26 avril 2005

Mihai Marinescu, Tradition in the Romanian World, (full text)

A few weeks ago I was asked by my friend Martin to write this brief presentation of the manifestations of the Tradition in Romania. In the process of developing the subject I have come to understand its great significance and the necessity to develop good communication between those interested in Traditional spirituality. The general aim of this essay is therefore to inform on the basic realities that compose our traditional perspective. As inevitably the inferior is contained in the superior, I believe that the right point to start is the sacred history and geography of this ancient land, the existence in remote times of a specific spiritual heritage of an unquestionable authenticity. Secondly, any analysis of recent traditional manifestations in Romania cannot escape the fact that they have been intimately connected to the great personality of Vasile Lovinescu, reason for which I shall try to provide the reader with a brief presentation of his spiritual profile. In the final analysis, I have thought useful to include some data of informative value, as well as a few starting points for future communication and debate.

The story of the great hyperborean migration is perhaps the most fascinant piece of Romania’s sacred history. Lovinescu’s study “Dacia Hiperboreana”[1], the first to present us with clear evidence on the existence on the territory of the former Dacia [2] of a supreme spiritual center and the process of perpetuation of a traditional doctrine, is proof for the undying spiritual chain that ties us to the Primordial Tradition. In supporting his hypothesis, Lovinescu brings into focus apparently unimportant names, facts, symbols, quotations from ancient authors, parts from romanian popular customs, songs and fairy-tales that all make up a vivid picture of a vivid Romanian tradition:

“Let us re-read these legends; let us examine again the map, with this saturnian Black Sea, hiding in its bosom the Alba Isle, placed opposite to Selina, having at its north the solar Cetatea Alba [3] and a little more at its south the lunar Selina, often called in Romania “the keys of the Black Sea” (the golden and silver keys of the sacerdotal and royal power, of the Great and Small Misteries, the keys of Ianus and Ion-Sânt-Ion); let us look at the lagoon of Letea, the Trident of the Danube, having on its handle, in “indistinction”, Tula; let us make this decisive observation, putting aside our last hesitations, that all these are placed exactly on the 45* parralel, that is rigorously at half the distance between the Pole and the Equator, and we shall be able to say paraphrasing St.Paul that “there are many things to be said and hard to explain because we understand with difficulty…” Still, it seems well settled that Dacia was the residence of the Supreme Center in a very remote period” [4].

Even if the reader may be unaccustomed with the geography of Romania and the names can be slightly different to the present ones, one look on a map is enough to identify the places mentioned in the text and their symbolism. Moving on, Lovinescu tells us about the mountains of Caliman and Caraiman [5] (the most important of them three being also called “The Throne of God” in Romanian), which are considered names for the King of the World. He identifies Zamolxis, the supreme God of the Dacians, with Brahma Nirguna [6]. Lovinescu also believes that the the name of Romania has an obvious connection with Ram, the sixth Avatârâ [7]. The foundation of Transylvania and Moldavia are seen in strictly traditional perspective and it is amazing the clarity and exactity of the references, all based on historically acknowledged data. At the end of this essay, Lovinescu points out how popular literature and customs have contributed to the deposit of traditional spirituality and makes a brief analysis of the initiatic content of the tale of “Harap Alb”, written by Ion Creanga [8]. In the whole, ”Dacia Hiperboreana” contains detailed explanation of symbols and ample associations of words and ideas that are indispensable to the overall understanding of the major themes involved.

Another study of Vasile Lovinescu that throws light upon the mythical origins of the romanian people is “O Icoana Crestina pe Columna Traiana” [9], in which an image in one of the registers of the Column is identified as representing Jesus together with supreme leaders of the Dacian spiritual hierarchy and St. John in a “sacrificial scene”, considered by the author as belonging to the masonic symbolism. Taking advantage of this context, Lovinescu points out the double role of the Roman Emperor Trajan and presents us with a traditional view of the Christian part in the becoming of the ancient world.

The sacred geography and history of Romania as seen by Lovinescu are definitely more complex than this brief account. One has to study his books in detail and even engage in personal research in order to grasp their full meaning. Given the fact that the traditional manifestations during the last decades have practically identified with the spiritual path of Vasile Lovinescu we shall try further on to set up a few lines of his life, work and influence [10].

Lovinescu was born in December 1905 in the patriarchal athmosphere of his native land of Falticeni, a place that was to have a profound impact on him and to which he often returned in seek of its peaceful and authentic climate. During his youth he not only laid the basis of a strong culture but also engaged in spiritual preoccupations that were to reach their fulfillment a few years later. In March 1936, after a period of preparation with Titus Burckhardt, he received a Sufi initiation from Frithjof Schuon, the spiritual influence that has marked his identity as “son of the moment”. In fact he remained in contact and friendship with the great Traditional thinkers of his time and especially with Guénon, with whom he was in periodical correspondence. With the aid of M. Valsan [11] he started an initiatic group (tariqah) that held secret meetings in his own house in Bucharest. After this group ceased to exist, Lovinescu continued to be a center of spiritual influence. A new group of meditations and traditional studies was born around him and two of his friends, Lucretia Andriu and Florin Mihaescu. Later including more members, “The Fraternity of Hyperion” continues to exist even today, after more than 15 years from the death of the master, enclosing the story of its members’ lives and friendship together with the dear memory of their guiding light.

After completing his work, Lovinescu retired to his native Falticeni where he would live the last moments until he made his step to eternity.

Lovinescu showed in his work a great interest in identifying and explaining the authentic traditional elements that lay in Romania’s popular manifestations. Considering perhaps that the general principles of the Traditional perspective had already been pointed out by Guénon, he chose to focus rather upon the spirituality of his land, thus fulfilling a real “restorative function” with regard to our Tradition. In “Creanga si Creanga de Aur” [12] he approaches the work of the “popular genius of the romanian people” from a strictly traditional perspective, study from which derives another interesting essay, ”Incantatia Sangelui” [13]. In “Mitul Sfâsiat” [14] he synthesizes the inner meanings of the myth and continues the analysis of the fairy tales of Petre Ispirescu. Perhaps the most difficult part of his work is constituted by his journals, an amazing reflection of his spiritual profile in which we can find invaluable considerations regarding metaphysic principles and the process of initiation.

It is important to know that Vasile Lovinescu also had in view for interpretation and comments the great masterpieces of universal literature. In “O Icoana Crestina pe Columna Traiana” he completes with interesting considerations Guénon´s “L’Ésoterisme de Dante”. His study of Shakespeare’s work has been made fruitful by the later studies of his friend Florin Mihaescu, who completed and amplified after a work of more than a decade the incipient observations made by Lovinescu. Himself an appreciated “man of the Tradition” and a gifted writer, Mr. Mihaescu has completed three volumes on Shakespeare, one of which is dedicated to the study of “Hamlet”, character of great significance for the author [15]. He also published two works of Orthodox spirituality written from two different perspectives, microcosmic and macrocosmic, that constitute a great introduction to the Orthodox doctrine: “Omul in Traditia Crestina” and “Simbol si Ortodoxie” [16].

There has been raised a question: why did Lovinescu choose the Islamic path and not one inside his own Tradition? Well, even if Orthodoxy as revealed by the Son of God Himself could have been considered more directly connected to God, the possibilities for initiation were few and confined to monasticism and therefore the Islamic Sufism was much more accessible for direct initiation. It is interesting to know that Orthodox Isihasm enjoyed a revigoration after the war, through the russian priest Ioan Kulighin, who transmitted his blessing both to priests and members of the eso-exoteric group “Rugul Aprins” [17], without being able to exert much influence (in 1958 it was forbidded by the Communist regime). Thus, this initiatic path has also dissapeared.

There are many Romanian intellectuals that have, at least at one moment in their lives, been influenced by the Traditional perspective. People like Roxana Cristian, Dan Stanca, Radu Vasiliu (all three members of Lovinescu’s “inner circle”), the philosopher Andrei Plesu, the writer Alexandru Paleologu or the professor André Scrima all bear in their work and thought the profound mark of the Tradition. The famous historian of religions Mircea Eliade has also shown interest in the writings of Guénon during his youth. Still, even if he had the possibilities to follow the road further towards full spiritual accomplishment, he seems to have chosen the glamour of a brilliant universitary career instead. Yet, in one of his last volumes, he recognized to some extent the merits of Guénon and settled things from an entirely new perspective [18].

The national currrent of admiration for our past that could encourage an authentic traditional revival in the 30s finally proved to be a “traditionalist” one, with strong nationalist and therefore political implications [19]. Many people abroad are now interested in the personality of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, initiator and promoter of “Legiunea Arhanghelului Mihail”, fascist movement that is considered to have laid on a set of ideas of a spiritual nature. The truth is that even if at the beginning the organization seems to have had a legitimate doctrine, the methods of achieving the desired goals soon degenerated into violence and disorder. Thus, the originary ideas were lost making way for sheer anarchy and political oportunism, outcome that can hardly be considered traditional or spiritual and therefore does not make the object of this essay.

Although not entirely lacking, the present perspectives for initiation in Romania are unclear [20]. Guénon warned that the Dacian tradition has died, the possibility of the existence of hermits in the mountains is remote and the Isihasm is in a state of somnolence (even if survivors of “Rugul Aprins” are still alive). The balance of effective initiatic acts is therefore negative.

A few words should be said about the publications of a Traditional character that are publicly available in Romania. The most important initiative belongs to Florin Mihaescu, Roxana Cristian and Dan Stanca, who have founded a small publishing house, ROSMARIN, with the primary purpose of printing the work of Vasile Lovinescu, so many years in the shadow of communist oppression. Faithful to its original intent, ROSMARIN has restricted its area of interest only to include books of a Traditional character. Besides achieving its important goal (seven books of V. Lovinescu have first appeared in the last five years completing thus his entire work), ROSMARIN has also published a Romanian edition of Guénon’s “Le Roi du Monde”, two books by Ernst Junger, the studies of Florin Mihaescu, Dan Stanca, Roxana Cristian and other traditional writings. These books are all available in Romania through order by mail [21]. Besides Rosmarin, there have been translated at “Humanitas” (perhaps the largest publishing house in Romania): Guénon’s “Le Regne de la Quantité et les Signes des Temps”, ”Symboles Fondamentaux de la Science Sacrée” and “La Crise du Monde Moderne”; “De l’Unité Transcendante des Religions” and “Comprendre l’Islam” of Frithjof Schuon; Evola’s “La Tradizione Ermetica” and “Metafisica del Sesso” and “Alchimie” by Titus Burckhardt. Guénon´s “L’homme et son devenir selon le Vedanta” and “Hindouisme et Boudhisme” of Ananda Coomaraswamy also appeared.
After all that has been said I think the present account has completed its meaning. Inevitably some things have been said better than others and people that should have been mentioned may have been left aside. Given the advanced state of disorder that marks the modern times, one needs more than mere tenacity to make his way through and therefore we need as many lights as possible to make the road clearer, to help us pass the important gates. I hope this presentation be one of these lights.

“In moments of depression I think about the fact that at each gate there is an angel and that this soldier-angel is faithful to his direction; he won’t let you pass unless you say the password; still, you can only find out the password once you have passed the gate. Unsolvable situation. But the password is exactly the feeling of what is beyond the gate and when we get it, we are already with the essential part of our being beyond.” [22]


[1] Ed. ROSMARIN, Bucuresti, 1996.

[2] The ancient land of the dacians, the forerunners of the romanians, conquered by the Romans after the campaigns of 101-102 and 105-106.

[3] “The White Fortress”.

[4] Vasile Lovinescu, “Dacia Hiperboreana”, Bucuresti, ROSMARIN, 1996.

[5] In literal translation “The King of the Sky”.

[6] “The supreme Dacian God is nameless, above all qualification” (Strabo).

[7] Lovinescu notes that besides the “Emperor Ram” from the romanian mythology, there are lots of places in nowadays Romania that remind us of this name: “Rama, Ramna, Râmnic, Râmeşti, Rima, Rigmani, Roman, Romlia, Rams, Rum, Armeneasca, Armenis, Ormeni, Ramsca, Ramscani, etc.” (V.Lovinescu, op.cit.).

[8] The word Creanga means in Romanian “bough” and has as a synonym “Ram”. The connection is obvious. To this classic author of Romanian literature Lovinescu has dedicated a separate study of great interest.

[9] Ed. Cartea Romaneasca, Bucuresti, 1996 – in translation “A Christian Icon on the Column of Trajan”.

[10] For this account of the life of our great spiritual I have used the volume “Vasile Lovinescu si Functiunea Traditionala”, ROSMARIN, Bucuresti, 1998 (in translation “Vasile Lovinescu and the Traditional Function”) made up by Florin Mihaescu and Roxana Cristian,to whom I am very thankful.

[11] Another romanian traditional thinker and writer that, together with Mihail Avramescu, has been deeply involved in manifestations of a traditional character outside Romania.

[12] ROSMARIN, Bucuresti, 1996 – in translation “Creanga and the Golden Bough”.

[13] Ed. Institutul European, Bucuresti, 1999 – in translation “The Incantation of Blood”.

[14] Ed. Institutul European, Bucuresti, 1999 – in translation “The Torn Myth”.

[15] “Shakespeare si Teatrul Initiatic”, “Hamlet, printul melancoliei” and “Shakespeare si tragediile iubirii”, ROSMARIN, Bucuresti.

[16] In translation “Man Inside the Christian Tradition”, ”Symbol and Orthodoxy”.

[17] On this subject there has been published in Romania André Scrima’s “Timpul Rugului Aprins”.

[18] “Occultism, Witchcraft and Cultural Fashions” (1976)

[19] Acc. to Florin Mihaescu and Roxana Cristian, “Vasile Lovinescu si Functiunea Traditionala”.

[20] ibid.

[21] For more information please contact ROSMARIN, Str. Mihaila Radu 8, sector 2, Bucuresti 71432, Romania or Str. Tg. Neamt nr.16, Bl. D4, sc. C, ap. 23, sector 6, Bucuresti 77486, Romania.

[22] Vasile Lovinescu, “Meditatii, Simboluri, Rituri”, ROSMARIN, Bucuresti, 1997.

Aucun commentaire: