Four Mystery Plays
The Guardian of the Threshold (Written 1912)
A landscape composed of fantastic forms. This picture of blazing fire on one side of the stage with rushing water on the other whirled into living forms is intended to suggest the sublime. In the centre a chasm belching forth fire which leaps up into a kind of barrier of fire and water. The Guardian of the Threshold stands in the centre with flaming sword erect. His costume is the conventional angelic garb. The Guardian, Thomasius, Maria, later on Lucifer and then the Other Philia.
What unchecked wish doth sound within mine ear?
So storm men's souls when first approaching me
E'er they have fully gained tranquillity.
It is desire that really leads such men
And not creative power which dares to speak;
Since it in silence could itself create.
The souls which thus comport themselves when here
I needs must relegate again to Earth,
For in the Spirit-realm they can but sow
Confusion, and do but disturb the deeds
Which cosmic powers have wisely foreordained.
Such men can also injure their own selves
Who form destructive passions in their hearts
Which are mistaken for creative powers,
Since they must take delusion for the truth
When earthly darkness no more shelters them.
(Thomasius and Maria appear.)
Thou dost not see upon thy threshold now
The soul of him who was the pupil once
Of Benedictus, and came oft to thee, —
Thomasius, although upon the Earth
It had to call Thomasius' form its own.
He came to thee, with thirst for knowledge filled
And could not bear to have thee near to him.
He hid in his own personality
When he felt near thee, and thus oft did see
Worlds which, he thought, made clear the origin
Of all existence and the goal of life.
He found the happiness of knowledge there
And also powers which to the artist gave
That which directed both his hand and heart
Toward creation's source, so that he felt
There truly lived within him cosmic powers,
Which held him steady to his artist's work.
He did not know that nought before him stood
In all that he created through his thought
Except the living content of his soul.
Like spiders, spinning webs around themselves
So did he work, and thought himself the world.
He once believed Maria in true spirit
Stood face to face with him, and yet 'twas but
The picture she had graven on his soul
Which like a spirit did reveal itself.
And when he was allowed a moment's glimpse
Of his own being, as it really was,
He gladly would have fled away from self;
He thought himself a spirit but he found
He was a creature but of flesh and blood.
He learned to know the power of this same blood;
'Twas there in truth, the rest was but a shade.
Blood was his teacher true; and this alone
Gave him clear vision, and revealed to him
Who was his sire and who his sister dear
In long forgotten ages on the Earth.
To blood-relations his blood guided him.
Then did he see how strongly souls of men
Must be deceived when they in vanity
Would rise to spirit from the life of sense.
Such effort truly binds the soul more firm
To sense-existence than a daily life,
Dull human dream existence following.
And when Thomasius could view all this
Before his soul as being his own state
He gave himself with vigour to that power
Which could not lie to him although as yet
'Twas but revealed in picture, for he knew
That Lucifer himself is really there
E'en if he can but show his pictured form.
The gods desire to draw near to mankind
Through truth alone; but Lucifer — to him
It matters not if men see false or true,
He ever will remain the same himself.
And therefore I acknowledge that I feel
I have attained reality when I
Believe that I must search and find the soul
Which in his own realm he did bind to mine.
(To the Guardian):
So armed with all the strength which he bestows
I mean to pass thee and to penetrate
To Theodora whom I know to be
Within the realm that o'er this threshold lies.
Thomasius, think well what thou dost know.
What o'er this threshold lives is all unknown;
Yet dost thou know quite well all I must ask,
Before thou canst set foot within this realm.
Thou must first part with many of those powers
Which thou hast won when in thine earthly frame.
Out of them all thou canst alone retain
That which by efforts, pure and spiritual,
Thou didst achieve, and which thou hast kept pure.
But this thou hast thyself cast off from thee
And given as his own to Ahriman.
What still is thine hath been by Lucifer
Destroyed for use within the spirit-world.
This too upon the threshold I must take
If thou wouldst really pass this portal by.
So nought remains to thee; a lifeless life
Must be thy lot within the spirit-realms.
Yet I shall be and Theodora find.
She'll be for me the source of fullest light,
Which ever hath so richly been revealed
Unto her soul, apart from lore of Earth.
That is enough. And thou wilt set thyself
In vain against me, even if the power
Which I myself have won upon the Earth
Should not fulfil the estimate which thou
Didst form of my good spirit long ago.
Maria (to the
Thou knowest well, who hast been guardian
Of this realm's threshold since the world began,
What beings need to cross the threshold o'er
Who to thy kind and to thy time belong:
So too with men, who meet thee at this gate
If they do come along, and cannot show
That they have done true spirit-good they must
Go back again from here to life on Earth.
But this one here hath been allowed to bring
That other soul unto thy threshold now,
Whom fate hath bound so closely with her own.
Thou hast been ordered by high spirit powers
To keep back many men from here, who would
Try to approach the gateway of this realm
And would but bring destruction on themselves
If they should dare to pass the threshold o'er.
Yet thou may'st throw it open unto those
Who through their inmost personality
Are in the spirit-realms inclined to love,
And to such love can cling as they press through,
As hath been foreordained them by the gods
Before to battle Lucifer came forth.
Standing before his throne my heart hath vowed
With strictest oath, that in Earth's future times
It would so serve this love that knowledge bright
Pouring from Lucifer to human souls
Can harm it not. And men must e'er be found
Ready with earnest minds to hearken well
Unto the love revealed of the gods
As once from Lucifer wise words they heard.
Johannes in his earthly form doth now
No longer listen to my voice, as once,
When in an earthly life long since passed by
I was enabled to reveal to him
That which had been entrusted to myself
In holy temples in Hibernia
By that same God Who dwells within mankind
And Who once conquered all the powers of death,
Because He lived love's life so perfectly.
My friend will once again in spirit-realms
Discern the words which come forth from my soul
But which were hindered from his earthly ears
By Lucifer and his delusive power.
one who perceives some being in the spirit):
Maria, dost thou see, clad in long cloak
That dignified old man, his solemn face,
His noble brow, the flashing of his glance?
He passeth through the streets, 'mid crowds of men,
Yet each doth step aside in reverence
That yon old man may go his way in peace,
And lest his train of thought be rudely stirred.
For one can see that, wrapped within himself
He meditates with powerful inmost thought.
Maria, dost thou see?
Yea, I can see,
When through the eyes of thine own soul I look.
But 'tis to thee alone that he would now
Reveal himself in scenes significant.
I now can see into his very soul,
Things full of meaning lie within its depths
And memory of something he's just heard.
Before his eyes there stands a teacher wise.
He lets the words which he hath heard from him
Pass through his soul; it is from him he comes.
His thinking scans the very source of life;
As once mankind in olden times on Earth
Might stand quite near and view the spirit-scenes,
Although their soul-life was but like a dream;
The old man's soul doth trace that line of thought
Which from his honoured teacher he hath learned. —
And now he disappears from my soul's sight —
Ah, if I could but watch his further steps.
I see men speaking with each other now
Among the crowd; and I can hear their words;
They speak of that old man with reverence deep.
In his young days he was a soldier brave;
Ambition, and desire to be renowned
Were burning in his soul; he wished to count
As foremost warrior within his ranks.
In battle's service he did perpetrate
Unnumbered gruesome deeds through thirst for fame.
And in his life full many a time it chanced
He caused much blood to flow upon the earth.
At last there came a day when suddenly
The luck of battle turned its back on him.
He left the battlefield in bitter shame
To enter his own home, a man disgraced;
Scorn and derision were his lot in life,
And from that time wild hatred filled his soul
Which had not lost its pride and love of fame.
He looked upon his boon-companions now
Only as enemies to be destroyed
As soon as opportunity occurred.
But since the man's proud soul was soon compelled
To recognize that vengeance on his foes
Would not be possible for him in life,
He learned the victory o'er his own self
And vanquished all his pride and love of fame.
He even made resolve in his old age
A circle small of pupils to attend
Which had arisen then within his town.
The man who was the teacher of this band
Was in his soul possessed of all the lore
Which by the masters in much older days
Had been delivered to initiates —
All this I hear from men within the crowd
It fills me with warm love when I behold
With my soul's sight, this aged man, who thus
After the victories which love of fame
Had won for him, could even then achieve
The greatest human task — to conquer self —
Therefore do I perceive within this place
The man to whom I wholly give myself,
Although I see him but in pictured form.
This feeling howsoe'er it comes to me
Is not a moment's work. Through lives long past
I must have been in closest union joined
Unto a soul I love as I love him.
I have not in this moment roused in me
A love so strong as that which now I feel;
It is a recollection from past times;
Nor can I grasp it with my thought as yet, —
Though memory calls these feelings back to me.
Surely I once was pupil of this man
And full of awe and wonder gazed on him?
Oh, how I long once more in this same hour
To meet the earthly soul which formerly
Could speak about this body as its own,
No matter if on Earth or otherwhere.
Then would I prove the strength with which I love;
What noble human ties did once create
This can good powers alone renew in me.
Art thou quite sure, Johannes, that this soul
If it approached thee now would show itself
Upon the same bright height whereon it stood
In those old days just pictured 'fore thy soul?
Perchance it now is chained a prisoner
By feelings all unworthy of its past.
Many a man now walks upon the Earth
Who would be filled with shame, if he could see
How little in his present mode of life
Doth correspond with that which once he was.
Perchance this man hath wallowed in the mire
Of lust and passion, and thou saw'st him now
Oppressed by consternation and remorse.
Maria, why dost thou suggest such words?
I cannot see what leads thee so to speak.
Have thoughts then here quite other influence,
Than in the realms where man is wont to dwell?
Johannes, that which here within this place
Reveals itself is proving of thy soul.
Gaze on the groundwork of thy self, and see
What thou, unknowing, willst and canst perform.
All that was hidden in thine inmost depths
While thou wert living with thy soul still blind
Will now appear and rob thee of the dark
In whose protection thou wast living then.
So now perceive what human soul it is
To whom thou dost bow down in ardent love,
And who indwelt the body thou didst see.
Perceive to whom thy strongest love is given.
Sink thyself deep in depths of thine own self;
Perceive the strongest powers of thine own soul;
And learn to know how this strong love of thine
Can hold thee upright in the cosmic life.
Yea, now I feel the soul that wished to show
Itself to me — 'tis Theodora's self —
'Twas she who wished to be revealed to me.
She stood before me since 'tis her I'll see
When I have gained an entrance through this gate.
'Tis right to love her, for her soul did stand
Before me in that other body-form
Which showed me how 'tis her that I must love.
Through thee alone will I now find myself
And win the future, fighting in thy strength.
I cannot keep thee back from what must be.
In pictured form thou hast already seen
The soul thou lovest best; it shalt thou see
When thou hast crossed the threshold of this realm.
Perceive, and let experience decide
If it shall prove so healing as thou dream'st.
The Other Philia:
Ah, heed thou not the Guardian strict
Who leadeth thee to wastes of life
And robs thee of thy warmth of soul;
He can but see the spirit-forms,
And knoweth naught of human woe
Which souls can only then endure
When earthly love doth guard them safe
From chilling cosmic space.
Strictness to him belongs,
From him doth kindness flee,
And power to wish
He hath abhorred
Since first the Earth began.