Fulcanelli: The Dwellings of the Philosophers Paperback – 1 Mar 1999
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In this work, Fulcanelli used a unique method to which differs from the masters before him by the means of scattering the clues or pieces throughout this book. And, it is truly up to the sincere seeker to discover these pieces and complete the puzzle of the great secret. A disciple of Fulcanelli, Eugene Canseliet, mentioned this "puzzle" in his first preface to this work. The means of discovery is highly important to Fulcanelli because he would see who is sincere and who is not sincere during the process of discovery. Such secrets are not for everyone.
Fulcanelli, a Great Master Alchemist of the 20th century. He is also the most mysterious figure of the 20th century, whose real name was unknown until the recent ground-breaking work (Fulcanelli - His True Identity Revealed) by Patrick Riviere, who was the student of Eugene Canseliet, a disciple of Fulcanelli himself.
To the truth seekers, I would recommend this book as part of your search, either in history, mystery, ancient arts, gothic, or alchemy. And, to the minds of curiosity and researchers, I would recommend this book as well for your keen eyes as you go through the ancient buildings seen in this book and the great symbolism that lies within. The stones in these walls as mentioned in this book give the most accurate truths than any written historical documents.
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 ... and then tends to say, "that is enough for now" and you have to complete that sequence of clues. 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 600 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 2010, 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.
It will definitely add "food-for-thought"