Among the characteristics of the sacred game was rituality, or the tendency to transcribe concrete facts, philosophical ideas, and theurgical acts into prescribed formulas or acts. The deterioration and distortion towards pure entertainment, or more or less intelligent distraction, has been a process that has lasted for millennia. It is useless to blame modernity: degradation always starts from far away.
As an alchemist, I learned to immerse myself in the archaic world and to assume their mindset. If we don’t think with the perspective and culture of the age in which things or ideas develop, we will interpret them with the perspective and culture of the age in which they are studied. If we weren’t guided by the school or media pressure in the learning process, paradoxically and perhaps completely unconsciously, we would instead be led to enter unknown worlds with children’s curiosity and mental openness. The convenience of letting the professionals think for us had the downside of making us completely forget about ancient cultures.
As previously mentioned, the basis of the sacred game is the golden age; or return to the Illud Tempus, that time; or search for the archetype. Alchemists would define it as a “union with the One or Macrocosm”.
The book I have translated and will present to you in this section is Riti e Giochi nel Mondo Antico, Rites and Games in the Ancient World, by Margarete Riemschneider. Before letting herself be fascinated by the symbolism of the ancient world, Riemschneider was an art scholar. A field of study in which one has little choice: either immediately dive into the channel provided at school or venture into one’s research. Riemschneider chooses the second without looking back.
Upon her death, which occurred at 87 (1899-1986), Elemire Zolla let himself go into despair and said: “she died prematurely; how much more could she still have given!”. Given the German edition of the book in 1985, presumably, this was her last book. And perhaps, she had been thinking about it all her life. Still, she had the honor of not being understood or appreciated: this book has always been considered a senile, or childish, whim.
At first, I didn’t mean to translate it all. But the book seemed so chaotic and disorganized (perhaps because the author didn’t have a clear idea of where she was going to land) yet so full of details, clues, and inspirations that I decided to offer it in its entirety. A hard effort.
I hope I have not infringed on anyone’s copyright in my translation from Italian. She has been dead for many years, and the book deserves to be widely known and circulated. I’ll let you in on a secret: the Italian language, even for me as a native speaker, is pompous and heavy to read. I consumed the paper pages of this book, unfortunately grasping only a few concepts. Rereading it in English, I miraculously found it more understandable. So… it was hard work, but I did it for Margarete, too; I know she will appreciate it.