You are listening to The Hour of the Time. I am William Cooper. Good evening, folks. Tonight is one of those nights, so you’d better get pen and paper and pencil and something to snack on and maybe a glass of water or tea or whatever it is that you like to drink while you listen to The Hour of the Time. You are going to want to take notes and I will give you some books that you are going to want to read as we continue on our quest, our little march toward Albion.
[Intro music: The Rose by Unknown artist]
Tonight, folks, we are going to talk about one of the greatest mysteries of the last century. From our perspective, during the second year of the new millennium, cosmic end of cycle perspective, World War I, „The Great War“, to those who lived through it, feels as ancient as all those other senseless years in history. Our only connections with that conflict are faded sepia-toned images of our ancestors, killing each other for reasons vaguely understood, even to themselves. Most people, even in this listening audience, would be hard to put to explain exactly why World War I was fought, and why so many men went to give their lives in it.
Demoted by an even greater war, one so large that nothing but the title World War could possibly encompass it, The Great War became a mere fancy-dress prelude to a century of destruction and horror. And indeed, the 20th century was exactly that. The bloodiest, most devastating, most destructive century in the history of the world. Reading of the ideals and passions of that long forgotten era seems embarrassing to us now. If we think of it at all, we assign it an emotional value somewhere between a massive industrial accident and the migration of lemmings to the sea.
When we look back through history, we find many wars and disasters, plagues and conquests, volcanic eruptions, climatic changes and mass migrations but we find nothing quite like the Great War. Four hundred years of European intellectual, moral and technical superiority created and fed the engines of industrialized murder. These forces in turn consumed the very social order which had created them. After four years, the self-proclaimed masters of the universe lay broken and bleeding in the wasteland, saved from ultimate extinction only by the interference of the United States and its revolutionary democracy.
Cultural suicide, perhaps? An apocalypse by any other name, ladies and gentlemen, is still an eschatological event; it’s the end of the world for the inhabitants of that world. For example, near the end of the Great War, in September of 1918, the Turkish 12th Army, holding the ridge line in front of Damascus, which included the ancient mound of Megiddo, was attacked and destroyed by the combined use of airplanes, tanks and cavalry. This battle, eerily described in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 16, suggests that Armageddon occurred in 1918.
Not only is the battle clearly delineated but it occurred in the midst of the worst plague since the Black Death of the 14th century. The Book of Revelation’s apocalypse looks much like the history of the 20th century, leading up to one final millennial explosion. Could this be true? [Well, ladies and gentlemen, the millennium has come and gone and so we know it has not as yet occurred. There is always the possibility that our method of keeping time is not the same. A method used in predicting time by John in his Book of Revelation.] Was the prophecy of Revelation an ongoing process that essentially started sometime before the Great War? Was the 20th century an unfolding of the final book of the Bible?
When the Great War finally ended, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the old world, with its noble and imperial ways, was well and truly dead. The „victorious“ allies propped up the corpse of Europe and, using all the tricks of the undertaker’s trade, gave it the brief appearance of animation. This lasted just long enough to necromancy a treaty together at Versailles. It decomposed soon enough, its stench conditioning Europe for the burned bacon aroma of the Nazis soon to come. But while it lasted, this zombie summer of fast fading European superiority galvanized the entire world.
The epicenter of this fleeting renaissance was Paris, the City of Light. During the war this city had been the goal for which millions of men had marched, fought, bled and died. As it had for centuries, Paris became a symbol, to both sides in the conflict, of something irrepressible in the human character. After the war, it became a Mecca for all those who felt that the world must be changed somehow by the horror and sacrifice of the war. And that this change must mean something, say something and do something. They came to Paris like insects drawn to the light of immolated cultures, having burned their candles all at once in the final Auto de Fe of European civilization. They firmly believed that out of that conflagration would come a better world. [Same dreamers, dreaming the same dream.]
And so they came to Paris to help create that world: mystics, visionaries, painters, poets, artists of all kind, scientists, political thinkers, revolutionaries, all looking for that new world of hope, peace and freedom which, they felt, must grow out of „the war to end all wars.“ The conflict, [they thought,] had made them all equal now. They mingled on the boulevards, drank and talked at the cafes and bars and bookstalls, plotted and painted late into the night in small cold-water flats in the Montmartre or danced and drank in the nightclubs and demi-monde dives of the Latin Quarter. As if driven by deep rooted survival guilt, everyone wanted to live fast, fully and gloriously. Paris, in the post-apocalyptic Twenties, [appeared to be] the light of the world, the flash-point of history. And the beginning of the end of time itself.
[And remember that statement, „The beginning of the end of time itself.“]
Out of this all too brief efflorescence emerged artistic, literary, social, political and scientific concepts that shaped much of the rest of the [20th] century. From the Surrealists, such as Hans Arp and Marcel Duchamp, to the mathematics of Paul Dirac, to the literary pyrotechnics of James Joyce, the idea of „transformation“ bubbled just below the surface. [Remember that also. For that will be, too, a recurring theme.] It was at the zenith of this transformative undercurrent that, in 1926, an anonymous volume – issued in a luxury edition of 300 copies by a small Paris publishing firm known mostly for artistic reprints – rocked the Parisian occult underworld. It’s title was The Mystery of the Cathedrals. The author, „Fulcanelli,“ claimed that the great secret of Alchemy, the queen of western occult science, was plainly displayed on the walls of Paris‘ own cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris.
[And he was right, as you have heard on previous broadcasts.]
In 1926, Alchemy, by our post-modern lights a quaint and discredited renaissance pseudo-science, was in the process of being reclaimed and reconditioned by two of the most influential movements of the century. Surrealism and psychiatry stumbled onto Alchemy at about the same time, and each attached their own notions about reality to the ancient concept. Carl Jung spent the Twenties teasing out a theory of the archetypal unconscious from the symbolic tapestry of alchemical images and studying how these symbols are expressed in the dream state. The poet-philosopher Andre Breton and the Surrealists made an intuitive leap of faith and proclaimed that the alchemical process could be expressed artistically. Breton, in his 1924 Surrealist manifesto, announced that Surrealism was nothing but alchemical art.
Fulcanelli’s book would have an indirect effect on both of these intellectual movements. Indirect, [ladies and gentlemen, and here we begin this great mystery.] Indirect, because the book managed a major literary miracle. It became influential while remaining, apparently, completely unknown outside of French occult and alchemical circles. [And remember, there were only 300 copies in existence.] This is perhaps the strangest of all the mysteries surrounding The Mystery of the Cathedrals.
One illustration suffices to show the magnitude of the occlusion, [the hiding, the secreting of the source of all that was influenced.] Take any art history text on the Gothic cathedrals written in the last thirty years and look at what it says about the obscure images found on the walls and entrance ways of Notre-Dame. You will find, four times out of five, that alchemy is mentioned as a possible meaning for these vaguely Christian images. You will also find, especially if the text book is in English, that Fulcanelli and The Mystery of the Cathedrals are not [ever] given as a source, or mentioned in any way [whatsoever, although it is the only from which such information could have been obtained.]
A popular TV special on Alchemy, hosted by Leonard Nimoy, uses the very same images from Notre-Dame that Fulcanelli presents [in his book], describes them in direct Fulcanelli paraphrase, and never [ever] mentions the source [as Fulcanelli, or Le Mystery de Cathedral.] It’s as if the concept entered common usage without ever being individually articulated. [Do you believe that?]
[Well,] we may call this The-Dog-That-Didn’t-Bark-In-The-Night effect. Like the dog that doesn’t make a sound while the house is robbed, Fulcanelli’s work is conspicuous by its absence. On the other hand the book’s wide-spread influence suggests an importance far beyond the antiquarian idea that the cathedrals were designed as alchemical texts. To understand the silence, [it might be a good idea to try and] understand Fulcanelli.
[The earliest known incident where his name was ever mentioned, was] in 1926, when] publisher Jean Schemit received a visit from a small man dressed as a pre-war Bohemian, with a long Asterix the Gaul style mustache, [thick, crossing the mid-line of the face above the lip but not curled up or hanging down.] 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, Mr. Schemit was introduced to him again as Julien Champagne, the illustrator of a proposed book by a mysterious alchemist called [simply] Fulcanelli. Mr. Schemit thought that all three, the visitor, the author and the illustrator, were the same man. Perhaps they were.
This is our most credible Fulcanelli sighting. Beyond this, 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. One, he was definitely a mind to be reckoned with and two, he was a true enigma.
What seems to have happened is that Fulcanelli’s student, a young occult upstart named Eugene Canseliet, offered the publisher the manuscript of The Mystery of the Cathedrals. Schemit bought it and Canseliet wrote a preface for the book in which he stated that the author, his „master“ Fulcanelli, had departed this realm. [What he meant by ‚realm‘, no one really knows.] He then goes on to thank Julien Champagne, the man whom Schemit thought was Fulcanelli, for the illustrations.
Champagne, a minor Symbolist artist far into an absinthe fueled decline, had gathered around him a small entourage including Canseliet. The talk centered around alchemy when they met in the small cafes of the Montmartre. Champagne lived nearby, in the rue de Rochechouart, and his sixth floor room in the crumbling Parisian tenement was often the scene of late night symposiums on all sorts of occult subjects. [Now, in this country, when I say ‚occult‘, many people shiver and sort of cross their arms across their chest in fear. Occult simply means secret or hidden. It has no connotation of evil, unless of course its used in an evil manner. It is simply hidden information.] To his young friends, he must have seemed like a ghost from another age, with his unfashionably long hair, his riddles, [his mustache,] and most of all, his claim to know the secrets of alchemy.
At the time, no one else but Schemit seemed to believe that Julien Champagne was Canseliet’s master, Fulcanelli. His taste for great quantities of Pernod and absinthe indicated a man too dissipated to be as knowledgeable and erudite as the author of Cathedrals. However, he certainly did know a real alchemist, whoever Fulcanelli was, and his illustrations show that he indeed had a profound understanding of the alchemical art.
[No doubt about it whatsoever.]
So we are left with the unsolvable mystery of the missing master alchemist. A man who does not seem to exist, and yet is recreated constantly in the imagination of every seeker [who threads the path.] A perfect foil for projection. We might even think it was all a joke, some kind of elaborate hoax, except for the material itself. When one turns to Mystery of the Cathedrals, one finds a witty intelligence who 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.
Fulcanelli’s main point, the key to unraveling the mystery, lies in an understanding of what he calls the „phonetic law“ of the „spoken cabala,“ or the „Language of the Birds.“ This punning, multi-lingual word play can be used to reveal unusual and, according to Fulcanelli, meaningful associations between ideas. „What unsuspected marvels we should find, if we knew how to dissect words, to strip them of their barks and liberate the spirit, the divine light, which is within,“ Fulcanelli writes. He claims that in our day this is the natural language of the outsiders, the outlaws and heretics at the fringes of society. [And a secret communication method used by the adepts of all of the mysteries.]
[And now I am going to depart from Fulcanelli for just a few seconds and I am going to read you a quote from St. John, chapter 1, verse 1 of the King James Bible:
„In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God. And the word was God.“
There is more to language than most of you even want to believe.]
This Language of the Birds was also called the „green language“ of the Freemasons („All the Initiates expressed themselves in cant,“ Fulcanelli reminds us) who built the art gothique of the cathedrals. Ultimately the „art cot,“ or the „art of light,“ is derived from the Language of the Birds, which seems to be a sort of Ur-language taught by both Jesus and the ancients. It is also related to the Sufi text by Attar the Chemist, entitled „The Conference of the Birds.“ In de Tassey’s French translation of this work, which Fulcanelli references, the „conference“ of the title is translated as „language.“ De Tassey goes on to explain the complex linguist metaphor beneath the simple fable. Fulcanelli uses the same method to decode the alchemical meaning of the cathedrals.
Fulcanelli also claims that Rabelais‘ Gargantua and Pantagruel is „a novel in cant,“ that is, written in the secret language. [You have heard me discuss this before on many many broadcasts. The secret language, the lost word of Freemasonry. You don’t really see it.] Offhandedly, he throws in Tiresias, the Greek seer who revealed to mortals the secrets of Olympus. Tiresias was taught the language of the birds by Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Just as casually, Fulcanelli mentions the similarity between Gothic and goetic, suggesting that Gothic art is a magic art.
From this, we see that Fulcanelli’s message that there is a secret in the cathedrals, and that this secret was placed there by a group of initiates — of which Fulcanelli is obviously one — depends upon the abundance of imagery and association which overpowers the intellect, lulling one into an intuitive state of acceptance. Fulcanelli, like Shakespeare, overwhelms the reader with his brilliance. It is difficult to accept this man as anything but an incredible intelligence.
[I read The Mystery of the Cathedrals years ago, I recommend that you find the English version. Buy it, read it. Be prepared to be overwhelmed, confounded, amazed and gleeful, all of the same time. The author, once again, is simply Fulcanelli.]
But even after careful reading, one finds that the „mystery“ of the cathedrals is never explained, and that what one assumes to be the basic mystery of Alchemy is only glancingly delineated. [You see glimpses here and glimpses there and shadows play across the mind. Its great fun.] There are allusions that escape the reader as easily as a mosquito glimpsed out of the corner of your eye. At moments, a glimpse of a great truth flits by, giving a hint of something incredible, and then, like the mosquito, it is gone. Cathedrals feels more like a Japanese Haiku poem, one that is ephemeral and fleeting. Some people, reading the Mystery of the Cathedrals, become very frustrated. They start over, reading even more carefully, following the allusions and associations, trying to find and pin down the core of meaning that one senses is there, somewhere. [And it is there. But remember, you are the profane seeing the exoteric meaning of an esoteric secret language, in which Fulcanelli is explaining one of the great mysteries of the occult sciences, and you just don’t get it.]
All this makes Cathedrals an almost perfect Surrealist text, [and those of you who are enamored by Surrealism, love Surrealist art, like to read Surrealist books, will love the Mystery of the Cathedrals.] It is a modern alchemical version of Lautreamont’s Chants of Maladoror, the Surrealists‘ favorite 19th century novel. Fulcanelli’s use of punning word play to convey spiritual meaning would have delighted the Surrealists. [And if there are any listening it will delight you also.] They also embraced Rabelais and understood this kind of linguistic alchemy in terms of the correspondences and connections between objects or ideas on different levels or scales of being. The classic example of this being Lautreamont’s „sudden juxtaposition on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.“
And yet, even though Fulcanelli’s basic idea — an operational and linguistic alchemy used by sages or Hermetic Philosophers to transform reality — became part of Surrealism’s intellectual currency, none of the Surrealists mention Fulcanelli or Mystery of the Cathedrals. [Once again he is occluded.] Only Max Ernst makes any allusion to Fulcanelli, in Beyond Painting, published in 1936. [I also recommend that you read that book, Beyond Painting, 1936.] However, by the late 1940’s, the work of the movement’s founder, Andre Breton — in both his book, Arcana 17 and the catalog for the 1947 Surrealist Exhibition — appears to be heavily influenced by Fulcanelli.
[Interlude music: The Rose by Unknown artist]
Surrealism in 1947, the Surrealist exhibition catalog, is full of seemingly Fulcanelli inspired articles such as „Liberty of Language“ by Arpad Mezei. In this article he explains the „occult dialectic through linguistics.“ [Let me say that again.] In this article he explains the „occult dialectic through linguistics.“ [If you don’t know what dialectic means, you had better look it up.] Mezei goes on to announce that language is „really an ensemble of symbols. And this conception of language is not far off that which existed in magical civilizations, because the interchangeability of reality and language. . .is the base and the principal key of all hermetic activity.“
[And if you have paying lately in this country, you can see how it can be used in the alchemical process to bring about a transformation or a transmutation in the minds of, what the Socialists call, the masses. You see, what I am really talking about here and not even mentioning, but everyone listening who is well versed in the history of the occult, knows that just below the surface, of what I am giving you, lies a stream. A stream of knowledge is flowing from my lips through this microphone into the ears of those who understand, those who can hear. Everyone else doesn’t hear the true message at all, they are listening to an entire different story. Underneath, all that I am telling you, in this history is the manipulation of the secret order called the Fama Fraternitas Rosea Crucea, or the Rose and Cross. An order that is still very much active today. And still practicing alchemy. Occult dialectic through linguistics. An ensemble of symbols.
The key, the principle key of all hermetic activity, as if to make the point even more pointed, Arpad Mezei and Marcel Jean contributed an article on the occult meaning of the surrealists‘ favorite novel The Chants of Maldoror. Their analysis of this novel could be applied just as fruitfully to Mystery of the Cathedrals. Indeed, as we will see a little later, following Mezei and Jean’s advice by working backwards is a good road-map for navigating Fulcanelli.
Andre Breton himself contributed a chart to the catalog for Surrealism in 1947 showing personalities and their associations with the images of the Tarot cards, a continuation of the ideas that he had begun in Arcana 17. While the Tarot is not an obvious connection with Fulcanelli and the Mystery of the Cathedrals., as we will see, Breton’s use of the Tarot as alchemical metaphors suggests that he had read Fulcanelli even closer than most. [Because he, at least, understood some of the underlying message of the book.] Ten years later, in 1957, Breton wrote The Art of Magic , in which he insists that magic is an innate capacity of all humanity which can never be long suppressed or controlled. And with that admission, Surrealism takes its place alongside the literary works of Joyce, Lovecraft and Bourges as an important 20th century artistic addition to the western occult tradition.
It would seem that Fulcanelli contributed to that artistic evolution, except the conspicuous absence of direct reference argues against it. [Nowhere is he mentioned as a source, and yet his work was the only known published work of its kind in existence from which that information could have come.] Fulcanelli’s ideas seem to be present in Surrealism from its inception, growing more prominent as the movement matured. Possibly one answer lies in the anonymity of Fulcanelli himself. Since „Fulcanelli“, [we believe,] is a pseudonym, the Surrealists may have absorbed his ideas from a common source, the real person behind the name.
[Now, that’s a very interesting proposition.]
Yet, even that idea fails to explain the curious reluctance of anyone, Surrealist, art historian and alchemical scholar alike, to address the meaning of Fulcanelli’s work. Once again, this conspicuous absence is very suggestive. Even the great American occult historian Manley P. Hall, [whom I have quoted from extensively,] completely fails to mention Fulcanelli [anywhere, in any of his work.] Why?
The silence suggests a secret. The „mystery“ of the cathedrals is the secret of alchemy in the sense that alchemy is an ancient initiatory science. „Fulcanelli“ selected his materials carefully to convey in the clearest and most direct manner possible that he did indeed know the secret. Much has been made by the few occultists who have looked into Fulcanelli and his work about the difficulty of his writing. Threading a path through Fulcanelli’s mine field of classical allusions is daunting to all but those who enjoy sampling ancient wisdom for its own sake. Without a key, [without the knowledge,] the text remains, reading after reading, [for most] incomprehensible.
However, as in the Sufi story, the greatest treasure is hidden in plain sight. [I have told you repeatedly over and over on this broadcast.] Fulcanelli slyly directs us with his comment on goetic or magic art. The magic, the secret, is in the art.
[He tells you, and yet, you don’t see it.]
The [inaudible] story of St. George slaying the dragon, all allegorical, all metaphor. And everybody grows up and goes through life and thinks ‚St. George really slew a fire breathing dragon, this big great giant dinosaur lizard.‘ He killed it with his sword, with is lance. And that’s not what the story was about at all. The dragon represented the demonic nature, the animalistic desires, cravings and temptations of the base metal. The baseness in man. When St. George slew the dragon, he slew the evil within himself.
He committed an alchemical act, changed the lead into gold. Why is it a fire breathing dragon? Remember, this is a Saint of the Catholic church that suppressed knowledge, created the dark ages for hundreds of years. The dark ages was the suppression of knowledge, the suppression of freedom, the demand for conformity upon pain of torture and death or burning at the stake.
The fire represented knowledge! How do you get knowledge of the base nature? You get it through experiments. To have knowledge you must first eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Are you beginning to understand what I am trying to impart to you? That most people live, read, breath in a fantasy world that does not exist, while all around them the truth is displayed brazenly for all to see, but most never ever see.
The greatest treasure is hidden in plain sight. Fulcanelli slyly directs us with is comment on goetic, or magic art. The magic, the secret, is in the art. What did I tell you about magic in past broadcasts? It is simply the art of illusion. *laughs*
Oh, I can see people out there looking at each other. „What did he say? W-w-what did he say?“ The word! It will sink in. You will receive the fire. And it may burn your hands, but you are going to get it sooner or later, like a message in a bottle from the last initiate, the mystery of the core of alchemy surfaced in 1926, when J. Schemit and Company released its limited edition of Le Mystery de Cathedrals by an author who calls himself simply ‚Fulcanelli‘, although apparently well known, at least by reputation to his contemporaries, Fulcanellis true identity remains uncertain to this day. What is certain, is that Le Mystery de Cathedrals created a sensation among the Parisian occult community. And it began to work its magic affecting politics, science and even art.
Without ever being sourced, with no recognition, with only 300 copies in print. That is a phenomenon that cannot be overlooked because it is on a magnitude of such great importance, if it had that much influence. From our modern perspective, surfeited on, on this age of wonders, it is hard to see why from the book itself, Le Mystery is full of arcane scholarship and obscure irradiation, making it hard to follow the book’s symbolic train of thought. In some occult circles this increased its appeal, however, the basic premise of the book, that Gothic cathedrals contained hermetic books in stone was an old fashioned idea, going back to the 19th century romantics such as Victor Hugo.
[How many of you read The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Get it, read it again. And if you don’t see what I am talking about, read it once more.]
We will continue this, ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow night, because we are not finished with the mystery of Fulcanelli. Not finished at all. And for those of you who want to get a jump on everybody else, tonights broadcast was taken from my own research and from a book called Monument to the end of Time – Alchemy, Fulcanelli and the Great Cross, the Crossed Hindea by Jay Weidner and Vincent Bridges. I suggest you buy this book. When you read it, however, as all esoteric texts it is meant to convey a message, an esoteric secret message to those who know how to decipher it. It is full of traps, false information for the profane and for the ignorant. And you could go away from this book with the wrong message. Remember that. But nevertheless, buy it and read it. It contains a message worth deciphering, if you have the mind to do it.
Good night, God bless each and every single one of you. Good night, Annie, Pooh and Alison, I love you so very very much.
[Outro music: Remember, just beneath the surface of all of this is: The Rose by Bette Midler]