The awakening of a sleeping beautiful woman by a heroic almost god-like man is an ancient theme in Germanic mythology, best exemplified by the story of the awakening of the Valkyrie Brunhild/Brynhild by the Wotan descended Siegfried/Sigurd.
Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson in her Road to Hel states that the story of the awakening of the sleeper "is a very early one." This theme eventually was incorporated into the Burgundian story of the death of Siegfried/Sigurd. The Sigrdrifumal of the Elder Edda and the Volsunga Saga both tell the story of the Valkyrie`s awakening but the Sigrdrifumal is the older of the two sources. Brunhild`s role as a Valkyrie is much less emphasised in the later Middle High German Nibelungenlied, no doubt due to xtian meddling. The German fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty[Dornroeschen-Briar Rose] is a later folktale version of the same story.
Bruennhilde plays a central role in the Die Walkuere, Siegfried and Goetterdaemmerung parts of Wagner`s Der Ring des Nibelungen. The awakening of Bruennhilde by Siegfried in Act 3 Scene 3 is a highpoint of Siegfried and Wagner faithfully follows in spirit the Sigrdrifumal in his libretto:
"Heil dir, Sonne!
Heil dir, Licht!
Heil dir, leuchtender Tag!
Lang` war mein Schlaf;
ich bin erweckt:
wer ist der Held,
der mich erweckt?"
"Hail to you, sun!
Hail to you, light!
Hail to you shing day!
Long was my sleep;
I have awoken:
who is the hero,
who has awoken me?"
[Translation by Wotans Krieger ]
"Heil euch, Goetter!
Heil dir, Welt!
Heil dir, prangende Erde!
Zu End` ist nun mein Schlaf;
erwacht seh` Ich:
Siegfried ist es,
der mich erweckt!"
"Hail to you, Gods!
Hail to you, world!
Hail to you, resplendent earth!
My sleep is now at an end;
awakened I see:
it is Siegfried,
who has awoken me!"
[Translation by Wotans Krieger]
"Hail to the day! Hail to the sons of day!
Hail to night and her kin!
With gracious eyes may you look upon us,
and give victory to those sitting here!
"Hail to the Aesir! Hail to the goddesses!
Hail to the mighty, fecund earth!
Eloquence and native wit may you give to us two famous ones
and healing hands while we live!"
[Sigrdrifumal, translation by Carolyne Larrington]
The awakening of Bruennhild is not merely the awakening of a Valkyrie but represents something much deeper and more esoteric. Siegfried is seeking hidden wisdom which can only be obtained by the awakening of the Valkyrie. In the Icelandic Sagas and the Eddas the hero is often found attempting to awaken the dead to gain important knowledge, protection or a special magical sword. In Act 3 Scene 1 of Siegfried Wotan awakens the earth Goddess Erda in order to gain knowledge of the future.
The sleeping Valkyrie is awakened not only to gain lost knowledge which is vital for the hero to recover but in the case of Siegfried and Bruennhild the hero seeks mystical union with the Valkyrie.Inevitably this is something which is not understood except by the spiritual awakened, the Einheriar. Amongst the masses this is vulgarised and made physical and material. The Valkyrie does not represent a physical mortal woman. She is the sleeping part of the hero`s Self. It is the SHE which must unite with the HE to form the HE-SHE, the ultimate man and the SHE-HE the ultimate woman spoken of by Miguel Serrano in his works. In Jungian terms we would refer to the Anima and Animus.