Rennes le Chateau, Sauniere’s Umbrella, and the Riddle of the Sphinx
As mentioned in the article, Just as the Artist Cast it Away, another anomaly is noticed. The prominent central image, consisting of Jesus and his many followers, contains a curious sack. The rod, which is included in the assumed inspiration for the scene, is not to be found within the one presented at Rennes le Chateau. This omission is interesting and one which would seem important. Perhaps it is seen elsewhere in the scene?
Many will also notice the small mysterious figure on the right, who is clearly leaning on what may be an umbrella, cane, or staff. A wonderful close up of this image is shared here (the rlc research site-scroll down). Why does he lean so? Upon asking myself that question, I can’t help but think of the answer to The Riddle of the Sphinx.
Most are familiar with the story of the Sphinx. Guarding the entrance to Thebes, the Sphinx would not allow a traveler to pass unless he could answer a riddle. Two separate riddles have become commonly told in the tale and are believed to be the questions the Sphinx asked. Both can be said to hold the same hidden knowledge. They are as follows:
“There are two sisters. One gives birth to the other and she in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?”
and the most universally known,
“Which creature has four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening?”
By supplying the proper answer to the riddle (deeming he had the acquired wisdom and proving himself worthy), the traveler would be allowed to enter. One may wonder why these specific riddles have attached itself to this rite of passage. It is said when the story of the Sphinx was first told, these precise riddles were not given. Only later did they become associated to the Sphinx and it’s guarding of a ‘city’.
The answer to the first riddle is Day and Night. In Greek, both words are feminine. As mentioned in a previous article concerning the Number 17, the Sun (day) and Moon (night), giving birth to the other, is seen to depict a doorway. By providing the answer, it could be assumed that a traveler would have proved his knowledge of this opening, and therefore would be given permission to pass through it.
The second answer is Man. Man crawls on all fours when young, walks on two legs later in life, and when aged, he uses a cane; the cane being seen as the third. How would this confirm knowledge for the right of passing into the city? Was realizing the physical progress of man, and the fact he uses a cane, once aged, key enough? It would seem a deeper layer of meaning should be recognized. For if not, the riddle is clever, but not very enlightening.
I believe a deeper level is being suggested, and one which does not include a physical change of man, but one of spiritual ascension. This is related to Proverbs 3:5 which states, “lean not on your own understanding”. As man ages and learns from his surroundings, he obtains wisdom and realizes his need for something greater than his own knowledge. It is a process of spiritual growth.
Within the Rennes le Chateau’s fresco, the bent over figure is obviously leaning upon a cane or other similar item. Since Sauniere had knowledge of the True Word of God (which he may be carrying), it would seem he positioned himself in the fresco to illustrate this secret meaning of man leaning on God’s understanding; his staff.
Psalms 23:4 holds within in its verse, ‘your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’ While Bible scholars feel the rod is used as a weapon to fight off predators, the staff is used more for guidance; like the shepherd who uses the crook of a staff to direct the wavering sheep by hooking them around the neck and steering them the correct way. This closely relates to the before mentioned verse of Proverbs. The full verse is; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
The hook is clearly seen in the Rennes le Chateau scene, and could symbolize the staff which hooks and guides (provides understanding) and makes man’s paths straight. I know it has been suggested Sauniere placed himself in the scene and it is he with his regularly held umbrella. Used, the umbrella both protects like the rod, and with its handled arch, guides like a staff. Did Sauniere consider his umbrella to be like the rod and staff mentioned in Psalms 23? Is that why he was seen carrying it by his side time and again?
The figure in Sauniere’s fresco reminds me of a man with a cane; an aged man who walks on three legs in the evening and so explains my association to the Sphinx Riddle. It would seem Sauniere included himself in this image in order to convey an important understanding about himself. An umbrella, which shields and consists of a hooked handle, could symbolize the trusting in God. It implies a spiritual ascension and possibly Sauniere’s belief and entrance in so. A relationship which does not require the Church.
Although often associated with physical aging, a man of wisdom being shown leaning on a cane, does not have to only imply a physical weakening, like often thought. A deeper understanding certainly could be communicated. Couldn’t a man who has gained wisdom, no matter of age, be shown using an object like a cane, and be interpreted as leaning on God’s staff or understanding, which links to Proverbs 3 and Psalms 23? Something like what is found in the Shepherds of Arcadia by Poussin. And something, I feel, the Maranatha Puzzle, suggested.
An amazing corroboration for this higher Truth, can be appreciated in the central scene of Sauniere’s chosen fresco. As described on the RLC research site, Jesus is shown with his arms stretched forth and visibly illustrates a triangular formation. The three points of a triangle correlates to the three ‘legs’ of man’s development and may signify a ‘missing capstone’.
This realization can delve further. The three Sacred and primary shapes of geometry, (the square, circle and triangle), are recognized here. They are, I believe, a hidden greatness to the Riddle of the Sphinx. As man crawls, he is closest to earth. A square is often associated with the material or earthly world. The four points of the square correspond to a man who crawls. He is at the stage of his life when little knowledge is realized. As he begins to rise, he walks on two. Two points, beginning and end, can be associated with the circle. Finally, man’s highest wisdom is associated with the Triangle and his walking with the aid of the divine; his realization of need for something more than himself.
This only comes with wisdom or age and growth. Is this a hidden meaning to the Riddle of the Sphinx? It would seem, to me, this is the hidden understanding of the answer to the Sphinx that would prove man’s rite of passage into a ‘city’. This spiritual rise of man.
And amazingly still, the scenes of Sauniere’s clearly show this ascension. Starting from a place of barren land or sleep, the figure guided by God’s ‘rod and staff’, is moving across the land towards growth. He is shown heading straight to the other side displaying life. I wonder which direction he is walking. If the bas relief is on the western wall, I suppose one could say he is walking South. Does he turn to head up the Mount? Does this show a way? Like the two sisters, one gives birth to the other and reveals the passage.
Whether or not one agrees with the above offer for the secret meaning to Sauniere’s umbrella (placed to convey his secret understanding or rite of passage to a higher learning), the Sphinx and its deeper level to the Riddle remains strong, in my opinion. One has to wonder if it isn’t for the above reasons (this hidden sacred geometry), the Sphinx has been adopted by Freemasonry and set outside other sacred buildings. The image symbolizes the guarding of ‘secret knowledge’ within. What is the key for passage or allowed entry?
Is it to find the staff of God and not be fooled by man’s?
Curiously, in the Time Monk article revealing the Key for the Maranatha Puzzle (as it was forged in one period of time), Duncan Burden wrote of his inability, and of the other authors, to share more because of oaths made concerning Freemasonry and possible other secret societies. This image of Sphinx, the Riddle, and the Sacred Shapes of Geometry all seem to connect. Fanciful thinking? Oh maybe.
But whatever the mystery of Rennes le Chateau is, and whether or not Sauniere was actually revealing his understanding or initiation to an entrance, I still personally love the possibility of the bent figure to be sharing the following insight and revealing a mysterious layered meaning to the Sphinx’s Riddle.
As the small, unassuming figure leans on God’s ‘rod and staff’ (and not on his own understanding), he is being guided. Like the wisdom of Proverbs states, ‘he will make your pathways straight.’ Straight ahead, as seen in the growing landscape, is Life. One only needs to continue walking with God’s staff to find it. The famous word of Nicolas Flamel, which was known to be included in his most prized book, and the puzzle book which this site features comes to my mind; Maranatha.
It is possible Sauniere may have discovered, believed and hid the same. No one can be sure. And as we each are allowed to wonder and make our own interpretations, I will hold this one dear. Like revealed by the Riddle of the Sphinx; man first crawls, then walks, and finally leans. The question is, what does he lean on?
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