Goethe in the land of the Mothers
Goethe’s play in 2 parts, Faust, includes a visit to the land of the mothers. Faust has commanded Mephistopheles to transport him there. Late in life Goethe had a secretary. His name was Eckermann, an aspiring writer. Eckermann’s only claim to fame is the record he kept of their conversations. One afternoon Goethe read to him from the scene of Faust’s visit to that land. Eckermann pretty much blown away. Goethe allowed that he got the idea from Plutarch who had written about an Ancient Greek mention of the Mothers as divinities. He added that, in his play, description of the scene entirely of his own invention. Eckermann devotes 2 paragraphs describing the scene, the land of the Mothers as Goethe imagined it.
“Could we imagine that that huge sphere our earth had an empty space in its centre, so that hundreds of miles could be travelled in one direction without coming in contact with anything corporeal, this would be the abode of those unknown goddesses to whom Faust descends. They live, as it were, beyond all place; for nothing stands firm in their neighborhood: they also live beyond all time; for no heavenly body, that can rise or set and mark the alternation of day and night, shines upon them.
Dwelling in eternal obscurity and loneliness, these Mothers are creative beings; they are the creating and sustaining principle from which proceeds everything that has life and form on the surface of the earth. Whatever ceases to breathe returns to them as a spiritual nature, and they preserve it until there arises occasion for its renewed existence. All souls and forms of what has been, or will be, hover about like clouds in the vast space of their abode. So are the Mothers surrounded; and the magician must enter their dominion, if he would obtain power of the form of a being and call back former existences to seeming life .”
That is a remarkable document. Faust Part 2, in which the Mothers appear, published in 1832, and some 30 years after Part 1. Goethe understood it dealt in poetic anthropomorphism. Not something to be taken literally. But with a poetic truth to him nonetheless. Of this I’m certain. Entirely lost to scholars and exegesists of Faust, God did not save him from the bargain he made with the devil. It was the Eternal Feminine. She’s right there. In the play’s last strophe. The Chorus Mysticus.
Jan/29/2021, 5:51 pm
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