Inv. SPA/5s-50975

Talisman acquired by the Museum in 1990 following a trip to Reims, and specifically involving the Curator. Restored by Benoît Drager. Considered to be the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse of Saint John.
The Rule of Moves must be followed when interrogating a talisman.*


Magic square talisman (measuring approx. 50 cm on each side) showing one magic square in the centre (5x5), surrounded by three other magic squares (3x3). The box was topped by a fake green gemstone indicating its magic content. A pack of Tarot de Marseille cards (ca. 1930), yantras, medieval church attendance tokens (méreaux) and various alchemical items can be used to interrogate the talisman. The talisman, which has been restored and reactivated by the Surnateum personnel, will only respond to questions asked in the presence of the Curator.

Preliminary note

On the south door of the cathedral in Reims, the ornamental gable depicts the Final Judgement as described in the Book of the Apocalypse. In the archway one can see Saint John writing his text accompanied by angels and demons. Further along in the recess, the Lamb opens t he Book of the Seven Seals.

Confidential report

The Curator seemed worried. He had not been the same since returning from Reims. I knew that he had contacted certain members of the Cénacle Troglodyte about an unseemly reading of Saint John's Book of the Apocalypse. Exploring the friezes of the cathedral had not reassured him, for some of the angels and demons depicted seemed strangely familiar.

"Do you believe in prophecies?," he asked me in a peremptory tone.

The question took me by surprise.

"To be completely honest, I never really paid any attention to them."

"I'm not talking about the Centuries of Nostradamus, but Biblical prophecies. And you should pay attention to them. The Bible contains no fewer than 16 books of prophecies, and while all of the prophecies in the Old Testament have come to pass, those contained in the New Testament are in progress."
"During a dream, the prophet has a divine vision announcing one or more future events. He expresses this in a holy theatrical work, for example when Aaron threw his walking stick at the feet of Pharaoh. The stick transformed into a snake. Pharaoh's magicians did the same, but Aaron's snake devoured the others, symbolising the victory of the Jews over the Egyptians."
"Even if what Aaron did was a conjuring trick - and that was known by Pharaoh's magicians at that - it was still a genuine act of magic."

- "Is that the talisman that you brought back from Reims?" I asked. "You seem preoccupied! Did the members of the Cénacle worry you?"
- "No, it's not them. We've always been on friendly terms. It was something else… "

He removed a Bible (the French Osty version) from a drawer.

- "Let me give you an example taken from the Apocalypse of Saint John."
"And the third angel sounded the trumpet and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as if it were a lamp; and it fell upon the third part of the rivers and upon the fountains of waters. And the  name of the star is called WORMWOOD, and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter."
"Do you know what the Ukrainian word for 'wormwood' is? Chernobyl."

"The Roman Catholic Church is troubled by another New Testament prophecy: the prophecy of the three denials of Peter.
"Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times, Christ said."
"For Christ was indeed denied three times."

The first time by choosing Peter's Church, proposed by Paul (Saul), an adventurer in the service of the Romans (thus betraying the true Church of Jerusalem), against the Church of Christ and his brother Jacob. The Church of the Essenians of Qumran, which was destroyed sometime around 64 AD, after Jacob had been stoned to death - shortly before the destruction of Masada. The choice of a political Church over an esoteric Church."
"The second denial was by recognising in 313 AD that the messiah was Emperor Constantine, a political manoeuvre and an act of betrayal that would lead to the Council of Nicaea in 325 establishing the foundation for the Roman Church."

"The third denial was by annihilating the Order of the Temple on 13 October 1307, and by executing its last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay in 1314, a man whom some believed to be the second messiah."
"With this prophecy of the three denials having come to pass, Saint John's prophecy of the Apocalypse could begin."

"Yes, but what does that have to do with us?"

The Curator took me to the Department of Prophecies and Apocalypses, where he opened a box resting on the table, removed a few strange objects and unrolled a curious talisman representing the seal of Salomon, a six-pointed star also known as the Shield of David (and more commonly known as the Star of David).

As in ancient Coptic talisman traditions, several magic squares were designed on it.

"To substantiate the story I'm about to tell you, let me make three assertions. First of all, the events, dates, places and people in the story are all historical. You can look it all up.

I will then use the Bible (the French version translated by Osty) because it contains the prophecy of Saint John as written on the island of Patmos at the end of the first century AD. The Bible is the perfect tool for the form of divination known as bibliomancy, the art of reading oracles and predictions in books.

Lastly, I will use these extremely rare magical objects to confirm what I say, because the art of the prophet is a magical art par excellence."


"This apocalyptic talisman is derived from the talismans used in Coptic magic, and is certainly one of the most powerful oracular objects of our time. The magic squares inscribed upon it are veritable microcosms making it possible to interrogate the universe. Our trip to Reims with publisher Eric Poindron allowed us to find this document; and are highly talented Benoît restored it perfectly.
The stones are Yantras from India; they will be used as pieces in a game that will take us across time and space.

Quoits and alchemist's bottles are used as game pieces on minor squares.
Just remember this: if a piece of information is to be considered a sign, and not a coincidence, it must happen three times in a row. Lastly, an original edition of the Tarot de Marseille will confirm the omen."
The pack of tarot cards consists of two series of cards called arcana: 56 minor arcana and 22 major arcana. There is a curious correlation between the tarot and the Order of the Temple, in that the latter had 22 initiated grandmasters.

The Tarot de Marseille was designed in 1748. This specific edition, the first printed in colour, dates from 1930. You will note that the figures are clearly mediaeval in appearance. The arcana can be combined in billions of different ways, recounting a nearly infinite number of stories. After all, what is the tarot if not a book of images whose unbound pages make possible an infinite number of different readings.

The game was about to begin.

He began by moving the oracular pieces with great skill across the parchment, asking simple questions, a question to test the power of the oracle's answer. In response to such questions as the date of the Great Plague of London, or the name of the hidden tarot card that I was going to take, the talisman replied with great precision. It was incredible! The objects were in perfect harmony with each other. I did notice, however, that the number 666 cropped up regularly.

My tarot card was the Sun, for which the magic square yielded 666.

"And I saw another angel come down from heaven, swathed in a cloud and a rainbow over his head; and his face was like the sun... and he held in his hands an open book".
Would that be this Bible?" the Curator asked.

He then picked up the Yantras and placed them on the central seal at random.

The total was 1318.

"That number looks more like a chapter from the Apocalypse: Chapter 13, verse 18:
"Here is wisdom! Let him that hath understanding count the number of the Beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number his six hundred three score and six."
He moved the stones again, with an increasingly worried air.

The answer was 1307.
"Again!" he cried.
On Friday, 13 October 1307, the Order of the Temple was destroyed. Before I tell you this story, place your Sun card into the tarot pack that we have just mixed up. We will cut it at this location, and from there the next 22 cards will tell us the story."

The Story of the Temple
"The Order of the Temple was created in 1118 in Jerusalem by Hugues de Payns and eight other knights, who occupied the area which back in ancient times marked the site of the foundation of the Temple of Salomon. The Order was supported by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, an erudite Cistercian monk, and served as the armed wing of an even more secret Order sometimes called the Order of Ormus.
This Order, which still held the keys to an esoteric form of Christianity, is said to still exist today under the name of the Priory of Zion - but this cannot be confirmed. Instead, it looks like a faction from this group formed the very mysterious Cénacle Troglodyte. I will say no more on this subject as I wish to keep the promise I made to the Grand Colporteur.
The official reason this Order was created was to protect Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. However, nine knights do not form a major armed force, and no other members joined until 1128, when it was granted the Rule of the Order."

"One of the secret reasons why the group was created was to resume contact with the Gnostic sects of Islam (the Ismaelians, the Assassins of Ibn Al Sabbah, the old man of the mountain) with a view to bringing the keys of esotericism back to Christianity, which was by then merely an empty shell. The Temple is linked to the Virgin Mary and to Saint John the Evangelist. This Church was often in conflict with the Church of Peter, or rather of Saint Paul.
The Order also brought back various sacred relics. Despite the fact that they never found the Holy Grail, they did bring back Christ's crown of thorns, the index finger of John the Baptist and a Holy Shroud. The Shroud of Turin was bequeathed sometime around 1348 by the De Charney family, one of whose ancestors was burned at the stake along with Jacques de Molay.

During the Order's 200 years of existence, an abundance of stories about the Holy Grail flourished, drawn in part from the texts of Avicenne and Sohrawardi, and combined with Celtic myths.
Apparently there was a rift between the Temple and Ormus sometime around 1188, at least according to a text which mentions the cutting of the Elm of Gisors. The following year, the Temple lost Jerusalem.

But the part that interests us begins with the disappearance of the Order in 1307, on Friday 13 October - which led to the superstition about Friday the 13th!

The tarot cards start to talk.

For several years, Philip IV of France (also known as 'Philip the Fair' or 'Philippe le Bel' in French)  and his valets Nogaret and Marigny had coveted the treasure of the Temple, as well as its most representative symbol: the Tower of the Temple in Paris. But the Order was enormously strong and had an equally disquieting knowledge of the occult. Assisted by Pope Clement V, who had risen to the papacy following the murder of the two previous popes, they commissioned one of the greatest magicians of that time to oppose this magical power.
Arnaud de Villeneuve (1245-1310) - also known as Arnaldus de Villanova - was one of the greatest alchemists of the Middle Ages. A doctor and philosopher, he services were retained by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Popes Boniface VIII, Benedict XI and Clement V, and Philip the Fair. He also wrote a book of prophecies in which he announces that the Apocalypse will begin at the start of the 14th century. And in a strange act of heresy he claimed that he was Christ returning to earth.

It is well-known that in the Apocalypse of Saint John, it is the Sacrificial Lamb - Christ - which returns to open the Seven Seals of Revelation. A heresy of this kind would have been grounds for his immediate execution if he had not been protected by powerful masters. Or just maybe...

To neutralise the powers of the Temple, he had no other choice but to open the first four seals of the Apocalypse, release Beast 666 and the Four Horsemen. The Order was unable to resist this kind of power and devastation and was annihilated in a single day without offering any resistance whatsoever. It was officially dissolved after a brief trial in which they were accused of worshipping a demon called Baphomet.

In 1314, Jacques de Molay was burned at the stake along with his close friends. Before perishing he howled a curse in which he condemned the king and all his valets to join him within a year. They all died during that period: Philip the Fair, Clement V, Nogaret and Marigny. Arnaud de Villeneuve had already died shortly before De Molay.


(The Tower) The Temple, whose most important symbol was its tower, was annihilated (Justice) during an unfair trial in which they were accused of worshiping the Devil (The Devil). Provoked by (The Emperor) Philip the Fair, (The Hierophant) Pope Clement V, (Page of Pentacles) Marigny, and Nogaret (Page of Swords), with a view to seizing (The Wheel of Fortune) the treasure held by the Knights Templar. To do this, they commissioned a a magician (The Magician), Arnaud de Villeneuve, who invoked the Beast of the Apocalypse (6 of Cups, 6 of Pentacles, 6 of Swords) and the Four Horsemen (Knights of Swords, Cups, Pentacles and Wands).

When he was taken to the stake, Jacques de Molay (Death) screamed a curse that condemned the king (King of Pentacles) and all of his valets (Page of Wands) to death. They all died within a year.
Unfortunately, the Apocalypse was under way (Judgement), the last judgement was approaching at speed, and (The Star) when the stars disappear from the sky you will know that the end of the world is nigh (The World)."

And the Four Horsemen thus released could no longer be chained back up. The first, Death, symbolises the rift between man and god, the damnation of man, the greatest representation of which was the Inquisition. The second, War, brought the beginning of the Hundred Years' War, which introduced the use of firearms. The third, Pestilence, ravaged Europe in 1348, annihilating one third of the continent's population. The fourth, Famine, destroyed the crops by bringing down a plague of locusts. And so another third of the population died."

While the 13th century was a time of light in the Middle Ages, the 14th century saw the darkest of shadows looming.


"Historically, what I have just told you is easy to check.
Magically, as happened earlier with the number 666, three coincidences must take place. This is called a 'conjunction'.

The first one came with the Pentacle of Solomon: the year 1307. For the second one, we will use bibliomancy. If we open this copy of the Osty Bible to page 1307, we find Proverbs 11:3-4:

"The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
Riches profit not in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivereth from death."

He consulted the first 22 tarot cards: the prophecy matched!

"You may be wondering why I've told you all of this?"

In mentioning the names of martyrs via this seal, the Pentacle of Solomon, the fifth of the seven seals of the Apocalypse has just opened. But only the slaughtered lamb - Christ - can do that, and I am not so crazy that I think I am Christ.
However, I would like to point out three curious coincidences to you.
The first one is that my first name is Christian. The second is that my middle name is Jean, the French version of 'John', author of the Apocalypse. But the most eerie coincidence of all is the third one: If you open this Osty Bible to page 1957, the year I was born, we find another apocalyptic text, the text of Hosea, which reads:
"Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel in the day of battle" (Hosea 10:14).

You see 'Shalman' is remarkably similar phonetically to my last name, Chelman (as pronounced in French). This is even more remarkable when you realise that in written Hebrew there are no vowels, so there is no difference at all between 'Shalman' and 'Chelman' (remember: in French, the 'ch' sounds the same as 'sh' in English)."

When we left the Surnateum that evening, I glanced up at the sky. Not a star was to be seen  - as if the sixth seal at been opened.
And at that very moment a quiet feeling of anguish washed over me.

*Rule of Moves: a method for interrogating talismans and pantacles. The rule imposes a harmonic order on the displacement of pieces used to consult a talisman. Once the talisman has been correctly interrogated, one can begin interpreting the answers. Every talisman has its own rule.