MYSTERIES OF THE GREAT OPERAS
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MINSTRELS, INITIATES OF MIDDLE AGES
When Tannhauser emerged from the cave of
Venus one of the first sounds which greeted him was the chant of a band of
pilgrims going to Rome to obtain forgiveness for their sins, and this awakened
within him an overpowering sense of his own delinquency. Therefore he kneels and
exclaims in deep contrition:
"Almighty, praise I give to Thee,
I pray Thee mercy show to me.
By sense of sin I am oppressed,
The load too heavy far for me.
I have no peace, can find no rest
Till pardon I receive from Thee."
While he is thus dejected and feels himself
accursed, doomed to roam alone and unblessed through the world because of his
unhallowed love for Venus, the minstrels come upon him, and recognizing him,
endeavor to persuade him to accompany them to Wartburg, but as said before, it
was the PASSIONATE love of Elizabeth that drove him thence, and he feels that he
dare not approach her. As a last argument, Wolfram von Eschenbach tells
Tannhauser that Elizabeth loves him. Elizabeth has never been at the contests of
song since Tannhauser left, and Wolfram von Eschenbach, one of the purest and
most beautiful characters in medieval history, endeavors to secure the happiness
of Elizabeth by bringing Tannhauser back to her though he himself loves her, and
it breaks his own heart to do so. On hearing this, PASSION fires Tannhauser's
soul anew, and he sings:
"Ah, dost thou smile once more upon me!
Thou radiant world that I had lost!
O sun of heaven thou dost not shun me
By stormy clouds so long o'ercrossed.
"Tis May, sweet May. Its thousand carols tender,
Rejoicing set my sorrow free.
A ray of new, unwonted splendor
Illumes my soul, O joy 'tis she!"
On meeting Tannhauser at the castle,
Elizabeth tells him:
"Now the world to me is darkened.
Repose and joy from me have flown.
Since fondly to thy lays I've hearkened,
The pangs of bliss and woe I've known;
And when this land thou hadst forsaken,
My peace of heart had also fled.
No minstrel could my joy awaken,
To me their lays seem sad and dead.
In slumber oft near broken-hearted,
Awake, each pang was oft recalled;
All joy has from my life departed.
Oh tell me why I am enthralled!"
To this Tannhauser replies:
"All praise to love for this sweet token!
Love touched my harp with magic sweet.
Love through my song to thee hath spoken
And captured, leaves me at thy feet."
Elizabeth then confesses:
"O blessed hour of meeting!
O blessed power of love!
At last I give thee greeting,
No longer wilt thou rove.
Now life anew awakens,
Within this heart of mine;
The cloud of sorrow breaketh.
The sun of joy doth shine."
Thus Elizabeth has inspired love in the
hearts of two of the minstrels, Wolfram and Tannhauser, but how different this
love is will be seen from the way each handles the theme in the contest of song,
which follows in the second act, where the Lord of Wartburg opens the contest
with the following words:
"As oft in war times, death we braved,
And knightlike battled, honor to maintain,
So, minstrels, you have fought and virtue saved.
Upheld true faith with voice and harp's sweet
Tune up again; another lay indite.
DESCRIBE TRUE LOVE, that we may surely know;
And who so does most nobly this recite
The princess shall reward on him bestow."
In this last verse we gain a true
understanding of the relative scope and mission of knighthood and minstrelsy. It
was the duty of knights to follow war, to defend with the sword all who were in
need thereof, to fight with a strong arm the battle of the weak. In so far as a
knight followed the code of honor then prevailing, and defended the weak,
keeping faith with friend and foe, he learned the lessons of physical and, in a
certain sense, of moral courage, which are so necessary for the development of
the soul. Anyone who enters upon the path of spiritual attainment is also a
knight of noble birth, and it behooves him to realize that he must have the same
virtues which were required of knighthood, for upon the spiritual path there are
also dangers and places where physical courage is required. The Spirit, for
instance, cannot come to liberation without physical inconvenience. Sickness
usually attends soul growth to a greater or a less extent, and it requires
physical courage to endure the suffering incident to that attainment, after
which we all strive, and thus sacrifice the body for the soul.
It was the mission of minstrelsy to foster
this courage and to inculcate the finer virtues also. All minstrels, therefore,
had that poetical strain which brings us in touch with the higher and finer
things in Nature not sensed by ordinary humanity; but more than that, many among
the minstrels in medieval times were Initiates themselves, or perhaps lay
brothers. Therefore their words were often found to be pearls of wisdom. They
were looked up to as teachers, as wise men, and were friends of the true
There were, of course, exceptions, but
Tannhauser was not one of these, however. We shall find that he was really a
noble soul despite his faults, and in fact we should remember that we are all
Tannhausers before we become Wolframs. We all respond to Tannhauser's definition
of love before we grow to Wolfram's spiritual conception as given at the
Lots are drawn to see who shall begin the
contest, and the name of Wolfram appears on the slip first taken from the box.
He therefore commences as follows:
"Gazing around upon this fair assemblage
How does the heart expand to see the scene!
These gallant heroes, valiant, wise, and gentle,
As stately forests growing fresh and green,
And blooming by their side in sweet perfection,
I see a wreath of dames and maidens fair.
Their blended glories dazzle the beholder,
My song is mute before this vision rare.
I raise my eyes to one whose starry splendor
In this bright heaven with mild effulgence beams,
And gazing on that radiance, pure and tender
My heart is sunk in prayerful, holy dreams.
And lo, the source of all delight and power
Is then unto my listening soul revealed.
From whose unfathomed depths, all joy doth
The tender balm through which all grief is healed.
Oh! never may I dim its limpid waters
Nor rashly trouble them with wild desires.
I'll worship thee, kneeling, with soul devoted.
TO LIVE AND DIE FOR THEE MY HEART ASPIRES.
I know not if these feeble words can render
What I have felt of love both true and tender."
At the end of Wolfram's song Tannhauser
starts as if from a dream. He rises and sings:
"I, too, drank from that well of pleasure;
Its waters, Wolfram, well I know;
Who that has life may dare ignore it?
Hear how its virtues I will show:
But I would not draw near its margin
Unless desire consumed my soul;
Then only would its wave refresh me,
My life and heart make new and whole.
O TIDE OF JOY, LET ME POSSESS THEE!
All fear and doubt before thee fly;
Let thy unfathomed raptures bless me!
For thee alone my heart beats high,
So that I own thy fiery splendor,
Let me with longing ever burn.
I tell thee, Wolfram, thus I render
What I have known of truest love.
Here we have the true description of the two
extremes of love; that of Wolfram being the love of soul for soul, Tannhauser's
being the love of sense. One is the love that seeks to give, the other demands
possession that it may receive. This is only the beginning of the contest, of
which we shall hear fully later, but these being the definitions first given by
the two chief exponents of love, it is well worth noting that Wolfram von
Eschenbach stands as the exponent of the new and the more beautiful love which
is to supersede the primeval conception.
Even to this day, unfortunately, the ancient
idea is entertained that possession is the signature of love. Those who believe
in rebirths in alternate sexes, should by this fact be sufficiently convinced
that, as the soul is bisexual and our bodies contain rudimentary organs
belonging to the opposite sex, so it is no more than proper and just that each
human being regardless of the polarity of the present garb, should have the same
privileges as the other.
THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
During the contest the sublime and heavenly
ideals of the companionship of soul with soul, is sung by the majority of the
minstrels, and at each presentation there comes from Tannhauser a passionate
retort defending the sensual phase of love. At last, enraged at their seeming
insipidity, which he regards as sentimental nonsense, he cries, "Go to
Venus. She will show you love."
With this remark his guilty secret is out.
It is taken by everyone to mean that he has committed that which is the worst
phase of the unpardonable sin, namely, intercourse with an etheric entity; and
feeling that he is depraved beyond redemption, they rush at him sword in hand
and would surely have killed him had not Elizabeth interceded, pleading that he
be not cut off from life in his sins, but be given a chance to repent. Then a
band of pilgrims is heard in the distance and the minstrels agree that if he
will go and seek the pardon of the Holy See at Rome, they will spare his life.
When Elizabeth reveals the grief of her
heart in her plea for Tannhauser, he at last sees the enormity of his sins and
is seized with an overwhelming sense of his depravity. He, therefore, anxiously
grasps the suggestion given him, joins the band of pilgrims, and journeys toward
Rome. Being a strong soul, he does nothing by halves. His contrition is as
sincere as his sin was brazen. His whole being yearns to cleanse itself from
impurity that he may aspire to the higher and nobler love awakened in his breast
The other pilgrims sang psalms of praise,
but he scarcely dared to look to Rome in the distance, saying, "God be
merciful to me a sinner." While they refreshed themselves and slept in
hospices on the way, he made his bed upon the snow. When they walked over the
smooth road, he walked among thorns, and when he came to Italy so that no even
the fair scenes of that land should give him joy, he blindfolded his eyes and
thus journeyed toward the Eternal City.
At last the morn came upon which he was to
see the Holy Father, and hope rose in this heart. During the entire day he stood
patiently while thousands of others passed by, the ecstasies of heaven on their
countenances, and received there the pardon they craved, going away with lighter
hearts, gladdened and ready to make a new start.
At last came his turn. He stood in that
august presence and waited patiently for the Holy Father's message, waiting and
hoping for a kind word to send him on his way rejoicing. Instead there came the
thundered words, "If you have associated with demons, then there is no
forgiveness for you, neither in heaven nor on Earth. Sooner will this dry staff
which I hold in my hand blossom, than that thy sins will be forgiven."
At this heartless announcement the last
spark of hope died within Tannhauser, and lust, a thing of blood, lifted its
head. His love was turned to hate, and blazing with anger he cursed everything
in heaven and on Earth, swearing that if he could not have true love, then he
would return to the cave and seek Venus anew, and telling his fellow pilgrims to
keep back, he leaves then and journeys back to his native home alone.
Meanwhile the prayers of Elizabeth, the pure
and chaste virgin to whom Tannhauser's love had gone out, unceasingly called for
forgiveness for the sinner. Hopefully she awaited the return of the pilgrims,
but when at last they arrived and Tannhauser was not among them, despair seized
her, and feeling that there was no other way she passed out of this phase of
life, to present personally her petition at the Throne of Grace before our
Heavenly Father. The funeral procession is met by the returning Tannhauser, who
is bowed with unspeakable grief at this sight.
Then another band of returning pilgrims
arrive, telling of a great miracle which has taken place at Rome. The staff of
the Pope had budded to signify that a sinner refused remission on Earth, had
found pardon in heaven.
Though the legend is clothed in medieval and
Catholic phraseology, and though we may discount the idea that any one man has
power to forgive sin or deny remission, it contains spiritual truths which are
becoming more pertinent with each passing year. It deals with the unpardonable
sin: the only sin that cannot be forgiven, but must be expiated. As you know,
Jehovah is the highest Initiate of the Moon Period, the ruler of the Angels, who
during this present Day of Manifestation work with our humanity through the
Moon. He is the author of generation and the prime factor in gestation, the
giver of offspring to man and to beast, using the lunar ray as his vehicle of
work during the times which are propitious to generation. Jehovah is a jealous
God, jealous of his prerogative, and, therefore, when man ate of the tree of
knowledge and took the matter of generation into his own hands, he expelled him
from paradise to wander in the wilderness of the world. There was no
forgiveness. He must expiate it in travail and in pain, reaping the fruit of his
Before the Fall, humanity had not known
either good or evil. They had done what they were told, and nothing else. By
taking matters into their own hands, and by the pain and the sorrow which
followed their transgression, they learned the difference between good and evil:
they became capable of choice. They acquired prerogative. This is the great
privilege which more than compensates for the suffering and the sorrow man has
endured in expiation of that offense against the Law of Life, which lies in
performing the creative act when the stellar rays are unpropitious, thus causing
painful parturition, and a multitude of other diseases to which humanity is heir
In this connection I may mention that the
Moon is the ruler of the sign Cancer, and that cancer, in its malignant form,
admits of no cure, no matter how many remedies science may bring forward from
time to time. Investigation of the lives of persons who suffer from this disease
has proved in every case that the one involved has been sensual in the extreme
during previous lives, though I am not prepared to say that this is a law, since
a sufficient number of investigations have not been made to establish it. It is,
nevertheless, significant that Jehovah, the Holy Spirit, rules generative
functions through the Moon, that the moon governs Cancer, and that those who
abuse the sex function in a very marked and bestial degree are later afflicted
with the disease called cancer: that that is incurable and thus bears out the
saying in the Bible that all things may be forgiven save the sin against the
There is a mystic connection between the
Cherubim with the flaming sword at the Garden of Eden and the Cherubim with the
open flower on the door of Solomon's Temple: between the spear and the Grail
cup: between Aaron's rod that budded and the staff of the Pope which flowered
and the death of the chaste and pure Elizabeth, by whose intercession the stain
was removed from the soul of the erring Tannhauser. Neither can one who has
never know the awful torment of temptation realize the position of one who has
fallen. Christ, Himself, felt in the body of Jesus all the passion and all the
temptations to which we ourselves are subject, and it is stated that that was
for the purpose of making Him merciful unto us as a High Priest. That He was
tempted, proves that temptation is in itself not sin. IT IS THE YIELDING THAT IS
SIN; therefore, He was without sin. Whoever can thus be tempted and withstand,
is of course highly evolved; but let us remember that none of the present
humanity has yet arrived at that stage of perfection and that we are better men
and women for having sinned, and suffered in consequence, until we have become
awake to the important fact that the way of the transgressor is hard, and have
turned into the pathway of virtue, whereon alone is found inward peace. Such men
and women are on a much higher stage of spiritual development than those who
have lived lives of purity because of a sheltered environment. This Christ
emphasized when He said that there shall be more rejoicing over one sinner who
repents than over the ninety-and-nine who need no repentance.
There is a very important distinction
between innocence and virtue, and what is more important still, is that WE
SHOULD REALIZE THE FALLACY OF THE DOUBLE STANDARD OF CONDUCT which gives
liberties to or rather condones them in a man, while insisting that one misstep
will ruin a woman for life. Were I to choose a wife today, and later learn that
her life had been clouded by a mistake for which she had suffered, I should know
that such a one had learned to know sorrow, and had engendered compassion and
forbearance thereby, and had thus acquired qualities which would make her a
better and more sympathetic companion than one who stood "innocent"
upon the threshold of life, liable to fall a prey to the first temptation that
THE ROD THAT BUDDED
In the prologue of Faust, God is represented
as saying, concerning the hero:
"With vision imperfect he serve me now,
But soon I'll lead him where more light appears;
When buds the sapling doth the gardener know,
That flow'r and fruit will grace its coming years."
This is the actual fact concerning all
mankind. At the present time we all serve God imperfectly because of our limited
vision. We have not the real, true perception of what is wanted and of how we
should use the talents wherewith we are now endowed. Nevertheless God, through
the process of evolution is constantly leading us into greater and greater
light, and by degrees we shall cease to be spiritually barren: We shall flower
and bear fruit. Thus we shall be able to serve God as we would and not as we do.
While the foregoing applies to all in
general, it applies particularly to those who stand in the limelight as teacher;
for naturally, where the light is the strongest, the shadows are also the
deepest, and the imperfections of those among us, who must take up the burden of
teaching, are naturally more marked on that account.
In the story of Tannhauser, the Pope shuts
the door of hope in the face of the penitent because the letter of the law
requires it, but not thus is God's mercy frustrated. The Pope's staff blooms to
prove that the penitent has been forgiven because of the sincere penitence
whereby the evil has been washed from the record made upon the seed atom. Thus
by a higher law the lower has been superseded.
There is in this legend of the Pope's staff,
a similarity to the tale of the Holy Grail and the spear; to the story of
Aaron's rod which also bloomed, and to the staff of Moses that brought the water
of life forth from the rock. All have an important bearing upon the problem of
the spiritual life of the Disciple who aims to follow the path to the higher
life and seeks, like Kundry, to undo the deeds of ill of former lives by a
present life of service to the higher self. The legend of the Grail
distinguishes between the Grail cup itself and the Cleansing Blood which it
The story is told of how Lucifer, when he
strove with the Archangel Michael over the body of Moses, lost the choicest gem
in his crown. It was dislodged in the struggle. This beautiful gem, comparable
to none, was an emerald named "Elixir." It was thrown into the abyss
but was recovered by the Angels and from that the chalice or Holy Grail was made
which later was used to hold the Cleansing Blood that flowed from the Savior's
side when it had been pierced by the centurion's spear. Let us first note the
fact that this jewel was an emerald: it was green, and green is a combination of
blue and yellow, and is, therefore, the complementary color of the third primary
color, red. In the Physical World red has the tendency to excite and energize,
whereas green has a cooling and a soothing effect, but the opposite is true when
we look at the matter from the viewpoint of the Desire World. There the
complementary color is active, and has the effect upon our desires and emotions
which we ascribe to the physical color. Thus the green color of the gem lost by
Lucifer shows the nature and effect thereof. This stone is the antithesis of the
Philosopher's Stone. It has the power to attract passion and generate love of
sex for sex, which is the vice opposite to the chaste and pure love, symbolized
by the apocalyptic white stone, which latter is the love of soul for soul. As
this effect of the complementary colors is well know, though not consciously
realized, we also speak of jealousy, which is engendered by impure love, as the
green eyed monster.
The Holy Grail finds its replica in the
chalice or seed pod of the plant, which is green. The creative fire slumbers
within the seed pod. Likewise the same phenomenon must become manifest within
each one who enters upon the quest of the Holy Grail. Will is the male quality
of the soul; imagination is the female. When will is the strongest attribute,
the soul wears male attire in a certain life, and in another, where the quality
of imagination is greater, the female garb is taken. Thus under the Law of
Alternation which prevails during the present age of the rainbow, the soul wears
a different garment in alternate lives, but whether the gender is feminine or
masculine, the organ of the opposite sex is present in an undeveloped state.
Thus man is now, and will be so long as the physical body endures, both male and
In the hoary past, when his consciousness
was focused in the spiritual world, he was a perfect creative unit with both sex
organs equally developed as are many flowers today. He was then capable of
generating a new body when the old one was worn out, but he was not at that time
aware to the same degree as he is now of the fact that he had a body. Then some
who were pioneers--some who saw more clearly than others--told to their compeers
the astonishing story that man has a body. They were often met with the same
skepticism which is now shown to those who affirm that we have a soul.
Thus the symbolical story of Lucifer losing
the green gem is the story of how man ceased to know himself and began to know
his wife; of how the Grail was lost, and of how it may only be found through the
cleansing of the passion filled physical blood which was originally contained in
that green vessel.
At a propitious time of the year, but
neither before nor after, the rays emanating from the heavenly orbs pierce the
planted seed and waken its latent generative force into activity. Then a new
plant springs out of the ground to again beautify the Earth. Thus the act of
generation is accomplished in perfect harmony with the Law of Nature, and a
thing of beauty is generated to adorn the Earth. The result is different in
humans since the feminine quality of imagination was roused by Lucifer.
Now the generative act is performed
regardless of the propitious solar rays, and as a result sin and death entered
the world. From that time the spiritual light has waned, and we are now blind to
In the hands of the divine leaders of
mankind, once of them signified by Aaron, the living rod was a vehicle of power.
later the blooming rod dried up and was laid away in the Ark, but we are not to
conclude that there is no redemption on that account, for as man was exiled from
the heavenly state when the green gem of passion and desire rolled from the
crown of Lucifer, who then led mankind through GENERATION TO DEGENERATION; so
also there is the white stone, the Philosopher's Stone, the symbol of
emancipation. By using the power of generation for regeneration, we overcome
death and sin. It then endows us with immortality and leads us to Christ.
That is the message of the story of
Tannhauser. Passion is poison. Abuse of generation under the sway of Lucifer,
has been the means of leading us downward into the gloom of degeneration, but
the same power turned into the opposite direction and used for purposes of
regeneration is capable of lifting us out of the gloom and elevating us to a
heavenly state, when we have thus won the battle. Through passion the Spirit has
been crystallized into a body and only by chastity can the fetters be loosed,
for HEAVEN IS THE HOME OF THE VIRGIN and only in so far as we elevate love from
that of sex for sex to the standard of soul for soul can we shatter the shackles
that bind us. Then, when we learn to make conception immaculate, saviors will be
born who will loose the fetters of sin and sorrow that now bind us.
In carrying out this ideal let us remember,
however, that suppression of the sexual desire is not celibacy; the mind must
concur and we must willingly abstain from impurity. This can only be done by
what the mystic calls "FINDING THE WOMAN WITHIN HIMSELF." (Of course
for woman, it is to find the man within herself.) When we have found that, we
arrive at the point where we can live the same pure life as the flower.
In this connection it may also be very
illuminating to remember that the "Dweller on the Threshold" which we
must confront before we can enter the superphysical worlds always has the
appearance of a creature of the opposite sex. Yet it seems to be ourselves. It
should also be understood that the more licentious or lustful we have been, the
worse will be the appearance of this monster, and Parsifal standing before
Kundry, when his refusal of compliance has turned her into a virago, is in fact
at the very point where the candidate finds himself face to face with the
dweller, before the spear is given into his hands.
THE KNIGHT OF THE SWAN
THE KNIGHT OF THE SWAN
Among the operas of Wagner there is,
perhaps, none which is so universally enjoyed by the large majority of people
who see it, as Lohengrin. This is probably because the story seems, on cursory
examination, to be very simple and beautiful. The music is of an unusually
exquisite character, which appeals to all in a manner which is not equaled by
the author's other operas founded upon myths such as Parsifal, the Ring of the
Niebelung, or even Tannhauser.
Although these last named productions affect
people who hear them powerfully for their spiritual good (whether they are aware
of the fact or not), it if nevertheless, a fact that they are not enjoyed by the
majority, particularly in America, where the spirit of mysticism is not so
strong as it is in Europe.
It is different with Lohengrin. Here there
is a story of the time when knighthood was in flower, and although there is an
embellishment of magic in the advent of Lohengrin and the swan in response to
the prayer of Elsa, this is only as a pretty poetical fancy without deeper
meaning. In this myth is revealed one of the supreme requirements of
Whoever has not this virtue will never
attain; its possession covers a multitude of shortcomings in other directions.
The plot is briefly as follows: The heir of
the Duchy of Brabant has disappeared. He is but a child, and the brother of
Elsa, the heroine of the play, who is accused in the opening scene by Ortrud and
Telramund, her enemies, of having done away with this young brother in order
that she may obtain possession of the principality. In consequence she has been
summoned before the royal court to defend herself against her accusers, but at
the opening scene not knight as yet has appeared to espouse her cause and slay
her traducers. Then there appears on the river a swan, upon which stands a
knight, who comes up to the place where court is being held. He jumps ashore and
offers to defend Elsa on condition that she marry him. To this she readily
agrees, for he is no stranger; she has often seen him in her dreams and learned
to love him. In the duel between the unknown knight and Telramund, the latter is
thrown, but his life is magnanimously spared by the conqueror, who then claims
Elsa as his bride. He had, however, made another condition; namely, that she may
never ask him who he is and whence he came. As he appears so good and so noble,
and as he has come in answer to her prayer, she makes no objection to this
condition either, and the couple retire to the bridal chamber.
Although temporarily defeated, Ortrud and
Telramund do not by any means give up their conspiracy against Elsa, and their
next move is to poison her mind against her noble protector, so that she may
send him away and then be again at their mercy; for they hope, eventually,
themselves to secure the principality to which Elsa and her brother are the
rightful heirs. With this end in view both present themselves at Elsa's door and
succeed in getting a hearing. They profess to be exceedingly penitent for what
they have done, and very solicitous for the welfare of Elsa. It pains them very
much, they say, that she has been taken in by someone whose name she does not
even know, and who is so afraid that his identity be known that he has forbidden
her, on pain of his leaving her to ask him his name.
There must be something in his life of which
he is ashamed, they argue, which will not bear the light of day, else why should
he wish to deny the one to whom he is willing to link his whole life, knowledge
of his identity and antecedents?
By means of these arguments they arouse a
doubt in Elsa's soul, and after some conversation she goes in to Lohengrin,
changed. he notices the difference in her, and asks the cause. Finally she
admits that she feels uncertain about him and that she would like to know his
name. Thereby she has broken the condition which he has imposed upon her, and he
tells her that now, having expressed a doubt in him, it will be impossible for
him to remain. Neither tears nor protestations can change this resolve, so they
go together to the river where Lohengrin calls his trusty swan, and when that
appears he reveals his identity, saying, "I am Lohengrin, the son of
Parsifal." The swan which then comes, is changed and stands before them all
as the brother of Elsa. He then becomes her protector in place of the departing
As said, the story of Lohengrin contains one
of the most important lessons to be learned on the path of attainment. No one
will ever attain Initiation till that has been learned. In order that we may
properly grasp this point, let us first look at the symbol of the swan and see
what is behind it and why the symbol is used. Those who have seen the opera,
Parsifal, or who have read attentively the literature on the Grail, are already
acquainted with the fact that swans were the emblem worn by all the Knights of
In the opera, itself, two swans are
mentioned as preparing a healing bath for the suffering King Amfortas. Parsifal
is represented as shooting one of the these swans, and a great deal of sorrow is
manifested by the Knights of the Grail at this unwarranted cruelty.
The swan is capable of moving in several
elements. It may fly in the air with great swiftness; it also propels itself
majestically upon the water; and by means of its long neck it may even explore
the depths and investigate whatever may be found upon the bottom of a not too
deep pond. It is, therefore, an apt symbol of the Initiate, who, on account of
the power developed within him, is capable of elevating himself to higher
realms, and moving in different worlds. As the swan flies through space, so may
one who has developed the powers of his soul body travel in that over mountains
and lakes; as the swan dive below the surface of the water, so may also the
Initiate go underneath the surface of the deep in his soul body, which is not in
danger from fire, earth, air, or water. In fact, that is one of the first things
that the Invisible Helpers have to be taught: that they are immune from any
danger which may befall them in the physical body, when they are invested with
the Golden Wedding Garment of which we have spoken so much. Thus they may enter
a burning building with immunity, there assisting those who are in danger,
sometimes in a most miraculous manner; or they may be on board a sinking ship
giving encouragement to those who are about to face the great change.
The ancient Norse mythology tells us how
noble warriors of old, when they had fought the battle and had finally been
overcome or mortally wounded, sang their swan song. But let it not be supposed
for a moment that it was only the brutal fight fought upon the battle field with
sword and lace that was meant; rather it was the inner fight, the hidden
meaning, that a noble soul who had fought the battle of life well, at the last
when he had attained to that which was possible in those days, sang his swan
song: that is he took his oath of Initiation and became capable of entering
another realm to help others there as he had helped them here; for it was ever
the sacred duty of a noble knight to succor those who were weak an heavy laden.
Elsa is the daughter of a king. She is thus
of the highest and most noble birth. No one who is not thus WELL BORN can lay
claim to the services of such a knight as Lohengrin in that manner; that is to
say of course, there is in humanity neither high nor low, save as we stand in
the scale of evolution. When a soul has been long upon the stage of life, has
gone to school for many, many lives, then gradually it acquires that nobility
which comes from learning the lessons and working along the lines laid down by
the schoolmasters, our Elder Brothers, who are now teaching us the lessons of
life. The nobility earned by eagerness to do deeds of mercy for our less highly
advanced fellow beings, is the key to their favor, and therefore when Elsa as in
distress, a noble soul is sent to teach and guide her.
In the Book of Revelation we read about the
mystic marriage of the Bride and the Lamb. There is that marriage in every
soul's experience, and always under similar circumstances. One of the first
requisites is that the soul must have been forsaken by every one else: it must
stand alone without a single friend in the world. When that point has been
attained, when the soul sees no succor from any earthly source, when it turns
with its whole heart to heaven and prays for deliverance, then comes the
deliverer and also the offer of marriage. In other words, the true Teacher
always comes in response to the earnest prayers of the aspirant, but not till he
has forsaken the world and been forsaken by it. He offers to take care of one
who is thus anxious for guidance, and forthwith conquers untruth with the sword
of truth, but having given this proof, henceforth he requires an absolute
unquestioning faith. PLEASE REMEMBER--let it imprint itself upon your mind, let
it sear itself into your very being with letters of fire, that having come in
answer to the prayer, (which is not only words but a life of aspiration) the
indubitable, unquestionable proof is given of the power and ability of the
Teacher to teach, to guide, and to help; and then the requirement is made that
henceforth there must be absolute faith in him, otherwise it becomes impossible
for him to work with the aspirant.
That is the great lesson that is taught by
Lohengrin, and it is of supreme importance, for there are thousands upon
thousands walking the streets in many cities today, looking hither and thither,
seeking a Teacher. Some Teacher. Some pretend to have found him, or have
deceived themselves into that belief; but the requirement that is enunciated in
Lohengrin is an actual requirement. The Teacher must, will, and does prove his
ability. He is know by his fruits; then in return he demands LOYALTY, and unless
this faith, this loyalty, this readiness to serve, this willingness to do
whatever is required, is forthcoming from the aspirant, the relationship will be
terminated. No matter how hot may be the tears of repentance which might follow
in the case of the aspirant who had failed in his loyalty to the Teacher, no
matter how sincere his repentance; the next opportunity will not be forthcoming
in the present life.
Therefore, it is of the very greatest
importance that those who are seeking Initiation should understand that there is
something due them from the professed teacher, before they accept him. he must
show the fruits of his work, for as Christ said, "By their fruits ye shall
know them." This the genuine Teacher always does without being asked, AND
WITHOUT SEEMING TO DO SO or to want to give a sign. He always furnishes some
evidence to which the mind of the aspirant can cling as an indubitable proof of
his superior knowledge and ability. When that has then been demonstrated, IT IS
ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL THAT LOYALTY TO THE TEACHER MUST FOLLOW; and no matter who
says this, that, or the other thing, the aspirant should not be disturbed, but
cling steadfastly to the proven fact, stick to that which he believes to be true
and faithfully uphold the one to whom he looks for teaching; for unless that
faith is there, there is no use in continuing the relationship.
It is very significant, however, that Elsa's
brother was, as we learn from the final scene, the swan which had carried
Lohengrin to his sister, and who was changed back to his natural shape when
Lohengrin departed. He had been through Initiation. He, no doubt, knew of his
sister's plight, as one soul who is advanced and studying along these lines
knows of another's struggles, but although he saw the predicament of this fair
aspirant, or sister soul, he had no fear, for was he not the means of bringing
to her the succor that she might have had permanently had she been as faithful
Mysteries of the Great Operas