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Observations placeholder

Dante - Inferno [descent to hell via abyss]



Type of Spiritual Experience


Descent via the Abyss into hell.

Much of the Inferno is allegory.  I also think, however, that the book was based on actual spiritual experiences in his depressed state, he combined what he saw with what he interpreted it to be.

This abyss is deep, immensely deep, so deep you cannot see the bottom. It is probably the greatest drop in level in the whole of the spiritual world. Dante descends on a dragon called Geryon....

A description of the experience


Dante – The Divine Comedy INFERNO I

IN such a manner rushing down a step bank,
We found the red water re-echoing
So that in a short time it would have stunned our ears

I had a cord tied around my middle
The one with which I had thought at one time
I would capture the leopard with the mottled skin

When I had loosened it and taken it off
As my escort commanded me to do
I held it out to him, folded in a coil

Then he turned himself towards his right side
And standing back some distance from the edge
He threw it down the deep ravine

Dante – The Divine Comedy INFERNO I

I found my escort, who had already mounted
Upon the crupper of that terrifying animal;
He said to me 'Now be strong, and have courage

Now that must serve us for a way down
Get up in front, I want to be in the middle
So that the tail cannot do any harm.

…..I set myself upon those great shoulders;
I wanted to say, but the words did not come
As I thought they would 'Mind you hold on to me!'

But he, who at other times had helped me out
In other troubles, as soon as I had mounted,
Seized me in his arms, and so supported me,

And said 'Now Geryon, off with you; take care,
Make large circles, go down gradually
Remember the unusual load you have

As a little boat pushed off from where it is grounded
Stern first, and still stern first, so he made off;.............

And when he felt he was floating entirely free
Turned his tail round to where his chest had been
Extended it and then moved it like an eel
And with his tentacles pressed back the air.

I do not think that there was greater fear
When Phaeton loosened his hold on the reins

Than my fear was, when I saw that I was
In air upon all sides and saw extinguished
Every seen thing except the beast itself.

It swam away, but it swam, oh so slowly;
Wheeled and went down, but I had a sense of nothing
Except the wind in my face, and from below

I heard already, on my right, the gorge,
Making a horrible thundering underneath us
And so, with my eyes down, I craned my neck

Then I was in more fear of the dismounting
Because I saw fire, and heard lamenting;
So trembling, I crouched there hunched up.

I then saw, for I had not seen before
That we were descending and turning, for the great torments
Seemed nearer, first on one side then the other


So at the bottom, Geryon set us down
Right at the foot of that jagged rock
And lightened of the burden of us two

Disappeared like an arrow from a bow string

The source of the experience

Dante Alighieri

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Loneliness and isolation


Manic depression