Parsifal und die deutsche Seele (Parsifal and the German Soul)


(Parsifal and the German Soul)




Parsifal is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner.
It is loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, the 13th century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival (Percival) and his quest for the Holy Grail, and on Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail.

Wagner first conceived the work in April 1857 but it was not finished until twenty-five years later.
It was to be Wagner's last completed opera and in composing it he took advantage of the particular acoustics of his Bayreuth Festspielhaus (see left).
Parsifal was first produced at the second Bayreuth Festival in 1882.
Metropolitan Opera House - New York
The Bayreuth Festival maintained a monopoly on Parsifal productions until 1903, when the opera was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Wagner preferred to describe Parsifal not as an opera, but as "ein Bühnenweihfestspiel" - "A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage".
At Bayreuth a tradition has arisen that there is no applause after the first act of the opera.
Wagner's spelling of Parsifal instead of the Parzival he had used up to 1877 is informed by the etymology of the name Percival, deriving it from an Arabic origin, Fal Parsi meaning "pure fool".
Wagner first read Wolfram von Eschenbach's poem Parzival while taking the waters at Marienbad in 1845.

After encountering Arthur Schopenhauer's (see right) work in 1854, Wagner became interested in oriental philosophies, especially Buddhism.
He was particularly inspired by reading Eugène Burnouf's "Introduction à l'histoire du buddhisme indien" in 1855/56.
Out of this interest came "Die Sieger" ("The Victors", 1856) a sketch Wagner wrote for an opera based on a story from the life of Buddha.
The themes which were later explored in Parsifal of self-renouncing, reincarnation, compassion and even exclusive social groups (castes in Die Sieger, the Knights of the Grail in Parsifal) were first introduced in "Die Sieger".




Mathilde Wessendonk
Asyl
According to his own account, recorded in his autobiography 'Mein Leben', Wagner conceived Parsifal on Good Friday morning, April 1857, in the Asyl (German: "Asylum"), the small cottage on Otto von Wesendonck’s estate in the Zürich suburb of Enge, which Wesendonck - a wealthy silk merchant and generous patron of the arts - had placed at Wagner’s disposal. 
The composer and his wife Minna had moved into the cottage on 28 April:




Minna Planer
"... on Good Friday I awoke to find the sun shining brightly for the first time in this house: the little garden was radiant with green, the birds sang, and at last I could sit on the roof and enjoy the long-yearned-for peace with its message of promise.
Full of this sentiment, I suddenly remembered that the day was Good Friday, and I called to mind the significance this omen had already once assumed for me when I was reading Wolfram's Parzival.
Since the sojourn in Marienbad [in the summer of 1845], where I had conceived 'Die Meistersinger' and 'Lohengrin', I had never occupied myself again with that poem; now its noble possibilities struck me with overwhelming force, and out of my thoughts about Good Friday I rapidly conceived a whole drama, of which I made a rough sketch with a few dashes of the pen, dividing the whole into three acts."

Wagner did not resume work on Parsifal for eight years, during which time he completed 'Tristan und Isolde' and began 'Die Meistersinger'.
Then, between 27 and 30 August 1865, he took up Parsifal again and made a prose draft of the work; this contains a fairly brief outline of the plot and a considerable amount of detailed commentary on the characters and themes of the drama, but once again the work was dropped and set aside for another eleven and a half years.
During this time most of Wagner’s creative energy was devoted to the Ring cycle, which was finally completed in 1874 and given its first full performance at Bayreuth in August 1876.
Only when this gargantuan task had been accomplished did Wagner find the time to concentrate on Parsifal.
By 23 February 1877 he had completed a second and more extensive prose draft of the work, and by 19 April of the same year he had transformed this into a verse libretto (or “poem”, as Wagner liked to call his libretti).

In September 1877 he began the music by making two complete drafts of the score from beginning to end.
The first of these (known in German as the 'Gesamtentwurf' and in English as either the 'Preliminary Draft' or the 'First Complete Draft') was made in pencil on three staves, one for the voices and two for the instruments.
The second complete draft ('Orchesterskizze', 'Orchestral Draft', 'Short Score' or 'Particell') was made in ink and on at least three, but sometimes as many as five, staves.
This draft was much more detailed than the first and contained a considerable degree of instrumental elaboration.
The second draft was begun on 25 September 1877, just a few days after the first: at this point in his career Wagner liked to work on both drafts simultaneously, switching back and forth between the two so as not to allow too much time to elapse between his initial setting of the text and the final elaboration of the music.
The 'Gesamtentwurf' of Act III was completed on 16 April 1879 and the 'Orchesterskizze' on the 26th of the same month.
The full score ('Partiturerstschrift') was the final stage in the compositional process.
It was made in ink and consisted of a fair copy of the entire opera, with all the voices and instruments properly notated according to standard practice.
Wagner composed 'Parsifal' one act at a time, completing the 'Gesamtentwur' and 'Orchesterskizze' of each act before beginning the 'Gesamtentwurf' of the next act; but because the 'Orchesterskizze' already embodied all the compositional details of the full score, the actual drafting of the 'Partiturerstschrift' was regarded by Wagner as little more than a routine task which could be done whenever he found the time.
The Prelude of Act I was scored in August 1878.
The rest of the opera was scored between August 1879 and 13 January 1882.

The Premiere


On 12 November 1880 Wagner conducted a private performance of the 'Parsifal Vorspiel' for his patron Ludwig II of Bavaria at the Court Theatre in Munich (see left).
The premiere of the entire work was given in the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth on 26 July 1882 under the baton of the conductor Hermann Levi.
Stage designs were by Max Brückner and Paul von Joukowsky (see right) who took their lead from Wagner himself.

The Grail hall was based on the interior of Siena Cathedral (see left) which Wagner had visited in 1880, while Klingsor's magic garden was modelled on those at the Palazzo Rufolo in Ravello (see right).
In July and August 1882 sixteen performances of the work were given in Bayreuth conducted by Levi and Franz Fischer.
The production boasted an orchestra of 107, a chorus of 135 and 23 soloists (with the main parts being double cast).
At the last of these performances, Wagner took the baton from Levi (see right) and conducted the final scene of Act 3 from the orchestral interlude to the end.

At the first performances of 'Parsifal' problems with the moving scenery during the transition from Scene one to Scene two in Act 1 meant that Wagner's existing orchestral interlude finished before Parsifal and Gurnemanz arrived at the Hall of the Grail.
Engelbert Humperdinck (see left), who was assisting the production, provided a few extra bars of music to cover this gap.
In subsequent years this problem was solved and Humperdinck's additions were not used.

Thirty-seven years had gone by between the first idea for the work and its completion.


Concerning Wagner's knowledge of occultism, we know he was acquainted with Freemasons, with whom he entered into fierce debate, and with the Rosicrucians.
In his library, now situated in Bayreuth and open to the public, there are translations of the Upanishads and the Mahabharata, which were just being published in his time.
Richard Wagner undoubtedly had exceptional intuitive abilities, and could see many extremely subtle realms and interrelations directly; also that he suffered deeply because all too often he simply could not find the words to express what took place so clearly before his spiritual eye.
It is therefore understandable that he identified with the figure of Amfortas - (see right): Wagner believed in living life to the full; he also saw things but could not grasp them.
The basic spiritual tendency running through the opera is compassion.
Reincarnation and karma are clearly described in several places -- without them the whole drama would be inexplicable.

A number of symbols and mythical elements are important for a general understanding of the work.
First, the symbol of the Grail combines elements of legends from Persia and Asia Minor with those from Celtic mythology.


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Parsifal Vorspiel

The Vorspiel to "Parsifal" is based on three of the most deeply religious motives in the entire work.
It opens with the Motive of the Sacrament, over which, when it is repeated, arpeggios hover, as in the religious paintings of old masters angel forms float above the figure of virgin or saint.


Through this motive we gain insight into the office of the Knights of the Grail, who from time to time strengthen themselves for their spiritual duties by partaking of the communion, on which occasions the Grail itself is uncovered.
This motive leads to the Grail Motive, effectively swelling to forte and then dying away in ethereal harmonies, like the soft light with which the Grail illumines the hall in which the knights gather to worship.


The trumpets then announce the Motive of Faith, severe but sturdy -- portraying superbly the immutability of faith.

The Grail Motive is heard again and then the Motive of Faith is repeated, its severity exquisitely softened, so that it conveys a sense of peace which passeth all understanding.


The rest of the Vorspiel is agitated. That portion of the Motive of the Sacrament which appears later as the Spear Motive here assumes through a slight change a deeply sad character, and becomes typical throughout the work of the sorrow wrought by Amfortas’s crime.
I call it the Elegiac Motive.


Thus the Vorspiel depicts both the religious duties which play to prominent a part in the drama, and unhappiness which Amfortas’s sinful forgetfulness of these duties has brought upon himself and his knights.

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The Grail Legend


Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival
Every German schoolboy knew the great folk tale of the Grail by heart.
Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival was one of the greatest works of literature in the German (or any other) language.
On the surface it is a familiar tale of a pure knight's search for perfect love and redemption.
Few pieces of heroic literature had more impact on the nation-conscious Germans than Parzival.

The Grail legend is interpreted in two ways.
Generally, it is viewed as a story of Christian love and the redemption of mankind.
The second is the mythical interpretation.
The Grail is said to contain a coded message known only to a few, and understood by a tiny number.
It is this interpretation which is accepted by Ravenscroft in 'The Cup of Destiny' (1981) and Angebert in 'The Occult and the Third Reich' (1974).

Lucifer - Prince of Heaven
Lucifer was a Prince of Heaven before his sin prompted God to cast him to Hell.
On the descent to the Underworld his crown fell to earth, and from it a huge emerald.
This was used by men of antiquity to fashion a drinking cup to be used in occult rituals.
Here we find the most ancient relic accepted by both Christians and gnostics.
The cup was ringed with the usual special signs, symbols, runes and the like, all depicting the ascent of man through various stages to a final state of blessedness.
The Grail had become the sacred vessel of Initiate Knowledge.
It contained on its exterior the great trove of primordial knowledge and tradition which linked the past to the future. 
hat primordial knowledge can bring man back into the natural and only true condition for him, the primordial state of consciousness.
Within Germany many regarded the Grail as the lost, secret book of the Aryan race.
It had been entrusted to them since eons past, and was lost and recovered on occasion.
What precisely it contained was unknown, and since it was written in symbols, the interpretation given these runes may have differed from age to age.
It was the one great treasure of all Aryans, at all times.
From age to age it had been the uniting factor, the one artifact that provided a rationale for the existence of the race.
The Grail predated Christianity.
This is an absolute whose acceptance is necessary for understanding the importance of it as an artifact to the NSDAP and its leaders, notably the SS.
In Alfred Rosenberg's 'Myth of the 20th Century' the Grail may be viewed as the cause of German objection to some aspects of Christianity, notably to Roman Catholicism.
It may be viewed as having provided direction to the German people, or at least a significant portion of it, when the people were confronted by orthodox Western church teachings which were alien to them.

The Grail

The Grail, the cup which Jesus used at the Last Supper, was made from the stone which fell from Lucifer's crown as he plunged to earth (see left).
Lucifer (the Light-bringer) brought the mental principle to evolving humanity.
The stone from Lucifer's crown can therefore be regarded as ego-consciousness or "I am I": without the awakening mind principle humanity would not be able to acquire knowledge, and the first step along this path is "I am I."
That this stone was fashioned into a cup or bowl which was used to catch the blood of Christ elevates its meaning because it then stands for the divine self.
As Wagner remarked, it becomes "Grail consciousness" -- purified, redeemed "I am."
The Grail is entrusted to Titurel.
He gathers a brotherhood of knights around him, called the knights of the Grail, who devote themselves to the service of this Grail consciousness through noble deeds.

A second important symbol is the spear, derived from the spear of Longinus (see left) who, it is said, thrust it into Christ's side during the crucifixion, shedding the Savior's blood.
It stands for higher mind, that part of us which must decide whether the mind will aspire to spirit or succumb to material desire.
A third central symbol is the swan (see right), denoting the north.
Wagner uses the swan as a symbol of those beings who, though still devoid of individual consciousness, are located in the divine realms, but have their whole development before them; this symbol is identical with that of the angel.
In the last scene a dove appears, symbol according to Wagner of "divine spirit, which floats down idealistically onto the human soul." It is the Holy Ghost or Spirit.


The first act of the opera, which takes place in the realm of the Grail, close to Montsalvat (see left), begins with trombones sounding the reveille.

Gurnemanz, teacher and guardian of the secret wisdom of the Grail, wakens two squires lying asleep under a tree, saying: "Do you hear the call? Give thanks to God that you are called to hear it!" That the reveille sounds from the realm of the Grail indicates that it is a spiritual call.
At this time Amfortas, King of the Grail, lies sick and wounded, the wound being an external symbol for inner events.
In his striving towards higher things, Amfortas battled in the realm of the lower mind ruled by the black magician Klingsor and lost the spear (mind).
Klingsor wounded him in his side with the spear, a wound which will not heal.
This wound is the pivot of all further action.
It is the fissure between the higher self and the personal self, caused by the fact that the mental principle was directed into the earthly realm where it is now ruled by Klingsor, or mind linked with desire.
Gurnemanz and the squires try to alleviate the pain suffered by the King of the Grail.
They wish to bathe the wound, though Gurnemanz in his wisdom knows this will be of no avail. The King's wound, an inner wound, cannot be closed by baths or ointments. Wrapped in thought, he sings: "There is but one thing can help him, only one man." When a knight asks the man's name, he avoids answering.
Then Kundry enters the scene, appearing wild one moment, lifeless the next.
She presses on Gurnemanz a small crystal vessel containing balsam with which Amfortas might be healed.
Kundry personifies the desire nature, messenger and temptress at the same time.
On the one hand, desire binds us to earthly things, while on the other it provides the first impulses to understand what is hidden. Thus Kundry serves both the Grail and also, as temptress, Klingsor who seeks to divert people from the quest for the divine through the power of the senses.
Wagner remarks that the black magician "beclouds the divine judgment of man through the sense impressions of the material world, and thereby leads him into a world of deception."

A dispute arises between the knights of the Grail and Gurnemanz about Kundry (desire).
The squires mistrust her, but Gurnemanz says:
'Yes, she may be under a curse. She lives here now -- perhaps reincarnated, to expiate some sin from an earlier life not yet forgiven there.
Now she makes atonement by such deeds as benefit our knightly order; she has done good, beyond all doubt, serving us and thereby helping herself.'
Naturally, Kundry was also involved when Klingsor seized the spear of mind from Amfortas.
In his pain, Amfortas addresses the Grail and asks for a sign of help.
In a vision he describes how someone will come to help him: "Enlightened through compassion, the innocent fool; wait for him, the appointed one."

This announcement of the foolish innocent ("Fal parsi," hence Parsifal) refers to the reincarnating ego, which hastens from life to life.
If the reincarnating ego gives full expression to its divine individuality in its personal life, the inner fissure -- the wound -- will be closed again, for the mind which has been directed to things of matter will be turned back to the divine.
Before divinity can be attained, however, human evolution has to be experienced.
At the outset, mankind is completely unselfconscious and lives in a state of divine innocence, untouched by things of matter and without an independent mind, a state symbolized by the swan. It has to leave this state, descend to the physical realm, and experience all the conflicts that evolution entails.
Through the associated suffering and the development of the thinking principle, humans learn from their own experience to feel compassion for other beings.
These developments find their corollary in the departure of young people from their parental home, the maternal plane.
Such a departure is often very difficult and may be accompanied by a great deal of pain and many reproaches; but this break is absolutely necessary if young people are to go through their own experiences and develop the ability to think for themselves, though this simultaneously causes the maternal principle much grief.

Parsifal und der Schwan
Parsifal und der Schwan
This "descent" or gaining of independence by the individual is represented by Wagner in the slaying of the swan by Parsifal.
Gurnemanz sternly reproaches Parsifal for killing the swan with an arrow.
Parsifal is at first filled with childlike pride at his accuracy but becomes increasingly disturbed when he looks at the dead bird, and for the first time he feels pity.
Gurnemanz inquires of Parsifal his name and origin, but Parsifal cannot remember and replies: "I had many, but I know none of them any more."
The only name he remembers is that of his mother: Herzeleide (Heart's Sorrow).
Kundry is able to provide more information about his origin: his father was killed in battle, and his mother " reared him up in the desert to folly, a stranger to arms."
Parsifal nevertheless recalls that one day he saw the knights of the Grail riding along the forest's edge: "I ran after them, but could not overtake them; through deserts I wandered, up hill and down dale."
The monad yearns for more than a solitary, peaceful life.
Kundry confirms this, and informs him of his mother's death.
Parsifal springs furiously at her, but Gurnemanz restrains him.
Thus although the monad is endowed with a feeling of right and wrong, mind is not yet fully developed.
It therefore turns, in conjunction with desire, to anger and rage. Gurnemanz, the initiate, restrains him.
The rest of the opera describes what takes place during this descent of the human monad. Gurnemanz has already recognized that Parsifal is someone who can restore the divine harmony.
He offers to lead him to the feast of the Grail.

Both move into their inner, spiritual realms, represented by the temple of the Grail.
This realm lies beyond the differentiation of space and time. Hence Parsifal remarks: "I scarcely tread, yet seem already to have come far."

Gurnemanz answers: "You see, my son, time here becomes space."
This is because the inner vision appears to the physical person as space.
Gurnemanz warns Parsifal to pay close attention to everything he encounters and later to take it back into the realm of his personal consciousness.
Before them both a scene opens with a pillared hall where the knights of the Grail carry in Amfortas.
The covered shrine of the Grail is carried before them.
In the background can be heard the voice of Titurel, the former guardian of the Grail, who received the Cup from the angel's hands and learned the occult mysteries in an inner vision.

He says, "Amfortas, my son, are you in your place? Shall I again today look on the Grail and live?"
This indicates that the life forces of spiritual traditions steadily weaken if they are not renewed by intuitive, creative individuals.
Time and again attempts are made to establish a spiritual, compassionate brotherhood. If, however, the innovators fail, the effort comes to a standstill; the teachings ossify, and what used to be the content becomes a veil, until nothing is left of the original impulse. Titurel must therefore die.
So Titurel calls upon Amfortas to view the Grail. But Amfortas is incapable of doing so -- he has lost the mental principle to Klingsor, the lower mind.
Titurel now calls for the uncovering of the Grail, the revelation of occult wisdom.
When, at his insistence, this takes place, Amfortas is racked with pain: for those imprisoned in the lower mind, the sight of divine wisdom is unbearable.
The tragedy of such a situation is clear.
On the one hand, such people are impelled by divine impulses; on the other, they are completely entangled in the world of deception and sensuality.
When the full, idealistic nature of the Grail appears to Amfortas, so great becomes his despair that he begs to die.

But the Chorus sings again: "Enlightened through compassion, the innocent fool: wait for him, the appointed one."
Gurnemanz, who led Parsifal to this inner vision, stands beside Parsifal throughout the scene.
At the end he asks Parsifal: "Do you know what you have seen?" But Parsifal cannot answer, as he is overcome by the suffering he has seen.
Gurnemanz angrily dismisses him.
Parsifal is not yet able to help, as this requires more than just a vision of things occult. He must first acquire occult knowledge on the physical plane. This alone will enable him to internalize what he has seen and make it part of his consciousness.
Only in this way can the divine be carried over into all realms.

The second act of Parsifal takes place in the magic castle (maya) of the black magician Klingsor.
Here Satan, personified as the magician, tests Parsifal's will power.
Wagner regards Klingsor "as the counterweight to the god-seeking impulse, which beclouds the power of discernment, with two sources of illusion: the power of sense impressions and passionate desire."
Klingsor evokes those forces of passion which compel us into a seemingly endless cycle of reimbodiment, rest, and fulfillment, ever seeking redemption.
Through self-castration Klingsor has forcibly rendered himself unreceptive to desire.
He has obtained magic power over Kundry and possession of the holy spear.
Now he intends with her aid to gain possession of the Grail: Kundry is to seduce Parsifal, as she did Amfortas before him.
Kundry suffers because of herself: she longs for satisfaction and the stilling of her eternal urges.
But a knight must be able to withstand, control, and refine the dark forces of desire -- ultimately it is desire which impels us to aspire to higher things.
Kundry resists the entreaties of the magician, but when Parsifal enters the realm of Klingsor, she succumbs to the magician's power lower mind naturally feels drawn to its divine origin.
The violent love which she feels, however, is the result of desire. Thus tragedy is preordained.
When Parsifal enters the magic castle, Klingsor conceals himself and turns the area into a beautiful tropical garden where young maidens clad in soft-colored veils dance.
When Parsifal approaches, they embrace him, and the game with the flower maidens begins.
The higher self can only play with beauty; as soon as one is entrapped by it, his powers become bound to the physical realm.
The maidens want more than just to play, and they crowd around him.
Firmly driving them off, Parsifal cries: "Have done! You shall not catch me!"
The first attempt at seduction through the power of deceptive beauty has been repulsed. But when Kundry enters and calls his name -- Parsifal -- he is shocked, because his mother had once addressed him in just the same way in a dream.
The flower maidens fade away and Parsifal recognizes the deceptive nature of the material world.
Now the power of the desire world is revealed to him: Kundry becomes visible.
She tells Parsifal of his origin: Parsifal left the world of illusion and went his way, following the laws of spirit. In the world of appearances it is impossible to understand such decisions.
So great is the sorrow of his mother (his biological origin) at his decision that she finally dies.


Parsifal and his Mother
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
When Kundry tells of his mother's grief when he ran away to seek higher things, she awakens the pity of the higher self with regard to the personal self.
Parsifal sinks down at Kundry's feet and torments himself with severe self-reproaches.
Parsifal experiences here the possibly strongest temptation the aspiring human being can encounter.
Overpowering pity in the face of suffering has proved the undoing of many who betrayed their divine ideals for the sake of alleviating suffering. In his state of weakness, Kundry tells Parsifal of the great love between his parents; nevertheless, he does not give in to Kundry's fantasies but sees Amfortas before him.


The Temptation of Parsifal-1894
Arthur Hacker-1858-1919
This time he does not merely see the sorrow in the realm of the Grail, as in the first act, but suffers it directly.
Parsifal suddenly starts up with a gesture of the utmost terror, his demeanor expresses some fearful change; he presses his hands hard against his heart as if to master an agonizing pain. He cries: "Amfortas! The wound! The wound! It burns within my heart !"
Parsifal remembers what he saw in the temple of the Grail and "falls into a complete trance."
The vision of his link with divinity awakens once again within him.
He is filled with deep compassion which no longer relates to the personal self, nor to the suffering of the spiritual self (Amfortas), but to the inmost divine heart of creation calling us to liberation.
It is compassion for his own essential divinity which is enchained by the fetters of desire.
This compassion for the divine activates love of the divine and sets in motion the will to complete the process of attaining divinity.
Kundry tries to hinder Parsifal's compassion, but he recognizes the demonic nature of her attempt. Kundry tries to kiss Parsifal, but he forcefully repulses her.
This is the turning point of the whole drama.
The deceptive maneuver of the black magician which brought about the downfall of Amfortas and the knights of the Grail, is penetrated by Parsifal, enabling him to achieve clearness of vision.


Wagner's Parsifal
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
He sees through the bewildering attacks of his adversary and hears the call of the divine will to redemption "in proving himself through the active pity he feels for the sorrow of humanity" (quotation from Wieland Wagner).
Only now does Klingsor begin his most powerful attack on the initiant.
Through Kundry he attempts to conjoin universal love with the personal. Kundry reveals to Parsifal the tragedy of her existence and her own suffering, saying:
One for whom I yearned in deathly longing, whom I recognized though despised and rejected, let me weep upon his breast, for one hour only be united to you and, though God and the world disown me, in you be cleansed of sin and redeemed!
Parsifal here recognizes Klingsor's seductive attack on his will to redemption.
He discerns the way in which the human desire nature repeatedly feigns reformation and binds us to things of matter.
He again repulses Kundry, saying: "For evermore would you be damned with me if for one hour, unmindful of my mission, I yielded to your embrace."
The seducing skills become increasingly spiritual (geistig).
Kundry begs for pity and promises Parsifal the attainment of divinity. But the initiant understands that in no event must he allow himself to be ruled by the desire nature; only if desire is used to liberate the aspiring human ego will it be redeemed.
He says to Kundry: "Love and redemption shall be yours if you will show me the way to Amfortas."
Kundry tries once again to win Parsifal's act of redemption for herself: she tries to embrace him and implores him to take pity. But it is too late: Parsifal is already in a higher state of consciousness.
He vigorously pushes her aside. The initiant has withstood the test. Kundry flies into a fury and curses "the fool" in her selfish longing for redemption.
She tries to prevent him from reaching the Grail.


Parsifal - Klingsor
Klingsor then appears in person and hurls the spear at Parsifal, but Parsifal catches the spear and holds it above his head: sensuous lower mind is transformed into aspiring higher mind.
Parsifal says: "With this sign I rout your enchantment. As the spear closes the wound which you dealt him with it, may it crush your lying splendour into mourning and ruin !"
In the light of the higher mind the demonic illusion fades away; Klingsor's magic realm sinks as if by an earthquake.

The third act, concerning redemption, takes place in the realm of the Grail on the morning of Good Friday: flowers are in bloom all around and desire moves through the whole of nature, awakening it to new life.
Gurnemanz enters from a humble hermit's hut, when he hears Kundry moaning. He notices a change in her: the wildness has vanished. She allows Gurnemanz to reawaken her from her paralysis. Her only concern seems to be to serve the knights of the Grail, but Gurnemanz informs her of a change in the knightly order: the spring of divine wisdom has failed.
Everyone now looks after himself.
Meanwhile Parsifal enters clad in black armor, which Wagner regarded as a symbol of will power, the fighting strength of the personal self.
He saw the conquest of the powers of illusion as an act requiring personal effort and struggle -- the assertion of the higher will in the midst of personal, earthly life: a strong awareness of suffering can raise the intellect of the higher nature to knowledge of the meaning of the world.
Those in whom this sublime process takes place, it being announced to us by a suitable deed, are called heroes. -- Collected Writings of R. Wagner, vol. 10
Gurnemanz calls upon the "stranger" to lay down his weapons at this holy spot.
Parsifal then "thrusts the spear into the ground before him, lays shield and sword beneath it, opens his helmet, takes it from his head and lays it with the other arms, then kneels before the spear in silent prayer. . . . Parsifal raises his eyes devoutly to the spearhead."
In the realm of the Grail the weapons of the personal consciousness are sacrificed to the power of intuition: the helmet of intelligence, the shield of courage, and the sword of the active will, while the point of the spear (mind) represents the moment of maximum concentration which leads to an intuitive understanding of the world.
Gurnemanz now recognizes the spear and also the man who had once slain the swan.
The spear is back in the realm of the Grail: the power of intuition shines again.
When asked where he comes from, Parsifal answers: "Through error and the path of suffering I came; . . . An evil curse drove me about in trackless wandering, never to find the way to healing; numberless dangers, battles, and conflicts forced me from my path even when I thought I knew it."
Gurnemanz reports that since Titurel's death the state of the Order has worsened: intuition has been completely lost, and the Grail itself remains enclosed within the shrine.
The knights now feed only on dogmas.
Parsifal springs up in intense grief -- he feels responsible for the knights' suffering since he, the chosen "Redeemer," had succumbed to illusion.
Amfortas is due to open the shrine in which the Grail is concealed on that very day, when his father is carried to his grave.
Gurnemanz wants to take Parsifal to him. But first, one of the most significant scenes of the opera takes place: as Kundry bathes Parsifal's feet, the full consciousness of his task awakens in him. Once the purification and cleansing of the personal self (the feet) have been carried out, Gurnemanz proceeds to anoint his head -- his spiritual judgment must likewise light up pure and spotless within the personal self -- enabling the personal self to be united with the divine self of its own free will.

Parsifal is thereby made King of the Grail.
His first office is to baptize Kundry: the desire nature is incorporated into the community as an element necessary to progress, and becomes the driving force of pure divine love.
That desire no longer serves the lower, but the higher self, brings about a transformation in the whole of nature.
In Gurnemanz's words: "Thus all creation gives thanks, all that here blooms and soon fades, now the nature, absolved from sin, today gains its day of innocence."
Parsifal then kisses Kundry gently on the forehead.
In the distance the sound of bells is heard.
As they approach the temple of the Grail, time once more becomes space and the interior of the temple becomes visible.
It is the same scene as at the end of the first act, but more gloomy.
Two processions of knights enter the stage, one carrying Titurel's coffin, the other with Amfortas on his deathbed.
The knights are aware that without the creative power of intuition of the Grail, they are doomed to die.
They are not strong enough to open the shrine themselves and therefore insistently press Amfortas to do so, but in his immeasurable pain he is no longer able to open the shrine.
He calls upon the knights to kill him, since no one is able to close the wound.
At this moment the divine love of the higher self breaks through: Parsifal enters the hall, accompanied by Gurnemanz and Kundry and, touching the wound with the end of the spear, says: "But one weapon serves: only the spear that smote you can heal your wound."
The personal mind, gravitating to things of earth, opened up the gulf in human nature; the intuitive mind closes the fissure between the spiritual and earth-bound poles.
Parsifal continues: "Be whole, absolved and atoned! For I now will perform your task. O blessed be your suffering, that gave pity's mighty power and purest wisdom's might to the timorous fool!"
Parsifal steps towards center stage, holding the spear aloft before him, saying: "I bring back to you the holy spear !"


Parsifal Choir
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
All gaze in reverence at the uplifted spear, to whose point Parsifal raises his eyes and intones:
'O supreme joy of this miracle! This that could heal your wound I see pouring with holy blood yearning for that kindred fount which flows and wells within the Grail.
No more shall it be hidden: uncover the Grail, open the shrine!'
Parsifal then mounts the altar steps, takes the Grail from the shrine now opened by the squires, and kneels before it in silent prayer and contemplation.
The Holy Grail
Der Speer des Schicksals
The Grail begins to glow with a soft light, increasing darkness below and growing illumination far above.
A beam of light: the Grail glows at its brightest.
From the dome a white dove descends and hovers over Parsifal's head.
Kundry slowly sinks lifeless to the ground in front of Parsifal, her eyes uplifted to him.
Amfortas and Gurnemanz kneel in homage to Parsifal, who waves the Grail in blessing over the worshipping brotherhood of knights.
Wagner by these stage directions for the final scene epitomizes the ultimate triumph of the hero-soul.


Through Parsifal's act the earthbound human mind is directed upwards again towards divinity; the power of creative intuition flows again through all the realms.
As a result, the fossilized spiritual tradition of Titurel is reinvigorated, and he rises from his coffin. The divine spirit, symbolized by the dove, hovers over Parsifal's head, i.e., the consciousness of the higher ego experiences its innate divinity.
This represents a transformation into something completely new: the attainment of transcendence.

Erlösung dem Erlöser !
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Nietzsche & Parsifal

By pity guided,
The guileless fool;
Wait for him,
My chosen tool.



Friedrich Nietzsche heard the 'Parsifal Vorspiel' (Prelude) for the first time in Monte-Carlo in January 1887 :

Peter Gast
Friedrich Nietzsche
'Putting aside all irrelevant questions (to what end such music can or should serve?), and speaking from a purely aesthetic point of view, has Wagner ever written anything better?
The supreme psychological perception and precision as regards what can be said, expressed, communicated here, the extreme of concision and directness of form, every nuance of feeling conveyed epigrammatically; a clarity of musical description that reminds us of a shield of consummate workmanship; and finally an extraordinary sublimity of feeling, something experienced in the very depths of music, that does Wagner the highest honour; a synthesis of conditions which to many people - even "higher minds" - will seem incompatible, of strict coherence, of "loftiness" in the most startling sense of the word, of a cognisance and a penetration of vision that cuts through the soul as with a knife, of sympathy with what is seen and shown forth. Has anyone ever depicted so sorrowful a look of love as Wagner does in the final accents of his Prelude ?'
Letter to Peter Gast - 1887


Johann Heinrich Köselitz (10 January 1854–15 August 1918) was a German author and composer.
He is known for his long-time friendship with Friedrich Nietzsche, who gave him the pseudonym Peter Gast.

Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche
'I cannot think of it without feeling violently shaken, so elevated was I by it, so deeply moved.
It was as if someone were speaking to me again, after many years, about the problems that disturb me.
When listening to this music one lays Protestantism aside as a misunderstanding - and also, I will not deny it, other really good music, which I have at other times heard and loved, seems, as against this, a misunderstanding !' 

Letter to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche (Nietszche's sister) - 1887


Therese Elisabeth Alexandra Förster-Nietzsche (July 10, 1846, Röcken, Prussia – November 8, 1935, Weimar, Germany), who went by her second name, was the sister of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the creator of the Nietzsche Archive in 1894.
Förster-Nietzsche was two years younger than her brother. Both were children of a Lutheran pastor in the German village of Röcken bei Lützen. The two children were close during their childhood and early adult years. However, the siblings grew apart in 1885 when Elisabeth married Bernhard Förster, a former high school teacher.

_______________________________________

NATIONAL SOCIALISM AND THE HOLY GRAIL
'I have built up my religion out of Parsifal'
Adolf Hitler

The one esoteric legend in particular which captivated the National Socialists was the Quest for the Holy Grail.

Lucifer
Philosopher's Stone
While popular mythology presents the Grail as the cup Jesus Christ used at his last supper, occult groups dismiss this materialistic interpretation as a "blind" to preserve for initiates the Grail's true meaning: the quest for racial purity, defined in Gnostic symbolic style as the "philosopher's stone", the "third eye" or the spiritual "crown" of Lucifer which fell from his forehead when he lost his place in heaven.
In real terms, that "seeing eye" is the Knowledge of the True Will, which Lucifer exhibited, and which he offered mankind in the Garden of Eden.
Hitler saw in Wagner's 'Parsifal' a detailed parable of the Nazi calling as "a religious brotherhood of templars to guard the Holy Grail, the august vessel containing the pure blood". (Hitler to Rauschning).
The Grail, defined here as the "vessel", refers to the racially pure body which holds the blood that alone can give knowledge of the 'True Will'. 
In search of this holy blood, which contains the knowledge of the 'True Will', every member of the SS was screened for purity of Aryan lineage, and was taught his duty to father as many racially pure children as possible.

Heinrich Himmler
Еле́на Блава́тская
Helena Blavatsky
Heinrich Himmler (see left) believed that if conception took place in an Aryan cemetery, the resulting child would receive the spirit of "all the dead heroes" buried there; accordingly, lists of Nordic cemeteries were published in the SS periodical 'Das Schwarze Korps'.
Gnosticism had another, lesser-known influence on Nazi religion, which also appears in New Age thought: the Jewish God is not the Most High and only God, but a "demiurge" pretending to be such.
Helena Blavatsky (see right) agreed that the Gnostics "were right in regarding the Jewish God as belonging to a class of lower, material and not very holy denizens of the invisible world."
In Blavatsky's understanding, "only angels of a low hierarchy" could have created "those wretched races, in a spiritual and moral sense, which grace our globe."
The "moral wretchedness" referred to is Jewish obsession with the enjoyment of the material aspects everyday life, and their continual thanksgiving for every material blessing.
This attitude was condemned by the gnostics, who considered the body and the physical world a prison which the mind must reject and transcend through meditation and magical rites, and escape to the "real" or spiritual world.

Jehovah
The Jewish God of the Old Testament
The "spiritual wretchedness" is the Jewish "Old Testament", rejected by gnostics as evil, which teaches that the Creator of heaven and earth is the "Jehovah" - 'Most High God'.
Since materialism is evil, and "Jehovah" created the physical world, he must be evil as well: and merely a usurper of the title "God".
The Jews, who persist in spreading their teachings, are the tools of Satan, and their influence in the world is deadly to human souls.
Hitler reiterated this gnostic doctrine: 
"The Jew is the anti-man, - the creature of a lesser god."
Hitler was also known for his severely simple lifestyle, voluntarily shunning material pleasures, physical appetites and a meat diet - all classic Gnostic elements of "purification from the world".
This cosmology, by placing the Jews in alliance with cosmic Evil neatly reinforced the Nazi pursuit of racial purity: not only was the Aryan race threatened with defilement on a genetic level, but on a spiritual level as well.

Führer und Reichskanzler
Adolf Hitler - Speaking
Wagner's Parsifal
from the film by
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
For Hitler the Gnostic themes of the Grail quest and the cosmic struggle between Light and Darkness were perfectly portrayed in Richard Wagner's 'Parsifal'.
Being an occult initiate, Hitler was aware of the Gnostic message behind "the externals of the story, with its Christian embroidery... the real message was pure, noble blood, in whose protection and glorification the brotherhood of the initiated have come together."
Gnosticism also clarifies some otherwise unintelligible proclamations, like those by philosopher and author Alfred Rosenberg:
"The earth-centered Jew lacks a soul"; and "The continuing existence of the Jew would lead to a void, to the destruction not only of the illusory earthly world but also of the truly existent, the spiritual."
These statements, and also his insistence that "The denial of the world needs... to grow so that it will acquire a lasting predominance over affirmation of the world," only makes sense to a Grail seeking Gnostic.




Adolf Hitler
Arno Breker
Heroic Head


Adolf Hitler's interpretation of Parsifal -


  "I have built up my religion out of Parsifal.  Divine worship in solemn form ... without pretenses of humility ... One can serve God only in the garb of the hero"  


'What is celebrated in Wagner's 'Parsifal' is not the Christian religion of compassion, but pure and noble blood, - blood whose purity the brotherhood of initiates has come together to guard.

The king (Amfortas) then suffers an incurable sickness, caused by his tainted blood.

Then the unknowing, but pure human being (Parsifal), is led into temptation, either to submit to the frenzy and to the delights of a 'corrupt civilisation' in Klingsor's magic garden, or to join the select band of knights who guard the secret of life, which is 'pure blood' itself.

Der Speer des Schicksals
© Peter Crawford 2012
All of us suffer the sickness of miscegenated, corrupted blood.
Note how the compassion that leads to knowledge applies only to the man who is inwardly corrupt, to the man of contradictions.
And Eternal life, as vouchsafed by the Grail, is only granted to those who are truly pure and noble !
Only a new nobility can bring about the new culture.
If we discount everything to do with poetry, it is clear that elitism and renewal exist only in the continuing strain of a lasting struggle.
A divisive process is taking place in terms of world history.
The man who sees the meaning of life in conflict will gradually mount the stairs of a new aristocracy.
He who desires the dependent joys of peace and order will sink back down to the unhistorical mass, no matter what his provenance.
But the mass is prey to decay and self-disintegration.
At this turning- point in the world's revolution the mass is the sum of declining culture and its moribund representatives.
They should be left to die, together with all kings like Amfortas.'





"The old beliefs will be brought back to honor again.
The whole secret knowledge of nature, of the divine, the demonic.
We will wash off the Christian veneer and bring out a religion peculiar to our race."

Adolf Hitler



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