Saturday, July 15, 2006
Nietzsche and the unknown god
Did the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche[1844-1900] have an encounter with the Germanic god Wotan?
In either 1863 or 1864 Nietzsche composed the following poem :-
"To the Unknown God"
I shall and will know thee, Unknown One,
Who searchest out the depths of my soul,
And blowest through my life like a storm,
Ungraspable, and yet my kinsman!
I shall and will know thee, and serve thee.
Twenty years later he wrote:
"The Mistral Song"
Mistral wind, chaser of clouds,
Killer of gloom, sweeper of the skies,
Raging storm-wind, how I love thee!
Are we both not the first-fruits
Of the same womb, forever predestined
To the same fate?
And from "Thus Spake Zarathustra" we have:-
Stretched out, shuddering,
Like a half-dead thing whose feet are warmed,
Shaken by unknown fevers,
Shivering with piercing icy frost arrows,
Hunted by thee, O thought,
Unutterable! Veiled! horrible one!
Thou huntsman behind the clouds.
Struck down by thy lightning bolt,
Thou mocking eye that stares at me from the dark!
Thus I lie,
Writhing, twisting, tormented
With all eternal tortures,
By thee, cruel huntsman,
According to the Swiss-German father of analytical psychology, Carl Gustav Jung in his 1936 essay "Wotan" Nietzsche had an experience of meeting the hunter god Wotan at the age of 15 in Pforta. This is described in a book by Nietzsche`s sister, Elizabeth Foerster-Nietzsche, "Der werdende Nietzsche"
Jung goes on to say: "As he was wandering about in a gloomy wood at night, he was terrified by a "blood-curdling shriek from a neighbouring lunatic asylum", and soon afterwards he came face to face with a huntsman whose "features were wild and uncanny".
Setting his whistle to his lips "in a valley surrounded by wild scrub", the huntsman "blew such a shrill blast" that Nietzsche lost consciousness-but woke up again in Pforta. It was a nightmare.
It is significant that in his dream Nietzsche, who in reality intended to go to Eisleben, Luther`s town, discussed with the huntsman the question of going instead to "Teutschenthal"[Valley of the Germans]. No one with ears can misunderstand the shrill whistling of the storm-god in the nocturnal wood."
Did Nietzsche have an actual encounter with Wotan? And if so what effect did that have on his philosophy ,especially his concept of the Aryan Superman and his rejection of Christianity?
Is the choice between Eisleben and the Teutschenthal symbolic of an inner struggle in Nietzsche`s Unconscious at such a formative age? A struggle between Christianity and the ancient pre-Christian religion of his Germanic ancestors?
Did this encounter or inner struggle with Wotan determine the path that his life was to take thereafter?