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The Da Vinci Code (chapter 61)

2006-07-07 17:54

  CHAPTER 61

  Princess Sophie.

  Sophie felt hollow as she listened to the clicking of Teabing's crutches fade down the hallway. Numb, she turned and faced Langdon in the deserted ballroom. He was already shaking his head as if reading her mind.

  “No, Sophie,” he whispered, his eyes reassuring. “The same thought crossed my mind when I realized your grandfather was in the Priory, and you said he wanted to tell you a secret about your family. But it's impossible.” Langdon paused. “Saunière is not a Merovingian name.”

  Sophie wasn't sure whether to feel relieved or disappointed. Earlier, Langdon had asked an unusual passing question about Sophie's mother's maiden name. Chauvel. The question now made sense. “And Chauvel?” she asked, anxious.

  Again he shook his head. “I'm sorry. I know that would have answered some questions for you. Only two direct lines of Merovingians remain. Their family names are Plantard and Saint-Clair. Both families live in hiding, probably protected by the Priory.”

  Sophie repeated the names silently in her mind and then shook her head. There was no one in her family named Plantard or Saint-Clair. A weary undertow was pulling at her now. She realized she was no closer than she had been at the Louvre to understanding what truth her grandfather had wanted to reveal to her. Sophie wished her grandfather had never mentioned her family this afternoon. He had torn open old wounds that felt as painful now as ever. They are dead, Sophie. They are not coming back. She thought of her mother singing her to sleep at night, of her father giving her rides on his shoulders, and of her grandmother and younger brother smiling at her with their fervent green eyes. All that was stolen. And all she had left was her grandfather.

  And now he is gone too. I am alone.

  Sophie turned quietly back to The Last Supper and gazed at Mary Magdalene's long red hair and quiet eyes. There was something in the woman's expression that echoed the loss of a loved one. Sophie could feel it too.

  “Robert?” she said softly.

  He stepped closer.

  “I know Leigh said the Grail story is all around us, but tonight is the first time I've ever heard any of this.”

  Langdon looked as if he wanted to put a comforting hand on her shoulder, but he refrained. “You've heard her story before, Sophie. Everyone has. We just don't realize it when we hear it.”

  “I don't understand.”

  “The Grail story is everywhere, but it is hidden. When the Church outlawed speaking of the shunned Mary Magdalene, her story and importance had to be passed on through more discreet channels…… channels that supported metaphor and symbolism.”

  “Of course. The arts.”

  Langdon motioned to The Last Supper. “A perfect example. Some of today's most enduring art, literature, and music secretly tell the history of Mary Magdalene and Jesus.”

  Langdon quickly told her about works by Da Vinci, Botticelli, Poussin, Bernini, Mozart, and Victor Hugo that all whispered of the quest to restore the banished sacred feminine. Enduring legends like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, King Arthur, and Sleeping Beauty were Grail allegories. Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mozart's Magic Flute were filled with Masonic symbolism and Grail secrets.

  “Once you open your eyes to the Holy Grail,” Langdon said, “you see her everywhere. Paintings. Music. Books. Even in cartoons, theme parks, and popular movies.”

  Langdon held up his Mickey Mouse watch and told her that Walt Disney had made it his quiet life's work to pass on the Grail story to future generations. Throughout his entire life, Disney had been hailed as “the Modern-Day Leonardo da Vinci.” Both men were generations ahead of their times, uniquely gifted artists, members of secret societies, and, most notably, avid pranksters. Like Leonardo, Walt Disney loved infusing hidden messages and symbolism in his art. For the trained symbologist, watching an early Disney movie was like being barraged by an avalanche of allusion and metaphor.

  Most of Disney's hidden messages dealt with religion, pagan myth, and stories of the subjugated goddess. It was no mistake that Disney retold tales like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White-all of which dealt with the incarceration of the sacred feminine. Nor did one need a background in symbolism to understand that Snow White-a princess who fell from grace after partaking of a poisoned apple-was a clear allusion to the downfall of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Or that Sleeping Beauty's Princess Aurora-code-named “Rose” and hidden deep in the forest to protect her from the clutches of the evil witch-was the Grail story for children.

  Despite its corporate image, Disney still had a savvy, playful element among its employees, and their artists still amused themselves by inserting hidden symbolism in Disney products. Langdon would never forget one of his students bringing in a DVD of The Lion King and pausing the film to reveal a freeze-frame in which the word SEX was clearly visible, spelled out by floating dust particles over Simba's head. Although Langdon suspected this was more of a cartoonist's sophomoric prank than any kind of enlightened allusion to pagan human sexuality, he had learned not to underestimate Disney's grasp of symbolism. The Little Mermaid was a spellbinding tapestry of spiritual symbols so specifically goddess-related that they could not be coincidence.

  When Langdon had first seen The Little Mermaid, he had actually gasped aloud when he noticed that the painting in Ariel's underwater home was none other than seventeenth-century artist Georges de la Tour's The Penitent Magdalene-a famous homage to the banished Mary Magdalene-fitting decor considering the movie turned out to be a ninety-minute collage of blatant symbolic references to the lost sanctity of Isis, Eve, Pisces the fish goddess, and, repeatedly, Mary Magdalene. The Little Mermaid's name, Ariel, possessed powerful ties to the sacred feminine and, in the Book of Isaiah, was synonymous with “the Holy City besieged.” Of course, the Little Mermaid's flowing red hair was certainly no coincidence either.

  The clicking of Teabing's crutches approached in the hallway, his pace unusually brisk. When their host entered the study, his expression was stern.

  “You'd better explain yourself, Robert,” he said coldly. “You have not been honest with me.”

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