Goethe the Rosicrucian – His Faust and His Sub-Faust
The general concensus of opinion seems to agree that the life of Goethe is an open book, accessible to everybody, depicted in his biographies as completely as possible. There are indeed but few men in history, whose everyday life is so fully on record, down to the minutest details, as is his. All events in his outer life, all manifestations of his mind in written or spoken words are conserved, there is no difficulty to restore an animated image of him, as he lived and loved, thought, wrote, acted. The outer as well as the inner man is still present with us.
But the outer and the inner man are not yet the whole man. The main spring which moves the whole image of the gods is hidden in the inmost man, in the Ego. And unfortunately the chapters which should reveal this part are the most incomplete ones in the biographies of Goethe. Of course, the branches of philosophy, science and art, as studied and practiced by him are carefully registered. There is even much prying into the sources of his thoughts, and commentators never fail to point out: this or that idea originated from this picture, statue, land scape or book, location, chapter and verse precisely quoted. The sources of his emotional life, his loves and friendships are also laid bare. But the real source from which his soul drew its inspiration, its daily breath and bread, the manna for his intellect is not plainly in evidence. Consequently, while all the notes and bars of an admirable symphony are conserved for posterity, the key in which it was played seems to be missing. Here and there a few notices concerning his religious and meta physical views, his opinions about the soul and future life, his relations to secret societies, to individual mystics, are in evidence, but all this is fragmentary only and far from being sufficient to establish beyond doubt the identity of the guiding light of his soul, of the sapientia agens, manifesting itself in him, and thus making him a genius. This individual mysterium magnum, the ultmate cause of all his thoughts and acts, still remains a mystery, unrevealed by the immense amount of work done by biographers, commentators and special Goethe-Forscher, busy throughout a whole century. But fortunately the guiding light of this great and divinely human soul shines through his works sufficiently to everybody who can reason from effects to causes. It reveals itself to the earnest seeker, and enables him to draw from the same source to the full measure of his own individual capacity. For the same light is still with us, a living, eternal light, the light of the Holy Gnosis.
Yes, Goethe was a Gnostic in the loftiest sense of this word. The evidence justifying such a conclusion is abundantly present especially in Goethe’s most esoteric work, the Faust. Con sequently it is necessary to study it first and to analyse this masterpiece.
There is no work of art on record which occupied so long the mind of its author as the Faust did. Between its start and finish nearly sixty years elapsed. After the original first part was published and found a very enthusiastic reception all over the world, the much .larger second part progressed more slowly. Sometimes it was laid aside for years until the right inspiration came, then taken up again, with much deliberation, changing of plans, rewriting whole passages, polishing lines some of which were remodeled eight or ten times over. In the last period of his life the patriarch-poet, long after passing the three score and ten limit still worked with increasing passion on it, and called in his diary the work on the Faust his main-business “even main-purpose” (Hauptgeschaft, Hauptzweck). If there ever was a labour of love, the Faust is surely one. But some parts, and fragments of the second part, published in the lifetime of the poet, evidently did not meet the degree of understanding ex pected by their author. Consequently when the second part be came finished shortly before his passing over, Goethe sealed up the manuscripts as his literary testament, and gave them into the custody of a friend. Why this strange secrecy about it?
After the latest of the true Minnesaenger was gone to the West, and the whole tragedy published, the admirers of Goethe in and outside of Germany, even his closest friends were greatly disappointed. They did not see any logical connection between the first and second parts of the tragedy, they objected to the —in their shortsighted opinion—planless accumulation of in coherent scenes in the second part, and the best experts became lost in this labyrinth in which antique, medieval and modern, heaven and earth- are fantastically mixed up. Surely they ap preciated the incomparable mastership displayed in the details, but nobody seemed nor seems to understand the fundamental idea of the composition taken as a whole, the message it in tends to convey to the reader, the real purpose for which so much and’ careful work was done. The second part of the Faust is still much more admired than understood indeed and is considered as a product of a genius affected by old age. While Goethe himself considered this very second part as incomparably superior to the first. Whence this strange con troversy?
When the real character of the poem, not yet understood though much in evidence, is well recognized, the whole con troversy becomes at once self-solved, and the undeniable fact is established that Goethe was a far better judge of art-values than his critics. After such recognition the strong and strictly logical tie which unites the first and second parts be comes at once clear, also the strict coherence between the ap parently loose acts and scenes of the second part, each of which stands at its right place as the only possible sequel to the precedent one. What seemed to be a labyrinth is transformed by this recognition into a well arranged garden, where each way and path is laid out in plain view.
The magic word of recognition, which causes the whole change is: Esotericism. The Faust—both parts of it—is a strictly esoteric poem, not only a poem, in which there are, as is gen erally admitted, some esoteric details. The whole composition is worked out on the basis of esoteric philosophy, it is intended to be an exposition of a part of this philosophy. Consequently it cannot be thoroughly understood by the general public not versed in that philosophy. For it depicts the mysterious ways and means, by which a human soul initiates itself into the know ledge of the mysteries and reaches perfection working by its inherent forces, also guided and assisted by what is esoterically termed: Love. Not the sexual attraction, commonly called love, but the love, the cosmic force, which according to Dante moves the sun and the other stars or as personified by Plato, is the great daemon, who connects heaven and earth, men and gods.
But the subtile development, the unfolding of the human soul, so well dramatised in the Faust, proceeds mostly amidst the universal life, on the subconscious and superconscious planes of manifested existence and only the lesser part is worked out by conscious effort, although the effects realised^ on higher planes are reflected also in the waking consciousness. Con sequently the largest part of the Faust-tragedy is enacted also in the astral world. And this is the crucial point not realized by critics and commentators, whence the general misunder standing of the poem. It is regarded as a fine work of art only, with no other purpose than to delight the reader and eventually to make him think. But the prepared student shall find there also an esoteric instruction, far more complete and practical than can be found in other similarly composed masterpieces of the world’s literature, except perhaps the Bhagavad Gita.
An analysis of the chief dramatis personae will facilitate the understanding.
Did there ever live Dr. Johannes Faust (1480?-1540?) ? Or does the whole folklore built refer only to Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa most famous esotericist of his time with the reputation of an arch-magician, Erzzauberer? The latter hypothesis seems to be the more probable one. In Goethe’s tragedy the first great monologue of Faust is surely but a short recapitulation of characteristic points of Agrippa’s life and from his biography was composed also the scene in which countryfolk express their gratitude to the doctor for the assistance given to them during the plague. Nevertheless in the Faust-tragedy of Goethe the poet him self is the real hero, and the work is but part of his autobiography, a dramatisation of the development of his own Ego. He points this out with sufficient clearness, and there is ample internal evidence to prove this claim. The unfoldment of the human soul follows an unvariable general plan, but in the de tails there is so much variety with each individual, that no body could describe another person’s experiences. Accordingly we see, that while each scene in Goethe’s work is contained at least as a nucleus in the older versions of the Faust legend, his composition is strictly original and far superior to the medieval tales.
But for the right understanding of the Faust the question on whom was the work modeled, is of secondary importance only. The main question is: what does Faust as a type represent, what is the innermost, the essential in him?
The seeker who not only reads but analyses also, will find it rather strange that Mephistopheles, whose regular and legitimate business is the tempting of men, has to ask the Lord for a special permission to tempt Faust. Why this exception? Is Faust something higher than the average human? It seems so. Mephistopheles complains in his last monologue that the angels cheated him by snatching away “the high soul” that pledged *itself to him. Consequently the soul of Faust is considered as a “high” one and not of the common garden-variety, whence the necessity of the special permit, and also the special treatment this soul receives from Above.
In the last act of the Faust the choir of the younger angels sings that roses helped them to reconquer from the evil one the soul of Faust, this “soul-treasure,” Se elenschaty, and “bring to a consummation the high work.” This passage indicates clearly that the poem refers to the high work—opus-maximum—as the users of the power, symbolised by the rose, otherwise Rosicrucians conceived it. Therefore it is but natural that the tragedy begins—like the Divina Commedia does—strictly in accordance with Tradition, viz., before Easter and at full moon. Otherwise at the vernal equinox, when the sun is in the Ram and the moon in the Bull.
Faust starts the opus with his famous monologue. He complains that after acquiring with great effort all worldly sciences, he absolutely failed to gain therewith wealth, honours and power in the world, not even true understanding, for he came to the conclusion that we can not know anything. “No dog would like to live thus any longer1” Consequently he turned to magic in order to find out the secret causes which hold together and in continuous movement the whole creation, to become acquainted with the natura naturans because “where nature teaches, the power of the soul awakes, as when spirit talks to spirit.” Together with the realization of the futility if the so called positive sciences also of further aspirations for wealth and power, he desires only soul-development by natural philosophy and theomagia.
Now Rosicrucians called in public their Tradition by the names “philosophia naturalis” and “pheomagia”. And, as their Fama fraternitatis and Confessio fraternitatis sufficiently evidence, they wanted as neophytes not beginners, but seekers already well advanced on the Path, such ones who already recognized the goal toward which the work leads, and the incomparable value of the prize awaiting those who reach it, therefore they appealed to those who had already renounced the world and were ready to do their best in continuous effort and sacrifice.
The first great monologue shows therefore Faust as the right postulant for recognition. At the same time the work is correctly started with this monologue, which by enumeration of most bitter reminiscences and sweet hope is calculated to stir up the very depths of the soul. Such putting into action the strongest emotional powers was always considered to be a necessary overture to every high operation. Even Jesus when on the way to raise Lazarus, surrounded himself with weeping men and women and, as John emphasized it by repetition (XI, 33, 38), He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
In true R. C. fashion Faust begins the operation without any apparatus, without any paraphernalia of the common magician, and relies only on the strong desire of his soul, on the true magic will, into which all inner energies of body and soul are concentrated, and which is also brought en rapport with outward energies. It is told, that he contemplates at first the sign of the macrocosmos and afterwards the sign of the Spirit of the Earth. This means that he performs the inner operations symbolized by these two signs, because otherwise one flight gaze by the hour on the hexagram and pentagram, and such contemplation would /result but in drowsiness. Only the right operation brings about the expected effect, the symptoms of which are so correctly described that they give inner evidence that the author himself went through the experience. Mere book knowledge could not furnish such details.
At last the mighty Spirit of the Earth appears, attracted by the strong desire of the operator, working at the special sphere of his spirit. Of course such an appearance is not an outward materialization, but an inner vision, like the vision of gods promised to the practitioner by the adepts of Mitnra. (G. R. S. Mead’s: A. Mithraic Ritual, gives interesting details concerning the operation of invocation and its results.) Such apparition was probably also the spirit of Apollonius of Tyana, invoked by Eliphas Levi with full magical ceremonies at the house of Lady Bulwer-Lytton. The bare fact is, that the soul, keyed up by the preliminary stirring and the following operations goes into the sacred stupor, during which it comes en rapport with the intelligent energy symbolized as Spirit of the Earth, and the experience is reflected on the consciousness of the performer in the form of an image. The ensuing dialogue between the Spirit and Faust is but a conversation between his own higher and lower selves.
Nevertheless the result of this meeting is a real psycho- physiological one, and as it usually is. Goethe sketches from experience. Faust is shaken with fear at the appearance of the mighty spirit just like the high initiates of Mithra are, and you will be in your time. And the poor doctor instead of receiving some encouragement, is further depressed by the Spirit, he is made to feel his nothingness and the insufficiency of his faculties to realize his high aspirations. “It is deeply felt, that I am not like the gods, I am but like a worm.”
Fortunately this fear and depression is but a trial, which is automatically imposed during selfinitiation by the aspirant himself, respectively by his own Buddhi, in order to cause a reaction. If the candidate is of the right timber, as a reaction to such bitter and humiliating depression—like in Faust—the self-reliance awakes, ambition is resuscitated and a stronger determination is the result The doctor wants now “to prove with deeds, that man’s dignity is not less than the grandeur of the gods.” He decides to force the door of the Invisible by sacrificing his earth-life even if he has to take the chance of a final dissolution.
Thus the gold stood the fire, the worst handicap to man’s perfection, Fear, was eliminated, the spiritual will began to develop. Consequently just before the doctor empties the cup of death, the Easter bells and choir begin to sound in his inner ear, the awakening of his own Ego is symbolized in his higher consciousness as the Resurrection. Such readers as have already experienced with Faust-Goethe “the heavenly bliss” and to whom “prayer was a delight of love-union” (“ein Gebet war briinshiger Genuss”) will appreciate the perfection with which this delicate psychological process is developed in the poem and recognize in the details the poet’s as well as their own personal experiences.
A successful start for the opus magnum hid been thus made, the Tempter may now appear on the scene in the form of the famous black poodle, copied from Monsieur, the not less famous and allegedly diabolical dog of H.VC. Agrippa. A series of monologues by Faust and dialogues with Mephistopheles follow, revealing to the knower the successive psychological developments, which are the regular consequences of a good start in the great work. Their description is not less brilliant and based on experience as the description of the first operation, but on account of the limited space only such points can be touched here as are absolutely necessary to the understanding of the process.
The awakening of the Ego, —or as Goethe puts it: “of the god who lives in my bosom” sitting on “the throne in the innermost, above all my forces”—is indicated by the usual first realization of the double polarity of the mind, manas, in this passage: “Two souls are living in my bosom, one wishes to be separated from the other; one sticks with coarse love-pleasure and clinching organism to the world, the other strives with force from the dust, to the field of the high ancestors.” There we see the manas influenced as the lower pole by Kama and on the higher one by Buddhi. In the last act of the second part of the tragedy this double polarity of the manas is said to be an “united twin-nature”—geeint Zwienatur—which “can not be separated, only by the eternal love.” Entering his studio after the Easter-festival Faust feels the impulse of this love: “the deeper night awakens in us the better soul; the wild instincts are now asleep, now moves human love, now moves the love of God.”
The separation of the manas from Kama and its definitive attachment to the Buddhi is not only the whole work of purification during the great work but it makes about two- thirds of the great work itself. Consequently this is one of the most important motives in the whole Faust, and as such merits a detailed consideration. Generally this separation takes place only after the passage called death, but one who has the ability and courage to perform the great work can bring it about during lifetime and utilize the advantage of being able to work on it actively, while after death the performance is only a passive one, depending entirely on previous Karma.
According to Hindu esotericism—the terms of which are used here because the less generally known equivalent terms of Paracelsus would need longer explanations—the manas, after death and a following short residence in the lower regions of the astral, enters the Kama-loka the purgatory of the churches, but also, though very differently conceived, of Dante and of the second half in the first part of the Faust tragedy. During a short residence here—short for the initiated only,— it becomes purified, and going asleep awakes in the devachan, the heaven of the churches, the paradise of Dante, also the loca where the first four acts of the second part of the Faust are enacted. From the devachan the soul either reincarnates on earth, or becomes liberated and enters the real, the cosmic life, just touched on by Goethe and Dante in the last few canti of the Paradiso, and in the fifth act of the second part of the Faust respectively.
Lives in the Kama-loka and devachan are lived in a state of continuous very vivid dreams in which everything seems to be real. The manas is alone, but evokes at will all desired associates and conditions, materializes everything wanted, living in this self-created world just as consciously as during earth-life. All this time the evolution of the manas is going on uninterruptedly, unconsciously as in a gestation, but nevertheless really. The new embryo is formed either—as generally happens—for reincarnation, or in higher developed souls for the higher, cosmic life. Two powers cooperate during this gestation: the higher aspirations of the individual but also and mostly, what Goethe calls “love from above” i. e. the continuously emanated impulse from on high, the power of evolution exercised by suggestions impressed on the manas from more advanced minds, the mentes abstraction of Tradition, the Bodhisattvas of Hindu philosophy.
Goethe points out clearly the work of these two different agents. The angels “carrying the immortal part of Faust into the higher spheres” sing: “We can save him, who continuously strives ahead, and if the love from above took interest in him, he is welcomed by the blessed host.” On the other hand the adept-poet knew well also, that such personalities as are overladen with earthly attractions undergo a final dissolution as personalities in the Kama-loka. Says Panthalis at the end of the third act: “Who did not acquire a name, nor wills what is noble, belongs to the elements.” Of course name does Apocalypse.
Modern medical works on sexual psychopathy contain suffi cient cases in which morbid and at the same time unfortunately plastic imaginative faculty caused the autoproduction of a succubus or incubus, which then ruined the patient. Consequently this trap set to Faust by Mephistopheles during the Walpurgis night entertainment is really a devilish one. But the doctor is saved again by the higher part of Jhis own mind which inspires disgust against his charming partner, reminding him by a sign that she is but a witch and at the same time evoking in his translucide the decapitated phantom of Margarethe.
Thus at the end of the first part of the tragedy the analyzer finds the mind of Faust developed to the point which is reached by the individual usually in the post mortem state only when at the end of his life in the Kama loka his manas becomes separated from the Kamic element and firmly attached to the buddhic part, ready to enter devachan. We have seen one part of this purify ing process dramatized into the Margaretheact, where the trans mutation of lust into love is developed before our eyes. Another part of the changes going on in the inner nature of faust during the great work, changes which form a not less important part of this work, offer themselves less readily for dramatization, conse quently could not be treated in separate scenes and are outlined only in different episodes.
At the time when Faust signs the pact his mind is in a de spairing mood. He curses everything that holds the soul back in this hole of grief with the power of illusion and flattering. He curses the high selfesteem of our soul, he curses fame, possession, wife, children, he curses Mammon, the strongest giver of im pulses to great efforts as well as to laziness. Also: “Cursed be the balsamjuice of the grapes! Cursed be the highest favor of love! Cursed be hope! Cursed be faith and before all, cursed be patience.”
In his desperation he can curse, destroy only, and does not see the right direction to constructive lifework. He says to Mephistopheles: “I bluffed myself too high, I belong only to thy rank. The High Spirit rebuked me, Nature closes herself before me. The thread of thought is broken and all science becomes disgusting. Let us make quiet the burning passion in the depths of sensuality.”
Nevertheless, even in this despairing mind, through intui tion, the buddhi shows the manas the right way. It advises that the universal remedy for the individual as well as for humanity is found, when the individual gives up entirely his egotism, his selfish ambitions, and works only to benefit the whole. But though the intellect of Faust is great, his mind is blurred by ne gation and desperation, and consequently mistakes the impulse coming by intuition and interprets it superbly but entirely re versed, thus, “My bosom, cured from the strong desire for knowledge, shall not close itself any more to pain, and what ever is measured out to the whole humanity, I shall also enjoy in my inner self. I shall catch with my spirit the highest and the lowest, shall accumulate in my bosom all happiness and woes of humanity and so expand my own self or go to pieces too.”
Fortunately now the buddhi is awakened by the higher aspirations which pushed Faust to start the great work, and con tinues its inspirations to the manas through intuition. Aided by the synchronous purification caused by Margarcthe’s love, assist ed by the Love from Above, the buddhi leads now the work; and Nature put into motion by this higher factor begins to build, as she always does, “developing with fleeting dreams the inborn angel” and “filled with warm life, the image of the gods works out itself.” Thus the opus magnum is progressing well, though the operator himself may be, and usually is, unconscious of the processes through which his own soul slowly but surely unfolds.
After a while the operator’s waking consciousness also notices this progress from the results, and thus we hear Faust, who shortly before cursed everything on earth sing the sublime thanksgiving paean (Forest and Grotto) : “Exalted Spirit, thou gavest me, thou gavest me everything I asked for. It was not in vain that thou turned thy face toward me in the fire. Thou gavest me for Kingdom the glorious Nature, and. power to feel and enjoy her. Not only a coldly admiring visit was granted to me, but it was my privilege to look into her deep bosom as into a friend’s. . . .”
The doctor is now already well, purified and qualified to enter life on a higher state of consciousness, and thus the first part of the magnum opus and of the tragedy logically ends here. The second part of the opus is worked out in a plane of higher consciousness, and consequently the second part of the tragedy is enacted also in a higher sphere of the earth’s aura. On account of this difference of planes of consciousness and spheres there seems to be but little coherence betwen the first and second parts of the poem, at least on the surface. But the development of the soul of Faust, the real subject-matter of the tragedy, goes on uninterrupted, and therefore underneath the surface there is a radical and organic coherence between the two parts of the Faust.
As it was demonstrated by the previous analyses, the two parts of the Faust tragedy contain in the open text the general outlines of the path, following which a man may be initiated and perfected by Love, and reach the summit on which personi fied divine Beauty appears, and may make immortal the true and undefatiguable seeker. But to be able to follow the hints given, one has to possess already some esoteric knowledge, the open text does not give systematic instruction concerning esoteric philosophy and especially its practice.
At least it seems so. Because by a stroke of genius, Goethe turned his Faust into a complete manual of esoterism for the use of initiators and initiated alike. He simply revived the ancient custom of veiling and at the same time revealing by anagrams, but he applied this art, used before him only on short sentences, to the whole second part, and at least to the later additions of the first part of his poem. So that the whole present work is written
not only allegorically but literally intut et extra, i.e, each sen tence of the whole second part, and of many scenes of the first part, gives a hidden sense, when the letters of the sentence are regrouped to form other words. Thus he made the Faust unique in the whole world’s literature.
The art of composing such anagrams is as old as literature itself. Python-Typhon, Roma-amor, are among the oldest. Many authors, especially in medieval esoteric works, give their names by anagrams and Galileo revealed and hid for the In quisition his important discoveries the same way. Especially Rosicrucians from Francis of Assisi, and of the following Italian group, including Dante, Boccaccio, etc., down to the authors of the Fama and their other manifestors used it very often, as I shall prove some time by the publication of my large collection. But later on monks misused and overdid anagram-making, and so the art lost prestige, and went nearly into oblivion, only here and there a seeker cares for them nowadays.
From the 12,112 lines of the tragedy, by many years of work, I have reconstructed over 8,000 lines, i. e., the whole sec ond part and four scenes of the first part, into anagrams, follow ing the text of the poem, sentence after sentence, without adding or leaving out a single letter, including even the instructions given for the stage, and thus may claim on full knowledge that the hidden text is there. And it is there not by accident, but by the intention of the author and elaborated by him on a well con ceived and clearly evident general plan.
This I do claim, but this is also all that I claim at the present time definitely. And while I trust that the great majority of these anagrams reconstructed by me express well the intention of the author and agree with his plan, it is far from me to claim that they are final. It would be too much to expect finally from a pioneer-work of this kind, and besides this my work was handi capped by two circumstances. Firstly, the original spelling of Goethe was not accessible, and although the orthography of the period was used according to my best ability, everybody having any practice in constructing anagrams knows that the difference even of one letter in a sentence may—though it mostly does not— change the sense of the sentence. The second and even greater handicap is that German is with me but an acquired language, consequently used with less facility than a German would use it, considering especially the generally admitted fact, that there is no German author who could come even near to Goethe’s large vocabulary. Nevertheless let me hope that the unbiased reader will find, even after the perusal of the small fraction of these anagrams which can be pressed into the narrow frame of these papers, my efforts justified and the work sufficiently ripe and interesting to come into the open with it.