By Gary Osborn
Written by Gary Osborn, 2004.
Copyright © Gary Osborn 2004. All Rights Reserved
In reference to the symbolism in one of his paintings, Nicolas Poussin once said that it contains
“things which, I believe, will not displease those people who know how to read them”. 
Figure 1: Les Bergers d'Acardie (The Acadian Shepherds) Version II
Nicolas Poussin. c. 1640. (185 cm x 121 cm)
On first seeing this painting and when told that there is a code hiding within this enigmatic scene – a code, which has never been deciphered properly and conclusively – most people will immediately examine the angles of the three wooden staffs held by the male shepherds.
Many believe that the angles of these staffs are associated with pentagonal geometry (five-pointed stars.) Some have been able to create large pentacle stars from the staffs that extend beyond the borders of the painting and have then gone onto demonstrate how these pentacles are associated with a place called Rennes le Château, located in the Languedoc, South of France.
By overlaying these pentacles on the map of the Languedoc area, some researchers have found that several important locations line up with the main points of these pentacles, therefore providing evidence or “proof” that the code in Poussin’s painting is all about important sacred locations in the French Languedoc region. These assumptions are based on the information that has arisen from detailed research into this area and the sensational theories that resulted from this research and then published in the book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. (1982) by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. This book has been so influential that no one has thought of looking elsewhere . . .
After having uncovered encoded information in Poussin's two self-portraits, I set out to study this particular painting. I suspected that the Arcadian Shepherds would contain either the same information or perhaps information related to what I had previously found in the self-portraits.
First of all I highlighted the staffs in white. We see immediately that the shepherdess is the only person not holding a staff and so I concluded that this staff theme was a 'male thing' only.
Figure 2: The highlighted wooden staffs held by the male shepherds
It didn’t take long for me to realise that perhaps the angles of these wooden staffs might match the lines that we use to connect a constellation’s stars together to create a mythical image or picture in the night sky.
After many years of looking at photos and pictures of the Orion constellation, Orion was my first choice – and in any case Orion is related to what I had already discovered in Poussin's self-portraits. Orion is a heroic male figure. To the ancient Sumerians he was “the Shepherd”; to the Greeks he was the hero known as ‘Orion the Hunter’, as for the ancient Egyptians we are told that the constellation of Orion represented the gods Osiris and Horus and rather their shared soul. (Horus is the son and reincarnation of the god Osiris). Indeed Orion represents the shamanic and pagan 'resurrection god' of many cultures – an important connection which makes this constellation very important indeed.
Figure 3: Photograph of the Constellation of Orion on the Meridian at Giza,
Midnight, Winter Solstice, 2000 AD – with overlaid lines revealing the body of Orion
Going back to the Shepherds painting, as noted, the staffs are all being held against the shoulders of the three male shepherds which produced the logical thought that they might be connected with the shoulders of Orion – although noting the 'three' males I knew this would be a problem as the staffs are leaning against two left shoulders and one right shoulder.
1. The Right Shoulder of Orion
Although I noted the problem, I began working on this hunch, and working from left to right, I decided first to take the angle of the staff held by the shepherd in rose-white standing on the left.
Taking this angle I superimposed it over the popular photo of Orion taken at 12:00 Midnight as Orion passed the Giza Meridian during the Winter Solstice, 2000 AD.
Of course knowing how the constellations will change their orientations and positions over time according to the precessional cycle, I understood that the orientation of Orion in Poussin’s time would have been slightly different. However, after checking this I found that the difference was only a "cat’s whisker"; and in any case, I soon discovered that Poussin could only have been working to a diagram of how Orion would have looked around 2000 AD and for reasons which I will reveal later.
I superimposed the painting with the now highlighted staff over the photo of Orion, and immediately discovered that the angle of the staff and the angle of the line that connected the stars Betelgeuse in Orion’s right shoulder and Al-Nitak (the first star of the three "belt stars"), matched exactly. Readers would note that if the staff had been out by even an half-degree it would have made a huge difference. I was both surprised and satisfied that this first attempt was a perfect match.
Figure 4: The Right Shoulder of Orion
The stave held by the shepherd in pink-white is the same
angle connecting the stars Al-Nitak and Betelgeuse
Although there was still a long way to go yet and it could all fall apart with the other alignments not matching at all, it was from this point that I knew I was onto something. My hunch was, that if the shoulders of the shepherds were the shoulders of Orion, then it was possible that the legs of the Shepherds were the thighs of Orion. It is said that Orion does not have legs as such and that what we see is the bottom half of his tunic, but still this tunic would contain his thighs, so for convenience I will refer to his sides or thighs as his “legs”.
2. The Right Leg of Orion
My next step was to look at the angle of the front shinbone of the right leg of the bearded shepherd who is kneeling. After highlighting the angle by drawing a line against the shinbone, I then superimposed it over the photo of Orion and again, to my surprise it matched exactly the angle of the ‘thigh line’ in Orion that connects the star Al-Nitak with the star Saiph. It could still be a coincidence I thought – although an amazing one.
Figure 5: The Right Leg of Orion.
The angle of the right leg of the kneeling shepherd matches
the angle that connects the stars Al-Nitak and Saiph
3. The Left Leg of Orion
I then took the angle of the left shin of the young Leonine shepherd in red and cautiously applied the same angle to the same photo of Orion. Again the angle of the leg matched exactly the same line that connects the third star in Orion’s belt, Mintaka, with the star Rigel . . .
Figure 6: The Left Leg of Orion.
The angle of the left leg of the Shepheard in red matches exactly
the angle that connects the stars Mintaka and Rigel
My attention then turned to the last segment of this “Orion code” – the left shoulder. If this last one turned out to be a perfect match then it would finally clinch it.
4. Left Shoulder of Orion
First I looked at the angle of the staff held by the shepherd in red, and realised that the angle did not match the angle of the line linking the stars Bellatrix and Mintaka. I was a little dismayed by this but put it to one side, as I was sure there was a reason and there was but I will come to this later.
I then looked at the bearded shepherd again, as his staff was against his left shoulder – but it was turned the wrong way.
Figure 7: As for referencing the left shoulder of Orion, on first sight this angle
is leaning directly opposite to the angle it should be and looks totally wrong
It looked totally wrong, and it looked as though the whole thing could have fallen apart at this point . . . but then I thought that perhaps I should reflect the staff, keeping the same angle . . .
Figure 8: Left shoulder of Orion - reflected at same angle
And when I did this and then superimposed the reflected angle on the photo of Orion and right where it should be, again it was a perfect match! – (see figure 10 below) – the same angle exactly as the line that connects the shoulder-star Bellatrix with the belt-star Mintaka.
Could all this still be a coincidence?
It appears that confirmation for this reflection is given in the Shugborough Hall Monument, Lichfield, Staffordshire, England. As we can see, this is a mirrored version of Poussin’s painting and it seems that we have to use both images to get at the code.
Again, many have been puzzled as to why this sculptured relief is mirrored.
Figure 9: Shugborough Hall Monument containing the mirrored image
Figure 10: Left: The Shugborough Hall monument Superimposed over Orion - the
angle of staff a perfect match connecting Bellatrix and Mintaka, and
Right: the same detail from Poussin's painting - again same angle
Perhaps the purpose of the monument is to lend support to the encoded message hiding in Poussin’s painting as well as to give a nudge to those who have missed the clues hiding within it. The angle of the staff is exactly the same. (There are more clues in this monument – the mirror image serving more than one purpose – all of which I will reveal very soon in the future).
Figure 11: Montage of Orion Star Constellation and Shepherds
Note how the left and right arms and legs line up with the body angles
of Orion and in the same angle-orientation that Orion appears to us around 2000 AD.
If we now look at a montage image of all four alignments with the constellation of Orion – also using the mirrored image from the Shugborough Monument, and in the only way in which everything fits – then we discover that the shepherd in red is actually pointing to the belt star Al-Nitak – a significant star as it appears to have been used as a precessional marker. This is something that will be explained in Parts 2 and 3 of this presentation.
So far, so good . . . but what about the angle of the staff on the left shoulder of the young shepherd in red?
Well in explaining this we are given confirmation that what we see in the above montage was indeed intended.
The year 2000 appears to be a specific date for Poussin – if we accept the above. Keep in mind that every position and angle of the legs and the wooden staffs in the painting matches the star angles in the image of Orion as it appears on the Meridian in the year 2000.
It would have been easy for Poussin to angle the staff held by the shepherd in red to the same angle as the left shoulder of Orion, as it stands on the Giza Meridian in 2000 AD, thereby ridding himself of the complexities that result from the need to also use a mirrored image. However, the clever painter needed this particular wooden staff for another purpose. This staff is still associated with Orion’s left shoulder, but at a different time.
In other words, this staff is the angle of Orion’s left shoulder when Orion’s position on the Giza Meridian is orientated to a different time in the Precessional Cycle . . .
1. Blake, Peter, & Blezard Paul S., The Arcadian Cipher, Pan, 2000, p. 9