Perhaps not everyone knows that Collodi’s “Pinocchio” is an initiatory tale, veiled in the form of a fairy tale for children and teenagers …
The name Pinocchio is already an allusion to the pineal gland, that is, the physical manifestation of the “third eye”: pin-eye (pineal-eye). A piece of wood, a puppet precisely, to which a soul is “blown” and comes to life, but which with various (initiatory) tests will eventually become a “True Child”. It is easy to understand that the piece of animated wood, endowed with life therefore, but without Will, as a puppet, is an allegory of the lower Self; while, the True Child (Bambin Jesus-Christ) represents the birth of Christ in man or Higher Self. Of course, the talking cricket, the cat and the fox (astral body and mental body), and all the various characters and situations of the story also have an esoteric, hidden and profound meaning.
Note that Pinocchio’s book had great popular success, but the then prevailing respectability (1883 is the year of publication) of literary criticism advised against reading it to the “good family” children for whom, some added, “it could have been of a pernicious potential source of inspiration “.
Pinocchio is a story with a simple narration that can be enjoyed by the masses, but with a hidden meaning reserved for those who “know” and “see”.
Pseudonym of Carlo Lorenzini, he was a Florentine writer and journalist who lived at the turn of the 19th century. His mother Angiolina was the daughter of the Marquis Garzoni Venturi farmer and administered the Veneri farm, at the gates of the village of Collodi, whose name inspired the famous pseudonym of Carlo Callodi. He began his literary career by writing in a satirical newspaper he founded himself: Il Lampione, a magazine which after the launch incurred censorship and was closed. At a certain point, fate smiled at him, and as an unemployed writer Collodi was hired by several Italian ministries, he collaborated in the drafting of a vocabulary and founded a new magazine, La Scaramuccia, thanks to which he began to deal with theatrical composition. At that time his career took on a singular turn. In fact, he accepted a ministerial position as a theatrical censor, so that within a season, from censored he became a censor! From 1875, on behalf of the publisher Paggi, he took care of the translation for Italy of the most famous French fairy tales. So it was that he learned the art of fairytale composition …
In 1881, the first episode of his famous fable was published in the first issue of the Giornale per i Bambini – progenitor of the children’s magazines, with the title: Storia di un Puppattino. All the episodes would have been collected two years later, in 1883, in a volume entitled The Adventures of Pinocchio. Collodi’s was a fairly normal life, if one excludes the ambivalent relationship with censorship, and the fact that he was, most likely, a Mason.
Collodi’s affiliation to masonry has often been mentioned. Although, in fact, in Masonic circles there has always been and insistent talk of this alleged belonging of the illustrious writer, however, there is no certain evidence. The thesis of Collodi’s affiliation would be based on an incorrect understanding of a greeting at the bottom of one of his letters: in it the contraction “his affo” was read as “brother” instead of “fond”.
The story narrated by Collodi, however, seems scattered with some elements that would suggest the author’s closeness to Masonic circles but also to a certain confidence with esoteric themes. For example, when the puppet finally arrives where the house of the Blue Fairy should be, there is only a marble stone engraved with these words: “Here lies the little blue-haired girl who died of pain from being abandoned by her little brother Pinocchio”. In the same way the other puppets of Mangiafuoco, referring to Pinocchio, call him “brother”. These appellations do not seem to have been inserted at random but could be clear references to the Masonic brothers and the closeness of the author to these environments.
There are at least three keys to reading the collodian fable. One of Masonic mold, the second of pedagogical mold and the third of political-reactionary mold.
Gnostic-Masonic reading key
Pinocchio could symbolically represent the story of an initiation: a wooden puppet, symbol of the mechanics of the person who aspires to find his soul. An allegory of the lower self that tends to shape itself to become a human being who experiences emotions and therefore better: neither more nor less, therefore, than the alchemical process and in the same way the Masonic path from initiation to the last degree. The piece of wood would represent the raw stone which in masonry must be chamfered and worked with the tools typical of the stonemasons (very similar also to those of Geppetto) and which are also found symbolically in the Masonic lodges.
Pinocchio, despite being a wooden puppet, begins to move and speak and this reminds us of the Gnostic myth that states that the man, just created, lay motionless and lifeless on the ground, until he received the divine spark coming from a world well superior to its creator.
In the course of the story, Pinocchio is repeatedly deceived by the Cat and the Fox who represent the seductions of the illusory material world that distract man on his path to enlightenment.
The episode, for example, of his transformation into an donkey, in esoteric terms, indicates that he is closer to his material dimension than to the spiritual one, personified by this stubborn animal. This part of the story is a clear literary reference to Apuleio and his work “The Metamorphosis” or “Golden Donkey”, a classic studied in mystery schools and also in Masonic lodges.
The theme of autonomy and self-improvement is strongly inspired by the Gnostic-Masonic teachings: spiritual salvation is something that must be deserved through self-discipline, self-knowledge and willpower.
Another reference to the Masonic themes can be found in the stripping of metals by the layman during the initiation rite, at the beginning of which it is necessary to hand over all the money, in metal or banknotes, jewels and metallic objects in possession. This ritual symbolizes the abandonment of attachment to the preconceived ideas of detachment from any passion and material element before entering the lodge. The same thing happens to Pinocchio when he sows gold coins into the earth; in fact, from that moment on, he began his journey towards “final salvation”. Finally, the Land of Toys is a metaphor for “profane” life, understood in the Masonic context, characterized by ignorance, the search for immediate gratification and the satisfaction of the lowest instincts. Even the characters of the story could have a symbolic value. In this perspective Mangiafuoco would correspond to Mammon who in the Gospels is equated to money and more properly to the power of worldliness, while in Lucignolo Lucifer is found who, like the Cat and the Fox (the passions of the body), distract Pinocchio from the school and therefore from ability to access a higher level of knowledge; in the Blue Fairy the archetype of the Great Mother would be expressed, comparable to Isis but also to the Christian Madonna who finally helps Pinocchio to reunite with the “father”. These considerations, thus set, would lead to an analysis in another interpretative key …
Spiritual reading key
Some events in history could be traced back to elements drawn from the spiritual vein. Already in the “creation” of Pinocchio one can find an evident parallelism with biblical and religious events. geppetto is creator and father and not by chance a carpenter just like saint joseph, but goes beyond the function of the putative father of Jesus because he unwittingly provides Pinocchio with the possibility of becoming “human”. You can therefore see an apparent reversal of the paradigm or perhaps an overlap: Jesus dies on a piece of wood such as the cross, while Pinocchio is born precisely from a piece of wood.
Pinocchio, like every human being in general, is threatened by evil, devilish cleverer intelligences than he (the Cat and the Fox); he would have no chance of salvation without the intervention of the fairy and other benevolent creatures. Finally Pinocchio cannot remain a prisoner of Mangiafuoco because unlike the other puppets he has the awareness of having a “father”. Then there is another significant episode that clearly falls within this spiritual matrix: Pinocchio in the belly of the shark, a clear reference to the biblical story of Jonah in the Old Testament. It symbolically represents the resurrection and can be connected, as we have seen, to the theme of the perfection of the spirit; the environment described in the belly of the large marine animal could also coincide in the furnishing of the so-called reflection cabinet where neophytes are made to stop for Masonic initiation.
Even the figure of the Blue Fairy could represent Maria for her providential intervention and her instrumentality in Geppetto. After all, Pinocchio’s story is the archetype of the Father’s rebellion and return: an expansion of the parable of the prodigal son.
Pinocchio is hanged, but rises again and here is his “initiatory death”: in this case, the esoteric key to interpretation overlaps with the more purely spiritual one.
Sibaldi speaks of Pinocchio as a kabbalistic work since he claims that Collodi himself was a kabbalist, other authors such as Giacomo Maria Prati, highlight further similarities with the alchemical process: the puppet represents in this perspective “the universal raw material” already full of life of its own which is shaped by a demiurge-architect and the Blue Fairy appears as Isis-Great Mother, lady of the bees, of transformations and animals. Wood itself is a sign of the ship and the journey and Pinocchio passes through the four elements of nature several times in the perennial search for quintessence.
In fact, it is burnt by the fire in the feet and risks being completely burnt by the cat and the fox in the woods at night, it is shipwrecked twice in the island of the Fairy and in the belly of the fish, it experiences the air twice: hanging on the big oak and flying on the pigeon! It is therefore always about “initiatory trials” where our protagonist often risks death and this opens up new ways and stages of interior maturation.
In any case, all the different existential challenges that Pinocchio is facing speak of transformation and are always followed by a process of growth. This journey is dotted with symbols as Giacomo Maria Prati suggests: from the snake to the dog, from the fish to the magic recipe that multiplies gold based on earth, water and salt, highly symbolic elements: “salt means spirit, water it means the mutation / volatile soul and the earth means the body or the heart. ” Read in a symbolic key, the work, continues Giacomo Maria Prati, is instead “a very skilful dialectic theater between free will and destiny, between will and necessity, between dream and life. In fact, it ends in a prodigious way: a completely dreamlike story ends in the only “truly” told dream, a theurgic and thaumaturgical dream that frees being from wood and restores it to its true dimension. A dream reminiscent of those incubated in the Temples of Asceplio or Demetra. “
Analysis of the Disney animated film
There are many differences between Collodi’s book and the animated film created by Disney. The plot was simplified and Pinocchio became an innocent, happy and active character rather than the stubborn and thankless misfit of the original book. However, all the fundamental elements are still present in the fiim and the underlying message remains intact.
The temptation of fame and fortune
On the way to the school Pinocchio is stopped by the Cat and the Fox who show him the comfortable path of success: in this case, the show. Despite the warnings of conscience, the puppet follows the characters in the shadows and is sold to Mangiafuoco, the belligerent promoter of the puppet show. During his performance, Pinocchio knows the mechanisms of the easy way system: fame, fortune and even women-puppet.
Pinocchio quickly learns the great price of this apparent success: he cannot go back to seeing his master (the Creator), the money he generates is used to enrich Mangiafuoco, his “manager”, and sees what will await him when he grows up , that is, being considered a waste.
Mangiafuoco is a clear representation of one of the Archons (the Archons, are those figures who in the theogony and Gnostic cosmogony play the role of judges and controllers of the material world), the powers that, together with the Demiurge, rule and govern this world.
After seeing the real face of the easy road, Pinocchio realizes the sad state he is in: he is caged like an animal and at the mercy of a cruel puppeteer. He was deceived and put his soul up for sale.
Pinocchio then regains his conscience (the talking cricket) and tries to escape. All the good consciences of the world, however, cannot save it since it is closed in a cage with a padlock …
Nothing less than a divine intervention is necessary to save him, but not before he shows himself sincere to the fairy (the divine messenger) and, above all, to himself.
The temptations of material pleasures
Back on the right path, Pinocchio is stopped by the Fox who attracts him in the direction of the “Land of Toys”, a place without school (Knowledge) and laws (moral values). Children can eat, drink, smoke, fight and destroy at will, all under the watchful eye of the coachman who led them there.
We read in the novel: “There are no schools there. There are no teachers there. There are no books there. You never study in that blessed country. ” And again: “the days are spent playing and having fun from morning to evening. Then in the evening we go to bed, and the next morning we start all over again ”.
This is clearly a description of the profane life in which the majority of humanity is immersed, made only of the search for goods and material satisfactions.
The fact that the country of toys is inhabited only by children, indicates that the majority of humanity still lives in a childish and elementary state, prone to vice and immersed in ignorance and, in fact, the children who live there, sooner or later they are transformed into donkeys and this makes us think of a reincarnation in a lower state than the human one.
The land of toys is a clear metaphor for “profane” life characterized by ignorance, by the search for immediate gratification and the satisfaction of the lowest impulses of life. The coachman encourages this behavior knowing that it is a perfect method of creating slaves. The boys who abandon themselves enough to this lifestyle turn into donkeys and are then exploited by the coachman to work in the mine. Another rather dark representation, this time of the ignorant masses.
The Metamorphoses describes the adventures of Lucius, who is tempted by the wonders of magic, and because of his stupidity he turns into a donkey. This leads him to face a long and difficult journey where he is finally saved by Isis and joins the cult of his Mystery. The story of Le Metamorfosi offers many similarities with Pinocchio for its plot, its spiritual allegory and its theme of occult initiation.
Pinocchio, once he has regained his conscience, escapes from the prison of profane life and runs away from the Land of Toys.
Pinocchio returns home to join his father, but the house is empty. He discovers that Geppetto has been swallowed by a giant whale. The puppet throws himself into the water and is swallowed by the whale himself in order to find his Creator. This is his final initiation, where his task is to escape from the ignorant life (symbolized by the belly of the giant whale) and earn spiritual light.
Once again, Carlo Collodi was strongly inspired by a classic history of spiritual initiation: Book of Jonah, present in the Old Testament. The story of the prophet Jonah swallowed by the whale is also studied in mystery schools.
Jonah is the central character of the Book of Jonah. He is ordered by God to go to the city of Nineveh to prophesy against it “because their great wickedness has risen to me”. Jonah instead aims to escape “from the presence of the Lord” by going to Jaffa and sailing to Tarsis. A huge storm rages and the sailors, realizing that this is not an ordinary storm, understand that Jonah is to blame. Jonah admits his guilt and says that if it is thrown overboard the storm will cease. The sailors try to direct the ship to shore, but seeing that they would have been swallowed by the sea they decide to throw Jonah into the sea, at which point the sea calms down. Jonah is miraculously saved by a huge fish that has swallowed him, specially prepared by God where he spent three days and three nights (Jn 1:17). In the second chapter, while Jonah is in the belly of the big fish, he prays to God in his affliction and undertakes to honor him and pay what he promised. God commands the fish to throw up Jonah.
Jonah comes out of the whale’s belly and lands on the beaches of Nineveh where he will preach penance.
Here is how the great initiate Manly Palmer Hall (1901-1990) explains the occult meaning attributed by the mystery schools to this biblical story: «Jonah and the whale: when used as a symbol of evil, the fish represents the Earth (the lowest nature of man) and the tomb (the sepulcher of the Mysteries). Jonah remained three days in the belly of the “big fish”, as Christ remained for three days in the sepulcher. Several Fathers of the Church believe that the “whale”, which swallowed Jonah is the symbol of God the Father, who, when the prophet was unfortunately thrown overboard, accepted Jonah in his nature until he reached a safe place. Jonah’s story is actually a legend of initiation into the mysteries, and the “big fish” represents the darkness of ignorance that envelops man when he throws himself from the ship (birth) into the sea (life) “. Pinocchio went through the difficulties of initiation and came out of the darkness of ignorance. He emerges from the risen tomb, like Jesus Christ. He is now a “true child”, an enlightened man who has broken the chains of material life to embrace his higher self. The Talking Cricket receives a solid gold badge from the Fairy, which represents the success of the alchemical process of transforming Pinocchio’s consciousness from a raw metal into gold. The “Great Work” has been accomplished.