Friday, July 18, 2008
The world is full of castles. I love many of them for different reasons, but my favorite is the Neuschwanstein Castle in the heart of Germany. This is a fairytale castle, created by a fairytale king... the mysterious King Ludwig II.
A very romantic dreamer, adored by women, a knight and a proud leader; he loved art, acting and music, so much so that he brought composer Robert Wagner to the palace and for many years was his patron. Wagner said, "... Today I was brought to him. He is unfortunately so beautiful and wise, soulful and lordly, that I fear his life must fade away like a divine dream in this base world... You cannot imagine the magic of his regard: if he remains alive it will be a great miracle!"
King Ludwig II created an unrealistic fairytale kingdom around himself. He began to sleep during the day and spend his waking hours at night, traveling then (often in costume), by fanciful coach or sleigh.
He intertwined his fascination with the Holy Grail into his life and his palace, and as years passed, he began to retreat into his castle more and more often, where reality almost didn't exist. In a tragic, heartbreaking twist, he was removed from the throne by reason of mental incompetency, and shortly thereafter, he and the psychiatrist who declared him insane were both found dead in a lake.
This castle, its history and its fairytale king appeal to me on several levels, but more than any single reason, simply because there are times when I wish I could step into a dream and live in it for a long while... and he did. It delights me that someone, somewhere in time, was able to do that. He did it beautifully, and it's still there for others to come share in it, in a very small way... to step into his dream and walk through the echoes of it that fill his halls and his countryside.
He may not have known it, but he is also a member of the League of Dreamers... and by default, that is an eternal company of souls.
Ludwig II as the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St George. G. Schachinger, Munich, 1887.
Thanks to the Neuschwanstein Castle website for the photographs.