Sacro Bosco



by Lee van Laer


An e-book in .pdf format


A pervasive and timeless air of mystery suffuses the Parco dei Mostri, Pier Francesco Orsini’s arcane masterpiece of Mannerist garden landscapes. The sculptures seem to emerge from the earth itself as creatures of the underworld—carved, in some cases, from the bedrock itself.
The concept connects the statuary to an elemental bedrock, entirely appropriate to the Gods, nymphs, sprites and Satyrs of classical tradition. It represents a turning away from the structured idealism of perfect gardens such as the Villa Lante (in the immediate vicinity) back towards what may seem to be an earthbound, perhaps even underworldly, aesthetic.

But Orsini was up to more than just a clinical exercise in sculpture and gardening innovations. Following his capture as a prisoner of war in the 1550s, on his return to his ancestral lands, Orsini entered into a deep state of spiritual questioning—one that caused him to challenge the standard underpinnings of life as it was known, then and now. The death of his wife intensified


The parallels between this garden and the work of Carl Jung cannot be denied; the Garden anticipates Jung’s ideas about man’s psyche presenting us with a collected imagery that touches nerves deep inside the human soul, in places that many dare not look in.



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Lee van Laer was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1955, and spent a good deal of his childhood in Hamburg, Germany. He has spent the majority of his adult life in the Gurdjieff work, and is an active associate of the New York Gurdjieff Foundation.

Lee is an import professional by trade, and has traveled extensively, particularly in China and other parts of the Far East. He holds a degree in fine art from St. Lawrence University, and is an artist, musician, photographer, poet, and writer... sometimes.

Lee is currently senior editor for Parabola magazine.

His principal web site is at

His blog is at


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