Metempsychosis in Wagner's operas

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 2 May 2011 | 7:12:00 pm

To be honest, I was/am going to do more with this in time, once I had built up some more resources,  but have been spurred on to produce an introduction by a "tweet" from ForestBird. In that tweet, they  suggested,  the possibility, that the  forest bird in Sigfried might be Sieglinde re-incarnated  (ForestBird's tweet reads: "In early draft, Siegfried says, "I thought I heard my mother's voice" when the bird sings to him") .

With that in mind, I thought this letter, from Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck regarding "karma" and Metempsychosis (found on the wonderful, and highly recommended, Parsifal site Monsalvat) might be of interest:


(Portrait: Mathilde Wesendonck)


"Only  a profound acceptance of the doctrine of metempsychosis has been able to console me by revealing the point at which all things finally converge at the same level of redemption, after the various individual existences - which run alongside each other in time - have come together in a meaningful way outside time. According to the beautiful Buddhist doctrine, the spotless purity of Lohengrin is easily explicable in terms of his being the continuation of Parzifal [sic] - who was the first to strive towards purity. Elsa, similarly, would reach the level of Lohengrin through being reborn. Thus my plan for the Victors struck me as being the concluding section of Lohengrin. Here Savitri (Elsa) entirely reaches the level of Ananda. In this way, all the terribly tragedy of life would be attributable to our dislocation in time and space; but since time and space are merely our way of perceiving things, but otherwise have no reality, even the greatest tragic pain must be explicable to those who are truly clear- sighted as no more than the error of the individual; I believe it is so! And, in all truth, it is a question simply of what is pure and noble, something which, in itself, is painless"  (cited at Monsalvat.: Richard Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck