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Thread: Tour De Main = Tower of the Hand

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Read the "Hermetic Cabala" section of Dwellings. There is nothing in the old alchemical texts anywhere near the level of complication and totally arbitrary word "permutations" of Fulcanelli's "phonetic cabala" or "language of the birds", which are also often based on Greek words, to make things even more complicated. The majority of non-Alexandrian/Byzantine alchemists in fact knew precious little of the Greek language to even entertain the thought of coming up with such weird stuff! The early Arabic alchemists worked with translations of Greek texts, and the early Latin alchemists relied on translations of Arabic texts. Few of them actually knew Greek. They relied on translators who knew that language in order to get versions they could read.
    Having reread that section you recommended, I am still not convinced by your claim.

    For example to Armand Parrot in "Roger Bacon - Sa personne, son génie, ses oevres et ses contemporains" it is clear that at least Bacon actually knew old-greek, latin, hebrew, aso..

    Besides those examples of literary devices, I can also give you an example of a "word permutation" from the "Geheimnis des Salz".

    Vitriol is streched over "Victriol" to "Victoriöl" (a latin/german hybride, in english: Victory oil; Note that though Viktor and Viktoria are/were common names, the word was not used in context of winning a fight. The usual word is "Sieg". Together with the codeword "fried" for "salt", the famous Siegfried from the mystical Ring-saga could mean "Winning (by means of) the salt or actually victriol-salt).
    It may not be as elaborate like what Fulcanelli has to offer, but all these examples imo definately proof that:

    1) He did not invent the phonetic cabala (see also the known accepted cruzifix/crucible connection).

    2) He is neither the first, nor the only one using word plays and etymologies from old greek.

    3) Word permutations are very easy to work with in french because of the pronounciation of the (kind of soft) language. See for example the "au lit on dort/ au lion d'or" example, which is understood by every frenchmen. Nevertheless it was also and even done in (hard) german alchemical literature before Fulcanelli as can be seen with the victory oil example.

    4) Older alchemists like Rogerius Baco (I like those latinized english names -quite funny somehow) knew foreign languages like old-geek..er greek.
    Last edited by Florius Frammel; 11-13-2018 at 01:56 PM.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    Having reread that section you recommended, I am still not convinced by your claim.

    For example to Armand Parrot in "Roger Bacon - Sa personne, son génie, ses oevres et ses contemporains" it is clear that at least Bacon actually knew old-greek, latin, hebrew, aso..

    Besides those examples of literary devices, I can also give you an example of a "word permutation" from the "Geheimnis des Salz".

    Vitriol is streched over "Victriol" to "Victoriöl" (a latin/german hybride, in english: Victory oil; Note that though Viktor and Viktoria are/were common names, the word was not used in context of winning a fight. The usual word is "Sieg". Together with the codeword "fried" for "salt", the famous Siegfried from the mystical Ring-saga could mean "Winning (by means of) the salt or actually victriol-salt).
    It may not be as elaborate like what Fulcanelli has to offer, but all these examples imo definately proof that:

    1) He did not invent the phonetic cabala (see also the known accepted cruzifix/crucible connection).

    2) He is neither the first, nor the only one using word plays and etymologies from old greek.

    3) Word permutations are very easy to work with in french because of the pronounciation of the (kind of soft) language. See for example the "au lit on dort/ au lion d'or" example, which is understood by every frenchmen. Nevertheless it was also and even done in (hard) german alchemical literature before Fulcanelli as can be seen with the victory oil example.

    4) Older alchemists like Rogerius Baco (I like those latinized english names -quite funny somehow) knew foreign languages like old-geek..er greek.
    You should be, as there simply is no equivalent in alchemical literature to what Fulcanelli claims. Notice he can't quite manage to find even one example of his fanciful "phonetic cabala/language of the birds" in alchemical literature proper, all his examples are taken from other stuff, like that guy who taught history by using such arbitrary phonetic word-plays.

    Even the comparative few early European alchemists who knew Greek would have found their knowledge of that language to be mostly useless for alchemy, as they did not have access to Alexandrian and Byzantine alchemical texts. Their knowledge of alchemy was derived from the Arabic literature on the subject that had been translated into Latin. The Arabic-speaking world did have direct access to the Greek texts, but its alchemists still heavily relied on the work of Greek translators (it was thanks to the efforts of these Greek translators that a lot of that early alchemical literature has in fact survived at all! A great deal of the Alexandrian and Byzantine literature on alchemy has in fact survived ONLY in Arabic versions), the Arabic-speaking alchemists for the most part knew precious little of the Greek language. They needed the work of these translators in order to be able to study the subject. And as I pointed out before, most of the time it would have been simply impossible to retain these "puns/word-plays" from Greek to Arabic, and needless to say then still further from Arabic to Latin. It's just pure nonsense. Alchemy never relied on such fanciful and totally arbitrary phonetic word-plays as Fulcanelli proposes.

  3. #13
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    I agree with you concerning the lineage problem. It is definately an invention of christian alchemy of the middle ages and the renaissance. The greek myths became popular again at that point in time, before that there was practically the bible (in latin) only.

    But that doesn't matter concerning the question whether Fulcanelli was the inventor of this stylistic device or not at all.

    The phonetic-cabala is not so important when dealing with texts but rather useful when it comes to interpretations of alchemical pictures. In a text the meaning of the word is somehow determined (written in stone) because of it's spelling. When looking at a picture the word is not yet written down and has to be spoken (in one's mind or alound) first. Doing this it is not yet clear how it is written and therefore is still undeterminded and can mean quite some things according to the phonetic cabala.

    Look for example at those galleries of castle dampierre ( Fig. XXIX and following). Some of those definately have quite obvious hermetic symbols (the caduceus, the taurus, the torn apart snake,...). Others are not so clear like the guy who is beating a beehive. It is quite convincing to row this pic into the line with the other hermetic symbols when knowing that the word for beehive (ruche) sounds exactly the same like the word for rock/stone (roche). This way it is almost the same symbol like Moses striking the rock, or the knight fighting the dragon (as you know a symbol of saltpeter and St. Peter being the (precious) stone/rock or jewel). It sure wouldn't make that much sense or impression, if it was written down instead.

    It could be that he exaggerated with that method though.

    But still that doesn't mean that it hasn't been done before Fulcanelli, which was my point and what I think I sufficiently showed with those examples in my previous posts.

    BTW. I read that there were others using the phonetic cabala even in literature shortly before "cathedrales" came out. For example it can be found in the works of Raymond Roussel.
    Last edited by Florius Frammel; 11-13-2018 at 06:13 PM.

  4. #14
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    This thread started out about the difference in interpretation/translation of a certain phrase "Tour De Main = Tower of the Hand" and what that would mean in alchemical practice. It was suggested that the Hand could be a reference to the laboratory operative paradigm represented in Hollandus' Hand of the Philosophers.

    If you look at the tower as an alchemical laboratory where the operations of the Hand of Hollandus were carried out then it makes sense. The base of the alchemical tower is where the furnace is located and is devoted to heating all the apparatus in the tower laboratory. The furnace is the main reactor where the fuel fed into it makes a difference. The next floor levels would be devoted to operations that require the less heat. The top floor would be where the extracted Philosophical Principles and Elements are conjoined and incubated.

    Sure this is speculation on my part, but Edward Kelley did work in a tower laboratory; I think Merlin had one too. Since I'm in a speculative mood I fancy the notion that the alchemy of the Greek flavor came to Britain with the Romans. And once there was integrated with Celtic shamanism.

    If I had to practice lab alchemy in the 900s I would certainly do so in a Tower of the Hand, but it would have to be located in some far out of the way place and/or disguised as being used for something else more commonplace, like a monastery or chapel. Else buccaneers and brigands would set upon me.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    I agree with you concerning the lineage problem. It is definately an invention of christian alchemy of the middle ages and the renaissance. The greek myths became popular again at that point in time, before that there was practically the bible (in latin) only.

    But that doesn't matter concerning the question whether Fulcanelli was the inventor of this stylistic device or not at all.

    The phonetic-cabala is not so important when dealing with texts but rather useful when it comes to interpretations of alchemical pictures. In a text the meaning of the word is somehow determined (written in stone) because of it's spelling. When looking at a picture the word is not yet written down and has to be spoken (in one's mind or alound) first. Doing this it is not yet clear how it is written and therefore is still undeterminded and can mean quite some things according to the phonetic cabala.

    Look for example at those galleries of castle dampierre ( Fig. XXIX and following). Some of those definately have quite obvious hermetic symbols (the caduceus, the taurus, the torn apart snake,...). Others are not so clear like the guy who is beating a beehive. It is quite convincing to row this pic into the line with the other hermetic symbols when knowing that the word for beehive (ruche) sounds exactly the same like the word for rock/stone (roche). This way it is almost the same symbol like Moses striking the rock, or the knight fighting the dragon (as you know a symbol of saltpeter and St. Peter being the (precious) stone/rock or jewel). It sure wouldn't make that much sense or impression, if it was written down instead.

    It could be that he exaggerated with that method though.

    But still that doesn't mean that it hasn't been done before Fulcanelli, which was my point and what I think I sufficiently showed with those examples in my previous posts.

    BTW. I read that there were others using the phonetic cabala even in literature shortly before "cathedrales" came out. For example it can be found in the works of Raymond Roussel.
    The examples you found are of a simpler kind, which I already said are indeed present in the literature before Fulcanelli. For example, "Adrop", a word borrowed from Arabic ("usrub", i.e. lead) and then Latinized, then being changed to "Atrop" by some Latin alchemists, which spelled backwards is "Porta" (door/gate), suggesting that this is the "door/gate" to alchemy. But such simple things were noticed and explained long before Fulcanelli by other authors, like Weidenfeld, for example (this is where Fulcanelli probably got the absurd idea that Weidenfeld himself was engaging in such things as his fanciful "phonetic cabala" ideas, which is not supported at all: Weidenfeld only bothers mentioning such things to actually clarify what these simple word-spelling tricks refer to, he himself never engages in such tomfoolery and explains all his claims quite clearly.)

    Regarding alchemical imagery in buildings: Fulcanelli did not invent it either. Alexandrian/Byzantine and Arabic texts already refer to such things (in Egyptian temples.) And anyone who has read Esprit Gobineau de Montluisant's Very Curious Explanation of the Enigmas and Hieroglyphic Figures, Physical, which are in the Great Portal of the Metropolitan Cathedral Church of Notre-Dame of Paris (1640) will easily see what was the direct inspiration for Fulcanelli in this regard. But none of these older writers explain such imagery by such complicated and contrived "phonetic cabala" as that of Fulcanelli.

    Another thing to consider: even the examples that Fulcanelli himself provides of his "phonetic-cabala" in action applied to alchemical topics are quite pointless and useless, as they do not really explain or clarify anything, all they do is keep on throwing more question marks and enigmas to a topic that is already loaded with them without any such contrived & complicated word-plays! So, even if we supposed that his claims have a solid foundation, it would still make the whole thing useless baggage that one should in fact strive to reject and ignore; similar to what the Lullian alchemical texts did with all those silly "alphabets", which far from making it any easier to investigate alchemy actually make it more cumbersome and tedious (not only has the reader to memorize what each letter means/represents, but many of them actually change their meaning from one text of the "corpus" to the next one, making it further confusing. A totally useless literary contraption!)

  6. #16
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    The problem with hermetic texts is "the translation".

    We all should work with autors with the same mother language than us and of a time close to ours.

    Behind "Fulcanelli" was a college with apprentices who have to do what the Master explained to them through an oral tradition because the transmission is about traditional texts of course but not only.

    They were working hard to become able to have success in some practices to obtain "THE" skill which was necessary, which will be usefull for them for the rest of them path, for the rest of them life.

    "Le tour de main" of people in a laboratory is this skill they can have after a lots of practice.

    This is what the text is speaking about. No hermetic trap in it. Not in that case.

    We all have to know and to realise that the texts from Fulcanelli was like whispers from the Master to operative peoples with very pragmatic advices.
    They were not destined to become public as they are today.

    See you later.

    Catherine
    Last edited by Chrysa Lead; 4 Weeks Ago at 12:26 AM.

  7. #17
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    I leave you a scan of the cover of the original exemplar of "Le Mystère des Cathédrales" dedicated by Fulcanelli himself to his friend Schwaller de Lubicz.
    Last edited by Chrysa Lead; 4 Weeks Ago at 01:05 AM.

  8. #18
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    @Chrysa

    This is more likely the handwriting of Jean-Julien Champagne.

    Schwaller de Lubicz actually complained that Champagne (who he thought Fulcanelli was) "borrowed" the whole idea from him.

    @JDP, can you please give one example of a more complicated use of the phonetic-cabala?

  9. #19
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    Hello Florius,

    Yes I know this story.
    But we have to know that Champagne and Schwaller were very close.
    It's him who payed the funeral of Champagne.

    Fulcanelli did not want his identity to be unveiled so nobody knows who he was and that's fine.
    We must all respect his will.

  10. #20
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    About the thread, I didn't explain that "tour" can be feminine and masculine.

    Tour has 3 meanings when it's feminine and 5 meanings when it's masculine.

    Tower is one of the 3 meanings of "tour" when it's feminine.

    In "tour de main" tour is masculine and this phrase has 2 meanings :

    To do something "en un tour de main" means "in no time" and
    "Avoir le tour de main" to do something means "to have the skill/the ability to".

    Regards.

    Catherine

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