The notion of transmutation of matter in the current era of technological progress, quantum physics, and possible interplanetary travel, sounds like a fantasy. But this wasn't always the case. With the passing of time, mysticism, religion, science, and wisdom have converged in a common path, following human inventiveness. That body of knowledge was also a source of inspiration for psychoanalysis and Jung's archetypes. Based on this ancient understanding, stone was used to create millenary structures that have managed to survive human and natural disasters. Unlike books that wither away with time, rock always remains strong.
Fulcanelli was probably the last great alchemist. His existence can be traced back to the twentieth century, but his identity is unknown. Many theories have been made in an attempt to solve this mystery. He has been associated with the mythical and timeless Count Saint Germain. Only one person held his original works in their hands: his disciple and executor, Eugene Canseliet. He pointed out that every time he had any sort of communication with his teacher, these would take place in unforeseen or surreal situations, arranged by Fulcanelli himself.
His major work is Le Mystère des Cathédrales (The Mystery of the Cathedrals), written in 1922 and published in Paris in 1962. Fulcanelli suggests that, just like there is a series of mysteries dwelling inside the Egyptian pyramids, there is occult knowledge inside the architecture and engineering of Medieval Gothic cathedrals. He believed these buildings were not only dedicated to the glory of Christianity, but also to books that contained the philosophical, religious, and social thoughts of our ancestors. Like any sanctuary, cathedrals posses a hospitable origin and were meant to shelter to anyone in disgrace. A pious person will look at its wall to find hope, but they are also spaces for spiritual education and initiation.
According to Fulcanelli, the term "Gothic"comes from art goth (argot), a particular form of language that allows others to convey or interpret certain thoughts. That would become the language of the Freemasons, who built the cathedrals and transferred this "secret," understood by a few, using the same language that Christ used: parables. In this regard, cathedrals become a spoken Cabala.
Fulcanelli based his work on the French cathedrals of Notre Dame, Paris, Amiens, and Bourges. From them, he drew certain interpretations for his symbolism. The following points encapsulate part of his discoveries.
Seen from above, most cathedrals are cross-shaped. Their shape symbolizes the Passion of Christ; he suffered and died to be resurrected and purified; therefore, the cathedral is a symbol of purification. Each cathedral has a first stone: the "master stone of the angle," which symbolizes everything impure. This refers to a stone that was dismissed by the builders and represents Lucifer. This may well have been a representation of the tragedy of fallen angels before the story of of creation. This stone can be found in the basement, and it represents hell. The life and work of Jesus Christ is crowned by crucifixion and resurrection beyond heaven.
If we look at the cathedral from the bottom up, the baseline of its surface is its lower point, while the cross is its higher point. Cathedrals were founded on one of alchemy's principles: Science is the transformation of an original substance or elementary material into something new. Consequently, the structure of these places represents a process of change through which the adept tries to achieve perfection, from the impurity to the purity of Jesus.
Fulcanelli said cathedrals had their apses pointing at the southeast, the facade to the northeast, and the transept from northeast to southeast, so both devotees and pagans could enter the temple through the West and look at the East, where the sun rises, heading to Palestine, the cradle of Christianity. Thus, everyone entering these temples would leave darkness behind and reach for the light.
The rose window of the cathedral usually represents the Virgin Mary's rose or sun rays. However, for Fulcanelli, this element was a symbol of igneous fire, the star that guides the three Magi to the cave at Bethlehem, and accordingly symbolizes conception and birth. The cathedrals and Medieval churches had wells resembling the Fountain Of Life or the Fountain of Youth, whose waters were thought to have healing properties. According to Fulcanelli, women's representations in the cathedrals are not only related to the Virgin Mary. There are also pagan elements of other Mother Goddesses, a syncretism of Christian, Egyptian, Roman, and Greek mothers such as Isis, Ceres, and Cybele. Fulcanelli also analyzes all the figurative elements in the cathedrals like statuary, reliefs, and decorations. He states that even the smallest detail from these images hides an occult meaning, the Cabalistic art of hiding an arcane meaning in every representation in order to create a link with the Creator.
Everything inside cathedrals was gold and painted with bright colors. It symbolized the gates of paradise. Fulcanelli does not clarify whether we reach this paradise after our death, or if this is Adam's and Eve's earthly paradise. Gothic art is the art of light or of the spirit, which opposes Romanesque art, so fraught with darkness. There are three main colors that stand out in the temple: black, symbolizing everything that is evil or belongs to the darkness; white, which stands for everything immaculate or the light that is sought by the initiated; and red, which represents the last stage of the path begun, the prevalence of the spirit over the body. These three colors together are called Oriflamma or the "triple colors of the work." Once again, it represents the dark path, passing through the luminous up to the spiritual.
Fulcanelli: Master Alchemist. Le mystère des cathédrales. Brotherhood of Life Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 1990
Translated by Andrea Valle Gracia
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