Category Archives: Grail

The wound of the Fisher King

One of the most intriguing characters in any mythology is that of the Fisher King in the Grail Traditions who is wounded in the thigh.

The usual interpretation is that the wound to the “thigh” is a euphemism for castration; the Fisher King is impotent. He suffers a loss of vitality and the ability to reproduce. This has merit as an interpretation but I think it narrows the teaching to an over specific extent.

If we reconsider this mythology in connection with the mythology of Dionysus, perhaps, the wound is to the thigh and has deeper meanings.

Dionysus was born of from the union of a god (Zeus) and a mortal (Semele).

So he is a link between the worlds of the human and the divine. In the context of Arthurian mythology, parallels could be drawn between Dionysus and Merlin which opens up a whole new direction of thought and meditation.

Dionysus was “twice born”.

In my mind, this has links to a character in Welsh mythology that also has connections with Merlin. Zeus rescued Dionysus from the womb of Semele and placed him in his own thigh. The oddness of this is not easy to understand and for the purpose of this piece, it is not necessary to understand but only recognise the common aspect of a wound to the thigh.

Dionysus could be said to represent nature or the natural aspect of human psychology. The instinctual, the intuitive and the creative. He represents spontaneity, the ability to experience joy. The celebration of connection with our heart and nature. In this respect he is an aspect of The Green Man.

So, is this the full meaning of the wound?

When we lose touch with our intuitive selves or our ability to live spontaneously. If we forget how to experience the joy and wonder in life or repress our creative energies, our connection with the natural, the instinctual and intuitive.

By becoming stuck in our old habits and modes of living, in doing what is expected of us rather than what our heart, gently, guides us to do.

Perhaps then, we discover that we are living in the Wasteland where nothing has nurture to grow and all lies arid; the dust of our lost hopes, forgotten dreams and once burning desires that we have stopped remembering, finding ourselves bogged down in the routine and the lives imposed upon us.

It is at that point that we need to remember the cause of the thigh-wound. It is the spirit of Dionysus, nurtured by our higher-self, the loss of which is the cause of stagnation as we suffer the loss of all he represents.

The Grail Knight is expected to ask the question.

“Who does the Grail serve?”

Is the answer or, at least, an answer; Dionysus.

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Aspects of the Grail

in the original Celtic version the “grail” (though not named this) is a severed head on a platter.

A severed head? Quite a grisly image if taken literally, but what about metaphorically?

The Celts saw the head as the seat of the soul, so from this perspective it could be read as the soul being seperated from the body, (or vice verse).

One could also interpret it as the head representing logical, rational “Head thoughts” being severed from the “heart feeling” of the body.

Either way this psychic seperation causes illness and the wasteland, both in terms of the land and the inner country of the individual’s mind.

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Thoughts on the Grail.

What is the fundamental enigma contained within the Quest for the Holy Grail?

 

A state of Grace, a Golden Age, lost and laid waste through some ungracious act, through a wounding of some kind.

 
A journey beset with trials and obstacles placed in the path of the questing knight who sets out to regain that which was once the natural state of things. To bring about the much needed healing of the Fisher King and his Land. Yet, where does the Grail, the ultimate symbol of healing, regeneration and integration lie? It lies unseen and unheeded by the side of the very king who is in so much need of its gift.

 
The Grail Seeker, at first, neglects to ask questions, to speak up, to speak out, to be heard, to exercise curiousity and it is only after the realisation of his mistake and after much tribulation, lessons and the sobering experiences of life that he, at last, rediscovers the Grail Castle and sees the object of his quest: The Holy Grail sitting where it has always sat. With him. By his side. By the side of the wounded king and by the side of the questing knight. For they are one and the same person in truth. You, me, and everyone who has awoken to the realisation that part or parts of them bleed. That not all is as it should be. Awoken to a sense of deep dissatisfaction. Finally, the simple question WHY? is asked and a Golden Age, a state of Grace, an awareness, a beingness, is finally awakened to manifest within us.

 
What does this state of Grace mean or represent?

 

We must delve into the psychology of Self, Of I, of me. Of ego. Self-conciousness or self-awareness. That aspect of our personality that defines itself as a seperate entity and in so doing detaches itself, alienates itself from everything and everyone else. The part of our psyche that divides, interprets, seperates, and in so doing cleaves us from the collective non-dualistic, holistic being that is our real truth. This seperation occurs sometime after birth, young babies have no concept of self, do not recognise their reflection in a mirror, but gradually, steadily and surely, we begin to learn to discriminate, to seperate and so begins the creation of a dualistic right/wrong, good/evil universe. This our fall from Grace, the drawbridge at the Grail Castle gate is pulled up and we tumble over the moat and land face first in the grassy bank on the other side.

 
Buddhist teaching instructs us to join mind with the universe, intrinsically knowing that mind and universe are one and the same thing; not seperate, not different, but manifestations of the same spirit, the same light, the same energy. Within and without, as above so below, as the Alchemical and Western Esoteric traditions also teach. Buddhism also instructs us to look within to understand that which is without. This same teaching and the same meaning can be seen in the Grail story, the concept of the Grail being ever present, even when it can not be seen.

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