spirit that the world’s major powers would respect. The war of 1812 would change all that, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry would force the world to see the “Stars and Stripes” with new eyes, and would give the American people a song to sing.

The British assault on Baltimore was, like the English assault at Bannockburn, a two-pronged affair. British General Robert Ross, who had shown remarkable restraint by burning only the government buildings during his earlier “sack” of the nation’s capitol, led his men towards Baltimore by land. The assault failed when Ross became one of the first casualties and, with an effect eerily reminiscent of a similar event at Bannockburn, his men lost morale.

Meanwhile, the British fleet had anchored broadside to Fort McHenry.

At 7 a.m. on Sept. 13, and continuing for 25 hours with just one several-hour break, British warships bombarded the fort. Key’s lyrics, however, tell us that the bombs were “bursting in air” before reaching their targets. The fuses had been inexplicably set too short to go the distance. But the light of the bombs and “the rockets’ red glare” did manage to give “proof to the night that our flag was still there!”

It was quite a show, and a relatively cheap one. Only four Americans are known to have died during the bombardment.

But there was a much bigger show going on above—one that would outlive the tale we are told today.

Heliocentric view of the solar system at dawn, sept. 13, 1814

At 3:41 a.m., the “morning star” Venus rose above the eastern horizon midway between the forelegs of Leo, just minutes before the rising of Regulus, a significant star in Masonic tradition. If the night had been dark, clear, and eventless, they would have made a pretty pair. But it was raining, the air was full of smoke, and all eyes were trained on the lightshow below.

Mercury rose at 5:16, as Leo stood “rampant” on the horizon in a stance well-reminiscent of the flag carried at Bannockburn—the flag Scots still fly today—followed quickly by the war planet Mars. Even if the bombardment had not been the main focus of attention, these events would have already faded in the light of the approaching dawn.
Just twenty minutes later, giant Jupiter would rise behind the Sun followed shortly by the Moon.

To Earth’s east, if we include the Sun and Moon, six denizens of our solar system lay within just 30 degrees of sky—all but one of those lying within seven degrees—a surprisingly rare alignment.

The planet Pluto surprised me more.

Pluto is the outermost planet in our solar system—so far out that it takes approximately 249 Earth years to orbit the sun. Not “discovered” until 1930, many years after the Siege of Fort McHenry, Pluto takes a very long time to get from one side of the solar system to the other—and yet there it was, due west of the Earth, but part of the same alignment.

But the biggest surprise was the planet Neptune, not “discovered” until 1846, with an orbit time of 165 years. When a line was drawn between Neptune and Pluto, and another drawn between Neptune and the midpoint of Pluto’s easternmost orbit, a compass was formed. When another line connected the two endpoints, a pyramid was formed. And when a line was drawn between Neptune and the Sun, everything weirdly doubled. Astrologers call this particular configuration a “T-square,” and I am told it usually portends events of a sinister nature. But more about astrology later.

As reported, the bombardment had ceased at dusk on Sept. 13, and had resumed at 1 a.m., when the first belt star of Orion broke the horizon. Some 3,000 miles to the East, dawn was breaking in the sky above Bannockburn, and Leo stood defiantly on the Scottish horizon as the bombs again began to “burst in air” above Fort McHenry.

HerculesIt was a long and noisy night, but the Brits eventually set sail at dawn, leaving the grand finale to the Americans. Meanwhile, in the skies east of Bannockburn, Hercules slew Serpens Aquaticus, the many-headed water serpent. How’s that for synchronicity?

The Battle of Baltimore was fought on many fronts, indeed!

It is a common misconception, not corrected in most history books, that the immense 30×42-foot Fort McHenry flag, presently undergoing restoration in Washington DC’s Smithsonian Institutions, was the flag that was flown throughout the bombardment. It was not.

Fort McHenry commander Major George Armistead had ordered two flags to be made, and had required that one of them should be large enough that “the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance.” It was the smaller flag that was flown during the bombardment. It was the larger flag, hoisted at dawn, which inspired Key’s song.

Besides the battle damage that could not have happened, what else about the Fort McHenry flag, and the event, might warrant further investigation? Here’s the short list:

  • Stitched prominently in red on the third white bar up from the bottom is what has variously been described as a patch, the letter “A” for Armistead, or an inverted “V.” We might ask ourselves the following: Why would someone patch a white bar with a red patch, leave off the crossbar of a letter “A,” or turn a “V” upside down? Might I suggest that this element symbolizes the ever-enigmatic Masonic compass? It is also highly provocative that the letter “B” is almost invisibly embroidered near the top of that compass, perhaps to commemorate Bannockburn.
  • Architecturally, Fort McHenry was star-shaped, and had been named after Freemason James McHenry, U.S. Secretary of War during Washington’s presidency.
  • There is a legend that, as the British fleet retreated, a rooster crowed defiance from the top of the flagpole. That “herald of dawn” is prominently displayed on the seal of the clan Sinclair, with the motto “Commit thy work to God.”
  • The Francis Scott Key Bridge spans the Potomac River from Washington, DC, to Rosslyn, Virginia, perhaps another quiet symbol of the secret transatlantic arrangement made so many years ago.
  • The very name “Scott Key” resonates with the suggestion that one key to unlocking this great mystery will be found in Scotland.

While I have described the astronomical arrangement of the skies above Fort McHenry and Bannockburn, and have tipped my hat to the ancient mythological connections, I have paid only brief lip-service to astrological considerations because astrology is not a field I have studied enough to feel comfortable with. Astronomy and astrology were once virtually inseparable disciplines—but not today. While astronomy has acquired a gloss of scientific “respectability,” astrology has not fared so well.

BannerI have nevertheless asked Rab Wilkie and Ed Kohout, both knowledgeable in the understudied field of “Masonic Astrology,” to weigh in with their thoughts on my theories in “100-words-or-less.” Stingy, I know! They have so far weighed in with thousands, and deserve a forum larger than this article can provide to properly present their views in ways that do them justice. I thank them both for helping me adjust the accompanying “Heliocentric View” graphic into something the average reader can visually comprehend. They have also enthusiastically convinced me that what each of us has seen so far is “just the tip of a rather large iceberg.”

These are interesting times, indeed!

Some final considerations about the subject at hand:

Consider that the most famous song inspired by the Battle of Bannockburn was “Scots Wha Hae,” written by Scots bard and Freemason Robert Burns. Consider that Freemason Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812. Consider that Freemason John Philip Sousa’s last performance was to conduct his “Stars & Stripes Forever” in 1932. And finally consider the possibility that a small yet influential clandestine brotherhood may have been marching in secret to its own drum since 1314, if not earlier.

Considering all those things, one might well wonder what Freemason George M. Cohan had in mind when he penned the last few lines of “You’re A Grand Old Flag,” using a phrase from the Robert Burns megahit “Auld Lang Syne.” Could Cohan have written those lines for brothers “with ears to hear?” Italics mine.

Every heart beats true ’neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag.
But should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on that grand old flag!

Like religion, flags have always had the uncanny ability to keep large groups of people united, ready to fight for any common cause at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, flags and religion have also been found useful in keeping even larger groups of people apart and, for the most part, that’s why the great Chess game called War has never lacked for pawns.

But who plays the game, and who are the pawns?

(Originally published in Atlantis Rising #31 – January/February, 2002 – and republished in translation in the July/August, 2004, edition of Italy’s Graal Magazine)

Bannockburn Drawing

Bannockburn Drawing

Perhaps no battle in history has been written about more passionately and at greater length than the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn. Without that great battle Scotland may never have managed to shake off the yoke of English domination, may therefore never have established a true national identity, and so would never have birthed the stirring Declaration of Arbroath which was, in the opinion of many, the model for America’s own Declaration of Independence.

No fewer than seven accounts were written within 63 years of the battle, and countless others since. Two were published in the last year alone.

Why all the talk?

Because at the heart of that battle has always lain a great mystery: how the enormously outnumbered Scots could have possibly won the day against a force described as “the greatest army that a king of England had ever commanded.”

To solve that mystery researchers have studied the site’s topography, the political climate, each side’s leadership, and even the height of the tides, to explain how the underdog could have prevailed against such overwhelming odds—yet still the mystery remains. Introduce a possible eleventh-hour intervention of the shadowy Knights Templar into the mix and the mystery only deepens.

But was Scotland really the underdog, or was it only meant to appear so? Working under the credo that what looks too good to be true usually isn’t, I looked someplace new—at the sky above the battlefield—and saw what had perhaps been hidden there, in broad daylight, almost seven hundred years ago.

Let’s go back.

It’s 1286. With the death of Alexander III, Scotland is suddenly without a king. Alexander’s infant granddaughter Margaret, the daughter of King Eric II of Norway, is his only heir, and the Scots quickly swear fealty to her. It doesn’t take long for Alexander’s brother-in-law, England’s crafty King Edward I, to arrange Margaret’s betrothal to his son. But his plans fail when the little queen dies en route.

The throne stands vacant.

Two powerful Scottish nobles, each related by blood to Alexander, vie for the prize. One is Lord John Balliol of Galloway, and the other Lord Robert Bruce of Annandale, grandfather of the man who eventually wins victory at Bannockburn. Civil war seems inevitable. Who to choose?

Incredibly, Scotland asks the king of England to choose, and Edward, true to form, picks the weaker of the two, John Balliol, and is declared superior lord of both realms into the bargain.

With Balliol under his thumb, Edward garrisons Scotland’s castles with his own men. Although not the crowned king of Scotland Edward is, in effect, the next best thing.

But a hero soon steps forward who captures the hearts and minds of the downtrodden. That hero is William Wallace whose exploits, romanticized in Hollywood’s “Braveheart,” are now widely known. Edward eventually has Wallace castrated, drawn and quartered, sending the pieces north as a gentle warning against future mischief.

Enter Annandale’s grandson, Robert the Bruce, who systematically recaptures the strongholds—the exception being Stirling Castle, near Bannockburn.

The Scots lay siege.

Edward’s son, by then King Edward II, is given an ultimatum: Arrive with an army by midsummer day, 24 June 1314, or Sir Phillip de Mowbray will surrender the fortress. Edward accepts the challenge and arrives one day early, with a mighty beast of an army that outnumbers Robert’s by at least three to one.

The situation seems hopeless.

Let’s now look up.

Star Chart

Star Chart

At dawn, in a sky already too bright to see him, Taurus the bull stands on the horizon, facing north. The uppermost stars of Orion the Hunter have just risen. Venus, a planet long associated with the pre-Christian Goddess, shines just north of Orion’s weapon, in a direct line with the bull’s lower horn. The sun rises in Gemini, the heavenly twins, followed by Jupiter, Mercury, and the moon in Cancer. Bringing up the rear is Leo the lion, with the war planet Mars below his breast. Accompanying Orion are his two hunting companions, Canis Major and Canis Minor—the Big Dog and the Little Dog.

Throughout the day this celestial group moves westward. Taurus reaches his zenith at midday, and begins to descend. As evening falls, Orion drives Taurus below the westernhorizon. The sun sets. Night returns. Short as a midsummer night is at that latitude, for those who must fight at dawn it must seem all too long. Many will never see another.

Let’s now consider events at Bannockburn over that same period, keeping in mind the hermetic dictum “as above, so below.” The parallels are striking.

First, an event at midday that becomes the single most memorable of the entire two-day engagement—first blood.

Due to a leadership dispute, Edward’s army is split into two great horns as it thunders near. Earl Gilbert de Clare of Gloucester commands one horn. Earl Humphrey De Bohun of Hereford commands the other.

Bruce deBohun

Bruce deBohun

Some fifty yards ahead of Hereford’s column rides his nephew, Henry de Bohun, “clad in full armor on a powerful warhorse with his spear in his hand.” Henry spots the King of Scots inspecting some of his troops at the forest’s edge armed only with a battleaxe and shield and sitting on a small grey horse. De Bohun sees the chance to singlehandedly win the battle before it begins, and takes it.

He couches his lance and charges, full tilt, towards the Bruce—but the Bruce is ready. A split second before Henry’s lance can pierce him through, Bruce sidesteps his horse and, standing in his stirrups, delivers Henry a mighty blow that cuts through helmet, skull and brain and splinters his axe handle in two.

A tidy tale—stirring enough to survive down through time, as perhaps was intended.

Etymological research reveals that “de Bohun” relates to both Taurus and the word “boun,” the name given to cakes traditionally offered to the Goddess in pre-Christian times. Interestingly enough “bannocks,” as in Bannockburn, are Scottish cakes that were similarly used. In John Barbour’s 14th-century biography of King Robert, Barbour specifically refers to de Bohun and Bruce as “the Boun” and “the Brus,” and I suggest that “Brus” may derive from the Middle English word “brusen,” meaning to crush or mangle. Is it possible that Barbour intended de Bohun’s single-combat with Bruce to symbolize the simultaneous struggle between Taurus and Orion in the sky above? Was he secretly pointing up?

First let’s consider two so-called “myths” about Scotland that refuse to die.

  • The Egyptian Connection: The 15th-century Scotichronicon claims that the Scots derive their name from Scota, daughter of the pharaoh who pursued the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Scota and her followers left Egypt shortly thereafter and, after many years, her people eventually settle in a land they name Scotia. It has recently been claimed in Keith Laidler’s The Head of God that Scota’s father was Akhenaten, the pharaoh who tried to establish monotheism in Egypt, using the sun to represent the one true god who should otherwise have had no image. Most astonishingly it has recently been claimed by Laurence Gardner, author of Bloodline of the Holy Grail, that Akhenaten was in fact Moses, the man who led the Isrealites out of Egypt.
  • The Jesus Connection: In 1982’s The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail it’s argued that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, contrary to Christian dogma, were married with children, founding a “holy bloodline” that continued to thrive through some of the highest and mightiest families of Europe. Evidence of that bloodline may have been uncovered by the Knights Templar, that mysterious medieval order of warrior monks, while excavating beneath the ruins of Jerusalem’s King Solomon’s Temple in the early 12th century. Upon that order’s barbaric 1307 dissolution, it’s thought that many escaped from France to Scotland, just in time to help Robert the Bruce, a man whose parentage may have united both bloodlines—the Egyptian and the “holy”—in his struggle with England.

Dangerous ideas, indeed—especially in 1314. But, if believed by some, could these ideas have been secretly introduced into the grand tapestry of history as it was woven at Bannockburn, to perhaps one day, in more tolerant times, be trotted out as Truth?

Let’s now consider how those two myths may be connected to another common root—the belief system of ancient Egypt.

In his most recent book, Rex Deus, Tim Wallace-Murphy reports a claim that “Jesus was an initiate of the Egyptian cult of Osiris and a follower of the goddess Isis, which is largely confirmed by the well-documented Templar veneration of Isis under the Christianized guise of the Black Madonna.” It should come as no surprise to readers of this magazine that the belt stars of Orion are central to Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval’s theories about a extraordinarily early groundplan of the pyramids on Egypt’s Giza Plateau.

As I continued to study the “accepted” reasons given for the Scottish victory at Bannockburn, they seemed less and less credible. Moreover, the existence of an underground brotherhood of Scots and English, united in a cause that transcended national loyalty, seemed likely, and confirmation that a secret tale, written deep between the lines of the official tale, began to emerge out of the mists of time.

Some further points of interest:

  • In a part of his book dealing with Bruce’s early days, Barbour tells of Bruce being pursued by Lord John of Lorne, using Bruce’s own pair of hunting dogs. Bruce shakes the scent by wading up a stream (just like Orion and his canine companions descend nightly beneath the western ocean, only to rise again with the sun). Barbour also pauses in his tale to deliver a strange discourse on prophecy and the “conjunction of planets,” perhaps to suggest that he was actually telling two tales—one tale above, and one below.
  • It has been speculated by A.A.M. Duncan, Barbour’s most recent translator, that Barbour’s patron was Bishop William Sinclair of Dunkeld, younger brother to the Lord of Roslin who was ancestor of the man who built Roslin Chapel, long considered an architectural repository of ancient knowledge and Templar lore.
  • As the English army thunders northward, Bruce’s army waits in the Torwood, a forest south of Stirling Castle. Nowadays defined as a hill or heap, there’s an interesting alternative definition of the word “tor” in the 1899 R.H. Allen book Star Names. Referring to the ancient Druids’ reverence of the constellation Taurus, Allen says that it has “perhaps fancifully been claimed that the tors of England were the old sites of their Taurine cult, as our crossbuns are the present representatives of the early bull cakes with the same stellar association, tracing back through the ages to Egypt and Phoenicia.” Perhaps the claim was not so “fanciful.”
  • Hereford’s argument with Gloucester about who should lead the advance slows the English such that they must rush to Bannockburn, arriving much tired, yet oh-so-conveniently in the nick of time for Bruce’s midday combat with de Bohun.
  • An English deserter named Alexander Seton, a recurring Templar surname, appears in Robert’s camp on the eve of battle. He tells Bruce that de Bohun’s defeat has demoralized the English and that if the Scots fight on the following morning they will surely win. As the dim light of dawn is seen, Seton utters the words “Now’s the time, and now’s the hour,” a phrase immortalized in Scots poet Robert Burns’ stirring ode to Bannockburn.
  • In the pre-dawn darkness of June 24 the Scots quietly approach the English army, and succeed in drawing a battleline closer than English prudence should have allowed. As both sides face off, the Scots suddenly kneel in prayer. King Edward thinks they are kneeling to him for mercy while, behind him, Venus has already risen, followed by Orion and the sun. Could the widely reported event have been orchestrated to serve a double purpose—one prayer for the moment, one hidden for posterity?
  • Bruce’s greatest military innovation was his unique use of Schiltrons—dense “hedgehogs” of men wielding 12-foot spears pointed outward. Schiltrons had been successfully used before, but only as a stationary defense. Bruce trained his to move, and allowed their offensive use. As Orion’s three belt stars moved inexorably towards Taurus, three Scottish schiltrons advanced on the English. Among the battleflags held aloft was that of Bruce’s trusted lieutenant, James Douglas. It depicted three stars on a skyblue background.
  • The English army is positioned in a wedge of land between two tributaries of the River Forth, a tidal river. As the Scots advance into that wedge these tributaries deepen with a tide that is exceptionally high due to the sun and the moon being in such close proximity, giving the English little room to fight except at the front line. Legend then has it that a fresh force of 300 Knights Templar, led by Lord Sinclair of Roslin and followed by an exultant horde of camp followers, come screaming in from the west, throwing the enemy into an irreversible panic. Many drown trying to flee the slaughter. Could that unusual proximity of sun and moon have been known long beforehand? Is that why Edward was given almost a year to assemble his mighty army? And if also known by the Earls Hereford and Gloucester, who had perhaps purposely delayed the English advance, is that why their tired forces bivouacked where they did?

The 1314 Battle of Bannockburn did not end Scotland’s War of Independence, but it did “turn the tide.” In 1322, Edward makes his last foray north and finds the land stripped of sustenance. “King Robert’s Testament,” as Bruce’s scorched-earth policy became known, left behind only a single meal in all the fields in Southern Scotland—one lame cow. There were some in Edward’s retinue who would have quietly snickered!

It’s highly unlikely that mainstream historians will accept as fact any of these connections but, since I have neither academic turf nor reputation to protect, I make them anyway, and welcome debate. But I would caution that further comparison of the written records with the stubbornly persistent myths will reveal other connections too numerous to either list here or shrug off as mere coincidence. There was more going on at the battle of Bannockburn, both above and below, than “history” has allowed—and that’s just the what of it. The why of it’s another tale …

The idea that myth has been persistently used as a vehicle to carry “forbidden” though fundamental truths forward into a more-enlightened future is difficult for many of us to process, and yet it’s important we try—especially on matters of religion, and especially in these terrible times. If it’s possible that all teachings may be equally wrong, and may have grown askew from just a single and sadly forgotten spiritual source more ancient than we’ve been taught, then perhaps “now’s the time and now’s the hour” we began to consider that possibility. To continue to do otherwise has once again proved unimaginably criminal.

(Originally published in Fortean Times #146 — May, 2001, and republished in the June, 2003, Journal of the Rennes Alchemist)

Editor’s Intro: The templars left no written documents testifying to their beliefs–at least none that have been allowed to survive. Jeff Nisbet has found one carved in stone.

In the pre-dawn hours of Friday, the 13th of October, 1307, King Phillip “the Fair” of France, with the full knowledge and blessing of his lackey in Rome, Pope Clement V, attempted to round up and exterminate the then 200-year-old chivalric order of warrior monks known as the Knights Templar. The barbarity of the methods subsequently used to extract confessions to such charges as heresy, blasphemy, sorcery and sodomy, has become the stuff of legend, and Friday the 13th has been considered unlucky ever since.

The fact that Phillip owed the order a small fortune has given mainstream historians a creditable-enough reason for his actions, if not his excesses. But according to a line of speculative reasoning which has become more popular since the 1982 publication of the ever-controversial The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, there was perhaps another reason.

It is now thought by many that the Templars had uncovered evidence that Jesus Christ, contrary to church dogma, had not been born of a virgin, had not died on the cross, had not risen from the dead, and had not ascended bodily into heaven, but in fact had sired children with a wife, the much-maligned Mary Magdalen, thereby establishing a “holy bloodline” that would beget and begat its way over the centuries through some of the highest and mightiest families of Europe, and is begatting still.

But Phillip’s pre-dawn raid was not a complete success. It’s thought that a fair number of Templars may have tumbled to the plot and sailed away, with their treasure and their truth, to Bonnie Scotland, scoring great points with King Robert the Bruce by helping win the day against the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, the same year that Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay was slow-roasted to death on an island in the River Seine.

And so, outlawed throughout the rest of Europe, the Templars had found a sanctuary of sorts in Fair Caledonia, and are thought to have been absorbed, and thereby concealed for safety’s sake into a similar chivalric brotherhood–the Knights Hospitaller–an order that still remained in the good graces of Rome.

No Templar document has ever been found which testifies to a belief in that “holy bloodline.” And who can blame them, given their history, for not putting pen to parchment?

They did, however, inscribe that belief in code, on a fairly large stone high atop a decrepit, roofless church in the tiny Midlothian village of Temple–ancient headquarters of the Knights Templar in Scotland–and it is there, on Aug. 5, 1999, that I showed up.

I was visiting a good friend of mine in the area, who pointed the stone out to me and told me the inscription had never been deciphered. That was all I needed. I shot the photographs that accompany this article and, after returning to the US, put my thinking cap on.

The inscription on the East side of the stone consists of two lines: VÆSAC and MIHM. The second line has been “justified” to make it the same width as the first. On the North side the letters RI have been added, but with less care, in a different hand, and probably at a later date.

Bearing in mind that there were no letters U and J in classical Latin (V and I were used instead), my translation is as follows:

VÆSAC is an anagram of the Latin word CAVSÆ, or “Cause.” What that cause was is revealed in MIHM, which is an anagram of an acronym, and which translates as the Heirs of Mary Magdalen and Jesus.

If my translation of the inscription proves to be correct, as I believe it eventually will, the Templars’ cause, their raison d’etre, as implied by several books written within the last 20 years, was to protect the heirs of Jesus and Mary Magdalen.

The letters RI were a bit more problematic. Although it took me a while, their proximity to VÆSAC eventually led me to believe that they were meant to be introduced into the general mix, creating the letter string VÆSACRIMIHM. This string revealed a second code, embedded in the first, which related to yet another Templar legend–that Henry Sinclair of Orkney, grandfather of the man who built Rosslyn Chapel, made a voyage of discovery to North America in 1396, 96 years before Christopher Columbus is historically credited with that feat.

As I pondered the inscription the word AMERICA suddenly jumped out at me, leaving the letters VSIHM. Just like the second line of the first code, these letters proved also to be an anagram of an acronym. That acronym stands for Henry Sinclair Made 1st (or “one”) Voyage, or “I, Henry Sinclair, Made Voyage”. Amazingly, the letters MIV are perhaps yet a third embedded code–acceptable crypto-shorthand for 14th Century. Whoever added the RI was leaving little to chance!

[Note: There is actually yet a fourth code embedded in the inscription which, due to space considerations, I cut from my original article. I include it here. VÆSAC plus RI deciphers as SACRE VIA, or “Sacred Way.” It’s my opinion that the inscribed stone at Temple lay along a path of initiation for those who, over time, were initiated into the “higher mysteries” of the Templars. When that path fell into disuse, or if indeed it ever did, is open for debate.]

My translation of VÆSAC MIHM has been called “very ingenious” and “very persuasive” by an eminent Scottish archaeologist. I have since written three applications to Historic Scotland, the government department that protects the property, for permission to conduct an inexpensive and minimally invasive on-site investigation, and have been turned down. HS has accused me of playing a “pleasurable game of anagrams” which, it says, is “no substitute for methodical research,” and that “without clear evidence” of the existence in Scotland of a “cult of Mary Magdalen as the bride of Christ,” my reasoning, “while interesting, cannot be regarded as having any basis in fact.” My argument that perhaps the inscription may be that clear evidence has so far fallen on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, HS plans to sink a bundle into making Urquhart Castle a more tourist-friendly and all-inclusive lookout perch for the Loch Ness Monster. There’s enough “clear evidence” for Nessie, I guess!

So what should all this mean to us, and why should it matter?

Briefly put: If the Templar legends of a holy bloodline and Henry Sinclair’s voyage of discovery eventually prove to be true, then world history as it has been presented to us must be radically altered. If these legends prove not to be true, yet have been believed to be true down through the ages by a privileged and influential few, then perhaps the course of history has already been altered, in ways we can only guess at. Either way, the inscription on the Temple stone deserves a closer look.

I’ll be returning to Scotland later this year, and will spend a few hours in Temple. Once again I will look up at the inscription, and wonder. But I mustn’t touch. Touching has been strictly forbidden

— END —


Here is an interesting letter-to-the-editor Fortean Times ran (UK Aug. 2001, US Sept.).
It is followed by an Editor’s Note, which is followed by my response:

“With regard to the article by Jeff Nisbet, ‘Reader of the Lost Stone’ [FT 146:47], is this meant to be a leg-pull, perhaps?

There seems to be some confusion in the rendering of the Latin ‘inscription’ væsacrimihm. While there could, just conceivably, be a chronogram in that inscription, it beggars belief that the author could have made the word America from this if he claims the inscription is 14th-century in date.

Had the author looked up in any reference book the derivation of the name America, he would have found that the name appears on no map, printed or manuscript, prior to the great 12-sheet xylographic map printed in 1507 by Martin Waldseemüller, on which the New World was named in honour of the voyager Amerigo Vespucci, Pilot Major to the Casa de Contratación, the Spanish clearing house for all overseas voyages at Seville. On this map, the name America appears in what we now call Brazil. Waldseemüller’s map is generally held to have been printed at Strasburg in an edition of 1,000 copies, only one of which is known to have survived, at Schloss Wolfegg in Germany. Or is Mr. Nisbet recording an early example of time-travel!”

—JJS Goss, MA, FRGS, Bletchley, Buckinghamshire


Besides the Vespucci hypothesis, the Oxford Gazetteer offers an alternative origin for the name America: “Another suggestion is that it was named after a Bristol merchant, Richard Ameryk (or Amerik), who is said to have invested in Cabot’s second voyage. As a customs collecter he paid Cabot his pension of 20 pounds, but whether his name was used for the new land is a matter of speculation.”

Although there are at least two theories about the origin of the word “America” that we were not taught in primary school, I will not argue them here. But I will say this:

Nowhere in my article do I write that the inscription on the stone at Temple is contemporary with the original building. On the contrary, I specifically state that the letters RI (without which the word “America” cannot be found) appear to have been added at a later date. When that date was, I do not know, but the belfry was rebuilt in the late 17th or early 18th centuries. It is unclear whether or not the inscribed stone was part of that rebuilding, or whether it was incorporated from the earlier structure.

I do, however, attribute the original inscription to the Knights Templar–an order that standard references tell us was dissolved in 1307. I have good reasons to believe (and I am far from alone in this) that the Templars continued to exist for many years after the 1307 dissolution of the order, and so the letters RI could certainly have been inscribed after Amerigo managed to get his name on Waldseemüller’s 1507 map.

It’s interesting to note, however, that Waldseemüller’s later maps of 1513 and 1516 do not include the name–and we are free to wonder why. It’s also interesting to note that a sole-surviving map out of an edition of 1,000 (a large press run at that early date) is certainly suggestive of something, if not conclusive of much. Finally, it’s interesting to note that the 1507 map was produced under the patronage of Duke Renaud II of Lorraine who, as titular “King of Jerusalem,” may possibly have had some binding “family” reasons for attempting to conceal a prior origin of the word.

Time will no doubt tell. But until Historic Scotland agrees to climb up the east wall of the ruined church at Temple and take a closer and more open-minded look, I will continue to wonder, and point, from below. I’d appreciate some company!

[Note about the map (not included in my reply): I recently read that Waldseemüller’s 1507 map has been purchased by the US Library of Congress for $5 million. According to the article I read, it will be the “crown jewel” of its map collection.]


Since the publication of my article in Fortean Times, I have periodically searched “VAESAC MIHM” (without the Æ ligature) on various internet search engines just to see if my findings had generated any kind of buzz on the world wide web. I never got a “hit” until 26 August 2001. The “Temple, Midlothian” page of the Gazetteer for Scotland website (a page I had visited several times while researching my article) had recently added the following:

“The old parish church may date back to the 12th C., but is more likely built by the Knights of St. John [Kinights Hospitaller] soon after they succeeded the Templars in 1312. The inscription VAESAC MIHM on the gable-end tends to confirm this. It has been translated as Vienne Sacrum Concilium Militibus Johannis Hierosolymitani Melitensibus or ‘The Sacred Council of Vienne, to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and Malta”.

On 17 August 2001 I Emailed the Gazetteer’s “feedback” link asking for the documentation used for the translation, but received no reply. On 8 Sept. I Emailed one of the original developers of the site with the same request. On 11 Sept. I received a reply which included the following two sources in which the translation is “mentioned”: 1. Lang, Theo (ed.) (1952) The Queen’s Scotland: Edinburgh and the Lothians, Hodder and Stoughton, London. 2. Thomas, Jane (1995) Midlothian: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. The Rutland Press, Edinburgh.

I am tracking those books down, and will update this site on the documentation used in them when it becomes available.

In the meantime, you may be interested in knowing some of the other arguments (not included in my article) that Historic Scotland used to stymie my requests for a more thorough investigation of the Temple site. Here are two of them:

• As you point out, the inscription is enigmatic. All the more so because it is doubtful that it is complete. In the 1920s it was still possible to decipher two further letters (RI) on the other face of the stone. Indeed the cut into the stone of the adjacent bell-rope may have removed other parts of the inscription.

• While your deciphering of the inscription of the stone is ingenious, it supposes that the inscription is complete and that the stone has not been reused from another location; in both cases there is room for doubt.

Historic Scotland obviously did not know of the existence of an earlier translation when it corresponded with me. It would have mentioned it in its correspondence if it had. Although I have not yet approached them on the matter for an opinion, I somehow feel that they would not use those same arguments against the Gazzetteer’s posted translation that they used against mine. Unsatisfying tho’ the Gazetteer’s posted translation becomes when you begin to work with it as a code, it nevertheless fits into the officially accepted version of history we are taught in school#while mine, which works letter-for-letter and ligature-for ligature, does not.

One final note: It would not surprise me that early 14th-century “heretics” on the run would build a certain amount of “deniability” into any code they carved in stone. It does surprise me, however, that in these enlightened times we are still not permitted to investigate that possibility!

Stay tuned …


A third source of the Gazetteer for Scotland’s translation was provided to me by a high-ranking officer in the modern-day Scottish order of the Knights Templar (the Militi Templi Scotia). He trotted out essentially the same translation of the inscription that the Gazetteer had posted, but attributed the translation to Nigel Tranter, a recently deceased (2000) writer and historian who has become affectionately known as “Scotland’s Storyteller.” The officer also told me that while I am entitled to my opinions, they are not “informed opinions.” When I wrote back saying that “informed opinions” are opinions one has been “informed” about, and so may have little to do with “Truth,” I got silence in reply – a sound I have become used to.

I researched all three given sources of the translation on my April 2002 trip to Scotland, and list my findings here. The most recent is listed first.

1995: Jane Thomas says in her Midlothian: An Illustrated Architectural Guide, that the inscription “may stand for Vienne Sacrum Militibus Johannis Hierosolymitani Melitensibus (The Sacred Council of Vienne, to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and Malta),” but gives no attribution

1975: Nigel Tranter says in his Portrait of the Lothians book that “there is a strange inscription on the east gable which long puzzled antiquaries, ‘VAESAC MIHM.’ This is now thought to be the initial letters of Vienne Sacrum Concilium Militibus Johannis Hierosolymitani Melitensibus (The Sacred Council of Vienna, of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and of Malta).” Tranter gives no attribution to the translation

1952: Theo Lang says in his Edinburgh and the Lothians book that “the letters on the gable, ‘VAESAC MIHM,’ have been translated as the initials for ‘Vienne Sacrum Concilium Militibus Johannis Hierosolymitani Melitensibus’ (The Sacred Council of Vienne, to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and Malta).” No attribution is given by Lang, either.

Neither of the three sources, spanning the years 1952 through 1995, give the original source of the translation which has now become well-enough accepted as historically accurate source material for both Edinburgh University’s Gazetteer for Scotland, and the Scottish Knights Templar, and yet both the Gazetteer and the Knights are content that the translation is an accurate one.

Only time will tell…

© Jeff Nisbet