Thus it was that Parsifal began his pilgrimage - Ferdinand Leeke
In the Grail legend, the king can only be restored to health if a knight of conspicuous excellence finds the castle and, seeing what goes on there, asks a certain question.
The wound born by the king is symbolic of the fissure between the higher self and the personal self.
The wounded king is symbolic of the incomplete self.
The wound will only be healed when the Grail question is asked.
But first - what is the Grail?
I am at one with Emma Jung’s understanding of the Grail.
The Grail, available only to one worthy to share in what it offers, is thought by some to be the vessel which held the Christ’s blood (his essence, his soul substance), hidden by Joseph of Arimathea after the Christ’s death. This vessel, for Jung, 'signifies the whole psychic man as a realisation of divinity reaching right down into matter'. She identifies this, in Jungian terms, as the Self—that inner guide that is God’s voice, 'the hidden disposition to wholeness which slumbers in the depths of the unconscious of each person.' The Grail story is itself a projection of the Self as an inner centre, unrealised by and inaccessible to those trapped in the medieval mindset.
The Grail ‘signifies a stage of development of the human spirit, when man is no longer satisfied with the materialistic view or with the effectiveness of working things, but goes beyond this and endows the concrete with a symbolic meaning.'
To assert the Grail as the self means that to ask - ‘who am I?’ is the Grail question.
We who ask the question are all Perceval.
Perceval went on many a misguided adventure, lost many battles, made wrong turns in the woods, and, certainly, didn’t ask the question when he had the chance. All of these adventures are explored and given their true place.The journey is not a straight line. We all know about that.
In Wagner’s rendition of the legend as Parsifal, Klingsor, the black magician, beclouds the divine judgment of man.
Nevertheless, Parsifal’s descent into the physical plane (into materialism) is where he gains both experience and knowledge.
When asked where he comes from, Parsifal answers: 'Through error and the path of suffering I came; . . . An evil curse drove me about in trackless wandering, never to find the way to healing; numberless dangers, battles, and conflicts forced me from my path even when I thought I knew it.'
And what was the evil curse? In Wagner’s rendition it was Klingsor. And what was Klingsor or symbolic of? The Demiurgic veil, or, more specifically in my case, Spinozism and its offshoot, Marxism.
Parsifal returns clad in black armour, which Wagner regarded as a symbol of will power, the fighting strength of the personal self. He saw the conquest of the powers of illusion as an act requiring personal effort and struggle - the assertion of the higher will in the midst of personal, earthly life.
The Grail, says Jung, is the principle of individuation available within each person. 'As threads of fabric are woven into a pattern, so the Self as a living garment of divinity is woven out of the many decisions and crises, in themselves possibly insignificant, by which we are affected in the course of our lives.' Individuation comes one person at a time, not to the collective, 'for only in the individual are opposites reconciled and united.'
Only in the individual is the wound born by the king healed.
And I agree with Jung that out of the descent into materialism emerges the divine self.
Perceval’s quest, spiral though it was, was that of 'redeeming the Spirit of God in matter, under the guidance of the Self, the ‘inner Christ’ . . . . to discover the form in which the essential psychic life of Christ continues to exist and what that means.' This Grail is concerned with 'carrying on Christ’s effectiveness in this world,' as a vessel through which the divine can have its way.
The inner Christ is Logos incarnated.
This is the Grail.
The Grail is there to be discovered, but first the individual must ask the Grail question - ‘who am I?’
© John Dunn.