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Twilight of the Gods: Page 846
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[Wotan and his fellow Valhallan gods, who sin against Erda’s, nature’s, knowledge of all that was, is, or shall be]. ‘You must work,’ says the other, the god who is not differentiated from nature and merely expresses the essence of nature [Alberich and his fellow Nibelungs, who unlike Wotan affirm Erda’s knowledge of all that was, is, and will be]. For nature is a worker bee, while the gods are drones.” [337F-LER: p. 317]

However, this power to “know,” i.e., to represent our experience of the world in symbols, which seems to us in some sense to capture the world for ourselves, was one property of our human mind which fooled our ancestors into taking our mind for godhead, for something transcendent and autonomous from the laws of this world. It was precisely for this reason that Alberich’s Ring, #19, gave birth to the gods’ abode, Valhalla (#20a). And of course, another reason Bruennhilde can’t use the Ring for her defense against Siegfried is that she is the artist-hero Siegfried’s unconscious mind, which he himself is plundering unwittingly.

Siegfried haughtily laughs at Bruennhilde’s threats, saying, let the Ring give Gunther a husband’s rights, let her be wedded to him with the Ring. {{ Do we actually hear a variant of #64 as Siegfried says this, as heard in V.1.3 when Siegmund sang to Sieglinde: “There Nothung the sword will protect you, when Siegfried succumbs to your love”? If so, it would be the greatest of ironies. }} Bruennhilde threatens Siegfried with the Ring again, accompanied by a #13 variant (the Rhinedaughters’ “Heiajaheia! Heiajaheia!” in celebration of the Rhinegold’s beauty), and #153 variants (the Seduction Motif associated with Gutrune, but based on Freia’s first motif #24). #13 calls to mind Bruennhilde’s status as Siegfried’s surrogate Rhine, who temporarily protects Siegfried from Alberich’s curse. By forcing the Ring out of Bruennhilde’s hands Siegfried will of course unwittingly cast away the magical protection from the wounds of consciousness Bruennhilde offers him (i.e., so long as she remains his muse of unconscious inspiration). Siegfried makes several attempts to overcome Bruennhilde and take her Ring, accompanied by #51 (Alberich’s curse on the Ring) and #150 (the motif representing the Hoard of knowledge which Wotan imparted to Bruennhilde, which she holds for Siegfried so that she can subliminally inspire him to produce redemptive art, secret knowledge which Siegfried will reveal to the light of day if he successfully forces the Ring out of Bruennhilde’s protective hands. We are reminded that Siegfried in T.P.2 was accompanied by #150 as he told Bruennhilde that she’d given him more (i.e., Wotan’s hoard of runes) than he knew how to cherish (i.e., to keep or guard), and asked her not to blame him if her teaching left him untaught (i.e., unconscious of Wotan’s hoard of runes).

Bruennhilde screams violently as Siegfried forcefully wrenches the Ring off her finger, just as Alberich screamed in R.4 when her father Wotan forced it off of Alberich’s finger. Strikingly, just after Siegfried takes possession of it we hear a segment of #143, the “Hoard of the World Motif,” {{ and possibly the segment associated with Bruennhilde’s plea to Siegfried in S.3.3, “leave, oh leave me be”. }} Siegfried, having woken and won Bruennhilde, is of course the heir to Wotan’s hoard of knowledge, which Wotan repressed into his unconscious mind Bruennhilde during his confession to her. But Siegfried is unconscious of this knowledge and therefore wholly ignorant of the risk entailed in removing it from its safe repository, his unconscious mind Bruennhilde, and making its secrets public. Wagner himself said that Alberich’s Ring is itself the source of Bruennhilde’s strength, which is why she is so spiritually deflated when she can no longer keep its power safe:

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