New book explores Fleming's occult leanings
If the digits 007 seem as random as a Social Security Number, think again.
According to Philip Gardiner, author of “The Bond Code: The Dark World of Ian Fleming and James Bond,” many of the names and symbols that pop up throughout the Bond literary and cinematic universe are, in fact, secret shoutouts to Fleming’s occult leanings.
The U.K.-based Gardiner insists the designation 007 refers to John Dee — a 16th century magician, occultist and spy who signed his letters with the three-digit moniker.
Gardiner’s tome — out in paperback to coincide with Sony’s release of “Quantum of Solace,” notes that Fleming was reading a Dee biography as he penned the first Bond novel, “Casino Royale.”
The Bond books and films, Gardiner says, are peppered with clues, ciphers and codes that illuminate Fleming’s interests in Gnostic, mystic and alchemist lore. And though the author of such books as “The Ark, the Shroud, and Mary” has written extensively about occult symbolism, he didn’t recognize it in the Bond mythology until a more recent latenight TV viewing of “Live and Let Die.”
“I was soon wondering why there were so many occult references in the film,” he says. “Then I simply couldn’t stop and purchased all the Bond novels to see what Fleming was up to. … (In ‘Live and Let Die’ we have the snakes, voodoo, Baron Samedi and Tarot cards with the initials JB (James Bond) on them for Jachin and Boaz, the Freemasonic pillars from the Temple of Solomon.”
In researching his book, he found that Fleming was influenced by such dark side figures as British occultist Aleister Crowley and astrologer and psychic Sybil Leek. Goldfinger, for instance, is an alchemy allusion as well as a Sufi term used for the divine ratio or golden mean — a ratio seen in nature that artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci included in their work.
Thanks to another Sony movie, everyone now knows that Da Vinci dabbled with mysticism and secret societies.
As for “Solace,” Gardiner says there seemed to be something missing beyond the occult trappings.
“I loved it, but didn’t see it as a Bond film to be honest,” he says. “Where was Q? Where is the martini, the catchphrase?”