While watching Fantastic Beasts the Crimes of Grindelwald I couldn’t help but ponder what the symbol above Nicolas Flamel’s door (and on the card Dumbledor gives Newt) was all about. Knowing J. K. Rowling it had to have some kind of meaning, otherwise it wouldn’t be there. I thought myself a bit silly, knowing it was only a Google search away. To my surprise it wasn’t that simple. I tried multiple searches with different words and sentences and nothing came up. Since Flamel was an alchymist I assumed it would be something of that sort so I decided to decipher the code and satisfy my burning curiosity, hoping that I wasn’t the only one who had been wondering ever since the movie was released. And hoping that I wasn’t the only one not knowing what the heck it means.
In case you were wondering it is the symbol on the left I’m babbling about. It looks pretty, and to be honest, had it been any other movie franchise I would have thought it was just a pretty something, decor. But J. K. Rowling is too clever and it can’t be a coincidence that this symbol is what she chose. With Flamel being an alchymist I immedately started looking for an overview of the elemental symbols they must have used, a kind of periodic table.
It is common knowledge that alchymists had a thirst for using chemistry to try and make gold, using – you guessed it – the Philosopher’s Stone (latin: lapis philosophorum). I must say that I find it ironic that you need to discover how to make something before you, well, discover how to make something using the other something you just discovered. Confused? Good, that was my intention. The stone was also believed to have the ability to produce the elixir of life. The human lust for immortality shows, in my personal opinion, just how foolish humans can be. Our mortality is the very reason why most people live fiercely, plus, there are other ways of ensuring immortality: offspring, pictures, the written word. Anyway, back to topic.
Once I found the right website the answer was almost too simple to be exciting. The symbol on the left is the closest I could find, and honestly, it is the exact symbol above Flamel’s door. Not only does it almost look like a complete replica – made pretty for the audience, of course – but what it represents also gives, not a clue, but a big loud fat piece of evidence as so why I am absolutely certain that this is the answer I’ve been searcing for: it’s the alchymist symbol for gold! The sign of perfection in every way possible. So there you have it, and on top of that we’ve discovered how incredibly mundane a brilliant man can be. It’s either that or Flamel is a sucker for simplicity. Thinking about it the symbol for gold does kind of look like an arrow pointing at the house shrieking: THERE’S AN ALCHYMIST TO BE FOUND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THESE WALLS! Only other alchymists would know what it means anyway, right? And now, you do too.
Picture credit: The Witcher: Rising Flames Wikia
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7 thoughts on “The mysterious symbol of Nicolas Flamel”
When I watched the movie, I thought that was some kind of pretty magical compass 😅 silly me! Thank you for illuminating me! 🤗 Btw, congratulations on your research job!
That could have been it though. The first time I watched the movie I was like “what is that???” but then no-one ever mentioned the symbol or talked about what it could be. Now I have peace😅
You’re welcome, and thank you so much!
Oh I never realised that this was an actual symbol and not some sort of decoration! I will need to rewatch the film – you’ve given me a good excuse 😉
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Yeah. Gold. The philosophers stone. Its a stone and not a metal, thereby it is not actual literal gold. Symbolically deconstructing the image, it is the eye of the sun. A solar flare. The eye is awake and aware of itself, and directs the transmission of energy towards something outside of itself. Movement, or transference, of energy within to enact change to the forces/forms outside of the self. Transmutation.
You are correct in saying that the Philosopher’s Stone is, well, a stone. It’s sort of spoiled in the name. Nevertheless it was believed to be “a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals such as mercury into gold or silver.” I did not make it up. If you don’t believe me feel free to look through the source material.
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I get it, I was supporting your position but also adding in my own input. That it is not literally metal. But by also saying that this metal is a stone, it subverts the idea that it is something that is a literal chemical transmutation. Gold/silver is precious, so turning something mundane or impure into something valuable and of worth. Changing something into something else, through a scientific (repeatable) process.
I do believe you. I agree with your sentiment. I’m sorry if it came across that I was trying to shut down your thinking here.
I know, but I have to put it into the perspective of the movie and why J. K. Rowling has chosen to use it the way she did. Your input is great as general knowledge though.