Fulcanelli the Mysterious Alchemist

In the fall of 1925, publisher Jean Schémit received a visit from a small man dressed as a pre-war bohemian, with a long Asterix-the-Gaul-style mustache. The man wanted to talk about Gothic architecture, the “green argot” of its sculptural symbols, and how slang was a kind of punning code, which he called the “language of the birds.” A few weeks later, Schémit was introduced to him again as Jean-Julien Champagne, the illustrator of a proposed book by a mysterious alchemist called Fulcanelli. Schémit thought that all three, the visitor, the author, and the illustrator, were the same man, Fulcanelli himself. Perhaps they were. This, such as it is, amounts to our most credible Fulcanelli sighting. As such, it sums up the entire problem posed by the question: Who was Fulcanelli?

Beyond this ambiguous encounter, he exists as words on a page and, in some occult circles, as a mythic alchemical immortal with the status, or identity, of a St. Germain. There were two things that everyone agreed upon concerning Fulcanelli—he was definitely a mind to be reckoned with, and he was a true enigma.


In 1926, a mysterious volume issued in a luxury edition of three hundred copies by a small Paris publishing firm known mostly for artistic reprints rocked the Parisian occult underworld. Its title was Le Mystère des Cathédrales (The Mystery of the Cathedrals). Fulcanelli as the author, claimed that the great secret of alchemy, the queen of Western occult sciences, was plainly displayed on the walls of Paris’s own cathedral, Notre-Dame-de-Paris.

Fulcanelli was undoubtedly a French alchemist and esoteric author, whose identity is still debated, 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. He is a man who does not seem to exist, and yet he is re-created constantly in the imagination of every seeker—a perfect foil for projection. When one turns to “Le Mystère”, one finds a witty intelligence that seems quite sure of the nature and importance of his information. This “Fulcanelli” knows something and is trying to communicate his knowledge; of this there can be no doubt.

To the occult savants of Paris in the late 1920s, Fulcanelli’s book was almost intoxicating. His student, Eugène Canseliet, informs us in the preface to the first edition of Le Mystère that Fulcanelli had accomplished the Great Work and then disappeared from the world. “For a long time now the author of this book has not been among us,” Canseliet wrote, and he was lamented by a group of “unknown brothers who hoped to obtain from him the solution to the mysterious Verbum dimissum (missing word).

Mystification about the true identity of the alchemist obscured the fact that credible people had seen his visiting card, emblazoned with an aristocratic signature. It was possible to encounter people at the Chat Noir nightclub in Paris who claimed to have met Fulcanelli right through World War II. Between 1926 and 1929, his legend grew, fueled by café gossip and a few articles and reviews in obscure Parisian occult journals.

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.

Sources:
Atlantis Rising Magazine vol. 42: “Fulcanelli and the Mystery of the Cathedrals” written by Vincent Bridges;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulcanelli

Pic Source:
http://hermetism.free.fr/fulcanelli_couverture.htm
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