Lascaux cave art

Lascaux cave art

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:-

"Ariadne`s Lament"

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,
Thou unknown-God!

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?


M. Padin said...

I found this page incidentally; however, I’m glad I have because your analysis begs correction.

“Searching for Gods”

If you’re at all familiar with Harold Bloom’s lectures on Nietzsche—perhaps the most candid—you’d know what Nietzsche meant by his yearnings for unknown gods. These yearnings were empty blandishments and expressions of an “atheistic religiosity,” to borrow Bloom’s phrase. What does this mean? It means that Nietzsche liked the novelty of religion; he recognized a zest for life in paganism and wondered whether the same attitude couldn’t be applied to a secular morality. Outside of this curiosity, however, Nietzsche hated religion, founded at it is on superstition and at odds with science. So, no; it’s unlikely that Nietzsche cared about communicating with gods, which he considered disgraceful even to fancy.

“Aryan Supermen”

Nowhere in his oeuvre does Nietzsche discuss “Aryan Superman.” He does discuss supermen; but as he writes in the Anti-Christ, supermen are born into “every age and civilization.” Among these supermen Nietzsche names men as diverse as Jesus, Napoleon, the Moors, the ancient Hebrews, and the first Muslims—hardly the ideal representatives of pan-Germanism.

“Elisabeth Forester”

I suggest you read H.L. Mencken’s introduction to the Anti-Christ. He devotes a section to Elisabeth Nietzsche/Forester and her not-so-secret manipulation of her brother’s estate. The account she gives about Nietzsche’s close encounter is probably disingenuous like the many of the redactions she made to her brother’s work.

“Nietzsche’s Germanic Ancestors”

If Wotan was indeed trying to contact Nietzsche, he made a poor choice. Not only would Nietzsche have denied Wotan’s existence, even if the latter proved himself to the philosopher, but Nietzsche would have felt no kinship to the Norse god. Why? Nietzsche never considered himself German (rather, a Pole), and he wrote about the German people in less-than-flatteringly terms. He characterized the Germans as a race of religious neurotics whose only instinct was cupidity.

I hope you find this commentary useful. You’re in luck that Wotan directed me to your page when he did; otherwise, your head would still be lodged up your ass.

Wotans Krieger said...

Thank you for your contribution but you seem to be missing the entire point of the article which revolved around several clearly mystical encounters that Nietzsche experienced which can only be explained with reference to the Germanic God Wotan.
Ariadne`s Lament points very clearly to this God revealing Himself.
Now if Nietzsche felt nothing but scorn for Gods and the Gods of the Germanic peoples in particular then why did he go to the trouble of composing this and other pieces and what does that say about Jung?
Quite clearly he believed that Nietzsche most certainly had an encounter with the `Wild Huntsman`-who is none other than Wotan in a dream.
Now you may claim that this dream is a fiction of Nietzsche`s sister but you have not produced one iota of evidence to support this claim. It is merely your supposition which is worth what exactly?
My article focuses solely on these encounters and not on Nietsche`s concept of the Uebermensch. This is discussed elsewhere and you are confusing the issue by bringing this up.
Wotan calls and we respond. We do not come looking for Him but he speaks to those whom He selects to fulfill a specific purpose.
Therefore what Nietzche felt about the Gods as such is of little relevance.
As far as Nietzsche`s alleged Polish ancestry is concerned this appears to be a fiction of his and all the evidence points to him being a German, albeit perhaps one of those self-hating ones!
According to a common myth, Nietzsche's ancestors were Polish. Nietzsche himself subscribed to this story to the end of his life. He wrote in 1888: "My ancestors were Polish noblemen (Nietzky); the type seems to have been well preserved despite three generations of German mothers."[38] A study carried out by Max Oehler, the curator of Nietzsche Archive at Weimar, traced Nietzsche's ancestors and found that they all bore German names, even the wives' families.[38] In fact, Nietzsche came from a long line of German Lutheran clergymen on both sides of his family, and modern scholars regard the claim of Nietzsche's Polish ancestry as "pure invention."[39]
Now on a personal note may I ask if your obvious distaste of all things German is somehow connected to your obvious Spanish origins?

COX DRAVID said...

Didn't Nietzsche himself told somewhere else that he is a pole but sprinkled with German blood?

Wotans Krieger said...

There does not appear to be any evidence for Polish or Slavic ancestry in Nietzsche's traceable ancestry back to the 16th century. I think this says more about his distaste for populist movements such as nationalism than any notion that he was in some way not German. See