Alchemy, Notre Dame’s Hidden Codes, and the Philosopher’s Stone

Towards the year 1926, France saw what is perhaps one of the most enigmatic books of all times came to light: The Mystery of the Cathedrals (Le Mystère des Cathédrales ) written by an even more mysterious, anonymous author who signed off only with the pseudonym of Fulcanelli.

The book was a modest edition of 300 copies, sumptuously illustrated by the painter Jean Champagne.

The prologue was signed by a young man named Eugène Canseliet, who called himself a disciple of the author.

The Books

Although the first edition did not have much impact, sales skyrocketed phenomenally with a second and third edition, just about when Paris was invaded by interest on occultism and alchemy.

The book, which addresses the issue of Gothic cathedrals from these perspectives, was then a true commercial success.

Frontispice of Le Mystère des Cathédrales by Fulcanelli (1926). Illustration by Julien Champagne. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Frontispice of Le Mystère des Cathédrales by Fulcanelli (1926). Illustration by Julien Champagne. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The two books by Fulcanelli are:

  • Le Mystère des Cathédrales (The Mystery of the Cathedrals), written in 1922 and published in Paris in 1926.
  • Les Demeures Philosophales (Dwellings of the Philosophers), published in Paris in 1929.

Who was Fulcanelli?

That remains debated until today. No one really knows who the mysterious author was. However, most scholars agree that he was likely a Frenchman educated in the ways of alchemical lore, architecture, art, science as well as languages.

Fulcanelli penned down two books that were published only after he disappeared in 1926 after his disappearance in 1926,

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The name Fulcanelli, as noted by Mark Stavish in his work  ‘The Path of Alchemy’, seems to be composed by two words: Vulcan, the ancient Roman god of fire, and El, which is a Canaanite word for God, hence translating the name to Sacred Fire.

Interestignly, the sacred fire of Vesta was a sacred eternal flame in Ancient Rome.

One theory argues that Fulcanelli was one or another famous French occultist of the time: either a member of the former Royal Family (the Valois), or another member of the Frères d’Heliopolis (Brothers of Heliopolis, a society centered around Fulcanelli which included Eugène Canseliet, Jean-Julien Champagne, and Jules Boucher).

The North Rose window at Notre Dame cathedral dates from 1250 and is also 12.9 meters in diameter. Its main theme is the Old Testament. Shutterstock.
The North Rose window at Notre Dame cathedral dates from 1250 and is also 12.9 meters in diameter. Its main theme is the Old Testament. Shutterstock.

A sacred code embedded in Cathedrals

For Fulcanelli, cathedrals in general, and especially Notre Dame, gathered all the knowledge of medieval alchemy.

Although in an encrypted manner, the principles of hermetic wisdom were exposed to the view of all, through inscrutable symbols for the public not initiated in these arts.

For example, the author points out a link between the seven medallions of the Virgin, on the facade of Nôtre Dâme, with the seven metals of the alchemical process to obtain gold.

Fulcanelli essentially teaches the reading of Gothic art of Notre Dame facades, using the abundant symbology of alchemy.

To such a point it is so, that it forces us to ask ourselves how much of the hermetic knowledge the master builders knew and where they got it from.

Alchemy, Fulcanelli, the Elixir of Life

From the labyrinth that the cathedral monks walked to the stained glass that transmutes the properties of sunlight, everything in Notre Dame is part of an alchemist codex, according to the anonymous author.

However, to this day, the greatest of the mysteries is perhaps not concerning the secrets embedded within Cathedrals, but around the figure of Fulcanelli, of unknown origin and mysterious disappearance.

In Seville, Spain, many of his disciples claimed to have seen him in the 1950s, looking much younger than his age, evidence for many that he had seen in his own flesh the effects of the elixir of life.

One of the anecdotes pertaining to his life retells, in particular, how his most devoted pupil Eugène Canseliet performed a successful transmutation of 100 grams of lead into gold in a laboratory of the gas works of Sarcelles at the Georgi company with the use of a small quantity of the “Projection Powder” given to him by his teacher, in the presence of Julien Champagne and Gaston Sauvage.

According to Lous Pauwels, one of the authors of the book “The Morning of the Magicians”,  Fulcanelli survived World War II and disappeared completely after the Liberation of Paris. Every attempt to find him failed.

You can read ‘The Mystery of the Cathedrals‘ translated into English by clicking here.