Category Archives: Noetics

Photo Tour :: Apotheosis of Washington

The Apotheosis of Washington, Capitol Rotunda (© Julie O'Connor, 2009)

Welcome to Day Five of Julie O’Connor’s Magical, Mystical, Masonic Photo Tour of Washington, DC. You’re staring up at The Apotheosis of Washington, a fresco painted onto the ceiling of the Capitol Rotunda by Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865.

The use of The Apotheosis of Washington in The Lost Symbol is classic Dan Brown, directing the reader’s attention to an unusual episode of American history that is hidden in plain sight:

For most people, The Apotheosis of Washington got stranger and stranger the longer they looked at it. “That’s George Washington on the central panel.” Langdon said, pointing 180 feet upward in the middle of the dome. “As you can see, he’s dressed in white robes, attended by thirteen maidens, and ascending on a cloud above mortal man. This is the moment of his apotheosis . . . his transformation into god.”

Langdon goes on to point out the major figures in the painting: the goddess Minerva giving inspiration to American inventors such as Ben Franklin and Samuel Morse; the god Vulcan helping America build the steam engine; Neptune demonstrating how to lay the transatlantic cable.

Though this scene, in Chapter 21, is memorable, The Apotheosis of Washington plays only a minor role in the novel at this early stage. It holds no secrets and offers no clues to guide Robert Langdon on his quest.

But, for the attentive reader, it does point the way to one of the overarching themes in The Lost Symbol–the power of human thought and the god that lies within every man.

So important is The Apotheosis that Dan Brown returns to it at the end of The Lost Symbol, with a memorable, some might say, cinematic scene, in Chapter 133, where Langdon and Katherine Solomon climb to a circular catwalk and marvel at the fresco while discussing the key to the Ancient Mysteries–the power of the human mind:

Langdon had to admit, not many frescoes in the world fused scientific inventions with mythical gods and human apotheosis…Today, this soaring icon–the father of our country ascending to heaven–hung silently above our lawmakers, leaders, and presidents . . . a bold reminder, a map to the future, a promise of a time when man would evolve to complete spiritual maturity.

And now Katherine:

“Robert,” Katherine whispered, her gaze still fixed on the massive figures of America’s great inventors accompanied by Minerva. “It’s prophetic, really. Today, man’s most advanced inventions are being used to study man’s most ancient ideas. The science of Noetics may be new, but it’s actually the oldest science on earth–the study of human thought.

Noetics is a topic for another post. But there is much more that can be said about The Apotheosis.

Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, adjunct professor of religious art and cultural history at Georgetown University, has written a detailed essay about the fresco for Secrets of The Lost Symbol.

Among her many fascinating insights, she points out that although the painting, mingling gods and real people, might seem confusing today, at the time The Apotheosis was commissioned the depiction of abstract ideas, like moral courage, as a recognizable person was commonplace.

She also draws attention to small details Robert Langdon doesn’t acknowledge, such as that fact that the 13 maidens attending Washington represent the 13 original colonies. And that six of them have their backs turned to represent their secession from the Union during the Civil War.

To find out more pre-order your hard copy of Secrets of The Lost Symbol today or download it now as an e-book.

There’s Something Noetic in the Air

flashforward1Did you catch FlashForward on ABC last week? This new one hour sci-fi-ish drama (which mixes one part Lost with one part 24) debuted nine days after the release of The Lost Symbol.

One of its key premises is remarkably similar to some of the ideas the fictional Katherine Solomon is working on in her noetics experiments in TLS: In FlashForward (based on a novel by Robert J. Sawyer, a sci-fi writer whose work generally focuses on the intersection of science, religion, and mysticism), virtually the entire world has a brain interruption for 2 minutes and 17 seconds on a September day in 2009, and virtually everyone also experiences a vision of what they will be doing six months hence—in April 2010.

Now, in the aftermath of this huge global harmonic moment, a classic battle is joined between free will and fate, knowledge and destiny, practical action and rational theory. All of humankind must determine if their collective knowledge of the future can allow them to alter that future, retain the good, reject the bad, etc. Quick. We need Katherine Solomon and Robert Langdon to help us decode this, before the plot spins out of control.

A Childhood Introduction to Puzzles and Codes

Dan BrownOf all the interviews we’ve seen, read and heard in the past week or so, Dan Brown’s appearance on NPR’s All Things Considered remains one of the most enlightening.

Who couldn’t fail to be intrigued by the mental image of Dan Brown, as a child on Christmas morning, scrambling around the house on a treasure hunt following a trail of puzzles set by his father, a math textbook author? Apparently the clues even included magic squares.

It doesn’t take much of a mental leap to see the inspiration for Dan Brown’s novels today or the energy and enthusiasm that pervades his works.

Brown also pinpoints the moment when he first became interested in Noetics–ten years ago, while he was researching particle physics for his first Robert Langdon novel, Angels and Demons.

According to Brown, he was particularly fascinated by Noetics because it ties together “the old and the new”. The field has grown so quickly in the past ten years, he says, that it was the perfect big idea for The Lost Symbol.

There’s much more, about fame, writing, religion and freemasonry, here.

Will the real Katherine Solomon, please stand up!

Dan Brown usually chooses a cryptic reference to living people in his novels. Leigh Teabing, in the Da Vinci Code, for example, is a veiled reference to Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent, the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

So how must it feel for Noetic author Lynne McTaggart to have been named and even quoted in The Lost Symbol?

Noetics author Lynne McTaggart

Noetics author Lynne McTaggart

Every so often my life takes such a fantastical turn that I am overwhelmed by the feeling that I am actually in the midst of a lucid dream, and that any moment awakening will hand me back my ordinary world.

I had that feeling yesterday when I got an email from my editor informing me that my book The Intention Experiment, my website: and a good deal of my research were named, explained and used as the background source of a major plotline in Dan Brown’s new book.

I spent last night skimming the entire text of The Lost Symbol. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, the book centers around the recovery of kidnapped head of the Smithsonian Peter Solomon by Brown’s long-standing protagonist, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, and Solomon’s sister, Katherine.

Solomon is a ‘noetic scientist’, a 50-year-old black-haired woman who has written two popular books about the new science of consciousness and the bridge between science and spirituality, which ‘established her as a leader in this obscure field’.

Presently she does mind-over-matter research and is particularly interested in the power of group minds to change the physical world.

At this point, the story began to sound strangely familiar. . .

In the Cube, a secret laboratory in the basement of the Smithsonian Institute, filled with all sorts of state-of-the-art gadgetry, Katherine carries out her cutting-edge research — virtually all of which has been the subject of my books or my actual experiments.

Her sidekick is a ‘meta-analyst’ or computer number cruncher called Trish Dunne, which will tickle Brenda Dunne of the PEAR research (also mentioned in the book).

McTaggart goes on, in a fascinating blog post, to discuss the facts, experiments, equipment, research and studies, that Dan Brown got right about Noetics in The Lost Symbol.

Meanwhile, Noetic scientist Marilyn Schlitz, president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, also recognizes elements of herself in the novel:

Marilyn Schlitz, president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Marilyn Schlitz, president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Of course, there are others in the frontier field of Noetic Science who see themselves in Katherine Solomon. And this is reasonable, for certainly she is a composite of several in our order.

Still, I must confess, short of olive colored skin, long hair, a wealthy family, and a crazy sociopath pursuing her, there are some exceptional similarities in our mutual bios.

As I read The Lost Symbol with mounting fascination, I am pondering what it means to become a fictional character in a book that has captured the collective imagination like wildfire on a hot summer day.

I begin with a theme that pervades The Lost Symbol: the Masons. Both my father and my brother were 32nd degree Masons and members of the Scottish Rite. I grew up wondering about the secret meetings for men only. My father and my brother learned mysterious symbols that could not be shared with me, despite my many probing questions. My father wore the iconic Masonic ring, which was passed down to my brother after his death, just as it was in Katherine’s family.

As Noetic Scientists, Katherine and I share a mutual fascination with the powers and potentials of consciousness. We have both pursued careers well outside the mainstream and both live our work, as friends and family can attest.

As President/CEO of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, both Katherine and I know the value and the urgency of our studies, as well as the complexity of explaining our work to the world. For both of us, Noetic Science is a multidisciplinary approach that seeks to understand the role that consciousness plays in the physical world, and how understanding consciousness can lead to creative new solutions to age old problems. We have been inspired by breakthroughs that were sourced through intuition and inner knowing and expressed through reason and logic. We believe that consciousness matters, now and in the future!

Schlitz goes on to describe her studies into distant intention, prayer, altered states of consciousness, contemplative practice, subtle energies, and healing, many of which are referenced in The Lost Symbol. Brown even seems to have modeled Katherine Solomon’s fictional “Cube” on the Institute of Noetic Sciences’s laboratory, which contains “a 2000-pound electromagnetically shielded room.” You can read on here.

Decoding the Lost Symbol

Now that The Lost Symbol has been on sale for almost one week, we are sure that many of our readers will have finished the novel.

Over the next couple of months, we will be completing our research into many of the topics that we knew would play a role in the book–Freemasonry, the Founding Fathers, The House of the Temple–and a few subjects that took us by surprise. Noetics, anyone?

The bulk of our research will be published in Secrets of the Lost Symbol, due in December. But we hope to share some of our findings here on the blog.

So, if you would like to know more about any of the plot details–names, places, myths, legends, beliefs, characters or technology–that figure in The Lost Symbol, please email us and we’ll enlist a member of our team to seek out the answer for you.