[Chapter Eighteen: 1066—The Norman Conquest and the Orbit of Halley's Comet]


Chapter Nineteen: 1487—Leonardo in the East


The earliest documents related to the employment of Leonardo da Vinci by Ludovico Sforza, the future Duke of Milan, are from 1487. From 1483 until August of 1487, da Vinci was virtually missing from the stage of history. Since 1487 was one of those years that marked the return of the comet that we have been at such pains to monitor in the current work, in this case referred to generically, if at all, as "the Comet of 1487," it is interesting to note that da Vinci's notebook indicates a trip to the Near East, notably Syria and Armenia (in Asia Minor), and that his trip was supposedly accompanied by geophysical calamities that do not appear anywhere else in the history of the region, except perhaps in the manuscript of Selale Dshelal eddin Sayouthy (As-Soyuti Jelal'ed-Din) on the history of earthquakes, so that we might suspect, at least at first, that Leonardo was imagining what might have happened, or should have happened, if the comet had produced the effects it had been known to have produced in the ancient world. In the words of the Encyclopædia Britannica of 1911,

The first definite documentary evidence of Leonardo's employments at Milan dates from 1487. Some biographers have supposed that the interval, or part of it, between 1483 and that date was occupied by travels in the East. The grounds of the supposition are some drafts occurring among his MSS. of a letter addressed to the diodario or diwâdar of Syria, lieutenant of the sultan of Babylon (Babylon meaning according to a usage of that time Cairo). In these drafts Leonardo describes in the first person, with sketches, a traveler's strange experiences in Egypt, Cyprus, Constantinople, the Cilician coasts about Mount Taurus and Armenia. He relates the rise and persecution of a prophet and preacher, the catastrophe of a falling mountain and submergence of a great city, followed by a general inundation, and the claim of the prophet to have foretold these disasters; adding physical descriptions of the Euphrates River ....

This complex of occurrences resembles those earlier ones with which, by now, the reader is familiar, and will become even more recognizable as we investigate the details of these and other related events.

Quoting from Leonardo's actual notebooks, as translated by Jean Paul Richter in 1888, we have the following:


The recent disaster in our northern parts which I am certain will terrify not you alone but the whole world, which shall be related to you in due order, showing first the effect and then the cause. [....]1 Finding myself in this part of Armenia to carry into effect with due love and care the task for which you sent me; and to make a beginning in a place which seemed to me to be most to our purpose, I entered into the city Calendrafy, near to our frontiers. This city is situated at the base of that part of the Taurus mountains which is divided from the Euphrates and looks towards the peaks of the great Mount Taurus to the west. These peaks are of such a height that they seem to touch the sky, and in all the world there is no part of the earth, higher than its summit, and the rays of the sun always fall upon it on its East side, four hours before day-time, and being of the whitest stone it shines resplendently and fulfils the function to these Armenians which a bright moon-light would in the midst of the darkness; and by its great height it outreaches the utmost level of the clouds by a space of four miles in a straight line. This peak is seen in many places towards the West, illuminated by the sun after its setting the third part of the night. This it is, which with you we formerly in calm weather had supposed to be a comet, appears to us in the darkness of night, to change its form, being sometimes divided in two or three parts, and sometimes long and sometimes short. And this is caused by the clouds on the horizon of the sky which interpose between part of this mountain and the sun, and by cutting off some of the solar rays the light on the mountain is intercepted by various intervals of clouds, and therefore varies in the form of its brightness.


The praise and confession of the faith.
The sudden inundation, to its end.
The destruction of the city.
The death of the people and their despair.
The preacher's search, his release and benevolence.
Description of the cause of this fall of the mountain.
The mischief it did.
Fall of snow.
The finding of the prophet.
His prophesy.
The inundation of the lower portion of Eastern Armenia, the draining of which was effected by the cutting through the Taurus Mountains.
How the new prophet showed that this destruction would happen as he had foretold.
Description of the Taurus Mountains and the river Euphrates.
Why the mountain shines at the top, from half to a third of the night, and looks like a comet to the inhabitants of the West after the sunset, and before day to those of the East.
Why this comet appears of variable forms, so that it is now round and now long, and now again divided into two or three parts, and now in one piece, and when it is to be seen again.

The three-part comet reminds us of its appearance in 1066. The "sacred sultan of Babylon," referred to by Leonardo, was the Burji Mamluk sultan of Egypt, Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa'it Bay, or simply Qaitbay (ruled 1468–1496). Damascus in Syria served as a kind of second capital (Commins, 2004) and Aleppo was a major city in the north. The Kingdom of Armenia was to the northwest of Aleppo across the Armenian Gulf (now Iskenderun Bay) and the Ceyhan River (anciently the Pyramos) on the southern border of the Ottoman Empire. The Diodario, as Leonardo calls him in Italian, would have been the third in command of the sultanate, or so Richter tells us. Leonardo clearly understood the political situation at the time, if he didn't understand the nature of comets.

There is a second description of these events in Leonardo's notebooks; according to Richter, penned previously to the above description and addressed to an unknown recipient. For some reason he thinks this was not the Devatdar of Syria:

... [D]uring the last few days I have been in so much trouble, fear, peril and loss, besides the miseries of the people here, that we have been envious of the dead; and certainly I do not believe that since the elements by their separation reduced the vast chaos to order, they have ever combined their force and fury to do so much mischief to man. As far as regards us here, what we have seen and gone through is such that I could not imagine that things could ever rise to such an amount of mischief, as we experienced in the space of ten hours. In the first place we were assailed and attacked by the violence and fury of the winds; to this was added the falling of great mountains of snow which filled up all this valley, thus destroying a great part of our city. And not content with this the tempest sent a sudden flood of water to submerge all the low part of this city; added to which there came a sudden rain, or rather a ruinous torrent and flood of water, sand, mud, and stones, entangled with roots, and stems and fragments of various trees; and every kind of thing flying through the air fell upon us; finally a great fire broke out, not brought by the wind, but carried as it would seem, by ten thousand devils, which completely burnt up all this neighbourhood and it has not yet ceased. And those few who remain unhurt are in such dejection and such terror that they hardly have courage to speak to each other, as if they were stunned. Having abandoned all our business, we stay here together in the ruins of some churches, men and women mingled together, small and great, just like herds of goats. The neighbours out of pity succoured us with victuals, and they had previously been our enemies. And if it had not been for certain people who succoured us with victuals, all would have died of hunger. Now you see the state we are in. And all these evils are as nothing compared with those which are promised to us shortly. I know that as a friend you will grieve for my misfortunes, as I, in former letters have shown my joy at your prosperity.

It is clear that the phenomena described by Leonardo were related to the appearance of the comet, though why he insists on ascribing the latter to an optical illusion is puzzling. Did one of the greatest minds of the Italian Renaissance really think that this supposed illusion was entirely unrelated to the massive geological and meteorological effects he describes? Or perhaps he understood the connection but believed that the comet was an atmospheric phenomenon, a belief passed down from Aristotle and not disproved until 1577 when Tycho Brahe demonstrated that comets were farther from earth than the moon, though Leonardo's description is a distortion of even the Aristotelian belief.

It was not until August of 1487 that Leonardo's name reappears in the records of Ludovico the Moor at Milan, so that we may suppose that the final stimulus for his return to Italy only occurred during the middle months of 1487 and that he might have been in Asia for as long as several years, beginning perhaps as early as 1483 or 1484. The notion that Leonardo had during those years converted to, or returned to, the religion of Mohammed has recently been reinforced by the appearance of a theory, due to one Louis Buff Parry and based upon the discovery of documents at Vinci, that his mother Caterina was originally a slave and was an Azeri from Constantinople, thus explaining his interest in the region and his easy adaptation to the local forms of address found in the letters.

If on the other hand, as McCurdy (1939) suggests, Leonardo only stayed in Armenia for six to nine months, he must have been there sometime between mid 1486 and mid 1487, after which he sailed from "Calindra," the Medieval Khelindreh in Cilicia, toward Cyprus, his mission in Armenia having been cut short before it had scarcely begun by a general catastrophe whose effects followed one on another during a ten-hour period in the following sequence, giving us a perfect description of the effects repeatedly experienced by the ancients:

Rain and tempest,
A fall of water, sand, mud, stones, and even tree stumps and limbs, and finally

McCurdy refers to the work of Carl Brun who dates the script in which Leonardo recorded his experiences to 1494, a bit late for the current reconstruction but even farther from McCurdy's suggestion that the artist and engineer was in Armenia during his earlier Florentine period. In fact, as McCurdy himself informs us,

The early biographies do not mention any journey made by Leonardo beyond the confines of Italy previous to his going to Amboise.

McCurdy discounts this fact due to the lack of extensive documentation from this period.

1According to Richter there is a break here and a new beginning.  2Again according to Richter, the outline of a book that Leonardo planned to write.


Sub Rosa

In "The Alleged Grand Masters of the Prieuré de Sion," the appendix to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the authors—Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln—present the following evidence that Leonardo was one of the grand masters of a secret society described in the Dossiers secrets, the contents of a folder found in the Bibliotheque Nationale of France, "compiled" anonymously, or rather pseudonymously, by an unknown person calling himself Henri Lobineau.

According to the research of Baigent and his co-authors, Leonardo:

1. Knew Botticelli, his supposed predecessor as grand master,

2. Was, in the words of his biographer, Giorgio Vasari, "of an heretical cast of mind,"

3. Was employed by Ludovico Sforza [of the Tarot related Visconti-Sforza family],

4. Was an early Rosicrucian, and

5. From 1515-1517, was a "military engineer attached to the army of Charles de Montpensier de Bourbon," his supposed successor as grand master.

The first question we should ask is, to what extent and in what manner was Leonardo "heretical"?


Da Vinci's Last Supper

It has been recognized for a while now that da Vinci's painting of The Last Supper has important symbolic significance. Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince (The Templar Revelation) and others have gone to great lengths to read all kinds of occult references into it. For some reason, however, their understanding of this symbolism has fallen short. Rather than recognizing the obvious astronomical and chronological elements of the painting that literally stare us in the face, there is a marked tendency to seek out minute details and ascribe to them the most arcane of interpretations, a situation I noted back in 1988 in regard to the Tarot deck. Let us take a quick look at the painting and da Vinci's interpretation of the elements of Christianity that it represents, so that we may better understand his mentality. The terms "right" and "left" in my description refer to the viewpoint of the observer and not to that of the individuals in the painting. The base image is from Wikipedia. I have restored the missing part damaged by the addition of a doorway from the copy by "Giampietrino," lately identified with Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli.

Please observe the following elements of the painting: First of all, the horizon is defined by that of the landscape outside the windows. Note that this horizon is aligned with the head of the central figure, which is to be expected only if the painter has imagined himself sitting at the same height as his subject. Second, as we have already determined in Chapter 12, this avatar is meant to be none other than an incarnation of Zeus, the Greek Sun God, so that we are looking at a representation of the sun on the horizon, either at dawn or at sunset. Third, the disciples have been grouped into four sets of three. If the avatar is a representation of the sun, then the 12 disciples must represent the signs of the zodiac, not the astrological ones but the real ones in the sky. The groups of three would then represent the seasons of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. But where do we start? Thomas, the first disciple on the right, gives us the answer. He has his finger raised in the air in the universal sign for the number one. This makes sense because the supposed event takes place at the vernal equinox, indicated by the position of the feet of the central figure as they appear in representations of the crucifixion. Thus Thomas, in da Vinci's painting, represents the sign of Pisces, into which the equinox precessed towards the beginning of the Christian Era. The rest of the 12 constellations are as follows:






James the Greater































We see immediately that at least one of the speculations of folks like Picknett and Prince is correct. The "disciple" to the left of Jesus is indeed a woman, but not Mary Magdalene as widely suggested. She is rather the Virgin herself, personifying the constellation of Virgo, a symbol that goes back into prehistory. According to the notebooks of Leonardo, which list the names of the disciples, number 7 is supposed to be none other than John, reinforcing our suspicion that the early Johns were actually Joannas or Joans. Others have suspected an unusual relationship between Jesus and "John." Calvin Hoffman (1955), who thinks that Christopher Marlowe was the real genius behind "Shakespeare," tells us that

Richard Baines, a government informer, and Marlowe's playwright-friend, Thomas Kyd, mentioned Marlowe's peculiar interpretation of the relationship between Christ and St. John.

Hoffman is suggesting that Marlowe thought the two were gay lovers, but we shall never know precisely what Marlowe's reasoning was on the subject. As for the table itself in da Vinci's painting, note that it has been stretched out for artistic purposes so that the disciples appear in a straight line, whereas, in reality, they should encircle it in a manner analogous to the 12 Knights of the Round Table, so that the summer and autumn groups should be seated on its near side with disciple 6 next to number 7, the Virgin, and facing the central figure.

Fourth, note that the right side of the room is bright while the left side is shaded, again symbolically indicating the vernal equinox when day and night are of equal length. Fifth, note the ceiling, made up of a lattice containing 6x6=36 rectangular spaces, or, if we assume that it projects beyond the frame of the picture, 6x12=72 spaces, a number intimately related with the length of the year and the dimensions of the sky; in fact, as we have seen, the number of cubes in the Tarot Tower of Pythagoras.  And finally, the intersecting lines defined by the rows of tapestries to left and to right represent the ecliptic, or path of the sun through the sky, and the celestial equator, a projection of the equator of the earth onto the sky.

Clearly, Leonardo recognized the astronomical foundations of the Christian metaphor. He was only a heretic, as suggested by the authors of The Templar Revelation and of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, to the extent that he saw through the veneer of its mainstream form to the deeper levels it inherited from earlier systems, and da Vinci was not the only one to have done so. "Christ" was often represented as Sol Invictus, the late Roman Sun God, in artistic works of the Middle Ages. The sidewise X had been a symbol of Christianity since the days of Constantine.


Origin of the Chi-Rho—Constantine on the Danube

Over the centuries, various explanations have been offered for the adoption by the Roman emperor Constantine of Christianity, along with the worship of Sol Invictus, as one of the two official religions of Rome. While it is true that the Christians were the best organized and the most widespread of the religions that spread under the empire, and the advantages of such an organization would not have been lost on someone as keen on preserving his own power as was Constantine, there was also the matter of the man's numerous crimes, including the murder of his own mother, for which Christianity claimed to offer forgiveness upon his conversion, which, nevertheless, would have to wait until he was on his deathbed. As personal as was the fear of his awaiting fate in the afterlife, an even more immediate event would shape Constantine's attitude toward Christianity and their soon to be adopted cross as a successor to the earlier image of the zodiacal Fishes.

Eusebius and others associate this event with the defeat of Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, but "Matthew of Westminster" ascribes it to 323 and gives a description in The Flowers of History, translated into English in 1853 from the original Latin of the 14th century, itself, most likely, assembled from various parts including a reproduction of the Chronica Majora of Matthæi Parisiensis, though Matthæi gives the year as 324.

In the spring of AD 322, the Sarmatians and the Goths had crossed the river Danube. After three battles during the summer, the Sarmatians were defeated, but it was not until early 323 that Constantine drove Rausimod and the rest of the Goths back across the river. On the eve of battle, Constantine apparently had a dream, or a hallucination, followed by a peculiar vision. As the monk of Westminster tells it:

A.D. 323. A great multitude of barbarians was collected together on the river Danube, ready for war against the Romans, which Constantine hearing, prepared an army against them, and went to meet them. And the following night there came to him a person of great splendour, saying to him, "Constantine, look up to Heaven and see." But he, looking up to Heaven, saw a figure of the Holy Cross, and ordered the figure to march before him, trusting in it, because on it he had seen inscribed, radiant with splendid brightness, "In this sign shalt thou conquer." And when he had seen this sight, he made a cross resembling it, to serve as the imperial standard, a sign full of terror to the enemy; and the barbarians coming on, fell in battle, being miserably slaughtered, and an infinite multitude of them perished. And the Lord gave the victory to Constantine by virtue of the Holy Cross.

The author clearly sees this as some kind of miraculous event and therefore fails to look any farther for the cause of the vision, but the year of the sighting gives the game away. The object in the sky was that same shape-shifting comet that would later, in the form of a dragon, indicate to Merlin that Uther had become lord of Britain. The symbol carried before the Roman legions was not, in fact, the "Holy Cross," as suggested by Matthew, but was rather an image that could be represented as a monogram, the so-called chi-rho or Greek letter rho crossed by a chi, emblazoned on the labarum or Roman military standard. Constantine was apparently in the habit of seeing various signs and portents in the sky, possibly including a cross on an earlier occasion, but this was the final straw that tipped the balance toward his adoption of Christianity. As Edward Gibbon wrote about the chi-rho in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,

It is not clear that Constantine used it as an ambiguous symbol; nor yet is there a well-attested instance of its use as a Christian symbol before A.D. 323.

The chi-rho was a later interpretation of an earlier symbol, supposedly solar in origin, but if we look closely, it is fairly apparent what it represents. The P (rho) is a stylized picture of the Comet, though admittedly upside down from how it would have looked across the Danube in the early hours of the morning before Constantine crossed over from west to east, the Comet appearing to travel before him. The X (chi), in its rotated form, is either a representation of the intersection of the ecliptic with the celestial equator, indicating that the event occurred sometime around the first day of spring of 323 but not necessarily precisely on that day, or it represents the early X-like asterism that evolved into the Greek letter T (tau), as described in Chapter Nine, indicating that the event occurred somewhat earlier, during late winter of the same year.

Another symbol, the classical flag of piracy, the so-called Jolly Roger, bears a striking resemblance to the Chi-Rho, and it has been suggested that the symbol was due to the presence of unemployed Knights Templar on the high seas.


The High Priestess—The Tarot, Maifreda, and the Visconti-Sforza Family

As it was, the exaltation of Mary came about afterwards
as a result of stressing the metaphysical aspects of the Son.
It was then too late to graft a dogmatic Sophia on the new sacred books.
An attempt at a new gospel in the thirteenth century
was crushed by the preponderating power of the Papacy.
But it is none the less clear that the doctrine of the Logos
is a product of the same process of primitive psychology
as produces deities of any order.
—J. M. Robertson, Pagan Christs

. . . From the year 1262 onward the body of Christ
had not been sacrificed or consecrated alone,
but along with the body of the Holy Spirit,
which was Guglielma herself.
—Francesco da Garbagnate

The Last Supper was painted for Ludovico Sforza in what was meant to be the Sforza family mausoleum. In 1441, Ludovico's father, Francesco, had married Bianca Maria Visconti, the daughter of the 3rd duke of Milan. Francesco became the 4th duke in 1450. Ludovico became the 7th in 1495, though he had maintained virtual control of the duchy since 1481, six years before his employment of Leonardo. The oldest surviving Tarot deck was painted by Bonifacio Bembo for Bianca Maria Sforza-Visconti.

Timeline of the Guglielmites

Approx. Age of Guglielma






  Birth of Joachim of Fiore ca 1135
  Oberto I da Pirovano becomes archbishop of Milan 1146
  Alexander III becomes pope in a disputed election 1159
  Oberto I dies March 27, 1166
  Galdino della Sala becomes archbishop of Milan April 18, 1166


Odo de St. Amand becomes grand master of the Templars


  Typhon approaches the earth 1172
  Alqisio da Pirovano becomes archbishop of Milan 1176
   Innocent III becomes antipope at Rome 1179


Přemysl Otakar I becomes king of Bohemia



Joachim of Fiore dies


  Uberto II da Pirovano becomes archbishop of Milan April 11, 1207


Birth of Guglielma (Blažena Vilemína) of Bohemia, daughter of Queen Constance of Hungary, to Otakar I

ca 1210

10 Frederick II becomes emperor of the Holy Roman Empire 1220


Guglielma's brother Václav I becomes king of Bohemia



Constance of Hungary dies


40 Frederick II dies 1250
41 The future Otakar II becomes duke of Austria 1251


Přemysl Otakar II (Pandosto/Polixenes) becomes king of Bohemia until 1278, extends Bohemian rule as far as the Adriatic Sea



Guglielma of Bohemia arrives in Milan, goes to live in the convent of Santa Caterina di Brassano, enters into "contract of vitalizio" with the abbey of Chiaravalle. Beginning of Joachim of Fiore's "Third Age" [all Newman]



Urban IV becomes pope



Ottone Visconti appointed archbishop of Milan; prevented from entering the city by the della Torre family



Clement IV becomes pope



Clement IV dies. Papacy remains vacant until 1271


59 Otakar II inherits Carniola, which gives him access to the Adriatic Sea and allows travel by boat from Bohemia to Milan as described in The Winter's Tale [Roe] 1269

Gregory X (Tebaldo Visconti, great-grandson of Otto II VIsconti) becomes pope



Innocent V becomes pope. Adrian V becomes pope. John XXI becomes pope, failing to take the name "John XX," supposedly recognizing Pope Joan (John VIII). Saramita proclaims Guglielma "the Holy Spirit" and "the true God" [Newman]



Forces of Ottone Visconti enter Milan. Comet of 1277 seen in China, Korea, and Japan. Nicholas III becomes pope



Andrea Saramita buys Guglielma a house in Porta Nuova



Guglielma dies

August 24, 1281


St. Agnes of Bohemia, sister of Guglielma, dies

March 2, 1282


Saramita visits Prague



The corrupt Boniface VIII becomes pope

December 24, 1294


Sister Manfreda celebrates mass at the convent of Umiliate nuns at Brassono

Easter 1300


Inquisition tries Manfreda, Saramita, and the disinterred corpse of Guglielma; all three sentenced to burn at the stake

July–Dec., 1300


Saramita's new scriptures destroyed by the Roman Catholic Church

after 1300


Della Torres return to power. Matteo Visconti withdraws to Verona, the setting for Marlowe's Romeo and Juliet, until 1310. Galeazzo withdraws to Ferrara, later seat of the "cult" of Manfreda


  Benedict XI becomes pope 1303
  Benedict dies 1304
  Clement V becomes pope 1305
  Matteo returns to Milan with the aid of Henry VII of Luxemburg and Dante Alighieri 1310
  Matteo becomes imperial vicar of Milan 1311
  Clement dies 1314
  John XXII becomes pope 1316
  Matteo excommunicated 1317
  Matteo confiscates record of the Milanese inquisition ca 1317
  John XXII declares crusade against Matteo February 23, 1322
  Matteo dies 1322
  Nicholas V becomes antipope at Rome 1328

Benedict XII becomes pope


  Giovanni II Visconti becomes archbishop of Milan 1342
  Roberto Visconti becomes archbishop of Milan 1354
  Clement VII becomes antipope at Avignon. Giangaleazzo Visconti becomes duke of Milan, creates the first modern state [Tarpley] 1378

Comet of 1382. Beginning of Italian Renaissance


  Renewal of the "cult" of Guglielma [Newman] 15th century
  Francesco Foscari becomes doge of Venice until 1457 1423
  Brother Antonio Bonfadini of Ferrara writes a highly distorted hagiography of Guglielma ca 1425


Bianca Maria Visconti marries Francesco Sforza at Cremona



Bonifacio Bembo paints the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, including the Papessa, for Bianca Sforza-Visconti

bet. 1441 & 1450

  Francesco Sforza becomes 4th duke of Milan. Giovanni III Visconti becomes archbishop of Milan 1450


Fresco of Guglielma, Manfreda, and Saramita transported to Brunate by Bianca Sforza

ca 1450


Leonardo missing from Italy



Comet of 1487. Leonardo employed by Ludovico Sforza


  Charles VIII of France invades Italy at the behest of Ludovico 1494


Ludovico Sforza becomes duke of Milan



Visconti-Sforza library at Pavia pillaged

16th century




It has become clear in the last few years (Newman, 2005) that the modern image of the High Priestess in the Tarot is that of Manfreda Visconti da Pirovano, the niece of Anastasia Pirovano and popess of a schismatic and—shortly thereafter—systematically extirpated sect of the Roman Catholic Church. Anastasia was the wife of Teobaldo Visconti, nephew of Ottone Visconti and father of Matteo I, both lords of Milan. The original image on the card was Hera. In 1988, I saw Hera as the star Sirius:

The next trump in the series presents a much simpler exercise in interpretation. We can thank an early card maker from the south of France for the deck that calls it Juno rather than Priestess. The wife and sister of Jupiter, Juno was the Roman equivalent of the Greek Hera, the wife and sister of Zeus who in turn was the equivalent of Jupiter. "In classic folk-lore the Milky Way was marked out by the corn ears dropped by Isis in her flight from Typhon; or was the result of some of Juno's nursery troubles with the infant Hercules ... From this doubtless came the Roman Circulus Junonius."4 I should point out here that Isis was the wife and sister of Osiris. At Akkad north of Sumer it was "Hid In-ni-na, River-of-the-Divine-Lady; and, to quote again [Brown, 1899]: 'This Snake-river of sparkling dust, the stream of the abyss on high through which it runs, the golden cord of the heaven-god ... is the Milky Way; and it is the River of Nana, wife of the heaven-god, as, in Greek mythology, it is connected with Here (sic).' "3

The Galaxy is a big place, even as a two-dimensional projection on the illusory dome of the sky. From past experience we might expect to find our High Priestess represented by a single star somewhere on this vast milky river. There is scant evidence of either Juno or Hera as a star in any source I have so far examined. The one exception is a quotation from the Iliad in Hamlet's Mill where Hephaistos calls his mother Kunopis which the authors translate as dog-eared. From this they place Hera near the star Sirius in Canis Major. The situation changes drastically when we look for the Egyptian Isis, who bears roughly the same relationship to the Milky Way as Hera, for she has long been associated with the very same Sirius or, less often, other stars in the Great Dog.

More likely, Hera—or Juno in her Roman incarnation—was the moon goddess (Green 2007), and the Milky Way was then identified with the moon, the wife of the sun, in a complex mythological sequence meant to explain, or recall to memory, the details of the sky.

The oldest surviving Tarot cards were painted by Bonifacio Bembo for Bianca Maria Visconti after she married Francesco Sforza. Bianca Visconti-Sforza was also responsible for bringing the cult of "Saint" Guglielma to Brunate in the form of a fresco depicting Guglielma, Manfreda, and Andrea Saramita. Saramita was the author of a set of now presumably lost scriptures one might call the Third or Final Testament. That the Roman Church would have destroyed the vehicle of its own salvation is not surprising.

3Allen (1963). 


The Tarot Bloodline

Partial Genealogy of the Pirovano-Visconti-Sforza Family of Milan

*Lord of Milan.  †Duke of Milan.

1The only thing even resembling a source for this is the Catalan version of Wikipedia under the entry for Otó Visconti.
10th great grandson of Charlemagne.  3Williams (1998) has Ottone as the father of Matteo I.
3Widely believed to have been poisoned by Ludovico Sforza. Gian's uncle Ludovico effectively controlled Milan from 1481, hiring Leonardo in 1487.

In 1988 I identified the Tarot deck with a product of the early school of Pythagoras, most likely the Master himself. It would not exceed the bounds of credulity if we were to attribute its survival to the succeeding avatars listed in Chapter Eight, one of whom was the Greek geometer himself. Unfortunately, as the reader may have guessed by now, that list is almost certainly far from complete, though one might begin an inquiry with the assumption that once the cards entered Italy they remained there, so that it would be fair to assume that Pythagoras and Bianca Maria Visconti-Sforza constitute the two ends of a proverbial golden chain, whose intermediate links may have included Charlemagne, that existed on the peninsula of Italy and extended across almost two millennia whose members possessed a secret that could only be released to the mundane world when the Roman Church had finally had its restraints upon the minds of men loosened by its defeat on the battlefield and the consequent rise of the Italian Renaissance. Even then, the meaning (or, rather, function) of the primary physical emblem of this Tarot bloodline would remain hidden by its use as the vehicle of a game akin to pinochle and later as a method of divining the future.

I have been studying the Tarot since 1986, the physical artifact itself, not the methods that have accrued to it of supposedly telling the future nor the games that have been played with it. Those were not and are not its primary function. For the Tarot is not simply a deck of cards to be manipulated in the pursuit of diversion or of future knowledge. It is a kind of matrix, a device for the reprogramming of the brain, a way of learning to, as it were, think like a Pythagorean. This method was not restricted to the avatars themselves, but would have been used in the preparation of their students for initiation into the secret and genuine knowledge of the ancients.


From Jonan to Guglielma—Incarnations of Ishtar?

Its outlines remain vague, and there is no way at present to absolutely validate the suspicion that neither Joan nor Manfreda were anomalous beyond their intersection with the history of the solar Church of Rome. We can, however, extract some of the more obvious members of this sorority of incarnations of Ishtar and place them in tabular form in order to begin to understand their significance throughout the history of the ancient world. The reader should be aware that these are not just any random wives of kings. These are the wives of avatars and kings who were strongly associated with the sun god and were, themselves, often seen as goddesses, most likely those of the moon. A clear distinction should be made between the mother of the sun god, sometimes called Maia or Mary or Mutemwiya, worshipped by the Guglielmites as the Holy Spirit in the person of Guglielma, and his queen, whom we may identify with the Popess Manfreda, sometimes called Joan or Joanna or Juno—or even John in an attempt to hide her true identity.

Partial List of the Incarnations of Ishtar


Incarnation of the Moon

Wife of—
(Incarnation of the Sun)

Years Ruled

Crete? Jonan ? after 3907?
Crete? Joanna ? after 3541?
Phoenicia (Egypt?) Janna (Isis?) Osiris? after 3195
Libya Celaeno/Hera/Juno/Inanna Prometheus/Zeus/Jupiter/Dumuzi after 3011?
Akkadian Empire Nitokris/Semiramis/Rimush/Ishtar Sargon I/Ninus/Shamash 2329–2269
Egypt Tiye Amenhotep III 1396–1358
Judea "John" the disciple Yeshu the Nazar? before 70 BC
Judea "John" the Baptist? (Saint Joanna?) Chuza? (Jesus?) before AD 36
Rome Pope Joan Pope Leo IV? 854–855
Milan Sister (Papess) Manfreda ? 1281–1300


[Chapter Twenty: 1593—Marlowe, Samuel Daniel, and Wilton House]


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