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Fulcanelli (1839 - fl.1953) is almost certainly a pseudonym assumed, in the late 19th century, by a French alchemist and esoteric author, whose identity is still debated. He is also called the Master Alchemist. The appeal of Fulcanelli as a cultural phenomenon is partly due to the mystery that surrounds most aspects of his life and works; one of the anecdotes pertaining to his life retells, in particular, how his most devoted pupil Eugène Canseliet performed a successful transmutation of 100 grams of lead into gold in a laboratory of the gas works of Sarcelles at the Georgi company with the use of a small quantity of the "Projection Powder" given to him by his teacher, in the presence of Julien Champagne and Gaston Sauvage.



Fulcanelli was undoubtedly a Frenchman, widely and profoundly educated, and learned in the ways of alchemical lore, architecture, art, science, and languages. Fulcanelli wrote two books that were published after his disappearance in 1926, having left his magnum opus with his only student, Eugène Canseliet.

Theories about Fulcanelli speculate that he was one or another famous French occultist of the time: perhaps a member of the former Royal Family (the Valois), or another member of the Frères d'Heliopolis (Brotherhood of Heliopolis, a society centred around Fulcanelli which included Eugène Canseliet, Jean-Julien Champagne and Jules Boucher). Canseliet's only student, Patrick Rivière, believes that Fulcanelli's true identity was Jules Violle, famous French physicist.[1] In a 1996 book, samples of writing by Jean-Julien Champagne and Fulcanelli are compared and show considerable similarity [2].

It is believed that on the verge of World War II, the Abwehr was in active (but fruitless) pursuit of Fulcanelli because of his alleged knowledge of the technology of nuclear weapons.[citation needed]

According to Canseliet, his last encounter with Fulcanelli happened in 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.


The two books by Fulcanelli are

  • Le Mystère des Cathédrales (The Mystery of the Cathedrals), written in 1922 and published in Paris in 1929.
  • Les Demeures Philosophales (Dwellings of the Philosophers), published in Paris in 1930.

The books are written in a cryptic and erudite manner, replete with Latin and Greek puns, alchemical symbolism, double entendres, and lectures on and in Argot and Cant, all of which serve to keep "puffers" in the dark.

A third book, Finis Gloriae Mundi (End of the World's Glory), was also reportedly being prepared for publication. The notes for the book were left for a time with his only student, Canseliet. Fulcanelli decided that the timing for publication of the book was not right and so it was never in fact published. However, a book by the same name, citing Fulcanelli as the author, was published in more recent times. That book has been shown to be a counterfeit.[citation needed]

References in Popular Culture

  • The mystery thriller novel The Fulcanelli Manuscript by Scott Mariani deals with the subject of the alchemist's disappearance and what may have happened to his manuscript.[3]
  • Fulcanelli is mentioned in Paulo Coelho's 1993 bestseller, The Alchemist (book).[4]
  • There is a song entitled "but who was Fulcanelli?" on the second disc of Frank Zappa's "Guitar" album.
  • There is also a song entitled "Fulcanelli" on Lagartija Nick's album "Lo imprevisto".
  • Daniel Brummel's album "Speak Easy" includes the song "Mystery of the Cathedrals."
  • In the DC Comics Universe, "Evan Fulcanelli" was referred to as the uncle of Zatanna. His relation to Zatara is uncertain.
  • Dario Argento's 1980 horror film Inferno features a book written by a mysterious architect and alchemist named Varelli, both the alchemist and the book clearly being modelled upon Fulcanelli and Le Mystère des Cathédrales. In 1989's La Chiesa (The Church), directed by Michele Soavi and produced by Argento, the main character has a copy of Le Mystère des Cathédrales, which he quotes from.
  • The video game Haunting Ground makes a reference to a book written by a "Furkanelli", which may be a reference to the alchemist.
  • Paul McGann plays a character that is suspected of being Fulcanelli in the final episode of Sea of Souls Series 3, BBC, 2006.[5]


  1. ^ Rivière, Patrick. Fulcanelli. Red Pill Press ISBN 1-897244-21-5
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Mariani, Scott. The Fulcanelli Manuscript. ISBN 9780709083016
  4. ^ Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. ISBN 0-062-50218-2, p. 82.
  5. ^ BBC press release
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Fulcanelli". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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