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Nicholas Flammel

Much that is said nowadays regarding wizardry, magic and such like is considered by ordinary folk to be untrue or at least legendary. However, there are figures of the past whose extraordinary powers have been taken very seriously and whose existence has been proven…

Nicholas Flammel and The Philosopher’s Stone

Nicholas Flammel was a person who existed in the 14th century, and since then has been the subject of much debate and study by renowned scholars and masters worldwide.

Before scientific study prevailed, thousands of years ago, there was a belief amongst many that the nature of man, and the truth of the world, could be understood by a select few, by means of a text called ‘The Book of Abraham the Jew’. This book contained the secrets of transmutation – which is often referred to as ‘alchemy’, meaning the ability to turn metal to gold. It also contained the secret to the Elixir of life – which will give you immortality and access to all the secrets of the natural and spiritual world.

Nicholas Flammel lived in Paris, and was a book-seller who was happily married. Through reading, he had acquired some knowledge of the art of alchemy, and though he desired the knowledge of how to turn metal to gold, it was not for vulgar purposes. For he understood that the person who discovers this secret will also know the essential secret of Nature, and this is the greatest wisdom in the world – worth more than wealth and possessions.

Nicholas Flammel is no legendary character - indeed, works copied by his own hand and original works written by him are kept at Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

One evening, Nicholas Flammel had a strange dream. He dreamt that an angel held a book out to him and said “Look well at this book, Nicholas. At first you will understand nothing, but one day you will see in it that which no other man will be able to see.”

The next day, an unknown man came to Nicholas’ stall to sell a manuscript. Nicholas recognised the book as the one in his dream, and bought it at once. There were engraved, curious diagrams in the book, along with characters made up of Greek and other languages which he could not decipher.

From what he could make out of the text that he could understand, the author of the book was Abraham - Levite, philosopher, astrologer, poet and priest. Then there were great threats to anyone who read the text who was not a priest or a scribe. The mysterious word “marantha” was also printed on every page. Nicholas thought it would be OK if he read the text, as he was a scribe, and because of the dream he had had the previous night.

Nicholas vowed to solve the riddle of the text. But he knew he would have to be wise and patient if he were to inherit the wisdom of Abraham. The symbols remained a mystery to him, even when he inquired as to their meaning to passing visitors who were conversant with the Cabala.

He waited and pondered the book for twenty one years. Eventually, he decided to visit Spain, for there were knowledgeable Jews who lived in Spain and he concluded that they may be able to help him unravel the mysterious code. He decided to only take copied pages of the book, however, for fear of losing it or it being stolen.

In Spain, Nicholas met a learned old Jewish man, Maestro Canches, in an old inn. He shared his story of the book with the man, for he felt trust towards him and thought he may be able to help with this mystery. As soon as Nicholas mentioned the name of Abraham the Jew, Maestro Canches was inspired to take the rest of the journey with Nicholas, in the hope of helping him. The few pages Nicholas had brought were insufficient to fully understand the text, and so the two decided to journey back to Paris, where Maestro Canches may see the rest of the text and may be able to decipher the symbols he had not yet seen.

On their journey home, the old man talked to Nicholas about life and patience. Nicholas felt he was learning very much from tis learned Jew.

But along the journey, this old man, who had helped Nicholas so much in understanding the writings sadly passed away, and Nicholas buried him.

When Nicholas arrived back in Paris, he was joyous to be home and with his wife again. He went about his daily life. He discussed hermetic science with learned people and taught the illiterate to write. He spent three years in search of meaning. Then one day, considering all that the old man Maestro Canches had told him, and all that he had learned in his life, he found that he was able to understand the meaning of the symbols.

The transmutation was accomplished – he was able to turn metal to gold. He learned what materials were necessary and strictly followed the method of Abraham. Simultaneously, he accomplished the transmutation of his soul. From his passions, mixed in an invisible crucible, the substance of the eternal spirit emerged.

Nicholas became rich. But his life remained the same – he spent his riches on housing for the poor and hospitals for the ill. He altered nothing of his modest life with his wife and book stall.

Though he knew how to make gold, he only performed this trick three times and never to his own gain. And he never divulged the secret of the book to anyone. He was enabled with the power of the Philosopher’s Stone – alchemy - but he knew that the wisdom he had acquired from it was greater than any riches.

Nicholas Flammel died around the age of eighty, so too his wife. And word spread of his alchemical powers – though he had not told anybody. People had wondered how he became rich as a book seller and concluded that he was able to make gold, and this news spread.

Thus, people came from all over the world to dig up Flammel’s tomb, for it was said that the hieroglyphic symbols – the secret to finding the powers of the Philosopher’s Stone - were engraved on the tomb. His home and burial site were therefore dug up and brought down.

A Caphucin friar and a German baron were said to have found, in this rampaging, some reddish powder, which was allegedly the transmutation powder with which you can turn metal to gold with. No-one knows of the fate of these two figures however.

As for the book of Abraham the Jew – all that Nicholas left was bequeathed to his nephew, Perrier, and for centuries this book was handed down from father to son, though no great understanding of the text affected any of the descendants.

That is, until the reign of Louis XIII. A descendant of Flammel’s, named Dubois, who was in possession of both the book and the powder - though it is not known how he was in possession of the powder - it is said, performed alchemy in front of the king. A Cardinal named de Richelieu seized the powder and the book and sentenced Dubois to death.

The Cardinal built a laboratory where he invited masters from all over the world to come and try to interpret the hieroglyphics and manuscripts – to no avail. He did not understand the patience of twenty four years meditating and wisdom that had allowed Nicholas Flammel the powers of understanding and discretion. On the death of the Cardinal, all traces of the book were lost.

It is said in many circles that Nicholas Flammel is still alive, so too is his wife - that the knowledge of the Philosopher’s Stone (which has now made it into the Harry Potter story – as too has Nicholas Flammel’s story), gives a person immortal life, alchemical ability and most importantly, knowledge of the Elixir of Life.

Credit to Reginal Merton, author of Magicians, Seers and Mystics for the information provided above. littlewitches_1.jpg

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