Our Pre-Conference Experience offers two options. Participants choose either to travel the short distance to Sintra, an important focal point for esotericism in Portugal, or to remain within Lisbon for a day exploring the city through a Hermetic lens.
In the evening, both groups meet in the Chiado district for a performance on the life of Portugal’s most famous modern poet, Fernando Pessoa.
For anyone interested, there also will be activities available on the afternoon of June 2nd. Some of us may choose a self-guided visit to Casa Fernando Pessoa. Others may accompany Fabrizio Boscaglia on a guided tour of a beautiful exhibit he curated at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Divine Wisdom: the Sufi Way, features pieces from India, Portugal, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Egypt and Turkey that reveal the esoteric dimensions of Islam (the exact time and meeting point will be included in your Welcome Packet).
Hermetic, Alchemical, Masonic and Sufi Lisbon
With Fabrizio Boscaglia, Ph.D.
Lisbon, with its winding cobbled streets and charming tile work, is a city that powerfully evokes ages past. Its older sections in particular are filled with a pervasive symbology; interpretations of these images are based on various legends, allegories and traditions. We will begin our day by visiting the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem where the Tagus River opens out to the ocean and from which many explorers journeyed to distant lands. Built in 1502 to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India, the monastery embodies the myths of the Age of Discovery, with its paradoxical focus upon both eternity and time, and spirituality and imperialism. The most impressive symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth during that era, it is a unique expression of architectural alchemy, with visual references to Hermeticism and Neoplatonism.
After lunch in Belem, we will explore the historic Islamic neighborhood of Alfama, also known as the birthplace of Fado. The Alfama’s multiple scenic viewpoints offer a birds eye view of nearby cathedrals, Moorish castle and the Tagus River. We will hear Sufi poems at various significant points throughout our tour.
There also will be time after our tour for participants to explore independently the mysteries of the old city. It is known that some of the architects of the reconstruction of the city after the devastating earthquake of 1755, including its greatest figure the Marquis of Pombal, were Freemasons, and the design of the downtown area seems to have been based on Masonic symbolism.
Esoteric Sintra and Quinta da Regaleira
With Manuel Gandra
A city with a history dating to prehistoric, Roman, Islamic and medieval times, Sintra is one of the of the best known places of esoteric interest in Portugal. In particular, the beautiful grounds of Quinta da Regaleira, classified as a World Heritage Site, contain a Romantic palace and chapel, a lovely park with lakes, fountains, a mysterious well of ‘initiation,’ and a vast array of exquisite constructions. It was conceived by António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, a Brazilian-Portuguese philanthropist and Freemason who devoted himself to the study of the esoteric traditions hidden in Portuguese history and culture. Indeed, he amassed a collection of 50,000 manuscripts and books on these subjects that was formerly housed there. In the Quinta, whose enigmatic buildings are said to hold symbols related to Alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians, Monteiro created a setting that expressed the quest for these spiritual impulses as well as his affinity for the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama.
We will depart Lisbon early for the 45 minute ride by coach to Sintra and spend the morning on a guided visit emphasizing the esoteric dimensions of this magical estate. We’ll then enjoy lunch and return to Lisbon by mid-afternoon.
Evening Event (for both options):
Countless Lives: an introduction to Fernando Pessoa
With Amanda Booth
“Travel is the traveler. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.”
Countless Lives offers a first encounter with Lisbon’s great poet, Fernando Pessoa. This evening reveals his extraordinary universe – one that serves to enrich the experience of the city’s streets, gardens, riverside and buildings. We will hear a reading of his poems, a brief account of his life, and the fascinating story of his four major heteronyms – Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, Álvaro de Campos and Bernardo Soares – imaginary figures with their own astrological charts, histories, temperaments, philosophies and literary styles, who conversed with each other and even praised and criticized each others’ works.
Includes one of two guided tours, evening performance, all entrance fees and ground transport, all meals from dinner on the 2nd through breakfast on the 4th, and coach travel to Tomar.
Two nights’ accommodations in Lisbon are priced separately.