I wanted to share an excerpt from my new book, Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure. I hope you enjoy it.
“The name, subjects, and possible locations in this painting have been at the center of controversy for years. I first heard of it when I read the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. The titles Et in Arcadia ego and The Arcadian Shepherds give two important clues as to how this could tie in with the New Atlantis, aka the New World or America. Et in Arcadia ego can be and is often translated as meaning I am also in Arcadia, which raises the question, what and where is Arcadia? Arcadia is a region of the central Peloponnesus in Greece. Extremely hilly, it was chiefly the home of shepherds and goatherds. As such, it became a setting for pastoral poetry.
In mythology, it was presided over by the god Pan. Over the centuries its name became synonymous with pastoral areas, idealized utopias, and a paradise inhabited by spirits of nature and shepherds all living in harmony—a type of Edenic garden. In 1524, the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who sailed along the eastern coast of North America from Virginia to Nova Scotia, called this area Arcadia. At the time of Poussin’s painting in 1637–38, it would have seemed logical to assume that Arcadia could have easily applied to the eastern coastline of North America ranging from Virginia to Nova Scotia (see fig. 9.2). Author, historian, and philosopher Peter Dawkins states in his essay “The Oak Island Mystery, Part 2: The Navigators” that “allegorically, Arcadia is known as the land of the Rosicrucians—a land inhabited by shepherd-knights and poets, and famous for its harmonious landscapes and oak tree woods in which boars hunt for acorns.” In part 3 of Dawkins’ Oak Island essay, he says that “for the early 17th century Rosicrucians, Oak Island and the area of Nova Scotia close to it represent both the star Deneb and the cornerstone of the ‘new land’ of Virginia. The coastal landscape of Virginia corresponds to the main body of Cygnus, the Swan, aka the Northern Cross. It was also known as Arcadia, the Land of the Rosicrucians.” Dawkins goes further in stating that “in Baconian terms, this ‘virginal’ Arcadian land is the earthly counterpart of what could be the beginning of the New Atlantis.”
Dawkins writes of the constellation Cygnus the Swan, or Northern Cross, and how it ties in with Arcadia in the New World, of which Oak Island and its treasure can be considered as being the “cornerstone” (see pages 98–99). In his essay, Dawkins employs the David Rumsey Map Collection, specifically the celestial globe created by Giovanni Maria Cassini, which is described as “a Celestial Globe made in Rome in 1792. It is constructed from 12 engraved globe gores (a gore being a segment of a curved surface). All of the constellations and important stars are shown. The heavens are shown as they would be seen by an observer looking from the center of the earth.” While studying the map, I noticed the constellation Lyra, the Lyre, in the heartland of the United States, and it dawned on me that the lyre shares an interesting similarity with Et in Arcadia ego.
When viewing Poussin’s painting, I noticed that the shadow of the kneeling man in the center being cast onto the tomb is shaped like a harp. At first glance, I thought it was just a shadow, but considering the angle of light, it seemed more than just slightly off. The shadow cast from his knee is at a different angle than the shadow of his elbow. The shadow of his knee would suggest the sun is higher in the sky, while the shadow cast by his elbow would suggest the sun is lower, nearer the horizon. The shadow of his forearm is curved. There is no shadow of the staff being held by the man to his right, even though that staff is very close to the tomb, and the upper portion of the staff being held by the man kneeling is also missing its shadow. Poussin was a master artist, which leads me to believe this shadow was no accident and that he could have been using it to convey a message. Some may see this as a wild claim, but this isn’t the first time Poussin has been suspected of employing hidden messages…”