Service above self: Learning to help men (and ourselves) heal

fisherwomanThat is a sunfish.

Not much of a fish, really. Tiny, no sport catching them and you’d never eat them. Unlike the pickerel that are common in our lakes.

But it’s great fun with people you love. And very good practice for dealing with life’s pain.

The term fisher king is appropriate since the young prince is so much associated with fish; first he is wounded by a fish (the unlawful taking of consciousness, which was called the fruit of the forbidden tree in the Adam and Eve story), then he is partly relieved of his suffering while fishing. To fish in this sense is to do one’s inner work – work on dreams, meditation, active imagination, drawing, music, or poetry – any form of inner work that is rich to one. Even such mundane things as gardening…

Fishing is  a fisher king’s only balm to his aching wound.

…What young man has not tried some adult task with bravado only to find that he could not accomplish it? The humiliation, embarrassment, and feelings of inferiority engendered by such a venture cause a fisher king wound in him and suffering that is particularly deep and painful. Perhaps it was a brash love affair or trying to climb the sheer face of a cliff or a business venture that he was not skillful enough to manage. A man tortures himself at 2:00 AM with these memories.

It is tragic that many modern men never escape the fisher king wound and live in anxiety and inferiority all their lives.

When a man follows a strong woman’s prescription, he helps heal both his and her wounds. This hints at the “two becoming one” reality of relationships.

The Fisher King & the Handless Maiden: Understanding the Wounded Feeling Function in Masculine and Feminine Psychology, Robert A. Johnson

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