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  Columnist: Leonard Farra

Image credit: CC 2.0 Bob Familiar

The Shugborough Code

Posted on Saturday, 23 May, 2015 | 0 comments
Columnist: Leonard Farra

Shugborough was built in a river valley in Staffordshire , England, and it originally formed part of the estate of the Bishop of Lichfield. In 1624, William Anson, a local lawyer, purchased from the estate eight acres of land and a manor house. Shugborough was rebuilt in 1693 and it eventually came into the possession of the famous English navigator George Anson ( 1697-1762} who made his fortune from the capture of a Spanish treasure ship .He was later made Lord Anson and First Lord of the Admiralty. Between 1745 and 1748 Shugborough was transformed by the architect, astronomer, and garden designer Thomas Wright ( 1711-1776) who, many scholars believe, was responsible for the estate’s famous monument. The scene depicted on this monument is based on a painting of the French artist Nicholas Poussin -Les Bergers d’Arcadie. (The Shepherds of Arcadie) and under a reverse reproduction of the painting there are inscribed the following letters:

D                M

Several researchers have tried to explain the Shugborough code including Britain’s famous cipher breakers at Bletchley Park, who cracked many complex codes in WW11, and who suggested a love poem or a Templar reference to Jesus. As I love a good mystery, I decided to try to decode the letters myself. I discovered that Poussin (1594-1665) was intrigued with Roman and Greek mythology and that he painted two versions of Les Bergers. The one chosen for the Shugborough monument shows three shepherds, and a shepherdess, near a coffin. One the men, in a crouched position, is pointing to the words ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’ (I am in Arcadia) on the coffin . Poussin was drawing attention to something associated with Arcadia and the Afterlife but what did Anson, and his companions, know about the link?

When Anson died the following poem was read by his friends in Parliament:

Upon that storied marble cast thine eye.
The scene commands a moralising sigh.
E’en in Arcadia’s bless’d Elysian plains,
Amidst the laughing nymphs and sportive swains,
See festive joy subside, with melting grace,
And pity visit the half smiling face:
Where now the dance, the lute, the nuptial feast,
The passion throbbing in the lover’s breast,
Life’s emblem here ,in youth and vernal bloom,
But reason’s finger pointing at the tomb.

The tradition of the Elysian Fields, which the poem associates with Arcadia , was adopted by the Greeks from Ancient Egypt’s Afterlife region, the Field of Reeds, where the god Osiris lived with his Court. In France it’s the name given to Paris’ famous Boulevard ‘The Champs Elysees’. Arcadia is a mountainous region in Greece which the Greeks associated with gods, goddesses, muses , shepherds and shepherdesses and, according to legend , Maia, the Pleiades goddess, was born there in a mountain cave and her six sisters were conceived in the form of muses.

As ‘Et in Arcadie ego’ is Latin it’s likely that the Shugborough letters are the first ones in Latin words. I discovered a possible explanation for the code several years ago but, unfortunately, I had insufficient time then for any more research on this particular subject. When I later returned to the code, I decided that instead of searching for Anson, or Poussin’s, links with secret societies, the Templars, the Merovingians, etc, as others have done, I would delve into the life of Thomas Wright. What I discovered was that Wright was a remarkable person. In addition to his above interests, he was also interested in the transmigration of souls and he ‘speculated on life in other worlds’. He also studied the popular Roman religion of Mithraism. It’s not clear if he knew that the Pleiades had a special significance in that religion but, in 1748, the year when he finished the alterations to Shugborough, he designed a Mithraic altar, at Wrest Park, in Bedfordshire, where Lady Anson’s sister-in-law lived with her husband, the brother of Lady Anson. There’s a text on this altar in old Greek and a form of cuneiform but nobody has been able to read it. Wright might also have designed the Shugborough monument, as many scholars believe, or he may have discussed it with the Ansons before it was erected as he was also an authority on Classical Greece.

In England, in the 18th century, there was a revival of interest in the Druids and Wright travelled around Britain and Ireland making drawings of Druid sites. The Pleiades played a major role in Druid life and the Celtic festival of Bel’taine ,which was celebrated on 1 May ,after the Pleiades arose on the previous night, was still popular in Scotland and Ireland when Wright set off on his adventurous travels. Wright is thought to have been a Mason and so was George Washington who was inaugurated in New Work, the then capital of the United States, on April 30th 1789 a few years after Wright died, when the Pleiades were culminating over New York City. ‘ Every Freemason would have known this date to be the feast of Bel’taine, a significant Celtic event’. (Source)

The name May is thought to have been derived from that of the Greek Pleiades goddess Maia.} As he studied the Druids, Wright might have known that Samhain, the Celtic Festival of the Dead, ( now celebrated as Halloween) was celebrated on 1st November, after the Pleaides appeared, and when the Celts believed that the gates of the Otherworld were opened and deceased souls returned to Earth.

On the banks of the River Sow, on the Shugborough estate, there are remains of a Druid statue which dates to around 1750 not long after Wright made his alterations to the house. There was possibly a good reason why it was sited near a river. The Celts, and many other early people, regarded water as sacred and it was universally linked with purification and creation . Many early religious sites were built near rivers and Egyptian temples had sacred lake which represented the Primeval Sea and where the priests enacted their secret rituals. The Pleiades were also associated with water and with the Great Flood of 5,000 years ago which drowned the evil people of the previous age and purified the Earth. The Greeks personified these stars as the goddess Maia and some early people regarded them as the Great Mother of Creation. When they appeared, many early people began their agricultural season and so it may be relevant that in Poussin’s other version of Les Bergers D’Arcadie, two shepherds ,and a shepherdess, are leaning towards the coffin and a third man ,seated on the ground, is pouring water from a large vase. There’s a garland of leaves around his head, and there are others resting on his arm. This symbolism suggests a link between agriculture, water, and something which the Greeks associated with Arcadia. The Pleiades?

The last two lines In the poem, which Wright’s friends read out in Parliament, provide another clue to solving the mystery of the Shugborough code :

‘ Life’s emblem here ,in youth and vernal bloom,
But reason’s finger pointing at the tomb.

What’s ‘life’s emblem’ that the shepherd is pointing at the tomb? Could it be the Pleiades ? The Shugborough monument is described as ‘set within a stone arch and looks like the entrance of a cave which is natural and wild’. (Source). Does Shugborough’s mystical symbolism allude to the cave in Arcadia where Maia, the Pleiades goddess, who represented the Seven Pleiades Sisters, was born? Possibly so because the huge V, highlighted against the coffin on the Shugborough monument, might allude to the Pleiades which were called Vergiliae , in the Latin World and also in Anson’s time, as they were associated with spring when life was renewed So, bearing in mind Poussin’s Pleiades linked Arcadie painting, and the Shugborough symbolism, could it be that this is the Latin/English interpretation of the mystical code:

Occultus Ultra Ostium Septem Vergiliae Arcadia Via Vita
Hidden Beyond Door Seven Pleiades Arcadie Path Life

In other words, does the code say that the Pleiades are the hidden path to Life? Wright was ahead of his time and if he believed this to be true, he would hardly have said so in public as it was considered to be secret knowledge in several mystical sects and his reputation would have been ruined. With regard to D and M, beneath the other letters, as some early people, such as the Egyptians, regarded the Pleiades as the Great Mother of Creation, my guess is : Dea (goddess) and Mater ( mother)


(1)For further information of the influence of the Pleiades on early culture, see on Blurb.Com bookstore my two I pad E books: The Pleiades Legacy (The Old World) and The Pleiades Legacy (The New World) . Also on Blurb is my book The Pleiades Legacy (The Stone Age).

(2) For evidence of a Pleiades/Masonry link, see Wayne Herschel - Author - The Hidden Records - discovered ...

Article Copyright© Leonard Farra - reproduced with permission.

Leonard Farra's book The Pleiades Legacy,(The Stone Age) (The Return of the Gods) can be purchased Online from Blurb.Com and the Pleiades Legacy (The Old World) and The Pleiades Legacy (The New World) are now available there as Ebooks which can also be viewed on Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

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