” The sky has born you with Orion ”
– The Pyramid Texts
Any earnest inquiry into the reasons for human existence eventually comes upthe two most difficult questions of all, ‘who are we?’ and ‘Why are we here?’ Despite today’s advances in science and technology, these two questionshave remained unanswered. Focused as it is on the physical, modern sciencecan show us how we got here and it can show us of what this world is made,but it cannot satisfactorily answer these fundamental metaphysical questionsabout the meaning of life.
As a result of this gap in our knowledge, human beings appear to be caughtin a delusion, unaware of their vast potential. So where do we go to findanswers to life’s ultimate questions? Many have sought insight in the textsand teachings of the world’s sacred traditions, only to find that many ofthese ancient traditions are either partially or wholly lost or nearlyincomprehensible. These once vital and significant traditions have leftbehind fragments of knowledge that, at least, seem to point o the solutions, but these answers are often vague, difficult for modern minds to grasp, orelse shrouded by the veils of time and cultural changes. Our own Westernesoteric alchemical tradition, once guided by a deep and profound understanding of the intimate relationship among human beings, nature and the cosmos, has been on its last legs for centuries.
Because of the vast changes in culture, language and perception that havetaken place since the Industrial Revolution, any serious study of the pastis made much more difficult. The Industrial Revolution caused a serious disruption in Western culture that cannot be overemphasized. The rise ofthe Machine and mechanism changed the way we think, the way we see the past,and the way we view our ancestors. No longer are our ancestors valued fortheir wisdom and knowledge. As the mechanized Age of Iron enveloped Western civilizations, we almost lost our spiritual heritage as well.
From the time of the Inquisition onward, many of our most sacred teachings were rooted out and expunged from the dominant view. ‘Europe’s inner demons’ is how historian Norman Cohn characterized the spiritual and historical nightmare that has haunted Europe for centuries. The result of theconflict, madness and destruction that have marked European history was thealmost complete loss of the mythologies, wisdom and profound knowledge that sustained the West through the Middle Ages. This loss was the problem that Fulcanelli attempted to correct when he wrote his masterpiece Le Mystere des cathedrals, or Mystery of the Cathedrals in 1926. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the secret of alchemy had become lost in the well oftime. Replaced by rampant speculation, obscure texts, and many failed attempts to turn lead into gold, the once deeply spiritual science of alchemy was headed for the dustbin of history. With one book by Fulcanelli all of that would change. The twentieth century’s entire intellectual and artistic interest in alchemy was reawakened and energized by the appearanceof Le Mystere. In writing it, Fulcanelli sought nothing less than to resacralize, relegitimize, and reinvigorate the entire Western esoterictradition. He promised that through an in-depth study of its pages, any sincere and conscientious student would begin to comprehend what is referred to in the lore as ‘the secret language of the birds’, the subtle language of spirit that ‘teaches the mystery of things and unveils the most hidden truths.’ From this understanding, a profound inner awakening would begin to take place.
Through a careful and exquisite unveiling, Fulcanelli, himself an adept of this Western lineage of transmission, provides readers with the keys to unlock the doors to the sacred mysteries that lie at the root of the alchemical arts. These mysteries include not only the ‘science of light andtime’ but also the path toward communication with living matter itself and with the Divine Intelligence presiding over our galaxy.
In addition to its profound restatement of the Western esoteric tradition,which is significant enough, perhaps the single most important aspect of LeMystere was the single chapter added to the 1957 edition of the book. This chapter, called ‘The Cyclic Cross of Hendaye,’ discusses a simple yet mysterious monument located in southwestern France that Fulcanelli dates to the middle of the seventeenth century. The monument’s few inelegant symbols reveal not only that it was built by a ‘master mason,’ but also that its creator possessed a surprising amount of arcane knowledge. It also proved,and Fulcanelli echoes this, that there was, and possibly still is, a groupof people, a secret society, if you will, that knows the very secret of time and light, which secret is the basis of all true alchemy. More surprisingly, Fulcanelli tells us that this secret society was still active as few as three hundred and fifty years ago.
The message of the cross at Hendaye is that time is not a mystery, that the secret of time itself could be understood. Like a river, time has many bends and turns, many tributaries and creeks, but it is possible that time, like a river, can be mapped. And when the map of time is properly understood, the mystery of the future disappears. In addition to this remarkable revelation, the symbols and teachings encoded in the cross at Hendaye offer us a new understanding of the cosmos, especially with regard to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy and its effect on us.
Finally the cross at Hendaye reveals that its maker understood the great alchemical experiment that occurs at the end of time. The secret alchemical Mercury that rules the primordial essence of life itself is enlivened and invigorated during the time span indicated by the cross. Practical alchemists would know, just by examining the symbols on the cross atHendaye, when to perform their most secret experiments. As Fulcanelli intimates, this secret experiment is nothing less than the creation of a Golden Age.
History appears to be a long initiation into the mysteries of the universe. As with any initiation, attention to ethical standards, clear communication,and right action are the necessary ingredients for the initiation to takeplace. When the initiation is over, we shall know who we are and why we are here.
The great return of the alchemical tradition is the road back to a science based on timeless spiritual principles. Alchemy is the science of human development, the art of turning glass into light and lead into gold. But as any true adept will tell you, these are merely metaphors for the deep and secret mysteries of the spirit. As we in the West reestablish contact with the primordial source of life and wisdom, we shall shed the veils that conceal the profound nature of ourselves and this planet. With thereturn of this grand and glorious tradition we shall once again understand who we are and why we are here. The main rule of alchemy, that ‘only like can become like,’ will be recognized for what it truly means. As the atoms that make up the flesh and bones of our bodies were once thriving inside the hearts of stars now dead, so will our consciousness one day occupy future stars. Human beings are the stuff of stars endowed with consciousness. We are the seeds of the cosmos. It is our true heritage to take our place in the order of the universe.
That is the real promise of alchemy, Fulcanelli and the Cyclic Cross at Hendaye.