The Providence Journal ran an article July 6 discussing the controversy over the Narragansett Rune Stone (NRS), a rune-covered rock that had been located for many years off the coast of Rhode Island before vanishing last year. It was the subject on an episode of America Unearthed. The rock was recently recovered, and now it is undergoing testing to determine the age of its carvings, which include the variant-A rune in the shape of an X with a little bar perpendicular to the upper right stave that forensic geologist Scott Wolter has termed “The Hooked X®” and registered as an official trademark.
The article contains very little new information about the NRS except for the strong insinuation that local property owner and billionaire Heritage Foundation founder Timothy Mellon, a scion of the wealthy Mellon family, stole the stone because he mistakenly believed Rhode Island granted property owners rights to the rocks in the waters adjacent to their property. The article, of course, does not explicitly state Mellon was responsible, though it is the clear implication. While the stone was legally state property, there is no law criminalizing the removal of stones not protected as monuments or historical sites from state property, so charges are unlikely.
Obviously, as a wealthy conservative, Mellon is clearly in on the conspiracy to suppress the truth about the sacred feminine in America.
What interests me, however, is how staff writer Richard C. Dujardin depicted Scott Wolter:
Though Wolter has come under fire from critics who see his theories as over the edge, he is considered an expert by many on the subject of runestones, having produced documentaries for the History Channel and written two books.
This is what I’ve tried to say about the legitimizing power of television; the very fact that Wolter has a TV show (on H2, actually) gives him prima facie credibility that outweighs even the most serious of criticisms in the court of public opinion. On the plus side, by The Providence Journal standards, I’m an expert on UFOs, pyramids, aliens, and world mythology.
The legitimizing power of television then lets Wolter say things like the following, about the alleged marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, their imaginary offspring, and the Knights Templar’s knowledge of the same—all more or less without challenge:
Wolter says there is little doubt that the Knights Templar, facing suppression by church authorities, would have wanted to escape — even if it meant traveling across an unchartered ocean.
Where does one even begin unpacking all the wrongness in this brief passage?
Wolter might have “little doubt,” but there is no evidence to support his assertion, especially since we know where many of the Knights Templar ended up after the suppression of the order, including the Knights of St. John (the Hospitallers)—by papal decree no less!—and the Knights of Christ in Portugal and Order of Montessa in Spain. Given that outside the immediate leadership of the order and outside of France, there were virtually no convictions of Templar members, there just isn’t much room for an imaginary flight from Europe by ship.
The claim rests on two foundations. The first is that several thousand Templars in France who must have existed cannot be easily accounted for. Many historians believe that they fled to Switzerland, which experienced a sudden florescence of military prowess that cannot easily be explained without an influx of Templars. (Funny how that medieval mystery fails to interest conspiracy theorists.) The second foundation is a single Latin line from “Frater Iohannis de civitate Cathalanensi” (Jean de Châlons), a Templar serving brother, as preserved in the summary of his testimony under interrogation during the Templar dissolution:
Item dixit, quod potentes ordinis prescientes istam confusionem fugiunt et ipse obviavit fratri Girardo de Villariis ducenti quinquaginta equos, et audivit dici, quod intravit mare cum XVIII galeis, et frater Hugo de Cabilone fugiit cum tot thesauro fratris Hugonis de Peraudo. Interrogatus, quomodo potuit tandiu istud factum teneri secretum, respondit, quod nullus pro aliqua re erat ausus revelare, nisi papa et rex aperuissent viam, quia, si sciretur in ordine, quod aliquis loqueretur, statim fuisset mortuus.
It’s funny that very few books about the Templar “mysteries” quote this. Note carefully that the transcript clearly delineates the claim about the eighteen galleys as secondhand hearsay. Jean de Châlons did not witness the galleys, nor even hear of them from Gerard de Villiers himself; he claimed it secondhand or farther removed from mere rumor. And we are getting it at yet another remove from the records of his interrogation.
Jean de Châlons, however, made up many other claims of even more ridiculous provenance, and his assertion of eighteen galleys flies in the face of the facts, which record that the order with the greatest naval presence—the Hospitallers—had but four galleys to their name at the same time. This single line—the sole source for Scott Wolter’s imaginary voyage of the Templars—is simply a wild rumor repeated under duress while on trial for his life. The entire myth of the Templar flight to America rests on this single reference in the testimony of a man being tortured for information, whose other claims were later proved false.
Well, that’s still a little better than Wolter’s claims about Jesus. How, exactly, would teaching “the ancient mysteries” be a “threat” to the Romans? As laid out in the Gospels—which are of questionable historical value to begin with—the Romans killed Jesus because he was causing disruptions among the Jewish subject populations of Judaea. The Romans, and I’m not sure I can make this clear enough, absolutely LOVED the Mysteries. Not only could they not get enough of them, they actively went looking for more Mysteries to import to Rome, including the Mysteries of (alphabetically) Attis, Cybele, Dionysus, Isis, Mithras, Orpheus, Sabazius, and Serapis—just for starters. Outside of Rome, there were special Mysteries so sacred they could only be performed in their cult centers, including the Samothracian Mysteries and, of course, above all the Eleusinian Mysteries. Several Roman emperors traveled to Eleusis to be initiated into the Mysteries, right down to Julian the Apostate. In the relevant period, right before Jesus, Sulla, Cicero, Marc Antony, and quite possibly Julius Caesar all entered the Eleusinian Mysteries. The emperor at Jesus’ birth, Augustus, was also an initiate, having entered the Mysteries to celebrate his defeat of Antony. In fact, the early emperors considered entry into the Mysteries to be a shortcut to becoming a god since the cleansing of the Mysteries and the subsequent grant of eternal life paved the way for senatorial ratification of their divinity.
This is not the behavior of people who hated the Mysteries or were threatened by them.
What the Romans didn’t like was individuals who threatened the authority of the state or who refused to accept the suzerainty of the Roman gods. But that isn’t Scott Wolter’s claim, so it’s not relevant to our inquiry today.
In short, Scott Wolter knows not whereof he speaks. As Wittgenstein said, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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