Fulcanelli

 

(The following text was written and by Joseph Caezza. It is the bottom half of a book review he did on Fulcanelli's "Dwellings of the Philosophers" which has just come into print in an English translation for the first time. The subject of Joseph's text is one which has been discussed from time to time in the IRC chat room I host on undernet. So I am grateful to Joseph for allowing me to reproduce it here for further reference. Parush)

(snip) ... Andre VandenBroeck's AL-KEMI, A MEMOIR: Hermetic, Occult, Political and Private Aspects of R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1987 InnerTraditions/Lindisfarn Press) reveals a clandestine collaboration between Fulcanelli and this obscure genius. Dwellings of the Philosophers contains an immense amount of insight also present in the writings of Rene Schwaller. Schwaller confided to VandenBroeck that Fulcanelli stole from him an original manuscript on the alchemical symbolism of the Gothic Cathedrals and published it under his own name.

"He was too materialistic to appreciate the laboratory events, but that never got in the way of our collaboration. He was able to devise a procedure for any operation one could propose, and that was his importance, as a manipulator. His practice was fabulous, and I had it in my service. He did all the manipulations. But the ideas that moved those hands, the ideas always came from me. Remember, when I say 'Fulcanelli',I mean that whole group of literati and puffers: Canseliet, Dujols, Champagne, Boucher, Sauvage; they all contributed to give shape to Fulcanelli's production, once he had spread my ideas among them. He used my cathedral work as a vehicle, and a lot of talk about operations he has had contact with, thanks to me, but whose function, whose form, whose nomenclature he doesn't understand. And then the glitter all around it, the fantastic erudition, much of which can be traced to Dujols and some to Canseliet; add the artwork of Champagne, and you have a very salable book. They made a career out of it, but in the process, they missed the moment, they missed the Word..."

..."They did me a favor, though; they saved me from identifying my work with cathedral symbolism, which kept me available for Egypt, for Al-Kemi instead of alchemy. It is the same work of course, only in the language of our time, whereas Fulcanelli speaks in the language of the great medieval alchemical renaissance. But what we must be involved with now is not a renaissance, it is a resurrection. The Great Work is a work of resurrection..."

..."I was saying that Fulcanelli took it upon himself to publish what he had advised me not to bring out, as well as what he had sworn to keep to himself. You see, one good thing about observing a vow of secrecy is that you will not talk about what you do not understand. In Fulcanelli's case what came out in print is hopelessly garbled, full of unnecessary obscurity and certainly of no use to any seriously practicing adept although it gives much ammunition to puffers with its nice-sounding phrases."(1)

Schwaller's allegation appears highly credible considering his later work on similar symbolism found in the Egyptian Temple at Luxor. He spent 15 years of on site research at Luxor. Strangely, after twenty eight years of effort the English translation of Schwaller's magnum opus, The Temple of Man (Inner Traditions) has just been released as if to accompany Fulcanelli's masterpiece. After long hours of meditation on these texts one ponders: Is the Temple of Man the Dwelling of a Philosopher? Is Egypt, known in ancient times as Al-Kemi, the source of alchemistic mysticism? Amidst a vast amount of congruence between the ideas of Schwaller and Fulcanelli, one matter of laboratory insight stands out. VandenBroeck relates an episode from Schwaller's youth:

"He then told me in considerable detail about the experience that had opened his third seven year cycle. Here, in a few minutes, his entire scientific orientation was determined. The experiment took place in his father's laboratory, and it was his father, a pharmacist, who manipulated a mixture of chlorine and hydrogen gas in the production of hydrochloric acid. As is well known, these components maintain their individual character as long as they are kept in darkness. Light however, even when diffused, will prompt a reaction. Under direct sunlight, an explosion occurs...

...Yet it was in the nature of fire that he found the essence of this moment of intellectual discovery which opened his third cycle. Fire had been the principle agent in the little experiments he had undertaken since childhood with a toy chemistry set; hitherto, he had known heat from the flame of a Bunsen burner to activate most reactions. Now he realized what a shallow conception of fire he had been entertaining. It appeared to him that a universal element, best named "fire", existed in the physical world, and was contained in a degraded state not only in flame and heat but penetrated physical existence through and through, its most refined occurrence being light."(2)

Compare this to Fulcanelli's discourse from Dwellings of the Philosophers:

"We have just spoken of fire; and yet, we only envisage it in its common form and not in its spiritual essence, which introduces itself in bodies at the very moment of their appearance on the physical plane. What we want to demonstrate without leaving the alchemical domain, is the grave error which dominates all of modern science and which prevents it from recognizing this universal principle which animates substance, to whatever kingdom it belongs. Yet it manifests itself all around us, under our very eyes, either by the new properties which matter inherits from it or by the phenomena which accompany its liberation. Light -rarified and spiritualized fire- possesses the same chemical virtues and power as elementary crude fire. An experiment with the object of synthetically creating hydrochloric acid (HCl) from its components, amply demonstrates it. If we put equal volumes of chlorine and hydrogen gas in a flask, the two gases will keep their own individuality as long as the flask that contains them is kept in darkness. With some diffused light, they progressively combine. But if we expose the vessel to direct solar rays, it explodes and shatters violently."(3)

The most outstanding revelation from VandenBroeck's memoir of his studies with Schwaller concerns the elaboration of stained glass used in the great gothic cathedrals typified by the intense reds and blues of Chartres. Scientific analysis detects no chemical pigmentation yet the glass appears tinted throughout its mass. Schwaller explained to VandenBroeck the alchemical procedure by which the Chartres glass was dyed in its mass by the volatile spirit of metals. He had discovered shards of similar glass during his archeological research in Egypt.

"I have retrieved fragments of this kind of manufacture in crucibles of early Pharonic sites. It is a nontechnical 'truc', the most readily available proof of alchemical manipulation, at least in our time. This is what I worked on with Fulcanelli. Once you can infuse reds and blues into glass in this manner, you have proved the gesture of 'separatio', you have 'separated the earth from fire, the subtle from the dense;' remember the Emerald Tablet. It takes great agility to separate while keeping both parts. Yet this is essential, for there must be body from which the spirit can rise, as there must be earth for the descent of fire. The glass is colored by the spirit of the metal, by the color-form."(4)

Fulcanelli describes identical alchemical procedures in Dwellings of the Philosophers(5). As in VandenBroeck's memoir these revelations represent the most dazzling illuminations this text has to offer. Is this a coincidence? Schwaller offers brutal criticism of Fulcanelli's cabalastic exegesis. The excessive intellectual attempt to root French language directly to ancient Pelasgian Greek so as to make it a privileged vehicle for cabalistic expression, the so-called 'language of the birds', is wholly contrary to what is actually required for cabalistic interpretation. Beyond intensified perception, celestial grace and the intelligence of the heart what does one need in order to read directly the signatures of Nature? Fulcanelli's academic expositions remains hopelessly over-etymologized. Cabalistic expression and its interpretation appear only as symptoms of amplified consciousness. They are not its cause. After careful reading of Fulcanelli a bounty of deeper insight can be derived from study of VandenBroeck's memoir as well as the works of R.A.Schwaller de Lubicz. The English publication of Dwellings of the Philosophers constitutes the culmination of fifteen years of intensive effort by a host of heroic individuals, many of whom studied alchemy with Alpert Riedel at the Paracelsus Research Society. Seemingly insurmountable legal and technical obstacles to publication have been solved over the past decade by the dedicated members Archive Press. Both the numbered, sealed, leather-bound edition with its marbled paper, red bookmark ribbon and gold salamander stamp limited to three hundred copies and cloth-bound edition of almost equal quality limited to a thousand copies seem at first glance to exemplify the highest standards of bookmaking. Exquisite typesetting along with durable sewn signatures in both editions measure up to expectations. However the illustrations would reproduce better if they had been printed on coated stock. Yet these reproductions are of equal if not better quality than the original printing. The cheap bonded leather binding of the more expensive edition represents a grievous disappointment. This kind of bonded leather made from unusable scraps gathered off the cutting room floor and sometimes even from recycled old shoes, pulverized and mixed with glue, rapidly deteriorates due to its high acid content. It will easily chip, scratch and loose its water repellent nature. At such a cost one might also anticipate that the pages of the fine arts edition would have been gilded in gold. Were these pages created from chlorine free, acid free, archival paper? We expect more from "Archive Press". The lower priced cloth edition presents a much better buy. Online ordering and payment are available at http://archivepress.com/publications.html.

References:

(1) VandenBroeck, Andre, AL-KEMI, A MEMOIR; HERMETIC, OCCULT, POLITICAL

AND PRIVATE ASPECTS OF R.A. SCHWALLER de LUBICZ, (1987) Inner

Traditions/Lindisfarne Press, pages 151-153

(2) VandenBroeck, Andre, AL-KEMI, pages 200-201

(3) Fulcanelli, THE DWELLINGS OF THE PHILOSOPHERS, (1999) Archive Press,

pages 51-52

(4) VandenBroeck, Andre, AL-KEMI, page 112

(5) Fulcanelli, THE DWELLINGS OF THE PHILOSOPHERS, pages 88-91

 

Copyright Parush 1997
All rights reserved - last update 31 july 2001

  
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