High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
There are two overarching thematic elements of the Secret:
Birthstone/Birth month/Birth flower
Fairies and their immigration from the old world to the new world
Let’s look at these in the context of the San Francisco painting, Image 1.
Immigration: Cathay (aka China)
Fairy: the Dragon
Birth month: June
Birth flower: Rose
With that context, we can start to ask questions. Why did BP choose these elements specifically for the San Francisco puzzle? June, for example, has two birth flowers (rose and honeysuckle) and three birthstones (pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone). Why did he choose the rose and the pearl?
Choosing Cathay is obvious. San Francisco is home to the oldest Chinatown in North America and has been incredibly influential in Chinese immigration to North America. The choice of China also allowed him to include two integral parts of Chinese culture into the painting: the Dragon the Yin Yang symbol.
The Yin Yang symbol represents a dualism, a harmony of the opposite but interdependent elements of the world.
Yin: dark, shadow, moon, water, female
Yang: bright, light, sun, land, male
Looking at the painting more closely, we see dark mountains, water, moons, and a woman. The painting is predominantly Yin.
Now, why did he choose June, the rose, and the pearl?
The birth month, June, has a tie to love. It’s named after Juno, the Roman Goddess of marriage.
To emphasize this, he chose to snub honeysuckle and place a red rose in Image 1. Most of us know the red rose intuitively as representing love. There’s a reason that the red rose is the poster child for Valentine’s Day.
In a painting with 11 moons, it’s interesting that Byron and JJP chose to include the pearl over the moonstone. Pearls are associated with purity, honesty, and love. BP even refers to them as “chaste” in the Litany of the Jewels. Chinese philosophy associates the pearl with the moon, water, and women, aligning it with the Yin principle. Pearl fits best with June/Rose and the context of the painting.
(Information about birth months and their associations, pearls, and the yin yang symbol was easily available in your 1982 editions of the Farmer’s Almanac and the Penguin Dictionary of Symbols.)
It seems we’ve been given two very overt themes for this puzzle: Yin and Love.
But what now?
Puzzles have missing pieces. A puzzle is solved when you uncover the method to fill in those missing pieces.
We’re given Yin, so Yang must be our missing piece. This tells me that the goal for this puzzle is to complete the dualism by finding a Yang. Couple that with the overarching love theme and the Yang that we are looking for is likely the woman in the painting’s lover. The Yang to her Yin. This is only helped by the litany itself, referring to the Pearl as “chaste”, which also means “unwed”.
We know that Yang is represented by things such as light, sun, and male. The Sun Yat-sen statue in St. Mary’s Square is a great candidate for our Yang. A statue of a man, named Sun, who is widely revered as the "Father of the Nation'' in the Republic of China.
Now, let’s unite Image 1’s moon goddess with her Sun.
Additional credit: cogito ergo mutat Phil Abbott