A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Siegfried: Page 673
Go back a page
673
Go forward a page

neither can Siegfried. However, just as Wotan’s second request of Erda was that she would show him how to end his care, Siegfried will later, in the throes of the ecstasy of unconscious artistic inspiration by his muse Bruennhilde, forget the fear she taught him.

It is most interesting that Siegfried, afraid to waken Bruennhilde, calls upon his mother for help. We hear #66, which links Siegfried to his blood mother Sieglinde, but Siegfried is also invoking the mother of all things, Erda, who taught Wotan the price he must pay to possess Alberich’s Ring, and who is known to us specifically as Bruennhilde’s mother. Furthermore, upon waking Bruennhilde Siegfried will briefly confuse Bruennhilde with his mother. Siegfried is in the process of falling heir to man’s (Wotan’s) collective unconscious, Bruennhilde, who will become his muse of inspiration. A detailed assessment of the symbolic significance of Bruennhilde’s status as both his unconscious mind, and as his surrogate mother, will hugely aid our endeavor to grasp the complex symbolism of the love duet which Siegfried and Bruennhilde sing after he wakes her.

The following extracts (many of them previously cited) from Feuerbach and Wagner provide insight into Bruennhilde’s role as Wotan’s, and Siegfried’s, unconscious mind, and also help to explain why Siegfried fears what may come to pass if he wakes Bruennhilde. First, we’ll examine some arguments which seem to have provided Wagner with the basis for his characterization of Bruennhilde not only as Erda’s (Mother Nature’s) daughter, but specifically as the portion of human nature which is involuntary and unconscious (and therefore as Wotan’s collective unconscious), and which links man to his evolutionary roots in Mother Nature. I’ve noted previously a number of reasons why Wagner conceived Bruennhilde as Erda’s daughter, but the explanation most useful for our current purpose is Feuerbach’s remark that Nature embraces more than just the natural phenomena man experiences in the external world. Nature, according to Feuerbach, also embraces man’s instinctual and unconscious motives:

[P. 310] “The object of religion is nature [Erda], which operates independently of man and which he distinguishes from himself. But this nature is more than the phenomena of the outside world; it also includes man’s inner nature, which operates independently of his knowledge and his will [Wotan’s daughter Bruennhilde, his unconscious mind]. This statement brings us to our most crucial point, the true seat and source of religion. The ultimate secret of religion is the relationship between the conscious [Wotan, in his new incarnation as the artist-hero Siegfried] and unconscious [Siegfried’s muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, Bruennhilde] the [ P. 311] voluntary and involuntary in one and the same individual.” [331F-LER: p. 310-311]

Though this involuntary, unconscious mind (Bruennhilde) links us to our source in Mother Nature (Erda), and is the source of inspiration for our dreaming, it is also, Feuerbach said, the source of inspiration for our unconscious creation of our various religions, and the gods:

[P. 140] “Feeling is the dream of nature; and there is nothing more blissful, nothing more profound than dreaming. But what is dreaming? The reversing of the waking consciousness. In dreaming, … I take the spontaneous action of my own mind for an action upon me from without, my emotions for events, my conceptions and sensations for true existences apart from myself. (…) It is the same ego, the same being in dreaming as in waking; [P. 141] the only distinction is that in waking, the ego acts on itself; whereas in dreaming it is acted on by itself as by another being. (…) Feeling is a

Go back a page
673
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.