Raising the Serpent - Mania.com

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Raising the Serpent

"How strange are the manuscripts of my friend, great traveler of the unknown."

By Stella Maris     March 15, 2008

© John Collier, 1892

So, where were we? Ah, yes... in the weeks immediately after I solved the dodgy internet quest by decoding the clues in the paintings in the style of Leonardo da Vinci, everyone completely ignored me. But, out in the real world, I carried on snooping with my new personal assistant, Sophia.

By this time MemoryMap's Paris office had grown substantially and we were looking for a bigger premises. As an interim measure we had installed a manager in our tiny bohemian garret on the Left Bank, which meant that I now had to stay in a hotel when I came to Paris. So, we did a deal with a trendy organization that a lot of music biz and media types belonged to called the Saint James's Club, which conveniently had bases in London, Paris, and Los Angeles at the time.

Consequently, the two-bedroom Gatehouse of the Hotel Saint James in the sophisticated 19th arrondisement became my new Paris home. But, we still used the landmark church of Saint Sulpice just behind the Boulevard Saint-Germain as our meeting point, due to its proximity to the garret.

Sophia thought that the use of Saint Sulpice to meet and greet our pop star clients was an utterly bizarre arrangement. Having read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, she was convinced that Saint Sulpice was the arcane headquarters of a secret society called the Priory of Sion and half expected undercover operatives to pop out of the confessionals whenever we went there.

In an effort to convince me of our inherent peril, Soph concertedly went off to the Biblioteque Nationale to obtain a copy of a secret Priory document called Le Serpent Rouge which, according to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, included a coded ground plan of Saint Sulpice along with a cunningly cryptic thirteen stanza encoded poem relating the so-called secrets of the church.

Having successfully tracked down a copy of the encrypted Priory poem and all its attendant diagrams, Soph triumphantly presented a file of the Priory of Sion’s secret dossiers to me one evening over our routine after-work bottle of champagne in the living room of the Gatehouse.

I only had to study the relevant document for a few minutes before I burst into laughter. For those who were familiar with Saint Sulpice, as I was by that time, this didn't read like a cryptic, mystically encoded text at all. In fact, it appeared to be nothing more than a rather theatrical tour-guide of the church of Saint Sulpice itself.

I could easily recognize the references to Delacroix's Chapel of the Angels, Olier's memorial, and even Emile Signol's paintings in the transept that housed the solar Gnomon that I had become so fond of. Even the name of the editor of the mishmash of documents entitled the Dossiers Secrets - Henri Lobineau - was named after a street right next to the church, called Rue Lobineau.

As far as I could see, this mystically encoded “poem” was nothing more than a hilarious in-joke written by someone who obviously knew the layout of Saint Sulpice extremely well!

To demonstrate my point, I told Soph that I would walk her through the stanzas of the Serpent Rouge during our next visit to Saint Sulpice. In fact, we would do better than that. By one of those "convenient" coincidences, the Vernal Equinox was to occur later that very week, meaning that the focused sunbeam of Sulpice's solar gnomon was due to fall on the plaque directly in front of the altar, signaling the correct pre-Easter coordinate to the priests who has been initiated into the sacred art of timekeeping.

And, so, this is how Sophia and I came to walk the Serpent Rouge in the church of Saint Sulpice in Paris on the Vernal Equinox.

But, little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for…

Newton Coordinate:- In memory of Jean-Luc Robin, whose ashes will be interred in Rennes-le-Chateau on the Feast Day of Saint Patrick, March 17th. Paix à toi, Jean-Luc.


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shadowprime 3/15/2008 4:06:30 AM
Okay - just gotta say it... what am I missing here? What HAVE I been missing? What is going on, or supposed to be going on, with this series of ...er....articles? Every now and again, one is prominently "hyped", and every time I have checked it out, I have ...well....NO earthly idea what is going on. Maybe I need more coffee, or maybe I am just too dense. And not being critical, per se...if someone out there is enjoying this, more power to them. Just saying... HUH? Shadow
almostunbiased 3/15/2008 5:35:42 AM
I too am lost???
buzzkill 3/15/2008 8:44:03 AM
I'm loving it. But, honestly, I've been following Stella on other sites for years.
DIIDDIID 3/16/2008 11:38:38 AM
One more time, since Shadow and Almost seem to be sincerely lost, here is some plainspeak about this column. This a series of related fictional stories which are based on a real person's life experiences. Have you somehow missed two of the most blockbuster cultural events of the last couple of decades - Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the DaVinci Code? This serialized adventure is based on these books and much much more. This website deals with cultural emphemera. These stories are a running commentary on a entire genre of fiction that has sprung up centered on these books.
DaForce1 3/16/2008 11:46:40 AM
Well, *my* serpent hasn't been raised by this article.
shadowprime 3/16/2008 3:26:29 PM
DIIDDIID: Thanks for the helpful comments! At the risk of getting offense, I feel I should point out that in addition to liking comic books, superheroes and all that cool stuff, I do occasionally get into a bookstore and yeah, I think I HAVE vaguely heard about Grail and DaVinci Code. Maybe. Sorta rings a bell. Which doesn't help me understand, much, what THIS column is about, why it gets such prominent attention on this website, and the like. Sorry. So this is some sort of Grail/DaVinci fan fiction? Appears, to me, to be EXTREMELY narrowly focused, VERY VERY VERY small-niche oriented. Which is fine, if it floats your boat more power to you. Just asked because I didn't get it. Still don't, but, thats fine. So, thanks again! Always enjoy a little condescension! I'll get back to my superhero stuff and leave the in-tee-leec-shool stuff to you guys who reed all dem books. AHEM. Shadow PS - More simply, and directly... nothing else that I have come across, in the "highlighted articles" section at any rate, required explanation. By and large, there are reviews of new Books, Movies, DVDs, Comic Books, Toys, etc, and, occasionally, commentary dedicated to the same. I think that anyone coming to this site could, within a few minutes, "get" any of the featured articles. To me, this feature has always been inaccessible (maybe you had to be "in on it" from the start), and completely different from any of the other features. It wasn't clear - to ME - what it was, what the point was, WHY I was seeing it in the "featured articles" section. If it is a "fanfic" type feature, catering to "Da Vinci Code" genre fans - great. Enjoy. Just saying - found it pretty inaccessible and abstruse.
DIIDDIID 3/17/2008 7:08:15 AM
Shadow, I'm sure that Stella is completely okay with a few Maniacs not getting her fiction series and that she is quite happy to continue writing to her extremely niche market of over 40 million people who bought The Da Vinci Code. Daforce, you are to be congratulated for getting one level of Stella's humor! You show promise.


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