New – 15 April 2007
Siegfried is part of Richard Wagner’s operatic Ring Cycle. This brief treatise is based upon numerous observations and interpretations of this tale of gods, dwarfs, heroes, and magical objects. On the one hand, the operas of the Ring Cycle (The Ring of the Nibelungs) have an authoritative explanation by George Bernard Shaw  in terms of capitalism and the ruling class. On the other hand, the myths and legends upon which the operas are based may provide us with a better understanding of the realities of our world, including the current status of the Sumerian Anunnaki and the gods and goddesses (extraterrestrials) who might still be here on the planet Earth.
Siegfried follows the action of The Valkyrie. [The narrative is in blue.]
It begins with Sieglinda flying into the forest and finding shelter in the smithy of a dwarf, where she brings forth her child and promptly dies. The dwarf, to whom she has inadvertently entrusted her son, is Mimmy, the brother of Alberic, and the craftsman who made the magic helmet. Mimmy’s aim in life had always been to reclaim the helmet, the ring, and the treasure. And now here with the promise of a hero coming of age, one under Mimmy's care and possibly control, was apparently the means.
The problem is that Mimmy is a timid creature, far too weak to confront Fafnir in his dragon form. Mimmy’s only hope for power will be with the help of a hero. The good news is that Mimmy is just smart enough to realize that this is entirely possible if an unknowing hero could do his bidding. This is pretty much the way of the world, where the elite covertly send off youth and bravery to win empires for the elite, always being sure that the warriors have no clue as to the real agenda. Accordingly, Mimmy nurses Siegfried, son of Sieglinda and Siegmund, to manhood.
Siegfried has no god to instruct him in the art of unhappiness and accordingly inherits none of his father’s ill luck. He does, however, inherit all of his father’s strength and endurance. Fear is unknown to him, and instead of faith and gratitude, Siegfried knows no law but his own humor. Consequently, Siegfried loathes the ugly dwarf and is oblivious to the thought of any gratitude for Mimmy’s nanny service. He grows up to be enormously strong, full of life and fun, dangerous and destructive to anything he dislikes, and affectionate to what he likes. It is fortunate that his likes and dislikes are sane and healthy.
One of the more unfortunate aspects of raising children to be the best they can be is the inevitable presence of the older generation. Suddenly all of the prejudices, dysfunctions, and traumas of the elders get passed on to the children. And with the elder generation present in the environment of the child in large numbers, there is little chance for the natural instincts of the child to be allowed to come to fruition. It's a rare child today who can be protected from the deceit and lies of his or her elders, especially when many of the problem are passed via youthful intermediaries. The exception is inevitably the child raised alone in the wildnerness. Tarzan always seemed to be a pretty cool dude.
The First Act
The Opera opens with Mimmy hard at work attempting to make a sword for Siegfried to use against Fafnir. Unfortunately for Mimmy, it is not with such mischievous swords that “heroic man will hew the way of his own will through religions and governments and plutocracies and all the other devices of the kingdom of the fears of the unheroic.”  The routine thus becomes one of Mimmy making a sword and Siegfried smashing them and then roughly chastising him for incompetence.
Mimmy then tries for an end run by claiming to be both Siegfried’s father and mother. Siegfried doesn’t buy the gambit for a minute and pretty much throttles Mimmy until he is speechless. But when he recovers, the dwarf is sufficiently daunted that he tells Siegfried the truth about his birth, and even produces the pieces of the sword that had broke upon Wotan’s spear. Siegfried quickly demands the sword be mended, and heads out into the forest relishing the moment when he will be leaving the nest.
Mimmy, meanwhile, is in deep do-do. He has already tried to work the sword and has always failed miserably. Things are looking a bit bleak, when a Wanderer, in a blue mantle, with spear in hand, and with one eye concealed by the brim of his wide hat, enters the forge in the dwarf’s cave. The Wanderer is ready and willing to provide any information to Mimmy, inasmuch as it is clear that Mimmy is under serious duress.
Mimmy is nevertheless inhospitable and wants to know only if the Wanderer has the intelligence to find his way to the door. This promptly leads to a battle of wits between the dwarf and the Wanderer. Mimmy, of course, is at a serious disadvantage, not having the wit to ask for what he wants and desperately needs to know, and instead pretends to know everything already. [It's the old gambit of some refusing to ask for directions even when hopelessly lost.]
Mimmy asks three questions: Who dwells under the earth? Who dwells on the earth? Who dwells in the cloudy heights above? The Wanderer, in reply, tells him of the dwarfs and Alberic; of the earth, and the giants Fasolt and Fafnir; of the gods and of Wotan himself, as Mimmy now recognizes the Godhead with awe.
Wotan then asks his three questions. “What is that race, dearest to Wotan, against whom Wotan has nevertheless done his worst?" Mimmy can answer that one. He knows it’s the Volsungs, the race of heroes born of Wotan’s infidelities to Fricka. Mimmy can in fact tell the Wanderer the whole story of the twins and their son Siegfried. Wotan then asks which sword will enable Siegfried to slay Fafnir. Mimmy having all the history at his fingertips answers easily. Mimmy is clearly on a roll. Then Wotan asks, “Who will mend the sword?” Ooops!
When Mimmy cannot answer, the Wanderer provides him a short lecture on the folly of being too clever to ask for what one wants to know. Wotan then informs Mimmy that only a smith to whom fear is unknown will be able to mend Nothung. With this brief oracle (designed in the best tradition of oracles to be unfathomable to the unworthy), Wotan leaves his host, and wanders off into the forest. Mimmy is now really worried. When Siegfried returns, Mimmy’s natural quality of fear of imaginary terrors rises to the fore. He is convinced that anyone not steeped in fear sufficent to require being constantly on his guard, must perish immediately on his first sally into the world.
Siegfried is, in fact, fearless -- a factor Mimmy hates and detests. Mimmy suggests he take Siegfried to Fafnir -- and there test Siegfried with the mended sword (which only the fearless Siegfried can fix). Mimmy knows that Siegfried had never learned the blacksmith craft, and it’s assumed that Mimmy has no competition in that arena.
Clearly, one of the fatal flaws in those who routinely practice deceit and manipulation is that they assume that others have the same flaws and limitations with which they themselves are cursed. They also assume others acknowledge the same walls of the box or the same bars of the cage with which they have always accepted. Freedom can be thought of, after all, as having a cage whose bars are further than one would ever care to travel. But for those with unrestrained imagination, those who have not been carefully taught the limitations and prejudices of lesser beings, there are always more way in which to skin a cat, an elephant, or a feckless politician. Too much knowledge can be a limiting thing, while limited experience can produce highly creative solutions. It seems likely that beings incarnating into this world do not remember from whence they came precisely in order to not have such memories limit their creativity.
In this vein, and not knowing the craft of sword mending, Siegfried leaps to the problem by taking a file, and utterly destroying the fragments of the sword by rasping them into a heap of steel filings. Then he puts the filings into a crucible; buries it in the coals; and begins to work the bellows with the shouting exultation of the anarchist who destroys only to clear the ground for creation. When the steel is melted, Siegfried runs it into a mould; and lo and behold, a sword-blade in the rough.
The technique of taking something down to its basic constituents, placing them into a crucible of fire, and working the end product may also be considered as part of the alchemist's stock and trade. Even to the extent to taking metals to the level of microclusters and monoatomic elements -- where their clinging qualities fade away and where following a form of transmutation, incredible new possibilities emerge. Meanwhile, in the fashion of homeopathy, the magic of the original (e.g. the sword) persists. If you don't believe it, ask any master elf from Middle Earth.
Mimmy is of course amazed at the success of Siegfried's violation of all the rules of his craft. He quickly hails Siegfried as the mightiest of smiths, professing himself barely worthy to be his cook and scullion. He forthwith proceeds to poison some soup for the hero so that he may murder him safely after Fafnir is slain. Siegfried pretty much ignores Mimmy as he forges, tempers, hammers and rivets his sword, singing all the while. [It's really important to sing when one is physically tempering the world to meet one's most basic needs.] Siegfried then tests his newly forged Nothung by cleaving the anvil upon when all of Mimmy’s swords had been shattered.
The sword mending motif also appears in numerous other classic tales, including, for example, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and Excalibur of Camelot fame. The critical factor in the mending process of the weapons of heroes is that the smith cannot simply use the tried and true methods of dealing with mundane devices. Neither can they assume that the unworthy can do the job even with step by step instructions. A fearlessness is required, and one may even assume that such a characteristic is essential in order to be counted worthy.
The same might also apply to the gathering of knowledge and wisdom -- themselves survival weapons in the quest of true destiny. Reduce the subject to its most basic, forge it in the fires, and then rebuild it into a new and astounding form.
A possible misuse of this technique is the training of United State Marines. Recruits are first reduced to moldly putty by the tearing asunder of every individual personality trait, and then under fire (so to speak) they are reconstructed into a non-thinking, disiplined, killing machine -- which just happens to look unbelievably cool in a full dress uniform with sword. (Geez! These guys are lobbing grenades and still carrying a sword?)
The Second Act
Just outside the cave of Fafnir is Alberic, eating his heart out for the lack of treasure and the ring. Along comes the Wanderer, whom the dwarf recognizes as his old despoiler. Alberic is not thrilled to see Wotan and begins to taunt him as being a helpless has-been, whose boasted power is constrained by all the laws and bargains recorded on behalf of his spear. Wotan having already killed his own son, has reconciled him to Alberic's jeer, has become sickened by his own artificial power, and is now looking forward to the coming hero, not for the consolidation of Wotan's realm, but for its destruction. Wotan even encourages Alberic to try his luck again, without any hindrance from Valhalla. Alberic's bravado turns to astonished certainty as he realizes the last word will not be with the god. He thus hides himself in readiness for Siegfried.
Siegfried arrives with Mimmy in tow. In the midst of a melodic bit about birds providing love mates for all, Fafnir loses his temper, fights, and is forthwith slain by Siegfried -- much to Fafnir’s great astonishment. Fafnir does, however, manage to sting Siegfried with his vitriolic blood. Whereupon Siegfried pops his finger into his mouth to taste it, and suddenly begins to understand what the birds are saying.
It's interesting that the giant, Fafnir, had within him the blood (albeit caustic) which might have enabled him to understand what the birds were saying. It is thus possible that Fafnir could have always availed himself of this ability, but apparently the distraction of the gold simply allowed his consiousness dismiss the idea.
Siegfried then goes into the cave to secure the gold, ring, and magic helmet. Meanwhile, Mimmy has returned and is confronted by Alberic. They are quarrelling when Siegfried returns with the magic helmet and the ring -- having left the rest of the gold. The hero is slightly disappointed inasmuch as he has still not tasted fear.
Siegfried has learned, however, to read the thoughts of those such as Mimmy, whose murderous envy is so intense that Siegfried smites him with Nothung and slays him -- to the keen satisfaction of the hidden Alberic. “Caring nothing for the gold -- which he leaves to the care of the slain -- disappointed in his fancy for learning fear, and longing for a mate, he casts himself wearily down, and again appeals to his friend the bird."  The bird [probably a love bird] tells him of a woman sleeping on a mountain peak within a fortress of fire that only the fearless can penetrate. Siegfried leaps to the challenge and is off.
The Third Act
The Wanderer, Wotan, arrives at the root of the mountain and begs counsel from the First Mother from her place in the depths of the earth. She suggests he confer with the Norns (Fates). But they are of no use to Wotan. What he seeks is foreknowledge, while the helpless Fates can only spin the net of circumstance and environment round the feet of men. Why not, says Erda then, go to the daughter I bore you, and take counsel with her? He has to explain how he has cut himself off from her and set the fires of Loki between the world and her counsel. In that case the First Mother cannot help him. She can show him no way of escape from the destruction he foresees.
Suddenly his innermost thoughts cries out in confession even while rejoicing in his doom. He now finds himself exulting in passing away with all his ordinance and alliances, with the spear-scepter which he has only wielded on condition of slaying his dearest children with it, with the kingdom, the power and the glory which will never again boast themselves as “world without end.”
It is an excellent thing to triumph in the victory of the new order and the passing away of the old; but if you happen to be part of the old order yourself, you must nonetheless fight for your life. Or alternatively have others fight for it instead,
The two exchange stories, Wotan delighted by Siegfried’s exploits, everything from the mending of the sword to doing away with Fafnir. On the other hand, Wotan’s majesty and elderly dignity are thrown away on the young anarchist. Wotan appeals to the old gaffe of respect for one’s elders, but Siegfried brushes it off as a precious notion, but not one worth mentioning. Wotan even declares that Siegfried is of his line, to no avail -- whereupon Wotan throws off the mask of the Wanderer and whips out the awe and grandeur of the world-governing spear. Which Siegfried promptly recognizes as the weapon of his father’s foe, and quickly cuts the spear into two pieces. Wotan says, “Up then. I cannot without you.”
Whereupon Wotan disappears forever from the eye of man.
The admission by Wotan that he can no longer ascend the mountain without the hero is of possibly supreme importance. There comes a time when one's destiny is limited by one's history. Learned experience builds schemas in the mind, elaborate paradigms by which we will eventually find ours constrained. Paradigm shifting inevitably requires considerable expenditure of energy -- often more than a consciousness is willing to conjure up from the depths.
The status of being a member of the ruling elite, whether an aristocracy or as an alleged deity, does not matter when a being grows weary of enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and decides to retire from the fray. Even survival of the physical body loses some of its appeal. Too much experience or knowledge (but not wisdom) is often enough to jade one's enthusiasm for newness. In some cases, the dramas and comedies of a long life can fade into a smiling tolerance of everything being an illusion, and thus hardly worthy of notice. It's the loss of the suspension of disbelief when one attends a play or other entertainment. It's only cure is to find a new entertainment, one perhaps not of this existence. In the interim, it's a matter of marking time.
With Wotan departing for a last sojourn in his beloved Valhalla, Siegfried follows the path decidedly less traveled.
Siegfried, meanwhile, does the tenor-soprano thing with Brunhilde. Having passed through the fire unharmed, Siegfried wakes Brunhilde and goes though all the fancies and ecstasies of love at first sight. Their duet ends with a song which identifies enlightening love and laughing death to be so involved in each other as to be virtually one and the same thing.
Finally, the scene is set for Die Götterdämerung.
 George Bernard Shaw, The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the Niblung’s Ring, Dover Publications, New York, 1967 (an unabridged and unaltered republication of the fourth edition (1923), as published by Constable & Co., London).
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