December 2015 - Vitanova

Rebirth in and Through Dante’s La Vita Nuova

The powerful imagery of rebirth weaves itself through our world and history, appearing in major religious traditions and the spirituality of indigenous peoples, in story and song, in the sacred and the secular. Many tales of rebirth center around a crisis that becomes a catalyst for change—change which depends on the protagonist’s self-expression as the gateway to being reborn.

In the year 1294, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, known widely as the author of the Divine Comedy, crafted a work that both described his rebirth and created it: La Vita Nuova. In this profound poem, Dante tells the tale of a woman he loved, Beatrice, who married someone else and died a few years later. His love for her abided after her death, and the crisis he faced became his catalyst for not only his spiritual rebirth, but his poetic rebirth.

Dante transformed his grief for Beatrice into a profound religious dedication. Dante lost her both in this life (to marriage) and to the next (in her death). These losses could have consumed him. Instead, his poem shows how he used them to purify himself—her memory came to represent Divine Philosophy and guide him to ultimate truth, and his love for her was transformed into his love for the truth.

The poem narrated a transformation, and it also facilitated one: in writing La Vita Nuova, a writer of love poems was reborn as a serious poet, one who would one day write his Divine Comedy. The groundbreaking La Vita Nuova, which was more personal than the work of his peers and combined prose and poetic verse in a new way, was the vessel of Dante’s artistic rebirth.

And La Vita Nuova—translated as “the new life”—continues to be reborn itself as new generations encounter it. Poet Andrew Frisardi, whose translation of La Vita Nuova was published in 2012, lists over a dozen ways it has been understood over time, from a mystical mind’s journey to God, to an allegory in opposition to a corrupt Church, to an Augustinian-esque biography, and more. Its rich imagery allows new readers to find new meanings beneath its surface.

The imagery of rebirth affects us so powerfully because it expresses the human capacity for self-renewal and self-transformation, in the face of (and often because of) crises we face. Like Dante and like musician Bonnie McCoy, we can step boldly into our creative power to bring about our own spiritual and artistic rebirth—and when we use our creativity to transform ourselves, we open a space for others to begin their own process of rebirth.

Other sources:

Ritual, Rebirth, and Turning 50 into the New 35

Scott Sutter has led a successful life, building a winery, raising three sons, and succeeding in the sport he most enjoys, competitive tennis. He shares how a serious sports injury placed him at a crossroads: he could either give up doing the thing he loves or rebuild himself slowly and get back into the game. Scott chose rebirth, and says his morning ritual was a key part of his success. 

I started playing competitive tennis when I was 10 years old. By age 13, I was playing tournaments; I worked hard through high school to be the top player. After college, I started playing with USTA League, our nation’s largest recreational tennis league. I still play as much as possible throughout the week. Here I am at 50 years old, and I’m still playing at a high level! That’s really important to me. And I met my wife, Ann, through tennis. We might not have ever met without having this common interest.

One of most exciting things about tennis is how I find myself through the game. Sometimes it’s great to hit the ball as hard as I can to get my daily frustrations out. After a while, the game immerses me. It really shifts my concentration from outside concerns to the game I’m playing, and I stop thinking about the bad or challenging parts of my life because the match demands all of my focus. This aspect of tennis is why it has gotten me through so many tough situations in my life.

So, when I suffered a serious sports injury to my arm a few years ago, I felt terrified. I thought I might never get to play again. So much of what had kept me healthy and happy was in jeopardy.

I couldn’t imagine losing the ability to do what I love to do, so Ann and I turned what looked like a terrible event into a catalyst for change. When we sold the Mt. Pleasant Winery not long after my injury and I shifted into a consulting role, I had the opportunity to spend time with the personal trainer Ann had hired me for Christmas. After just the first day of talking with a professional about my injury and aging, I really noticed a difference. I knew that if I stayed with the program the trainer had set up for me, if I approached it with the same consistency as I did my other rituals, I could solve this condition with my arm. And I did. I’m now hitting the ball like I did when I was 35 instead of 50. It took me three years of intense work but I not only got back to where I was, I got stronger.

Starting my day with a ritual is really important for me. Most people don’t realize that the patterns we choose each morning dictate whether we are going to go out and conquer the day or just sit around and wonder why we didn’t! My ideal morning ritual is to have the coffee pot programmed to brew at 5:30, drink my coffee, put on my workout clothes, bike to the gym, take a hybrid athlete class, do speed work, and hit the treadmill. I always feel much better when I get my day going this way. I have more energy and when I see it through, I see results.

Daily Rituals

Rituals are fundamental to the human experience. 40,000 years ago, Neanderthal humans were already engaging in rituals, and the wisdom of ritual has permeated cultures all around the world today. You can create your personal transformation by starting your day with a ritual of affirmation and nutrition.

Ritual is so powerful because it is a place where research, respect, and rebirth converge: its positive impacts are proven by research, it expresses respect for the self and the wisdom traditions of the world, and it facilitates our rebirth.

We are grounded in research when we partake in ritual. A 2010 article in the Journal of Psychological Science describes how repeating a positive phrase or carrying a good luck charm concretely improves not only our belief in ourselves, but our performance! And in 2013, Scientific American confirmed that rituals powerfully impact our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They build our confidence, help us get better results, and heal our grief. Ritual can truly help us succeed.

Research also supports the importance of taking a multivitamin each day. The Harvard School of Public Health describes the importance of both a healthy diet and a daily vitamin. Note, however, that not all multivitamins share the same health benefits. Those manufactured with synthetic ingredients cannot provide the same overall health benefits as those crafted with organic fruits and vegetable sources.

Simple things such as the ritualistic daily use of the right multivitamin can create a dimensional behavior when coupled with positive thoughts, the warmth of a cup of tea, and inspirational visualization. You can give yourself a healthy, research-supported start to your day by making your morning vitamin a catalyst for your own affirming daily ritual.

We respect ourselves as individuals and world citizens when we partake in ritual. Around the globe, rituals celebrate children coming of age, inspire performance, honor grief, and support physical healing. Tapping into the power of ritual joins us with our ancestors and our global community.

And engaging in a daily ritual respects the self. When we pause each morning to affirm ourselves, engage our senses, and take our vitamins, we are expressing love for our whole selves—we are engaging our inner selves in personal healing, growth, self-unity, and power, and we are thanking our bodies for giving us our earthly experience.

You can also respect your body by choosing scientifically based, organic, healthy foods and vitamins sourced in an ethical manner. Say “no” to synthetic compounds and “yes” to organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs and to cultured, whole-foods vitamins and minerals, including DHA.

We create and invite our rebirth when we partake in ritual. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” The great paradox and power of ritual is that by engaging in the same affirmations and actions each morning, we can transform ourselves and embrace a vita nova—a new life—every day. Ritual both unifies our days and makes each of them new.

A morning ritual that includes affirmations and your vitamin supports your inner and outer rebirth. Transformation happens not only in our minds, but on the cellular level in our bodies: right now, your cells are regenerating! The cells on the surface of your lungs regenerate every two weeks, and even your skeleton regenerates every ten years. Your positive thoughts and botanical supplements directly affect this process of transformation and rebirth.

Take a moment to envision what a reborn you would feel and act like. Imagine affirming yourself each day, telling yourself that you can experience this rebirth. Now, visualize yourself achieving it. Doesn’t that feel good? Resolve now to begin affirming yourself towards your rebirth each day as you take your vitamin.

Every day holds the opportunity for your rebirth. Join us, your ancestors, and the world in transforming yourself through the scientifically validated power of ritual and nutrition. You can find affirmations to support your journey at

“My life is hectic, and getting myself up and motivated in the morning is crucial to my success. I always brew some green tea, close my eyes, and picture myself on top of Mt. Everest. I say an affirmation, such as ‘Today will be my day because I am smart and strong. I will succeed.’ Then I take my Vitanova Women, take a deep breath, and make it so. This ‘me time’ is when I give myself a morning lift.” Amy Rose, 46, from San Francisco, California

“When I play competitive tennis, I always wake up extra early. Every morning, I brew a pot of coffee, stretch, grab my bike, and head to the gym. It is really important that I use three identical racquets all strung equally and wear my special socks that have a left- and a right-specific sock. This ritual gives me the focus I need to envision myself winning.” – William Scott Sutter, 50, from St. Louis, Missouri

Shop now and save 30%

Subscribe to our email newsletter and get a discount code for 30% off!