The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily is one of the most important stories of the Anthroposophic and Rosicrucian streams. It is a timeless, allegorical tale of initiation and profoundly affected Rudolf Steiner and the formulation of his teachings. He called the fairy tale a kind of "secret revelation," an "apocalypse." As Paul Marshall Allen and Joan deRis Allen point out in their book The Time Is at Hand, Goethe’s fairy tale begins with a specific image: a river that separates two lands that stand in contrast to each other, just as the sensory and spiritual worlds do. The story ends with a bridge, created through sacrifice, that spans the river between the two lands.
Rudolf Steiner was so deeply impressed by Goethe’s fairy tale that he used it as the model for his own first mystery drama, The Portal of Initiation. Evidently, he told friends prior to its first performance, "I know how long and deeply you have loved Goethe’s fairy tale, and today I am happy to tell you that you will see it performed on stage."
This is a fairy tale for meditation—and for building bridges to the soul and spirit.