Tag Archives: Dionysus

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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Into the Labyrinth

Theseus and the Minotaur is another mythological teaching that can be interpreted in varied ways. I have to admit that I had written this piece a few weeks ago but lost my draft copy. In writing it again I seem to have posed more questions than answers.
One interpretation could be to see the Labyrinth as representing the subconscious, or unconscious, mind and the Minotaur, our Shadow or dark aspect which has to be overcome.

What is the Minotaur seeking to destroy?

One answer could be Youth.


As a result of a plague sent upon Athens, the Athenians send seven maidens and seven young men, each year, as sacrifice to Minos. This represents the killing of Youth on the orders of an older King; a situation that creates a few thoughts to contemplate.
On the third year of this tribute being paid, Theseus intervenes.

How is the Minotaur defeated?

The hero Theseus is helped by the King’s daughter, Ariadne. The feminine aspect of our psyche is accessed to allow safe passage into and out from the labyrinth of our sub-conscious. The integration of the feminine into the psyche of the male hero allows him to defeat the shadow, the bestial, untamed side of himself, maintaining balance and health between opposites.
There are other interesting dynamics at play within this tale. It is Ariadne’s father, Minos, who creates the Labyrinth and demands the sacrifices, yet she helps to put a stop to it. Later, Theseus’ inaction leads to the death of his father. He also takes Ariadne with him but soon abandons her. She is consoled by Dionysus; another interesting layer if we consider what Dionysus represents and think about the Maenads. It is almost as if in the same way that the hero, Theseus, has had to tame his wildman nature, the quest of the heroine is to be introduced to wildness, to her inner wild, untamed aspect, to integrate that part of herself into an organised and, up to that point, controlled psyche.
Theseus eventually is killed by being thrown into the sea. The element of water is, traditionally, linked with emotion.

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