Please find enclosed a copy of the Priory of Sion’s Dossiers Secrets, as referred to by Dan Brown in his intro to The Da Vinci Code, along with a reproduction of the Serpent Rouge. Although Brown claimed to have independently researched the historical facts woven into his novel, it was abundantly clear to us from his testimony at the trial that he probably hadn’t actually ever seen the real Dossiers Secrets. Furthermore, it appears that he never even realized that most of the “historical facts” that he had “researched” were nothing more than a cunningly devised back-story for a surrealistic real-life performance art piece, which is still being enacted today. Your mission is to investigate these convolutions from a completely uninitiated perspective and report back to us, so that the Red Herrings can better understand how to seed hermetic triggers into the public consciousness in our future works. Good luck, and sparkles from Stella!
Standing. I am standing in Saint Sulpice. Scenes from Là-Bas dance in my head. The heads of Baudelaire, and de Sade were baptized here. Hugo married Adèle Foucher in Saint Sulpice. I am not at peace, though. In hand, worn, crumpled, pathetically reproduced and practically illegible is a document, or is it a poem— titled Le Serpent Rouge - Notes sur Saint-Germain-des-Prés et de Saint-Sulpice de Paris.
I’ve been told to “make sense of it.” This Friend is my boss, as I am the newly hired personal assistant to Stella Maris, proprietor of MemoryMap, a music production company – or, so I thought when I went on the job interview. But, instead of taking phone messages and typing dictation, I will be paid to retrace her footsteps through time… to tell the story like it really was and not like it became. A puzzle. A dream. Things are not as they seem. I had been hoping to meet real rock stars and drink Blanc de Noire. Yet, here I stand in an obscure church in Paris, slowly losing the plot.
The manuscript Stella gave me, Le Serpent Rouge—a poem, or a beginning, consists of 13 stanzas each crowned with an astrological house. Ophiuchus, or Serpentarius, a constellation whose southern part lies between Scorpio to the west and Sagittarius to the east makes up the 13th sign. Is it poetic license or a map template based on the zodiac? And, why was it written by the three authors who wrote it, but did not, but really did exist. Stella says their names were “borrowed” from the obituary of a local French newspaper in the 1960s by a “prankster”, how gruesome is that?
To make sense of it all I will have to reenter the church. I walk back in and begin walking from west to east, like Stella did, where I come upon the first chapel. The murals of Eugene Delacroix hang here. I understand! My fingers cannot turn the tattered pages of this poem fast enough… Virgo! “Here is the sign which Delacroix had given in one of the three pictures from the chapel of angels.” Before my eyes, in the Chapel of Angels at Saint Sulpice, is Jacob fighting the Angel by Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix. Could this be a coincidence?
Following Stella’s footsteps, I walk to the south transept where I come across a curious marble slab. If only I had a compass. Slowly, step by step, I walk the line traversing the transept to another inscribed plate in front of the altar. And now I stand in front of an obelisk—a possible tribute to the Egyptian sun god, Ra? What kind of line was this? It was not the prime meridian or a line of longitude. I knew the original Paris Zero Meridian was sited roughly 300 yards to the east, at the Paris Observatory, and the current Prime Meridian was sitting in Greenwich. So, what is the purpose of a solar meridian?
Surrounded by works of the Scorpio stanza’s Emile Signol, embraced by two stained glass windows marked “P” and “S”, I look “south to north and from east to west, finally spinning in all directions.” Once again, I turn to this mysterious manuscript and discover, under the sign of the Twins, "looking from the South to the North, finally in all directions to obtain the desired solution.”
Is this some kind of initiation… or just a tour of the church? Yet, when I read the very last line of Gemini, “The circle being the ring coil of snake and the crown”, I know it was much more. The coil of a serpent. The layout of the Church. The crown. Which path was I taking and will I make it to Kether? Stella says that Geburah is a bitch and to avoid that route at all costs.
I have to get out of this church, it’s too much. Running, running, I lose my way and find myself on Rue Lobineau. Lobineau—where have I heard that name? Then I remember that author of the Dossiers Secrets is listed as a Henri Lobineau… could this be some kind of in-joke?
But, I have no time to ponder the vagaries of French humor as I’ve had enough of this prankster pilgrimage for now and I’m off to Deux Magots, where I’ll skip the Pimm’s Royale and settle instead on a nice glass of red from an area I’ve never heard of called the Corbieres.
Relaxing at an outside table, I look across the ancient square and groan when I realize that the picturesque church in front of me is named Saint-Germain-des-Prés, just like Saint Sulpice’s partner in the Serpent Rouge…