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Twilight of the Gods: Page 737
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contract, since this act followed immediately after Wotan sacrificed his eye, as if his sacrifice granted him the privilege of breaking off the World-Ash’s most sacred branch.

In any case, the wound Wotan had to make in the World-Ash in order to break off its most sacred branch is what killed it. Wotan’s virtual murder of the World-Ash is a symbol for religious man’s status as the killer of his mother, Nature. We hear #53 (the natural necessity of change, the end of all things) and #54 (Twilight of the Gods) as the Norns describe how the World-Ash withered and died due to Wotan’s abuse. We are reminded that Wotan perpetuated his sin against Mother Nature’s truth (represented by #53 and #54) by seeking to redeem the gods from their natural, inevitable fate, by finding a hero freed from the gods’ authority and divine protection, who could keep Alberich from regaining his Ring, and thereby forestalling that fate. And this concept was represented by the “Need of the Gods Motif,” #83, comprised of #53 and #54 overlain by #81. Wotan’s attempt to create cultural, social institutions of divine origin which are therefore regarded as immortal and unchanging was itself a sin against the natural necessity for change, the everlasting creativity of the cosmos in motion and evolution. And of course, though Wotan and the gods have figuratively murdered Mother Nature (Erda) by denying her truth and substituting a consoling illusion in her place, nonetheless, in the fulness of time, Erda’s laws of change, embodied by #53 and #54, will wreak nature’s vengeance upon those who have denied her, through her agents Alberich and Hagen, those men who have the courage to objectively affirm nature even at her worst.

Feuerbach gave these natural laws, Erda’s knowledge of all that was, is, and will be, and therefore the Norns’ spinning of the rope of fate, pride of place, for he said:

[P. 60] “Space and time are not mere forms of appearance; they are conditions of being, forms of reason, and laws of existence as well as of thought. [P. 61] (…) Limitation in space and time is the first virtue … .” [185F-PPF: p. 60-61]

Wagner provided us an interesting insight into the concept underlying his World-Ash Tree. He told Cosima how modern, cultured man seems concerned solely with dead things (referencing Wotan’s spear), while in former, purer times we embraced living things, plants, animals, etc. (i.e., felt one with them):

“After a good night R. and I have breakfast in the conservatory, and he says, ‘It has occurred to me that we now seem to concern ourselves only with dead things; everything around us seems lifeless, whereas previously our existence was concerned with living things, with plants, animals; Wotan carved his spear from the growing ash tree.’ When I say that it is perhaps this life within life that has given later generations a feeling for divinity, and that Siegfried and Bruennhilde give the appearance of sacred, living Nature, whereas the Gibichungs [Hagen, Gunther, and Gutrune, to whom we will be introduced in T.1.1] are already among the dead, he agrees with me.” [1114W-{1/8/82} CD Vol. II, p. 786]

As the First Norn prepares to hand the rope of fate over to the Second Norn so she can spin and sing her knowledge of world history, a new motif is introduced, #147, which I believe is only heard in T.P in this current context. Dunning has described it as a #15 variant. As the First Norn casts the rope to the Second, asking her what will come of the fact that the World-Ash has withered and died

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