Sketching out a fascinating network of historic figures, cults, and Christendom, this book by an occult studies expert and respected authority on magic and sorcery takes western spiritual traditions seriously—but examines them with common sense and self-effacing humor. Working backward from the Freemasons to one of their original orders, the 14th-century Knights Templar, the account considers sorcery, heresy, and intrigues; explores the legend that the Knights possessed a powerful secret dangerous to the Church of Rome; and finds an essential clue to the order's practices in their connection to the biblical Solomon, king of Israel in the 10th century B. C.
Lon gives an overview of the book:
“They will be able to read what I wrote, but what I wrote is a mystery itself.”
~ James Sanborn – Creator of the Kryptos
A most unusual work of art adorns the main entrance and courtyard of the New Headquarters Building of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley Virginia near Washington DC. It is a two-part sculpture made of lodestone, polished red granite, quartz, copperplate, and petrified wood. It was commissioned in November 1988 as part of the Art-in-Architecture program of the General Services Administration. The task of selecting the artist fell to a joint committee of members of the CIA Fine Arts Counsel, and the National Endowment for the Arts, who chose local artist James Sanborn, a Washington D.C. native to receive the $250,000 commission to execute the design he called “Kryptos” (Greek for “hidden”).
Mr. Sandborn certainly did his homework preparing the design and the materials for his work that is intended to serve as an elaborate example of the art of information encryption. He studied for months with retired CIA cryptographer, Ed Scheidt, before setting to work on the sculpture that incorporates a twelve-foot copper scroll punched through with thousands of letters. Since its unveiling in 1990 professional and amateur cryptographers have been obsessed with its solution, but interest in the Kryptos reached fever pitch in 2003 when best-selling author Dan Brown hid references to it on the dust jacket his wildly popular novel, The Da Vinci Code. About 75% of the Kryptos has now been deciphered. Amid tantalizing quotes from the diary of Howard Carter (discoverer of Tutankhamen’s tomb) are references to suggest that something important is buried on the grounds of CIA Headquarters. The deciphered code says, Only “WW” (former CIA Director William Webster) knows the precise location. Unfortunately, Webster obviously doesn’t think much of the secret treasure (or at least that is what he would have us believe). Since leaving the agency he told reporters, “I have zero memory of this. It was philosophical and obscure.”
For those of us who are passionately interested in things ‘philosophical and obscure,’ Webster’s words come as no surprise and even less a deterrent to speculation. Indeed, for anyone who cares to investigate, the entire City of Washington DC – the curious and precise layout of her streets, the sacred geometry of her civic buildings, and monuments that teem with occult symbolism – all presenting a gigantic mystery in stone – a mystery that reaches back to the birth of our nation and principals and traditions upon which it was founded.
It is no secret that many of the founding fathers of the United States were Freemasons. 16% of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, 33% of the signers of the Constitution, George Washington and a full 46% of the generals in the Continental Army were members of the fraternity. The cornerstone of the U.S. Capital Building was laid with full Masonic ceremony by Washington himself arrayed in full Masonic regalia.
Masonry’s influence goes far beyond the lodge room. Fourteen American Presidents were Freemasons, and nearly two thirds of all the Supreme Court Justices. Our language is peppered with Masonic terms and phrases; ‘on the level’, ‘square deal’, ‘eavesdrop’, ‘shibboleth’. When police roughly interrogate a suspect they are said to ‘give him the Third Degree.’ When a judge or the chairman of a meeting uses a gavel, or when we are called upon to swear on a Bible, even when we shake hands to seal a deal we are using Masonic devices. Indeed, until 1827 when a scandal tarred the fraternity’s reputation, Freemasonry was for all intent and purposes America’s civic religion.
Masonry is still alive in the twenty-first century, and for the time being remains the world’s largest fraternity. As a service organization it is one of the most generous charitable institutions in the world donating more than a million dollars a day to various charities. There is no question, however, her rolls are swiftly diminishing. In a fast-paced new millennium Masonic membership is no longer considered a requirement for men of business or political ambition.
Numbers, however, can be deceiving. While it is true that Masonic lodges are closing daily and fewer and fewer men are attracted to the fraternity, a significant number of those who are joining are passionately interested in the esoteric and mystical aspects of the Craft, subjects that have been ignored, misunderstood, even ridiculed by the vast majority of their brethren who came of Masonic age in the twentieth century. These young esoteric Masons do not view the Craft as just another service club with quaint traditions and ceremonies; they do not enter her ageless and sacred doors in order to exploit opportunities for business or political networking; they come on a personal spiritual quest; to be initiated into the western mystery tradition. Some, including myself, go so far as to view our involvement in the Craft as a magical initiation.
The term “initiation” is often misunderstood. It is not merely an ordeal of passage or a formal induction ceremony. It is a new beginning – an awakening – a step we take when we have made the conscious decision to move forward – to become more than we are. While spiritual in nature, initiation differs from religion in a very fundamental way. In my book, Angels, Demons & Gods of the New Millennium I try to explain.
Initiation is a commencement; not a reward for achievement, not a seal of attainment, not a trophy of adeptship. Initiation is a beginning, and when we evoke a beginning we also by necessity conjure an ending. Death is the inevitable penalty we pay for allowing ourselves to be born, and the honor of life's journey between these two great pylons is the only compensation offered for this fate.
The uninitiated invoke neither birth, nor life, nor death. Like sleep walkers our numbed steps bear us comatose from cradle to grave, our pale shadow lives pantomime but never experience the adventures of the initiate’s journey. Like other mammals we are born, and live, and die. But unless we make a conscious effort to wake up, unless we harness and focus the power of our wills to take the first steps toward spiritual renewal, we will not, as Homer sang, ‘...received our share of the rite. We will not have the same lot as the initiate...once we are dead and dwell in the mold where the sun goes down.
Prostitution may be the oldest profession in the world, but the oldest spiritual institution is most certainly the initiatory society. To those who would argue that religion holds this august position I must respectfully disagree.
Religion merely haunts the outer courts of the great initiatory temple and holds mystery at arm’s length. From the occasional thread of truth, carried by the wind from the initiatory chamber, religion psychotically weaves and reweaves doctrines and dogma — tapestries of hope, hate and perpetual distraction. Religion exalts mystery as an unknowable secret that must be sealed in glass like the corpse of an enchanted princess and fearfully worshipped from afar. Initiation, on the other hand, requires direct participation and demands each of us to smash the casket and press mad lips to mystery, wooing her as a lover who will offer up her treasurers in a succession of sweet surrenders. This she will do, but only in exact ratio to our evolving ability and worthiness to receive them.
For this new generation of Masonic initiates the secrets of the Craft are not the steps, signs and secret passwords of a service club, but concern a fundamentally more profound secret concerning the history of civilization and the nature of the human soul – a treasure hidden for centuries – a mystery waiting to be brought to light by anyone bold enough to draw the veil.
The partially decoded Kryptos teases us with a thrilling and poignant taste of the ecstasy of such a discovery by quoting from the diary of archeologist Howard Carter, the discoverer of tomb of Tutankhamen.
“At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber caused the candle to flicker, but as my eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, presently details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange statues and animals and gold, everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment, an eternity it must have seemed to those standing by, I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnavon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, ' Can you see anything?' it was all I could do to get out the words, 'Yes. Wonderful things!’”
Masonry’s symbols and traditions stand like the Kryptos, a partially decoded multi-layered mystery that offers the magical promise of “wonderful things” and a supreme spiritual treasure for those brave souls who are not only willing to dig but sufficiently prepared to understand and absorb the full impact of a great secret.
In the dark and brooding firmament of occult literature, Lon Milo DuQuette is a star of unique and exceptional brilliance -- Born 1948 in Long Beach California, and raised in Columbus Nebraska -- 1960s radical Peace activist and Epic Records song-writer and recording artist (...