Before I explain my methods of reading hidden messages in Shakespeare, I want to explain why I started looking of hidden messages in Shakespeare to begin with. From reading the plays in school for the first time, I always had the feeling, as many others have, that the author was hiding his identity, or was compelled to hide his identity. I also had the feeling that anyone who was brilliant enough to write Shakespeare could find a way to place a hidden message somewhere in the plays to reveal his true identity.
I have found messages hidden with several methods in the works of Shakespeare. By works of Shakespeare, I mean Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623), Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1609), the King James Bible (1611), and The Maske of Flowers (1614). I cannot cover all of these works in one book, so this book focuses on Shakespeare’s First Folio. In general, the main methods of concealing messages are with word puzzles, steganography, and simple alphanumeric encipherment. One type of hidden messages present in the First Folio, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and The Maske of Flowers (see below) is the steganographic overlay message (hereafter referred to as, simply, “overlay message”) that is revealed using two copies of a single page or an overlay of two different pages. I have read these messages by using an image-viewing program to overlay a halftone image of a page over itself. I have found steganographic overlay messages on facsimile images of several pages of the First Folio, including the first page of The Tempest, the first page of The Two Gentleman of Verona (page 20 of the Comedies), the dedication page of The Maske of Flowers, and the page of Shakespeare’s Sonnets containing Sonnets 1 and 2. I have not found any steganographic overlay messages in the King James Bible, but I have not really looked. These overlay messages appear to be commonplace; I suspect that these types of messages may be present on every page throughout the works of Shakespeare. The instructions for the proper page alignment to reveal these messages appear in the text of the page itself. It seems that instructions for an overlay message are commonly placed in the lines at the bottom of a page. However, overlay instructions are placed at other points on a page.
Word puzzles are also a very common type of puzzle. Word puzzle messages come in a number of forms. These types of messages include acrostic puzzles,” “page reference clues,” “compass-setting instructions,” and many more types of these puzzles. The first type of puzzle I deciphered was an acrostic puzzle—the “SHE SAW I BANISHED” message, which appears on page 3 of The Tempest. There appears to be way of revealing the location of acrostic puzzles and their associated instruction sets with a compass and square, the tools of a Mason.
The type of message that has the most promise for revealing massive amounts of information are the messages that can be read along an arc or circle drawn by a compass or along the lines formed by drawing a right triangle, and possibly other geometric figures, drawn with the use of a stonemason’s square. To uses these tools, it is critical to understand where to correctly place the tool and, in the case of the compass, the compass settings, to read the message correctly. However, if these tools are properly used, full-text messages can be read. The downside to these messages is that the messages can be subject to various subjective interpretations. Therefore, results of these types of messages need to be confirmed by other related messages, at least until the rules for reading these messages are better understood.
This book is partly a set of proofs to show that my methods work, partly a how-to manual for others to use to find new messages, and partly entertainment. I hope this book is entertaining, but because it contains proofs, my fear is that it may be about as entertaining as a book about geometry proofs. I am certain that some people enjoy reading geometry proofs, but I have not met many. However, I feel that I cannot avoid presenting proofs as a preemptive measure to rebut potential critics. On the other hand, I am sure that some critics will never admit the value of my work no matter how many proofs I present.
As a how-to manual for people who like to look for hidden messages in Shakespeare, this book should be invaluable and a good deal more entertaining than a book of geometry proofs. If you like solving word puzzles, or if you enjoy the pure intellectual adrenaline rush of finding and reading hidden messages in Shakespeare, this is the book for you! I hope that my efforts to make this book a somewhat comical and entertaining have succeeded, but I admit it is a difficult task in a book containing logical proofs of words puzzles. I have to admit that people who placed the message in the First Folio had a sense of humor, so I have received a lot of help from them in the entertainment department. I have sprinkled the pages with what I hope are witty asides and comments in an effort to make a serious topic more lighthearted. Some of the material involves Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism, which I have always found to presented in books as a rather dark subject. I don’t believe in the boogeyman, so I have not written a book from the perspective of how the Freemasons and Rosicrucians may be bent on taking over the world. In reading the messages, what I perceive are people interested in free speech, justice, intellectual freedom, love for all of humanity, and political reform in a very repressive time. In the plays and in the hidden messages, there are currents of sadness and happiness, but always with a lot of humor mixed in. There are comic interludes in all of Shakespeare’s plays, even the tragedies. All I can say is that if Freemasons and Rosicrucians put the messages in the First Folio, they sure seem to have had a good sense of humor, so they do not seem scary at all to me (except when they are double-crossed). In any case, think of me as the fool, like King Lear’s court jester. Laugh at my jokes and pratfalls, or beat me, whatever you think appropriate. Laughing is highly encouraged though. It would be hilarious if in the future I find scholars to citing my jokes in their scholarly papers.
At this point, I will set out the operative hypothesis I am using to explain the existence of hidden messages. Although the elements of the hypothesis I am using has been proposed for some time, it is probably considered “on the fringe” of reasonableness. The development of the hypothesis is attributable to various writers going back many years. Very generally, my results touch on a few of these hypotheses:
1. Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, was the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth I by her lover and stepfather, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley.
2. Francis Bacon was one of at least two illegitimate sons of Queen Elizabeth I by her lover or secret husband, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, may have been the other illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, but I have yet to find any messages that confirm this idea. The existence of both sons was a state secret, or essentially an open state secret, (known only within a select few in the court of the Queen). Both sons were given some consideration, more or less, as possible successors to Elizabeth, but were eventually excluded from the succession to the throne.
3. At his birth, Francis Bacon was placed with Nicholas Bacon and Lady Bacon as their foster child and ward. As he grew older, he knew he was the Queen’s son and sought her public recognition, well into later life, as her natural son and heir.
4. Francis Bacon made various pleas to Queen Elizabeth I for recognition, but he was banished, physically from England to Continental Europe for a period, and later from succession to the throne. His efforts to be recognized in any way failed and he eventually renounced any right he had to succeed Elizabeth prior to the reign of James I.
5. Separate political factions existed in support of Francis Bacon’s or Robert Devereux’s succession to the throne. These factions were in conflict with factions opposed to any recognition of the natural children of Elizabeth and in favor of the succession of James I.
6. After James I ascended to the throne of England following the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Bacon was first elevated and then charged, probably falsely, with bribery and possibly other offenses to permanently remove him from political life.
7. Francis Bacon was the leader, or The Master, of the Free Masons and/or the Rosicrucians. Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism were closely related aspects or Orders within one secret society in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In these groups, he was known as The Master, The Masked King, Neptune, The King of the Sea, or The God of the Sea, and as Shakespeare.
8. The foundation of the Rosicrucianism probably predates the period of 1607 to 1616, when the two anonymous manifestos of Rosicrucianism were published. These manifestos were the Fama Fraternitatis RC (The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC) and the Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC). As has been proposed by others, Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism may have their origins in the Knights Templar.
9. Francis Bacon probably functioned as the editor and theproducer or one of the producers of the works of Shakespeare.
10. Edward de Vere was the principle writer of a group of writers, including Francis Bacon, who actually wrote the works of Shakespeare. De Vere also provided financial backing for the effort.
11. The Free Masons and/or the Rosicrucians carefully prepared the First Folio of 1623 for printing and hid extensive messages, using various methods, throughout the plays. Rules to reveal these messages can be discovered and were meant to be discovered. Other works Bacon was involved with, for example the King James Bible, were also printed with hidden messages. I have found some of these messages. (Current high-level Free Masons and Rosicrucians may know about these hidden messages and, for some reason, are waiting for someone to independently discover them.)
I would like to emphasize that these are propositions that need to be verified and are only as good as the proof offered in their support. Some evidence has been offered by others, such as Alfred Dodd. I am sure some of the propositions will withstand examination; others may be disproven or will have to be amended. My purpose in writing this book is to show, or lend support to the idea, that discoverable secret messages in the works of Shakespeare actually exist, to demonstrate through the presentation of various logical proofs that the method I use to discover and read some of these messages actually works, and to use the proofs to support certain of the propositions set out above. Unless I state otherwise, I am presenting results that I have arrived at independently. It is possible that at certain points I present something that has already been written about, seemingly without attributing it to the proper source. If that occurs, it is completely unintentional. If it occurs, it is because I have independently rediscovered the information and am unaware of another source for the information. With that stated, I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of what is contained in this book is new and important information, at least to people who are not high-ranking Freemasons or Rosicrucians.
I hope that others will find this book useful so that new information can be revealed. I believe the First Folio of Shakespeare, and other works, function at one level as an incredibly significant historical record and biography. There is an incredible amount of information to be revealed, much more than what I can cram into one book.
Finally, with regard to the proposition, mentioned above, that the Free Masons and Rosicrucians may have controlled the conjectured lost treasure of the Knights Templar and may have hidden it, Mr. Petter Amundsen and others have put forward separate theories on this issue. I have independently found messages that seem to support his theories. In his book Oak Island & the Treasure Map in Shakespeare (Jan 12, 2014), he puts forward the theory that this treasure is hidden in a vault on Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Messages I have found on page 10 of The Tempest indicate that there is a vault somewhere that contains treasure and that may contain a large quantity of mercury, used to means preserve certain items. I am very hesitant to include this information in this book because it seems so incredible. I have decided not to include it, because that information is not the main point of this book. In any case, Mr. Amundsen has already written books about the purported treasure and I don’t want to intrude on his turf. Mr. Amundsen, if you are reading this, you can send me a message if you want to talk.
In 2013, The History Channel aired a reality show, The Curse of Oak Island, which chronicles the efforts of two brothers, Mr. Rick Lagina and Mr. Marty Lagina, who have purchased rights to certain property on the Oak Island and who seem to be on the verge of excavating the area that Mr. Amundsen previously identified as the location of a vault. Even if it is assumed for the sake of argument that the existence of the vault is very unlikely, and if it is also assumed, however unlikely it may be, that the vault contains priceless items from the Second Temple, as Mr. Amundsen has proposed, and if the treasure also relates to early Freemasonry and the Knights Templar, it is critically important that any excavations be carried out using rigorous archaeological techniques. (By the way, I majored in archaeology in college.) Even if it is assumed that the odds are remote that there is a vault containing priceless treasure at the site, is it worth the risk of damaging or destroying irreplaceable items and information through nonarchaeological excavation? I hope that this book helps to provide more information to confirm or discount the existence of the vault so that the best decisions about how to proceed with opening it can be reached.
 The Maske of Flowers is not attributed to Shakespeare; however, Sir Francis Bacon is known to have financed and produced its production. As will become apparent, Francis Bacon can be associated with both works that have been attributed to Shakespeare and The Maske of Flowers, so I am including The Maske of Flowers in “Shakespeare’s works.”  Steganography is the art or practice of concealing a message, image, or file within another message, image, or file. The word steganography is of Greek origin and means “covered writing” or “concealed writing.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steganography Steganography sometimes involves hiding a message in plain sight, so that no one suspects it exists.  I suspect reading the messages from copies of actual First Folio pages would require tracing or duplicating the text onto tracing paper.  James VI and I (19 June 1566–27 March 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death., eventually James I, King of England. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_I.  Please note that I am claiming only to have found messages that seem to be consistent with messages Mr. Amundsen apparently has found. I am not assigning any level of accuracy to my interpretation of any message. I am also not claiming that if I have read the message accurately, that the message is truthful. What I am asserting is that if the message is true, the contents of the vault would be so incredibly important that extreme care should be taken in any excavation. The possibility, however remote, that there is a large quantity of toxic liquid mercury in the vault, which the messages seem to allude to, is also a reason for the exercise of extreme care in any excavation.  Although Mr. Amundsen appeared in an episode of The Curse of Oak Island, it is my understanding that he only appeared as a guest on the program and that he is not directly associated with the efforts of the Lagina brothers.