top of page
william shakespeare edward de vere bardolatry

William Shaksper's six surviving signatures, none of them Shakespeare.

Anchor 1

A letter written in French by Shake-speare, age 13.

Anchor 2

Crib Notes

Name: The Hierophant - William Shake-Speare

Dramatis Personae: William Shaksper; Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

Astrology: Taurus, Venus

Hebrew Letter: HEH


 Text & Context: The Hebrew letter Heh signifies revelation, light, and the divine breath [Latin, spero]. In the Talmud, the sound of God's breath, which created the heavens and the earth, is heh. It is the picture of God's divine breath at the heart of man, the sacred in the profane; its function seen in its insertion by God into the names of Abram [Abraham] and Sarai [Sarah]. Correspondingly, Shaksper becomes Shake-Speare and the spirit is shackled - My name be buried where my body is - in the word. Heh, pronounced "hey", is the false cognate of hay, befitting a grain merchant on the one hand and, on the other, bounded in the kernel of hay's literal meaning: that which is cut, that which is struck. 

 On the physical level, 5 represents 5 fingers, 5 senses, 5 dimensions, 5 levels of the soul: Instinct, Emotion, Mind, Bridge to Transcendence, Oneness. This last is a paradox, as The Hierophant card is a duality, a duplicity; The Hierophant himself a proxy, a middle-man, stand-in. The word heh is a portmanteau palindrome of "he", reflecting Touchstone's reproof of William:

Now, you are not ipse, for I am he.

 In the card's Taurus semiotic can be seen the sacred Ox, Apis, or more precisely Apis Lapis, the stoned [castrated] bull. In the papal sense, a bull is a sealed document; in the everyday sense, to bull is to dissemble and cheat. As The High Priestess card represents the secret and solitary, The Hierophant encapsulates the orthodox, the communal, the publicly believed. Hence, it is about blending in and surrendering to tradition at the expense of individuality. Bulls are also notoriously hidebound. As cattle forged paths across the landscape which became human routes of community and commerce, so Taurus imposes and maintains its mundane way with its very mass; or, in short, its bullying.

 As in MithraismApis [or Hapis], the ox deity of Egypt, is a myth of sacrifice and rebirth. The sacred bull is born of the bee, representing the one and the many, the great and the small. The result of this symbiosis is the Nector of the Gods - honey. In his own lifetime, Shake-speare was repeatedly referred to as honey-tongued.


 As Claudius “bearded” Hamlet from the throne, and Hamlet enlists a troupe of actors to “beard” his uncle, The Hierophant is hired heir, who brings the phantom and fantastic to light. Who calls me villain. Breaks my pate across. Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face. It com’st thou to beard me. Is itself the beard of Bardolotry. The goal, however, is not all that glisters. Nor is it God. Rather, it is inscrolled -

 Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.

 The worm that becomes the gilded butterfly, mammocked. A boustephedon, as 'twere, holding the mirror up to nature. The oxymoros come orthodoxy - an eye for an eye [Ex. 21:24]; ox for ox [Ex. 21:36]; life for life [Ex. 21:23]. 

 No play, no poem, no letter exists in Shaksper's hand. Dividing his time between London and Startford, correspondence would be expected but none has been found. The six examples of his signature on legal documents suggest he was unused to writing, if not illiterate like his daughters. His will bequeeths his wife his "second best bed", but mentions no books, musical instruments, or items which in any way would indicate a writing career. Two actors are added as an interlineation, and the document spells the merchant's name "Shakspere" - odd for a man whose fame and fortune derived from his putative stint as "Shake-speare".  When the man from Startford did die, no one - poets, friends, or otherwise - publicly said or wrote anything about him.


 Nothing we know about Shakspere accounts for Shakespeare's extensive knowledge of law, philosophy, classical literature, ancient and modern history, mathematics, astronomy, art, music, medicine, horticulture, heraldry, military and naval terminology and tactics; etiquette and manners of the nobility; English, French and Italian court life; Italy; and aristocratic pastimes such as falconry, equestrian sports and royal tennis. Living in the well-documented reigns of Elizabeth and James, the fact that less is known - or knowable - about the greatest poet and playwright of the time than about any other, minor or middling, is literally incredible. Whats more, since that time, Shakspere has been subjected to the greatest battery of organised research ever directed upon a single person and his identity remains stubbornly that of a mean grain merchant at best and, at worst, the interminable concoction of lit. crit. vanity projects.

 "Bardolatry" was coined in 1901 by George Bernard Shaw, but it began in earnest long before. While interest in Shakespeare lay fallow for years following his death, serious worship of the Bard began in the mid-18th Century. At the unveiling of a statue at Shakespeare's Jubilee in 1769, the actor David Garrick ended his poetic encomium, "'tis he, 'tis he, the God of our idolatry." William Cowper responded by calling Garrick's Jubilee "blasphemous". Victorian idolaters viewed the Bard's oeuvre as equivalent to the Bible - a secular and nationalistic replacement. In our day and age, the golden calf remains the golden goose - 1998 saw Harold Bloom contend Shakespeare "invented humanity", his characters actual persons, as real as you or I, or at any rate Harold Bloom.

 Bardolatry is a pseudo-religion; the name Shake-speare a pseudonym, an aptronym, a portmanteau. It symbolizes the spirit breathed into the author's pen by Pallas - "the penning to Minerva" as Stephen Gossen ridiculed, or in the reverent words of Thomas Vicars, "that famous poet who takes his name from shaking and spear", and by the author himself at the pen-name's first appearance, "the first heir of my invention" - the heir Venus & Adonis, the invention "Shake-speare". That the author of the works is someone other than whom most assume him to be mirrors the authorship of many religious tomes, assembled by scribes or otherwise written by a person assuming a false identity, collectively called Pseudepigrapha. These include the sayings of Confuscius, Buddhist Sutras, Hindu Vedas, the Quran, the Torah's Pentateuch, and the evangelists of the New Testament Gospels.  

 Pallas - said to be the name of the goddess' childhood playmate who died and was subsumed by her - is the male aspect of Athena, herself androgyne. Her twin is Apollo. Her Palladium shows Athena holding a spear in her right hand - the male aspect - and a distaff in her left - the female, weaving together the fabric of the world. In some accounts, in her left hand is a book - the very word religion meaning in Cicero's words "to re-read". According to Hesiod, there were two Paladiums - the original was a gift from Zeus to his son Dardanus, and was always ‘kept hidden’, while that which the Greeks stole was its copy; the outward show, mirror to the inward essence. By this reading, the Palladium remained ever in Troy, with its duplicate carried in various myths to found Greece, Rome, and Britain. 


bottom of page