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Do not expect to get information about things what cannot be disclosed. However, the book explains esoteric symbolism what is invaluable. Love this book. There is only one good reason to invest yourself in this book: you are serious about understanding Alchemy and producing the Philosopher's Stone.
If you read it for the history, architecture, 'poetry', or eschatology then sure you'll get something out of it, but you'll be missing the one true reason Fulcanelli wrote it, which was to give instructions and advice to the young Alchemist on achieving the Work. The instructions are split up, rearranged, and scattered throughout the chapters.
One clue here, another there. In one part he talks about one path of making the Stone, in another he switches to a different Path. There are only a couple major paths in Alchemy Wet, Dry, Brief so figuring out which is being referenced isn't impossible.
There are some fundamental secrets in Alchemy that one must decipher. The first is what starting raw material aka the 'subject' or 'matter' is used. It's a mineral. Fulcanelli mentions it by name, but not in context of it being the starting material. He's indirect like that, and he expects you to be clever and read between the lines. You have to ask yourself, why does he talk about this mineral at length, only to never mention it by name again?
That kind of sleuthing is what you must do when reading this. It's not galena or antimony. The second secret is how this material must be processed, and what it must be combined with. It is combined with that, which produced the material in the ground in the first place. Both the material and this substance are of the same nature, they are one thing, but the material is a latter evolution of it.
This only makes sense in context of medieval theory of how minerals are formed in the ground. Fulcanelli does a good job explaining this theory, explaining the rationale behind Alchemy, behind how and why the Philosopher's Stone is possible. If you understand this theory, then you can figure out what that second substance is. The Philosopher's Stone is produced according to the understanding and world view of the ancients and classical Alchemical authors -- think like them, and you'll figure out the essentials.
Fulcanelli talks about lunar radiations, the milk of the stars If you read other alchemical texts, it's mentioned openly. It's common, but not easily bought. The third secret is the 'secret fire' -- a kind of catalytic energy that does more than mere fire alone ever could.
That's what Alchemy is really about, the secret fire and all its diverse forms. In this case, it works on the raw material and extracts from it an acidic substance that later dissolves gold or silver to produce the Philosopher's Stone in its soft, nascent, embryonic state.
The secret fire must be kindled within the raw material through the action of humidity and a gentle warmth. The raw material treated via the secret fire and the increasing heat of actual fire is what produces the black, white, yellow, green, and red colors. Those colors also give a clue about what the raw material is, as there are very few minerals whose decomposition products or byproducts each display one of those colors.
Most of the book is Fulcanelli describing the features and history and meaning of various architectural details found in buildings of Alchemical significance. He will prattle on about the features and history for several paragraphs, then suddenly start discussing one chunk of the instructions on making the Stone for a few more paragraphs, then go back to prattling as if nothing had happened. Next time he does it, the chunk might be talking about a different stage, or a different Path altogether.
Pay attention to the chunks, maybe even mark them in the book. These are the puzzle pieces that will build a more coherent picture of the Work as you assemble them in your mind. Don't get distracted by the prattling; they are necessary to advance the plot, but some people get hung up on those while ignoring the instructional part. Imagine a couple different recipes for making wine or bread or sauerbraten being cut up into 12 parts, remixed, and scattered throughout a page book.
It's something like that. Fulcanelli gives several essential clues that I have not found in any other source. That makes it an important book that, if you're really serious about Alchemy, you cannot do without. Fulcanelli also mentions tons of different chemists, spagyrists, and Alchemists by name and gives his assessment of their work.
Many he derides as mistaken. Pay attention to whom Fulcanelli holds in high regard and recommends in particular, even if it's only in the footnotes. Follow up on those names, and you will have even more clues at your fingertips. One of those sources might be openly explicit about something Fulcanelli refuses to say openly; another might elaborate openly on another aspect while keeping the rest secret. By cross referencing these, and allowing each work to fill in the blanks of the other, you will see that Fulcanelli is legitimately being helpful and staying true to tradition.
That's how you begin the journey on the path of Alchemy, through diligent study of the right sources. It's better to have ten good sources that you read ten times each, than to have a hundred erroneous sources that you only read once each. Then you can move onto experimentation, as that is the only REAL guide; speculation alone will spin you off onto wild tangents.
But experimentation without study means costly trial and error and loss of precious time. I also advise reading up on mineralogy and geo-microbiology to see what modern science has to say on some of what Alchemists hint at.
In conclusion, this book is not nonsense, not incomprehensible babble. The veiled nature of Fulcanelli's writing isn't impenetrable. It's not a book that does more harm than good. But it might take several readings and research on the side before a solid picture materializes. What Fulcanelli says is in full accord with the tradition that preceded him.
And the English translation is surprisingly readable. By the way, I got this book for under forty back in , and wouldn't bother paying hundreds for used copies by price gougers, because this book can be found online if you search. The hardcopy is worth having for ease of reading and making notes though. Archive Press or someone needs to get off their bums and reprint this. New copies seem to show up every couple years, and in between supplies dry up and price rises.
This is the most thought-provoking work on alchemy I have come across. There is so much here, that it's difficult to know where to start. Fulcanelli is the first practical alchemist I've read who came out and said that without divine inspiration and the aid of the stars, one will not be able to carry out the Work. So often it seems that folks concentrate purely on the practical side or worse, purely on the spiritual side. Most seem to ignore the astrological aspects, I guess considering that "as below, so above" is referring to the practical and spiritual, not to the celestial.
It is refreshing to hear someone reiterating the importance of all three aspects--material, spiritual, and celestial--for success. Fulcanelli is very explicit when discussing aspects of the Mineral Path, to the extent that I don't understand why I have not seen this book more often referred to when alchemists working on the Mineral Path discuss their operations.
I wonder how many people have actually read it. Perhaps folks are put off by the apparent topic, the alchemical decorations on various buildings.
But while the book does discuss these decorations, they are only a jumping-off point for discussing alchemical concepts and steps in the process. For instance, when touching upon salamander decorations, he gives many excellent clues about the nature of the Secret Fire.
One of the especially interesting things he discusses is what he calls "cabala. Anyone who is even slightly interested in alchemy knows the importance in it of graphics. We all know that these pictures are meant to be metaphorical, but Fulcanelli suggests that they incorporate visual puns as well.
Looking for these puns gives us a whole new way of reading these pictures. If we go back to the original works, we are presented with the problem of what has been lost in translation, and a number of these were garbled, either deliberately or not. Fulcanelli's book is perfect for the individual who has a background in alchemy and who rejects the "make the Stone in your head" approach yet who has had enough of beating their head against the impenetrable older texts.
And that's a lot of us! Fulcanelli will give you new ideas for how to go about alchemy that you cannot find anywhere else. Go to Amazon. Back to top. Get to Know Us. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web.
The Dwellings of the Philosophers
Fulcanelli fl. Fulcanelli was likely a Frenchman educated in the ways of alchemical lore, architecture, art, science and languages. Its first edition consisted of copies and was published by Jean Schemit at 52 Rue Laffitte, Paris. During , he accepted the sons of Ferdinand de Lesseps as students and in two more students: Jules Boucher and Gaston Sauvage. In , Fulcanelli relocated to 59 rue Rochechouart where he allegedly succeeded in transmuting base metals into gold.
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By The Way Books
Boulder: Archive, First edition. The true identity of the alchemical adept calling himself "Fulcanelli" has never been publicly discovered but there are few who would not recognize his works as the most significant contribution to the Great Art in more than years. The author displays an immense knowledge of the practices of Alchemy and of the Alchemists of the Middle Ages. For for the first time he makes clear the differences between Chemistry, Spagyrics, Archemy, and Alchemy.
The Dwellings Of the Philosophers