WB Mark Dreisonstok, PM
Arminius Lodge No. 25
Few Masons or non-Masons, however, know that there is a sequel to The Magic Flute, that it was written by another famous Mason, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and that it now can be procured easily in a highly accessible English translation. Yet this is a Magic Flute without music and without completion, for Goethe left it a fragment. Writers of Goethe's time felt fragments were highly artistic and even esoteric, as such works tantalized completion and perfection with their unseen and unknown parts -- “This fragment of his dream,” as the Romantic Age writer Kleist phrased it.
In the case of Goethe’s fragmentary sequel to The Magic Flute, perhaps there is a bit of the esoteric not only in the portions which are lost and elusive, but within the lines which were written and published! If we recall in the story of original The Magic Flute, the candidate Tamino emerges from Darkness to Light and progresses through trials of purification in the Temple of the Master Sarastro. In Goethe’s sequel, the figure of Sarastro again provides wisdom to the candidate being initiated into the further mysteries of the Temple:
Speaker: Our brother stands before the northern gate of our holy shrine. He has completed the year of pilgrimage and wishes to be admitted. He has transferred the special signs which demonstrate his worthiness for readmission to our circle.
Sarastro: This mysterious stone is still bright and clear. Had our brother failed in his mission, it would have appeared murky. Lead the returning brother onward! Behind these quiet walls, a man learns to look into himself and explore the deep recesses of his soul. . . . But only the wanderer who has roamed over the wide fields of the earth can learn to recognize the sublime language of nature and the sounds of humankind in need. (Scott Thompson, ed. J.W. von Goethe. Tales of Transformation. San Francisco: City Lights, 2001, p. 116)
The serious Mason of an esoteric bent may be reminded of the search for the philosopher’s stone of Hermes Trismegistus, a crucial part of Albert Pike’s lectures on the Scottish Rite degrees in Morals and Dogma. Indeed, we read in his commentary to the 27th Degree (“Knight of the Sun”): “To find the Philosophical Stone, is to have discovered the Absolute, as all the Masters say.” (Pike, Morals and Dogma, classic edition, p. 776) In Goethe’s version of The Magic Flute, alchemical symbolism is likewise heavily emphasized. As in Goethe's instruction above, let us ever “recognize the sublime language of nature and sounds of humankind in need!”
Once an obscure writing nearly impossible to find, this unusual sequel to The Magic Flute is included in a collection of Goethe’s esoteric stories in English translation in the work Tales of Transformation (Scott Thompson, trans. and ed.), a book to be recommended warmly.