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Love is Blind

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:

  1. Birthstone/Birth month/Birth flower

  2. 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

Birthstone: Pearl

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

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Jan 28

Very astute observations Gentlemen...You were all on the right track here...I hope you've figured out who Y and Y are now. But there is so, so much more to this masterpiece! J


Aug 04, 2021

These are good ideas guys. Well done.


Aug 04, 2021

So one thing Chris and I would have liked to include but we decided it just muddied the point of this one up a bit was image being based on Virgin of the Rocks and the location being at st Mary’s. Excellent thematic chasteness. Thinking this might be how Byron got to this area using the theme at which point he then concocted this supplementary sun/moon love story for the end point.

Another add I just stumbled on in my crossword—look up the meaning of the phrase “moonstruck”

Aug 04, 2021
Replying to

Gotta say, when Chris first sent me this 3 Vol. novel to proofread and cut down to a manageable presentation, I was a bit down on the whole thing. I loved our Union theme that we had settled on previously. But as I was combing through, cutting things, tightening things up, fact checking, it all really started making sense and I even found myself adding to it. The theme is still union--just of a different sort. I think my favorite part of where this stands is that it's not just "identify theme and find thing that fits it." In this instance it seems the theme plays into how the puzzle itself works. Identify theme (love/union/balance) and CREATE the marriage from…

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