The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Goethe’s fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, embodies noble virtues which underpin anthroposophy.

“The golden king speaks to the snake: ‘What is more splendid than gold?’ asks the king. ‘The light,’ answered the snake. ‘What is more refreshing than the light?’ asked the former. ‘Conversation’ answered the latter.”

“Conversation then, can soar to great heights and be acted upon by a group of people in concert. This renewal of conversation in community concerned Goethe deeply. In the fairy tale, the old man with the lamp says to the disconsolate Lily, following the mystical death of the handsome youth, ‘Be calm, fairest girl! Whether I can help I do not know. One single person cannot help, but rather he who unites with many at the right hour.'”

“The grand symbol for the individual soul’s capacity to take such action is the green snake’s self-sacrifice. Action must not be too late; the opportunity missed. Nor must it be taken prematurely. All depends upon harmonious cooperation at the correct moment.” *

*Goethe’s View of Evil by Alan P. Cottrell