Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Clue #31: The Cover of The Lost Symbol -- and the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

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.)


  1. Hmmm... maybe we will find out that Solomon's Temple has already been built--enclosed within or disguised as the US Capitol?

  2. UDbmas: These are interesting and provocative speculations. Good by me!

    Certainly the Twitter clues have pointed now and again to Solomon: the involvement with Freemasonry of course brings in the crucial Masonic symbolism of Solomon's temple, which comes up at every lodge meeting and ritual; Francis Bacon and the 'Salomon House' in his _New Atlantis_, which I mention re Tweet #7; the medieval grimoires, _The Key of Solomon the King_ and _The Lesser Key of Solomon_, which I mention re Tweet #13; Isaac Newton's obsession with the precise dimensions of Solomon's Temple (Tweet #17); the Knights Templar (Tweet #23), who were originally quartered at the site of Solomon's Temple; the Seal of Solomon -- another name for the Star of David (Tweet "31 1/2", posted on Facebook).

    However, the actual re-building of the Temple would, to my way of thinking, have to be on the Temple site itself, in Jerusalem, not DC. Yet, there is still a way to see your vision through. For, what if it is not the Temple itself that is the point of interest, but the most sacred artifact that was ever within it? An object missing for 24 centuries, long rumored to have been discovered and secreted out of Jerusalem by the Knights Templar themselves, only to disappear again as the most important part of the Templar treasure? I refer, of course, to the Ark of the Covenant.

    Having said that, I will tell you that I think it unlikely that Dan Brown is going in that direction. The entire thrust of his literary concerns has been to address more metaphysical issues, such as the relationship of religion and science, the way God shows up in Nature, the nature of the Divine Feminine, and the like. The Ark of the Covenant just doesn't figure into themes like that.

    Although, one can never tell, with Dan Brown.

    I would suggest two things:

    (1) Keep those ideas in mind. There might be something relevant in a future Twitter clue that would turn all this right around.

    (2) Make some notes for a novel yourself. Your thoughts are quite imaginative.

    Thank you for contributing to the conversation on this blog.

  3. I doubt they will build/have built on the temple site in jerusulem as there is an Islamic Mosque stood there. and there's the wailing wall right there too. bit of contraversy surrounding that one!

    A similar thing has been suggested before. The Movie 'National Treasure' suggested there was a recreation of solomons temple below trinity church in New York. I know this is complete fiction but it's an interesting one. its a fun movie to watch too :)

  4. Mark, I'm surprised you didn't point out the rather obvious pyramid on the book jacket. Look at the shape of the cutout exposing the DC skyline and capital building. It frames the capital within a pyramid and the wax seal is at the pyramid's apex.

  5. I was looking carefully at the new cover and found, well, something(s). There are three letter/number combos on the cover. They stand out to me because they are pale red (most of the other background symbols are light parchment or brown/gray with the exception of the disc perimeter), AND they are not symbols nor in an archaic-looking font.

    "B1" is at the top, above the R; "C2" on the left, just above the "a" in "a novel"; and 15 (or I5) on the right edge beside "code". If you connect them forming the triangle, its position overlays the triangle created by the "torn" window creating what could be the double-bladed alchemy symbol for silver. OR, combined with the center disk, it is the symbol of a circle inside the triangle. Also, if you consider the torn window to be a triangle, then how closely does the combined effect of the Capitol & book title inside the triangle resemble the Royal Arch symbol?

    I don't know what to make of these, if anything. Maybe that will be part of a future riddle?

  6. Brett: (1) Re rebuilding the Temple: Certainly it would be vastly _impractical_ to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. However, there are groups that are devoted to preparing _today_ for the day when it is possible (not that I am a member of any). The July 20, 1998 issue of _The New Yorker_ ran a great piece on just such a group (Lawrence Wright, Letter from Jerusalem, "Forcing the End," beginning on p. 42; abstract available at http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1998/07/20/1998_07_20_042_TNY_LIBRY_000015965 ). What it comes down to is that the people who are interested in rebuilding the Temple are going to want to see it done in the place that they believe God dictated it be built in the first place. That's the real kicker here, as they say.

    (2) It is my recollection that "National Treasure" conjectured that the Templar Treasure (not Solomon's Temple) was hidden away beneath Trinity Church in Manhattan. Loved that movie, incidentally.

    Esquire: You know, it was a toss-up. Yes, saw it, but it could go either way, you know? But, of course, the lovely aspect of noting pyramid symbolism is that it would an _incomplete_ pyramid, like the one on the $1 bill and the Seal of the U.S., with the Scottish Rite seal in the position of the All-Seeing Eye of God.

    In the end, one makes a judgment call on what to call a symbol, and what to call accidental or coincidental. The danger in any endeavor like this, of course, is that there are so many symbols in Masonry that one is in danger of 'finding' _some_ symbol in _anything_. I've administered too many Rorschachs over the years not to be aware of the possibility of projection. In addition, I figured I had enough to go on. But thank you for prodding me to consider this.

    UDbmas: My guess is that the three colors for the symbols -- black, red, and white -- relates to these colors as they are used in alchemy.

    I suspect that the three letter-and-number pairs you have found are map grids, like on any good street-level tourist map of Washington, DC. We have reason to believe that Dan Brown is going to have Robert Langdon go on a merry chase about Washington, DC (see my post on "Tweet 31 1/2," the bonus clue posted on Facebook but not on Twitter). I suspect these map grids represent 3 of the 6 points of the map that Langdon is going to dash to. Their triangular shape is, I think, an artifact of two things: (a) the coordinates for the "Langdon dash" in 'Tweet 31 1/2' (if that is what it is) involve the two intersecting triangles of the Star of David / Seal of Solomon; and, (b) the artist couldn't post a map grip letter-number pair in the bottom quadrant of the cover, because the paper is torn away to show the Capitol building.

    But, I could be wrong. I'll be giving the cover careful scrutiny over the next two months; I'll post my findings in Updates on this particular post, most likely.

    Thank you all for your stimulating contributions to the conversation. Peace to one and all.

  7. What about the 5 and 8 number sequences?

  8. I see others have spotted the codes on the cover. I wrote up a quick post about them here (with close-up views):


    Very similar to codes hidden on the cover/inside of previous Dan Brown books.

  9. Could there also be significance to the seal being canted at what looks like about 33-degrees? Is the pyramid in the seal acting as a compass needle pointing at something on a 33-degree line from the Capitol? If so, what would it be? I don't think the House of the Temple is on that line, but the Naval Observatory may be.

    Or am I over-thinking...again?

  10. Hi UDbmas,

    I think it's always good to not get too carried away with finding correspondences. Having said that, I did notice the tilt of the seal as well. It's roughly around the 30 degree mark, though going off such a small emblem is difficult to do accurately.

    Incidentally, there are two compass rose type emblems in the circle (in between the N of Dan and B of Brown at the top, and then down the bottom right of the circle as well). However, neither of them align with each other, or the Scottish Rite seal.

  11. I couldn't figure out why September 15 was the publish date until I started looking for the Secret Shakespeare Seal numbers 157 and 287 in or around the title. It turns out that September 15 is day 258 of the year. Number 258 is in the "X" line of codes in the 364 Day Table:


    Using a modern 26 letter alphabet then adding the X to "The Lost Symbol" gives the Kaye Cipher of 287.


    I can't help but think Bacon will be important in this book!

    As for this:

    "B1" is at the top, above the R; "C2" on the left, just above the "a" in "a novel"

    B C a no(vel) = BACON

    15 by the code?

    O is the 15th letter, a circle, cipher, and also 365. Right?

    So we have a Bacon code?


    I'm excited!

  12. I find its fascinating how modern interpretations (like Brown's and others) have barely scratched the edge of the great doctrine concealed in Freemasonry. In truth they have miserably failed to coin it. Their patchwork-piecemeal conclusions are true in minima parte but fail to grasp the original and "singular" meaning of the Lodge. The Lodge has 1 unified meaning. I do not refer to echad or the uity of God solely either - that would be to easy. A mason for 15 years - I have always found the "Medieval- English-French-Franken-Pike Templar connection" to be absurd. The Craft is larger than the legendary Templar connection. Bigger than the Solar interpretation, the adamite ascent and more comprehensive than the Logos theory. The Newtonian minutum mundi fails as well to lift the veil. Even a literal interpretation of the Solomonic temple fails to unveil the 1 meaning of the Lodge. Even the Rites in all their oriental splendour only possess the questions necessary to direct us to it. The totality of the genuine meaning of the Lodge (which is the only true inheritance Masonry has to decode) is openly presented to each of us - blatent and obtrusive to all who experience it. Yet the reality of the 1 answer is not subject to our relative interpretations. Masonry is not all things to all men - it is not what we make it. The original makers of freemasonry had one doctrine in mind to communicate to us. That inheritance is staring us in the face and yet all of these writers and speculators still resound in the deep in error. I ernestly urge apprentices who are ascending from degree to degree who read this to first contemplate the form before them and then search out the 1 meaning of the material lodge. I have said enough - I believe you may fail to see what I am asaying. This seems to be a the trend. Still we must strive. Still I will leave this lamp from time to time with the hope that there will be others.

    H. Wheel P.M.

  13. Da vinci code ban by Christians because of violating law of Christians.


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