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The 33 Degrees of Eyes Wide Shut


Since it’s 1999 release, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut has been evaluated as a dissection of marriage and modern sexual relationships, a sub-textual critique of capitalism, an indictment of hierarchical class structures and much more. At its functional surface level, it is typically graded as a sort of Rube Goldberg machine built out of dream-logic vignettes for use as a psychometric tool on the audience.

True, Eyes Wide Shut is all of those things. But this is not one of those analyses. 

As much as I love Kubrick the Social Commentator, he has been given his huge due for many years and there is little left for me to say about him. No– It is Kubrick the Codemaker who interests me here. 

For over two decades, fans of the film who choose to take it at anything more than face value have been transfixed by it’s layered complexity– a nebulous network of double-meanings, multi-purpose metaphors and hidden symmetrical concepts; a labyrinthine rabbit-hole of secret symbols and intertextual references that seems to number in the hundreds, perhaps even the thousands.  It is a Petri dish for conspiracy theory that perpetually walks the line of ambiguity, keeping those who try to decode it left in the dark. 
This guide is for those fans. It is not an introductory companion to Eyes Wide Shut. If you are new to the film, this will hardly make sense to you and I recommend that you start somewhere else.

If you are a devotee of this film who has been baffled by it, or you were once ensnared by it’s mystifying tangles and have long since given up trying to decode it, please read on. I believe I have answers that you have been looking for– or at least some of them.

As best I can tell from searching the web, I appear to be the first to be privy to this information apart from Kubrick himself. While putting it together, I was ethically hesitant to share what I had found, since I know Kubrick liked to stay tight-lipped about his films and let the viewer figure things out on their own. But ultimately, I think that (A) 21 years is a damn long time to have a secret hidden in a major Hollywood movie seen by millions, (B) the reveal of the secret will open Eyes Wide Shut up to re-evaluation and fairer criticism than it has historically received, and (C) There are still more things hidden in the movie. I need your help to find them.

So here we go. Welcome to the end of the rainbow.

At its heart, Eyes Wide Shut is a code with a cipher, and that cipher is the 33 Degrees of the Scottish Rite.

From a full description of the Degrees at :

“The Degrees of the Scottish Rite are one-act plays often staged with costume, scenery, special effects, and the full rigging of any production. Their purpose is to examine different philosophies, ancient religions, and systems of ethics. Through all of these, people have tried to answer certain universal questions. The Degrees of the Rite do not tell a person what he should think about these questions. Instead, they tell him about what great thinkers and civilizations of the past have thought, and they try to create a situation in which the candidate or Brother can gain insight. Agreeing with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living, the Rite helps with this self-examination by providing reference points.”  

In Scottish Rite freemasonry, a mason progresses through 33 honorary stages, or degrees, by manifesting the virtues of the Rite. Each degree is associated with a set of moral or philosophical precepts. When he has spent sufficient time in a degree, the mason is inducted into the next, and is given a ceremonial masonic apron, which bears colours and symbols associated with that degree.

The Scottish Rite code in Eyes Wide Shut is far more encompassing than I anticipated when I started to uncover it. I’m still piecing many of the details together, but I have enough objective evidence to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that this code was deliberately included by Kubrick for reasons that should become relatively apparent.
The basic outline is that from the beginning of the film until the end, Bill Harford traverses all 33 of the Degrees of the Scottish RiteEyes Wide Shut is essentially a 32 act structure, ending at 33, where the educative associations of each Degree are encountered in chronological order, and provide a through-line and philosophical arc to the film. Whenever the next Degree is presented, it’s arrival is marked by hidden symbolism and Masonic colour schemes.

The Degrees in the film are also clearly delineated by their associated bodies: each body lines up with a distinctly segmented portion of the film. These are as follows:

The Lodge of Perfection (4° –  14°):
This segment is from Ziegler’s party until the first arrival at Somerton.

The Chapter of the Rose Croix (15° –  18°):
This segment is from the Somerton party, and goes through Alice telling her dream to the start of the next day. Technically, this is split into the “Third series” (two degrees at Somerton) and the “Fourth series” (2 degrees at dawn at the Harford house).

Council of Kadosh  (19° –  30°):
This segment goes from the start of the day after the Somerton party, when Bill starts revisiting the locations from the day before, up until his confrontation at Ziegler’s pool table.

The Consistory Degrees (31° –  33°):
This segment goes from when Bill arrives home and confesses to Alice until the toy store at the end. 

The Scottish Rite begins at the 4th degree so I’ll explain from there. I am still in the process of properly locating and unearthing most of the Degrees beyond the 8th, but I will still include some of the more obvious sequences from the second half of the film which cement my hypothesis beyond all doubt.  Either way, there are probably a lot of things I have missed, so the game is still afoot. 
Regarding the first three standard “Blue Lodge” masonry degrees (1° – 3°), these appear to be represented through the Harford family/household itself, in the opening scenes before the Ziegler party. That part will require a separate investigation, so I will give that it’s due analysis later.
I have found other amazing things outside of this Masonic arc, but let’s deal with this bombshell first and I’ll tackle them another time.

If you feel any of this is unconvincing, the most plainly self-evident of the degrees in the film are the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th and the 25th, all of which immediately follow one another.  The 8th, and the 15th going into 16th are also fairly patent. They are the ones that made me sure of this.

Let me know what you reckon.

Discovery of The Code

Like most of the secrets of this movie, a hint as to the existence of the code was hiding in plain sight the entire time; this time in Ziegler’s rumpus room.

Pay attention to the dialogue:

Suppose I told you […] that everything that happened to you was staged“, says Ziegler (over a glass of 25 year old scotch,)

This describes Bill’s journey as echoing the staged morality plays of the Degrees of the Scottish Rite (as quoted in the description at the start of this analysis). Note that both Bill and Ziegler each specifically to the liquor as scotch, as in the Scottish Rite.

Now, if my rationale for this sounds flimsy or “reaching” to you, ask yourself: How come a big-shot like Ziegler doesn’t have a liquor cabinet? How come he has everything on a clustered table?

It’s because Kubrick wants us to see all the bottles.

The table contains exactly 33 bottles of scotch. Hence, The 33 Degrees of the Scottish Rite. Labelled by me below:

A quick note on the Degrees:

I have been mainly using a summary of the Degrees as a quick reference table to identify the appearance of the colours/symbols/philosophies of each degree. However, Eyes Wide Shut digs deeper than these summaries, and draws details from the actual text of the Degrees themselves.

Where appropriate, I may include such text from the original 1884 release, The Book of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (or AASR for short). It would seem Kubrick, as a renowned bibliophile, has drawn from this directly; the earliest major collation of the Masonic traditions.

It can be accessed online here:

In the AASR, many of the chapters for the Degrees have a subsection called “The Apartment & It’s Decorations”, describing the appropriate adornment of Masonic lodges and apartments for the different degrees. Anyone who understands how Kubrick uses mise en scène in Eyes Wide Shut will also understand why this is relevant. There are draw-dropping connections in there, but for brevity I will again devote a separate investigation to these in future.  

A quick note on Jewels and Constellations:

1) On top of colours and symbols, each masonic degree has a special jewel that is associated with it. In Eyes Wide Shut, although the colours and symbols always appear in the scene associated with that degree, it seems that the jewels of the degrees often appear in other scenes, spread throughout the film. The jewels are worn or connected to characters who are linked to the relevant degree.

2) There are multiple scenes in the film where soft lights are used to project constellatory dot patterns onto the clothes of characters from behind the camera. Judging by how these relate to the degrees of the scene they appear in, they seem to be representing stars. In at least one case, the lights are definitely referencing an astrological symbol associated with the relevant degree.

Ok. Enough preamble. Let’s start the scavenger hunt. 

4° – Secret Master

The 4th degree begins at Ziegler’s party, where Dr. Bill meets Nick Nightingale.

From the summaries of the Degrees of the Scottish Rite:
“Your first steps into our sanctuary are duty, reflection and study. They teach us to honor those relationships to God, family, country, Masonry. The apron is white and black, with a letter “Z” and all-seeing eye. The jewel is an ivory key with the letter “Z” on the wards. The lessons of the 4o are secrecy, obedience, and fidelity.

Duty, Study: Bill stayed in med school. Nick dropped out.

White & Black: Nick’s suit, a colour relationship emphasized at different points throughout the film, typically with Nick as the inverse of Bill.

Jewel: Cleverly, the ivory key is Nick’s piano.

Lesson: As with med school, Nick fails in his secrecy, obedience and fidelity in the film. He is plainly connected to these themes throughout.

Numeric association: in the Sonata Cafe, Nick counts his band in: “1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4”. His band onstage consists of four musicians, counting himself. He tells Bill that he has four boys in Seattle.

5° – Perfect Master

The 5th Degree is in Ziegler’s bathroom, right after the ballroom with Nick Nightingale.

From the summary of the degree:
“The degree teaches that honesty and trustworthiness is the cornerstone of the foundation of Masonic honor. This virtue should be in all of our undertakings. The apron is white and green, with a cubic stone and a Hebrew YOD. The jewel is a compass open on a segment of a circle, to an angle of sixty degrees. The lessons of the 5o are Honesty, Sincerity, and good Faith.

Lesson: Ziegler takes on Bill as confidante and Bill shows he is trustworthy. Bill gives his non-transactional assistance honestly and in good faith.

Symbolic markers: the room is white and green with quadrilateral gold trim.

6° – Intimate Secretary

The 6th Degree begins with Bill going into his office, showing a standard day for the Harfords.

From the summary of the degree:
“In this degree we should learn duty, charity and toleration. We are told to reshape ourselves and our thinking into charity, self-control, and success. Be a peacemaker. The apron is white and red, with Hebrew letters YOD HEH in the center, and a small triangle containing the Hebrew letters (clockwise from top) BETH, NUN, and SHIN. The jewel is a gold triangle with the same three letters inscribed.”

Lesson: Montage of Bill working at the doctor’s office & familial duties at home, Christmas gift-wrapping/ postponing wrapping the last gifts until tomorrow. 

Markers: The sequence literally opens with Bill stepping out of a lift and talking with his secretary, who gives him his mail and takes his lunch order. The front of her desk is white with red tinsel; the colours of medicine which are naturally abundant in a doctor’s office. The nurse Lisa has a white nurses uniform with red hairband.

I suspect there are likely more as-yet-unidentified markers here.

7° – Provost and Judge

The 7th Degree is when Bill and Alice smoke weed and get into a fight, right after the regular Harford workday.

From the summary of the degree:  
“We learn that impartial justice protects person, property, happiness and reputation. These degrees teach us to judge with patience and impartially. The apron is white, edged with red, with a key and five rosettes. The jewel is a golden key.” [note: the embroidered key on the flap is also gold.]

Lesson: Bill attempts to retain patient, rational composure under Alice’s animosity.

Markers: The room is white, the Harford bed is red with roses painted into the headboard, and mounted around the the room are golden picture frames.  

8° – Intendant of the Building

The 8th Degree is in the Nathanson house, right after the Harford’s argument.

From the summary of the degree:  
“We should strive for perfection by using the great principles of “God’s inherent love, charity, morality and kindness”. The apron is white, with red and green, with a balance, a five-pointed star, and a triangle with the Hebrew letters BETH (for Ben-khurim), YOU (for Jakinah), and ALEPH (for Achar). The jewel is a gold triangle with the same three letters.”

Lesson: Marion Nathanson is the obvious representative/recipient of love, charity, morality and kindness in this case.

Markers: The elevator lights are green and white triangles. The elevator door interiors are green, with the room being white marble. The red (which typically only appears on appendant parts of the 8th Degree apron, and not on it’s front) is the two red futons just inside the door of the Nathanson household.

As for the balance (as in, the kind Lady Justice holds),: this is the elevator itself, which is a counterweight system.
Now, you may think this is a reach; that the connection between this elevator and a balance is too freely associative. But please observe: there is only one other time in the movie when Bill steps off an elevator (earlier, in the doctor’s office):

The painting hanging on the back of that elevator…

…is Wassily Kandinsky’s “Counterweights“.

(Note: the only 8th Degree symbol I wasn’t able to locate was the star… but I believe there may be a hidden one that is being implied. Hint: what happened to Dave Bowman after he died in the big ornate bed at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey?)

Note: Based on the AASR 8th degree text, it would appear the late Lou Nathanson appears to represent Master Hiram, who in the allegory of the 8th Degree was a recently deceased and lamented architect. 

On top of being master of the house, Lou’s bedspread has an identical colour scheme to the towels in Ziegler’s bathroom, which are arranged to resemble two masonic aprons.

Additionally, note the use of encrypted alliteration when Marion Nathanson is speaking:
BILL: Yes, I remember him. He’s a teacher, isn’t he?
MARION: A math professor. We’re going to get married in May.
BILL: Well, that’s wonderful news. Congratulations.
MARION: Thank you. Carl has a new teaching appointment at the University of Michigan. We’ll be moving out there soon.

To re-cap:
Marion is getting Married in May to a Math professor and is Moving to Michigan.

[Interesting tidbit: The name “Lou” derives from Ludwig. The architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies) is often attributed with coining the phrase “God is in the details”, later adapted to “The devil is in the details”. This seems curiously pertinent to Eyes Wide Shut…]   

9° – Elu of the Nine (Elected Knight of the Nine)

The 9th Degree is when Bill goes into the Sonata Jazz café.

From the summary of the degree:  
“Scottish Rite virtues are at the very heart of this degree, truth, candor and generosity. We should use these to shape our lives and conduct. The apron is white, lined with black, and sprinkled with blood, with an arm holding a dagger, and a severed head held by the hair. The jewel is a dagger, hilt of gold and blade of silver.”

Lesson: After a genial catch-up, Nick Nightingale, out of candor and generosity, gives Bill the password to Somerton.

Markers: The bouncer outside the Sonata Jazz cafe has a white shirt lined with a black jacket. The blood sprinkles are on Nick Nightingale’s tie, and his tweed jacket is flecked with red also. The dagger and hand is Nick writing on the napkin with his pen (note: only the dagger as the jewel has a gold hilt. Not the dagger of the apron). 

[Please note that between Degrees 8 and 14, a couple of the Degrees appear not to be in sequential order. I will elaborate on this at the end of the analysis; and in spite of this, there is still more than enough concrete evidence for my claim.]

10° – Elu of the Fifteen (Illustrious Elect of the Fifteen)

The 10th Degree is when Bill gets accosted by the Yale fratboys.

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches toleration of others,. Everyone has the right to his own political or spiritual views. The apron is white, with a black flap, and with three arch-shaped gates — over each a head on a spike. The jewel is a dagger as in the previous degree.” 

Lesson: Rather than stand up and fight, Bill tolerates the aggressions of the frat-boys.

Markers: Bill is wearing a black winter coat with a big flapped collar, framing his white shirt. As the 6 frat-boys are approaching, the three walking in front are the arches and the three behind are the heads. Apart from the jackets of the frat-boys framing their torso and forming the arches, the YALE logo on their shirts invokes the arches of Yale.


Unfortunately, the first half of the film is where I lose the lead. In between Bill’s visit to the Nathanson home and his arrival at Rainbow Fashions, I have found the code hard to discern.

However… of the Degrees so far, have you noticed what they all have in common?


(4) Alice and Bill entering Ziegler’s party, (5) Ziegler ushers Bill into the bathroom, (6) Bill steps from the elevator to his secretary’s desk, (7) Alice starts fight Bill from the bedroom doorway, (8) Bill steps out of the elevator, which is literally in itself. the symbols of the 8th degree, (9) the Degree’s colours are on the bouncer at the front door, who lets Bill in. (10) Bill enters the degree when the frat booys knock him over into the car door. 

And, although I haven’t figured out which degree goes exactly where, I have found the jewel from the 13th Degree. From the summary of the Rite:
“The jewel is a gold triangle with the Enochian delta on the reverse, and a scene showing two men lowering a third into a newly-discovered subterranean vault, on the obverse.”

The reverse of the jewel is the yellow slippery-when-wet triangle seen here through a door window (the gold triangle is the sign itself, and the delta is the warning insignia written on it):

The obverse of the jewel is resembled by the frat-boys mock-invitation to sodomy:

So the reverse is before Bill gets knocked over, and the obverse is after, while the camera is facing back the other way down the street; as though them pushing him is the spinning of the jewel around to it’s other side. 

Note also that while it is not well visible through the grate in still images, if you watch this sequence in the film you’ll see there appears to be a portrait of a man above the yellow sign. I think it may be a photo of Robert Enoch Withers, a physician and military officer who was famously a Freemason, although I cannot find a source image to confirm this and am not confident of this assertion. Note that Enoch is his birth name, and not a Masonic title or honour.

The lost thread resurfaces with Degree 14.  

14° –  Perfect Elu (Grand Elect, Perfect and Sublime Mason)

The 14th Degree is when Bill goes to Rainbow Fashions to get his costume. 

From the summary of the degree:
“In the degree we learn to reflect and look into ourselves. We should strive to be true to ourselves and our God. The apron is white silk, bordered in gold, with the Ineffable Delta in the Center. The jewel is a quadrant (compass open to ninety degrees) topped by a crown, and with a nine-pointed star on the obverse, and a five-pointed blazing star (with the Tetragrammaton) on the reverse. The compass is opened on a segment of a circle, inscribed with the numbers 3, 5, 7, 9.”  [note: while modern iterations of the apron now feature blue lining, the original AASR text specifies it as having only white and gold.]

Lesson:  The reflections of the street in the door window are concentrated on the door that Milich walks out of, and they cover is featured prominently at the glass door to Rainbow Fashions. Milich also presses his face against the glass room where the two “guests” are with his daughter.

Markers: The room that Milich walks out of is white with a gold picture frame visible (this is more obvious in still live sequence of the film than screenshots). There is also half of an emblem resembling a masonic apron in that room. The door to Rainbow Fashion itself is also white walled with a full row of golden cloaks lining the entrance. The Ineffable Delta is the dragonfly-patterned lamp on Milich’s front desk (it is even giving off the aurora as per the emblem). 

 15° – Knight of the East, of the Sword, or of the Eagle

The 15th Degree is the Somerton ritual/orgy. 

From the summary of the degree:
“In this degree we learn fidelity to obligations and perseverance of purpose under difficulties and discouragement.” The apron is of crimson velvet, edged with green, with a bleeding head above two crossed swords, and a triangle (top point to the left) with three interlaced triangles inside it. The jewel is three concentric gold triangles, with two crossed swords inside them.”

Lesson: Bill perseveres in his investigation of Somerton, despite repeated discouragement from the mysterious masked woman. (Additionally, we also have the obvious link of “Fidelio”/fidelity).

Markers: The velvet crimson is obviously ubiquitous, starting from the doorway (just like the other degrees) and leading to the ritual floor. Lining the red carpet entrance to the inside of Somerton are 2 green plants and 2 green columns. 

16° – Prince of Jersulem

Immediately following Bill’s investigation of Somerton, this degree is obviously represented by the sacrifice of the masked woman (Amanda).  

From the summary of the degrees:
“This degree teaches “heroism of patience, the nobility of self-sacrifice” and compassionate judgment, along with charity, fidelity and brotherhood. The apron is crimson, edged in gold and aurora-color, and with a square, shield, Delta (with three YOD’s), balance, and a hand of justice. The jewel is a mother-of-pearl lozenge, with a hand holding a balance in equipoise; under it a sword with five stars surrounding the point. On the left is a Hebrew D, on the right is a Hebrew Z.  [note: this is another apron of which the original design has changed drastically since 1884.]

Lesson: Amanda’s Sacrifice, Red Cloak exercising judgement to release Bill.

Markers: Red Cloak is crimson and gold. There is an aurora colour behind amanda on the balcony (nudity excised in case you’re reading this somewhere that it won’t fly). The scene begins again with Bill passing through a doorway into Redcloak’s “court”.

Jewel: Amanda is wearing a mother-of-pearl ring in Ziegler’s bathroom. On the left is Dr. Bill (D) and on the right is Ziegler (Z).

17° – Knight of the East and West

 This degree is when Bill comes home from Somerton, checks on his daughter sleeping and puts away his mask.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lessons of this degree are that loyalty to God is man’s primary allegiance, and the temporal governments not founded upon God and His righteousness will inevitably fall. The apron is of yellow satin, with crimson and gold, and with a sword and Tetractys (of the Tetragrammaton) on it. The jewel is a heptagon of silver and gold, with crossed swords on a balance on the obverse, and a lamb on the Book of Seven Seals on the reverse. The jewel is hung from a double order — one black (left-to-right) and one white (right-to-left), representing good versus evil. A gold coronet is also presented.”   

Lesson: Bill returns home and checks on his sleeping daughter in the blue light of reality, ensuring she is ok. This is where his focus should lie, rather than with the ensnaring, futureless pursuits of the Somerton crowd. He studiously retires his mask, having had far more than his fill of the masked ball.

Markers: The walls are lit to be yellow and the golden frames of paintings on the wall are prominent. There are likely as-of-yet unidentified markers in this scene.

18° – Knight Rose Croix 

The 18th Degree is Alice telling Bill her dream. 

From the summary of the Degree: 
“This degree teaches that life and it’s strengths come from God. The rose signifies the dawn and the cross is a sacred symbol of antiquity in many cultures. To be tolerant of others errors and faults. The apron is of white leather or satin, bordered in red, with a skull and crossbones, a red passion cross, and three red rosettes. The grand jewel is a gold compass open on a quarter circle. A rose-cross is between the legs of the compass, and under it is a pelican, tearing its breast to feed its seven young, on the obverse, and an eagle with wings extended, on the reverse. On the circle are the letters I.N.R.I.   [edit: the lettering on Jesus Christ’s cross].” [Modern iterations of this apron are ornate, featuring the pelican on the front, and do not feature the skull and crossbones.]

Markers: the scene takes place at dawn, and the light of the dawn splays across the rose of the red headboard that appeared in Degree seven. Alice is dressed with white undershirt and pearl earrings. The bed is Red. The walls are white.

Lesson: Aligning with the religiosity of this Degree, this scene is the single major biblical analogy in the film, with Alice’s dream obviously describing the Harfords as Adam and Eve, and the naval officer as the serpent who tempted Eve. For the religiously unfamiliar:

Genesis 3:6-7
“6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom, she took the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. 7And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed together fig leaves and made coverings for themselves.”  

The story of Eden naturally corresponds to Alice’s dream where Bill scrambles to find clothes for them, as well as the Harfords coming to terms with the nature of their relationship in the toy store at the end of the film (“we’re awake now”). 

I have not located a Christian cross symbol in this scene. However, in the original shooting script for Eyes Wide Shut, it is worth noting that when Alice explains her dream, she describes Bill being crucified as Jesus, something that was culled from the final film:

Then I realized there were other couples around us – hundreds of them, and they too were making love. Then I was making love to the other men,and as soon as my longing was satisfied with one, I wanted another.  I can’t say how many I was with. And yet I didn’t for one moment forgetyou. And all this time, you were buying the most beautiful clothes and jewellery you could find for me. Then you were being followed by a crowd of people who were shouting threats. Then you were seized by soldiers, and there were also priests among them. Somebody – a gigantic person, tied your hands. You were still naked. I knew you were going to be crucified but I felt no sympathy for you. I still blamed you for everything that had happened.”

[Tidbit: The ‘gigantic person’ is a reference to the Nephilim (נְפִילִים) , a race of giants also featured in Genesis, like Adam and Eve.]

19° –  Grand Pontiff

The 19th degree is Bill in Gillespie’s Diner questioning the server about Nick Nightingale.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lessons of this degree are learned from the past and how it affects the present and the way we live in the future. We always strive to endure, produce and improve the world as it surrounds us. There is no apron, but the jewel is a gold “parallelogram” (rectangle) with a Greek Alpha on one side and an Omega on the other.”  

Lesson: The past reflects the future as Bill attempts to revisit the characters from the previous day.

Markers: The name Gillespie translates to “bishops servant”; bishop being a synonym of pontiff. Bill is being literally served by the woman in the diner. The server gives Bill a parallelogram in the scene (the dining order), although it is green rather than gold. There are likely other as-of-yet unidentified markers in this scene.

20° –  Master of the Symbolic Lodge

The 20th Degree is Bill questioning the hotel desk clerk over the whereabouts of Nick Nightingale.

From the summary of the Degrees:
“This degree shows us Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. These teach moral, religious and philosophical understanding. This degree helps one to comprehend Deity, forces of nature, good and evil. The apron is yellow, bordered in blue, with three concentric point-down triangles, with the Tetragrammaton (horizontal) and “Fiat Lux” (vertical) at the center, forming a cross. Its triangular shape relates to the “fourth great light, which reminds us of the Deity and his attributes.” The jewel is gold, with the same three concentric triangles.”

Lesson: Bill now comes to comprehend the reach and evil capabilities of the Somerton crowd.

Markers: The desk clerk has a yellow tie framed with his blue shirt. The polkadots on his tie are the same brown which used to illustrate the concentric triangles on the 20th Degree apron. The triangles themselves are represented by the large lapels of the clerks’ blazer. On the ceiling, there are four lights, the leftmost of which is triangular.

Note: The clerk also has a brown wristband comprised of three intertwined brown strings, which could possibly represent the jewel of this Degree.

21° – Noachite, or Prussian Knight

The 21st Degree is Bill’s return to Rainbow Fashions.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lesson from this degree is to learn that arrogance; defamation and cowardice are unworthy attributes of a mason, and that humility, modesty and courtesy are the true virtues of men and Masons. The apron is yellow, and contains an arm holding a sword, and a winged figure holding a key in the left hand, and the right forefinger on the lips (the “Egyptian figure of Silence”). The jewel is a point-up triangle, with an arrow, point downward, an arm holding a sword, and the motto “Fiat Justitia, Ruat Coelum.” 

Lesson: Milich (and by extension, Bill) has opted away from defamation by deciding not to call the police on the Japanese “guests” who were with his daughter.

Markers: Milich speaks with an accent that is geographically appropriate as Prussian. His tie is yellow. One of the Japanese “guests” makes the Egyptian figure of silence when he blows a kiss to Milich’s daughter. His tie also matches the colour scheme of the apron

22° – Knight Royal Axe, Prince of Libanud

The 22nd Degree is after Rainbow Fashions, when Bill is back in his office, imagining Alice with the naval officer, and has his secretary retrieve his car. 

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches, “if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well”. By doing good work we improve character and become better citizens. The apron is white, bordered in purple, and contains a three-headed serpent and a table with instruments and plans on it. The jewel is an axe and handle of gold. On the top of the handle are the initials of Noah and Solomon. In the middle of the handle are the initials of Libanus and Tsidun. On the blade are the initials of Adoniram, Cyrus, Darius, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, Ezra (on one side), and Shem, Kham, Yapheth, Moses, Ahaliab, Betselal (on the other).”

Lesson: Bill is back at work once again, similar to the lesson of the Intimate Secretary from earlier.

Markers: Bill is wearing white and is bordered in purple by his chair, desk, and the tint of the window behind him. He sits behind his desk which is covered with instruments and plans. His secretary is shown coming through the doorway,

Here, Bill again envisions Alice with the naval officer, who represents the serpent.

If you are uncertain that the naval officer is a stand-in for the Serpent/Satan, remember that, in addition to his serpent role in Alice’s “Garden of Eden” dream, the naval officer is an obvious double for Sandor Szavost; so-named for Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan.

[Note: given here the transparent use of a metaphor to indicate a symbol of the Degree, and again later in Degree 25, I am now willing to accept that Lou Nathanson is the star symbol of the 8th Degree].

23° – Chief of the Tabernacle 

The 23rd Degree is Bill’s return to Somerton, where he is given a second warning by the Somerton butler through the gate.

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches that the man who forgets his duty to God, family, country, and himself will be in danger of moral and spiritual destruction by thoughts and unworthy ambition. The apron is white, bordered with red, blue, and purple ribbons. These colors, from the curtains of the Tabernacle, represent earth, fire, air, and sea, respectively, as well as the Lord’s beneficence, glory, wisdom, and power. On the apron is the golden seven-branched candlestick, representing the seven planets and virtues: Sun, faith (“aspiration toward the infinite”); Moon, hope; Venus, charity; Mars, fortitude (“victory over rage and anger”); Mercury, prudence; Saturn, temperance; Jupiter (conqueror of the Titans), justice. The jewel is a small silver censer, or ornamented cup, held by a handle in the shape of an open hand.

Lesson:  Bill risks his own destruction by re-pursuing his lust and curiosity at Somerton.

Markers: the envelope that the butler gives to Bill resembles the white masonic apron in both shape and colour. A red car passes Bill as he arrives at Somerton. The gate is blue, and the road signs are blue and red. When the butler is driving down the driveway, the film has been tinted purple, just as Bill’s office was in the previous scene. When the butler gets out of the car, the film stock has returned to normal colouring.

Jewel: The ornamented cup is the top of the gate pillar and the mounted camera “gripping” it is the open hand (see how the base of the camera itself resembles a wrist and palm, even featuring a midline where the hand begins):

24° – Prince of the Tabernacle 

The 24th Degree is when Bill returns from Somerton to Helena and Alice doing math homework.

From the summary of the degree:
“In this degree a Mason must show evidence of compassion, piety and justice. After initiation he may “manifest faithfully the social virtues in order to receive the rewards”, to serve humanity through our brotherhood. The apron is of white lambskin, with scarlet, green, and blue. On it is a violet myrtle tree, and a gold representation of an Arabian tent. The jewel is the Hebrew letter ALEPH, suspended from a violet ribbon.”

Lesson: Firstly, Bill returns to his family, embracing them as the father, illustrating compassion and piety for his familial role. He looks at Alice, recalling her tearful confession, but forces an agreeable smile– it is only justice for him, who has had disloyal fantasies of his own, to bite his tongue and present his tolerance. But there is something else here, too.

It has been noted by other commentators of Eyes Wide Shut that in this scene, Alice is metaphorically grooming Helena to pick between suitors based on how much money they make: “Joe has $2.50. And Mike has $1.75. Joe has how much more money than Mike?” 
So it would appear that in the 24th Degree, it is Helena who will “manifest faithfully the social virtues in order to receive the rewards“.

Markers: The Arabian tent is window blinds with the styled curtains.. The myrtle tree, as stylized on the typical 24th Degree apron, is the decorative scarlet tablecloth where Alice and Helena sit. The room is white. The exercise books on the tablecloth are the appropriate masonic colours, and all of these colours are also represented by the bottles and lamp on the cabinet next to the table– blue/green/white/red.

25° – Knight of the Brazen Serpent  

The 26th Degree is when Bill is in his office at night and calls the Nathanson household before hanging up on Carl Thomas.

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree tackles the concept of pure, celestial, eternal soul of man. He looks within his faith, life, and God and to get a clear look at his inner self. The apron is white, lined in black, and with gold stars on the white side (Pleiades, Hyades, Orion, Capella) and with silver stars on the black side (Perseus, Scorpio, Bootes). Also on it is a serpent, ouroboros, surrounding a scarab, a triangle in a glory with the Tetragrammaton in its center, and the four initials of the stars Regulus, Aldebaran, Antares, and Fomalhaut. The jewel is a gold tau cross (crux ansata) with a serpent entwined around it, and the Hebrew words HLThI (“he has suffered or been wounded”) and NChShThN (“the Brazen Serpent”) on it.”
Lesson: Bill looks into himself in a literal sense by encountering his doppelgänger on the phone. Metaphorically, he reflects on own wife’s imagined infidelity while talking to the version of himself who’s wife was unfaithful.

Markers: Bill’s vest is black, lined by his white shirt. The gold stars are the star emblems on his doctorates, hanging on the wall. As in the 22nd Degree, Bill again imagines Alice with the Naval officer, again representing the serpent. The ouroboros (serpent eating it’s tail) is also implied by Bill having a rubber band around his fingers.

Note that constellational dot patterns are projected onto Carl Thomas pants and sweater as he picks up the phone (you may need to lower the brightness on your screen to see this). 

26° –  Prince of Mercy, or Scottish Trinitarian

The 26th Degree is Bills return to Domino’s apartment where he meets Sally.

From the summary of the Rite: 
“In this degree we search for “the rewards of the trinity of Gods attributes – wisdom or intelligence, force or strength, harmony or beauty.” The apron is scarlet, bordered in white, with a green triangle (point-down) in the center. In the triangle are the initials of Force, Wisdom, and Harmony, and a flaming heart of gold with the initials I.H.S. (Jesus Hominum Salvator; or Imperium, Harmonia, Sapientia). The jewel is gold, and is the same triangle, suspended by a purple ribbon.”  

Lesson: Bill is rewarded by fate; he has avoided contracting HIV by refraining from having sex with Domino. This was through exercising “faith in morals”, as worded by the 12th Degree.

Markers: The gold heart is the heart pendant around Sally’s neck. There are likely undiscovered markers here.

27° –  Knight Commander of the Temple

The 27th Degree is when Bill believes he is being followed in the street by a bald man with brown overcoat.

From the summary of the degree:
“Knight Commander of the Temple: This lesson of this degree teaches us to scorn selfishness, and to uphold the knightly virtues of charity, truth and honor. We should always strive to assist the poor, helpless and infirm. The apron is of scarlet lambskin, lined in black, with a Teutonic Cross (cross potent sable, charged with a smaller cross double potent or, surcharged with the escutcheon of the Empire – the two-headed black eagle) and a black key surrounded by a laurel wreath. The jewel is a gold triangle, on which the word I.R.N.I. is enameled.”  

Lesson: Bill buys a paper from the aging newspaper stall owner.

Markers: The newspaper stall owner has a red top lined by a black leather jacket. There are likely more markers here.

28° – Knight of the Sun, or Prince Adept

The 28th Degree is BIll going into Sharky’s Café. 

From the summary of the degree:  
“This degree teaches that our love for God manifests itself in our love for Truth, Justice and Nobility of Soul. The apron is white lambskin, with a vermilion pentagram. The jewel is a golden sun on the obverse, and a hemisphere, showing the northern half of the ecliptic (Taurus to Libra) and zodiac.”

Lesson: Bill decides that he must pursue the truth of whether or not Amanda Curran and the mysterious masked woman were one in the same. 

Jewel: As in the other of the Degrees that feature stars in their symbology,  this degree features soft light being projected onto Bill’s dark clothes to form a constellation, in this case Taurus. It is projected onto him when he walks into the entrance section of Sharky’s. Above the stairs, the Christmas ornament also represents the horns and ears of Taurus, the bull. (Please note that, due to how the soft lights follow Tom Cruise across the shot, it is much easier to see the Taurus constellation while watching the film than it is to see it in screenshots.)

Notice that the Taurus Christmas ornament also appears outside Ziegler’s rumpus room, where he tells Bill: “let’s cut the bullshit [bull-shit]”. 

29° – Scottish Knight of Saint Andrew

The 29th Degree is when Bill goes to the hospital morgue to confirm the identity of the late Amanda.

From the summary of the Degree:
“The virtues of this degree are “Love of God, loyalty to superiors, faithful adherence to promise and active resistance to unfair judgment.” There is no apron. The jewel has two parts: on top is a gold hexagram, made of concave-outward triangles, with a compass open to 25 degrees inside it. On the bottom is suspended a gold St. Andrew’s cross (“X”), with a knight’s helmet, winged serpent ouroboros, key, and a point-down triangle. In the center of the cross is a Hebrew YOD, and on its points, clockwise from bottom, the Hebrew letters N M I N.”  

Lesson: Bill is visibly struck by the death of Mandy, casting her punishment as unjust. At Somerton, Red Cloak said of Mandy’s sacrifice: “When a promise has been made here, there is no turning back”. Mandy’s death is the fulfilment of this promise.

Markers: When Bill is observing Amanda’s corpse, the white board behind the orderly reads (in rows): H, then L, then L (encircled) and K, then R (encircled) and K, then L (encircled) and L, then R (encircled) and L, then S. The H at the top seems as though it would be for ‘helmet’. the two sets of encircled L and R seem to be referencing the four points of the cross, two on the left half and two on the right. The S seems as though it would stand for the serpent. The K seems as though it would stand for key, the other K could stand for Knight… but I have not found a logical cohesion to this pattern yet. It likely needs a small cross reference located somewhere else in the film to be solved.

30° –  Knight of Kadosh, or Knight of the White and Black Eagle

The 30th Degree is when Bill goes to Ziegler’s rumpus room.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lesson of this degree is to be true to ourselves, to stand for what is right and just in our lives today. To believe in God, country and ourselves. There is no apron, but the jewel is a gold Teutonic cross, enameled in red, with the letters J.’.B.’.M.’. on the obverse, and a skull transpierced by a poniard on the reverse.”

Lesson: Bill stands up to Ziegler to question the narrative of Mandy’s death. Immediately before doing this, he makes the motion of removing a mask from his face to indicate the revelation of his true self.

Markers: The gold teutonic cross suspends the lights above the pool table, which is enameled with red. (There is the J of a J&B bottle on the scotch table, but I cannot discern an M.)

31° – Inspector Inquisitor

The 31st Degree is when Bill comes home to sit and drink a Budweiser beer.  

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches prayerful self-examination. The mistakes today should not be committed tomorrow. Simply, the daily look at ones self to learn to live with the future. No apron is worn in the Supreme Tribunal, but in inferior bodies, a white sheep-skin apron with a silver Teutonic cross may be worn. The jewel is a silver Teutonic cross. The jewel may be suspended from a white collar, with a gold triangle with a “31” inside it. But in inferior bodies it may be suspended from a golden chain, the links of which form the eight fundamental degrees of Masonry: The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 14th, 16th, 18th, and 30th.”

Lesson: Bill sits and drinks in silent contemplation.  Having turned off the lights of the Harford’s Christmas tree and it replaced by the cold light of dawn, he is renouncing the artifice of earthly lustful pursuits (the rainbow) and returning to the foundational reality of his family.

Jewel (Silver Teutonic Cross): The silver teutonic cross is around Mandy’s neck at the Somerton party, when she is warning Bill to leave the mansion. Bill not heeding her warnings is the mistake that got her killed, as he has just confirmed from Ziegler. This mistake is the subject of his contemplation.

32° –  Master of the Royal Secret

The 32nd Degree is the film’s final scene in the toy store.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lessons of this degree are that “genuine brotherhood requires mutual regard, opinion, esteem and charity”. We always look for the good in all, make allowances for other’s short comings. We trust the Supreme Architect to lead us to friendship, morality and brotherly love. The apron is white, lined in black, with a double-headed eagle and a plan of the Camp of the Princes. The jewel is a golden Teutonic cross, with a double-headed white and black eagle in the center.”

Lesson: Bill and Alice reconcile– they make allowances for each other’s short comings and decide to work together for their future.

Markers:  Bills shirt is white and red (red is also typically featured on the 32 degree apron). This is lined by his black cloak. His ruffled collar at the front is styled to resemble two eagles heads facing away from each other, as in the 32 degree insignia.

The Camp of the Princes, as seen in the AASR, is the toy store itself. The different parts of the Camp  are resembled by the various islands of shelves and different sections of the toy store.

Quoted from the AASR:
“The camp you are entering, and its several parts, are all symbols, the meaning of which we will hereafter endeavour to explain to you. As you pass around and through this camp, we will we will give you the necessary explanation as to its external features, and recall briefly to your mind the characteristics of the several degrees whose standards float over the camp, to aid you in hereafter understanding the esoteric meaning of the whole. You perceive that on each side of the nonagon is a tent with a flag and pennon; that each flag and its pennon are of a different colour from the others, and that each tent is designated by a letter.”

The symbolism here comes very rapidly and is very layered. It will require it’s own investigation at some point, but basically lots of images from previous scenes in the movie are echoed throughout the toystore scene.

Thirty-Third Degree (33°), Inspector General Honorary

The 33rd Degree is achieved as the end of the film as Alice utters the word “Fuck”. This is the mark of finality, the conclusion of the odyssey, the union of Bill and his elusive goal; the salvation from holy destruction and the end of the rainbow. The doorway to this degree is Alice, in the Freudian sense.

From the summary of the degree:
“The Thirty-third Degree is conferred by the Supreme Council upon members of the Rite in recognition of outstanding work in the Rite or in public life. The 33° cannot be asked for and if asked for must be refused. At its bi­ennial session the Supreme Council elects members of the Rite to receive the Degree. These 33° Masons are Inspectors General honorary and honorary members of the Supreme Council. The active members of the Supreme Council are chosen from among them.”  

This brings us to the end of my first attempt at this scavenger hunt.

Issues with Chronology

As some will no doubt notice, the placement of the 9th Degree makes it seemingly impossible for the Degrees between the 8th until the 15th to play out in sequence. For this reason, I have opted not to include my attempts at decoding Bill’s encounter with Domino. It also appears that Bill tearing the money in half in front of the cab driver at Somerton may represent the 11th degree.

My initial reasoning for the non-linear order of the degrees was that Kubrick’s vision of Eyes Wide Shut had, perhaps, been meddled with by Warner Brothers and edited after his death. But it appears that the scenes have not been re-arranged, or are even re-arrangeable. 

It is possible that I have mis-labeled one of the degrees. Perhaps Carl Thomas coming to the Nathanson house represents a degree in and of itself, since it sits between the 8th and 10th degrees… but I cannot locate the relevant symbolism in that scene.  

It is also known that Kubrick was fond of mathematics. Could the non-linear order of the degrees be some type of integer sequence? A code within a code?

I guess time will. Unless it doesn’t.

Implications of the Masonic Code for Kubrick and his Oeuvre

I suppose I owe a few words to address this.

The big tinfoil-hatted elephant in the room is the meta-narrative question of “What does the inclusion of a masonic code in Eyes Wide say about Stanley Kubrick?”, as well as “What is Kubrick saying about Freemasonry specifically?”

As they say, the simplest explanations are often the best. My first guess is that Kubrick is trolling his audience, having become well acquainted with the conspiracy theories that had been connected to him in popular culture throughout his life. Either way, he had to have been aware, whether it was his original artistic intention or not, that much of the iconography of his films (including the monolith from 2001 or the poster for A Clockwork Orange) had been interpreted as being masonic in it’s symbolism.
Kubrick must’ve known that the eventual discovery of the code would not only change the way Eyes Wide Shut is evaluated, but also cast his entire filmography in a new light. Since he was a self-professed enthusiast for ambiguity, this level of expansive uncertainty does seem to match his modus operandi. Especially if he thought Eyes Wide Shut was going to be his swan song.

At the start of the film, Bill Harford turns off the non-diegetic Shostakovich soundtrack from the stereo. Cruise and Kidman were married in real life. Clearly, reality and fiction are being purposefully blurred here.

Maybe the code just matches the secret society theme of the movie, and this is just a laboriously crafted easter egg that took 20 years to realize.

I suppose it is possible that the reclusive Kubrick himself was a philosophical Mason or had benefited from some kind of masonic affiliation. But if he was fond of them, he wouldn’t be doing them much of a service by thematically linking them to an evil secret society that kills people.

Where Are We Now?


That’s everything I have on the masonic code. You can see there are quite a lot of gaps to fill. And, having as much fun as I did while doing this, I am happy to say that this code is not the bottom of Eyes Wide Shut’s depths. There appear to be a few more games that it is playing, and these may need another hidden cipher of some kind. But as far as foundations go, I would say we are off to a hell of a good start.

In the meantime, what do we have? Well, thanks to the AASR, we now have a plain language translation of some of the films themes and subtext, which will render itself supremely helpful. But what about all the loose ends, non-sequiturs and cul-de-sacs that still riddle the movie? Particularly, what do all the numbers mean? The references to time, the checking of watches, the references to geographic locations, the ringing and answering of phones?

Have you noticed that all of the city locations mentioned in the movie are large cities; major plot points on the global map? There no mentions of lesser known cities or obscure, small towns. In the movie, the cities are mentioned in this order:

1) Ziegler’s osteopath is the top man in New York
2) Marion Nathanson tried to call her stepmother in London, but she was out.
3) One of the Yale frat-boys tells Bill to go back to San Francisco where he belongs, man.
4) Nick Nightingale’s family is in Seattle, and he left looking for work.
5) Mr. Milich tells Bill that the previous owner of Rainbow fashions moved to Chicago a year ago.

Do you notice the pattern? Starting from the first mentioned city, New York, all the other cities are mentioned in longitudinal order as you head East. It goes around the world.

Do you notice that in Ziegler’s bathroom, he mentions that Mandy has been unconscious for “maybe five minutes, six minutes”? These are the only numbers mentioned in this scene. Later, in his pool room, he says of his scotch, “That’s a 25 year old, I’ll send you over a case”, and then “you’ve been way out of your depth for the last 24 hours”. These are also the only numbers mentioned in this scene.
25 is a multiple if 5. 24 is a multiple of 6. Are the characters of Eyes Wide Shut speaking in parallel multiples?

My point is to illustrate that the secrets of the film are still far from solved, and even the Scottish Rite code is missing most of it’s pieces.
So, if you have any information you would like the contribute to excavating of this old cavern, and would like to join the quest of the missing jewels, please contact me at . Your co-operation in this matter will be greatly appreciated.




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