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dream with the eyes open; religion the dream of waking consciousness: dreaming is the key to the mysteries of religion.” [102F-EOC: p. 140-141]

In the following remarks Feuerbach provides us one reason why Bruennhilde, Wotan’s unconscious mind, is the repository of the secret of that unconscious artistic inspiration through which mankind produced the so-called religious mysteries, and therefore why Siegfried (Wotan minus consciousness of his true identity, and of the true origin of the gods in nature) is afraid to wake her:

“ … man’s task in the state is not only to believe what he wishes, but to believe what is reasonable, not only to believe, but to know what he can and must know if he is to be a free and cultivated man. Here no barrier to human knowledge can excuse us [such as Wotan’s cowardly repression of unbearable knowledge into his unconscious mind, Bruennhilde, during his confession, or Lohengrin’s refusal to share with Elsa the secret of his identity]. In the realm of nature, to be sure, there are still many things we do not understand; but the secrets of religion spring from man himself, and he is capable of knowing them down to their remotest depths. And because he can know them, he ought to know them. (…) The elimination of this lie is the condition for a new, energetic mankind.” [284F-LER: p. 219]

It is easy to see how Erda’s daughters the Norns, who represent past, present, and future, and spin Erda’s rope of fate, stand for the laws of nature, time, space, matter, energy, causality, and nature’s coherence, which all natural phenomena obey. Erda’s and Wotan’s daughter Bruennhilde, on the other hand, stands for all that is involuntary and unconscious in human thought. In Feuerbach’s following provocative description of man’s own unconscious mind as his “Not-I,” which links him with Mother Nature, the entire external world, we have an intimation of why Siegfried fears waking Bruennhilde, his unconscious, which Feuerbach describes here as the bottomless abyss of man’s link with his true source, Mother Nature:

“Man with his ego or consciousness stands at the brink of a bottomless abyss; that abyss is his own unconscious being [Siegfried stands in the presence of Bruennhilde, man’s collective unconscious], which seems alien to him and inspires him with a feeling which expresses itself in words of wonderment such as: What am I? Where have I come from? To what end? And this feeling that I am nothing without a not-I which is distinct from me yet intimately related to me, something other, which is at the same time my own being, is the religious feeling. (…) The elements, then, of the I or man, of the real man, are consciousness, feeling, voluntary movement – voluntary movement, I say, because involuntary movement is outside the sphere of the I, in the realm of the divine not-I … .

(…) I feel a desire to write poetry, I can satisfy it only by voluntary activity, but the underlying impulse is not-I … .” [i.e., both religious revelation and artistic inspiration are the product of the involuntary, unconscious mind] [333F-LER: p. 311]

Here again, clearly, the “I,” the conscious, voluntary ego, can be equated with Wotan, while the “not-I,” the part of Wotan which is unconscious, and which links his mind with Natural necessity (Erda), can be equated with Bruennhilde, Erda’s (Mother Nature’s) daughter. It is of considerable interest that Feuerbach describes man’s “not-I,” or unconscious mind, as the source of religious feeling, in view of the fact that the God Wotan imparted his unspoken secret – the religious mysteries, so to speak, the secret which God forbids man to know - to Bruennhilde.

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