R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961)
Nature had shown me a great mountain, crowned with a peak of immaculate whiteness, but she was unable to teach me the way leading to it.
--René Schwaller de Lubicz, Nature Word
Schwaller de Lubicz ca. 1960
On 30 December1887, René Adolphe Schwaller was born in the town of Asnières near Paris; however, he spent his boyhood and adolescence in the city of Strasbourg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, then a part of the German Empire. Schwaller died in Plan-de-Grasse, France in 1961. His father and mother were Joseph Schwaller and Marie nee Bernard. Joseph Schwaller was born in the German speaking part of Switzerland and studied pharmacy in Germany. Joseph spoke both German and French and worked as a pharmacist in Strasbourg; he provided his son, René, with technical training in chemistry. René grew up in a multi-national environment. Alsace-Lorraine was to oscillate between French and German rule on three occasions during Schwaller's lifetime. This Franco-Germanic blend lends an unusual characteristic to his work. The writer, Christopher Bamford, suggested that Schwaller thought in German, but wrote in French. At the age of 20, in 1907, Schwaller left his Alsatian homeland and settled in Paris, where he obtained work as a chemist.
1910 Schwaller became a pupil of the painter Matisse and met Martha (last name
unknown), who managed the painter's workshop. They married and had a son named
Guy. After a few years René and Martha were divorced,
but the date is unknown.
René Schwaller was admitted to the French Section of the Theosophical Society.
While a member, from 1917 through May 1919, he wrote a total of sixteen articles
for the Theosophical journal Le Theosophe.
soon resigned from that organization, in the latter part of 1919.
Sometime in the early 1920s, Schwaller met Jeanne (nee Germain) Lamy, widow of a
wealthy coal merchant and shipping magnate, Georges Lamy.
Jeanne were married in 1927; by this time they were both known to their friends
and associates by their occult names: AOR and Isha, respectively
Soon an inner circle of all-male members of the "Watchers" was formed; it was called "the Brotherhood of Elijah" consisting of 12 members: René Schwaller, Oscar Milosz, Henry Cotton-Alvart, Elmiro Celli, Gaston Revel, Carlos Larronde, René Bruyea, Luis de la Rocha, Louis Alainguillaume, Le Carpentier, Georges Lamy and Louis Alain-Guillaume.
These Brothers of Elijah were in some way associated with Julien Champagne, but he was not thought to have been an actual member. Champagne worked for Bernard de Lesseps, son of the great Ferdinand de Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal. In 1915, Champagne acquired an enthusiastic disciple, the young Eugene Canseliet (1899-1982). At that time, most Parisian occultists frequented a bookshop called the Librairie du merveilleux located at 35 rue de Rennes in Paris. In that bookstore, the occultists could hold fruitful discussions with the bookseller, the noted scholar and alchemist Pierre Dujols de Valois (1862-1926) Dujois was a particularly close friend of Julien Champagne. Henry Cotton-Alvart held the highest admiration for Dujols; he considered Dujols to be a master of alchemy but his opinion of Champagne was no where near as high.
René Schwaller had previously studied the French Gothic cathedrals, especially Notre Dame de Paris, in terms of alchemical symbolism. He had prepared a draft manuscript which he had entrusted to Champagne in order to obtain his opinion as to whether the work could and/or should be published. After an extended period of time, Champagne finally returned the manuscript to Schwaller and expressed the opinion that the analysis was well done but that it gave away too many alchemical secrets that should be kept away from the eyes of those who had not been properly initiated. Champagne recommended that the manuscript not be published. Schwaller concurred and ceased all attempts to publish the work. Unfortunately, in 1926, much of Schwaller's manuscript appeared in the book by Fulcanelli entitled Le Mystère des Cathedrales!
Schwaller de Lubicz is known to English readers primarily for his work in uncovering the spiritual and cosmological insights of ancient Egypt. From 1938-1952, he and his family resided in Luxor, Egypt conducting research concerning many of the great monuments and temples, particularly the Temple of Luxor. In books like Esotericism and Symbol, The Temple in Man, Symbol and the Symbolic, The Egyptian Miracle, and the monumental The Temple of Man, Schwaller de Lubicz argued that Egyptian civilization is much older than orthodox Egyptologists suggest. He also argued that the core of ancient Egyptian culture provided a fundamental insight into "the laws of creation."
Nothing in Egypt is accidental or purely ornamental - every element from the type of building material used, the size of the blocks, the dimensions of the walls, number symbolism, the placement of hieroglyphs and symbols, the orientation of the site - all were consciously chosen to have a predetermined effect. Even apparently mundane scenes of daily life can have profound symbolic importance. For example, scenes of the Pharaoh single-handedly overcoming an enemy army are not merely vainglorious boasting; they represent the forces of light overcoming those of darkness - the same battle that each evolving human being must fight every day.
In The Temple of Man, Schwaller demonstrates how the Egyptians were aware of, and consciously used, advanced mathematical concepts normally attributed to the Greeks. One of these was the Golden Section, a mathematical function which occurs throughout nature, for example in the ratios of a spiral galaxy or the orbits of the planets. When used in architecture, it allows the building to become an embodiment of these same universal principles, which were later used in Greek temples and Gothic cathedrals, and which account for some of their power. These elements work synergistically together to express the particular nature of the cosmic principles built into the temple.
Schwaller de Lubicz's Egyptian studies were only a part of his overall work as a 20th Century alchemist and philosopher. One book by Schwaller de Lubicz, Symbol and the Symbolic (Du symbole et de la symbolique), expresses much of the philosophy of Time elaborated by the Zen masters. To read Lubicz is to understand how an Adept alchemist thinks, how the Elixir affects or clears his perception of reality. Lubicz only understood Egyptian esotericism after completing his alchemical studies. He makes clear that comprehension of ancient Egyptian thought will only be feasible if we change our Western mental paradigm.