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

September 7, 2010

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

If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool. C.G. Jung

September 6, 2010

Young men of substance reach beyond their grasp and they suffer for their ambition.

In that pain, they hold the key to the healing of others.

The Healing of the Fisher King Wound

A true myth always prescribes for the problem that it lays forth. Like any great work of art, it follows the pattern of darkness being redeemed by light. The darkness of our story thus far is the despair and isolation of the wounded fisher king, a suffering that has reached its apex in our own time. And the redemption of that darkness? Where is a cure to be found for so pervasive a problem?

The answer is to be found in a most unexpected place, in the blunderings of an innocent fool who has in him power to release the agony of the suffering fisher king.

The legend of an innocent fool who will one day find his way into the Grail castle and bring the healing to the fisher king has long been known in the land so ravaged by the wounding of their king. In its simple language the myth promises that one day a young man, entirely innocent of his great mission, will wander into the Grail castle, see the magnificent procession that is enacted every night, and, if he asks the one pertinent question, will relieve the fisher king’s suffering and remove the blight from the land.

What a power to have! And what an unexpected place of it to be lodged!

It is Parsifal – not by chance his name means Innocent Fool – who brings this healing power, and we now examine his story that has given him so much curative power.

It is humbling to find that the wounded fisher king is totally at the mercy of an innocent fool to bring the precious healing for his suffering. This is to say that the deepest part of ourselves, the king, can be healed only by a boyish, inventive, capricious, youthful quality.

No one should be expected to see what they are not trained to look for.

But, then again, that is neither proof or non-proof of that level of understanding.

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

Painting: The Knight Of The Flowers (or Parsifal), Georges Antoine Rochegrosse

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