The”Compagnon René”,
initiate passing during his lifetime into the other world…of reality.

As far as I know, this engraving* is the last and only representation of one of the essential aims of compagnonnage and of all medieval spirituality: to cross during one’s lifetime into the other world of reality. Once the 16th century came to an end, it seems that the teachings and paths leading to this experience were lost and that only the tarot retain their memory.

This transition, which made of a compagnon a master “passant”, is represented in the tarot by “Maison Dieu” (The House of God). What is this passage?

The body is the first place around which our consciousness organises its “being-in-the-world”. Physical sensation becomes the ego’s organising principle.
Re-ne : Flammarion woodcut
Then, following shocks, diverse traumas and social pressure, consciousness enters into the emotional and its “being-in-the-world” begins to struggle in action/reaction to external stimuli. This is the second consciousness level on the journey of the soul.

Next, once the memory and profound energies of the body have been awakened in the course of various initiations, consciousness tears itself away from the sphere of emotional manipulations and enters, in the course of an experience of “illumination”, into the world of direct “perception”. From that time on, the being is fully linked with the world surrounding him. He leaves the sphere of illusions and begins to see himself as he truly is, allowing others to do the same. A painful time, in which consciousness finds itself neither here nor there. The old foundations have become obsolete, and the ones to come are yet unknown. It is the third level of awareness: perception.

This transforming event closely resembles a near-death experience, but differs in that consciousness, which accompanies the process, is placed in the situation of an observing/observer.

In it, the consciousness escapes from the body, as if “breathed in” to a spiral of expansion in which it first becomes fully aware of its body, then of its near environment, then its village or district, then its region, its country, its continent, then its entire planet, its galaxy and suddenly enters into a circle of white light of fusion with the divine. Then, situated at the source of all time, it sees the round of galaxies and all the modes of energetic incarnation. It perceives the worlds incarnated on the elements of fire, earth, and air. It is then, because the hour of its definitive fusion in this light has not yet arrived, that the consciousness is thrown back from this white world and surfs on the wave of our own world’s incarnation, based on the element of water, back to its body’s here and now.

The individual has been transformed by this immersion in white light, and returns with two gifts: the fear of death has disappeared and a growing confidence in his unconscious has established itself. The volume of human, all-too-human that remains to be dealt with has gone below the fatal bar of 50%, and the slow progress towards wisdom can begin.

In the everyday life of compagnon Re-né, new responsibilities are at hand.

*This image was published in 1888 by Camille Flammarion in L’atmosphere: meteorologie populaire, with the caption: a Medieval missionary tells how he located the place where earth and heaven meet. It was also used by the compagnonnage, which attributed the following legend : The compagnon “Re-ne”, initiate passing during his lifetime into the other world.of reality. The wood engraving is variously dated as mid-16th century, late 16th century, late 18th, and even late 19th century.