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Author: Golden Owl Hunter

The spiral with four centres

The 500 enigma introduces the concept of a ‘Spiral with four centres.’ It is described this way:

At Carignan take the orthogonal. 
To find the Spiral with four centres, 
560,606 measures, it is far.

This suggests we take a right angle from a line plotted to Carignan, then measure 185km or 18.5cm on the Michelin map and either find or draw a spiral.

This spiral is described very precisely as ‘four centred’ and many owl hunters suggest this may mean drawing a spiral that’s an involute of a square. I had a go and it is actually quite easy to draw a spiral with four arcs using a bow compass or even a taut piece of string.

WikiChouette makes the point that any four sided polygon, not necessarily a square, can be used to create a spiral with four compass arcs – technically four circle centres. Unfortunately the directions in the 500 clue do not provide clear guidance on any starting point square or polygon.

 

In mathematics, a spiral is a curve which emanates from a point, moving farther away as it revolves around the point. There are several variations of a mathematical spiral, and there is no clear information on which version to use or what size to draw this spiral.

Some versions of spirals include an Archimedean spiral.

Fermat’s spiral.

A Fibonacci Spiral (the golden spiral)

A logarithmic spiral

The spiral of Theodorus

and more!

It is worth bearing in mind that Max must have intended any geometric spiral to be drawn using a bow compass which limits the size of this feature on the map.  There are two appearances of bow compasses in the clue images, one in the 500 which adds weight to the idea that we use a compass here, and there is a picture of a compass in a North symbol in the 420 clue. It’s not clear how this fits with the clue about Golfe Juan, Apollo and his arrow. Does it suggest we draw another spiral?

Some people do not believe this is a mathematical spiral at all and instead think the spiral is some feature or place that must be found on the map. Of course spirals can be found in many places, from curving paths like the famous one in Dabo, spiral staircases, architectural features, and in nature, like the spiral shell in the 560 clue image.

While spirals are everywhere it’s harder to make a case for a spiral with four centres. This mysterious spiral remains one of the biggest sticking points of the hunt.

More information:

Mathematical spirals described at Wikipedia.

The Archmidean spiral at MathCurve.

 

 

The 11 clues on one page

B 

Gives the clue order using the colour wavelength number titles for each of the clues.

HE IS NO MORE BLIND THAN ONE WHO DOES NOT WANT TO SEE

1 = 530

3 = 470

5 = 600

7 = 420

9 = 650

 

 

 

 

530

Gives seven letters that spell out the name of the city Bourges.

OPENING

My first, first half of the half of the first age,
Precedes my Second and Third, seeking their way.
My Fourth is inspired, my Fifth is in rage,
But, without protest, follows my Fourth and the roman alpha.
My Sixth is hidden at the limits of ETERNITY.
My Seventh, standing, spits his venom.
To find my all, just to be wise,
Because the Truth, in truth, will not be a Devin’s affair.

 

 

 

 

780

Gives the game measure, most likely 33cm, but much of this clue is mysterious.

FIRST STEP…

Where you want,
By the nag and the coachman.
But where you must,
By the compass and the foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

470

THIS IS THE RIGHT PATH ONLY IF THE ARROW IS AIMED AT THE HEART

Gives letters that spell out the name of a town, ‘A_Ronceveaux.’

My first by gaiety multiplies.
My Second offers you space,
My Third from the air, and my Fourth from the water.
When he’s lying down, my Fifth hums.
My sixth is worth a hundred, and my seventh is only a knot.
My eighth has the taste of the laurel,
while my ninth, by surprise, is dragging.
My tenth is still naked when he has an affair.
My eleventh, finally, is the unknown.

Find my All, and through the Opening you will see the light.

 

580

Gives 10 towns in alphabetical order, the final key is A=0 B=1 etc., which is used as a key to solve the next clue.  So it means Bourges will be worth 1, Cherbourg worth 2, Dieppe worth 3, Epernay worth 4, Forbach worth 5, Gerardmer worth 6, Héricourt worth 7, Issoire worth 8, Jarnac worth 9, Angers worth 0.

THE GOOD WAY, IT IS THE WAY OF THE OPPOSITE WAY, AND VICE VERSA

19.9.13.12.15.19.18.21.15.9.19 will be worth 1
12.15.19.18.21.15.9.19.18.9.13.8.15.4 will be worth 2
9.13.16.16.9.13.9.5.18 will be worth 3
25.1.12.14.18.9.13.16.9.13 will be worth 4
8.15.4.1.12.9.19.18.15.1.6 will be worth 5
18.9.13.13.5.18.18.1.12.18.9.13.12.15.19 will be worth 6
20.18.21.15.15.4.9.18.9.13.8 will be worth 7
9.13.18.9.15.19.19.9 will be worth 8
15.4.1.12.14.18.1.12.10 will be worth 9
19.18.9.13.12.15.19.14.1.12 will be worth 0

 

 

600

The key of the last clue is used to produce an unsolved clue phrase, ‘The key is on the black perched ship.’

WHEN AL-MAR ALLIES WITH PRENESTE’S FIBULA, THE DARKNESS SHINES

BDI, J. DF, F. CFD. BJ. HJ. EA, B. BC. E. DC, B.
CDI, B. BAB, H. BE.
CD. FB. BCG, J. BIG D. BE. BG. BJD, B. DB. BGH C.
BC. E.

 

 

 

 

 

 

500

Gives the town of Carignan, where we must take a right angle to find a four-centred Spiral at 185km.

UT QUEANT LAXIS

A 2424-42-424-44-224-24-42-24 , borrows the orthogonal.
To find the Spiral with four centers ,
560,606 measures, it is far.
But by the Mega it is a million times less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

420

Decodes to give the town of Golfe Juan, where Apollo fires at arrow 559km towards a 650km zenith.

FROM THE SKY COMES THE LIGHT

C’E-10752-365 LA Q-30667-E THE AIGLE
I-687-90677-RI-687-A
687-ARQ-30667-E DE 10752-E-10752 10752-ERRE-10752
DA-60140- 10752 LE 10752-ABLE,
CENT 4330-O-30667-R-10752 AVA-60140-365 DE 10752-E
CA-10752-10752-ER THE
E-365 Y-CAP Y LAI-10752-10752-ER 10752-E-10752
90677-L-30667-687-E-10752

Then lend a bow to Apollo :
from there, he will count 1969,697 measures towards the zenith.
In a 46,241,860th fraction of sidereal day ,
his line will fall.
Hurry to find the arrow.

560

We are at Cherbourg, with England at our back, and we must look for the Opening, drawing lines on the map.

AD AUGUSTA PER ANGUSTA

When, at Carusburc , you will have Albion in the back,
Look for the Opening that reveals the Heavenly Light.
Do not wait, do not ask for your rest, But get ready to walk on the water.
Twice, Neptune will come to your rescue And lead you away from the icy North.
Pursue your way and do not interrupt your journey
Before seeing through the opening, the becalmed Nave.
Without deviating an inch, draw a line, and you will not regret what you did.

 

 

 

 

650

Having solved the previous 9 clues we have found the mysterious ‘Sentinels.’ We review them at 2.64km from the end location of the previous clue.

WHEN ALL IS REVEALED

Back to the Ponant, seek the Sentinels.
At 8000 measures from there, they are waiting for you.
Find them, you need to review them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

520

A final clue suggesting information that will help us when we dig for the buried owl prize.

EARTH OPENS

Between them, there would be only two intervals if they were aligned.
But this would be a too easy game!
Now that you have undone all the yarns,
Doubt is the last torment that will be inflicted to you.
Because it is the rule of this cruel game:
Alone, you have to find where to land your shovel.
Show your respect for Mother Nature,
And before getting away, close its injury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The legal status of the Golden Owl prize

This treasure hunt was set up in 1993, and the book’s publisher has since gone out of business, and Max Valentin, the designer of the puzzle, and co-author of the Chouette d’Or book, has died.

The original rules of the puzzle state there is no time limit to the game. ‘ It is not limited in time, but will be closed the day of the discovery of the cache.’

The rules also state, ‘The Prize is a statuette of gold, silver and stones, representing an owl sculpted by Michel Becker. Its value is about one million francs. In no case can it be exchanged for its cash value.

The rules continue, ‘The book provides the clues needed to solve the riddle. The first person who has deciphered the final enigma to locate the cache is deemed to be the winner.’

A bailiff is listed in the rules, they are in charge of administering the owl game. ‘Participating in this game implies the full and complete acceptance of the present regulations deposited with Maire Frédéric LLOUQUET, bailiff, 130, rue St-Charles – 75015 PARIS.’ This bailiff is no longer active or paid for, though it’s possible a successor at the company still has some regard for the game.

There is another rule ‘Article 7’ that asks the owl finder to reveal no details of their solution for one year. This is so that Max could publish a book of solutions himself. The rule states, ‘This person (the winner) will refrain from making any statements, granting interviews to publish or reveal the solutions of riddles and the location of the cache, to report the anecdotes about the treasure hunt, and, as a rule, to broadcast any information for a period of one year after the discovery of the Owl. He or she formally agrees to reserve her statements to Max Valentin, co-author of the book.” Max is no longer with us, but it would be wise to respect this rule if the owl is found.

So, a bronze replica of the owl treasure is buried somewhere in France, along with instructions and a phone number (most likely no longer working.) It seems that anyone finding this bronze owl would have rights to claim the prize, however the owl’s status has been the subject of a few legal disputes.

The golden owl statuette was held by the publishing company, Manya, but this company went into liquidation in 2003. When Max Valentin discovered the owl’s precarious status he tried to take ownership of the owl prize. There seems to have been some secret legal dispute by Max to regain control of the prize, and from what I can understand, he didn’t involve co-author Michel Becker in his legal claim to take possesion of the owl.

The case was eventually resolved in January 2009 with the judge agreeing that the original creator of the owl, Michel Becker, should own the owl. Becker paid for the owl himself, which may well explain the judge’s decision. The judge stated Becker held the owl, “within the limits of the exercise of the right of ownership”, that is to say that Becker had to consider the rules of the game and hand over the statuette to the discoverer of the buried owl.

The story of the Golden Owl took an unexpected turn in 2014 when the treasure hunting community was shocked to discover that the golden owl entered in an auction. Michel Becker had decided to sell the prize. This sale was prevented due to legal proceedings by the AC2O. It was pointed out that the previous ruling had given Becker limited rights to the owl. The owl was withdrawn from the auction and the owl’s status was protected – it couldn’t be sold.

Michel Becker still holds the golden owl and it is highly likely he would give it to anyone who produced the bronze version, most likely without any legal case. Max Valentin left a ‘book of solutions’ revealing the location of the owl to his son, although Max’s son has little interest in the Chouette d’Or hunt, he has committed to protecting this important document.

If a treasure hunter produced a bronze owl, and a location that matched the answer in Max’s solution, it would be hard to deny the winner of the game their prize.

What to do if you find the owl?

Here’s what I think would be the best plan.

  1. Celebrate!

2. Don’t announce the discovery to the world, remember the ‘Article 7’ rule. It’s not worth risking breaking the rules by tweeting, “I’ve found the treasure!”

3. Try the phone number and follow any instructions left with the cache.

4. Get in touch with the owl hunting organisations. It’s a good idea to join the AC2O because they’re a great organisation dedicated to protecting this game and the best interests of owl hunters.

5. Contact Michel Becker, the Chateau 1876 organisation or the AC2O, should help, and it would be worth clarifying the Article 7 rule and checking out what will happen with the incomplete ‘book of solutions’ owned by Max’s son.

6. If there is any dispute (unlikely) find legal help, and feel sure that you have the support of thousands of owl hunters who will support your claim!

See also:

The rules of the game (French) on the WikiChouette site.

The legal dispute about the owl statuette (French) on WikiChouette.

Interview with Max’s son, detailing the Chouette d’Or solution that he protects in a safe.

The final stage – The super solution

The first stage of the treasure hunt uses the 11 enigmas to find a location on a map of France. Max said this stage reveals an area the size of an average city. So how to find exactly where to dig?

Max said that when you understand the clues to solve the puzzle there are elements leftover, he called these ‘remnants.’ The ‘super solution’ to discover the owl’s location uses these remnant clues.

It’s likely that the super solution will be a few words long, just a short sentence that clearly defines where to dig. It might be something like, ‘5 metres from the left foot of the statue’ or ’10 metres opposite the town clock.’ It will be a clear direction that means the owl can be found simply.

Putting together the super solution is really only possible when the 11 enigmas are solved, it would be difficult to know which elements of the enigmas are ‘remnants’ until we have solved the treasure hunt.

See also

What we know about the owl’s location

Mandits for the Super Solution on Zarquos site (French) 

Towns and cities

There are five places clearly revealed by the clues, Bourges, Ronceveaux, Carignan, Golfe Juan, Cherbourg. There are also some vague or unknown locations described by clues.

There are 10 towns listed in enigma 580 but many people believe these are only used for decoding clue 600.

The game places are revealed in the following order.

Clue 1 : B enigma – None.

Clue 2 : 530 – Bourges

Clue 3 : 780 – None.

Clue 4 : 470 – Ronceveaux

Clue 5 : 580 – Bourges, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Epernay, Forbach, Gerardmer, Héricourt, Issoire, Jarnac, Angers. These may just be used to decode the 600 enigma.

Clue 6: 600 –  “The key hides on a black perched ship” This may be a place.

Clue 7: 500 – Carignan

Clue 8: 420 – Golfe Juan

Clue 9: 560 – Cherbourg, “the Opening” (Bourges?) “the becalmed nave”

Clue 10: 650 – “the Sentinals”

Clue 11: 520 – None

We know we need to trace lines on the map, probably connecting the locations in the order they are revealed.

The five locations clearly revealed by the clues.

 

These towns appear to align with Bourges as a central point

 

All the named Golden Owl locations (excluding “Albion” and Preneste which are outside France.)

The sticking points – Why is this mystery still unsolved?

There are many elements of the Golden Owl treasure hunt that are understood and accepted by the ‘chouetteur’ community, but several sticking points that prevent progress from being made.

Taking the clues in order I will try to highlight the major sticking points.

Clue B – Gives the game order, its solved.

Clue 530 – Reveals the city Bourges.

Clue 780 – Reveals the game measure (likely 33cm) and probably more, perhaps a direction, but the ‘coach and bad horse’ concept of this clue is little understood.

Clue 470 – Reveals Ronceveaux,  but also through the Opening you will see the light.

Clue 580 – Reveals 10 towns, used to solve the next puzzle. It’s not clear if the towns have some other purpose.

Clue 600 – Big sticking point, the mysterious phrase, The key is on the black perched ship.’

Clue 500 – Reveals Carignan, but what is the spiral with four centers at 560.606 measures?

Clue 420 – Reveals Golfe Juan, but from there we need to plot the fall of an arrow flying at 1969,697 measures towards the zenith.

Clue 560 – Reveals Cherbourg, but we don’t understand  the opening that reveals heavenly light or  how Neptune helps twice, or the meaning of seeing the ‘Nave becalmed’, through the Opening.

Clue 650 – Describes how to process the clues that have come before, there are Sentinels at 8000 measures from ‘here’ and we need to decode the number 71721075 that is drawn in the image.

Clue 520 – Suggests the final place to dig for the owl, at this stage you need to understand the remnant clues that give the super solution.

So, to solve this puzzle you will need to:

  • Understand the meaning of the coachman and bad horse in the 780
  • Understand the meaning of the ‘light’ seen through the opening and also described in clue 560 and 600.
  • Decide whether the 10 towns of clue 580 have some extra function.
  • Discover the meaning of ‘The key is on the black perched ship.’
  • Know what the spiral with four centers means.
  • Know where Apollo’s arrow lands when it’s fired from Golfe Juan.
  • Plot a route from Cherbourg as described in 560, understanding the meaning of Neptune’s help and the meaning of the ‘becalmed nave.’
  • Know how to use the places discovered through the 11 clues with the number 71721075 and some ‘sentinels’ that have been revealed.
  • Know which game phrases and concepts have not been used before and are clue ‘remnants’ that reveal the super solution of exactly where to dig.

General pointers :

There is almost certainly some simple game ‘trick’ that makes sense of the towns and cities that have been revealed.

The clue order probably matters, there is an important progression from one to the next.

Insights and personal theories into the meaning of repeating game concepts such as ‘light,’ sentinels, ‘the Opening’ will give ideas for progressing the game.

There are many small mysteries alongside the big ones listed here! It’s quite possible that someone exploring a small game mystery will stumble upon something that solves this 25-year long game.

The additional clues and ‘mandits‘ have been explored as much as the original 11 enigmas, yet they don’t seem to have progressed the game an awful lot. Max said the owl could be found by studying the book alone. In my opinion he spent years carefully avoiding giving any meaningful answers in those mandit Q&A! However the mandits can be very useful to check theories.

The topics that Max refused to be drawn on in his ‘mandits’ are almost certainly key to solving this puzzle. Max refused to answer questions on the light, the methods for linking each enigma, the spiral with four centers, the becalmed nave, and (understandably) any clear description of the final location.

The game images, drawn by Becker, were added after the basic concept and clues were devised by Max. It’s worth bearing in mind the fact this was originally devised as a text only treasure hunt! The images were drawn based on Max’s descriptions with Becker having no understanding of the game solution. It’s hard to be sure of the role the pictures play, clearly when Max knew the book would have visual elements he incorporated them. Clues such as the 650 and 500 have important visual elements.

It’s expensive and almost certainly unnecessary to buy a copy of the out of print original book ($220 on Amazon) however I found it useful to print a bound copy using a downloaded PDF of the clues. This cost me about £10 including shipping, I used Dox Direct. but any online printer will do!

The Light

The word “light” appears three times in the book.

“Find my All, and through the Opening you will see the light.” The last line of clue 470.

“From the heavens comes light.” The title of clue 420

“Seek the Opening that reveals the Heavenly Light.” In the text of the 560.

It also appears in a subtle way in the form of “darkness” in one clue. “The darkness shines”  is in the title of clue 600. This suggests that the light appears in the darkness.

Light also appears in two additional clues Max released after the publication of the book.

“The big lights are made of small lights.”

“Clarity will come from three clever rendezvous in the Cantabrian Sea.” The word clarity might suggest light being shone on something. 

The proven uses of light in solving the clues are the make-up of white light in the B clue, and using the speed of light to calculate a distance in the 420 enigma.

Although light is a key concept of the book there is no consensus on how to use this theme. Max refused to answer questions about light in madits, which suggests it does have some importance.

Some thoughts…

‘Seeing the light’ is a common phrase for understanding something, could Max have meant the phrase in this context? The 420 mentions that the light comes from heaven, is this something to do with stars or astronomy? This clue’s image suggests the sun and details planets. Could the light refer to a place, the city of Luxeuil has been mentioned as the Latin root ‘lux’ means light.  Or could it represent a character? In previous treasure hunts Max used the Sun King and the Lumière brothers.

Light has many different meanings, if this hunt has a scientific theme it might be light waves, if it’s used in a figurative sense it might mean knowledge, the spirit, the truth. In a symbolic sense it might suggest contrasts, light versus darkness. It might be something to do with the sun or time through the rising of sun and the passing of days, or it might be about heaven and celestial light.

The light theme feels like one of the key mysteries of the hunt, understanding this will surely lead to breakthroughs in solving this treasure hunt.

520 – Generally accepted solution

EARTH OPENS
Between them, there would be only two intervals if they were aligned.
But this would be a too easy game!
Now that you have undone all the yarns,
Doubt is the last torment that will be inflicted to you.
Because it is the rule of this cruel game:
Alone, you have to find where to land your shovel.
Show your respect for Mother Nature,
And before getting away, close its injury.

Solvability: This final clue talks about unearthing the buried owl, there’s plenty to do before attempting to solve this enigma.

This clue is mostly a mystery because it refers to the final stage of the treasure hunt, when the location of the treasure has been discovered. It seems to connect closely to the previous clue, the 650.

There is probably little point working on this final enigma until all the previous clues are understood.

The visual

There seems to be little additional information in this clue’s visual, it symbolically reflects digging a hole to unearth the owl. The light shining from the hole links to the light theme in previous clues.

Points to consider

The title refers to the planet Earth. Is this some kind of link to the planet clues of the 420 enigma?

‘Between them there would be two intervals’ must be referring to objects that could be aligned, but what are they? Perhaps lines or shapes on the map, or the mysterious Sentinals?

The line about ‘undoing yarns’ may refer to a tangle of string-like lines drawn on a map.

The ‘rule’ of this ‘cruel’ game could refer to measurement and angles. In French this is, ‘Car c’est la règle de cette partie cruelle.’ la règle can mean ruler, and cruelle suggests a sharp angle.

‘Alone’ you must land your shovel has an interesting choice of word, why ‘Alone?’ Does this mean one?

Why refer to Mother Nature? Or ‘Dame Nature’ and her injury? Is this simply a flowery way to suggest digging a hole or does it mean something more?

In conclusion

Little is understood about this final enigma, there are few theories about this puzzle – the other clues must be worked out first.

See also

Clue 11 – 520 enigma text

520 enigma madits and links

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