April 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Here’s a primer to some of the secret riddles buried in the best-seller. (Spoiler alert: If you’re one of the 12 people who haven’t read the book, turn the page.)

PRIORY OF SION: A secret society whose four senior members are murdered for the 2,000-year-old secret they hold about the roots of Christianity. The Priory’s goal is to protect the true HOLY GRAIL: In Brown’s book, the Grail is Mary Magdalene, who married Jesus, bore a child, and began a bloodline which lasts until today. The Priory’s Grand Master scrawls a message in blood across the display case of the Mona Lisa, which reads SO DARK THE CON OF MAN: The puzzling anagram also refers to the Priory’s belief that Constantine (the Roman emperor who converted to Christianity) began a campaign of minimizing the role of women in the Church, moving the world away from its focus on the SACRED FEMININE: The pagan, pre-Christian tradition of goddess worship with ties to Nature and Mother Earth. The patriarchy of the church has fought to suppress it, an initiative carried on, in Brown’s book, by OPUS DEI: The ultra-devout sect of lay Catholics who send a murderous monk to retrieve the Priory’s secret, which is hidden in a CRYPTEX: A locked stone tube containing ancient papyrus that reveals the location of the Holy Grail.

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