Richard Wagner in the Light of Anthroposophy
5 May 1905, Berlin
During the course of these lectures we shall see how in his works Wagner rose up to the gods and at the same time came down to the human beings, in order to set forth, within the human race itself, redemption and salvation.
There were Mysteries also in the North. A special being, Wotan, plays a prominent part in these Mysteries. Particularly in the countries inhabited by the Celts the last traces of the old Druid Mysteries have been preserved. In England we may still find them at the time of Queen Elizabeth.
The old sagas relate first of all of Siegfried, an initiate, who was able, after a certain number of incarnations, to give up his body to an old Atlantean initiate for a dwelling. This we may find in all the Mysteries. Even Jesus sacrificed his body to a higher individuality when he was baptized by John the Baptist.
Wotan was initiated stage by stage, in order to bring about the higher development of the Northern tribes. After the transmigration of the surviving Atlantean peoples to the desert of Gobi, a few tribes had remained behind in the North. Whereas four sub-races were continuing their development in the South, four other sub-races developed in the North. Here, too, we find four stages of evolution; the last one is the Twilight of the Gods. The northern sagas tell us about this, and these legends were conceived by the four preparatory races. Wotan passes four times through an initiation within these four sub-races, and each time he rises by one degree. He hangs upon the cross for nine days; he learns to know the things connected with Mimir's head, the representative of the first sub-race. Also in this case crucifixion brings redemption.
During his second initiation he wins Gunlöd's draught of wisdom. In the form of a serpent he must creep into a subterranean cave, where he dwells for three days before he obtains the draught. During his third initiation, corresponding to the third sub-race, he is obliged to sacrifice one of his eyes in order to win Mimir's draught of wisdom. This eye is the legendary eye of wisdom, reminding us of the one-eyed Cyclops, who are the representatives of the Lemurian race. This eye has withdrawn long ago, and modern men do not possess it; sometimes, in the case of newly-born children, a faint trace of this eye may still be seen. It is the eye of clairvoyance. Why was Wotan obliged to sacrifice it? Every root-race must recapitulate the whole course of evolution. This also applies to the third northern sub-race. Clairvoyance has to be sacrificed once again, in order that something new might arise, which appeared for the first time in Wotan. This new element is the intellectual capacity, the characteristic way in which the Europeans contemplate the world.
Wotan's fourth incarnation is Siegfried, the descendant of gods. Human initiates now take the place of gods.
Siegfried passes through an initiation. He must awaken Brunhilde, the higher consciousness, by passing through the flames, the fire of passion. In this way he experiences a catharsis, a purification. Before his purification he has killed the dragon, the lower passions. He has become invulnerable. There is only one point between the shoulders where he can be wounded. This vulnerable point symbolizes that the fourth sub-race still lacks something which Christianity alone can give. The coming of One was necessary, who was invulnerable where Siegfried was still vulnerable — the coming of the Christ, Who carries the Cross resting between his shoulders at the very point where Siegfried could be wounded to death.
Christianity was called upon to check yet another onset of the Atlanteans. The peoples led by Atli (Attilas) are of Atlantean origin. The attack of these Mongolian races must give way to Christianity, personified in Leo, the pope.
Thus the myths described the course of evolution in symbolical images.
The same thing applies to the myth of Baldur. Also in Baldur we have before us an initiate. In this myth we find that all the conditions of initiation are fulfilled. The riddle of Baldur conceals a truth. The strange position of Loki in this northern saga can only be understood if we bear in mind this fact. You know that Baldur's mother, alarmed by evil dreams, made every living being promise to do no harm to Baldur. An insignificant growth, the mistletoe, is forgotten, and out of this mistletoe, which was not bound by any promise, Loge made the arrow which he gave to the blind god Hodur, when the gods were playfully hurling arrows at Baldur. Baldur is killed by this mistletoe arrow.
You know that another evolution preceded the evolution of the earth; namely, the kingdom of the Moon. At that time matter resembled our present living substance. Some of the Moon-beings remained behind upon the Moon-stage of development, and penetrated into the new world in this form. They cannot grow upon a mineral soil, they can only grow upon a living foundation, upon another living being. The mistletoe is one of these Moon-plants. Loge is the god of the Moon. He comes from the Moon-period and is now the representative of something imperfect, of Evil. This occult connection with the Moon-period also explains Loge's double nature, male and female at the same time. As you know, the division of the sexes coincides with the Moon's exit from the common planet. The Sun-god Baldur is the head of the new creation. The new and the old creation, the kingdoms of the Moon and of the Sun collide, and Baldur, the representative of the civilisation of the Sun, is the victim. Hodur is the blind inevitable force of Nature. Guilt contains a certain progressive element. Thus Baldur had to be called into life again in the Mysteries, after having been killed by Loge through Hodur.
These are the feelings which fill our soul when we penetrate into Richard Wagner's creations.
Man comes down to the earth as a soul-being; his body is formed out of the ether-earth; the human being is not yet man and woman, and he has no idea of possession or power. The soul is referred to as water; possession, implying power, is still guarded by the surging astral forces, by the Daughters of the Rhine. The Ego, or egoism coming out of Atlantis is gradually prepared. But this human being who was originally a soul-being possessed something which he must renounce: it is love, which does not, as yet seek another being outside, but finds its satisfaction within itself. Alberich must renounce this self-contained love; the human being must attain love by becoming united with another individual being. As long as the two sexes were united, the Ring was not needed; when the human being renounced psychical love, or the two sexes in one, then the Ring had to unite externally what had thus become severed. The Ring is the union of individual human beings, the union of the sexes in the physical world. When Alberich conquers the Ring he must renounce love. Now comes the time when the human being is no longer able to work within a united sphere encompassing everything. Once upon a time, soul, spirit and body were one; now the Godhead creates the body from outside. The sexes face one another in a hostile way; the two giants Fafner and Fasolt symbolized this. The human bodies are now endowed with one sex instead of two; they create external life.
The human body is represented in every religion as a temple: the Godhead builds it from outside. The inner temple of the soul must be built by man himself ever since he has become an Ego. The creative Godhead still contains love, it is still creative in the outer temple. The myth explains this in the passage where Wotan wishes to take away the Ring from the giants, and Erda appears advising him to abstain from this. Erda is the clairvoyant collective consciousness of humanity. The god must not keep the Ring encircling what should become free, in order to unite it again upon a higher stage, when the sexes shall have become neutral. Thus the prophetic, clairvoyant power of earth-consciousness prevents Wotan from securing the Ring, which remains the property of the giants. Ever since, every human being has one sex only. (The giant represents the physical bodily structure.) Now the giants begin to build Walhalla. During a quarrel over the Ring, Fasolt is killed by Fafner. This is the contrast between male and female: one sex must first be killed within every human being: the man kills the woman, and the woman kills the man within themselves.