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In 1794 Goethe and Schiller were engaged in a correspondence concerning the connection of the human soul with the world of the senses on one hand and with the supersensory on the other. While Schiller approached the question in a philosophical way, Goethe embodied his thoughts in a fantasy entitled The Fairytale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. In his fantasy, Lily represents the ideal world of the supersensory that is separated from the Green Snake, or the sensory, by a river. The goal is to build a bridge across the river that will connect the sensory and super sensory realms, and thereby establish a new, conscious spiritual awareness. The other characters in the fairytalethe Ferryman, the Old Woman, the Youth, the Will-o'-Wisps and the Old Man with the Lamp represent various aspects of the soul working together to accomplish this mighty task. A commentary on The Character of Goethe as shown in the Fairy Story is provided by Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and thinker. An invaluable guide, it illuminates much of the deep symbology that is contained in this simple, universal fairytale.

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