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Wednesday, February 27, 2013



By courtesy of Charles Hooey.

Parsifal, La Scala, 1914


Edoardo di Giovanni's arrival at La Scala was auspicious.

When he showed up, Edoardo di Giovanni was offered, no less, the title rôle in Parsifal that was  to be given for the first time in a staged format at La Scala. (Borgatti had presented Act II, unstaged, at La Scala, back in 1903, and of course Borgatti was the first "Parsifal" in Italy when the opera opened on Jan. 1 1914 at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna -- Vaccari created the role in Rome later that day).

After the opening performance of "Parsifal" (staged version) at La Scala on 9 January 1914, sung in Italian of course, the accolades poured in, these words being typical.

One review went as folows.

Parsifal made a sudden entrance on the scene, after the death of the swan, and truly he was a Parsifal one had read about in the poem - tall, young, handsome, innocent, covered in a brief tunic.

The tenor Edoardo di Giovanni had understood the character.

Every detail was studied and digested and presented with the greatest dignity.

Edoardo di Giovanni's voice possesses a warm timbre and he has a fine appearance, his manner of phrasing is very clean.

Later Edoardo di Giovanni confided to an accompanist how he was visited backstage by the young and enthusiastic critic of the socialist newspaper L’Avanti.

The chunky press representative who so admired Edoardo di Giovanni’s singing was none other than Benito Mussolini!

During the run of twenty-seven performances, Lucy Weidt sang Kundry at the outset.

When Lucy Weidt left to fill engagements in Berlin, her replacement was Margot Kaftal, a Polish soprano already known at La Scala.

“She only made the public appreciate Weidt to whom full justice had not been done,” commented Bebe.

Carlo Galeffi sang Amfortas at the outset but he gave way to Angelo Scandiani.

Bebe’s verdict:

“A sad change.”

In order to free up Edoardo di Giovanni so he could study his rôle in Alfano’s new opera, management brought in the great Italian Wagnerian, now semi-retired, Giuseppe Borgatti to sing Parsifal but he failed to please.

The call went out to bring the young tenor back so he returned to earn even greater plaudits.

At about this time for Columbia, Edoardo recorded two selections from Parsifal in Italian:

“Es starrt der Blick” and “Nür eine Waffe taugt.”

PARSIFAL -- masculinities -- Parsifal as championing celibacy


Opera, Sex and Other Vital Matters - Pagina 145 - Risultati da Google Libri

Paul Robinson - 2002 - Literary Collections
Parsifal, of course, champions celibacy. It is the guilty recantation of a libertine entering male menopause, the sort of renunciatory gesture that has become a ...

PARSIFAL -- masculinity


All the male knight characters emerge from this circle; Kundry never crosses the river. ... He becomes a sexual ascetic after refusing Kundry's seduction.

Forbidden Parsifal -- masculinity -- the 1939 ban


The 1939 Ban on Parsifal

www.monsalvat.no/banned.htmCopia cache - Simili - Traduci questa paginaCondividi
Condiviso su Google+. Visualizza il post.
Why were performances of Wagner's 'Parsifal' either forbidden or ... renounce sexual union with a woman and join an enclosed, all-male, religious community.

MASCULINITY -- PARSIFAL -- the chaste hero -- the hero's heterosexual chastity as the basis for his virtue


Painted Men in Britain, 1868-1918: Royal Academicians and ... - Pagina 90 - Risultati da Google Libri

Jongwoo Jeremy Kim - 2012 - Art
Royal Academicians and Masculinities Jongwoo Jeremy Kim. Parsifal offers a model of a hero whose heterosexual chastity is the basis of his virtue. Yet, in ... bloom of peach or purple grape" do not have conventionally masculine associations.



He: Understanding Masculine Psychology, Based on the Legend of Parsifal and His Search for the Grail, Using Jungian Psychological Concepts.


PARSIFAL: Masculinities -- TENORE EROICO -- related to debates on MASCULINITY


Our future historians will cull from still unpublished letters and memoirs ... the idea that the performances at Bayreuth had really much the status of religious rites and that their effects were not unlike what is technically called a revival.

--Vernon Lee (1911: 875)

The idea that there is something religious about Bayreuth is not new, and goes well beyond cliches about opera houses as the "cathedrals of the bourgeoisie."

The words used to describe the festival by Wagnerians and anti-Wagnerians alike have often been consciously religious.

One makes a pilgrimage to the holy site, there are acolytes who serve the holy work and the orthodoxy, heretics are excommunicated--the comparisons are all too obvious. Friedrich Nietzsche referred to this phenomenon in a letter to his friend Malwida von Meysenburg when he suggested that "all this Wagnerizing" was "an unconscious emulation of Rome" (Fischer-Dieskau 1974:202). Even in more recent times, after the moral, ideological, and organizational disasters that the festival was caught up in during the twentieth century, the skies above the Festspielhaus were scoured for signs of the white smoke announcing which member of the dysfunctional clan was to succeed the composer's grandson Wolfgang Wagner.

If this musical Vatican has a central rite, it is surely Parsifal.

Not an opera or a music drama but a "Buhnenweihfestspiel" (a "stage-festival-consecration-play" -- or "dramma mistico in tre atti", as the metrical translation goes), Wagner's last work leaves the cheerful paganism of the Ring far behind. (1) The composer had toyed with aspects of Christianity as far back as Tannhauser, but in Parsifal he went much further, almost to the point, many believed, of creating opera as sacrament. Since the Second World War, controversies about the piece have been essentially political, but it was its religious content that most engaged contemporaries.

At the time of the 1882 premiere much ink was spilt about whether the piece was Catholic or Protestant, or even Christian at all. There were plenty of Wagnerites who saw it as a profound new kind of religious experience, but other observers saw the work as heretical at best and out-and-out pagan at worst.

The plot of Parsifal certainly offered Christian and secular critics a lot to talk about.

Amfortas, the king of the Grail Knights, has been stabbed in the side (testicles) by the magic spear that pierced Christ's side on the Cross.

This morbid penetration is a symbolic punishment for his weakness in the face of seduction by Kundry, a kind of female Ahaserus, a woman doomed to wander the earth after mocking Christ's Passion.

The Knights guard the Holy Grail, but, as with the legend of the Fisher King, their kingdom is as sick as their king.

Only the "Pure Fool" (as the erroneous etymythology from Arabian reads) can bring redemption.

In the first act Parsifal stumbles upon the Grail Kingdom, experiences the ritual of the unveiling of the grail, but does not yet understand its message.

In the next act he resists Kundry's attempts to seduce him, achieving compassionate wisdom at the moment they kiss.

Parsifal then takes the spear from Klingsor, the castrated evil wizard whom Kundry serves, makes the sign of the cross and destroys his castle.

In the third act, Parsifal returns to the Grail Kingdom on Good Friday after many years of wandering. Kundry washes his feet and the oldest of the Grail Knights, Gurnemanz, anoints him the new King of the Grail.

In the final scene, Amfortas refuses to reveal the grail and begs to be killed, but Parsifal heals and redeems him with the spear, orders the unveiling of the grail, at which point Kundry dies, redeemed, and a white dove descends above Parsifal's head. Thus, although Jesus is never named as such, Christian imagery suffuses the whole work.

The debate on the work's religious character occurred in the context of a fierce ideological struggle between church and state in the aftermath of the so-called Kulturkampf, which Bismarck had launched to establish the supremacy of the Protestant Prussian order over a united German Reich that had a very large Catholic population, including French and Polish minorities.

The new state demanded that priests pass state exams, made church weddings legal only when registered with the state, and excluded the Jesuits from Germany. This "Culture-War" was arguably the most important political issue in Germany in the 1870s and 1880s, with dozens of Catholic priests imprisoned for refusing to accept the authority of the state in Church affairs. (2) There was even an assassination attempt against Bismarck by a Catholic. The death of Pius IX in 1878 calmed the atmosphere to some extent, but relations with the Vatican were only re-established in 1882. There was a strong ideological dimension to this struggle, as the progress, masculinity, and rationality associated with Protestantism were contrasted with the supposed reactionary, effeminate, and mystical nature of Catholicism and other "irrational" creeds. The medical profession, and psychiatry in particular, was one element in the new secular/Protestant Germany that was especially hostile to religious enthusiasm (Schwarmerei), particularly within the Catholic Church. "Rational" Christianity, as a bulwark of moral behavior, was all very well, but religious enthusiasm was scorned by mainstream medicine.

Thus, far from simply making Wagner more respectable, Parsifal's religious tone also gave it dangerous associations.

It became a key element in the emerging medical-moral critique of Wagner's operas as degenerate, which can be seen in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Nordau, Eduard Hanslick, and many other writers, journalists, and psychiatrists, and which later provided the psychiatric rhetoric for the Nazi concept of degenerate music. In this context it is striking that although the debate was ostensibly about religion and pathology, issues of willpower and masculinity were never far away. The strange lack of willpower of Parsifal, the "Pure Fool," and the opera's Schopenhauerian renunciation ethic seemed to compare unfavorably with the straightforward "healthy" manliness of Siegfried. Combined with the opera's sensual and mystical ritualistic pomp, and its touch of occult art-religion, this led again to imputations of effeminacy and references to the developing medical discourse on homosexuality in discussions of Parsifal.

Anxiety about masculinity is at the heart of the "diagnosis" of the religious character of Wagner's last work as degenerate, as the expression of a pathological mystical outlook.

We look at this important and neglected aspect of Wagner reception, examining the complex relationship between medicine, religion, and Parsifal.

In considering the religious aspect of the debate on Parsifal, we are in line with broader trends in historiography.

Whereas twentieth-century scholars tended to downplay the influence of religious ideas on events, contemporary historians (who have seen the supposed decline of religion as a historical force dramatically reversed) are increasingly taking religion more seriously.

The first section looks at the debate on the denominational character of the piece, its odd mixture of Catholic sensuality and ritualism and Protestant elements.

This is followed by an analysis of the way that Parsifal's Catholic elements gave it associations of degeneration and effeminacy for contemporaries.

Next, we discuss the position of Parsifal's religiously-tinged Schopenhauerian Pessimism in the light of psychiatry and Nietzsche's notion of the will, both of which used medical language to denounce its renunciation ethic as pathological and effeminate.

Finally, I will look at the way that Wagner's own "art-religion" was received in esoteric circles, and how that too was related to debates on masculinity and degeneration.

How Catholic is Parsifal?
Wagner's last work is his most theatrical ... the art of the theater is already baroque, it is Catholicism, it is the Church; and an artist like Wagner, used to dealing with symbols and elevating monstrances, must have ended by feeling like a brother of priests, like a priest himself.--Thomas Mann ([1933] 1985:94-95)

Wagner himself was brought up as a Protestant and his letters and prose are full of verbal assaults on the Catholic Church, especially the Jesuits. For him, as for many "progressive" Protestants of the nineteenth century, the Catholic Church represented political reaction and obscurantism. Even in 1878, Wagner said it was a "scandal" that the Catholic Church still existed, and called it the "plague of the world" (C. Wagner 1977, vol. 2:224-25). (3) Nevertheless there are parts of Wagner's work that clearly show Catholic influence, if not as an ally, then perhaps as a rival. As Wagner makes clear in Mein Leben, he had been accused of Catholic tendencies long before Parsifal, especially at the time of the premiere of Tannhauser:

It was just at that time when the German-Catholic agitation, set in motion by Czersky and Ronge as a highly Liberal and meritorious movement, was causing a great commotion. It was made out that by Tannhauser I had provoked a reactionary tendency, and that precisely as Meyerbeer with his Huguenots had glorified Protestantism, so I with my latest opera would glorify Catholicism. The rumor that in writing Tannhauser I had been bribed by the Catholic party was believed for a long time. (Wagner [1870-1880] 1963:378)

This lack of clarity in questions of doctrine is borne out in Cosima's comments on Wagner's religious beliefs. On January 30, 1880, she recorded in her diary that Wagner admitted to a Christianity "released from all denominations" (1977, vol. 2:224-25)4 Such ecumenical aspirations would prove especially difficult at a time when confessional divisions were extremely politicized in the Kulturkampf, as Protestantism in discourse established itself as the patriotic and masculine denomination, in contrast to the effeminate and ultramontane (i.e., pro-Vatican) tendencies of Catholicism.

Wagner was told all about Catholic Mass by a Benedictine monk in Munich, who later outlined the experience in his book Die Errinnerungen des Paters Petrus Hamp. Parsifal's emphasis on the symbol over the word, and of the grail over any doctrine, has clear connections to Catholicism, as does its dialectic of shame and grace--the core of much of the Catholicism espoused by self-declared decadents in particular. Some Catholics viewed Parsifal very positively, and without appealing to decadent elements in any way. For example, Abbe Marcel Hebert's Das religiose Geftihl im Werke Richard Wagners (1895) and Michel Domenech Espanyol's L'apotheose de la religion catholique: Parsifal de Wagner (1902J both strongly argued that Parsifal was a Catholic work in the most positive sense.
The Protestant critic Johannes Hermann Wallfisch agreed that it was a Catholic piece, but took a much more hostile view, seeing the adoration of the grail as nothing but Catholic idolatry. He asked, "What do we children of the Reformation, the Bible in our hands, want with the grail?" (1914:9). (5) Similarly, an anonymous Social Democrat in the Frankische Tagespost in 1882 accused Wagner of siding with the Jesuits in Parsifal (Grossman-Vendry 1977-83:67), and in the Anglo-Irish writer George Moore's novel Evelyn Innes Monsignor Martyn denounces Parsifal as "a parody of the Mass" (Moore 1898:298).

Wagner's most famous critic (and former acolyte), Friedrich Nietzsche, reserved his greatest hostility for Wagner's last work, in which he sensed not only an ascetic Pessimism, but also "a certain Catholicism of feeling," not a positive thing for the son of a Protestant pastor (1973:135).6 A poem in Der Fall Wagner gets straight to the point:

      Is that still German?
Did this sensuous screech come from a German heart?
This tearing-oneself-apart from a German body?
This priest's hands spreading, German?
The incense sensuality?
German this falling, faltering, dizzying
This sugar-sweet ding-donging?
This nun's ogling, ave bell-ringing?
This entirely wrong over-heavening of heaven?
Is that still German?
Think! You are still at the gate ... What
you hear is Rome, Rome's faith without words! (7)

Nietzsche did not necessarily believe that Wagner's "new" Christian faith was sincere. At heart he suspected Wagner of kowtowing to the weaknesses of the German public.



He: Understanding Masculine Psychology (Perennial Library) [Paperback]
Robert A. Johnson 

 He, by Robert A. Johnson

A fascinating discussion of the male maturation process, using the story of Parsifal and Jungian concepts.

The writer has a gift of explaining abstract concepts in lay language. ”

This small book actually began with 10 lectures given by Robert Johnson at an Episcopal Church.

Thus they are concise and do not offer a broad array of examples.

We found the book to be excellent and found it much more to the point that Emma Jung's long study of the Holy Grail myth in all it permutations.

Of course, as a Jungian, Johnson sees mythology as reflecting underlying psychological and spiritual processes that take place in the human psyche.

These myths are spontaneous images from the unconscious and contain both psychological and spiritual truths.

Myths allow the interaction of archetypes, which are patterns of life that are universally true for humans. Myths are to mankind as dreams are to an individual.

Therefore a dream shows the dreamer a truth about themselves whereas the myth shows mankind a truth that applies to all of us.

Individuation is a process that Jung describes as a life long movement toward wholeness and completion. It involves the life long expansion of consciousness and the ability of the conscious ego or personality to reflect the total self.

One interpretation of Jesus Christ is that of a man who has been able to allow the unconscious to fill up the self and be always present in the personality. Because God the Father moves through and emerges in the world through the human unconsious, Christ may say that he and the Father are one.

A primary first step in the individuation process is the confrontation with the Shadow. Actually the confrontation with various aspects of the Shadow continue throughout a lifetime, but the first encounter is usually of great psychological power.

The negative repressed side of the personality, that longs for acceptance and integration, continually follows the ego until the strength is mustered to face the shadow, accept the shadow, and then integrate the shadow into the personality which increases the energy and strength of the personality/psyche because energy is no longer used to suppress the shadow.

After the shadow is integrated, many people then may develop to the point where they can integrate the anima/animus, which is the characteristics of the opposite sex into their more complete psyche.

It is here that Johnson points out the Parsifal and
his quest for the Holy Grail is in fact a myth of the
male reconciliation with the anima who becomes a
 guide and leads him to the Grail.

Here Emma Jung and Robert Johnson would have slightly different interpretations of the Holy Grail myth.

Whereas both see the anima as being essential to reaching the Grail, Johnson believes the integration of the feminine, the Anima, is a major and tricky task for young men.

Also, whereas Emma Jung saw the grail as serving mankind as an expanded consciousness through which much psychic material may now flow; Johnson sees that the grail serves mankind through and expanded consciousness but also serves God because it is through this expanded consciousness that God flows into human interactions and becomes real and active in the world. This is a philosophical and theological issue of great importance.

The first question is: Is God an active participant in the world and in the lives of men? Johnson goes beyond Deism, which would acknowledge God acting through nature, and would assert that God acts through the unconscious of mankind and it is through expanded and integrated consciousness that God becomes real in the world of men.

Thus the Grail, the symbol of the accessible unconscious, serves man and God. This is the key to both Emma Jung's and Robert Johnson's work. She would emphasize that the Grail serves man and Johnson would emphasize that the Grail serves God, but both would acknowledge that the Grail serves both.

This is the point of Johnson's book but he takes you down many fruitful trails to reach this point.

We will point out some of these paths:

The Fisher King (Amfortas) has wounds (in the testicles) so severe that he cannot live, yet he is incapable of dying.

The kingdom is dependent on the virility and power of its rule.

As an adolescent, the Fisher King is burned on the fingers when he tries to eat hot broiled Salmon.

He touches the divine part of his own unconscious but it is too hot for his consciousness to handle.

He touches his individuation but can not hold it.

His life becomes barren, his wound in the testicle never heals, and he can not cure himself even though he and the Grail are in the same castle.

The fool must come to cure the king.

Parsifal is the holy fool, the innocent, who emerges from the forrest nieve and full of creative possibilities.

He is entraced by the knights and longs to become one.

He must break with his poor heartbroken mother, Heartsorrow, on his journey to be a man.

All men must be somewhat disloyal to their mother on the path to manhood and toward individuation.

His first quest is to fight the Red Knight and gain his armour.

He kills the Red Knight and thus takes on masculine power,
courage and virility.

However when he gets on the Red Knights' horse, he can't steer or stop it but must let it run its course.

This is the symbol of a young man's first forray into the world of power where forces can be let loose which no one can control.

Johnson points out that a boy gets his red Knight armour by taking it from someone else.

This is the way of young male competetion.

But a man must not carry the young male competitiveness throughout life, he must move beyond the Red Knight.

A young male moves beyond the red Knight when he learns to master his own aggression.

So every young man must defeat the Red Knight, take on the armour of power, aggression, virility, strength, courage, but must also not let these attributes consume the entire psyche.

Parsifal gets a mentor

-- Gournamond -- who teaches him chivalry and the skills of knighthood.

He also tell Parsifal that he must seek the Holy Grail, the ture vocation of all knights, that he must not seduce or be seduced by a woman, and that he must ask "Whom does the Grail serve?" at the right moment in the castle of the Fisher King.

There are many women in the story who play various aspects of the Anima, but it is White Flower and the Ugly Hag (whose veil Perceval pierces) who play critical roles as the positive and negative anima, each with a part to play.

The book ends with a really good explanation of why the Holy Grail serves the Grail King (God) and also serves Parsifal. Parsifal asks the question and the Fisher King is healed immediately, he becomes whole.

But God now has a path, a window, into the world of Man and thus the Grail ultimately served God's purposes.

Even though this interpretation of the Holy Grail story is more Christian in interpretation than that of Emma Jung, both are fantastic and insightful reading.

A very pleasant and quite interesting little book analyzing the story of parsifal and the castle of the grail through the lens of male psychology.

Though it's treatment of the mythological story seems quite conscise it seems to fail to really bind this and it's psychological interpretations to any tangible real world experience of my male psyche. In a way it is to abstract, not tying things back to reality.

Thus it offered so far (finished it a few hours ago) no real insights or answers.

How many questions and different ways to look at things and approaches to take as well as those experiences of catching your inner world tricking you it will induce will have to be seen.
All in all at 80 pages and it's small format a very pleasant and worthwile read.
A note about another reviewer's complaint about it being heavy on preachy christianism. I am normally quite allergic to christian preachyness in 'unrelated' books like these. And though I have noticed slight hints thereof, it is by no way as bad as the reviewer makes it look like.

Robert Johnson is a life changer. I have read everything he has done several times. HE and SHE should be a required read for everyone.

I recommend you read the book on your own sex first so that you become familiar with Johnson's style before prying into the opposite sex's mind. :)

If you find some of the other self help books too trite and not very thought provoking, Robert Johnson is for you!

an eye opener for those who are willing to look deep inside, could not put down the book. Very thought provoking.

You know the saying that the best gifts come in small packages? Well this is very true about this book. In fact many of his books. Read more

Myths and legends form powerful expressions of our humanity. It would seem that the most enduring of them are likely so powerful because they tap into some elemental truth of our... Read more

 The mythic adventure of the hero
I have enjoyed Robert A Johnson's other books -- She: Understanding Feminine Psychology; Inner work: Using active imagination; and Owning your own shadow. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Cammy P
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
As a 30 year old male this is one of the simplest and best self-help books I've read.

Not that its a problem but a lot of other self help is steeped within the... Read more

3.0 out of 5 stars Understanding happiness muddled by occasional religious blather
I found the basic teaching of this book about happiness enlightening. Understanding we cannot find or pursue happiness. We simply choose happiness by living in the "happening. Read more
Published 19 months ago by anon
5.0 out of 5 stars He - Understanding Masculine Psychology

Robert Johnson's review of masculinity in this book is critical to any person pursuing a transformation of their masculinity.

Published 20 months ago by San Francisco Therapy
4.0 out of 5 stars Short but Provocative Read
I found this very brief book quite provocative.

Some of the myth's metaphors are well-explained while others are only mentioned in passing. Read more
Published on January 10, 2011 by T. R. Corcoran
2.0 out of 5 stars At least it's short

This book doesn't speak to me at all. I agree with Robert A. Johnson that legends and myths, as well as great works of literature, correspond to the human condition--after all,... Read more
Published on September 19, 2010 by David Bonesteel
4.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating

The Arthurian legend, the quest for the Holy Grail, and particularly that of the Knight Parsifal, illustrate the patterns of male psychology, the journey we go through, the twists... Read more
Published on July 18, 2009 by L. Power
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Giorgio Grossi, "PARSIFAL" -- masculinity


Ofelia e Parsifal. Modelli e differenze di genere nel mondo dei media

di Giorgio Grossi, Elisabetta Ruspini

Parsifal: wounded masculinity


By courtesy of Richard A. Sanderson M.Ed., B.A (Psych).

There is a particular soul need in western minds for good to triumph over evil in our external world.

Seldom do we internalize this soul need in terms of our own daily actions, thoughts and feelings.

The mythic underpinnings of today's western world can be found in legends and myths of the 12th century.

The medieval knights, their chivalry and heroic duty was to find out evil doers and run them through with their sword of righteousness.

"Good" versus "Evil", no less!

Dragons and particularly the "infidel" (unbaptized men) were specifically targeted as the foe as they were usually holding a land or castle under tyranny.

This sounds so familiar in light of the "Manhattan terrorist attack", September 11, 2001.

The task of our work is to take the current suffering of man as an interior event (as something all men have in common) and not to blame someone outside for this or that.

Without looking first at ourselves as men, there is little chance of enhancing man's consciousness and ability to relate wholly to one another.

A retelling of the most famous and effective myth of "Parsifal and the Fisher King" (that Wagner sets to music, as it were) is the backdrop for this intended healing work.
Original medieval versions of "Parsifal" by Chretien de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach have echoed down through time and many versions have been written such is its attraction.
The myth of Parsifal (or Per-kyfaill, if we must speak Gaulish) perennially enlivens mans consciousness, fuels his desire to be whole and is called a "living myth".
In the retelling we have not found it necessary to look at each incident and adventure of Parsifal, but to choose those aspects pertaining to healing hero's MASCULINITY. 
We undertook this work as part of our ongoing healing journey and out of disappointment that there are so few healthy models for boys and men to emulate!
A contemporary man's whole sense of self-worth and potency in this world is often based on his own and others perception of his masculinity-sexuality.
James Wyly (1987) discusses that the central core to most men is
"his phallus, his libido, his sense of potency and ability to potentiate his own destiny, to create himself in accord with his inner image".

The Parsifal myth is a medieval "man's story"
of restoring unity to misaligned masculinity
and for men to start filling the emptiness that
results from adherence to collective sexual values.
The myth is a tale so worth retelling and reading for today's modern man.
Women will go "ah ha"!
The quest, or striving to merge with the fountain of one's life, is our innate desire to be wholesome and happy.
In this sense we are all on the same quest as our hero Parsifal.
Men are indeed modern heroes as each day we set off on this quest to be happy.
The main players in the myth:
The main players are Parsifal, a young man from Wales, if you must. Gaulish: Per-kyfaill.
The Fisher King the king of the Holy Grail Castle.
Kundry, the queenly, mysterious, mystic woman (a female counterpart of Merlin).
Parsifal's mother Herzeleide, who carries the sorrow of Parsifal's father's actions.
Parsifal's father, Gamuret, a man equally wounded and absent in Parsifal's life.
The Holy Grail (a unity with God), that bestows life and love upon the kingdom.
The Grail Castle, a castle and kingdom "hidden" amidst the mists from all whom cannot see.
Lastly, the forces of destruction "the dark side", that strives to pervert the flowing of The Holy Grail.
At the heart of the Grail Castle a Holy Spear and a Holy Chalice lay.
The two divine implements are needed daily for The Holy Grail enactment, the eternal task of bringing light into the kingdom.
For that light is the source of the cycle of life and death.
The two divine implements represent the masculine and feminine principles which when combined in perfect wholeness produce light into the kingdom of the Fisher King.
The Holy Chalice represents the feminine aspect of feeling and beauty that both contains and transforms.
The chalice in christianized versions is that which Jesus used at the Last Supper, containing the wine and later his blood.

Longinus's Spear.
The Holy Spear represents the masculine strength required to stand ‘erect' and guard the precious Grail.
The Holy Spear in Christianized versions, is the same spear that pierced the side of Christ on the cross (perhaps it pierced Christ's testicles?).
Each day every knight of the inner order (of the Arthurian tradition) would renew his oath to defend the Grail with his very life and affirm his service to the Holy Grail.
The Grail Castle has fallen upon hard times.
The spear has been stolen.
The Fisher King was wounded in his TESTICLES by the Holy Spear as it was being stolen.
The King was described as being henceforth ‘too ill to live but not ill enough to die' (the modern malaise).
In some versions of the Parsifal myth it speaks of Grail Castle disunity, as specific knights use all manner of trickery, temptations and illusions to corrupt specifically The Fisher King and ultimately The Holy Grail (the unity with God).
Kundry, the mysterious sorceress within the Grail Castle was also corrupted and trapped as a result of the demise of the Grail Castle.
Kundry was then used to help overcome good knights, using such weapons as temptation and other alluring appeals.
As myth had it, many knights had tried to win back the spear but were all corrupted by the forces of the "dark side".
The wound to The Fisher King, via a spear through his testicles (to the tenderest part of the male anatomy), signifies a wounding to man's sense of potency and his self-esteem.
The wounding in this "private part" of himself will not heal and equates to The Fisher Kings "Fall from Grace" (the noble part of the king has fallen from grace).
The Fisher King is metaphorically expelled from the Garden of Eden (The Holy Grail).
Interestingly, The Fisher King only gets relief from his pain when he is fishing, meaning, doing reflective work on himself.
The Fisher King's kingdom has been laid to waste, the meadows and flowers are dried up and the waters shrunken.
The suggestion is that any malaise to the king is mirrored in his kingdom.
This implies that if there is a wound to the "kingly-inner man", then the whole personality (his whole world) will be troubled!
As if by magic, whenever the Fisher King is healed the lands surrounding the king will be healed instantly.
The healing of the king and kingdom will only take place with the coming of "the good grail knight" an "innocent fool" (Parsifal, according to an erroneous etymythology from the Arabian that Wagner followed) who will restore health to the Fisher King, his land, its people by asking a specific question.
Merlin is thought to have prophesied that a pure knight who will do mighty deeds of arms, of bounty and of nobility will ask the perplexing question "whom does the grail serve"?
We wish to emphasize that Parsifal was attitudinally innocent and pure and NOT PHYSICALLY PURE IN A CELIBATE SENSE or way.
Parsifal was brought up in the instinctual realm of the forest and would not have acquired puritanical injunctions against the beauty and naturalness of sexual activity.
Should the "pure knight" fail to ask the question, then everything will remain wasted and the knight in question will have to leave the Grail Castle to search and learn.
Should Parsifal finally learn, then again he may return to The Grail Castle and ask the question.
The king and kingdom will then be restored to health, as the waters of life will run.
The spear that caused the wounding is so integral to this myth and the healing process for men.
The spear represents the masculine integrity and feeling aspect which has been stolen and without it there is no protection, no "holding" for the Holy Grail to re-emerge.
In psychology, author Robert Johnson has observed that
"the Fisher King's wound [to his testicles] is symbolic of men's difficulties in directly intimate and sexual matters."
What's in a name:
Why the Fisher King name?
The fish is such an ancient symbol of the spiritual mysteries of life, the sign of Christ, Christians and "disciples" being "fishers of men".
In Celtic myth, a strong link occurs between the salmon and knowledge.
At breeding time, the salmon returns to the place of its origin, fighting against the flow of the river, in order to breed (to create).
The crude expression ‘that man is born out of the vagina and spends the rest of his life trying to get back in there' (return to wholeness) takes on a new significance in this light.
This is understood as a troubled human soul (in man), perpetually struggling to reconcile itself to itself.
Astrologically the myth is also set in the dualistic Piscean Age (symbolized as two fishes) of man's current stage of evolution on this earth.
Parsifal's mother, Herzeleide was a "queen of two kingdoms," supposedly North and South Wales, which may have meant of spiritual and material realms.
Wales had retained integrity and honor long before the English Knights emerged with their codes of chivalry.
Herzeleide was just widowed when she gave birth to her son Parsifal.
Herzeleide, meaning "heart's sorrow" left her noble home to live in a forester's cottage far away.
She feared that a fate, which killed her husband, would overtake her son, so she raised him to know nothing of knighthood and to be ignorant of his name and heritage.
How many mothers try to instil in their son's integrity,
to guard them from the foolhardiness of their fathers?
She specifically instructed him to be courteous to all women and not to ask too many questions!
There is mystery surrounding the identity and heritage of Parsifal's father and Parsifal grew up without a father (an absent father), which is often the case for today's youth.
However, Parsifal's father was allegedly Gamuret and some versions say he was the Fisher King's brother.
The young knight Gamuret decided to journey to the Middle East to seek his glory and fortune, as was the want of many a true knight.
After winning a great victory in a tournament he attracted Belakane, the dusky Queen of Zazamanc.
They fell in love and were married.
He shared the throne of Zazamanc for a time, but peaceful court life in a foreign land was not suited to the young warrior and he stole away (ran away).
Following this, Belakane gave birth to Gamuret's first son, Feirefiz, the "piebald" (half-cast), Parsifal's half brother.
Mythically the relationship between Feirefiz and Parsifal implies the great brotherhood of man between all races and cultures.
Gamuret arrived back in Europe and while jousting, his gallantry won him the heart of Herzeleide, Queen of Wales. How many women fall for the exterior gallantry to this day? Herzeleide eventually convinced Gamuret that he should give up the love of the ‘unbaptized/infidel… Queen Belakane' and they were married. Word then reached Gamuret that his old lord, in the Middle East, was facing an invasion by the Babylonians. He returned with glee to assist his old friend and while fighting in the intense heat, Gamuret paused to rest, briefly removing his "charmed" head shield to drink. A lance blow pierced his head. When Queen Herzeleide heard of this, she went to live alone in the forest and gave birth to Parsifal while still mourning for her husband. Herzeleide's, ‘mourning' was in knowing that her husband loved another and was married "albeit illegally to Queen Belakane. His gallantry had amounted to nothing and resulted in grief to all and ultimately death to himself. His "gallantry and charm" was bravado and empty, as there was no relatedness to either, Herzeleide in Europe, Belakane in the Middle East, or to his young sons!
Then Parsifal comes of age.
During Parsifal's upbringing, his youthful years were spent in the forest.
"He grew up handsome, strong, athletic, but with his rational thinking largely undeveloped".
"He was later called "simple" or "innocent fool", not because he was indeed unintelligent, but for his guileless innocence, his simple perceptions and faith" (Oderberg, I.M., 1978).
It is also speculated that being brought up in the forest with such a ‘queenly' mother, that he was able to see into the mysteries of the "inner" world. Ultimately he would bring his instinctual knowing into the every day realities of ‘the outer' world.
No sooner had Parsifal "come of age" when he encountered knights riding through the forest.
He was so taken by their godlike appearance, that he immediately wished to become one of them.
He told this to his mother and she wept as she had tried to protect him from the wiles and ways of knights. She begged him to stay with her; but his heart was set, and at last she gave him her blessing to go. Sadly, some versions have it that Herzeleide, Parsifal's mother died shortly after he left.
So off went Parsifal into the world where his naiveté and sincere enthusiasm atoned for his social blunders. He rescued a fair maiden, Blanchfleur, fell in love and "stole her ring". Deflowering of a lovely maiden no less!
Additionally, Parsifal encountered, fought and overcame the infamous red knight. Parsifal did so because the red knight had embarrassed King Arthur and because Parsifal ‘liked the look of his armour'. Parsifal wanted a façade, to bolster his ego and to make a favorable impression. The "facing" of the red knight is the step that young men take, symbolically standing up to the father image, the authority they question and to exert their own emerging masculinity.
However, Parsifal wore his mother's "homespun" garment underneath his ill-gotten armour, which indicates that he had acquired only a knightly exterior! His own inner sense of maleness was still shaky and adolescent! His overcoming of the red knight won him favor and so it was that against all convention, King Arthur eventually knighted Parsifal. However, his simplicity and grace remained intact largely due to his mother, unconventional upbringing and early life. Many adventures subsequently took place for the young knight and eventually ‘as if by chance' he found himself at the bridge leading to the mysterious Grail Castle.
Parsifal is wounded in the Grail Castle.
Youthful enthusiasm, charm and early masculine accomplishments got Parsifal to the drawbridge of the Grail Castle.
He had earned the right to enter the castle and with young eyes filled wide with hope he walked in! Fueled with his desire for fulfilment as a knight and to manifest his deepest hopes, Parsifal enters the magical realm of the Grail Castle. Remember the Grail Castle is an actual mystical experience "hidden" (like the castle itself) amidst the mists from all that cannot see.
It is written in myth that men get two opportunities to enter the Grail Castle.
The first time as youths, a "gratuitous" gift, (given by God?) to let young men experience the potential of their "numinous self". The second Grail Castle opportunity is not gratuitous and coincides with man's mid-life crisis; a time when men re-evaluate their whole lives and hopefully re-discover meaning and potency. To seek the actual outer location of the castle is to miss the point, as it is always near and the two worlds (mystical-inner and outer world) do cross at specific moments through meaningful coincidences and at specific locations.
Inside the castle, Parsifal was astonished at the majesty he saw and he did not understand what was going on. He tries to behave in a fashion according to his mother and knighthood teachings, after all this is the rational way to proceed. There was a hushed expectancy inside the castle, as everyone knew that an "innocent fool" was prophesied to ask the healing question to revive the king and The Grail. A knight asked Parsifal if he knew of the significance of what he had just seen? Other knights chanted as one to themselves for "fulfilment of the prophecy"; that would restore the Holy Grail to there midst. All attention and compassion was focused upon Parsifal and he felt a great stirring within him to speak, but alas he said nothing! He heard the ‘ladies of the court' snigger "he is just a pure fool", laughing audibly and gazing upon a dumbfounded Parsifal. Surely he was not the chosen one they mused! Parsifal again stood motionless and speechless. Another knight rebuked Parsifal with the words "you are just a common simpleton, get gone from here"!
Parsifal had repressed his instinct (his inner voice) to enquire what this entire mysterious world was about; he was just overwhelmed by it all? His mother had taught him not to ask too many questions and Parsifal believed that obedience was a virtue. Remember Parsifal still wore his mother's homespun garment underneath his armour! Parsifal now knew that obedience to his mother's advice and collective opinion had failed him, so he vowed not to ignore his own intuition and instinctual knowing again! But what youth at puberty can do that? Parsifal was ridiculed and deeply wounded by the Grail Castle experience. A heavy blow was taken to his masculinity, his early knighthood dreams of glory and his whole sense of worth as a man. The Grail Castle vanished into the mists and Parsifal found himself back in the world of time and space, on the edge of a forest ‘licking his wounds'.
Every man shares this wounding experience.
How many young men come to this same point as Parsifal in their youth?
Seemingly, every young man experiences a wounded-ness to his masculinity at the time of puberty; a sexual Fisher King wound, one could say?
 "It is painful to watch a young man realize that his world is not just joy and happiness, to watch the disintegration of his childlike beauty, faith, innocence and trust" (Johnson. R. 1989).
This step into maleness, into daily "work related" life is so difficult and often so harsh.
To leave, in a sense, the wonders of a maternal - primordial inner fairy-tale world or internal paradise for a "reality" that is competitive and demanding is a rigorous transition. Puberty initiations in tribal cultures, when boy becomes a man and viable member of the tribe are often via severe and painful rites of passage. Puberty for western young men is an unmarked "rite of passage"; therefore a painful and mainly unguided period of adjustment to early manhood!
The onset of puberty in boys brings them face to face with the physical reality of being a man.
Newly found biological urges and cultural fantasies impact enormously on his sense of self. As boys grow up, their erotic self (largely masturbation) is indirectly condemned to the toilets, posters, pornography and fantasies of his life. This is due to masculine sexuality not being successfully integrated by our cultural structures, family, schools, professional training, religious instruction, etc. This sends sexuality underground into the hidden, shadow, shady part of boy's life. There is often such silence (no healthy discussion about his emerging sexuality) for young men at this time and their sexuality may often be self perceived as being dirty, sinful, disgraceful and hidden from his family's knowing.
"There is a bizarre assumption that masculinity on one level excludes sexuality" (Wyly, J, 1989), as his sexuality is not "openly acknowledged, integrated and clear!"
As a result, young men split-off from themselves and start to act out their sexuality in the shady shadows of their life.
It is speculated here that a boy's puberty experience and wounding stays with him through life, to eventually be consciously redeemed!
Other woundings around the time of puberty further impact on a young man's fragile sense of masculinity.
Such ‘other woundings' are:
boys first love or loneliness, first sexual encounter (often a disaster), parental or ‘authority' sexual abuse, separation/divorce of parents, parental drivenness for them to succeed, being rejected…. not one of the boys, a non-conformist attitude to collective "male standards", being sensitive, different, a non-sporting person in a sports mad country…etc!
Each man has his own story!
Whatever the cause, a young man's sense of maleness can be devastatingly wounded at this time but hopefully not destroyed. Alas, some youths distressingly commit suicide at this point for their life is just too painful. Their wounding is experienced as a loss of meaning, a loss of hope for the future and coupled with devastated self-esteem.
Peter Gabriel in his famous song ‘Don't give up' wrote of the young mans potential suicidal tendency at this time:
"taught to fight, taught to win, I never thought I could lose"……..
"No fight left or so it seems, I am a man whose dreams have all deserted…"
Typically, a young man's dreams have all deserted, he is badly wounded and left feeling worthless. Such a masculine wound is directed to his generative ability; his ability to be creative within himself and externally potent in the world. The young man feels psychologically impotent, with no self-love and therefore little or no capacity to experience his own beauty. He is left with a haunting sense of incompleteness and is too young to face it, as it is too overwhelming. So the young man metaphorically "hides and runs away from the wounded "private part" of himself, much like Parsifal did!
A mighty quest is conceived:
Parsifal, albeit badly wounded inside after his Grail Castle experience, cannot drop his desire for wholeness. He now has to search, learn and find his own way to eventually be worthy to re-enter the Grail Castle for the second time. He conjures up a noble ploy to reinstate himself in the eyes of those who have ‘wounded and ridiculed him". Parsifal muses that returning the spear to the rightful owner will produce healing to the King, redeem himself and restore life to the Kingdom. A mighty quest is conceived! Parsifal was embarrassed and ashamed for not doing the right thing in the castle. Yet the wound has metaphorically ushered Parsifal into the beginning of consciousness, a search in the world, doing the necessary outer (and inner) work as the years go by. Parsifal knew that previous knights had tried to win back the spear but they were corrupted and fell. So his way required courage although his mighty quest may have initially been seen as more "red knight" adventures in the world! Red is symbolically associated with blood; the passionate "desire" for experience in the world. When wounded by his own ignorance, Parsifal bleeds red blood and he causes others to bleed while trying to prove his manhood. So it was that Parsifal leapt onto his horse and charged off to find success.
How young men emulate this.
Modern men charge off hoping to find something that will make them feel good again (heal their masculinity). Many young males seek out more red knight experiences (red sports car experiences?), a persona, of looking good and proving themselves in this world. Young men generally ignore that wounded part of themselves and hope when they achieve this (getting the spear "shiny objects") or that (bedding a fair maiden) then they will feel better and they do but, alas, only for a little while. Boredom, restlessness, emptiness and wounded-ness return! For a quest for outer glory is undertaken largely to inflate an already wounded masculine ego, to bolster self worth, potency and power in this world. How many young men each day over-ride their wounds and just ride off on their daily quest, hoping that this will fill their void?
Our Western culture teaches young men that everything can be reduced to physical possessions, women, money and activities to entertain. Man may seek out woman after woman, however woman alone can never cure man of his deep wound! Generally, men do have the belief of finding the "perfect woman." In this belief he is unconsciously looking for something to give his life the meaning and the beauty he senses is achievable. A familiar problem with western man is that he often falls for the trap that "feminine good looks", equates to him feeling good, a trophy as such. This is a cultural cosmetic lie for both males and females who strive to "capture" the heart of the "good looking one", with little or no regard to relatedness, tenderness and beauty within the person. Man ultimately finds out that it's not possible for his "perfect" woman to redeem his soul, as she is earthly, fallible woman ("cellulite and all").
We are surrounded by sexual images in our western society and most of the time infidelity and casual sex is encouraged. "Sowing one's wild oats" is a culturally endorsed practice for young men and the collective understanding is thus. That if a young man has many sexual encounters he will feel good about himself and will feel like a man.
Then it is assumed that young men will eventually ‘settle down' and be good husbands and fathers. One may ask, what happened to the maidens (all daughters) along the way? This is adolescent masculinity endorsed informally by our culture. Additionally, "the attainment of manhood is often equated with active use of mans phallus" (Monick, E, 1987).
Young men are perhaps too young to do the necessary "inner work" and to oppose collective adolescent masculine ideals, but what is older men's excuse? I attribute ‘adolescent masculinity' to three aspects, namely; the "Don Juan legacy", an un-integrated erotic life and an inability to relate authentically!
"Don Juan" and man's erotic self appear.
Don Juan as a man, was beset by erotic thoughts and pursued the lofty sexual instinct of the moment in the "trickery" of his life. Prolonged intimacy made him fidget and he needed constant sexual stimuli to avoid becoming bored. There exists the same "collective" perception in modern man, that if he beds many women, then he is having a good life, a "good innings." Man's flagging/wounded masculinity is generally inflated by such ‘conquests' and he will often retell of his sexual prowess to other men in order to win their admiration and approval.
Western definitions of masculinity congratulate a man for his "Don Juan" trickery, his coolness, rational process, dispassionate reasoning and outsmarting others. Robert Johnson (1989) said, "it is eloquent that in our modern language we describe men we admire as ‘cool,' [meaning not warm and relational]." Man's inability to relate authentically is a culturally transmitted "wrong path," which keeps boys and men alienated from expressing their feelings. We hear of the need for "self-love", but men in particular often do not like what they have become and by middle age often feel totally empty.
Modern man's ‘emptiness' is seduced by "Don Juan's" adolescent masculinity as Don Juan "beds the women." So man, being somewhat envious, emulates Don Juan‘s adolescent masculinity well past adolescence with devastating consequences. Man's tendency to seek out or repeatedly fantasize about sexual experience outside of his "primary" relationship, carries a terrible cost to man himself. The costs are experienced in restlessness, moods, depression, and relationship problems or breakdown, plus a general adding to his already wounded self. Why, because the inner trickery, the shady (split-off) adolescent side of "Don Juan" man has overcome the truer ‘nobler' aspects of his masculinity.
Man may also come to disdain (loath) his sexuality and if so, this eats away at his self-worth, as in the knowing of his own soul, he feels humiliated "as a sexual man." His sexual, ‘shadow-shady' thoughts and actions in society have left him humiliated. Conversely, the more eroticism is repressed or ignored the more it gestates, until it bursts forth into inappropriate and harmful sexual shadow activity. For an example of this we need only reflect on how Priests have sexually abused children in their care! Clearly, eroticism must be integrated and expressed appropriately!
Phallic energy and sexual thoughts, at their essence, are man's innate desire to connect with his life force, to feel alive, potent and creative. Therefore, man's fantasies are empowering thoughts that an inwardly bored, empty or disempowered man has to try and re-connect himself to feeling powerful and potent again. Most sexual attacks are psychologically understood as issues of power! Sexual thoughts towards a perfect stranger are to be understood as the healthy life instinct within man (the creative masculine) that is wanting expression in his life. However, he must ultimately understand that those same sexual thoughts and desires are totally inappropriate if pursued in isolation from true relating which would only lead to harmful actions and emptiness. Sexual actions without authentic relating split man off, foremost from the true masculine; the alive-ness, the "feel good" life force that he seeks. However, that healthy instinct within man is stirring up man's erotic sexual nature to ultimately reconnect him with his feelings, to reunite the split-off sides of himself and be co-creative. Unbeknown to most men, this is what drives his "desires and fantasies" for sexual conquest! Man's "desires" emerge to re-connect him with his own feelings and to be creative and relational. Simplistically, man is being asked on an interior level to give his feelings expression! The healthy, instinctual life force pushes man's erotic nature into creative expression and ultimately towards wholeness of being in his life. This occurs only when erotic, sexual man co-exists with loving relating man; the two must not be split!
Erotic love is quite rightly part of the beauty and relatedness that men seek. Erotic love can be successfully integrated into true masculinity with a revitalized desire to feel and relate authentically. However, modern man is so badly wounded "too ill to live but not ill enough to die" (the "Fisher King" modern malaise) and the path towards true masculinity is rarely portrayed for him to see. In the myth of Parsifal, the Holy Spear (the masculine weapon or phallus) had gone off (was missing) and hence was split off from the Holy Chalice (feeling and beauty). For each man the journey is to learn, heal and change his life to live this true masculinity. Parsifal shows men the way to heal their wound and to metaphorically re-unite the ‘spear and chalice' within themselves.

Parsifal finally locates the spear and encounters the alluring Kundry.
Parsifal demonstrated ‘true masculinity' ‘in-the-field' (so to speak) in his meeting with Kundry.
He showed men how to relate authentically in their daily lives and especially how to relate to women.
Parsifal's life to date was seen as a battleground of both outer and inner opponents to make or break his wholeness. He eventually came to the whereabouts of the Holy Spear, yet before he could re-capture it, he encounters the now most beautiful and alluring sorceress in Kundry. Kundry as aforesaid has been "bewitched" and trapped into service by the "dark-side" and as Parsifal gets close to the spear he meets the most testing aspect to his masculinity.
Parsifal's encounter with Kundry is so noteworthy, as he shows us how to relate to women.
In the face of luscious temptation.
It is so instructive to men about the erotic temptations they face and how to hold true masculinity intact.
Kundry had been sent to delude Parsifal into wrongful actions, which would automatically have set the Holy Spear out of reach!
Clearly Parsifal was instinctual man and Kundry was at her most alluring, so it seems certain that he would have found her gorgeous and have entertained sexual thoughts about her.
We are indebted to Joseph Kerrick's Internet site and I paraphrase his words, which eloquently illustrate the temptations that Parsifal encountered:
Kundry was dressed in seductive finery of a regal courtesan so that any man who looked at her would see his heart's desire."
Parsifal encounters Kundry, lying on a divan in a lushly appointed chamber.
Parsifal feels himself go flush with the flames of awakened passion.
She twined her arm about his neck like a serpent, and drew him into a kiss.
He pulled away disturbed, clutching his heart. "What!" said Kundry, shaken out of her role by this inexplicable outburst.
"The cost of such bliss," said Parsifal, "would be endless cycles of doubly-damned torment for both of us."
The sin is not in the act," he said, "but in the actors." If the heart and the motive are pure, the love is blessed. If not, there will yet be the Devil to pay. At this she ripped off her flimsy raiment and spread her arms and legs wide, offering herself desperately for a thrust and a penetration that did not come. Parsifal only stared at her in pity, his fool's look gone, though not his compassion.
(Kerrick, J., "Parsifal and the Holy Grail" 1999).
Parsifal knew in his heart that to "partake" of Kundry was in fact a dual act of dishonoring himself and Kundry.
He chose to embrace his own erotic thoughts; to acknowledge their presence but to put them away. He knew instinctively that to act upon them it was not the right thing to do, as there was no beauty, relating, and feeling or love present. He embraced Kundry and refused her offerings, looked at her with compassion and in so doing made himself and Kundry whole at the same time.
With Parsifal's compassionate rejection of Kundry, Parsifal assumed more strength and merit to his being.
With this right action he had both asked and answered the famous question "what or whom does it serve" to act in this way. "Every thought and behavior [of man] in this light is subject to this same inner questioning and knowing" (Whiteout E, 1987). Not only did Parsifal pass this test, but also through his compassion towards Kundry, her "soul and queenly self" were restored and she emerged from the entrapments that had bewitched her. She was redeemed by Parsifal's inner strength of true masculinity.
Kundry in fact was so thankful for being redeemed by Parsifal that she showed him where the Holy Spear lay! Symbolically, the finding of the Holy Spear was Parsifal finding his true masculinity, brought about by the feminine aspect of himself (and Kundry). The feeling, compassionate side of Parsifal enabled him to become whole and "one," not split-off from his true masculine "phallic self." Parsifal underwent an enormous trial with the temptations of Kundry (as each man may encounter) and he chose the path of honoring his true feelings and masculine strength. Overcoming Kundry with such nobleness of being, Parsifal had set himself free and he had earned the right to re-enter the Grail Castle for the second time.
Then comes the second Grail Castle experience.
The second Grail Castle opportunity, as aforesaid, coincides with man's mid-life crisis, a time when man reflects and re-evaluates his whole life, to hopefully re-discover meaning and potency in his remaining years. It is written in myth that every night when we are asleep the awesome "Grail experience" goes on.
Parsifal had earned the right over 20 to 30 years of knighthood to re-gain entry to the Grail Castle for the second time and to re-ask the question. Symbolically, he had put off the homespun garment his mother had made him, which initially he had under his armour! Parsifal had "untangled himself from the collective, mother, adolescent complex and emerged as a man capable of potentiating his own individual destiny" (Wyly, J, 1989). From simple innocence he had matured to profound wisdom, redeemed by his inner strength and high fidelity. Parsifal said at this point "for I am innocent no longer," rather he had acquired conscious innocence. Conscious innocence was Parsifal's guileless, authentic open "warm" self that had endured, won the day and completed the heroes' journey.
Inside the Grail Castle, the same majesty and mystery was enacted but this time Parsifal was undeterred from what he must do. Parsifal's first act was to touch the wound of the Fisher King, (his wounded testicles) with the spear. This act by Parsifal made it plain to the king that it was the king's inappropriate sexual behavior and his lack of integrity had caused the wound. The Fisher King had severed the kingdoms connection with the Holy Grail, by allowing "shadow/shady activity" to take place within his soul and the Grail Castle (his domain).
Parsifal then asks the famous question "Whom does the grail serve"? Immediately the gathering was made aware of the answer "The Grail serves the Grail King." Parsifal in giving "voice" to the mystery of what is important to uphold in the kingdom knew that, "the Grail is located within himself." By asking the question "whom does it serve" meant that man must choose to give service to his conscience and honor that kingly part of himself.
With the Holy Spear returned, the Fisher King was instantly healed and immediately the Holy Grail enactment commenced restoring light into the kingdom. The land instantly transformed back into fertility and the waters flowed again. Water, being a psychic element, re-emerged when the feminine aspects wholesomely combined with the restored masculine aspects enabling the Holy Grail to flow again in the kingdom. Some versions of the myth have it that the Fisher King died three days later and Parsifal became the new king - guardian of the Grail and served the Grail well throughout the kingdom.
Parsifal knew the reason for his own suffering, as well as the Fisher King's (and modern man's), for he had transcended the suffering that results from being split-off from ones own integrity. Achieving true "kingly" masculinity in this sense is an accomplishment, not a birthright and is birthed through suffering, self-reflection and clarity in all actions. The Fisher King was the brother of Parsifal's father, and Parsifal could not simply inherit the "kingdom", he had to earn it and be worthy of it. Likewise, men have to accomplish true masculinity!
Parsifal's "secret to success" as such, was his lack of trickery (refusal of artificiality), his inner code of honor and overcoming infidelity in all his actions.
He knew that years before, as a "green innocent fool," he had left the Grail Castle wounded because he, like the Fisher King, had not had sufficient masculine inner strength to hold to his inner nobility (the Grail) and to do and say what was right.
Parsifal, as we men, set out on the hero's journey wanting The Grail to serve him (his ego) but in the end he knew that we all serve the Holy Grail. Parsifal in serving The Grail simply learned to listen and honor his own conscience and uphold it with true masculinity. Conscience to almost every culture means, "ones unique duty, personal moral imperative, sense of right and wrong, inner voice, still small voice of God" (Bloomsbury Thesaurus). That inner voice, of conscience, that speaks to everyone and is there for each one of us to take heed of his own inner voice! Parsifal, in becoming truly masculine, found his own voice and was then whole enough to re-enter the Grail Castle and ask the famous question. When a man takes the ultimate step of courage to listen and honor his own inner voice, knowing and path, then he has turned the corner and is safe.
Parsifal had transcended and integrated duality within himself and had attained great humility by knowing the source (within) of his masculine strength and to whom he does serve. Parsifal had integrated duality in the following sense: His "red heart [of passion] had been opened to his feelings and merged with his mind." "He had integrated the black [erotic] with the white [purity] aspects of himself to achieve high fidelity of being" (Burt, K, 1988). For without integration of duality there remains "split-off-ness" within the man. "Only as an individual, undivided, can man continue on his journey, meet the feminine [within and without] as an equal opposite and fulfil his creative destiny" (Wyly, J, 1989).
Modern man's first task is to change and heal his adolescent masculinity. He may finally commit (with Parsifal strength) to fidelity of heart (to himself), sexual fidelity (to his partner) and fidelity of actions (in his business affairs). High fidelity of sound is a good example as the device (a stereo) faithfully reproduces sound (The Word) that flows through it, without distortion and of high quality. We are encouraged as men to get in touch with our feminine side but for men our masculinity is the real issue. For modern man the call is to commit to a true masculinity, in its broadest meaning. "Unless man in his individuality can differentiate himself from "collective" patriarchal standards, both will go down together" (Wyly, J, 1989).
Jesus Christ, we believe, was a man like Parsifal, full-blooded and instinctual, an erotic, loving man, who became a powerful man in battle within this world. Both men in this sense stood the tests of life that all men face and yet emerged into wholeness of being; into true masculinity, in such a way that we as modern men can emulate. When man can begin to see ‘true masculinity' and emulate it, then he will begin to know himself as a "good man," develop warmth of character and be less "cool." He will start to obey inner authority more and have inner honor, to uphold conscience and authentic clearness in all his words and dealings.
If man can do this then self-love starts to grow and he will begin to feel and achieve more wholesomely in the world. Significant others will respond immediately to this inner wholeness and transforming dignity. Love and success is then possible, not just to receive love but more importantly to love through all actions!
Each day is a quest.
Truly we are made whole or empty daily as each action modifies our own character and sense of being in this world. So as man goes about his ordinary life, he either honors or over-rides his own inner knowing. This simple yet profound difference in how man goes about his day makes a huge impact on his own sense of uprightness and health in his being. A Zen Buddhist master poignantly taught his pupil to keep his inner mirror forever free of dust! If man does something wrong, then he must not take shelter in trickery and trivial excuses, but rather make a noble hearted effort to resolve his fault within himself and make clear reparation with others about it in the exterior world. For whatever men do or feel toward another person each day, has a deep psychological impact on themselves and on the other.
The giving up of the inflated persona in which men have invested significant years, implies a terrifying confrontation with people around them and rejection of people whom they thought were important to them (Wyly, J. 1989). Additionally, "young and old males suffer when their phallic image is threatened" (Monick, E, 1987). However, it is the transformation of adolescent masculinity to true masculinity that needs to take place. Man may come to know and be his "ordinary" self (without inflations) and experience all that inner warmth and beauty that has not left him. Men may experience this transition as scary, but it is an essential step to emerge into true masculinity. To live as "free" men, means not selling or enslaving ones own soul and integrity to "cultural stereotypes and standards."
If man remains in the old mentality of seeking the solution only in the exterior world or blaming something outside of himself then he cannot be healed and dooms himself to loneliness and emptiness within! "Often, a cultural man [artificial, collective, adolescent male] kills his natural [noble] man and nature replies by making him impotent" (Johnson. R. 1989).
True masculinity requires man to combine the rational with the irrational within himself. More often than not, the Grail Knight is unable to find the Grail Castle on his own accord, which means that something is always interceding to keep him pointed in the right direction (that inner voice of conscience) and this is the irrational aspect for man to follow. This is the "innocent fool" Parsifal part of himself that assists his unique transformation. To do this, man has to risk being vulnerable, "not knowing" and to emerge "ordinary" from behind the inflations and trickery that prop him up in society. Remember that each day every knight of the inner order in the Grail Castle would renew his oath to uphold the task of giving himself in service to the Holy Grail. The powerful play of life goes on each day and man is called upon to contribute one verse.
Heroes live forever, as does Parsifal in the hearts of modern man!

Wounded Masculinity: Parsifal and the Fisher King Wound


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