Many years back I took a trip on a ferry to France. It was there I met a woman. While deep in conversation I happened to mention Dr John Dee, Queen Elizabeth 1st astologer & magus. “How odd!” she said. “My son Nicolas is studying him at this very moment. He would love to meet you.” We did indeed meet, it turned out he went to school with friends of mine in Edinburgh. He gave me a book during our meet and said you must read it called ‘The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail. I had the book for six months, but never read a line and returned it to him. A week later I was in an Oxford bookshop with a friend and she said “is this book any good to you?” “What is it?” “The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail” “Blimey!” I said. A week later in a charity shop I came across the self same book and this time bought it. When I got home I skirted through the pages and came to page 155. It told the story of Jean Baptiste Pitois. How odd was that I thought when I discovered Pitois was the same name of my then french partner. Weeks later I was off to France again this time to seek to discover more about Pitois himself. I was given a business card by my partner’s brother it read: The Athanor 22 Rue Marchande. A rare book shop in the centre of Le Mans. I visited there and bought a few books and asked the owner if he had ever heard of Pitois. His answer was a flat no. A week later I returned to the shop and this time took with me the Holy Blood & Holy Grail Book purchased from the charity shop in England. I read him the section which contained Pitois from page 155. It was when I read him that Jean Baptiste Pitois alias Paul Christian wrote the book ‘Histoire de La magie’ that the owner stopped in his tracks, went to the back of his shop, and came back shortly thereafter with in his possession, amazingly, the original book of Pitois aka Christian from 1870. He opened it up, and showed me a picture within the book of an alchemist. He then pointed to the wall, where that very print hung in a frame, and had been there for the last two years. The odds of this are billions to one. He gave me a bag, which also had that print of the alchemist on it. Now I too have that in a frame on the wall. At one point I was a rare book dealer and have had three original copies of Histoire de la magie. Even had one of Paul Christian’s son called ‘La Reine Zinzarah.
Most recently a film called The Da Vinci Code based on or around the book with Tom Hanks came to prominance.
Picture inside the bookshop with the very man I met who owns l’athanor (which actually means the alchemist’s furnace) 22 Rue Marchande. Pictures at top 1870 book of Paul Christian, the alchemist print contained within the book and the print on the bag framed now on my wall.