113: Wotan as Triple God of Fire and Triple God of Air: especially the Orange Mage

(I am greatly indebted to Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen’s masterful Ring of Power: The Abandoned Child, the Authoritarian Father and the Disempowered Feminine for most of the Wagnerian details herein. Please see Solar Calendar for details of the Rorian Tradition’s archetypal dramas.)

In Wagner’s Ring Cycle, the Teutonic father-god Wotan (known elsewhere as Woden and Odin) shows strong facets of the Rorian Tradition’s fiery archetypes: the Yellow Creator (Sun and Leo), the Red Hunter (Mars and Aries), and to a degree the Blue Planter (Bacchus and Sagittarius). He also shows some qualities of the airy archetypes: the Green Priest (Venus and Libra), the Violet Smith (Jupiter and Aquarius), and especially the Orange Mage (Mercury and Gemini), which we believe to have been Wotan’s original function. Let’s look at these six archetypes in order around the wheel: Yellow Creator (Leo), Green Priest (Libra), Blue Planter (Sagittarius), Violet Smith (Aquarius), Red Hunter (Aries), and Orange Mage (Gemini).

Wotan as the Yellow Creator: The Yellow Creator is a solar demiurge, distinguished by his divinely vulnerable right eye, which is blinded at his death. Wotan too has only one eye. In the Rorian tradition, the blade or weapon is sacred to Fire, wielded only by the Red Hunter (sword), the Yellow Creator (spear), and the Blue Planter (thunderbolt or arrow). Wotan’s famous spear would thus appear to be a solar attribute, linking him with the Yellow Creator. Wotan’s spear is certainly a fiery weapon; with it he surrounds Brunnhilde in a ring of fire, and with it he threatens Siegfried with a firestorm. In the Rorian Tradition, the Yellow Creator at his Epiphany receives a golden ring from Archangel Gabriel and the Dwarf King (the Buddhic equivalents of the Violet Smith); similarly in The Rhinegold Wotan wins the golden ring of power from the dwarf-king Alberich, the smith who forged the ring. The Yellow Creator and the Violet Smith are opposites, wherein the Smith is a kind of shadow-Creator, and the Creator is a kind of light-Smith. In Siegfried Wotan actually identifies himself as “light-Alberich”.

Wotan as the Green Priest: The Green Priest’s special animal is the Wolf-Hound, and Wotan refers to himself as the Wolf. Wotan attempts to uphold the Law and its various agreements and covenants, which are engraved in runes on his famous spear (or staff?). Law, its covenants, and the Staff are in the Rorian tradition expressly the concern of the Green Priest or Cleric. But Wotan’s law-staff is really a spear, not a staff, and has clearcut thunder attributes, linking him with the Blue Planter.

Wotan as the Blue Planter: Wotan’s spear might be seen as a kind of thunderbolt, hence linking him with the Sagittarian Blue Planter, who governs thunderstorms with their lightning-bolts, traditionally believed to inseminate the earth and cause or help crops to grow. When Siegfried breaks Wotan’s spear in Siegfried, thunder and lightning ensues. The Sagittarian Centaurs (and their mythic and etymological cousins, the Vedic Gandharvas) are storm-bringers, herb-masters, and above all, horsemen: Blue Planter’s special animal is the horse, and Wotan has a divine horse, Sleipnir.

Wotan as the Violet Smith: Wotan mates with Erda, a chthonic Earth-goddess residing deep in a mountain cave, replete with wisdom. When she appears in Siegfried, she has a blue radiance, and she seems as if covered in hoarfrost. All these qualities link her with the Celtic Cailleach, in the Rorian tradition the Blue-Violet Mason, who is the the mate of the Violet Smith. Like the Celtic Lugh (generally a form of the Violet Smith; see Lug as Triple God of Fire and Triple God of Air: especially the Violet Smith), Wotan is accompanied by ravens, the bird of the Smith’s spouse the Indigo Mason. But ravens are the gleaners of the fallen in battle, and Wotan is better-known as a Hunter and Warrior.

Wotan as the Red Hunter: In the Rorian tradition, the wrathful Red Hunter sires the compassionate Green Priest. The Green Priest falls in love and mates with his sister, the loving Red-Orange Abbess (she of the Treasure Tower), but is slain by his own son the Red Hunter reborn, who attains a Wolf and acquires a magic sword. In The Valkyrie, the wrathful Wotan sires the compassionate Siegmund, whom he takes hunting as a child, calling himself Wolf and Siegmund Wolfcub. Siegmund meets and loves his sister, the loving Sieglinde, but Siegmund is eventually betrayed by Wotan and slain when the magic sword Wotan gave him shatters. The parallels continue: Just as the compassionate Green Priest’s son the fiery Red Hunter slays or masters the World Dragon with his (restored) magic sword before entering the Tower Realm of his mother/daughter the Red-Orange Abbess, where he dies, so compassionate Siegmund has a fiery son Siegfried, who uses his father’s (restored) magic sword to slay the dragon Fafner before entering the mountaintop domain of Wotan’s virginal daughter Brunnhilde (like Sieglinde, a Red-Orange Abbess type) whom Siegfried confuses with his mother Sieglinde, and whose love with Siegfried is doomed, with Siegfried dying soon after. The letters ODN of Wotan/Odin’s name belong to the Red Hunter, mantrically speaking, and Wotan’s grandson and alter-ego Siegfried — or Sigurd — could be interpreted as ZIU-UARD or ZIUWERD, meaning “Guardian of Animal Life,” a mantric title belonging to the Red Hunter (see A Bard’s Primer: The Science of Mantra and Words of Power). Traditionally Wotan or Odin is the Leader of souls of the dead at the Wild Hunt and thus perhaps equivalent to the Red Hunter, but the Wild Hunt occurs at Hallowtide, the time of the Orange Mage’s death. Warrior functions may arise from magical ones, and Woden’s patronage of warriors may have stemmed from his berserker’s ecstatic rage, which in turn may have come from his expertise in poetry, magic, and ecstasy.

Wotan as the Orange Mage: Despite his appeal to warriors, Wotan is primarily a master of magic and of shamanic ecstasy, and as such is probably closest to the Orange Mage of all the Demiurges in the Rorian Tradition. As Mercury and Hermes, the Orange Mage is the psychopomp, guiding the souls of the dead at the time of his own death at Hallowtide; so too Wotan leads the souls of the dead at Hallowtide in the Wild Hunt. The Orange Mage is hanged by his horse-father the Blue Planter at Hallowtide, and is reborn about 90 days later beneath the Ash or Hawthorn at Imbolc. Similarly, Wotan hangs from the Ash tree for nine days, until he is “reborn” from the Ash with knowledge of the magical runes. The Orange Mage’s special tree is the Hawthorn or the Ash, and Wotan’s magic spear is a branch of the World Ash. His Ash-spear is carved with runes, attesting to laws and agreements, which might be seen as a heraldic function common to Mercury and Hermes, and hence the Orange Mage. The ancients clearly saw Woden as equivalent to the Orange Mage’s Mercury; Woden’s-day or Wednesday in the Germanic languages, is Miercoles, Mercredi, or Mercury’s-day in the Romance languages. Finally Gwydion is understood both etymologically and mythologically to be the Celtic form of Wotan/Wodin, and Gwydion is predominantly a magician concerned with the magic of the trees, and whose steed is the Ash.

Thus while Wotan in the Ring Cycle acquired a great many of the Rorian Tradition’s Fire-triplicity traits (Solar Yellow Creator, Martial Red Hunter, and Bacchic Blue Planter), and finally attained somewhat universal characteristics, even to being called “All-father,” it seems likely his original function was that of the Orange Mage.