Tag 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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The Quest.

The mythology that fascinates me the most is that of the Quest for the Grail. Even as a young child, that word Quest held some enchantment, even before I knew what it meant. It is a body of mythology that I imagine I shall return to in future posts, but for now I will begin with this:

One aspect of the Grail is that it is said to be everywhere. Indeed, it is right next to the seeker but he does not see it…until he is ready to see it or has asked the right question.
The potential existence of some form of energy everywhere is an interesting development within quantum theory. The work of Einstien, and later, the quantum and particle physicists have explored this area of zero-point field, dark matter, the internal workings of the atom, etc.

An exploration into the concept of an underlying force within everything. It has long been accepted that energy and mass are manifestations of the same basic essence. They just resonate at different frequencies. The electro-magnetic force which binds particles, essentially, being stronger in things with more mass, acting as the “glue” which holds that mass together and which we perceive as solid.The author Danah Zohar has some interesting points regarding this in her book The Quantum Self with reference to Bose-Einstein condensates and more recent literature concerning how the brain functions with regard to emotions also points to a field of energy that exists within and without.

The fascinating aspect for me is the similarity of these scientific findings with the teachings of such spiritual traditions as Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism.

Chi, Ki, Prana, the Tao.

This underlying source of all things has been a significant part within these teachings, used on a practical/spiritual level with things such as Feng Shui, Acupunture, and Yoga and also including practices such as meditation, divination and harmonious living.

Living in the Tao is living in harmony with the universal energy.

Balancing Chakra energy is living in harmony with the universal energy.

Attaining the Grail is….you guessed it!

I firmly believe that the original grail mythology was the Northern European version of these teachings. There is only one universal truth, we just find different ways to express it. As the author Derek Bryce said in his book The Mystical Way and the Arthurian Quest; We all climb the same mountain to reach the summit, we just see different slopes up to it depending on the direction from which we come. We reach the top with different stories, different experiences, different views, but we have all climbed the same mountain. Once we are at the summit, we should share those views with mutual regard, honour and respect because only when we do share our experiences can we know the whole mountain.

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