By Aaron Cheak, PhD

Originally published in Octagon II: The Quest for Wholeness, Mirrored in a Library Dedicated to Religious Studies, Philosophy and Esotericism in Particular, edited by H. Thomas Hakl, Gaggenau: Scientia Nova, 2016.



Some have called me diabolical; others satanic,
or they have attributed to me black masses and other inanities.
The Surrealists called me Luciferian, basing themselves on an essay
Adam l’homme rouge, an essay which I burned.[1]

— R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, 1960—



BEST KNOWN FOR his Egyptological writings, which appeared from 1949 onwards, culminating in his three-volume masterpiece, Le Temple de l’homme (The Temple of Man, 1957-8), French Hermetic philosopher René Schwaller de Lubicz (1887–1961) also played a significant role in the Parisian alchemical revival. While he later disparaged his pre-Egyptological works, and did not republish them when they went out of print, one text has continued to hold a strange allure, and is probably the most fascinating piece from this period: a rare but controversial work entitled Adam l’homme rouge (Adam the Red Man, 1927). While in general the early writings of Schwaller have not ripened evenly, they nevertheless provide important windows into the development of his thought. The Adam text, which deals with the metaphysics of sex, is perhaps the most revealing in this regard, not only because of its erotic topos, but also for the alchemical themes that pervade it. The present study explores these themes and elucidates their contexts and subtexts. I argue that the views on gender and sexuality articulated herein are precise correlates of Schwaller’s alchemical views, which are operative as well as speculative, and that they cannot be divorced from this double context. 


René ‘Aor’ Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961). Artist, alchemist, Egyptologist, Neopythagorean, and Hermetic philosopher. Pictured here during the epoch of Suhalia (1922-1929), St. Moritz, Switzerland. Image reproduced from frontispiece to R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, La Doctrine: Trois conférences faites à Suhalia, 1926 (Par Aor). St. Moritz: Officina Montalia, 1927.

In 1922, René Schwaller de Lubicz, along with his closest companions, moved from Paris to the Suvretta district above the Alpine town of St. Moritz, Switzerland.[2] Friedrich Nietzsche, who made St. Moritz his summer residence between 1881 and 1888, aptly described the region as ‘6000 feet beyond man and time’.[3] ‘Here one can live well’, he said, ‘in this strong, bright atmosphere, here where nature is amazingly mild and solemn and mysterious all at once’.[4] High above St. Moritz, Schwaller and his entourage established the ‘Station Scientifique de Suhalia’ (Suhalia Laboratories), conceived as an initiatic retreat and workstation. Complete with laboratory, forge, looms, printing press, and observatory, Suhalia was a hive of artisanal, alchemical, artistic, homeopathic, and mystical activity. Schwaller published a handful of rare works here, including an Egyptian Tarot deck illustrated by his soon-to-be step-daughter, Lucy Lamy, who would go on to furnish the elegant, geometrically exacting illustrations to Schwaller’s Egyptological works. In addition to alchemical and homeopathic preparations, he is said to have invented a hydrodynamic yacht and a motor that ran on vegetable oil.[5] ‘Why have I created Suhalia?’ he asks in a series of lectures delivered in the winter of 1926. ‘Is it not to create a centre where people who desire to walk this path can find the necessary isolation? And by isolation I mean exclusion from the world of banality that reduces everything to its own level.’[6]


The immense, transcendent beauty of St. Moritz proved inspiring not only for Nietzsche, who conceived his concept of Eternal Return on the shores of Lake Silvaplana, but also for Schwaller, who encountered a cold, fiery presence in the amber-rose hues that bathed the mountains at sunset. Over five nights in the winter of 1925, ‘from the height of a frozen, flame-red peak’, Schwaller received an apocalyptic revelation from a mysterious presence called ‘Aor’—an initiatic appellation that Schwaller would henceforth be known by.[7] This revelation was published the following year as L’Appel du feu (The Call of Fire, 1926), and while this text is not the topic of the present study, it forms an important preface to it.


Aor is best understood as a tutelary intelligence—a daimon in the Socratic sense—with which Schwaller communed. Among other things, Aor’s ‘call of fire’ exhorted Schwaller to go beyond dualistic consciousness, casting the seeds for what he would later call ‘the intelligence of the heart’ (l’intelligence du cœur). Perhaps most revealingly, ‘Aor’ articulated a particular motif that would pervade Schwaller’s entire alchemical metaphysics. Specifically, he used the language of light and colour to express how the visible world of appearance emerges from a primordial invisible unity, just like light broken through a prism:


A thing is always triple in its nature: it exists in and of itself by virtue of its appearance, but it is also caused by a complementation of two states of the same nature. You yourself, by being in principle a man, human, result from the complementation of two states of the same nature: that which affirms and that which denies, that which gives and that which receives, that which expresses and that which is ‘impressed’, i.e. that which receives the impression; this double state is your primordial, spiritual androgyny—and you have recollection of this duality in unity. Can you say that white light is composed of green and red light? No, and yet when it is broken through a prism it gives rise to two complementary colours, and the white light no longer exists. The colours are a transformation of white light, a transformation that imparts different vibrations to the same substance. The differences in vibration do not change the light, but their impressions appear differently to the eye, giving rise to diverse colours that are always complementary, two by two. Now remember: you are light, white light, and you will find your dimly remembered androgyny. You are light, but light broken through the prism of life, that is to say, through experiences and necessities.[8]


The idea that complementary duality is a transformation of primordial unity was applied to his understanding of embodied sexuality. This formed the topic of his most infamous book, Adam l’homme rouge (Adam, the Red Man, 1927), a work on the conjugal mystery and the metaphysics of eros. The extended title of the work gives a good indication of its contents:


Adam l’homme rouge, ou les éléments d’une gnose pour le mariage parfait ; Ouvrage divisé en deux parties dont la première examine la situation morale et la crise vitale créées dans la société humaine par la domination du catholicisme et la deuxième partie présente les notions fondamentales d’un enseignement occulte pour permettre au couple humaine de trouver une base philosophique et conforme à l’évolution dans le mariage dont le but est d’atteindre l’union spirituelle.


Adam, the red man, or the elements of a gnosis for perfect marriage; A work divided into two parts of which the first examines the moral situation and the vital crisis created in human society by the domination of Catholicism, and the second part of which presents the fundamental notions of an occult teaching in order to enable the human couple to discover a basis which is philosophical and conformed to evolution in marriage, the goal of which is to attain spiritual union.


Completed in August 1926 and published in July 1927 by Officina Montalia at St. Moritz, Adam l’homme rouge appeared in a limited edition of one hundred numbered copies and three unnumbered copies.[9] Herein, Schwaller develops a polemic against the social foundations of marriage, morality, and eroticism established by Roman Catholicism, which are seen to be based in relativity and duality. In opposition to this, he situates marriage, morality, and eroticism on the basis of esoteric metaphysics, which by contrast are considered absolute. The distinction he makes between these two approaches—the relative or exoteric and the absolute or esoteric—are intimately connected to his fundamental evaluation of gender, and the two mentalities that arise from a corporeal or physical basis of knowledge (considered ‘feminine’), and an abstract or metaphysical basis of knowledge (considered ‘masculine’). The first proceeds from materialised objects to ideals through a process of sublimating concrete phenomena into higher perceptions. The second involves the direct perception of the absolute principles that create or generate the phenomenal concretions in the first place. Schwaller is thus concerned with a direct apperception of causes rather than an indirect perception through effects. This division between an empirical mentality that only perceives concrete objects (quantitative science), and a nondual epistemology that perceives formative principles together with the realities that they form (sacred science), would remain pivotal to Schwaller’s œuvre. It formed the basis of the distinction that he would later make between ‘cerebral intelligence’ and the ‘intelligence of the heart’.



1. Desire


Schwaller’s appeal to a Rosicrucian rather than Catholic symbolique enables him to situate his discussion of sexuality upon knowledge of ‘cosmic laws’, the true science of which is alchemy.


Disparaged as a ‘science of making gold’ in an epoch where sorcery haunted the entire world in reaction to dogmatic religion, alchemy is in truth the science of life. The fact that life also produces gold in nature is evident; but this is secondary to a science that is essentially mystical, and which cultivates a Gnosis (Connaissance) that reveals the secrets of attraction as equally in gravitation as in the love of a man for a woman’.[10]


The ‘secrets of attraction’—or the vital principle of eroticism at play in Schwaller’s cosmology—unfold through the process of affinity and assemblage. The affinitive process, however, is in turn founded upon the principle of polarity and tension—the alchemical ‘art of separation’ (ars separationis or Scheidekunst). ‘Separated individuals seek each other all the more strongly the greater their separation’ remarks Schwaller; therefore, ‘the principle of separation also becomes the first and most powerful erotic principle’.[11] Like the bi-polarity of Shiva and Shakti in tantric cosmology, this principle emerges through the separation of divine lovers, creating a vital tonos that generates the world of living duality. Eros, for Schwaller, is thus the living call to unity evoked by polarity. Just as the world of duality is created through separation, so too is it dissolved again by divine union—the primordial conjunctio.

In his mature work, Schwaller would maintain that the phenomenal cosmos arises as a passive reaction to a metaphysical action—the polarisation of nonpolarised energy. This metaphysical activity is the unique causal unity acting upon itself to cause the reaction that is the genesis of the living cosmos. Nature, for Schwaller, is the consequence of a ‘rupture in the equilibrium of Unity’, a ‘disharmony in the original equanimity’.[12] The harmony of nature then becomes ‘the call to assemblage through affinity’. Nature seeks ‘equilibrium (its inertia)’, and ‘allows for neither disharmony nor excess’.[13] Whenever life disturbs nature’s repose, rupturing the natural harmony, the composing elements ‘immediately seek to reassemble themselves following their own affinities’.[14] The tension engendered by polarisation thus creates the very tonality of divine desire through which affinity and assemblage unfold towards their harmonic resolution.


Desire is a string stretched between two complements, and the sound of this string is life. To produce a sound, you need a shock to make it vibrate, and this shock is Eroticism. Complements are always two extreme aspects of one and the same thing, sensation, or emotion. The shock results from a disequilibrium in this state of tension, which expresses itself above all by an emotive, nervous, or physical tension, or by mental suspense. The disequilibrium literally produces an oscillation between the two complements, a movement that results in the exaltation of life, and the effect of this is originally expressed by sexual arousal.[15]


From the affinity and repulsion of chemical elements, through to the process of natural selection in biological species (evolution), these affinities are so many forms of divine desire resolving itself into its primordial nature.


This Desire is the force of gravitation for stars, the genesis of metals and minerals for the earth, wind and storm for the air, fecundation for plants, fornication for animals, and for humankind, love. There are many forms and many visions of Desire, but desire in and of itself is always identical. It is the Archangel of life, and therefore, also, the Archangel of death.  [16]


Desire is not only the affinity that tonifies the chain of being, drawing consciousness through the kingdoms of nature, underpinning the evolution of life; it is also, in reality, the urge to return to the primordial equanimity, an affinity that enables consciousness to go beyond embodied life altogether—i.e. beyond duality. For although desire is founded on separation, it nevertheless departs from and is resolved back into the absolute unity that transcends all duality.



2. Division



Proceeding on the basis of Judaic anthropogony (Genesis 2:4–3:24), Schwaller interprets the creation of man and woman in a fashion similar to the Platonic motif of the gendered human as divided whole.  [17] His interpretation bears a pronounced gnostic resonance distinctly evocative of the Gospel According to Philip (which wouldn’t be discovered for another thirty years): ‘When Eve was still in Adam death did not exist. When she was separated from him death came into being. If he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no more’.[18] For Schwaller, the mystical union of male and female forms a conjunctio by which the complementary poles combine to dissolve their duality through reentry into their preexisting unity, i.e. the primordial Adamic (or adamantine) state:


Originally there is androgyny, followed by the separation of the sexes according to function. This separation is the spiritual cause of specification into gender, and eventually creates the necessity for marriage. Due to the deviation of consciousness from its origin and its true purpose, marriage has taken on an illusory, physical meaning. Here lies the monumental error that creates so much misery. Marriage does not have a physical purpose, but a vital, spiritual purpose; indeed, the word marriage signifies and must be—Union—that is to say, the absolute and final Union of that which has been divided by the separation of the sexes, and which in the end must give rise to a complete human Unity.[19]


According to Schwaller, the creation of Eve represents a decline (déchéance) from the divine nature of man, a fall from unity into duality. He claims that, because Eve was created while Adam was asleep (unconscious), she did not participate in the influx of divine breath given to primordial man.[20] The separation of the primordial being into man and woman is therefore tantamount to the separation of anima and corpus. Man represents the animating principle (soul) and woman the material principle (body). The principle of marriage that reconstitutes the divine nature is thus conceived as a union of precisely these elements: soul and body; or, more specifically, as the animation of the body by the soul.


As to woman, she guards in herself the memory of her decline (déchéance) from man into woman. She can become man only by fusing herself with him. Then the two will no longer be two, but an animated body.[21]


What we begin to see, if we look beyond the predictable postmodern reactions to such assertions, is that a distinctly alchemical hermeneutic, applicable specifically to archaic conceptions of metals, is at play. In the classical and medieval alchemical traditions to which Schwaller was heir, ‘philosophical’ metals were conceived precisely as junctures of an animating metallic spirit (Sulphur) and a passive metallic body (Mercury). The spirits and bodies of metals first had to be separated and purified before being rejoined (married) to form living alchemical entities. From this perspective, Schwaller is clearly extending his knowledge of operative alchemical principles to the domain of human gender. Or better yet, in basic accordance with his functional approach to metaphysics, all phenomenal things, from metals to humans, are conceived as concrete instances of invariable metaphysical principles.

The Creation of Adam and Eve, Orvieto Cathedral, Italy.


Following from this, when Schwaller suggests that woman is ‘essentially physical’, that she ‘does not have a soul’, and therefore seeks ‘animation through man’, we can understand this as both a statement about the nature of woman (however uncharitable by modern standards), but also, more generally, as a statement about the nature of physicality itself: the prima materia, or alchemically, the first body of metals.[22] In both cases, in order to reconstitute the primordial entity, the material principle must be ‘ready to be vivified’ by the psycho-spiritual principle.  [23] ‘The man who wants to initiate woman must above all be a master of psychology’, continues Schwaller; ‘a being conscious of himself, patient as a sage, who knows how to be like living fire by the magic of eroticism’. As to woman, ‘she must want to generate this man’; she must have in her ‘the sacred fire of the most impersonal love in order to evoke and then give to him the courage to arrive at this wisdom, from which she will emerge—as living and as powerful as any force on earth’.[24]


And yet, it cannot be denied that the ‘essentially physical’ nature of woman also carries over to her psychological nature, according to Schwaller. ‘Of the complete human totality, [woman] only represents the physical complex with its senses, its emotionality, and the concrete mind-set that is the highest vital expression of the body’.[25] Viewed in this fashion, the mentality of woman is incapable of ‘abstract’ thought. What he means by this is that woman cannot participate in abstractions directly, but only through sublimating something concrete.[26] Whereas ‘man’ has the ability to perceive non-material, intelligible principles immediately, ‘woman’ must grasp them through their embodiment. Somewhat ironically, Schwaller likens these two mentalities to the difference between a being in the process of gestation, and the physically born child, or product of this gestation. The first aspect represents the formative, generative forces that bring something into being, and the second, the formed thing proper. ‘Masculine’ or metaphysical consciousness can perceive both the forces that generate and gestate the formed thing, as well as the formed entity itself, whereas ‘feminine’ or corporeal consciousness can only grasp the actual manifestation, according to Schwaller. Once again, a stark division of mentalities—or epistemologies—colours Schwaller’s work.



3. Trinity



With these remarks we thus come face to face with Schwaller’s metaphysics of perception, which resides in the ability to look ‘through’ or ‘beyond’ a given sensory phenomenon in order to perceive the generative forces underpinning it. For Schwaller, this was no less than a primordial metaphysical paradox—i.e. a union of opposites that escapes concrete perception.


An energy is always affirmative whatever its nature, but it only exists as such because there is a place or a thing that absorbs it. Now, that which absorbs is that which gestates, transmutes or transforms the absorbed thing. This [transformed thing] is the phenomenon. Since it is exclusively by the phenomenon that we generally observe, it is correct to say that we only know the energy (that is, an affirmation) by its negative moment: the instant of absorption. The [genuinely] affirmative aspect of nature escapes our senses. However, it is precisely this that we must seek to know, for without it we remain absolutely ignorant of the causative forces of the world.[27]


In many respects the idea of absorption articulated here (la chose absorbée) approaches the Platonic concept of the hypodochē, or receptacle of forms: i.e. the unformed substance (hylē) that receives divine form (eidos) to create phenomenal things (kosmos aisthetikos, the sensible cosmos).[28] Succinctly stated, the formula is:


immaterial form + formless matter = formed matter.


The Timaeus, furthermore, describes the product of this process as the child or offspring (tokos, that which is brought forth), implying that form is paternal and that substance is maternal, a fact which is preserved in our words ‘pattern’ (from pater, ‘father’) and ‘matter’ (from mater, ‘mother’). Because patterns require mothers, or matrices, for manifestation, the embodied form—the ‘son’ in the Christic sense—will partake both of the image of the father and the substance of the mother, therefore possessing a dual nature. In alchemical terms, these relationships correspond precisely to the tria prima of Sulphur (divine spirit), Mercury (prima materia), and Salt (phenomenal form).[29] Everything generated therefore requires two principles, which are equiprimordial: a seed (semence), which is considered male, and a formative matrix (milieu formateur), which is considered female. The feminine principle is virgin and receives the pure seed, and from these come ‘the first androgynous, male-female being’, which ‘draw[s] from its mother and father’.[30]


Given this emphasis on androgyny as the primordial union of mother and father, it is important to look at how Schwaller defines, and distinguishes, absolute androgyny from what he calls false or relative androgyny. ‘Physical, sexual androgyny’, he remarks, ‘is an abnormal accident that only gives a false image of true androgyny’. ‘An image much closer to what I mean’, he adds, ‘is the life of the oyster’:[31]


The oyster is male from September to May, and female from May to August. Naturally this is only an image of what I seek to express, for in fact the oyster procreates through its male and female functions, whereas the absolute androgyny of which I speak does not procreate at all since it has no need for division, nor for a sequence of existences to attain its perfection, for this perfection is accomplished within itself. This ideal state is Human (l’Humain), in which the human is modified according to its usual functions into a human male on one hand, and a human female on the other. It is in this spirit that Unipolarity must be comprehended, [which is an] absolutism in nature. And so the multiple individuals generated by procreation thanks to sexuality, [which have] become habitually uniform by function, are parts of a totality that is called cosmic man (l’homme cosmique).  [32]


This passage is important not only for emphasising the functional nature of sexuality that unfolds through the true androgynous being, it also prefigures what he would later describe in his mature work as the Anthropocosmos (l’Anthropocosme), ‘man as Universe’.[33]   Already in the Adam text, however, Schwaller is explicit: ‘the human being, or cosmic man, is man and woman in unity, but every currently existing human being is man and woman in duality’.  [34] ‘One could say’, he adds, ‘that a man who is masculine externally is feminine internally, and vice versa’.[35] But this interior complementarity is not psychological; for if something is masculine by exterior tendency, the complement will not be a psychological femininity. ‘If the left hand is feminine and the right masculine, both are equally part of the physical body’.[36] In other words, the active and passive natures are not two different entities per se, but two different aspects of one and the same nature.



4. Electricity



To illustrate how the poles of a given phenomenon are different aspects or transformations of one nature, Schwaller not only compares gender to the red and green complements arising from white light, as we have seen, but also to the positive and negative poles of an electric current, situating all phenomena of a polar-complementary nature within one functional metaphysical dynamic. [37] 


Nothing exists without its complementary pole affirming its existence. This is the raison d’être for all relativity. However a fundamental error exists in human thought as to the value of these complements. The most perfect image of this error is the all-too-easily accepted notion of the electric ‘current’, commonly referred to as positive and negative. There is in fact no negative current; there is only the return of the electric current towards its source, closing the cycle of tension between the chemical or magnetic elements of its cause. One of the elements gives, the other receives; but ‘vitally’, that which apparently receives—let us say the zinc of a battery—is in fact that which, in the chemical milieu, repels towards carbon, which in the cycle of the current produced, appears to give. [38] 


The example here is a common zinc-carbon or dry cell battery, in which the zinc casing forms the so-called negative terminal (anode), while the carbon rod or core forms the so-called positive terminal (cathode). Each pole is separated from the other by an ammonium chloride medium (the electrolyte). When the two poles are connected by a wire, the stored current is released by the battery’s positive terminal, and, travelling through the circuit, returns to the battery via its negative terminal. The positive ‘gives’ and the negative ‘receives’. At the same time, however, a chemical reaction is activated inside the battery: the zinc casing oxidises, releasing electrons from the zinc’s metallic atoms, which are pushed away from the zinc casing into the electrolytic medium and towards the carbon core. In other words, the negative terminal ‘gives’ (releases), and the positive terminal ‘receives’ (stores). Thus, the negative terminal, while it is receptive in relation to the flow of the circuit, actually produces the electrons inside the battery that are stored in the cathode. The anode both produces and receives the electrons, just as the cathode collects and releases them. What is negative externally is positive internally, and vice versa.


What Schwaller appears to be suggesting here is a deeper dynamic evocative of the Taoist relationship of yin and yang, in which each polarity also contains its opposite principle within itself. Like the phenomenon of the electrical current, human gender is also seen as a product of a much more complex reality, which in many respects is paradoxical to the ‘surface’ perception. Like electricity, it is often over-simplified for utilitarian purposes, while its deeper nature remains misconstrued. For this reason, Schwaller speaks of a ‘paradox of functions’ that form the ‘precise cause of the phenomenon in question’.[39] Whether one is dealing with electricity, chemistry, or biology, Schwaller maintains the existence of a paradoxical cause that both ‘summarises a contradiction’ and ‘creates the aspect of the phenomenon that we perceive with the senses’.[40]

This ‘paradox of functions’ underpinning Schwaller’s esoteric Trinitarian conception, which is notoriously difficult to pin down in a purely cerebral manner, demands a metaphysics of perception directly able to perceive abstract principles. Rather than circumscribe this in a merely conceptual manner, it is necessary to situate it in the context of Schwaller’s operative alchemical work. To understand the dynamics of the causal paradox underpinning dualisitic appearances, we must look more closely at the dynamic by which a principle that ‘gives’ and a principle that ‘receives’ combine to form the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, understood not as some special, isolatable substance, but as the very constitution of the nature of reality.


5. Alchemy



One of Schwaller’s closest alchemical collaborators was an artist and inventor by the name of Jean-Julien Champagne, a figure intimately connected to the name of Fulcanelli. Interestingly, Fulcanelli’s famous text, Le Mystère des cathédrals, appeared the very same year as Adam l’homme rouge was written, and while it is premature to identify the author of the Fulcanelli texts with any single person, there appears to be enough evidence to connect Schwaller, Champagne, and other figures from the Parisian alchemical revival, such as Pierre Dujols and Jules Boucher, to the genesis of this mysterious work.[41]


Schwaller worked with Champagne for almost twenty years, from the early 1910s through to Champagne’s death in 1932. Their exclusive focus during this period was the creation of alchemically stained glass using medieval techniques lost to history, but exalted in the magnificent blues and reds of Chartres Cathedral. Schwaller and Champagne worked on the stained glass œuvre in earnest during the Suhalia period, and when the enterprise at St. Mortiz was brought to a close in 1929, they completed it at the Lubiczs’ villa at Plan-de-Grasse in the South of France. In an emphatic gesture granted shortly before his death, Schwaller revealed to a Belgian-American philosopher by the name of André VandenBroeck that the mystery of the alchemical glass resided in the fact that it was ‘stained in its mass with the volatile spirit of metals’.[42]

As I have shown in detail elsewhere, the nature of the glass work undertaken by Schwaller and Champagne pivoted precisely on the alchemical theory in which the ‘spirit’ and ‘body’ of a metal could be separated, purified, and rejoined in order to create a living metallic entity.[43] However, instead of rejoining the ‘spirit’ of the metal (its Sulphur, or coloured lustre) with a purified metallic body (its Mercury, or metallic substance), the separated metallic spirit was fused with a body of molten glass. The pertinence of this operation to Schwaller’s philosophy lies in the fact that it was based upon the same Hermetic premises as the 1926 work, suggesting that the Adam text had an operative alchemical subtext.

This subtext is confirmed by certain passages in Schwaller’s Adam l’homme rouge that moved Champagne’s amanuensis, Eugène Canseliet, a self-proclaimed disciple of Fulcanelli, to write to Schwaller regarding the latter’s ‘profound knowledge at the juncture of the primitive androgynous state’; Canseliet characterised these concerns as ‘highly philosophical’ and reveals in his letter that they were in fact ‘the same as those that gripped Mr. Champagne upon his return from Plan-de-Grasse and that seemed to overturn his previous notions’.[44] Here we gain an intimation not only of the extent to which Champagne may have been indebted to Schwaller, but also of the particular nature of the work in which they collaborated. Canseliet continues:

In conformity with this new orientation, we both engaged once again in the study of caput mortuum from the first work, which we had always rejected as being useless scoria having no value. No doubt we were wrong about that because numerous philosophers assured us that this material, with its crude aspect and its strong odour, is the flower of all metals, the flos florum, which they regard so highly. They gave it this name because just as the flower prepares the fruit and as the fruit is virtual in the flower, this earth carries within it the invisible embryo of a new mineral essence.[45]

Here the nature of the alchemical operation unfolds according to three principles: seed, earth, and fruit, and in this connection Canseliet draws attention to some lengthy passages from Adam l’homme rouge that bear distinctly upon these very principles:

It is still necessary to add the material representation of the three principles of the trinity, where the father becomes the fundamental stone, the point of departure which in matter is the pivot and therefore the absolute resistance; it is also called fire incarnate and it is represented by sulphur. The son, which has a double nature, thus holding father and earth, is represented by salt, which, by virtue of being salt, is a neutral state containing solidity, the fire incarnate, and the fluid and mobile Holy Spirit which is represented by mercury. Why this body: sulphur, mercury and salt?—Because they are typical of what is possible. Sulphur, product of the fire of the earth; mercury, water of metals, or first terrestrial body; and salt, the stable state, and naturally the most widespread. On the other hand, sulphur coagulates mercury and forms a black and red salt. It must always be remembered that the Rosicrucian philosophers have not taken the words: sulphur, mercury and salt for any other thing but the trinity. But the intellectualised mentality of today’s science can scarcely comprehend this.[46]

This passage penetrates to the heart of Schwaller’s alchemical symbolique. The sulphuric principle is seen to coagulate unformed substance into formed matter by the action of its seminal fire. But more importantly, this Hermetic process explicitly reveals the Trinitarian bedrock that is directly understood as the alchemical Stone, or the divine constitution of reality itself. Continues Schwaller:

There is a principle that acts, a principle that receives, and the two form, by mutual love—(the successive attraction and repulsion of generation)—the perfect salt, which is Three in One, God in the trinity, called in the material work of the philosophers: the philosophical stone. Here the word ‘stone’ signifies symbolically the perfect form, the most enduring, the most ‘formal’; while the qualifier ‘philosophical’ signifies that it is to be understood in the sense of esoteric knowledge. Now, if the philosophical stone in the work of matter is the most perfect form, if it is the most intense fire, linked by the mercurial or feminine principle in a salt—or absolutely neutral body—the most perfect stone is, philosophically, God, who is the totality of his Trinity of all possibilities. This is the mysterium of the Rosicrucians, or esoteric Christians, who concern themselves not with the church but only with the tradition of Gnosis (Connaissance) based on the Gospels or legends of Christic realisation.[47]

Here we see that the juncture of male and female principles is likened directly to the juncture of fire and water to create the alchemical stone, or divinity in its Trinitarian totality. What this suggests is that the primordial androgyne that is the goal of the alchemical marriage is no less than the philosopher’s stone of the human œuvre. Importantly, the feminine principle of Mercury here acts as the link between the ‘most intense fire’ of Sulphur, and the ‘absolutely neutral body’ of Salt. To understand more about the role of this mercurial nature, we must turn to some critical clues from Fulcanelli himself, who, as we have noted, bears certain connections to Schwaller’s covert alchemical work with Julien Champagne.


6. Mercury



In Les Demeures philosophales, Fulcanelli remarks that the Hermetic philosophers ‘hid a secret truth of alchemical nature’ under the biblical tradition of ‘the first man’s Fall’.[48] Fulcanelli, like Schwaller, recognises Adam as ‘the only one among human creatures who was endowed with the two natures of the androgyne’.[49] ‘From the Hermetic standpoint’, he is thus regarded as the ‘basic matter joined to spirit in the very unity of created substance, immortal and everlasting’.[50] Like Schwaller, Fulcanelli also considers the birth of woman from the primordial androgyne as synonymous with a fall into mortality:

According to the Mosaic tradition, as soon as God gave birth to woman by individualising, into two distinct and separate bodies, these natures that had been primitively associated with one single body, the first Adam had to withdraw, specifying himself by losing his original constitution and becoming the second Adam, imperfect and mortal.[51]

Fulcanelli goes on to connect this Adam princeps to the Greek concept of adamos, ‘the hardest steel’, in reference to its ‘indomitable’ (adamastos) or ‘adamantine’ nature. Now, these two Adams—one immortal and one mortal—are further complemented by two Mercuries in the alchemical work. That is to say, just as there are two Adams, so too are there two mothers or matrices in the œuvre. One could be described as the mother of the ‘mortal Adam’, and the other as the mother of the ‘immortal Adam’. The first mother is described by Fulcanelli as the ‘agent of regeneration’ while the second is called the ‘agent of procreation’.[52] What this means is that there is a mercurial principle that revives and revitalises the sulphuric principle, and one that generates or procreates with the revitalised sulphuric principle to form the androgyne. Although both are described as Mercury, once could say that the alchemical Eve—the feminine principle par excellence—has two primary functions: one that acts as a mother by giving life (revivifying, animating), and another that acts as lover or bride by uniting and giving bodily form (spiritual generation, procreation).

This understanding of the two natures or functions of Mercury parallels an important discussion given by Schwaller in a letter from his Luxor period entitled ‘Notes et propos sur l’hermétisme’. Herein he makes a similar distinction between prima materia and materia prima. As in classical alchemical theory, the seed of metals evolves through seven phases: lead to gold. The royal metals—silver and gold—are the teloi, or finalities. In order to grow, however, the seed needs a nourishing matrix: just as plants need earth, metals need a mineral gangue. This is the meaning of the ‘two matters’ required at the beginning of the work—mineral matrix and metallic seed—the origin of the distinction made in some texts between prima materia and materia prima (the mineral gangue being the ‘first matter’ required to develop the first matter proper: the living metallic seed).

To begin the œuvre, therefore, the alchemist must return their metal to its life-giving matrix, the conditions of which must be recreated. The first matter an alchemist seeks, then, is not a metal but the mineral that forms its matrix, its nourishing mother. Because there are two ‘first matters’ in the Work, Schwaller follows his alchemical forebears in distinguishing the maternal, nourishing matrix (the ‘mercury’ or mine that awakens the metal) from the mercury of the metal itself, the metallic substance that contains the slumbering, coagulating seed-fire (the ‘sulphur’). The latter is the active principle that will coagulate the nourishing mercurial substantia and evolve itself thereby through the seven phases of increasing metallic purity, from lead to gold.


7. Excess


There is one final alchemical concept that irrevocably binds Schwaller’s operative alchemical principles to his metaphysics of sex. This is the ‘sense of excess’ (le sense de l’excès), which he compares directly to both catalysis and orgasm. [53] If eroticism is the desire for union—culminating in marriage via the conjunction of opposites to reconstitute the primordial androgyne—then the orgasm is the transfiguring flash of eternity that catalyses this union, raising the conjoined being beyond duality.


Excess is accorded a vital role for it is seen as a phenomenon in the moral domain that corresponds to crucial processes in chemistry and alchemy. ‘Now, that which in morality is called excess corresponds to that which in alchemy is called fermentation, identical to that which in chemistry is called catalysis’:


By this last term [catalysis] we can better comprehend the phenomenon. More and more one has noted in chemistry that this mysterious catalysis plays a preponderant role in reactions. It consists of the inexplicable action of the presence of an apparently strange body upon the milieu or upon the named phenomenon. For my part, I know that this body is never effectively a stranger, but, as occult atomic physics reveals, it intervenes always as the excess of affinity in the composition. Excess intervenes in the material phenomenon exactly as in the moral, or, better said, in consciousness. It is the instant thanks to which the present possibility is surpassed; this is also the moment thanks to which the passage is possible from one state to a superior state. [54]


The transfiguring ability to ‘surpass the present possibility’ is pivotal here, and we can see how this ‘sense of excess’ forms an important precursor to what he would later call ‘qualitative exaltation’, a concept central to his esoteric theory of evolution.[55] In its earlier formulation, however, it is described specifically in relation to the function of the orgasm:

The sexual function, in itself, is not an excess; the orgasm properly speaking is an excess: an excess of erotic tension. This is the most natural excess, imposed by nature. Now, all excess—whatever it may be—leads to this consciousness, even if it comes about that its effect should be death. The effect is secondary. What is essential is what passes into the consciousness of this being who knows that, if it pushes such a thing to [the point of] excess, it can result in death. If his act is the consequence of a logical decision with himself, and is therefore an absolutely conscious act accomplished after mature reflection upon his desire for ecstasy, without anger, without any weakening of his faculties by intoxication or narcotics, then, even if death ensues, the act is not to be morally condemned. In this case, he does not want his death, he wants the supreme exaltation in which he hopes to find the annihilation of his I, his ego, his sensorially fascinated being.

The need for infinity exists in man: but he must learn to make the sense of excess conscious. The sense of excess leads all things from evil to the veritably mystical—that is, to the most complete abnegation, to complete fusion (confondement). If this is difficult or impossible in many cases for some, it is yet possible for him, in things that his nature requires or that an erotic disposition imposes, to find in these things the point of support in order that they may be exalted to the supreme. This is the sense in which eroticism is sublimated to the mystical.

As the Italian esoteric philosopher Julius Evola (1898–1974) recognises, this passage (which he cites in his Metafisica del sesso), pertains to a form of erotic alchemy that is comparable to the secret ritual of the Ordo Templi Orientis (article XIV of De arte magica), which speaks of an initiatic ‘death in orgasm’ called the mors justi. This ‘limit of exhaustion or frenzy and intoxication’, comments Evola, ‘is also indicated as the moment of magical lucidity, of powerful trance in man or woman’.[56]


Evola, whose Metaphysics of Sex is a veritable tour de force of the initiatory role of eros, also points out the pertinence of Schwaller’s ideas to the tantric distinction between different types of desire (Sanskrit kama), which encompasses animal desire, human desire, and superhuman desire. Only the superhuman desire is ‘capable of total and superindividual abandon’, according to Evola, and he concludes his position by citing Schwaller’s distinction between a ‘Greater Desire’ and a ‘Lesser Desire’.[57] ‘In essence’, remarks Evola, ‘animal desire is contrasted with that which might be called [and here he cites Schwaller] “the Greater Desire which unites body with spirit well beyond the union of bodies in the Lesser Desire”’.[58]


For Schwaller, this ‘Great Desire’ is intimately bound to a mysterium whose ‘deep cause’ lies in a ‘desire for infinity’, but which ‘in its expression becomes the sense of excess’.[59] This great desire for infinity can lead either to ‘the most absolute destruction’ or ‘the highest evolution’.[60] All the excesses that human desire evokes—whether for physical eroticism, ecstasy, inebriation, intoxication, works of genius, and even criminal transgression—are so many substitutes for this primordial call to infinity. Now, because the infinity sought through the sense of excess is beyond duality, it is also beyond good and evil, and for this reason the entire spectrum of extreme acts undertaken in the quest for infinity can never actually satisfy this higher need, which nevertheless acts like a magnet for it through the chain of lesser desires. The genuinely anagogic effect of the sense of excess is only attained when the individual absolves themselves completely of duality through divine union in the metaphysical state of androgyny—the alchemical marriage. Indeed, it is precisely the attainment of this‘mystical ideal’ that is the true purpose of marriage, a ‘state wherein sexuality ceases, where the “divided souls” effectively reunite and are no longer engaged in coitus, which is merely a simulacrum of Union’.[61]


The desire for infinity, and the sense of excess, also underpin the evolution of life, which for Schwaller is always determined by the desire for consciousness to achieve its perfect, immortal form: ‘the Universe is nothing but consciousness, and through its appearances presents nothing but an evolution of consciousness, from its origin to its end, the end being a return to its cause’.[62] To the extent that all terrestrial bodies are partial realisations of this primordial or absolute ‘body’, the process of evolution through the kingdoms of nature mirrors the process of the desire for infinity. The bodies generated through the evolution of life are in a sense akin to the substitutes that we use to assuage the desire for infinity—they are vehicles but not destinations; approximate but never ultimate. Moreover, they only genuinely lead us ‘further’ if the confines that define these very states of existence are broken through acts of excess.


Thus, in addition to the general perception that visible evolution is the material expression of the mutation of consciousness, desire is implicated as the specific instrument by which consciousness ‘chooses’ or ‘determines’ the forms that express an entity’s ontological status in the chain of being. Within this framework, the aim of embodied life is to intensify consciousness through excess: to make it more integral and thus liberated from duality, whereupon (as a result) the physical instrument will become more integrally (and less dualistically) constellated. This is the goal toward which all becoming appears to be moving, but which, paradoxically, always existed, ever-presently, as its origin and foundation. It is at once the homogeneous equilibrium of the originary spiritual milieu in which agent and patient are latent, as it is the neutral ground that is produced when agent and patient differentiate, interact and neutralise. This is why Schwaller can speak of an incarnation that is simultaneously a liberation from corporification:


This is the moment in which consciousness is integrally corporified and, paradoxically, in which it becomes independent of the body: the body itself becomes energy, being no longer the support of an energy, no longer the container but wholly the contents’.[63]



8. Isha



In the final analysis, de Lubicz’s alchemical ‘science of life’ is an attempt to articulate the fundamental principles that apply to the entire spectrum of existence, from electricity to eroticism; from stained glass to soteriological metaphysics. Alchemy for Schwaller was distinctly, but not solely, metallurgical, and because the alchemical process was conceived integrally and applied to all phenomena, it is no coincidence that this most intriguing of texts—Adam l’homme rouge—coincided not only with Schwaller’s attempt with Champagne to marry the volatile spirit of metals to a body of molten glass, but also with René Schwaller’s actual marriage to Isha.[64] That this was an alchemically conceived marriage is not only borne out by its coincidence with the published text of Adam l’homme rouge (the de Lubiczs were married at Suhalia in 1927), it was during this general period that Schwaller’s wife appears to have taken the mystical name Isha. From 1927, Jeanne Germain Lamy would subsequently be known as Isha Schwaller de Lubicz. Now the name Isha, with the variant Ishia, is used by Schwaller as a form of the name Eve, thus conforming to the mythological topos of Adam l’homme rouge and its alchemy of mystical eroticism.


It is sufficient to recall the words of Genesis, according to which Adam was made from earth and a soul was breathed into him, while the female (Ishia) was made from Adam’s rib while he was fast sleep. […]  She was given to Adam as his companion, being flesh of his flesh.[65]


Not insignificantly with regard to the concept of excess as liberating death, it appears likely that the culmination of the alchemical marriage of Aor and Isha was the very thing that cast the seed of Suhalia’s demise. Schwaller’s entire project at St. Moritz was funded by his Veilleurs comrade, Louis Allainguillaume, who, in 1922, bought the old vacancies of the Suvretta district that subsequently became Suhalia.[66] Unfortunately, his patronage here only endured for seven years.[67] Had it lasted longer, Schwaller’s Station Scientifique de Suhalia may well have taken on a prominence similar to that of Steiner’s Goetheanum.[68] While the motivations are speculative, the fact remains that after the marriage, and certainly by 1929, many of the old Veilleurs disbanded.[69] When the patronage ended, for whatever reason, the de Lubiczs quit abruptly, abandoning the Alpine heights of Switzerland for the warm plains of the South of France. Isha purchased a two-story villa, which she dubbed ‘Lou Mas de Coucagno’, and it was here that Schwaller completed his work with Champagne.



9. Epilogue


In 1932, Aor, his wife Isha, and their two (step) children, Jean and Lucy, sailed west into the Mediterranean on the hydrodynamic yacht that Schwaller designed. Their destination was the Spanish island of Majorca, where they would remain in solitude until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936). Fated to move on, they entered Egypt, fulfilling the magnetic attraction that this land had long exerted upon them.


In 1936 in the tomb of Ramesses IX, René Schwaller de Lubicz beheld an Osirian mural depicting the figure of Ka-Mut-Tef (‘the bull of his mother’), in which the pharaoh, shown as the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle, was simultaneously seen to embody both the generative and gestative power of the cosmos—the male and female functions of the androgyne. Because this theme lay at the very heart of his alchemical metaphysics, from that moment, Schwaller knew he had found the true symbolique of his magnum opus: Le Temple de l’homme, a work that would gestate over twelve years of on-site measurement, decipherment and study of the temple of Amenemopet at Luxor, Upper Egypt, confirming for Schwaller that the pharaonic lineage was indeed the font of the Hermetic, Pythagorean, and alchemical tradition of which he was already a seasoned and practicing adept. Overall, Schwaller would emphasise how a profound Anthropocosmic philosophy was encoded in every physical aspect of the construction of the Egyptian divine temple, and, more than this, that a profoundly intuitive, arational intelligence, superior to our own divisive rationalism, lay at the heart of Egyptian civilisation.

Aaron Cheak, PhD, is a scholar of comparative religion, philosophy, and esotericism. He is the author and editor of Alchemical Traditions: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde (Numen Books, 2013), and founding director of Rubedo Press. He currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand, where he maintains an active interest in tea, wine, poetry, typography, and alchemy.





[1]  Letter reproduced in Genviève Dubois, Fulcanelli Dévoilé, Paris, Dervy, 1996, pp. 114-19. All translations are my own unless otherwise noted. On Breton and esotericism generally, see Anna Balakian, André Breton: Magus of Surrealism, New York, Oxford University Press, 1971; on Breton and alchemy in particular, see Leon Marvell, ‘Take Two Emerald Tablets in the Morning: Surrealism and the Alchemical Transubstantiation of the World’, in Cheak (ed.), Alchemical Traditions: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde, Melbourne, Numen Books, 2013, pp. 518-535.

[2] While I am aware of the recent edition of Adam l’homme rouge edited and enriched by Emmanuel Dufour-Kowalsky (Slatkine, Genève, 2014), unfortunately I have not had time to integrate its insights into the present study. However, such an edition signals the continued interest and relevance of this text to a critical comprehension of Schwaller’s œuvre, and for this reason I wish to acknowledge it here with the intent of incorporating it into future studies. In addition, and for the same reasons, I must also mention Massimo Marra’s study, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz: La politica, l'esoterismo, l'egittologia, Milan, Mimesis, 2008. 

[3] F. W. Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, Warum ich so gute Bücher schreibe, Also Sprach Zarathustra, §1.

[4] F. Nietzsche to Resa V. Schirnhofer, August 1884.

[5] Isha Schwaller de Lubicz, ‘Aor’ : R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz. Sa vie. Son œuvre, Paris, La Colombe, 1963, pp. 66-7.

[6] R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, La Doctrine : Trois conférences faites a Suhalia noël 1926, édition privée, St. Moritz, Officina Montalia, 1927, p. 135.

[7] Although Schwaller did not indulge in the Parisian alchemists’ penchant for the ‘phonetic kabbalah’, a deep note of resonance would nevertheless have been struck for him between the name Aor (the Hebrew word for ‘light’) and the French word for ‘gold’ (or, from Latin aurum). Indeed, in one text, gold is considered precisely by Schwaller as ‘metallic Light’ (Lumière métallique). See R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, ‘Le Naos dans le jardin’, Notes et propos inédits, 2 vols, Apremont: M.C.O.R/La Table d’Émeraude, 2005-2006, vol. 1, p. 200.

[8] R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, L’Appel du feu, Saint-Moritz: Éditions Montalia, 1926, pp. 48-49.

[9] The author’s postscript situates the completion of the text at ‘Suhalia, 21 août 1926’, while the colophon indicates that it was ‘achevé d’imprimer le seize juillet mil neuf cent vingt-sept à l’Officina Montalia St-Motitz (Grisons) Suisse’.

[10] Schwaller, Adam, pp. 54-55.

[11] Schwaller, Adam, p. 108.

[12] R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, Le Temple de l’homme : Apet du Sud à Louqsor, 3 vols, Paris: Caractère, 1957-1958; The Temple of Man: Apet of the South at Luxor, 2 vols, trans. Robert and Deborah Lawlor, vol. 1, p. 103.

[13] Schwaller, Temple, trans. Lawlor, vol. 1, p. 103.

[14] Schwaller, Temple, trans. Lawlor, vol. 1, p. 103.

[15] Schwaller, Adam, p. 158 (italics per original).

[16] Schwaller, Adam, pp. 197-8.

[17] See Aristophanes’ speech in Plato, Symposium, 189A-193E.

[18] ‘The Gospel According to Philip’, in Bentley Layton, ed., Nag Hammadi Codex II, 2-7: Together with XIII, 2*, Brit. Lib. Or. 4926(1), and P. OXY. 1, 654, 655: With Contributions by Many Scholars, Nag Hammadi Studies, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1989, 68.23-6. Further (70.10-22): ‘If the woman had not separated from the man, she would not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this Christ came to repair the separation which was from the beginning and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation and unite them. But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because she was never united with him in the bridal chamber’.

[19] Schwaller, Adam, p. 82.

[20] Schwaller, Adam, p. 81: ‘It is sufficient to recall the words of Genesis, according to which Adam was made from earth and a soul was breathed into him, while the female (Ishia) was made from Adam’s rib while he was fast sleep. This deep sleep signifies, among other things, the absence of his soul, that is to say, his purely physical state. The female was therefore made from the body of Adam and it was not infused with soul. She was given to Adam as his companion, being flesh of his flesh’.

[21] Schwaller, Adam, p. 89.

[22] Schwaller, Adam, pp. 81, 88.

[23] Schwaller, Adam, p. 88.

[24] Schwaller, Adam, p. 233.

[25] Schwaller, Adam, pp. 81-82.

[26] Schwaller, Adam, pp. 223-24.

[27] Schwaller, Adam, pp. 98-99.

[28] Plato, Timaeus, 50C-51A

[29] On the intellectual history of the tria prima or drei Ersten (Paracelsus) and Schwaller’s conception of Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt, see my forthcoming study, Cheak, ‘The Juncture of Transcendence and Concretion: Symbolique in Rene Schwaller de Lubicz’, accepted for publication in Peter Forshaw, ed., The Visual and the Symbolic in Western Esotericism, Leiden, Brill, 2015.

[30] Schwaller, Adam, p. 51.

[31] Schwaller, Adam, p. 119.

[32] Schwaller, Adam, pp. 119-120.

[33] Schwaller, Temple, trans. Lawlor, vol. 1, p. 61. L’Homme cosmique or Anthropocosmic man is likened to the Sanskrit principle of Puruṣa, he who is ‘not the component part but the final product’, he who is ‘not a part of the Whole but the living expression of this Whole’.

[34] Schwaller, Adam, p. 217.

[35] Schwaller, Adam, p. 217.

[36] Schwaller, Adam, p. 218.

[37] For a very useful survey of electricity as an esoteric metaphor, see Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, ‘The Esoteric Uses of Electricity: Theologies of Electricity from Swabian Pietism to Ariosophy’, Aries 4.1, 2004, pp. 69-90.

[38] Schwaller, Adam, p. 96-96.

[39] Schwaller, Adam, p. 96.

[40] Schwaller, Adam, p. 96.

[41] According to André VandenBroeck, Al-Kemi: Hermetic, Occult, Political, and Private Aspects of R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, Rochester, Vt., Lindisfarne Press, 1987, pp. 78-81, Fulcanelli’s Cathédrales text was allegedly based upon Schwaller’s research, which he gave to Champagne in the early 1910s. Evidence put forth by Dubois suggests that the Fulcanelli texts were also comprised of material by Pierre Dujols and Jean-Julien Champagne. Pierre Dujols directed the rituals of the Ordre du Temple Rénové founded by René Guénon in 1905. Under the pseudonym Magaphon, Dujols was the author of Mutus Liber and Hypotypose.  In 1926, the year of Dujol’s death, Jean-Julien Champagne presented the Cathédrales text to the publisher Jean Schemit. The text was published with illustrations made by Champagne many years earlier. It appears feasible that Schwaller, via the intermediary of Champagne, thus influenced some of the ideas that appeared under the name Fulcanelli. I say ‘influenced’, because stylistically Schwaller and Fulcanelli must be recognised as being worlds apart; therefore, it cannot be suggested that Schwaller directly wrote the material that appeared in Fulcanelli, but merely that he inspired aspects of it. As a point of comparison, it is important to note that Adam l’homme rouge—which was written the very same year that Fulcanelli’s Cathédrales text appeared—provides one of the earliest discussions of alchemy under Schwaller’s own name. See especially Genviève Dubois, Fulcanelli Dévoilé, Paris, Dervy, 1996; Fulcanelli and the Alchemical Revival, translated by Jack Cain, Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, 2006, pp. 31-42, and Emmanuel Dufour-Kowalski, Schwaller de Lubicz : L’œuvre au rouge, Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme, 2006, p. 47.

[42] VandenBroeck, Al-Kemi, p. 190.

[43] Cheak, ‘Agent of All Mutations: Metallurgical, Biological, and Spiritual Evolution in the Alchemy of René Schwaller de Lubicz’, in Cheak, ed., Alchemical Traditions, Melbourne, Numen, 2013, pp. 471 ff.

[44] Letter from Eugene Canseliet to René Schwaller de Lubicz, 4 December 1933, reproduced in Dubois, Fulcanelli Dévoilé, pp. 159 ff; Alchemical Revival, 2006, pp. 102-3, 141-4.

[45] Canseliet to Schwaller de Lubicz, 4 December 1933; Dubois, Alchemical Revival, 142.

[46] Schwaller, Adam, pp. 48-49.

[47] Schwaller, Adam, pp. 49-50.

[48] Fulcanelli, Les Demeures philosophales et le symbolisme hermétique dans ses rapports avec l’art sacré et l’ésotérisme du grand-œuvre, Paris: Jean Schmidt, 1930; The Dwellings of the Philosophers, trans. Donvez and Perrin, Boulder, Colorado: Archive, 1999, pp. 166-71.

[49] Fulcanelli, Dwellings, p. 171.

[50] Fulcanelli, Dwellings, p. 172.

[51] Fulcanelli, Dwellings, p. 172.

[52] Fulcanelli, Dwellings, p. 175.

[53] The concept of excess is described not only in Adam L’homme rouge but also in the exactly contemporary work, La Doctrine (The Doctrine). The published material that was formulated into La Doctrine derives from three conferences held at Suhalia during the Christmas of 1926. The privately published text was intended solely for distribution among Schwaller’s disciples, bearing an inscription requesting that it always be returned to Suhalia. La Doctrine thus provides an important context for the Adam text, and perhaps the most relevant aspect is where Schwaller tabulates the ‘laws of evolution’ in an explicitly alchemical fashion, culminating in the ‘law of excess’ (la loi de l’excès). Schwaller’s ‘laws of evolution’ are: ‘(a) separation; (b) purification; (c) conjunction; (d) assimilation; (e)—excess’. Schwaller, La Doctrine, p. 125.

[54] Schwaller, La Doctrine, p. 126.

[55] In some rare but important passages, Schwaller maintained that to exalt the quality of a phenomenon is to exalt the force which coagulates or concretises its underpinning spirit or energeia into a body; over time, the continued activity of this ‘styptic coagulating force’ acts to refine and define the created body through (trans-) mutations towards more subtle and essential foundations or vehicles for spirit. For discussion and sources, see Cheak, ‘Agent of All Mutations’, pp. 492-509.

[56] Julius Evola, Metafisica del sesso, Roma, Edizioni Mediterranee, 1969; Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex, Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions, 1991, pp. 266, 320-21 n. 145 (translation modified after Inner Traditions edition). I am indebted to Paul Scarpari for drawing my attention to Evola’s use of Schwaller’s work.

[57] Evola, The Metaphysics of Sex, p. 233.

[58] Evola, The Metaphysics of Sex, pp. 233, 314 n. 38, citing Schwaller, Adam, p. 242.

[59] Schwaller, Adam, p. 174.

[60] Schwaller, Adam, p. 174.

[61] R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, ‘Notes et propos sur l’hermétisme’, in Notes et propos inédits, vol. 2, p. 214.

[62]  Schwaller, Temple, vol. 1, p. 61 (trans. modified): ‘It is the purpose of all “initiatic” religions’, continues Schwaller, ‘to teach the way that leads to this ultimate fusion (confondement)’.

[63] Schwaller, Temple, trans. Lawlor, vol. 1, p. 45.

[64] Isha was at the time married to George Lamy, the father of Jean and Lucy Lamy, Isha’s two children. Although married, they appear to have gone their separate ways. After receiving news of George Lamy’s death, Isha would remarry, taking René Schwaller as her husband.

[65] Schwaller, Adam, p. 81, parenthesis ‘(Ishia)’ per original.

[66] Les Veilleurs was a socio-political esoteric group founded by Schwaller in Paris, which was abandoned for the move to St. Moritz. Dufour-Kowalski informs us that it was the Swiss wife of alchemist Henri Coton-Alvert who obtained the necessary authority for the enterprise at Suhalia. See Dufour-Kowalski, L’œuvre au rouge, pp. 69-70.

[67] Dufour-Kowalski, L’œuvre au rouge, p. 69. According to Dufour-Kowalski, the very motivation for the move to the Engadine resided in Allainguillaume’s desire to secure an environment conducive to Isha’s health (Isha had pulmonary problems which would have been relieved by the Alpine atmosphere).

[68] According to a pamphlet contained in the St. Moritz Dokumentationsbibliothek, Suhalia was reopened on 1 December 1935 as an ‘Erholungsstäte für geistige Arbeiter mit angeschlossenen Werkstätten für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe’ (Retreat for spiritual workers with adjoining art studios and craft workshops). To this day the former Station Scientifique de Suhalia still retains a pale hint of the genius that Schwaller brought to this small collection of buildings above St. Moritz, which are presently maintained as a centre for spiritual retreat.

[69] It is nevertheless interesting to note that Louis Allainguillaume and Isha also had two children together, both of whom died in the First World War. If Allainguillaume had harboured his own desires to marry Isha upon the death of George Lamy, her marriage to Aor may well have soured the financier’s goodwill to his former comrade(s).





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______, ‘Agent of All Mutations: Metallurgical, Biological, and Spiritual Evolution in the Alchemy of René Schwaller de Lubicz’, in Aaron Cheak, ed., Alchemical Traditions, pp. 458-517, Melbourne, Numen, 2013.

______, ‘The Juncture of Transcendence and Concretion: Symbolique in René Schwaller de Lubicz’, in Peter Forshaw, ed., The Visual and the Symbolic in Western Esotericism, Leiden, Brill, 2017.

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______, Fulcanelli and the Alchemical Revival, trans. Jack Cain, Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, 2006.

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Evola, Julius, Metafisica del sesso, Roma, Edizioni Mediterranee, 1969.

______, Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex, trans. Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions, 1991.

Fulcanelli, Le Mystère des cathédrales et l’interprétation ésotérique des symbols hermétiques du grand œuvre. Paris, Jean Schmidt, 1926.

______, Les Demeures philosophales et le symbolisme hermétique dans ses rapports avec l’art sacré et l’ésotérisme du grand-œuvre, Paris, Jean Schmidt, 1930.

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