This WikiFlow was initiated while I was playing through the story mode of Uncharted 3 last night, when a few historical names, places, and events were mentioned that caught my attention. So I documented the trip through Wikipedia that ensued.
It starts with English historical figure, John Dee, who is mentioned several times in Uncharted 3 because of his relationships with Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Francis Drake , but particularly because of his interests in and contributions to various avenues of occultism, including Hermeticism.
Now the Hermetic belief “as above, so below” is used to progress the plot in the game and it turns out that the belief is depicted in The Magician card in Tarot decks. It’s no coincidence, of course; it’s because the illustration for that card was developed by occultist, A. E. Waite, for the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is heavily referenced in pop culture and what interested me was that it is at the center of Chapter 4 - Frater V.O.V. of the Divine Science Pack from the Facebook game, Assassin’s Creed: Project Legacy. More importantly, however, the order was so influential on occult traditions that its concepts are central to modern pagan religions, such as Wicca and Thelema. Incidentally, both of those philosophies are vastly interesting, and I suggest you look into them, if you’re interested in anything from spirituality to fiction writing, for inspiration.
In particular, Thelema was founded by oft-referenced occultist, Aleister Crowley, upon the ethical code, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” which itself was derived from the French motto of the Hellfire Club, “Fais ce que tu voudras.”
I’m sure that if some comic fans just read that, they made the insta-association, like I did, to the Marvel Universe’s incarnation of the Hellfire Club (peek at the end of this article for some Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon!). Fret not DC comic fans, for in the Batman comic, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Amadeus Arkham meets with Aleister Crowley; they discuss the symbolism of Egyptian tarot and play chess. I also found out that comic book author, Alan Moore, is also a practitioner of magic and his works, From Hell and Promethea, feature incarnations of Crowley. Neatly enough, both Aleister Crowley and the Hellfire Club are also referenced, although merely in passing, in Uncharted 3. Speaking of links to comics, a very off-hand reference is made, in Uncharted 3, to John Dee’s relation to Sir Francis Walsingham, who may be considered the first modern spymaster, interestingly enough. His ‘black-ops’ even included the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. Now, a wild pop culture factoid appears for all my fellow comic fans out there: in Neil Gaiman's comic mini-series, Marvel 1602, the character of Sir Nicholas Fury was partially inspired by none other than Sir Francis Walsingham!
Back to Wicca and Thelema, symbolism from both religions is scattered throughout Uncharted 3 and several plot devices and puzzles are based on the fact that John Dee recorded an occult language, known as Enochian, in his private journals. Uncharted 3 isn’t the only game to use the Enochian language, it’s found in other games, including: Bayonetta, The Black Mirror and Dante’s Inferno. While reading about Enochian, I also learned two popular culture factoids: a) that the title of the track, “Faaip de Oiad,” by one of my favorite bands, Tool, actually translates to “Voice of God” in Enochian - b) that the title of the album, “Vovin,” by another one of my favorite bands, Therion, actually translates to “Dragon” in Enochian
However, John Dee wasn’t the only one to use Enochian. He shared its use with fellow occultist, Edward Kelley, who claimed that he knew how to turn base metals into gold, via alchemy. In fact, Edward Kelley is the historical figure that spawned the stereotypical characterization of an alchemist, despite sharing the Renaissance alchemy spotlight with the likes of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. As a gaming side-reference, Agrippa plays a role in the computer game, Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
The partnership between John Dee and Edward Kelley is referenced in a lot of media, like in the track, “The Alchemist,” by heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. Anyway, this partnership led the two occultists, along with Kelley’s wife, Jane Cooper, and his adopted daughter and future poet, Elizabeth Jane Weston, to settle in the town of Třeboň, under the patronage of Count Vilem Rožmberk before eventually impressing Emperor Rudolf II and moving to Prague to be employed in his court. These events, recounted from Elizabeth’s point of view, form the basis for Chapter 3 - Elizabeth Jane Weston of the Divine Science Pack from the Facebook game, Assassin’s Creed: Project Legacy. In the game, one of Elizabeth Jane Weston’s ‘memories’ involves an encounter with a golem on the streets of Prague (this struck me as extremely random when I was playing the game, by the way). Some quick research uncovered the legend of the Golem of Prague, the events of which take place in the late 16th century, at the time that Dee and Kelley were in Prague.
That concludes this first WikiFlow entry. I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any remarks, let me know! Don’t forget to check out the arguably lame bonus below!
Oh and for those readers out there, who embrace curiosity and enjoy surfing Wikipedia but who lack reasonably interesting jumping-on points, I recommend playing Project Legacy, and the rest of the games within the Assassin’s Creed franchise for that matter. Needless to say, the Uncharted series of games is equally recommended. The games are brimming with historical facts and I personally love how all the people, places, and events that are alluded to are woven into one another and framed to fit within the Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted universes. Anyway, if you like WikiFlowing, these games will provide plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of jumping-on points.
BONUS: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon!
#1 - Sir Francis Drake
was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the Earth, for which he was knighted by
#2 - Queen Elizabeth I
who had many consultants, including
#3 - John Dee
who was known for studying and contributing to the Hermetic philosophy, which spawned The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, influential members of which included
#4 - Aleister Crowley
who founded Thelema based on the ethical code derived from the motto of the Hellfire Club, which is fictionally portrayed in the Marvel comics universe as having an Inner Circle, a member of which is
#5 - Sebastian Shaw
the role of which was played in the film, X-Men: First Class, by none other than
#6 - Kevin Bacon
TA-DA! Ok, it’s not the neatest Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, so sue me.