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TRACY R. TWYMAN | The Real Meaning of “Et in Arcadia Ego” and the Underground Stream

By Tracy R. Twyman
Originally written for Dagobert’s Revenge Magazine, Copyright 2000
(Does not necessarily represent author’s current viewpoint.)

Seal of the Arcadian Academy in Rome, 1690

“Et in Arcadia Ego …” — These words may have first appeared in a painting by Il Guercino (c.1618) of the same name. Throughout the Renaissance, this phrase was used as a sort of code word for “the underground stream,” an invisible college of kindred souls who secretly shared their esoteric knowledge with one another, passing it around Europe via a network of secret societies and mystery schools, often utilizing its arcane symbolism in works of art and literature. Such symbolism shows up, for instance, in the works of Rene d’Anjou, Giordano Bruno, Leonardo da Vinci, Nicholas Poussin, and many others. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail(Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln) describe thusly the symbolism of the underground stream:

… the motif of an underground stream seems to have been extremely rich in symbolic and allegorical resonances. Among other things, it would appear to connote the ‘underground’ esoteric tradition of Pythagorean, Gnostic, Cabalistic, and Hermetic thought. But it might also connote something more than a general corpus of teachings, perhaps some very specific factual information — ‘secret’ of some sort transmitted in clandestine fashion from generation to generation. And it might connote an unacknowledged and thus ‘subterranean’ bloodline.

Et in Arcadia Ego by Guercino

The phrase “Et in Arcadia Ego” is normally translated from the Latin, “And I am in Arcadia,” or “I am even in Arcadia.” The “I” is supposed to be death, and since Arcadia is the Greek conception of Paradise, it is presumed to mean that death is everywhere, even in Paradise. The reason for this is that in the art and literature of the period in which the phrase “Et in Arcadia Ego” was used or referenced in some way, it was almost always associated with a tomb of some sort, and usually with a skull as well. For example, a skull can be found in Guercino’s Et in Arcadia Ego bearing a mysterious hole on its left side. (1) The phrase was inscribed, in code, on the gravestone of Marie de Blanchefort, whose grave at the church at Rennes-le-Chateau Berenger Sauniere is believed to have successfully plundered of some treasure. Nicholas Poussin, who’s painting The Shepherds of Arcadia is so central to the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau and, therefore, Dagobert’s Revenge, depicted in that painting a group of shepherds pointing to a tomb that was inscribed with the phrase “Et in Arcadia Ego.” This was believed by Henry Lincoln to depict a tomb that, until recently, still existed in the region of Rennes-le-Chateau. But the authors of The Tomb of God: The Body of Jesus and the Solution to a 2000-Year-Old Mystery (Richard Andrews and Paul Schellenberger) think that the real tomb which Poussin was alluding to is not the one that Henry Lincoln found, but one that they say is buried between the twin peaks of nearby Mt. Cardou, which they believe to be the tomb of the one and only Jesus Christ. Their interpretation of the word “Arcadia” - specifically in the context of that phrase - is reached by breaking the word down phonetically, and then translating, not just the letters, but the sounds from the Latin, thereby arriving at the result, “the tomb of God.” They write:

“It is not too difficult to imagine how Arcadia (arcar-deear - the contemporary pronunciation, not the modern one) could be identified with the sound of Arca Dei (arcar-dayee), thus suggesting an anagram. Arca Dei would mean “˜Ark of God’… This, combined with the quite excessive emphasis of the idea of “˜tomb’… convinces us that were are to interpret “˜ARCA’ as “˜tomb’; this would be another legitimate translation of the word.”

Using similar methods, they translate the entire phrase, “Et in Arcadia Ego” into an anagram which phonetically means, in Latin, “I touch the Tomb of God.” By adding the Latin word “Sum” at the end, which they believe to be implied by the sentence, then creating another anagram, they further render it, “I touch the tomb of God, Jesus.”

The Shepherds of Arcadia by Poussin

But is it really the tomb of Jesus, a Jewish priest-king de jure who failed in his bid for the throne, that kings, popes, and other men of renown (most of them religious heretics) have dedicated their lives to, and on occasion, given their lives for? Is this the secret which has been preserved by some of the world’s most elite and powerful secret societies for millennia? The mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau, and for that matter, the roots of Southern France’s esoteric tradition would appear in fact to be much older than 2000 years. References to Jesus and his presumed wife, Mary Magdalene, are almost always coupled or superimposed over images of another, far more ancient divine couple, known to the Egyptians as Isis and Osiris. Their presence is Rennes-le-Chateau is repeatedly symbolized by the appearances of the pentagram and the hexagram in the landscape of the area, and the decor in Sauniere’s church. The most well-known pentagram is formed quite exactly by the perfect formation of five mountains within the area. The odds of this perfect formation occurring naturally are infinitesimal, and indicate that an intelligent being or group of beings must have been involved. As author Colin Wilson has pointed out in The Atlantis Blueprint, the uppermost point of the pentagram points directly at where the North Pole was 100,000 years ago. This implies great antiquity for the treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, dating it back to a period when no human civilization is supposed to have existed, and it is debated whether or not humans existed at all. Certainly there was no historically acknowledged civilization at that time capable of the mathematical formulation necessary to create such a perfect pentagram, or the technology to move five huge mountains into place. However, there is such a civilization acknowledged in legend, and that is the global kingdom of Atlantis, ruled over directly by the gods - Kronos or Saturn, the horned “fish-man-god” being one of them. In Sumeria, the oldest civilization recognized by historians, Kronos was known as “Enki,” and according to some experts, another name for Enki in Sumeria was “Ia,” the “Lord of the Deep Waters,” the father of the Atlantean dynasty of god-kings. These god-kings have been much talked about in recent Dagobert’s Revenge articles, for I believe this pre-diluvian dynasty to be the real root of the sacred Merovingian bloodline, and therefore, the bloodline of Jesus, the Grail bloodline. Such a decent from the kings of Atlantis is implied in the story of the Quinotaur (a sea-monster, synonymous mythologically with Kronos), who supposedly spawned the Merovingian race.

So this is the true significance of the blood: it comes directly from the god-kings of Atlantis, the beings who, according to legend, created us, then intermarried with us to create a hybrid race of partially human god-kings, passing onto these offspring the secret doctrine of their sacred knowledge. According to those same legends, they were cast down from heaven for this indiscretion, which was against the rules of the divine hierarchy, and were imprisoned in the underworld, in the bowels of the Earth. Such a tradition is preserved in the Greek story of Kronos (obviously the prototype of the Biblical Satan) being cast down from Heaven and landing in the center of the Earth. This legend even exists in the East, where the “Lord of the Earth” (another title shared by Kronos, Ia, and Satan) is believed to be in a death-like sleep in a magical city in the center of the Earth. There is even scientific evidence that this story is rooted in the historical occurrence of a “falling star,” or meteorite that plunged into the Earth, cracking its crust and disfiguring its face, then buried itself deep within the center of the Earth where it remains as our planet’s inner core. This is, perhaps, the “12th Planet” that Zecharia Sitchin is always referring to. And it must also be the “stone that fell from Heaven,” supposedly chipped from Lucifer’s crown, which according to legend is called “the Grail.” Recall, then, that the Grail is the treasure said to be buried at Rennes-le-Chateau. Also, rumors persist that Rennes-le-Chateau contains an entrance to the underworld. The event of this falling star may itself be commemorated by a symbol that was used at least as far back as ancient Sumeria, where it was known as the “Ar,” the Plough Sign. That sign is the pentagram, associated with both Satan and the planet Venus, as well as with Rennes-le-Chateau. In fact, the prefix in the word “Quinotaur” - Quin - means the number five in Latin, and some have suggested that the word is in fact a reference to the pentagram at Rennes-le-Chateau - that perhaps each man-made mountain conceals the “head” of some enormous subterranean sea monster which our ancestors considered to be their God, and in fact, their ancestor as well.

The “Ar” sign, in Sumeria, usually just referred to as “the Plough Sign,” actually has two very specific definitions. One explains the translation of “plough,” and it literally means “to cause dirt to go up,” something that would certainly occur during the meteoric impact described above. Yet “Ar” has another meaning in Sumerian - one that is very pertinent to or examination, and that is “to shackle, to imprison,” which is exactly what was done to Kronos when he fell to Earth and was imprisoned in the underworld. Esoteric legend states that Kronos was shackled and bound to the underworld by just such a pentagram. This would seem to indicate that the pentagram at Rennes-le-Chateau acts as a prison or shackle as well, perhaps for Kronos himself.

In this context, it is interesting to examine the prefix “arc” in Latin. In the Latin dictionary, the first word we encounter in the “arc” family is “arca,” which Andrews & Schellenberger have translated as “tomb.” It does indeed mean that, but it also means “A chest box, esp. a money coffer,” and “a cell for close imprisonment”! This is amazing! Not only do we have a reference to a prison and a tomb, as it would have been for Kronos (which explains how we get the word “arcane,” as in buried or concealed, from the Latin “arceo,” meaning “to protect, keep safe,” or “to hinder, prevent”). It is also possible for an “ark” to hold money, something that the treasure at Rennes-le-Chateau is believed to consist of in part. In fact, it has often been assumed that the treasure at Rennes-le-Chateau is the same treasure that the Templars stole from Solomon’s Stables, said to include gold, jewels, and the most precious of Jewish relics, the Ark of the Covenant. But Solomon’s Stables were also the burial place for Judah’s upper crust, and embalmed corpses are further said to have been part of the treasure of the Templars, especially a head or skull that they worshipped under the name of Baphomet, said to represent a hermaphroditic goat-horned figure from which our modern conception of the Devil comes. Could the “Ark of the Covenant,” or the “Ark of God” also have been, literally, the tomb of God? Jehovah, or Jah is often referred to in the scriptures as literally being inside the Ark. Perhaps the Ark contained the remains of someone that they believed to be their god. But the traditionally accepted contents of the Ark, the Tablets of Moses, have long been regarded in esoteric circles as having been made from some radioactive substance, like a meteorite. Likewise the Tablets inside the ark have long been speculated to have actually been the Emerald Tablets of Hermes, which bear instructions on how to create the Philosopher’s Stone, or the Holy Grail. And the Ark of the Covenant has long been associated with the Holy Grail also. Could they then have been the remains of this meteorite, which plunged to Earth as a meteorite and was buried in the underworld, later becoming known to occultists as the Grail? And could this meteoric fall have been the inspiration for the legend of Saturn or Kronos, the Atlantean priest-king from which the Grail bloodline sprung, whose life-story included a similar meteoric fall from heavenly grace?

Interestingly the word Jah (the name of the Jewish god inside the Ark of the Covenant) comes from the name Ia, the Lord of the Earth and Lord of the Deep Waters in Sumeria on which the Hebrew god Jehovah’s character is partially based. (2) The symbols of the god-king’s tomb and throne would appear to be related to certain depictions of Jehovah. As I have already mentioned, Ia is believed by many experts to be the same as Enki, Saturn or Kronos, and therefore, the Quinotaur, as well as, ironically, Satan. Enki, as a king of Atlantis, was often referred to under the title that all Atlantean world-monarchs were given. That title was “Kad,” depicted by a hieroglyph of an uplifted hand with the fingers erect. This title was also used by the kings of Sumeria, Egypt and Phoenicia, and it meant literally, “be strong, protect, save,” which is noteworthy, considering that the word “arceo” has a similar meaning in Latin. Titularly, this term, when applied to a monarch, meant “King of the Four Corners of the Earth.” (3) Ia was sometimes pronounced “A-ha,” and written as a pair of hieroglyphs featuring a squiggly line and an upstanding fish. Obviously, just from looking at it, one can tell that this symbol is the basis for the “Ichthys” fish sign that is now used to symbolize Christ.

Knowing what we now know, it becomes possible to write out the word “Arcadia” in cuneiform, or Sumerian hieroglyphs, and to interpret its meaning there from. There are three possible ways of writing out the symbol for “kad,” and therefore different ways to write (and interpret) the phrase. (See the chart below.) “Arcadia” could mean, for instance, “prison of the Lord of the Earth, Ia,” or “tomb of King Ia.” The phrase “Et in Arcadia Ego” could then be rendered as a combination of Latin and, oddly, Sumerian, and read as: “I am the Tomb of King Ia.” Also, bearing in mind that “arceo” means “to protect, save, or conceal” in Latin, and “kad” means the same thing in Sumerian, it could also be read, “I conceal (or protect) the tomb of Ia.” This is remarkable, considering the famous anagram of “Et in Arcadia Ego’ that was suggested in Holy Blood, Holy Grail: “I Tego Arcana Dei,” which means: “Begone, I conceal the secrets of God.” That god, it would seem, was Ia, or Kronos, the Atlantean king and “Lord of the Earth” - progenitor, perhaps, of a human line of kings from which the Merovingians, and Jesus Christ as well, believed themselves to come from.

Alternate spellings of Arkadia in old Sumerian hieroglyphs

The word “Ia” consists of the letters “I” and “A”. The letter “I,” phonetically, is the same as the word “eye,” and therefore, in occult parlance, implies the same. The letter “A,” as I pointed out in the very first issue of Dagobert’s Revenge in 1996, suggests the shape of the Great Pyramid with its missing capstone returned, and on the dollar bill, this pyramid is shown with an eye inside the capstone. This is the “All-Seeing Eye,” associated in the occult underworld with the god of light, Lucifer, (a.k.a. Satan, Kronos), and the Grail stone. The shape of the letter “A” can also be found within the shape of the pentagram, if two lines and two half-lines are removed. Recall also that one of the Sumerian symbols for “Kad” was an “A” turned on its side, a rough-looking “A” much in the likeness of the familiar “Anarchy” symbol. (4) The letter “A,” used as a coded reference to both the Great Pyramid and the pentagram, was found in the Sauniere parchments at Rennes-le-Chateau by the authors of The Tomb of God<, Andrews & Schellenberger. For instance, at the bottom of the Parchment One, in between the upside-down letters that spell "SION," we see a weird squiggly arrow pointing to a lone, out of place and upside-down "A," seemingly for no reason. I have also found another conspicuous occurrence of the letter "A": on the tombstone of Marie de Blanchefort, where the words "Et in Arcadia Ego" are etched in code. There, the syllables "Arca" and "Dia" (in a mix of Greek and Latin letters) are separated on either side. Look at the illustration. In both instances, the letters are bunched together in the shape of a pyramid, each of which includes a Templar cross, and each of which contains the letter "A" at the top of the pyramid. Surely, some sort of statement is being made here. And in the pyramid on the right, the bottom row of letters is formed by an "I," a Templar cross, and a delta triangle. If we take the triangle as a code for the letter "A," and the Templar cross as a plus sign, then it would be "I" + "A" - in other words, "King Ia." In fact, on the entire gravestone there are five As, in addition to the "delta" triangle. Perhaps, underneath the five mountains that form the pentagram at Rennes-le-Chateau, we shall one day discover five artificially constructed pyramids acting as tombstones for the ancient deified king.

The Blanchefort Tombstone

A hidden message on the stone

Let us now re-evaluate the painting of Mary Magdalene that Berenger Sauniere himself created and placed on the altar of his church. That Sauniere would show Magdalene inside of a cave, next to a skull, kneeling in front of a cross that seems to be growing out of the ground like a tree indicates that the painting does indeed represent a tomb, perhaps the tomb of Christ, and perhaps Magdalene is there mourning for her companion. Then again, perhaps it indicates that she is buried there with him as well. But maybe Jesus and Mary Magdalene are also being used as symbols to represent another, more ancient divine couple, Kronos and his consort. Let us not forget that Kronos was, according to some, also called “Atargatis,” except that Atargatis was a female sea-monster, thought to be synonymous with Kronos as well. Could we be dealing with a god that was perceived as both male and female, like the Baphomet which the Templars worshipped? The Grail, which is what the treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau is supposed to be, is associated with alchemy, and in the alchemical process, the achievement of the Grail, or the Philosopher’s Stone, is symbolized by the Hermaphrodite - the combination of male and female qualities in perfect harmonious balance.

Image of Mary Magdalene on the altar at the Church at Rennes-le-Chateau, made by Sauniere

The Hermaphrodite was, of course, in Greek mythology, a combination of Hermes (a.k.a. Mercury) and Aphrodite (a.k.a. Venus.) Hermes was the trickster god who led folks along the alchemical path to enlightenment, and the souls of the dead to the underworld. He is the god of buried treasure, which is why St. Anthony the Hermit, who represents him, is the patron saint of the same. The Tablet of Hermes, believed to be the source of all alchemical knowledge, is said to have been found in Hermes’ tomb. Where was Hermes born? In a cave inside Mt. Cyllene in Arcadia. Guess where Hermes spent all of his childhood? In Arcadia. This is where the reverence for Hermes began.


(1) This hole may be a cryptic reference to the strange rite of trepanation - drilling a hole in the skull of a dead person to let the soul escape - something that was practiced by our pagan forebears as well as the Knight’s Templar. Even the famous skull of Merovingian King Dagobert II bears the mark of trepanation.

(2) King Ia, “Lord of the Deep Waters,” was often depicted with water flowing from his throne. If this throne is now located in the center of the Earth, in the underworld, as legend tells us, then it is therefore also the source of an “underground stream.” Rene d’Anjou, in his illustrated book, Les Coeur d’Amours Espris (The Book of the Heart Possessed by Love), depicted the fountain of the underground stream actually flowing from what looks like a tombstone, and ironically, it flows out of a face on the side of the stone that is shaped like a black sun.

From the Book of Love by Rene dAnjou

(3) The word “Arche,” in Greek, means “originator.”

(4) The other symbol for Kad (or “Khat”), the double-barred cross, is identical to another symbol, the Cross of Lorraine, which was used by Rene d’Anjou and other members of the Priory of Sion to symbolize the Grail and the secret doctrine of the occult. It symbolizes the union of good and evil, one of the innermost secrets of the occult, and the Grail.

The Cross of Lorraine from the Angevin arms

(5) Note that “Mer” syllable, meaning “water.” It is also worth mentioning that Hermes was famous for his “Caduceus.”