The Truth Behind THE LOST SYMBOL

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

It’s been a little over a month since Dan Brown’s latest book, The Lost Symbol, hit bookshelves. Whether it’s Opus Dei or Mary Magdalene, his books always inspire me to read more about a particular topic. While not as controversial as The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol still has people talking about the Freemasons, the founding fathers, and noetic science. If you’re interested in exploring some of the concepts in the book, here is some suggested reading. Warning: possible SPOILERS ahead!


If you are interested in reading more about the Freemasons, The Masonic Society has set up a website to address questions regarding The Lost Symbol.

Here’s an excerpt:

Do Masons really drink out of skulls?

The skull has appeared for centuries as a common symbol of mortality, not only in various degrees of Masonic ritual, but in many other historical, fraternal and religious organizations. The Latin term, memento mori, means “remember, you will die,” and is often accompanied by a depiction of a skull as a reminder of the end of physical life. Such specific images have appeared as early as Pompeii in the 1st century A.D.

The specific ceremony described by Brown in the prologue of The Lost Symbol appears to be adapted from a sensationalized exposé, Scotch Rite Masonry Illustrated, published in 1887 by the Reverend John Blanchard. Blanchard’s description of the 33rd degree has been repeated by many anti-Masonic authors over the years, even though it is not accurate.

Freemasons For Dummies by Christopher Hodapp

This introductory work explains the basics of Freemasonry. Here’s an excerpt from the Freemasons For Dummies website:

Did the Masons build Washington D.C.?

The Freemasons of Virginia and Maryland conducted ritual ceremonies for the first foundation marker stone of Washington D.C., as well as the cornerstones for the President’s Mansion (the White House) and the Congress House (the Capitol building).

George Washington was a Freemason, and consulted with non-Masons Pierre L’Enfant and Andrew Ellicott, who designed the street plan of the city. And Masons really did lay the cornerstone of the Washington Monument, along with contributing a series of commemorative stones that appear inside of the obelisk.

Other works about Freemasonry:

Solomon’s Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington D.C. by Christopher Hodapp

The Masonic Myth: Unlocking the Truth About the Symbols, the Secret Rites, and the History of Freemasonry by Jay Kinney

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry by S. Brent Morris

Washington, D.C.

Preservation magazine has a look at Dan Brown’s Washington, D. C.

National Geographic has a photo gallery of some of the places featured in The Lost Symbol.

Smithsonian magazine takes a tour of House of the Temple of the Scottish Rite.

If you want to plan a trip to Washington, D.C. around The Lost Symbol, Destination DC will help you.

The Secrets of Masonic Washington: A Guidebook to Signs, Symbols, and Ceremonies at the Origin of America’s Capital by James Wasserman is “a fully illustrated guide to the Masonic origins and present-day Masonic sites of Washington, D.C.” and “provides a walking tour of the Masonic sites and symbols of the city.”

Noetic Science

I didn’t know much about noetic science before reading The Lost Symbol but I thought it was one of the most interesting aspects of the book. If you want to read more, here are a few books and web resources:

Cassandra Vieten, Director of Research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, explains the basics of noetic science her article, What is Noetic Science?

Meet the real life Katherine Solomon, the president of Institute of Noetic Sciences. She is also the co-author of the book Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life.

Institute of Noetic Sciences Digital Library

Brown featured Lynne McTaggart and her book, The Intention Experiment in The Lost Symbol. View her web-based study at

Global Shift: How A New Worldview Is Transforming Humanity by Edmund J. Bourne

Deep Medicine: Harnessing the Source of Your Healing Power by William B. Stewart

Ray Hyman, author of The Elusive Quarry, is a vocal critic of noetic science. He says, “Noetic science is not the science that we know of as physics and chemistry and even psychology. There’s very little science there, as far as I’m concerned.”

Can humans really “breathe” water?

I had never heard of liquid breathing technology before reading The Lost Symbol. I was skeptical, but apparently this has been used for years by divers and also has medical applications. You can read more here.

The Founding Fathers and Christianity

Dan Brown claims that many of the founding fathers, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, were deists (as opposed to theists). According to Brown:

“America wasn’t founded a Christian country. It became a Christian country. Important thing to remember with the masons and the founding fathers is that many of the founding fathers were deists.

Deists believe that a supreme being created the universe but that being is impersonal. It won’t answer your prayers or even hear them.

The concepts behind deism, where man is powerful and man is responsible are the underlying, core beliefs of Freemasonry.”

There’s an ongoing debate regarding whether the founding fathers’ religious beliefs and true intentions when creating our government. If you are interested in reading further, here are a few suggestions:

Debating America’s Christian Character presents historical writings on both sides of the issue. Excerpt:

“Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion.” — John Adams (letter to Benjamin Rush, June 12, 1812)

The Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes analyzes the religious beliefs of Ben Franklin and the first five presidents. From Amazon:

In particular, he sheds light on the various forms of Deism that flourished in America, highlighting the profound influence this intellectual movement had on the founding generation. Although the founding fathers were religious men, Holmes shows that it was a faith quite unlike the Christianity of today’s evangelicals.

Washington’s God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our Country by Michael and Jana Novak argues that George Washington was indeed Christian, though he was very private about it.

Notes on the Founding Fathers and the Separation of Church and State is written by the Academic Vice President of the Quartz Hill School of Theology, R. P. Nettlehorst, and presents a convincing argument against the claim that the founding fathers were Christians.


The sculpture created by Jim Sanborn sits outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia and contains an encrypted message. Dan Brown claims that the director of the CIA when the sculpture was installed, William Webster, has the key to the puzzle.

Kryptos FAQ

A collection of Kryptos images can be viewed here and here.

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