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INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

‘The Brilliant Name of Fire’ is an epithet of the Tetragrammaton, the famed IHVH, or Yahweh, in Hebrew הוהי, the very name of God, which was held so sacred that it was forbidden to be pronounced. IHVH maps directly to the Tree of Life (fig.1), the visual framework of the Qabalah, the immensely ancient mystical system which had such a profound impact on the West after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, whence it landed ashore in Lorenzo de Medici’s Florence, to inspire such Renaissance luminaries as Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, and Johannes Reuchlin, and then, at some decades remove, Giordano Bruno and Sir Francis Bacon. It is the glorious Qabalistic journey from ignorance to divine enlightenment, tracking the spoor of truth upward through the radiant paths of the Tree of Life, that Don Quixote follows in the novel that bears his name.     

 

Mather Walker, one of the foremost Elizabethan scholars of our time, has beautifully discussed the magical aspects of Don Quixote in his articles on the sirbacon.org site. [1] Spain, as the esoteric capital of the world in the long centuries of its occupation by the Jews and Arabs, provided the perfect setting for the tale of the Great Work, the hero’s journey toward mastery of his own inner life and destiny, that is Don Quixote. Walker points out Templar, Grail, and Sufi mystical influences. Yet he falls some way short of the final goal, catching only glimpses of the marvel at the rainbow’s end. It is the purpose of the argument to come to elucidate the wonders of the esoteric plane of Don Quixote in all its radiance and glory. Much of its intricate detail will fall under our spotlight, which will further reveal, beneath the surface of the literal plane, the schema of a consistent and tightly wrought allegory.

This exegesis will have a dual fascination. The pages to come will present for the first time the spectacular visual representations in Don Quixote of Hebrew letters of the Qabalah, and unveil new portrayals of cards of the Tarot Major Arcana; and, further, reveal the pesher framework (see below) in which they have their place. Two memorable examples among many are the Countess Trifaldi, with her triple train of black, as symbolic of the Hebrew letter Shin, ש, of such immense Qabalistic importance (Ch.7); and the Don hanging upside-down from the stirrup of a horse, following his near drowning in the previous episode, as references to the Hanged Man card of the Tarot deck, and its immediately ancestral card the Drowned Man (Ch.6).

The Qabalah and Tarot, systems of psychic transformation in themselves, run all through the book, underpinning and enriching it. Many a reader has noted the presence of the Tarot in Don Quixote, but this will be the first rigorous and extended examination, so far as I am aware, of the architectonic primacy of the Qabalah-Tarot in its organisation. The Qabalah was presumed in Renaissance times to have originated with the Jews, and the Tarot maps tightly onto the Tree of Life: so that the presence of the Qabalah-Tarot in Don Quixote is entirely consistent with its setting in Spain, home of the Jews for so long. The Don’s quest is an instance of the path of ascent, several paradigms of which are described in Qabalistic texts. The closest fit is to the Way of the Saint, as portrayed below.  

 

At times Don Quixote follows the Way of the Saint loosely, at times extremely closely; but always the general trend is upward, from Malkuth (the grossly material world) to Kether (the ineffable Godhead):

 

And this path it is which goes forever onward. Its way proceeds undeviatingly forward and forward, upward and upward, unto that goal which has neither beginning nor ending, start nor finish, but journeys eternally in every direction and dimension into infinity. [2]

 

Finally, the reference is to the Rosicrucian path of enlightenment, wherein the subject is initiated into the lowest grade of Zelator (corresponding to Malkuth) and then proceeds to advance through the higher grades, finally to reach, if (s)he be one of the rare few, the rank of Ipsissimus (corresponding to Kether). The Tarot is an integral part of this path. [3]   

There is a further most intriguing aspect to this investigation. This is its rigorous demonstration of the close kinship of Don Quixote as allegory with the Shakespeare plays; and there can be no doubt that both of these pillars of the Western literary tradition were products of the Rosicrucian enlightenment, the key manifestos of which were Fama Fraternitatis (1610) and Confessio Fraternitatis (1615).

Shakespeare criticism took its feet in 1992—before then it had merely crawled—with the publication of the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes’ Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being. This epochal work convincingly showed the great tragedies to be psycho-allegories of Will Shakspere’s surrender to, and subsequent recovery from, a colossal nervous breakdown which had stricken him after some time of enthrallment by Puritanism. In my sequel to Hughes’ work, Ugly Dick and the Goddess of Complete Being, [4] I show this allegory to be organised strictly and indefectibly as a pesher, an allegory along Biblical lines in which each element—character, place, event, and so on—is yoked invariably to a specific value, to create an allegory of immense richness and sophistication. In Chapter One I will discuss my work and its implications in some depth, to prepare the ground for the revelations to follow.

The pesher is a Biblical technique for encoding a hidden level of content beneath the immediately obvious literal plane. Certain elements bear a special pesher meaning to which they are yoked at their every appearance without exception. This last quality should be emphasised, because it lends a suspected pesher to rigorous proof. For example, when we see the word ‘word’ (logos) in the Greek New Testament, we know that it refers to the heir of David when he was outside the monastery, bringing the learning of the monasteries to the villages while he lived there during his marriage. In Acts 6:7 and 12:24 it is used of Jesus himself. Just so does the literal contents of Don Quixote and the Shakespeare plays secrete their peshers, and they are similarly susceptible to proof. The queen of modern pesher studies is the great Australian scholar Dr. Barbara Thiering, and I cannot put it any better than she, in The Book That Jesus Wrote:

 

While the use of the devices may be suspected in particular passages, the case is only proven when it is found that these rules are always applied, in every instance, and that the concealed history emerging is consistent with itself, with the overall history, and with what is known explicitly from other sources. Consistency is the essential criterion for testing.

 

Precisely. And it is this indefectible consistency of the Shakespeare plays as pesher that, building on the epochal work of Ted Hughes, I have demonstrated, as exhaustively as is reasonably possible, in my Ugly Dick and the Goddess of Complete Being. The twin Rosicrucian manifestos Fama Fraternitatis and Confessio Fraternitatis were also written in the pesher style, to an incredible degree of sophistication, [5] with which only the First Folio may compare. Allegory is also a key feature of Sufi literature, whose influence on Don Quixote was considerable.

The hero of the Shakespeare First Folio is Will Shakspere of Stratford, while its mentor figure is Sir Francis Bacon. It is Shakspere’s quest that is described therein. The hero of Don Quixote is of course the Don himself. His quest is identical, at its core, with Shakspere’s, as we shall see, and Don Quixote shares many of the allegorical symbols and techniques of its cousin germane. For example, the wood or grove or forest or even single tree bears always without exception in the First Folio the pesher value of the written word, that prime therapeutic tool employed in Will Shakspere’s recovery; the torch or flare, the visual imagination, the inner fire which, acting on the written word, can enable the transformation of the psyche; the arras, the boundary of the conscious ego and the unconscious, so that the four instances in the First Folio of a character’s concealment behind it (the most famous being Polonius’ in Hamlet), together with a further two in Don Quixote, represent the first descriptions in Western literature of the psychological principle of the repression of the libido, some three centuries before the advent of Freud, who is popularly, and erroneously, as we know now, credited with its discovery.   

It is hardly surprising that the visual imagination as a principle should be so prominent in the Shakespeare and Don Quixote peshers, for its primacy was a preoccupation of Renaissance philosophers. The Renaissance can indeed be said to have been predicated on it. This was the ‘phantasmal’ age, when forms created on the inward mirror were acknowledged to confer understanding of the given world, and the wisdom that flows from it. Marsilio Ficino, of the Florentine golden age of the 1490s, is eloquent on the impossibility of knowledge without the conversion of sensory data to phantasmal language (sine conversione ad fantasmata):

 

Using the senses, [spirit] grasps the images of external bodies; now, the soul itself cannot perceive those images directly, given that incorporeal substance, superior to that of the body, cannot be induced by the latter to receive images. Omnipresent in spirit, the soul can easily contemplate images of bodies, reflected in it as in a mirror. It is through those images that it can appraise the bodies themselves. [6]

 

And it was precisely this principle of the imagination that was anathematised alike by the Protestant Reformation—especially its evilest dysfunctional child, Puritanism—and the post-Reformation Roman Catholic Church, its holy objects confiscated and smashed like their external kin. I cannot put it any more eloquently and passionately than the late Ioan P. Couliano in his magisterial Eros and Magic in the Renaissance:

 

Hence, one of the goals of the reformation was to root out the cult of idols from the Church … ultimately, the Reformation led to a total censorship of the imaginary, since phantasms are none other than idols conceived by the inner sense [author’s italics] ... By asserting the impious and idolatrous nature of phantasms, the Reformation abolished at one stroke the culture of the Renaissance … But, we ask, what was the reaction of the Catholic Church? … Far from consolidating the positions assumed by Catholicism during the Renaissance, this movement severed itself completely from them and went in the same directions as Protestantism. It was along the lines of severity and harshness that the Reformation developed, from the Protestant as well as the Catholic side. [7]

 

And no less vehement and impassioned is the invective against Puritanism in the Shakespeare plays, and Catholicism in Don Quixote. Couliano’s perceptive mention of ‘severity and harshness’ reminds us that the goal of the Qabalistic journey is the attainment of the middle pillar, where the opposites of the right and left pillars are balanced. Thus, the Pillar of Mercy is brought to bear against the unbalanced Pillar of Severity, so typical of Puritanism and Post-Reformation Catholicism, in The Merchant of Venice, as exemplified in the speech  ‘The quality of mercy is not strained…’ [8] In defending the visual imagination with such vehemence, the genius behind the Shakespeare plays was defending the Renaissance, with all its ennobling achievements, against the depredations of the post-Reformation ideologies; and its vehicle in the Shakespeare and Don Quixote peshers is the torch or flare or Watch.

We shall note, in Chapter Four, the key importance also in Renaissance philosophies of the heart as a subtle rather than grossly physical organ, as the seat of the emotions and the soul. For example, the heart is the organ of association of Tiphareth, the central Sephirah of the Tree of Life of the Qabalah, which was the philosophy of Rosicrucianism, the dominant esoteric movement of that era. This is the pesher value of Cardenio, the root of whose name derives from the Greek kardia, ‘heart’, in the Brown Mountain (Sierra Morena) episode. These two definitive Renaissance values of the imagination and the heart are enshrined in the Shakespeare sonnet 24, which certainly did not proceed from the pen of Will Shakspere of Stratford, but rather from his mentor and saviour:

 

Mine eye hath play’d the painter and hath stell’d

Thy beauty’s form in the table of my heart;

My body is the frame wherein ‘tis held,

And perspective it is best painter’s art.

For through the painter must you see his skill,

To find where your true image pictur’d lies,

Which in my bosom’s shop is hanging still,

That hath his windows glaz’d with thine eyes.

Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done.

Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me

Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun

Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee.

    Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art,

    They draw but what they see, know not the heart. 

 

When I began my work I agreed with Ted Hughes in seeing no reason to depart from the orthodox line, that the Shakespeare works were written largely by the man from Stratford; and I presumed that he must have pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, in a titanic and successful effort to overcome the demons which had driven him to the brink of psychosis. However, it became apparent to me after some time, from the allegory explicating itself before my eyes, that he must have had aid, from a mentor and saviour who helped effect in him the psychic transformation required, from the Puritan darkness to Gnostic enlightenment, and who was primarily responsible for the plays. The conclusion I drew as to his identity has been abundantly confirmed by my subsequent reading. It could only have been Sir Francis Bacon. One of the great tragedies of modern literary scholarship is that the staggering corpus of high quality work done on the Bacon-Shakespeare question in the 19C and early 20C became buried under the weight of the First World War, and the desperate need felt by Britons for the power of myth to strengthen them in successive mortal crises—the myth of the ‘spear-shaker’, the warrior figure and sun god and greatest Englishman of all, the Romulus-Remus archetype of the foundation age of modern Britain.   

There is a vast amount of evidence to suggest that Bacon was indeed the principal author of Don Quixote. Principal, though not sole, in line with the works of Shakespeare, which incorporate contributions from his ‘good pens’, including his brother Anthony, Thomas Kyd, Fletcher and Beaumont, Will Shakspere from Stratford, and others. Bacon led an atelier in the true Renaissance manner, from which emanated, in all likelihood, over six hundred literary works of the Elizabethan era. [9]  

The argument to come will focus on the first forty-three chapters of Part 2 of Don Quixote, as well as the affair of the Sierra Morena and the novel of ‘The Curious-Impertinent’, extensive sections which are located in Part 1 and referenced by Part 2. These latter bear unmistakably, as do the great speeches and so much else in the Shakespeare plays, the hallmark of Bacon in his ‘high style’, which gives evidence of an intellectual capacity of the highest possible order, intensive development of the art of memory, cultivation of ‘phantasmata’—the forms created in the imagination, the contemplation of which bestows true understanding and wisdom, to lay the foundations for the highest cultural achievements—, astonishingly wide vocabulary, and mastery of classical and modern languages. It also, crucially, secretes pesher content, many of the themes and techniques of which are identical with those of the Shakespeare First Folio and poems.

This is not the place to delve into the libraries of evidence supporting the Baconian position vis-à-vis the authorship of the Shakespeare works. For that, I would suggest the sirbacon.org site as a fine introduction. Let us, however, briefly summarise here the evidence for his authorship of Don Quixote: a litany of clues which cannot fail to alert the scholarly eye, if it be hunting in a truly objective and disinterested way, and a long series of more or less harmful hammer blows to the Cervantian position, to which the argument of the pages to come will add the final, irrefragable coup-de-grace.

Mather Walker makes some telling points: [10]

 

1.      The presence in the frontispiece to the 1612 English ‘translation’ of Part I, by Thomas Shelton, of the ‘light A, dark A’ motif which marked all the works of Bacon. Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence, in his book Bacon is Shakespeare, reproduced this emblem from Don Quixote, and also claimed the copy in his possession to bear corrections in the hand of Bacon, with which he was intimately familiar. Unfortunately, this startling revelation was overshadowed by the First World War, and never claimed the currency it should have. And so yet another piece of highly suggestive evidence, a facet in a whole so compelling in its luminosity and force, came to be completely ignored by mainstream scholarship.

2.      The convincing demonstration by Weber-Ebenhof in his book Bacon-Shakespeare-Cervantes (Leipzig, 1917) of the pointed references to Queen Elizabeth as the Princess Oriana and Betty Buly in Don Quixote, and his highly suggestive identification of Don Quixote himself with the English knight Sir Henry Lee.

3.      ‘Cervantes’ explicitly states in the Preface that he is the stepfather, rather than the father, of the work.

4.      The real author is named as Cid Hamete Benengeli. The scholars have made heavy weather of this, but ‘Benengeli’ simply and transparently translates as ‘son of the English’. ‘Cid’ means ‘Lord’ in Spanish; while the root of ‘Hamete’ is yet another porcine reference. That is, the whole may be interpreted as ‘Lord Bacon, Son of the English’.

5.      ‘Cid Hamete Benengeli’ is named 33 times throughout the work. The number 33 had a special significance for Bacon, as a numerical cipher equivalent of his name. For example, in King Henry the Fourth Part I the word ‘Francis’ appears 33 times on one page.

6.      The name ‘Don Quixote’ may be translated in French as ‘Of one who I hide’, with ‘x’ for the unknown replacing the original ‘j’; while ‘la Mancha’ may be interpreted as a Spanishisation of the French la Manche, ‘the English channel’. In the French version of Part II which appeared in 161, the title page in fact has ‘La Manche’.

7.      The alternative ‘Quijano’ is given for ‘Quixote’ late in the book, while his niece is named as ‘Quijana’. Jana is the Latin for Diana, the moon goddess celebrated in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and in Bacon’s (Spenser was yet another mask) The Faerie Queen, where she is identified with Queen Elizabeth, consistently with the cult that grew up around her.

 

Another key work in Don Quixote scholarship is Francis Carr’s Who Wrote Don Quixote? He too provides much compelling evidence for Bacon’s authorship. Here are some key examples:

 

8.      The English nature of the work. It in fact has many elements of a caricature of the Spanish, and was disdained by Spain for two-and-a-half centuries.

9.      The close proximity of the appearances of the Spanish and English versions in their respective countries, far too close to allow for a translation from the former.

10.  The low standard of Cervantes’ other works, a quantum jump downward from Don Quixote.

11.  The lack of contemporary documents linking Cervantes with Don Quixote, similar to the situation concerning Will Shakspere and the Shakespeare plays.

12.   The almost compete lack of information about Thomas Shelton, the supposed translator of the work into English, suggesting that he too was a front..

13.  The prefatory poems in the Shelton version are boldly worded and easily understood, while in the Spanish they are embarrassingly poor in quality and often incomprehensible, reading in fact like poor translations.

14.  The many lightly hidden, specifically English references in, for example, the episode of the windmills.

15.  The complete lack of any animosity toward England, only a few years after the defeat of the fourth Armada which the Spanish felt so humiliatingly. On the contrary, the author shows considerable interest in and admiration for England. Yet in Cervantes’ other works there is not the slightest evidence of the same disposition.

 

We could go on. Carr’s work provides ample highly suggestive evidence for the Baconian viewpoint. Another striking feature of Don Quixote is the appearance in it of a plethora of phrases from the works of Bacon and Shakespeare. Here is an abbreviation of two tables from the sirbacon.org site, [11] covering about 25% of the total:

 

 

SHELTON CERVANTES

BACON

SHAKESPEARE

One swallow makes not a summer.
Pt. 1, ch. 13

One swallow maketh no summer.
Promus 85

The swallow follows not summer.
Timon 3, vi

All is not gold that glistreth.
Pt. 2, ch. 32, 48

All is not gold that glisters.
Promus 92

All that glisters is not gold.
Merchant 2 vii

He that gives quickly, gives twice.
Pt. 1, ch. 34

 

He who gives quickly, gives twice.
Promus 104
Bis dat qui cito dat

 

God and St. George!
Pt. 2, ch. 64

 

God and St. George!
1 Henry VI, Richard III, 3 Henry VI 4, ii

Might overcomes right.
Pt. 2, ch. 43

Might overcomes right.
Promus 103

O God, that right should overcome this might.
2 Henry IV 4, I

He who does not rise with the sun does not enjoy the day.
Pt. 2, ch. 23

To rise early is very healthy. Diliculo surgere saluberrimum est.
Promus 112

Diliculo surgere, thou knowest.
Twelfth Night 2, ii

Ingratitude is the daughter of pride, and one of the greatest sins.
Pt. 2, ch. 51

 

Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend!
Lear 1, iv

fuller of anger than revenge
Pt. 2, ch. 58

 

more in sorrow than in anger.
Hamlet 1, ii

At night all cats are grey.
Pt. 2, ch. 33

All colours will agree in the dark.
Essays, ‘Of Unity in Religion’

The cat is gray.
Lear 3, vi

Gods helpe is better than early rising.
Pt. 2, ch. 34

It is better to have God's help than to keep getting up early.
(in Spanish) Promus 83

 

He that is warned is half armed.
Pt. 2, ch. 17

Warned and half armed.
Promus 103; and same in Spanish 95

Look to it well, and say you are well warned.
1 Henry VI 2, iv

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Pt. 2, ch. 7, 12

 

The bird that has been limed in a bush misdoubteth every bush.
3 Henry VI 5 vi

Know thyself.
Pt. 2, ch. 52

Know thyself.
Promus

Know thyself.
As You Like It 3, v

Look not a given horse in the mouth.
Pt. 2, ch. 4

To look a given horse in the mouth.
Promus 100

 

All you have said and done is levelled out by the line of Reason . . . If the Statutes and Ordinances of Knight Errantry were lost, they might be found again in your brest, as in their own Storehouse and Register.
Pt. 2, ch. 17

Knowledge is a rich Storehouse (promus) for the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's estate. Advancement of Learning
Bk.1, ch.5

 

The weakest go to the walls.
Pt. 2, ch. 37

 

The weakest goes to the wall.
Romeo and Juliet
1, i

through narrow chinkes and Cranyes
Pt.2 Prologue

revealing day through every cranny peepes
Northumberland MS

revealing day through every cranny spies.
Rape of Lucrece 1, 1086

All comparisons are odious.
Pt. 2, ch. 23

 

Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges.
Much Ado
3, v. (palabras is a Spanish word)

 

 

Yet by far the most rigorous and extensive demonstration of the kinship of Don Quixote and the Shakespeare plays will be given in the pages to follow. And the conclusion demanding to be drawn is that Sir Francis Bacon was the genius behind them both.  His esoteric mastery is manifest; and on this basis Ioan P. Couliano’s comment on the widespread incomprehension of Sir Isaac Newton’s failure to publish his alchemical experiments, is highly relevant, given that Bacon and his circle clearly apprehended the coming Puritan flood:

 

The answer is so simple that it is surprising it has been avoided or distorted so systematically. Newton lived in an era marked by the victory of Puritanism on a political level. Puritanism despised occult sciences because they did not conform to the spirit of the Bible. Newton did not make his alchemical experiments public because he had a head on his shoulders and preferred to have it stay there. [12]

 

What was Bacon’s purpose in writing Don Quixote? There were several: the promotion of peace between Spain and England, by the production of a popular Spanish work so obviously sympathetic to her erstwhile foe; the instruction of the Spanish, ruled as they were by the ignorance of the Roman Catholic Church, into Gnostic nobility, through the wisdom, close reasoning, and sophisticated language of so much of the work; and as a vehement excoriation of the Church. This last is another constant pesher motif throughout, as seen, for example, in the character of Peter, who represents invariably, in Don Quixote as in the First Folio, the Church, as the name of its founder, the ‘rock’ on which it was built. Thus the episode in Chs. 25-27 of Peter and the talking ape, who can prophesy the past but not the future, is a trenchant parody of the Church in all its spuriousness and falsity; while the Don’s destruction of Peter’s puppet-theatre in a fit of madness portrays the ideal fate of the Catholic Church at the hands of the broadly Gnostic tradition.

In connexion with all of this was Bacon’s celebration and promotion of the ancient mystical traditions of the very races—the Jews and Arabs—which had been expelled from Spain by the Roman Catholic ascendancy. It is a beautiful touch, a thunderous ‘heads up’ to a class of religious zealots who were probably incapable of ever appreciating its truth. We have noted the Sufi influence in Don Quixote. The Qabalah-Tarot is of course a feature of the works of Shakespeare, for example in the ubiquity of the Qabalistic letter Yod, written in English as ‘I’, in the substitution of ‘I’ for the expected ‘Ay’, as symbolic of the underworld dimension of nature (see pp.    below); and the numerous fools, hanged men, emperors, empresses, and princesses. The former technique is, fascinatingly, also a feature of Don Quixote; but the Qabalah-Tarot is notably more prominent in the Spanish work than the First Folio. Just as the plays of Shakespeare flaunted, in the Globe theatre, a vigorous anti-Puritanism under the very noses of their target, so Don Quixote ridicules and excoriates the Spanish Roman Catholic Church in its own very land and language.

In a survey by the Nobel Prize committee of one hundred of the world’s greatest writers, Don Quixote emerged as their first choice for the finest novel ever written. The plays of Shakespeare are likewise recognised universally as the world’s most outstanding body of drama. It is now clear that they were products of the genius of the one man, namely Sir Francis Bacon. My two works, Don Quixote and the Brilliant Name of Fire, and Ugly Dick and the Goddess of Complete Being, will now stand together as the mirror of a binary star system, reflecting its rays into the farthest corners of the Elizabethan universe. Let us now begin our journey into the heart of this dual star, a thing of wonder and extreme beauty which has remained hidden for so long from our dark-maladapted eyes.     

 

 

 

 



[2] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegranates, p.119

[3] Paul Foster Case, The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order.

[5] Paul Foster Case, ibid.

[6] Sopra lo Amore, a commentary on Plato’s Symposium, VI.6

[7] pp. 193-4

[8] Mather Walker has beautifully explicated this play as a Qabalistic text. See http://www.sirbacon.org/mmerchantv.htm

[10] Ibid.

[12] p. 180-1

 

    

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