The Esoteric Quest
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Fernando B. Maria
On the Trail of the Lost Spiritual History of the West
by Ralph White
After a three-year hiatus, Esoteric Quest will resume its conference and journey series, June 2 to 8, with a Quest in Portugal, a country that some scholars believe is the most esoterically alive in Europe. Esoteric Quest is an ongoing conference and travel series engaged with the rediscovery of the lost or half-forgotten spiritual history of the West.
Since its first Quest in 1995, journeys have brought together scholars, writers, artists and overall seekers of the mysteries deeply versed in the Western esoteric tradition to uncover truths and mysteries that have long been hidden by oppression, genocide, violent religion, or simple neglect. Organizers believe that authentic wisdom—both spiritual and ecological—that our short-sighted and often self-destructive culture needs so badly is to be found not just in the fabled worlds of Tibet, India, pre-Columbian America, or other long neglected realms, but in the heart of the West, lying unrecognized before our eyes.
While in Portugal, significant attention will be given to the Knights Templar, that enigmatic order of warrior monks who have intrigued so many recent novelists. The conference portion will be based in the small town of Tomar, two hours north of Lisbon, where the castle and stronghold of the Knights dominates the landscape. After their suppression elsewhere in Europe, they re-emerged thanks to the intervention of the Portuguese King Denys, a gifted troubadour. Travelers will come to know the legacy of Fernando Pessoa, the great poet and writer, who invented new literary forms and was deeply imbued with an esoteric worldview. And, not to be missed, will be the moving, passionate music of Fado, sometimes described as longing turned to melody, that expresses the nation’s soul so deeply. In Portuguese, the word is saudade.
All Esoteric Quests include an optional post-conference journey, and this year’s will travel mostly by bus, but with some walking along the most famous pilgrimage route in the West, the Camino of Santiago de Compostela from June 8 to 15. The route will follow the Portuguese way to the heart of Galicia leaving Tomar, heading North through the beautiful Douro Valley, Porto and Santiago, and concluding at the tip of North-West Spain in the suitably named Finisterra, the end of the earth, the traditional terminus of the pilgrimage. Today this route is an inter-spiritual experience followed by people of all spiritual persuasions.
All are welcome to join this community as the Quest continues for the deepest truths, the lost traditions and the regenerative wisdom that the struggling world so desperately needs if a course is to be charted to a sustainable and viable future.
Ralph White is the creator and director of the Esoteric Quest series of conferences. He co-founded the New York Open Center and is the author of The Jeweled Highway: On the Quest for a Life of Meaning. Learn more at RalphWhite.net.