In the Mystic Castle of “the Two Iulias” (2 VII): A Possible World “Created” by the Soul
Virgil Ierunca noted down in his diary that “to Easterners, beauty is not an aesthetic hazard, but a transcendental support” (Paris, March 22, 1960). That would be precisely the purpose of the architectural attractiveness that reveals itself with so many precaution to the ordinary visitor of the enigmatic Castle (a fortress, a mystical edifice, a unique construction made of three crenelled towers) built at Campina (Romania) by Prince Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu, a “homo universalis” whose heart came to a stop one hundred years ago.
Carrying sustained correspondence with the western scholars of his time, but also with astronomer Flamarion and the famous spiritist Crooks, taking equal interest in humanistic studies, religion, occultism, and philosophy, B.P. Hasdeu (1836-1907) was a Romanian philologist of world repute, the discoverer of the law of word circulation in a language, an outstanding historian; he was seen as being the most learned scholar of his time. He was also an ethno-psychologist, poet, philosopher, playwright, editor and translator of historical documents, a visionary of the unified Romania (1918) within its natural borders, a political journalist and magazine founder, member of the Romanian Academy before turning thirty-one, professor of constitutional law, of the history of law, and of compared philology at the University of Bucharest. Hasdeu occupied in turn the office as judge of the tribunal of Cahul (in today’s Republic of Moldova), as deputy of Craiova, and director of the State Archives. While in this position, he wrote the monograph Ioan Voda the Dreadful, published three volumes of Historical Archives of Romania (1865-1867), and his fundamental work The Critical History of the Romanians (1873). He was a polyglot and a man of “frightening erudition” (according to Mircea Eliade who edited and prefaced in 1937 two volumes of Hasdeu’s Works), a prominent philologist that got the prize of the Romanian Academy for his Cuvinte din batrani (Words of Our Forefathers – 1878-1881), a study of the Romanian language of the 16th century based on religious and legal texts.
Prince Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu drew up all by himself the large volumes of the dictionary titled Etymologicum Magnum Romaniae (1881-1898), where almost every word reveals its meanings in a micro monograph. Starting 1888, he began erecting the two mystical monuments that enclosed an expanding space. Between 1888 and 1891, he had the Little Temple built in Bucharest for his brilliant daughter Iulia Hasdeu, who could read at two, write at four, graduated high school at twelve, mastering to perfection the English language (she could recite from Shakespeare), German and French. When she went to Paris to further her studies, accompanied by her mother, she astounded her professors with her erudition and intelligence. Alas, the only child of the Hasdeus passed away at nineteen, of tuberculosis.
Like Victor Hugo, the Romanian scholar studied spiritism, claiming that “spiritism is not a distinct faith, nor is it something new”: its dogmas (to be found in every religion) “are rooted in people’s heart since the beginning of mankind.”
Between 1893 and 1896, Prince B.P. Hasdeu (related to Stefan Petriceicu, ruling prince of Moldavia) had the Castle of Campina built, seen by many as the most astounding and mysterious building in Romania, oozing with symbols and significances not yet unraveled. As of 1897, the reputed philologist leaves Bucharest to live in the “Castle of the two Iulias” (his wife and daughter had the same name, having been born on the same day of July 2 – iulie is the Romanian word for July), plunging himself in writing, studying, and taking part in séances of spiritism within a group formed of a metropolitan bishop, three generals, and a professor (see Jenica Tabacu and Mihai Colosenco, Protocoalele sedintelor de spiritism [The Minutes of the Séances of Spiritism], Saeculum I.O. Publishers, Bucharest, 2000, as well as Jenica Tabacu, Simboluri incifrate in arhitectura Castelului Iulia Hasdeu si a Mausoleului familiei Hasdeu [Encoded symbols in the Architecture of the Castel Iulia Hasdeu and of the Mausoleum of the Hasdeu Family]).
After his daughter’s demise, Hasdeu turned her grave in an altar, having had erected in the Bellu Cemetery of Bucharest the enigmatic construction on which are engraved the following lines that reveal the occult source of the plan of the whole work: “This TEMPLU SPIRITIS was erected by the will of God with the strict observance of the plan drawn up in detail by Iulia Hasdeu”. One of the legends of the place has it that in the moonlit nights, one can see on the central alley a barefoot girl with long hair floating rather than walking that vanishes into the family tomb at dawn. The rumor also has it that at Campina, a tune played on the piano can be heard from the “Big Temple”, that is from the uninhabited Castle.
A gem of architecture guarded by two Egyptian sphinxes holding the Earth made of white marble, with the five continents and three colored stones locating Bucharest, Rome and Paris, with its clock measuring eternity, the “Temple of Immortality” of Bucharest invites the passers-by to “linger for a while,” urging them to keep a moment of silence that has nothing to do with sadness due to the scholarly atmosphere created by a desk, a bookcase reminding of the ones in the ancient temples, a mechanic piano, and a small suspended altar on which rest three busts: Jesus Christ, Shakespeare, and Hugo. Right at the entrance, on either side of the nine-step stair, the 12 religious, moral, social and philosophical laws are engraved in marble, under an octagonal star.
Beyond the encodements that make it a book of signs, Iulia’s Tomb is an elegant construction borrowing something of the exterior look of a Greek temple (without altering its uniqueness, though) that induces to the visitor (through the harmony of forms, but also through numberless details endowed with an occult meaning) a feeling of inner balance and soul uplift. This may be the reason why some writers called it the “Poem tomb”.
Had Leibniz lived in the East, wrote religious thinker Nae Ionescu on December 25, 1931, he “should have attached to his monads a window towards the sky”. Indeed, the opening of a window towards transcendentness seems to be the ultimate aim of the monuments erected by B.P. Hasdeu, both of the “Little Temple” of Bucharest and of the “Big Temple” of Campina, the construction of which features many correspondences, beyond the fact that both carry echoes of the mystique of numbers of Pythagorean nature.
In the Castle of the two Iulias, that its princely grandeur makes look bigger than it actually is, the visitor enters through a door carved in a block of stone into the hall of parallel mirrors where, among others, stand the statues of the four Apostles. According to some legend, the door of massive granite would open by itself on New Year’s Eve. On the outer side of the door the coat of arms of the Hasdeu family is engraved and two inscriptions. One is: “Pro Fide et Patria”. The other, borrowed from Galilei, “E PUR SI MUOVE” has a more profound significance since it does not refer to the revolving door, but to the efficiency of partaking of the mystery of resurrection.
The visitor kneeling before the Cross of Resurrection (of the Great Crucifix placed at the core of the mystical construction) may happen to enjoy spiritual enlightenment through the “movement” of their soul that has a latent possibility to take part in the “divine Light of the Grail”.
As if through the pupil of a huge eye (enclosed in a triangle), the sun at noon sends its rays through a window over the head of the statue of Jesus Christ. There is a legend according to which, during WW2, the Germans would have tried to dislocate this statue of polychrome wood from its socle, but failed as they were struck by a mysterious force.
Playwright I.L. Caragiale visited the Castle of Campina, opened on July 2, 1896. He wrote about this in the daily Epoca: “while kneeling before the Savior, you can see His Divine Head haloed by the sunlight shimmering down through a window (…) Here, my illustrious host draws my attention to the fact that the pillar that supports in the middle of the Dome the stairs going up to the gallery represents together with them a large CHALICE: above it, rising to the sky, detached from pain, stands the radiant figure of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Should we consider that what is generally depicted as “real world” is but a multitude of possible worlds, some actualized, some latent (since the very valorization of the world as “real” induces the splitting of the real through possible), nothing prevents us from trying to leave aside for a while the perspective created by the world of the mind and of scientific theorizations and take a glimpse at the world of affective values and soul urges, therefore at the actualization of that possible world “created” by the soul.
In Fedon, Plato explains the immortality of the soul through the Pythagorean theory of similarity that tends towards similarity. The soul as principle of human life can only be a part of the endless life, and not part of its opposite. The body alone is mortal, since the immortal soul is meant to live again in another body. Reminiscence would also evince the immortality of the soul, but also the fact that the soul (“the principle of life”) lies at the foundation of human life as well as at the foundation of human ability to acquire knowledge. Aware of the good and beauty of the sensitive world, the soul recollects the divine Beauty, contemplated before embodiment. As it is the principle of life and of religious knowledge, the soul stays unitary.
Mircea Vulcanescu notices that in the Romanian language the word “ins” (Romanian word for individual), derived from the Latin word “ens” gave a concept close to that of the existent and subsistent being “in se” and “per se”, which does not point to some intention of rendering things absolute by detaching the “ins” from the world they live in, but evinces the stable aspect of the being in contrast with its changing appearance (Concrete Existence in Romanian Metaphysics). This is grasped even more clearly in the philosopher’s writings about the meaning of the individual’s “nature”. To Mircea Vulcanescu, “nature” is the bond of the individual with something that they are not; the “nature” is the background against which the individual projects themselves in the perspective of the total being, along the thread of the life rolled in time (ibid.).
Unlike the Christian vision of the Romanian philosopher to whom God himself – a trans-existential being that takes an existential face – is an “ins” walking and acting in the world that He himself created, Plato’s outlook separates the divine world from the world of the senses with that so suggestive image of the dark cave outside which rules the supreme Good.
Plato’s theory on human soul, in its above-mentioned variant, appears as suitable to those wisdom seekers that end up contemplating the divine world of the Supreme Good, refusing to get involved in the affairs of the city. After revealing the myth of the cavern, the Greek philosopher says precisely about these so few venturers that dare step out of the closed space of the cave that they should be forced to get into politics for they would never do it of their own free will.
But since man lives among their fellowmen within the community of language and destiny of their country, beside the possibility of immortality of a philosopher’s soul, Plato (as an admirer of Homer and keeper of ancient wisdom) devised yet another variant of the theory about the immortality of the soul, in which human soul appears as having two parts. In Politeia, the rational part, the seat of the intellect would have as counterpart a fiery part that governs generous passion, altruism, the spirit of sacrifice, bravery in the fight against the country’s enemies. One may infer from here that the immortality reached by the soul of a wise man that nourished the rational part, the intellect (‘nous’=reason) has a different origin than the immortality of a brave warrior, such as Achilles. This ontological vision of Platonic nature was embraced also by Nae Ionescu’ metaphysics, as I showed in the volume in which, dealing with his philosophical thinking, I had differentiated “Achilles’ metaphysics” from “Ulysses’ metaphysics” (see Isabela Vasiliu-Scraba, Metafizica lui Nae Ionescu in unica si in dubla sa infatisare, Ed. Star Tipp, Slobozia, 2000).
Inclined towards the world of affective values, of religious aspirations and soul urges, Bogdan Petriceicu Hadeu, in the Castle of the two Iulias (of Campina) had engraved in stone twelve laws, grouped in four domains: religious, moral, social, and philosophic. Certainly, to some, the discussion about the way the scholar came to “discover” these laws during séances of spiritism would be more thrilling. As far as we are concerned, we believe that beyond the way they were communicated to him, the laws as such are more interesting and worth searching. We say this because the 12 laws seem to be related to a large extent to the Platonic vision designed along the line of ancestral traditions.
The domain of the moral would have as first law: “love and serve the nation”. It makes one think back to Achilles’ immortality, illustrating the fate of the heroes. As we have seen, the bravery of the young men that give their lives for their country is dealt with in the dialogue Politeia. Here, the philosopher endows the soul with a rational part and a non-rational part. The immortality of the heroes would be secured by the separation, within the non-rational part, of a seat of noble passions (bravery and altruism). For the rest, the non-rational and mortal part of the human soul hosts the seat of animal instincts.
In the tables of the 12 laws engraved at the Castle of the two Iulias (2VII) of Campina, to the domains of religion, morals and philosophy could be attached the first variant of the Platonic theory on the soul, in the light of the relation between the human soul and the divine world of Ideas. As to the social domain, the variant based on the unity of the human soul applies only in so much as laws 7, 8 and 9 refer to the behavior that the one that loves wisdom should have towards themselves and towards the others.
Here are the three religious laws. The first: “Believe in God”; the second: “Believe in the immortality of the soul”; the third is underlain by the presupposition of the memory that endures along the various embodiments of the soul, although its phrasing evinces rather the occult aspect, taking into account the practice of spiritism: “Believe in the gift of communicating with the departed ones”.
The social laws, in positions 7, 8 and 9 are the following: “Be honest to thyself so that others honor thee”; (8) “To be able to honor thyself, be honest to the others”; (9) “Honor work, for work is life”.
As to the philosophic domain, the three laws would be the result of the limitations inherent to the human reason. The first points out to the flimsiness of idealism that breaks with the world as it is given to man: “You know the facts, you know the truth”. The second warns of the danger of the skepticism of an intelligence that believes in nothing, highlighting the auto-dissolving capacity of lucidity exercised in vain: “When you refuse to believe, you cannot see”. The third law is circumscribed to that oracular formula that seems to hide a threat: “The guarantee brings about bad luck”.
On the temple of Delphi, the seventh formula seems to be an urge (do not reveal to others what you know) accompanied by a threat: once you get to know something, beware of sharing it with others, or bad luck will befall you.
On the Castle of the two Iulias, the third philosophic law runs like this: “seeking proof, you find negation”. He who in philosophy will not let themselves be convinced by evidence belongs to the kind of the negator that Plato had in mind in the dialogue Parmenides (134 e- 135 b) when he tackled the issue of conveying the philosophical truths included in the theory of Ideas (see Isabela Vasiliu-Scraba, Mistica platonica a participarii la divina lume a ideilor, Ed. Star Tipp, 1999, pp. 268-279).