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.
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.
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."
- "Is that the talisman that you brought back from Reims?" I asked.
"You seem preoccupied! Did the members of the Cénacle worry you?"
He removed a Bible (the French Osty version) from a drawer.
"Let me give you an example taken from the Apocalypse
of Saint John."
"The Roman Catholic Church is troubled by another New Testament
prophecy: the prophecy of the three denials of Peter.
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
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).
"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.
Quoits and alchemist's bottles are used as game pieces on minor
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".
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:
The answer was 1307.
The Story of the Temple
"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.
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.
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.
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.
While the 13th century was a time of light in the Middle Ages, the
14th century saw the darkest of shadows looming.
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.
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.
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