By Petrus Talemarianus
“This temple is like Heaven in all its arrangements.”
(Inscription on the temple of Ramses II.)
A bout five or six years ago, a master of the work brought us a manuscript written in Latin, illustrated with singular geometric figures, and accompanied by plans of civil and religious edifices. It came, he told us, from a traditional and pure source. This work appeared to us to present considerable interest. It demonstrated not only that the geometric outlines and numbers derived from the regular partition of the sphere determine universal constructive rules (which our present epoch has entirely forgotten), but also that these rules could also serve for the spiritual perfection of man, his intellectual development, and the realization of his material well-being, all at the same time. We therefore thought it indispensable to publish it.
This is why we present, to those who may still be interested by these questions, the version of this manuscript in French, as close as possible,. We have meticulously respected the terminology and translated all the terms integrally, even though some of them appeared to us to be susceptible to criticism, discussion, or controversy. We believe, in fact, that this “Report by a Master of the Work” cannot be considered a “work of science and erudition” in the narrow sense in which it is understood in our times, but as the expression of an essentially realizing “companion doctrine,” transmitted by an author indifferent to those minutiae, quibbles, and philosophic subtleties that are not effectively constructive.
FROM THE HOLLOW
DWELLINGS FULL OF
OBSCURITY GOD THROUGH TIME DRAWS OUT TRUTH
This doctrine is not new. It presided over the building of the most famous works of the ancients. We have thus thought it useful to illustrate the text of this book with symbolic engravings, reproducing the documents or monuments of times past, of many various lands and epochs. Each of them reveals certain constructive rules of the Master of the Work. They will thus contribute to proving their great antiquity and to demonstrating the universality of their applications, and will clarify a way of thinking whose marked synthetic and technical character can sometimes make its access difficult. We have chosen them from among many others, all just as demonstrative; the attentive reader will find many more of them when he studies the monuments of the epochs illustrated which still arouse admiration in modern times.
Moreover, this iconography has appeared to us to constitute an indispensable complement, and as it were a more material expression of the Author’s geometric designs, which themselves are expressions of the metaphysical principles from which they proceed.
Thus, we have wished to present this “Work” in a way analogous to that of the cathedrals of olden days. There, on the exterior and especially on the porches, the builders assembled a whole symbolic imagery, explicative of the edifice, while leaving the interior of the vessel naked of all ornamentation and rich in its geometric proportions alone, so favorable to meditation and creative of that atmosphere of sacred contemplation which facilitates access to the divine.
We have tried equally hard, logically, to realize the typographic construction of this book according to the proportions and numbers corresponding to the constructive rules that it teaches.
Appearing thus, with its uncommon theories, its strange figures, its recalling of old sciences considered as “ridiculous reveries” by some and “damned sciences” by others, this singular work risks appearing disconcerting or obscure to certain people... “You must open the book,” we remind them with Rabelais, “and painstakingly evaluate that which is inferred. Then you will know that the drug contained therein is of far different value than its container suggested.” We therefore beseech the reader to beware of a hasty or superficial examination and not to make his judgment until after having patiently and attentively studied this remarkable synthesis of the traditional sciences and arts, first in its entirety, then in its details.
For an easier beginning, we recommend first reading (p. xvi) the “Plan of the work” which was attached to the manuscript, then the analytical “Table of contents” that we have prepared, and finally (pp. 325 to 328) the Author’s “Conclusion.” The reader will then have an idea of the totality of the Work; it will guide him usefully throughout the exposition of an idea, which, to be brief, had to be expressed with more concision than the gravity of the subject, its extent, and the richness of its immediate conclusions deserved.
The device surrounding the mark (which is reproduced here) of Conrad Badius, the Genevan bookseller of the 16th century, serves us as a conclusion, because it illustrates perfectly the spirit and the value of this “Report”:
From the hollow dwellings, full of obscurity,
God, through Time, draws out Truth.
It falls to you now, benevolent reader, to make the effort indispensable to the discovery of “this” Truth. It will then become “yours,” because it is a universal Truth.
At the Holy Balsam;
solstitial night of the Feast of Fire
(Nativity of John the Baptist)
24th June, 1944.
the master of the work
“...Antiquam exquirite matrem.”
(Virgil: Aeneid, III, 96.)
 At the bottom of the pages where they are reproduced, we have attempted to draw the reader’s attention to their symbolic content, through short clarifying notes (marked with a small lozenge ♦ or a small square ■). These notes aim neither to be complete nor to exhaust the meaning of the engraving, but only to direct the reader’s mind to the correspondences existing between these illustrations and the Author’s theories. Certain figures have no commentary, not because their symbolism is too obvious or too well known to the adept, but because their explanation would lead to overly lengthy developments.
It is thus, using only this initial example, that the construction, dimensions, and ornamentation of the architectural porch of the title page contain, in the numbers and reciprocal ratios of the stones on the pediment, the entablature, the columns, and the 3 steps, an ensemble of numeric ratios which the informed reader will take pleasure in discovering; the number, for example, given by the stones of the 3 steps of the base, here replacing the 3 magical enclosures, are those of the architect’s just square: 3, 4, 5; the entablature symbolizes the constructive word ABRACADABRA; the stones of the columns, with or without the base, show the fundamental opposition of 18 and 15 which is that of the senary and quinary, etc...
 Obviously we do not count the narrow mediating belt formed by the ornamental line of the capitals, because it disappears in the ensemble of the geometric lines of the nave; nor the keystones of the vault. We call it a mediating belt, believing that whenever there is ornamentation there is mediation, because all ornaments (sculpture, painting, inscriptions) must be considered as magical in their essence, and because magic belongs to the intermediary World. The keystone of the ornate vault, point of departure of the broken arch, indicates a mediation between the Non-manifested and the totality of Manifestation; the capital may be considered as mediator between the curvilinear form of the ogive arch (representing universal Manifestation) and the straight form of the pillar (representing individual Manifestation).
 Just as, in Plato’s description, the temple of Poseidon is the center of the royal city of Atlantis, the “mediating diagram” of the Master of the Work (fig. 27) appears incontestably as the symbolic “omphalos” of this “Report,” and its proportions are those of the plan of the Atlantean sanctuary. If one reduces this temple to a width of 1 millimeter, the diameter of the royal City becomes equal to 10 English inches (the English inch, the only inch of which we speak, equals 0.0254 m.), which is precisely the length given by the Author to his mediating diagram, whose length is equal to 20 inches. (We recall that the King’s chamber in the Great Pyramid is 10 royal Egyptian cubits wide by 20 cubits long, and that the “flying book” in the vision of Zechariah [Zec. V, 2] is also 10 by 20 cubits.) This is the dimension of the mediating diagram, intended to be printed on a full page, which has led us to choose in-folio super royal paper as a format. The height of a leaf being 22 inches (0.559 m.), and its width 15 (0.381 m.), this format is directly linked to the Egyptian approximation of the number π, i.e. to 22 : 7 (= 22 : 22 – 15), as well as to important Kabalistic numbers.
The dimension of the characters chosen for printing is equally symbolic: those of the text are 24-point, those of the notes 18; this opposition, in the ratio of 4 to 3, represents the inferior generation which corresponds to the Worlds of individual Manifestation.
The typographical “justification” (length of lines) is 10 inches (0.254 m.); the typographical “height of the page” is 16 inches (0.406 m.); the dimension of the printed text are therefore, according to the Author’s terminology, those of a golden rectangle, while the mediating diagram is a silver rectangle. The oppositions of 3 and 2, and those of 11 and 8, to which the Master of the Work draws ceaseless attention, are reproduced between the width of a leaf and that of the justification on the one hand, and between the height of a leaf and the typographical “height of the page” on the other hand.
The blanks of the margins (exterior and interior) make 5 inches in total, while the blanks at the head and foot of the page together make 6 inches. Their union and their crucial opposition therefore again represents the union and opposition of the quinary and senary which one encounters in all the constructions of universal character; they are found in the frames of the mediating diagram.
even wished to represent these
so fertile mutations 5 ↔ 6
Just as the voyage of Pantagruel in search of the Holy Bottle is marked by 35 or 36 stages (see p. 269), the Author’s text is divided into 35 or 36 chapters, depending on whether one counts the conclusion, in the form of a flask or hermetic Vessel as a distinct chapter.
Moreover, the “Report” comprises 50 geometric figures and 22 plates. In the footnotes there are 7 small figures, of geometric character, not titled. The documentary illustration which we have added consists of 108 engravings and 7 geometrical designs, titled, placed so as to conform to the symbolism of the mediating diagram which has guided the construction of the book.
The footnotes are the Author’s, except where indicated to the contrary. Some, attached to the manuscript on separate leaves and without indication of placement, have been added in 12 “Appendices” to the end of the work.
Only 252 (= 36 × 7) (= 108 × 7 : 3) copies of the book have been printed, which required 63 (= 108 × 7 : 12) reams of paper.
All these numbers, their groupings, their oppositions (5 ↔ 6, 7 ↔ 12, 35 ↔ 36, 22 ↔ 50, 80 ↔ 81, 108 ↔ 7) have a symbolic value and present a traditional character; they are found in the laws of the regular partition of the sphere, whose value emerges clearly from the Author’s theories.
The indication of the place and date which precedes the signature of the Editor realizes, by its form and colors, a complementary opposition with the philosopher’s bottle on page 320, which confirms the mystical conclusion of the Master of the Work; this cup (or Grail) contains, moreover, a symbolic chronogram which yields important Taoist, Pythagorean, and Kabalistic numbers. Cinnabar (salt of sulfur and mercury) is part of the composition of the red ink used. The white of the paper, the black and red of the inks, are the colors of the philosopher’s Stone, which also indicates that this book is really, in all its degrees, the “Book of the Great Transmutation.”