We are standing on a whale fishing for minnows – Joseph Campbell

Doing inner work is part of the road back for franchisees.

One manner is by fishing


There is a young prince in his teens who is out doing his knight errantry, as in the duty of every youth, when he stumbles onto a camp in the woods with no one about. A fire burns under the grate and a salmon lies roasting on the spit. The prince is young, hungry, and impulsive, and the salmon smells so good that he reaches out to take some of it to assuage his hunger. The salmon is very hot and burns his fingers, causing him to drop it. When he puts his fingers into his mouth to ease the burn, he gets a bit of the salmon into his mouth. This wounds him so badly that he lies in agony for all the rest of his life but for the last three days..

The young prince, soon to be king of the land, suffers so severely that he is is unable to stand erect and incapable of performing his duty to the kingdom, which withers under his neglect. Only one thing assuages his suffering; he feels a little better when he is fishing. When he is occupied with fishing from his boat in the moat surrounding his castle, his suffering is diminished. Otherwise he lies in his litter in his castle suffering a terrible agony. This can be interpreted as saying that a wounded person finds life bearable only when his is engaged in some contact with the unconscious. Poetry, artistry, teaching, and healing are such activities that assuage the wound of the fisher king. They do not heal the dreadful wound but they make life bearable while one makes his way to the true healing.

The fisher king wound is to be seen on the face of almost any man who passes on the street; the ache of life, the anxiety, dread, loneliness – all are summed up by the fisher king wound…

…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 and getting a “runner’s high” are fishing in this sense since they put one in contact with the inner world. Fishing is a fisher king’s only balm to his aching wound.

The Fisher King & the Handless Maiden: Understanding the Wounded Feeling Function in Masculine and Feminine Psychology, Robert A. Johnson, 1993

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: