Dante’s Rosicrucian Esotericism


Gustave Doré: The Crucifixion in the Heaven of Mars (1868)

O ye who have undistempered intellects, Observe the doctrine that conceals itself Beneath the veil of the mysterious verses! – Inferno IX, 61-63

Rudolf Steiner said that Dante had been initiated by his teacher Brunetto Latini, and that he in turn had had a natural initiation during a trip on horseback. He fell and found himself immersed in spiritual imaginations. His initiation was therefore due to his own karma. The level of initiation of Brunetto and Dante is that of Imagination, or of the conscious dream, in which the feminine spirit of Nature or Urania, also called Sofia, was revealed. For Dante it takes the name of Beatrice.

The Divine Comedy is in fact the story of the journey in the celestial spheres made by Dante during the initiation, mixed with parts that are not the result of a clairvoyant vision, such as the political controversy, which was also part of a project of social reform both by Dante and by Brunetto. Both were part of the Fedeli d’Amore: some of its members, including Dante and Boccaccio, inherited the Templar mission, after the Templars were destroyed by the king of France Philip the Fair and Pope Clement V in 1314 – at the same time in which Dante wrote the Comedy.

The highest proof of Dante’s esotericism, in fact, consist in the visions of Paradise, where one of the Templars’ knowledge on the genealogy of Jesus is proclaimed (and this is obviously not the Baigent “theory of real blood”, which is pure conjecture) novel) and the symbol of the Rose Cross.

This current is heralded by Dante, a Rose Cross ante-litteram. La Rose Cross is inscribed in the very structure of Dante’s Paradise where the Rosa dei Beati of the Empyrean (the Candida Rosa or Rosa Mystica), overlaps the Cross of the Mystery of the cosmic Golgotha ​​of the Sky of Mars. Not only that, this association between Mars and the crucifixion is also an allusion to the subsequent crucifixion of Siddartha on the astral plane, a cosmic mission entrusted to him by Christian Rosenkreutz after his last earthly incarnation as Gautama Buddha.

His initiation was therefore due to his own karma. Towards the middle of the 13th century he stayed in Spain as an ambassador of Florence: in that melting pot of cultures, Western and Middle Eastern, he had learned advanced knowledge in astronomy and astrology, brought by the Muslims. There he also learned of the existence of an esoteric side of Islam, Sufism. In 1260 Brunetto left Spain to return to Florence. He was on a lost passage in the Alps, when he met a traveler, a student in the direction of Paris: greeting each other he asked about the political situation in Florence and so the bad news reached him. The Guelphs had been expelled from Florence and therefore Brunetto could not return to his beloved native city.

Shocked by the news, Brunetto turned onto a road he did not know and went on to a “different forest” where he fell as if struck by lightning: he found himself in front of a parade of woodland animals, led by a gigantic figure. A woman. Immersed in this spiritual imagination, the woman revealed herself to be Mother Nature, whose creations acted as emanations of the Creator himself. Mother Nature showed him the story of the creation of the world and of the man who, to crown the creation, possessed the divine spark with the ability to discern good and evil. He was also shown the occult physiology of man, with his four temperaments. He also met other spiritual entities, such as the Four Virtues as well as the geniuses of the Seven Sacred Planets. The description of what he experienced during this grand imagination comes from his Tesoretto.

At that point Brunetto’s life had taken the “the road less travelled”: since he could not return to Florence, he decided to go on to Paris with the intention of meeting Alberto Magno, doctor of the church and esoteric scholar of alchemy and discoverer of the Table Smaragdina of Hermes Trismegistus, the initiator of Egyptian culture. He was also a teacher of Tommaso d’Aquino and Brunetto had the good fortune to meet them both and to discuss with them the ideas of the Neoplatonists of Chartres. He gave them the explanation of the vision. Following this fact, Brunetto was initiated in the secular order of the Knights Templar, the Holy Faith. The order served as a spokesperson for the Templar current, so that it could also have the support of philosophers, artists and intellectuals outside the order.

In 1266 Brunetto, having defeated the Ghibellines, was finally able to return to Florence and there he was finally able to meet his student, Dante, to whom he taught both what he had learned from Islamic astronomers in Spain, and his Templar initiation in France: Dante writes that Brunetto taught him “to unfold his eternal life”. “Virgil” was the initiatory name that Brunetto assumed in France, in Paris, when it was formally started within Notre Dame by the last of the Templars. The Templar current brought together the Jewish influences with the cult of Solomon, Egyptians with the cult of Isis-Sofia-Maria to whom each of their cathedral was consecrated, the Arab ones of Sufism in meditation techniques. Sufism was the same current that was then penetrated by the Mystery of Golgotha ​​by Christian Rosenkreutz on his journey to Damcar and Damascus. For this reason we can see in the Virgil that escorting Dante both the great Roman initiated poet and the Higher Self of Brunetto himself, whose soul instead lies still in the Inferno where he must redeem his own desires.

The level of initiation of Brunetto is that of Imagination, or of the conscious dream, in which the feminine spirit of Nature or Urania, also called Sofia, was revealed. For Dante the level of initiation is that of Inspiration, conscious sleep. For him, Sofia is named after Beatrice, a girl she met when she was 9 during a party. He met her again at age 17, when he also appeared in a dream: he saw an angel holding Beatrice in her arms, wrapped in a red cloak. The angel woke up the girl and made her eat the flaming heart of the poet. From that moment in Dante the conviction grew to have met his own soul outside of him. The constant presence of the angelic woman Beatrice will catalyze Dante’s higher aspirations, inspiring him to write the Divine Comedy.

Gustave Doré: Beatrice, Purgatorio, Canto XXX (1568)

The Commedia is the story of Dante's journey into the celestial spheres during his initiation. In the Divine Comedy will converge the scholastic theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, with the reconciliation of the Platonic and Aristotelian current, the Sufism of Ibn Arabi as well as the Templar mission. The Divine Comedy is the culmination of the medieval worldview and at the same time its overcoming, so that Dante becomes not only the last man synthesis of the Middle Ages, but also the first universal man of the Renaissance. The text is mixed with parts that are not the result of a clairvoyant vision, such as the political polemic, which was part of a project of social reformism of both Dante and Brunetto. Both of them, in fact, were part of the Fedeli d'Amore: a group of poets who resumed the structure of the Holy Faith, its followers hiding the esoteric messages with a new way of writing, known under the name of "dolce stil novo": some of its members, including Dante and Boccaccio, inherited the Templar mission after the Templars were destroyed by King Philip the Fair of France and Pope Clement V, who outlawed them on Friday, October 13, 1307 (hence the superstition of Friday the 13th) - right around the same time Dante was writing the Comedy. The end of the Templars was called by Steiner one of the most horrific crimes in human history.

Medaglia di Pisanello

The acronym S.K.I.P.F.T. on the tail of the Pisanello medallion dedicated to Dante: Fides Sanctae Kadosh, Imperium Principatus, Frater Templarius. Alternatively the acronym stands for “Fides Spes Karitas, Iustitia Prudentia Fortitudo Temperantia”, that is, the seven virtues: three theologians plus four cardinals. The seven virtues are the inversion of the seven capital defects and are developed through the seven liberal arts, the command of the Seven Sacred Planets.

From the period following the initiation into the Holy Faith derives the commemorative medal of Pisanello kept today at the Museum of Vienna, in which on one side the effigy of Dante is depicted while on the other, an acronym: F.S.K.I.P.F.T. which according to Guénon can be translated as Fidei Sanctae Kadosh, Imperialis Principatus, Frater Templarius or “Kadosh of the Holy Faith, Principality of the Empire, Templar Brother”. The term Kadosh means “sacred” in Hebrew and remains one of the titles of the high degrees of Freemasonry (the 30th in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite). The theme of this degree is “revenge”, or karmic retribution, and the whole process of spiritual purification of the Divine Comedy is based on this, starting from the law of retaliation, up to the vengeance of the Knights Templar themselves on whoever hatched the destruction Order. Explicitly, revenge appears in the verses of Dante that Guénon compares to the invocation of the Kadosh to Adonai:

When, O my Lord [Adonai]! shall I be joyful made By looking on the vengeance which, concealed, Makes sweet thine anger in thy secrecy? – – Purgatorio XX, 94-96

This revenge is accomplished by Dante, before by the last Grand Master Jacques de Molay, describing Clement V and Philip the Fair as the perversion of spiritual power (Lucifer) and temporal power (Ahriman) which in 1314 (prodrome of 1332 = 666 x 2 ) put an end to the Order of the Knights Templar. Dante completed the Comedy at that time. Describing the symbolic procession in Eden, on the summit of Purgatory, Dante describes Philip as a giant holding a prostitute, the papal curia, driving the chariot of the Catholic church. Moreover Dante’s last traveling companion, Bernardo da Chiaravalle, is the saint who wrote the rule of the Knights Templar. This series of facts so explicit must already cast doubt on any interpretation Dante desires, an exalter of the papacy and the Catholic church. Steiner reveals the karmic background of Philip the Fair, describing it as the reincarnation of the black magician who was crucified in Mexico by an Aztec solar hero, as an inversion of the Mystery of Golgotha ​​parallel to the crucifixion of Christ that took place in Palestine.

I tre mondi della Divina Commedia

The first most obvious initiatory reference of the Comedy is the numerological construction of the poem itself. The three songs represent the threefold division of man according to esotericism: body = Hell, soul = Purgatory, spirit = Paradise. Each of the three songs is composed of 33 songs for a total of 33 x 3 = 99, to which is added a proem to the canticle of the Inferno, for a total of 100 songs. 33 are the years lived by Jesus, as well as 3 are those lived by Christ in the body of Jesus. 33 are also the degrees in Freemasonry of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. 33 = 11 x 3, 11 being a number linked to the Templar tradition. Each of Dante’s three supersensible worlds has a fundamental structure divided into 7: the 7 circles of Hell, the 7 frames of Purgatory and the 7 heavens of Paradise.

I Sette Mondi nella scienza dello spirito, dall'inferiore al superiore: 1) Mondo Fisico in cui è compreso il Mondo Eterico; 2) Mondo Astrale; 3) Devachan o Mondo Mentale, che si divide in Inferiore e Superiore; 4) Mondo Buddhico; 5) Nirvana; 6) Paranirvana; 7) Mahaparanirvana.

The Seven Worlds in the science of the spirit, from the lower to the higher: 1) Physical World in which the Etheric World is understood; 2) Astral World; 3) Devachan or Mental World, which is divided into Lower and Upper; 4) Buddhist world; 5) Nirvana; 6) Paranirvana; 7) Mahaparanirvana.

The Earth, Hell and Purgatory are located within the elementary world, composed of the four elements. Moreover Hell and Purgatory share the subdivision according to the seven deadly sins and therefore they are the one the inverse of the other, rather the portion of earth that is drawn back by horror from the fall of Lucifer-Satan, rises from the opposite side of the Earth to form the Monte Purgatorio itself. Hell and Purgatory are therefore still space-time, and in Purgatory, although it is already within the grace of the heavens, there is still time being tied to the destiny of the Earth. Hell and Purgatory are therefore the equivalent of Kama-loka in the theosophical and anthroposophical tradition, in which Hell is the lower half and Purgatory is the highest near Devachan, or Paradise. In this regard Dante also makes an implicit reference to the doctrine of the incorruptibility of the individual spirit, the I, in fact indicates as “souls” those resident in Hell and “Spirits” the inhabitants of Purgatory and Paradise. This kabbalistic symbolism places Dante as an initiated poet.

There are also three references to the world of the stars, each one at the end of the three songs and each one that suggests ever higher and more sublime stars:

Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars. – Inferno XXXIV, 139
Gustave Doré: Inferno, Canto XXIV (1565)

Having descended Lucifer's hairy and icy body, they suddenly feel relieved: they have passed through the center of the Earth, and have come out along Lucifer's tail. When they go out to see the stars again, they are therefore in the southern hemisphere, on the beach of Antipurgatory, so much so that there is mention of the Southern Cross, the southern equivalent of the Big Dipper in importance in navigation, a constellation that was not known to the astronomers of his day. It appeared only at the beginning of '600. About the Templars, as is well known, there are also legends about their tradition as navigators and explorers, forerunners of the discoveries of the Renaissance, such as the American continent, the Northern Islands, and finally the Southern Hemisphere. The Southern Cross, whose stars for Dante are the four Cardinal Virtues, refers precisely to the cross symbol of the Templars.

Pure and ready to mount unto the stars. – Purgatorio XXXIII, 145

Gustave Doré: Purgatorio, Canto XXXIII (1567)

On top of Mount Purgatory, Beatrice accompanies Dante through Eden. Here she meets the spirits of the four Cardinal Virtues and the three Theological Virtues drinks the waters of the Lete and falls into oblivion, then drinks the waters of the Eunoé and recovers the memory of the good done: having expiated the seven deadly vices and acquired the seven virtues, he can ascend to Paradise. Having operated the alchemical V.I.T.R.I.O.L., he has accomplished the Nigredo (Hell) and the Albedo (Purgatory) and is now ready for the Rubedo (Paradise). At this point he has passed the Kama-loka (Hell + Purgatory) and therefore he is ready to rise from the Astral World to the stars of the Spiritual World, the Devachan: from this moment on, for the dead now applies the Latin saying De mortuis nihil nisi bonum, "of the dead only good is said", because they have already served all the evil they have done in their previous life.

The love that moves the Sun and the other stars – Paradise XXXIII,145
Gustave Doré: Inferno, Canto I (1565)

After Bernard of Clairvaux, the last guide, also leaves the supreme poet, he arrives only at the end of the initiatory journey: exactly as he had entered the "dark forest", when he was under the aegis of the three beasts, his lower self. Only, whereas before the abandonment of all hope awaited him at the entrance to Hell, now he himself is Hope. Dante, not only has purified his thinking (Nigredo-Inferno) and feeling (Albedo-Purgatorio), but also his will (Rubedo-Paradise): Dante's will is now the will of his Higher Self. While before he had only an intellectual knowledge of it, now Dante knows by direct experience that Love, which is Christ and therefore the Trinity, is the engine of the whole cosmos, both the macrocosm (the Sun and the other celestial bodies) and the microcosm (man and the subtle bodies). Having discovered the inner God, God and man are thus reunited.

Gustavé Doré: Rosa celeste (1867)

Gustavé Doré: Heavenly Rose (1867)

The Rosicrucian current itself is heralded by Dante, an ante-litteram Rosicrucian. The highest proof of Dante’s Rosicrucian esotericism consist of some allusive visions of Paradise. First of all, there is a symbolic reference to the Pelican as Christ:

This is the one who lay upon the breast Of him our Pelican; and this is he To the great office from the cross elected. – Paradiso XXV, 112-114

The 18th degree of the Scottish Rite is precisely the “Sovereign Prince of Rose-Cross also known as the Knight of the Eagle and the Pelican”: in medieval bestiaries the pelican was considered the bird that most represents the sacrifice of Christ. According to legend, her chicks fight each other to feed themselves, eventually dying. They remain dead for three and a half days, the moment in which the pelican mother wounds the white breast with its sharp beak to offer them its own blood, in the act of supreme caritas. Here then are the colors of the Rosa + Croce: the black of death that becomes white when the sacrifice of our lower self is accomplished. The three colors black, white and red are the same as those of alchemy: according to the sequence of death (black, nigredo), purification (white, albedo) and sacrifice (red, rubedo). In the alchemical laboratory there was also a glass vessel, equipped with a beak that was inserted into the wider spherical part, the balloon: it was called precisely pelican and served for the operation of “coobation”, that is of continuous distillation of the same liquid to get a subtler one.


The pelican is symbolically the Christ, who sacrifices his own life for the sake of his children, human beings. The seven chicks can be considered the seven planets, that is, the seven vices redeemed in the seven virtues by sacrifice. In his Masonic representation, the pelican is associated with the compass that represents the Great Architect of the Universe (the Father); to the acronym I.N.R.I., that is to the cross of the four elements of the Creation (the Son), to the Rosicrucian as resurrection from the death (the Holy Spirit). The whole indicates the coincidence of the sacrifice of Christ with the attainment of the inner state of “Rose+Cross”.

In Paradise there is no longer the temporal dimension linked to the earth, it extinguishes itself in Eden: once immersed in the river Lete, which erases the memory of the evil done, and purified in the river Eunoé, which allows the memory of the good accomplished, Dante ascends in his state of consciousness to the first sky, of the Moon. Virgil here gives way to Beatrice. Dante’s journey is a spiritual journey to higher states of consciousness. In the paradisiac state, Dante can observe facts of the past that are repeated in an eternal present such as the fall of Lucifer but also the crucifixion of Christ. Thus we can see the symbol of the Rose + Cross as inscribed in the very structure of Paradise in which the Rose of the Beati of the Empyrean (the Candida Rosa or Rosa Mystica) placed in the eighth heaven, overlaps the Cross of the Mystery of the cosmic Golgotha ​​of the fifth heaven, the Heaven of Mars, in which the crucifixion of Christ takes place continuously. Mars represents the third throat chakra (Visuddha) on which, as Steiner indicates, the Rosa + Croce worked through the modulation of the voice, bringing back vowels and consonants to the spiritual entities that preside over them. Here, then, is the first spiritual nexus: even though it was not “formally” a Rose + Cross, it arrived at the contemplation of the Rosicrucianism substantially, which makes it a spiritual precursor. Let us remember that Christian Rosenkreutz was born in 1378, fifty years after Dante’s death, and was initiated through the Chemical Marriage in 1459 then published anonymously in 1616. At the time when Dante wrote the Comedy, the spiritual impulse of the Rosicrucian it could already be foreshadowed by those who had received an initiation into esoteric Christianity.

Christian Rosenkreuz

Christian Rosenkreutz

Not only that, this association between Mars and the crucifixion is also an allusion to the subsequent crucifixion of Siddartha on the astral plane, a cosmic mission that was entrusted to him by Cristiano Rosacroce after his last earthly incarnation as Gautama Buddha. Steiner describes how spiritual decadence was achieved on Mars in the fifteenth century, so that the planet was no longer able to send spiritual impulses to man’s will. This resulted on Earth in a deeper fall in maya, even in the world of language and in the loss of the spiritual meaning of the names associated with things. The man of the fifteenth century, in the transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, was no longer able to tell if the language was inspired by the spirit of things or if it was just a convention: so in the fifteenth century there was the culmination of the debate between nominalism and realism. Due to this decay of the spirits of Mars, an event that could serve as a turning point in history became necessary, just as the Mystery of Golgotha ​​had been on Earth. The restarting of the Martian evolution would also have meant sending a new volitional impulse to the Earth.

In 1604, Christian Rosenkreutz at the time disembodied, as a member of the Masters of Wisdom and Harmony of Feelings, decided that the Siddhartha Buddha would accomplish this mission of sacrifice for the planet Mars. Indeed Buddha, when in the sixth century BC received its illumination under the Bodhi tree “awakening”, coming into contact with the Spirit of Mercury “Bhuda” in Sanskrit, just as the Spirit of the Sun, Christ, incarnated in the baptism of the Jordan in Jesus of Nazareth. After enlightenment Buddha would no longer have successive physical incarnations on Earth, but would remain in the astral world, until he was transferred to the planet Mars in the seventeenth century. This happened on the plane of the Astral World and the lowest vehicle on which Buddha operated was precisely the astral body, thus placing it within the body of an Archangel or Spirit of People.

The red planet was at the time a gigantic battlefield of the spirits that inhabited it and the Buddha had to go down to the battlefield, remaining involved in the struggle as a leader of peace under the leadership of the Martian people. Being at the level of the Astral World we must imagine a war of conflicting passions. For the sublime spirit of Buddha, who had peace in his spiritual essence, participating in a war was a real crucifixion. The war ceased. From that sacrifice of the Buddha-Eloah of Mercury, the Martian evolution could reverse its descent and ascend again, at the same time causing new volitional forces to spring up. These forces poured into the Earth through the souls that, after the sacrifice of Buddha onwards, pass into the sky of Mars during the descent into the new incarnation. They were translated for the first time as forces that allowed human beings to cultivate meditation and at the same time their normal daily activities.

Raffaello Sanzio: Madonna Terranuova (1504-05)

Raffaello Sanzio: Madonna Terranuova (1504-05): on the left John the Baptist child, on the right the Solomonic or royal baby Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew, in the center the Nathanic or priestly Jesus of the Gospel of Luke.

The second view that is linked to the most esoteric tradition of Christianity is the one that surrounds Dante in the Sky of the Sun, the fourth. In this vision one of the Templars’ knowledge on the genealogy of Jesus is proclaimed (and obviously this is not the “real blood theory” of Michael Baigent adopted by Dan Brown, which is pure novelistic conjecture), but of the resolution of the paradoxes contained in the two genealogies listed in the Gospel of Luke and in the Gospel of Matthew. This is the story of the two children Jesus, whose ancestry derived from two different lines descended from David. We owe the unveiling of this very high spiritual truth to Rudolf Steiner, indicating some representations of it in the history of art of the ‘500 and the references of the expectation of two messiahs, royal and priestly, in the Psalms, in the Ethiopian Enoch and in the Essene Manuscripts of the Dead Sea, discovered 30 years after Steiner’s death, in which they are called “Messiah of Israel and Messiah of Aaron”. The “theory of the two suns” advocated by Dante refers to this tradition of the double messianic line: in this vision the Empire and the Papacy were two parts of the same unity, Heaven, both with their own light. the Emperor must illuminate the temporal power while the Pope the spiritual one. He opposed the theory of the Sun and the Moon, according to which the Emperor, the Moon, lived on the reflected light of the Sun, the Pope.

Well Dante, in the sky of the Sun, which we remember to be the origin of the Eloah Christ, mentions precisely the two key figures of the mystery of the two Jesuses. Dante finds himself enveloped by two circles of 12 blessed spirits proceeding in opposite directions: they are the greatest lights of Christianity, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure are the spokesmen of the two circles. In each circle of blessed there are 11 representatives of the New Testament and 1 representative of the Old Testament, the two are Solomon and "Nathan the prophet". Solomon was the builder of the Temple of Solomon, the foundation first of the Templars and then of Freemasonry (which will inherit the Templar spirit through the Templars refugees in Scotland), while Nathan was its prophet.

Gustave Doré: Paradiso, Canto 12 (1968)

These two individualities are mentioned in the Gospel of Luke and that of Matthew, which describes the infancy of Jesus. The two Gospels describe two very distinct Jesus children and for this reason they have a shared bloodline only up to King David. The line then divides into two, so that in the Gospel of Luke the priestly line of Nathan is described, while in that of Matthew the royal line of Solomon. In the Gospel of Luke we have thus told the story of the “Nathanic Jesus”, whose announcement is made to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel and the adoration of the three Magi; while in the Gospel of Matthew we have the story of the “Solomonic Jesus” with the angelic announcement to Joseph in his sleep and the adoration of the shepherds in the cave. The Solomonic Jesus was born some years before the Nathanic Jesus in the period of the massacre of the innocents by Herod, an episode completely absent in the Gospel of Luke. Thus the flight to Egypt takes place in Heliopolis, where the Solomonic Jesus activates the Egyptian knowledge contained in his astral body, which belonged to Hermes Trismegistus. The Nathanic Jesus incorporated within himself the part of Adam’s soul that remained untouched after being expelled from the Earthly Paradise, the Solomonic Jesus instead embodied the I of Zarathustra, the founder of the Persian civilization and herald of the spirit of light, Ahura Mazdao. At the presentation at the Temple, when the Nathanic Jesus is 12 years old, the I of Zarathustra penetrates into the Soul of Adam: the Solomonic Jesus dies shortly after, while the Nathanic Jesus becomes Jesus of Nazareth the future physical vehicle of the Solar Spirit, the Christ .

With these spiritual connections in the soul, I invite you, in addition to rediscovering Dante and meditating, to see the documentary film by Louis Nero that deals with the theme of Dante’s esotericism with a plurality of voices from the esoteric, Masonic, Jewish, Catholic and Islamic. The film is full of suggestions and treats Dante’s Mystery in a refined way.

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