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The End of an Age




An Englishman at the Court of the Kaiser 

Elgar (see right) wrote his Symphony No 2 in E flat, in the year 1911, one year after the death of Edward VII.
The great funereal peroration of the second movement, written ostensibly in response to the King's death, broadens out into a vast elegy, foretelling the dissolution of an age.

The seeds of that coming dissolution were endemic, and were to be found particularly in the countries of central Europe, and particularly Germany. 
Gurdjieff's sometime rival, Crowley (see left) was not the only Englishman to fascinate and influence the German people at this time; in fact Crowley's influence was insignificant when compare to that of another Englishman; Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
Chamberlain was born in 1855.
He was the son of a British Admiral and also the nephew of Field Marshal Sir Neville Chamberlain.
As fate would have it, he was not educated, as one would expect, in the English public school tradition, which may well have induced him to follow in the exalted footsteps of his elders, but rather he was brought up in Paris, by relatives, who engaged, for reasons best known to themselves, a Prussian tutor to supervise his education. As a result, he became fluent in the German language and remarkably well versed in German literature, poetry, music and philosophy. 
By the age of twenty-seven, Chamberlain had become so imbued with Wagner's music and 'philosophy' that he decided to take up residence in Germany, permanently, moving to Dresden in 1882.
In that same year Chamberlain met Richard Wagner (1) at Bayreuth, in Bavaria, during the Festspiel.
They were two men who were made for each other. Chamberlain found in Wagner the father figure he craved, and Wagner found in Chamberlain the devoted disciple which he had sought, unsuccessfully in Ludwig II (2) and Nietzsche.

Whereas Nietzsche had rejected Wagner's last, and arguably greatest work, 'Parsifal' (see left), to Chamberlain it was a summation of all his thoughts regarding the sacred role that Germany was to play in the 'world historical process'.
The Spear of Longinus, which is a central element of the 'sacred festival drama' came to fascinate Chamberlain, as it had fascinated many before, and would fascinate many others in the future. 

(1) Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig on 22nd May, 1813.
There is some dispute regarding his paternity and it is possible that he was the son of Ludwig Geyer (see left), his step-father, rather than Friederich Wagner. He was educated in Dresden and early on became director of the theatre at Magdeburg.
Being forced to flee to Paris for political reasons, in 1848, it was not until 1864 that his career as a composer became established, when he received the support of the young King Ludwig II of Bavaria (see right).
He is mainly remembered for his vast Tetralogy, 'Der Ring des Nibelungen', which depicts the conflicts between the Gods, the dwarves and other elementals and men, as described in Teutonic mythology; along with 'Tristan und Isolde', a story of undying love in an Authurian setting;


'Die Meistersingers von Nurnburg', a good natured depiction of the value of German Art and Culture; and his final masterpiece,
'Parsifal' (see left), a 'sacred festival drama' which describes how salvation is brought to the fallen Knights of the Grail, by a pure 'fool' who recovers the spear of Longinus from the powers of evil. Parsifal was produced in 1882.
With Ludwig's help Wagner built the 'Festspielhaus' (see right), where his 'music dramas' could be properly performed, in Bayreuth. In 1870 he married Cosima von Blow, the daughter of Franz Liszt. 


Ludwig II, 'the Swan King', was born in 1845.
He succeeded his father, Maximillian Joseph I as king of Bavaria in 1864.
He, unwisely, supported Austria in the Austro-Prussian war of 1886, but allied himself with Prussia in the Franco-Prussian war.
On 30th November, 1871 wrote the infamous 'Kaiserbrief', offering the Imperial Crown to Wilhelm I of Prussia (see right), thus inaugurating the German Empire, whilst suffering from severe toothache, brought on by an unwise toffee binge.

He is now mainly remembered for building a succession of dream palaces, in various out of the way, & inevitably picturesque spots in his kingdom, the enormous cost of which beggared him personally.
In addition he gave extravagant financial support to Richard Wagner.
There is some documentary evidence to support the contention that he maintained a homosexual relationship with Wagner, [Wagner was married, with children, but so then was Oscar Wilde] along with Joseph Kainz, the singer, Richard Hornig and many other attractive equerries and servants.
Along with his predilection for handsome young men, he maintained an obsessive desire for toffee, solitude, Wagnerian music and all aspects of the Bourbon Monarchy.
Ludwig was removed from the throne on the grounds that he was insane.


Shortly afterwards, in 1886, he drowned in suspicious circumstances in the Starnberger See, near Munich.
But too return to Chamberlain - in 1889 Chamberlain settled in Vienna, where he lived for the next twenty years, making regular visits to the Weltliche Schatzkammer (3) in the Hofburg, where the original spear, which was part of the Reichskleinodien, was displayed.

As in Wagner's music drama, the spear in the Hofburg is claimed to be the very Spear which pierced the side of Jesus of Nazareth, as he hung upon the cross. Whether or not this is true is a moot point; but the Spear is, undoubtedly, ancient and has long been venerated.
It has been suggested that the Spear, often somewhat dramatically referred to as the 'Spear of Destiny', radiates powerful occult forces.

Having stood, myself, in the Weltliche Schatzkammer in the Hofburg, before this talisman of power, in the footsteps of so many of the great, famous and infamous, I cannot vouch for this fact personally, although something odd did happen to my camera.
Regardless of that, it is considered by some commentators that Chamberlain's communion with the Spear may have, in some way altered his awareness. 
In Chamberlain's autobiography 'Lebenswege' (4) he makes the revealing statement that he was often unable to recognise his works as being the product of his own thought. Chamberlain, it appears, was driven by daemons just as much as Crowley.
His books were written in a state of hysterical intoxication and trance, and owed, by his own admission, little of their fundamental substance to that, admittedly, brilliant intellect. 
Where, though, were the messages, which Chamberlain was relaying so elegantly and successfully, coming from ?
And, more to the point; what purpose did they serve ? 
Later, Chamberlain married, but in 1905 he divorced his Prussian wife and married Richard Wagner's daughter, Eva.
In 1909 he moved the Bayreuth where he lived until his death in 1927 (see right Chamberlain's study). 
It was in 1899 he published his greatest work, 'Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts' (The foundations of the Nineteenth Century), a volume of over twelve hundred pages, in German.
Despite its length and difficulty it eventually sold over a quarter of a million copies, and, in the event, made its author a rich man.

The work was stupendous (see left), both in its breadth of scholarship and its complexity of thought. It was intended to present, and successfully achieved a union of disparate artistic, philosophical, historical and racial theories which had be developing in Germany for the previous fifty years. 
Undoubtedly Chamberlain, at the book's inception, viewed it personally as the new bible of the Pan-Germanic movement, but despite this, he was admittedly staggered by the remarkable response the book elicited, from all levels of society.
The final accolade came when the Kaiser invited Chamberlain to Postdam (see right) and greeted him with an affirmation that it was God who had ordained that Chamberlain's book should be given to the German people and their Kaiser. 

(3) The 'Spear of destiny' is kept in the Weltliche Schatzkammer, which is situated in the Hofburg Palace, which was the Residenz of the Austrian Hapsburg Emperors, in Vienna. 

The phrase itself means 'Secular Treasury', and is the area in the Hofburg where treasures which are not used in religious rituals are kept. 
The Weltliche Schatzkammer is open to the public on a regular basis at the present time. 

(4) 'Life's Path' or 'Life's Way'. 

'Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts' is, essentially a grand synthesis of numerous ideas which had been simmering in the German intellect for many years.

Essential elements of this synthesis were Hegel's (see left) concept of the 'world historical process', Nietzsche's theory of the 'Ubermensch' or superman, Arthur de Gobineau's (see right) (5) and Wagner's notion of the superiority of the Aryan race, along with various other ideas circulating in Volkisch and Pan Germanic circles. 
The fact that both Nietzsche (5) and Wagner (7) suffered from the same daemonic creative possession as Chamberlain, combined with the fact that most of the contemporaneous Volkisch and Pan-Germanic groups had strong occult leanings is, undoubtedly, significant, particularly when one considers the cataclysm which was about to break some fifteen years later.

It was not long before Chamberlain became an unofficial adviser to the Kaiser.
A total of forty-three lengthy letters, from Chamberlain to the Kaiser, survive, in which Chamberlain attempts to fill his sovereign with glorious visions of the destiny which awaits the Aryan race, and Germany in particular. 
Such encouragement was, in Chamberlain's view necessary as, contrary to popular belief, the Kaiser was not bellicose by nature.
The son of Queen Victoria's eldest daughter Vicky, speaking perfect English, he was a devoted husband, worshipping the Kaiserin, Auguste ViKtoria of Schleswig-Holstein (see right), known to her family Donna, and doting over his large family.
He was sentimental and lazy, and painfully aware of his deformed arm. Like Chamberlain he too was driven by a demon, but it was not of the supernatural order.
The demon that drove the Kaiser was the endless fear that, because of his deformity, he was not a real man, in a society which glorified militarism and the heroic virtues; a society which he led. Under the influence of Chamberlain, and members of the High Command his insecurity manifested itself in aggressive statements of foreign policy. When war eventually came he feared its consequences as much as anyone.

When the war ended he was forced into permanent exile at Doorn in Holland.
There, strangely enough, he amassed one of the largest collections of occult literature in the world (see left).
Perhaps his demons were like Chamberlain's after all. 
Chamberlain was luckier. Unlike the Kaiser, who was punished for the war he did not start or want, Chamberlain was left unpunished for encouraging the conflagration for which he had assiduously provided the tinder. 
Chamberlain continued to live peacefully and comfortably in Bayreuth (see right).
As he was of no further use, his daemons had left him. They would return to him, however, in his last years - summoned by another; for while the Kaiser had been the apprentice to Chamberlain's sorcery, now Chamberlain himself would become the 'sorcerer's apprentice'. 

(5) Arthur, Comte de Gobineau, was born in France in 1816. His essay 'On the Inequality of Human Races' was published in 1853. 

(6) In Nietzsche's case his 'daemonic possession' drove him to a total mental collapse in 1889, which left him, literally 'out of this world' for the last eleven years of his life, during which time he was 'looked after' by his sister, Elizabeth Forster Nietzsche. 

Wagner admitted in his own autobiography 'Mein Leben', that his compositions came to him from some outside source, when he was in a state of trance.
Such statements must be taken at their face value when one consider that, at the time that Wagner's autobiography was published, he was a world renowned compose, well known for his inflated opinion of himself, who would have nothing to gain by disclaiming personal responsibility for his own creations. 


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