The Soul’s Journey: A Virtual Retreat with Dante’s Divine Comedy November 12-15, 2020 Kayleen Asbo, Ph.D
Welcome! In this four day virtual retreat, we will encounter Dante’s epic Divine Comedy as both a universal story that has inspired centuries of some of the most magnificent art, music, film and poetry of all time. We will also encounter the story as a map of psychological and spiritual development that can help us navigate through our own life during times of confusion, loss and despair.
Each session will begin with a time of meditation on the day’s themes, with a question of reflection to hold. Kayleen will guide us through the landscapes of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise through vivid storytelling illuminated by hundreds of artistic masterworks, from Michelangelo, Botticelli and Raphael to Rodin, Dore and Salvador Dali.
Each one-hour lecture will be followed by a time of integration. Sometimes you will be randomly placed in small “break out groups” to share your thoughts and responses to the class material; other times, you will be given illuminating journaling exercises that will reveal how richly relevant Dante’s world really is. Past participants have described both of these options as filled with learning and insight.
At the end of each day, we will gather again for a brief service of Compline, a form of music, meditation and prayer that shaped Dante’s spirituality, particularly at the end of his life when he became a lay order Franciscan.
If you would like to deepen the experience of this retreat, there are suggested films, operas and music to watch and listen to that are connected to the themes we will be sharing. Below are some
Recommended Sources For a translation of Dante’s actual work, I recommend either John Ciardi or Allen Mandelbaum Gustav Dore’s Illustrated Dante is a very useful map for the journey Falling Upwards: A Spirituality for the Second Half of Life by Richard Rohr and The Midlife Passage by James Hollis are two excellent works that fuse a spiritual and psychological approach to the themes we will be encountering. From Dark Woods to White Rose is a Jungian interpretation of the tale by Helen Luke Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity By Prue Shaw is an erudite collection of essays for history buffs
If you are lucky enough to understand Dante’s original language, try watching Italian actor Roberto Begnini’s tour de force live performance. I do not understand Italian, but I enjoyed clips of this anyway! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3FZ6QQGeq8