THE MYTH OF FULCANELLI
Sketch of Fulcanelli made by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz
in February 1930
Fulcanelli was undoubtedly a Frenchman, educated profoundly, and learned in the ways of alchemical lore, architecture, art, science, and languages. Fulcanelli wrote two books that were published after his disappearance during 1926, having left his magnum opus with his only student, Eugène Canseliet. Le Mystere des Cathedrales first edition consisted of 300 copies and was published by Jean Schemit at 52 Rue Laffitte, Paris, France.
Theories about Fulcanelli speculate that he was one or another famous French occultist of the time: perhaps a member of the former Royal Family (the Valois), or another member of the Frères d'Heliopolis (Brotherhood of Heliopolis, a society centred around Fulcanelli which included Eugène Canseliet, Jean-Julien Champagne and Jules Boucher). Patrick Rivière, a student of Canseliet's, believes that Fulcanelli's true identity was Jules Violle, famous French physicist. In a 1996 book, samples of writing by Jean-Julien Hubert Champagne (born January 23, 1877) and Fulcanelli are compared, and show considerable similarity. In any event, by 1916, Fulcanelli had accepted Canseliet, who was then only sixteen, as his first student. During 1921, he accepted the sons of Ferdinand de Lesseps as students and during 1922, two more students, Jules Boucher and Gaston Sauvage. During 1925, Fulcanelli relocated to 59 rue Rochechouart where he allegedly was successful in transmuting base metals into gold.
Eugène Canseliet Jules Boucher Gaston Sauvage
Without neglecting the belief of some researchers that Canseliet himself could have been Fulcanelli, Canseliet believed Fulcanelli's Master was Basil Valentine, an alchemist of the 15th century, the theoretical Master at least, for Fulcanelli's initiator may have been his own wife. As Fulcanelli describes in a strange letter he practically kept as a talisman about the completion of the Great Work by someone who is presumably Basil Valentine, he also mentions his own wife: "...When my wife told me the good news" and "...my wife, with the inexplicable intuition of sensitives, had a really strange dream." In other words, when referring to something as important as the Great Work, he mentions his wife as someone important to the Magnum Opus.Canseliet points out the mistake made by the Abbé Villain spelling Flamel's wife's name as "Pernelle". Nicolas Flamel himself knows her as "Perrenelle" or the eternal almighty Lady of the Great Work, Mother Nature herself. According to Canseliet, she is "... La Dame par excellence."
Louis Pauwels Jacques Bergier
During 1960, with the publication of the international bestseller The Morning of the Magicians, Pauwels and Bergier popularized the mystery of the Master Alchemist.
According to Louis Pauwels, Fulcanelli survived World War II and disappeared completely after the Liberation of Paris. Every attempt to find him failed. During August 1945, American G-2 (Army Intelligence) asked Bergier to contact a certain Army major who was in charge of the operation of searching and discovering German research reports on atomic energy. The anonymous U.S. Army major wanted to know the whereabouts of Fulcanelli. Bergier could not say and the army major seemed satisfied Fulcanelli could not be found.
Meeting in Paris with Jacques Bergier
Walter Lang reports that Fulcanelli communicated with Jacques Bergier to warn French atomic physicist André Helbronner of man's impending use of nuclear weapons. According to Fulcanelli, nuclear weapons had been used before, by and against humanity. Prof. Helbronner and Chevillon among others were assassinated by the Gestapo towards the end of World War II.
The meeting between Jacques Bergier and Fulcanelli occurred during June 1937 in a laboratory of the Gas Board in Paris. According to Neil Powell, the following is a translation of the original verbatim transcript of the rendezvous. Fulcanelli told Bergier:
"You're on the brink of success, as indeed are several other of our scientists today. Please, allow me, be very very careful. I warn you... The liberation of nuclear power is easier than you think and the radioactivity artificially produced can poison the atmosphere of our planet in a very short time, a few years. Moreover, atomic explosives can be produced from a few grains of metal powerful enough to destroy whole cities. I'm telling you this for a fact: the alchemists have known it for a very long time... "I shall not attempt to prove to you what I'm now going to say but I ask you to repeat it to M. Helbronner: certain geometrical arrangements of highly purified materials are enough to release atomic forces without having recourse to either electricity or vacuum techniques... The secret of alchemy is this: there is a way of manipulating matter and energy so as to produce what modern scientists call 'a field of force,. The field acts on the observer and puts him in a privileged position vis-à-vis the Universe. From this position he has access to the realities which are ordinarily hidden from us by time and space, matter and energy. This is what we call the Great Work."
When Bergier asked Fulcanelli about the Philosopher's Stone, the alchemist answered: "...the vital thing is not the transmutation of metals but that of the experimenter himself. It is an ancient secret that a few people rediscover each century. Unfortunately, only a handful are successful..."
Rendezvous in Spain
According to Canseliet, his last encounter with Fulcanelli happened during 1953 (years after his disappearance), when he went to Spain and there was taken to a castle high in the mountains for a rendezvous with his former master. Canseliet had known Fulcanelli as an old man in his 80s but now the Master had grown younger: he was a man in his 50s. The reunion was brief and Fulcanelli once again disappeared not leaving any trace of his whereabouts.
The two books by Fulcanelli are
- Le Mystère des Cathédrales (The Mystery of the Cathedrals), written during 1922 and published in Paris during 1926.
- Les Demeures Philosophales (Dwellings of the Philosophers), published in Paris during 1929.
The books are written in a cryptic and erudite manner, replete with Latin and Greek puns, alchemical symbolism, double entendres, and lectures on and in Argot and Cant, all of which serve to keep casual readers ignorant.
A third book, Finis Gloriae Mundi (End of the World's Glory),was also reportedly being prepared for publication. The notes for the book were left for a time with his only student, Canseliet. Fulcanelli decided that the timing for publication of the book was not right and so it was never in fact published. However, a book by the same name, citing Fulcanelli as the author, was published in more recent times. That book has been shown to be a counterfeit.
R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz
It is known that Fulcanelli was a confidant of R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz and collaborated with him in several alchemical experiments. This section is based on information given to a Andre Vandenbroeck by Schwaller de Lubicz in 1959-60.
Schwaller de Lubicz never specifically identified Fulcanelli by his true name; however, the information he gave to Vandenbroeck concerning the date and circumstances of Fulcanelli's death in 1932 strongly indicate that this man was Julien Champagne. Also, a comparison of de Lubicz's sketch of Fulcanelli with known images of Champagne confirm that these men were one and the same. Concerning the sketch de Lubicz made of Fulcanelli, in February 1930, Vandenbroeck provides the following when describing the de Lubicz country estate of Lou-Mas-de-Coucagno, located in the town of Plan-de-Grasse in southeastern France:
The upper stories of the house could be reached in two ways. ... There was ... a broad staircase rising directly to the second floor where Isha [de Lubicz's wife] had her quarters and Dr. Lamy [de Lubicz's stepson] his clinic. ... Mounting these stairs to the doctor's office, there was a stately wooden balustrade on the right. On the left, the stairway ran along a wall hung with prints, photographs, and drawings. One drawing in particular, one drawing alone, I should say, of all the graphic work that was closely hung there, had attracted my attention from the very first. It was a pencil sketch of a man in his forties perhaps, or older, a small intellectual face with delicate features, a high forehead and deep-set eyes, long sparse hair combed backward and falling somewhat untidily toward the sides. It was a Gallic physiognomy which reminded me of photographs I had seen of Paul Valéry. The most characteristic feature was the dense, drooping mustache, so typically French that it is called "a la gauloise." ... I found myself climbing this staircase in Aor's [de Lubicz's] company. It was the only time I found myself alone with him in front of this drawing. ... he turned when he felt me lagging, stopped and saw what I was contemplating: "Its Fulcanelli," he said. "I did the sketch when he was here."
Al-Kemi A Memoir by Andre Vandenbroeck, published 1987, pages 138-139.
Schwaller de Lubicz meets Fulcanelli
Schwaller de Lubicz explained to Andre Vandenbroeck the circumstances surrounding his first meetings with Fulcanelli and why he decided to work with him:
I came in touch with the man quite naturally, as we were frequenting the same café, the Closerie des Lilas, in Montparnasse. This was before the First World War. ... I never took a liking to Fulcanelli, but he was the only one in Paris I could talk to about the Oeuvre [Alchemical Work]. He had a few disciples of sorts, a fellow named Boucher, I remember, and Eugène Canseliet, of course, who never left his side. ... He knew what he was doing, from a practical point of view. He was about ten years older than I, and rather well connected in the publishing world, or so he told me. But there were aspects he did not understand, theoretical aspects, what I call doctrine. ... He had made a technique of the proper gesture needed in the work, instead of leaving it to be divinely inspired, but what a technique! An unbelievable manipulator! This is valuable, of course, it is what makes the artist, but it does not make the philosopher. I guess he himself realized to what degree we complemented each other. He was a very strange fellow, a prankster, and he lived the Fulcanelli intrigue in all its details. ... He did not have the symbolique to express himself. He was still speaking in terms of Basil Valentine and Flamel or Jabir, but he himself had no specific form. And that was what I was able to give him.
lbid., pages 76-77
Was Fulcanelli a Plagiarist?
In his 1926 book entitled Le Mystère des Cathédrales, Fulcanelli provided detailed analyses of the Notre Dame Cathedrals of Paris, Amiens, Bourges and several other sites in France. Schwaller de Lubicz told Vandenbroeck that most of the book was based on a draft manuscript that he had previously loaned to Fulcanelli. Thus, most of the Fulcanelli book had been plagiarized! Schwaller stated the following:
I showed him [Fulcanelli] the documentation I had gathered of cathedral symbolism. He got very excited and assured me he would give me a hand in publishing it. I was at that time thinking about moving away from Paris; the whole social affair was taking too much of my time. But I had been working on a book with detailed proof through the structural elements of the cathedrals, and through the sculpture and ornaments, that they were a Christian expression of the Hermetic Oeuvre. ... I did talk to him about all the material I had gathered concerning the symbolism of cathedrals. At that time I intended to publish something on the subject, and he made me believe he could help me; he had connections. He really was most interested when I showed him the manuscript, and asked to borrow it for a few days, to look at it more closely in view of presenting it to a publisher. It took me a long time to get the manuscript back, and when he did return it, his opinion was that this material should not get published, that it revealed too much, and publication was bound to lead me to adverse consequences. A regular confidence man he was, that one! But I admit I had had thoughts in that direction myself, and he merely confirmed them. Well I had other things on my mind. I was at that time preparing to move up to Suhalia [in Switzerland], and that was an enormous undertaking. We left shortly thereafter and I gave no further thought to the matter. I didn't stay in touch with the Paris people, wanted to get away from all that social involvement. Then in 1926 I find out about the publication of Le Mystère des Cathédrales! It was completely based on my work.
Ibid., pages 80-81
Death of Fulcanelli
According to Schwaller de Lubicz, the man known as Fulcanelli died in 1932. Several months before his death, Fulcanelli had indicated his desire to tell the world about the successful alchemical experiments that had been conducted at the de Lubicz estate in Plan-de-Grasse in 1930. Schwaller was strongly against this course of action and, was initially able to dissuade Fulcanelli. However, several weeks later, the already ailing Fulcanelli sent a him a note saying that he had scheduled a meeting with several adept friends to tell them of the experiment. Upon receipt of this note, De Lubicz immediately left for Paris and visited Fulcanelli at his lodgings; it turned out to be on the day before he died. In his book, Vandenbroeck writes that de Lubicz told him the following:
"He [Fulcanelli] was already sick when he came here last time, limping somewhat and complaining of circulatory problems. And he persisted in this insane desire to come forth with whatever he thought he had understood. I reminded him again of his vow of secrecy and warned him that no good could come from breaking it. It was useless. Six weeks later he wrote me a line announcing a meeting he had scheduled for a limited group of adept friends: he was going to talk about our experiment." ...
He [de Lubicz] had gone to Paris a few days before the scheduled event, had gone straight up to Fulcanelli's mansarde and been aghast at what he found. Fulcanelli was deathly ill. Gangrene had set in on his leg, and his complexion was dark gray.
"He was turning black," Aor said almost inaudibly, all harmonics gone from the timbre of his voice, "and he could barely speak. Imagine he could no longer speak! We looked at each other for a long while, and then he shook his head. I think he understood. He pointed to a pile of papers on a bookshelf and had me look through them. I found the six pages of manuscript he had stolen and that we had been working with, the manuscript, I am convinced, that had brought us both to this moment. He made me understand that he wanted me to have it, and that no copy existed. I put it in my pocket and left. He was dead the next morning."
Ibid., page 242.
Julien Champagne, or as many think Fulcanelli, died on 26 August 1932. He was buried in the cemetery at Arnouville-les-Gonesse, a northern suburb of Paris; Schwaller de Lubicz paid to have a tombstone placed over the gravesite with the following inscription:
APOSTOLUS HERMETICAE SCIENTIAE
Self Portrait of Julien Champagne made in the year 1930