The cat is really out of the bag now.
This morning, Doubleday released the cover art for Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (shown above, in the higher-resolution version featured on the website of NBC's "The Today Show").
Of course, having the cover feature the Capitol building (see Clue #8) confirms that Washington, DC is the setting of the novel. There are also alchemical symbols galore on the cover (three sets, in fact -- in the alchemically significant colors of black, red, and white), confirming that alchemy will be featured in the novel (see my comments on Clue #17 and #18). However, the really big news here involves the central element of the cover, the blood red wax seal, significantly (and sinisterly) set just above the Capitol building. On "The Today Show" website, the seal is described as follows:
The jacket also prominently features a wax seal, inside of which is a double-headed Phoenix, the No. 33, and the Latin phrase, "Ordo ae Chao," which translates to "Order from Chaos." These elements are tied to secret societies throughout history.
The producers and staff of "The Today Show" are to be thanked for doing such a good job of making out the elements of the seal. However, there are a couple of crucial corrections that I would like to make:
First, that is a double-headed eagle, not a phoenix. Second, the Latin is Ordo Ab Chao. Third, and most important, these elements in combination -- the double-headed eagle, the number "33" within a triangle, and the motto Ordo Ab Chao -- are associated with only one 'secret' society: The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry -- which includes what is perhaps the largest single Masonic organization in the world today. (And, yes: I am glad to be a member myself.)
Dan Brown has put, as the seal on his cover, a version of the seal of what is called, in a style typical of the early 19th century, "The Supreme Council (Mother Council of the World) of the Inspectors General Knights Commander of the House of the Temple of Solomon of the Thirty-third and last degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America."
The Mother Council, from which all other Scottish Rite Supreme Councils around the world are descended, was established on May 31, 1801, in Charleston, South Carolina. Its current headquarters are in Washington, DC, in the magnificent House of the Temple. (Don't be surprised if the House of the Temple shows up in the novel. How could Dan Brown resist? It has two giant stone sphinxes in front, for heaven's sake -- you just don't pass that kind of thing up!)
The seal of the Scottish Rite in the Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) shows these basic elements: the double-headed eagle, the "33" in a triangle, a crown (also seen on the seal shown on the cover of Dan Brown's novel), and a scroll with a motto, either Deus Meumque Jus ("God and My Right") or Ordo Ab Chao, or sometimes both, as shown here. A slightly different version of the seal of the 33rd degree may also be seen in the rightmost medallion on this page on the website of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite (the United States being unique in the world in having two sovereign jurisdictions of the Scottish Rite).
The point of all of this: Dan Brown's novel is not only going to be set within the world of Freemasonry (as, long ago, Brown said it would be): it will be set within the world of the Scottish Rite, a system of initiatory rituals that is drenched in the symbolism of esoteric spiritual traditions drawn from across history, including kabbalah, the Knights Templar, alchemy, Rosicrucianism, and more.
This is symbologist heaven. No wonder Dan Brown sent Robert Langdon there.
You heard it here first.
(12:24 p.m. EDT, Wed. 8 July:) The black symbols, the hardest to see, may include figures of code distributed by 19th century Scottish Rite leader Albert Pike. The red symbols in the circle appear to be astrological symbols. The white symbols, clearest to see, appear to be alchemical symbols. More updates as we roll along.
(Copyright 2009 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.)