At the Tomb of Christian Rosencreutz: Raphael Baldaya, Astrologist and Unknown Rosicrucian
Pascal H. Gregoire, 2022
“Wise is the man who contents himself with the spectacle of the world.”—Fernando Pessoa
We had not yet seen the remains of our Father, the prudish man, the wise man.To this end we pulled the altar aside. Then we were able to lift a solid slab of yellow metal, and there was in its beauty a distinguished body, intact, unaltered.He held in his hand a little book of parchment, with gold letters, titled “T”.Book which is, after the Bible, our highest treasure, and which should not be subjected to the censorship of the world.
Fama Fraternitatis, 1614
I.The Portuguese Poet Pessoa and His Esoterism
“How many am I? Who am I? What is this interval that slips between me and me?"—Fernando Pessoa
Poet with many faces, Fernando Pessoa is a witness to the history of Portugal, a great figure of the literary avant-garde of his country, author of a multiple work, complex and unquiet. He is the greatest Portuguese poet after or with CamoesLuís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524 or 1525 - 10 June 1580) is considered Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, … Continue reading.
"Imagine that, in the years 1910-1920, Valéry, Cocteau, Cendrars, Apollinaire and Larbaud were one and the same man, hidden under several "masks": we will have an idea of the adventure experienced at the same time in Portugal by the one who single-handedly wrote the works of at least five writers of genius, as different from each other at first sight as the French poets I have quoted."
Robert Bréchon, in the foreword to La Pléiade dedicated to Fernando Pessoa (2001)
Born in Lisbon into a middle-class family on June 13, 1888 (Saint Anthony), Pessoa lost his father when he was 5 years old, then his brother a few months later. He died in Lisbon on November 30, 1935 (Saint Andrew's Day), at the age of 47 years old and most probably from liver complications.
In 1896, his mother left to South Africa where she joined her new husband, the then Portuguese Consul in Durban. English becomes the boy's "intellectual" language. He began to write poems under the name of Alexander Search, an author he created when he was 10 years old.
On his return to Lisbon in 1905 - Portugal which he would never leave anymore - he attended for a while the Faculty of Letters and published in several journals. He lives off small jobs as a clerk mainly for export-import companies as a clerk to save time for writing.
1914 is a decisive year: on January 29 around 11 o'clock in the evening "was born in his soul the so-called Doctor Ricardo ReisFernando Pessoa writes in his letter dated Janeiro 13th 1935 to Adolfo Casais Monteiro, that Ricardo Reis was born in 1887 (although he couldn’t recall the exact date), in Oporto. He describes him … Continue reading, one of his main heteronyms.
Born in the mind of Pessoa, his heteronymsPessoa was a prolific writer, and not only under his own name, for he created approximately seventy-five others, of which three stand out, Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos, and Ricardo Reis. He did … Continue reading have biographies, political opinions, aesthetic ideas, feelings. One hundred and thirty-six of his literary doubles are known to date: many of them have their own inspiration, their own style and their "personal" work.
“He is a poet who defines himself as a consciousness split in the universe that he tries to embrace, by an excess of confidence. He has a thousand ways of defining himself, he embraces all points of view."
Michel Chandeigne, writer
Shortly before his death, in a letter addressed to the critic Casais Monteiro, Pessoa will explain the genesis of (his) heteronyms. It goes back to childhood, with the creation of the "Chevalier de pas, hero of my six years", responsible for filling the emotional void from which he suffers.
At his death, the trunk in which he piled up his unpublished manuscripts revealed thousands of pages of unsuspected writings, nearly thirty thousand pages of texts, touching on all genres except the novel, and which we have not yet fully understood. Pessoa's work is indeed immense, composed mainly of fragments, often unfinished. This character corresponds to the essential personality of Pessoa who has always wanted to be multiple and in search of truths.
It was not until 1934 that the only book published during his lifetime appeared: “MENSAGEM” / “Message”. An epic poem, a true masterpiece nourished by a Templar and Rosicrucian symbolism intended to be a book carrying a “universalist patriotism”.
Universalism expressed in the idea of a future spiritual, evangelical and very Christian Empire, the result of a general reform uniting science and spirit, temporal and spiritual.
He explored all possible paths as a personal initiatory path that can lead to gnosis.
Speaking of his research he said "I am not evolving, I travel". This “journey” is essential to fully understand this brilliant poet, he who, apparently paradoxical, has hardly ever left Lisbon. Obviously, this is an inner journey. A journey which - if we read the Fama Fraternitatis- also corresponds to those made by (our) Master Christian Rosencreutz in the East and, let us dare the shortcut, whose secret story undoubtedly rests in the closed book which he holds against his heart in his tomb.
Pessoa, being deeply spiritual in search of oneself, of the mysteries of life, of human nature and of its relationship with God and the Divine, has always felt concerned by religious, initiatory, esoteric and occultist questions without ever being part of any such organizations…
He was very much interested in MacGregor Mathersand in 1930 was in touch with Aleister Crowley (visit to Lisbon) but he never wanted to follow the magical and dangerous path of this one and affirmed his predilection for what he called 'the alchemical path' - "the most difficult and most perfect of all because it prepares for the "transmutation of the personality without leading it there in spite of itself." I mean without forcing him to sacrifice without returning to his intuitive intelligence ”.
It was this intelligence that made Pessoa travelling more than evolve. Poet, Pessoa wanted to remain free and used a path allowing zigs-zags and backtracking. Art, poetry in particular through the intuitive use of the symbolism is the main engine, the fundamental tool, that Pessoa used to bring his spiritual being to life. Through poetry, the artist travel the imaginal world, an interval in which his creative imagination is expressed between the earthly man, God and the Divine.
"The poet is the quintessential follower," Pessoa wrote. Adding "Its mission is to recognize the truth as truth and at the same time as error and to live the opposites without accepting them, to feel everything in all ways and ultimately to be nothing, if not the intelligence of everything".
In short, we have in front of us a Pessoa, defining himself as a Gnostic Christian, Roman anti-Catholic, belonging to an “invisible church”, faithful to the secret tradition of Christianity, builder of a “Universal Temple”.
II.Was Pessoa a Rosicrucian?
Although he never joined any 19th century Rosicrucian society, one can answer “in spirit, yes”.
Very early on in South Africa, Pessoa experienced a decisive intellectual and spiritual shock upon reading an English book on "The Rites and Mysteries of the Rose Croix." As he pointed it to a friend in a letter of 1915. In this work he learned about the doctrine of the Brotherhood of the Rose-Crossas described in the 17th century by Johann Valentin Andrea. It is to this School of thought that he will feel intellectually the closest till the end.
Another revelation came when he had to translate a book by Annie BesantPessoa translated into Portuguese few books by leading theosophists such as Helena Blavatsky, Charles Webster Leadbeater, Annie Besant, and Mabel Collins.Besant, Annie … Continue reading from English.
He read and was acquainted in a profound way the hermetic, magical, neoplatonic, and kabbalistic writings. Occultism, theurgy and even spiritualism were part of his experiences. Pessoa specialists would agree in recognizing him as self-initiated.
Although he did not adhere to the Golden Dawn Hermetic, he nevertheless borrowed from it the terms Neophyte and Adeptus Minor as being the first two fundamental degrees of the initiatory path.
At least twice he will quote in his writings Christian Rosencreutz: In the poem entitled "In the Tomb of Rosencreutz" and in notes where he evokes different degrees of ascending initiation dealing with the tombs of Hiram, Rosencreutz and Jesus Christ.
In the “Hidden King” poem belonging to “Message” (1934) he wonderfully evokes Christ, the Rose and the Cross.“Message” (which in itself would deserve a long and fascinating study) is said “Messagem” in Portuguese. Finally and very central in Pessoa’s life and thought, his soul is fed with the three fundamental Portuguese myths:
Sebastianism, and the Myth of the Hidden King; The Fifth Empire; And the Worship of the Holy Spirit.
Portuguese myths which perfectly fit with the spirit of reform of Andrea’s Rose Croix movement. A movement which, if we go back in history, undoubtedly has its deep roots in Joachimite prophecy and its millennialism.
Let us dwell for a while into this Portuguese mythology and psyche.
A key thinker was/is Joachim of Fiore, also known as Joachim of Flore. Born in 1135 and died in 1202, he was an Italian Christian theologian, catholic abbot, and the founder of the monastic order of San Giovanni in Fiore and according to theologians "the most important apocalyptic thinker of the whole medieval period”.
In a nutshell, he revived Millenarianism with its division of the history of humanity into three ages - The Age of the Father, The Age of the Son and the Age of the Holly Spirit - leading to the Cult of the Holy Spirit supported by the Franciscans. Joachim's idea of the Age of the Holy Spirit would also later greatly influence the Cult of the Holy Spirit which would in later centuries have considerable impact in Portugal and its colonies, and would suffer severe persecution by the Portuguese Inquisition.
His theories can be considered millenarian as he believed i.a. that history, by analogy with the Trinity, was divided into three fundamental epochs:
The Age of the Father, corresponding to the Old Testament, characterized by obedience of mankind to the Rules of God;
The Age of the Son, between the advent of Christ and 1260, represented by the New Testament, when Man became the son of God;
The Age of the Holy Spirit, a contemplative utopia - “The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit” - a new dispensation of universal love, would proceed from the Gospel of Christ, but transcend the letter of it. In this new Age the ecclesiastical organization would be replaced and the Order of the Just would rule the Church. This Order of the Just was later identified with the Franciscan order by his follower Gerardo of Borgo San DonninoGerard of Borgo San Donnino was an Italian friar of the Order of Friars Minor. He was a Joachimite, a follower of the millenarian ideas of Abbot Joachim of Fiore. Around 1250 Gerardo published in … Continue reading.
According to Joachim, only in this Third Age will it be possible to truly understand the words of God in their deepest meanings, and not merely literally.
In this period, instead of the parousia (second Advent of Christ), a new era of peace and concord would begin; also, a new religious "order" of spiritual men will arise, thus making the present hierarchy of the Church almost unnecessary.
It is in this intersection of Joachimite prophecy and the Franciscan spiritual movement with the Templar vocation as a basis that the Cult of the Holy Spirit flourished in the Portuguese soul in a lightning way.
This Cult of the Holy Spirit prepared in the collective imagination for the coming of the consoling “Paraclete of the end of time”. He crowned the emperor of a future world unified by the Spirit.
This cult existed in Portugal in enthusiastic popular form long before Isabel and King Denis of Portugal made it official at the beginning of the 14th century, decreeing the Royal Order of the Holy Spirit.
At the same time in Portugal a very strong idea of spiritual chivalry took root : (i) the establishment of the Order of the Golden Fleece through the union with the House of Burgundy; (ii) debt also to the Order of the Templars which had actively participated in the development of the country by driving out the Moors.
In the 15th and 16th century a very strong Arthurian current developed which ended up making Portugal heard as the Port of the Grail.
It was King Deniswho somehow 'substituted' the Order of the Templars by the Order of the Knights of ChristThe Military Order of Christ (previously Ordem dos Cavaleiros de Cristo "Order of the Knights of Christ") was founded in 1318. The order, in all essence of the word, were 'Knights Templar' whom … Continue readingin 1318.
And it was under the colors of this Order that Portugal undertook her great maritime discoveries giving "The world to Europe" as Pessoa puts it.
It would be thus up to Portugal to take the lead in the preparation and the blossoming of the new world age.
III. Sebastianism and the Fifth Empire
The Portuguese shoemaker writer Gonçalo Annes Bandarra (1500-1556) interpreted the Old Testament scriptures in a series of trovas. He devoted himself to astrology and to publicizing in verse messianic character prophecies famous around 1531. As an adult he moved to Lisbon at the request of new-Christian mystics and theologians who desired that he had more contact and discussion with the Lisbon community. He was accused by the Portuguese Inquisition of Judaism and his trovas were included in the catalogue of forbidden books, since they aroused interest especially among the new Christians. He faced this tribunal, which deemed him innocent.
He prophesied the coming of The 'Encoberto', a hidden king, and the future of Portugal turned towards a universal kingdom thanks to the return of this king. He interpreted the night visions of Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel in terms of succession of Empires. After that of the Chaldeans, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans, an empire would appear which would see the unification of Christendom by a Portuguese Messiah.
It brings us to August 1578 when the Battle of the Three Kings took place, in Alcacer Quibir, northern Morocco which saw the defeat (prophesied) of the young king of Portugal Don Sebastian (the Desired King)Sebastian (20 January 1554 – 4 August 1578) was King of Portugal from 11 June 1557 to 4 August 1578 and the penultimate Portuguese monarch of the House of Aviz. He disappeared (presumably killed in … Continue reading.
His body has never been found.
It doesn't take more than that for the legend of the Hidden King to emerge…
According to Bandarra's Encoberto, “He will reappear on a foggy morning, at the Tagus estuary on a white horse...Then will begin the dawn of the fifth empire, empire of the Holy Spirit. Don Sebastian being the paraclete, the Christ.” He would hide, says the legend, in the wealthy islands, in Cape Verde perhaps… In the new spiritual Indies… This disappearance marked the beginning of the decadence of Portugal the Fall, the end of its glory of the time of the discoveries and this small country incapable of founding a materially powerful colonial empire will immediately spiritualize this fall by creating in the collective unconscious the myth of the restoration to come on the fertile ground of the Cult of the Holy Spirit, anchored in the Portuguese soul.
The Bandarra’s trovas were interpreted as announcing the return of King Sebastian. The myth of the Fifth Empire will be that of the everlasting gospel. A sort of kingdom of God, a spiritual monarchy, the unification of Christendom under the same monarch.
It was the Jesuit Father Antonio Vieira who took this myth to the highest levels by establishing a resurrected Portuguese empire in "The Story of the Future".
For the Portuguese tradition, Portugal will be the center of the future unified world. The throne will be in Lisbon and the first emperor will be the king of Portugal.
It is this nostalgia for a glorious past associated with the hope for a future of peace and regained grandeur that represents the very spirit of what is called the Saudade.
This is as well all the depth of the meta-story told in Pessoa's poem “Message”. Pessoa describing himself as a national Sebastianist.
Let‘s move back to the following quote from the Fama Fraternitatis:
We had not yet seen the remains of our Father, the prudish man, the wise man.To this end we pulled the altar aside.Then we were able to lift a solid slab of yellow metal, and there was in its beauty a distinguished body, intact, unaltered.He held in his hand a little book of parchment, with gold letters, titled “T”.Book which is, after the Bible, our highest treasure, and which should not be subjected to the censorship of the world.
Fama Fraternitatis, 1614
The image of the Master's corpse holding a mysterious book is “mind blowing” : the “dead who knows” is opposed to “the living who ignores”. The book contains a voice which bears witness to the Knowledge acquired and which silence protects.
The closed book obviously represents esoteric knowledge unlike the exoteric open book.
It contains esoteric prophetic knowledge. An absolute knowledge of the unspoken Wordwhich will be revealed at the end of time.
The Tomb of Rosencreutz brings us back to at least three themes:
The one of the beautiful and glorious body of the Master. Uncorrupted. That of a Saint thus.
The one of the closed book containing a precious treasure. The Fama specifies that this book is in letters of gold. Entitled T. What is the nature of this treasure?
and the one of the Hidden King, resonating with the myth of the Encoberto we pointed out a bit earlier. Myth not specific to Portugal obviously, cfr King Arthur Isle of Avallon, King priest John, who in the process Portuguese navigators sought in Ethiopia, 12th Shiite Imam, etc.
At the Tomb of Christian Rosencreutz"At the Tomb of Christian Rosenkreutz.” This trio of sonnets was given to Almada Negreiros to be published in Sudoeste but did not actually see print until 1942.
Poem by Raphael Baldaya / Fernando Pessa
Three sonnets which resonate with the above-mentioned quote from the Fama:
When, awakened from this sleep, life,
We will learn what we are, and what was
This fall to the Body, this descent
Until the Night that encumbers the Soul,
Then will we know the whole truth
Hidden, that of all that is or is flowing?
No: even in the free soul it remains unknown ...
And God, who created us, does not contain it in Him.
God is the Man of another greater God:
Supreme Adam, he also knew the Fall;
And he too, as he was our creator,
He was created, for him the Truth died ...
From above His Spirit, the Abyss, hides it from Him
Here below she is not in Her Body, our World.
But before was the Word, lost here.
When the Infinite Light, now extinct,
From Chaos, ground of Being, was lifted
In Shadow, and that the absent verb was obscured.
But if the soul feels that its form is wrong
In herself - this Shadow - she ends up seeing
Shine the Word, human and sacred, of this world,
Rose of Perfection, in crucified God.
So, lords of the threshold that opens onto Heaven,
So we can go look beyond God
And the Secret of the Master and the essential Good;
Awakened from here below and already, from ourselves,
In the present blood of Christ emancipated
From this al-God who dies the genesis of the world.
But unfortunately ! Here below, unreal, erroneous,
We sleep what we are, and the truth,
Who finally can only be seen in dreams
We see it, for it is in a dream, in falsehood.
Shadows in bad shape, if the quest is successful,
How to feel the reality of these bodies?
Because with shadow hands, Shadows, what do we touch?
Our touch is nothing but absence and emptiness.
Who will deliver us from this closed soul?
Without seeing we listen beyond the room
Of Being: but how, here, to open the door?
Calm in the false death before us exposed,
Against her bosom the Hermetic Book placed,
Our Father Rose-Croix knows and is silent.
For Pessoa the Creator of the World is not the Creator of Reality.
He is not the ineffable God but a Man God, or Man God similar to us but superior to us at the same time.
This poem is - quoting from Lima de Freitas Lima de Freitas (1927–1998) was a Portuguese painter, illustrator, ceramicist and writer. He studied at the Escola Superior de Belas Artes de Lisboa.- “a meditation on death as an awakening from the dream of life on what the soul can know of the Truth about God as "the Man of another greater God."
In this poem Pessoa realizes what he expects from poetry, namely: "That thought transcends itself in order to be able to establish itself on its other side"
Lima de Freinas who also reminds us that “the ancient Egyptians transformed their sarcophagi into real open books. Message left by the corpse. The mummy then represented another sarcophagus in a book, closed this one, with a secret interior text.”
The Rosicrucians announced a general reform. With within this agitation the legend of Christian Rosencreutz and his pilgrimage to the East. In Portugal we have seen the myth of the Fifth Empire developing at the same time, Following Sebastianism and Portuguese fervor for the cult of the Holy Spirit.
It is therefore appropriate to place this Rosicrucian poem by Pessoa within the Portuguese spiritual atmosphere and the initiatory thought of Pessoa.
To 'conclude', two poems from Message which summarize - for our meditation – an inspired and inspiring Rosicrucian Pessoa:
The HIDDEN KING
What a fruitful symbol
Coming in anxious dawn?
On the dead cross of the world
The life that is the Rose
What a divine symbol
Brings up the day already glimpsed?
On the Cross which is Destiny,
The Rose who is Christ
What a last symbol
Show the sun already awake?
On the dead and fatal cross
The Rose of the Hidden King
I fell on the sands in the opposing hour
May God grant his own
Opening the gap in which to immerse the soul
Deep in the dreams that are God
What do the sands, death, misfortune
If with God, I kept myself?
He is what I dream of and that lasts forever
It is transmuted in him that I will come back to you.
Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524 or 1525 - 10 June 1580) is considered Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and Dante.
Fernando Pessoa writes in his letter dated Janeiro 13th 1935 to Adolfo Casais Monteiro, that Ricardo Reis was born in 1887 (although he couldn’t recall the exact date), in Oporto. He describes him as shorter, stronger and stiffer than Caeiro, besides being clean shaven. He had had a Jesuit school education, was a doctor and had lived in Brazil since 1919, from where he had been self-expatriated for being a supporter of the monarchy. He had Latin and semi-Hellenic instruction.
Pessoa was a prolific writer, and not only under his own name, for he created approximately seventy-five others, of which three stand out, Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos, and Ricardo Reis. He did not call them pseudonyms because he felt that this did not capture their true independent intellectual life and instead called them heteronyms. These imaginary figures sometimes held unpopular or extreme views.
Pessoa translated into Portuguese few books by leading theosophists such as Helena Blavatsky, Charles Webster Leadbeater, Annie Besant, and Mabel Collins.Besant, Annie (1915), Os Ideaes da Theosophia, Lisboa: Livraria Clássica Editora. Leadbeater, C. W. (1915), Compêndio de Theosophia, Lisboa: Livraria Clássica Editora. Leadbeater, C. W. (1916), Auxiliares Invisíveis, Lisboa: Livraria Clássica Editora. Leadbeater, C. W. (1916), A Clarividência, Lisboa: Livraria Clássica Editora. Blavatsky, Helena (1916), A Voz do Silêncio, Lisboa: Livraria Clássica Editora. Collins, Mabel (1916), Luz Sobre o Caminho e o Karma, Lisboa: Livraria Clássica Editora. He even translated Crowley's "Hymn to Pan" into Portuguese.
Gerard of Borgo San Donnino was an Italian friar of the Order of Friars Minor. He was a Joachimite, a follower of the millenarian ideas of Abbot Joachim of Fiore. Around 1250 Gerardo published in Paris a book entitled “Introductorium in Evangelium Aeternum” (An Introduction to the Eternal Gospel), where he identified the "Order of the Just," supposed to rule the Roman Catholic Church after the advent of the Age of the Holy Spirit, in the Franciscan Order.
The Military Order of Christ (previously Ordem dos Cavaleiros de Cristo "Order of the Knights of Christ") was founded in 1318. The order, in all essence of the word, were 'Knights Templar' whom continued their operations from their headquarters in Tomar, Santarém Portugal. Contrary to the belief that the Templar Order was renamed and established by King Denis of Portugal, the Templars merely moved backed to their original headquarters in Tomar Castle which was an autonomous zone granted to the Templar Order. Reasons for this move and change of name were to protect the vast assets of the order from repatriation by the Catholic Church. The Templar assets were then transferred over to the Cavaleiros de Cristo. All with the blessing of King Diniz who helped pull off the deal with the Church. The order was secularized in 1789, and dissolved in 1910. It was revived in 1917 within the Portuguese Republic, headed by the President of Portugal, as a decoration in recognition of outstanding services to the state.
Sebastian (20 January 1554 – 4 August 1578) was King of Portugal from 11 June 1557 to 4 August 1578 and the penultimate Portuguese monarch of the House of Aviz. He disappeared (presumably killed in action) in the battle of Alcácer Quibir, against the Saadians of Morocco. Sebastian I is often referred to as The Desired (Portuguese: o Desejado) or The Asleep (Portuguese: o Adormecido), as the Portuguese people longed for his return to end the decline of Portugal that began after his death. He is considered to be the Portuguese example of the King asleep in mountain legend as Portuguese tradition states his return, in a foggy dawn, on Portugal's greatest hour of need.