Saturday, September 29, 2012

Parzival and The Fool's Journey, Part Two

Having gone some ways towards becoming a knight, Parzival now travels again and meets up with a mentor, named Gornemant. Parzival stays with Gornemant at his castle, where he teaches Parzival the art of being a knight- both how to handle weapons and how to be chivalrous. These are things that Parzival, despite his outward appearance of being a knight, has yet to understand. At this point, precise parallels between the Tarot and the story are less obvious, or absent in many cases. However, Gornemant first and foremost shows us aspects of the Hierophant, as a teacher and figure of conventional rules and wisdom. He instructs Parzival in the knightly arts, and teaches him not to ask too many questions, also displaying one of the more negative aspects of the Hierophant, that we can sometimes be limited by culture and what is generally held to be acceptable behavior. Nonetheless, we see a need for a balance between Parzival's Fool- like nature and the new, developing awareness of the world around him.



Parzival is not so much ignorant and unwise as he is unaware- as he learns more and more about being a knight, and what is expected of a knight, his horizons are expanded- he is introduced to a world that he never knew existed prior to this, and a world of relationships and social mechanisms he never knew existed. In this way, Gornemant also contains elements of the Magician, with Parzival as his eager if somewhat clueless student- Gornemant, much like the Magician, knows how it works, and uses that knowledge and insight, and teaches Parzival to do the same. At this point in his story, we also see Parzival move from impulsive, automatic decisions based on instinct and self interest, to a more deliberate, calculated end- also a function of the Magician. The Hierophant aspect of Gornemant teaches Parzival what to think about- the Magician aspect teaches him how to think about it.
Also while here, Parzival meets Gornemant's daughter, Liaze, whom Gornemant encourages Parzival to marry. However, Parzival does not, not because he's being a jerk, but because he considers himself unworthy to marry her, and in fact he makes a promise before he leaves to marry Liaze when and if he ever becomes worthy. It's interesting that Gornemant also speaks on the virtues of marriage to Parzival- perhaps because he's hoping he'll marry Liaze, but looking at things another way, this also furthers Parzival's understanding of relationships- remember that prior to this, Parzival was by and large interested only in himself.
However, after learning from Gornemant, Parzival is soon to be off again. He learns of the trouble of Condwirarmurs, who is Gornemant's niece, who doesn't want to marry Clamide, who is rather insistent. So off goes Parzival to right wrongs, and comes to Condi's castle. He fights and defeats Clamide, and marries Condi (I'm not going to type that headache every single time!) There is an image of the Lovers here- Parzival agrees to help Condi after hearing her story, and is moved by it. This shows some noble leanings on Parzival's part, as he again begins to look beyond himself, and learns the give and take of a relationship with Condi. This represents in some ways the Lovers- as a sense of partnership and combining resources- each of the two gains from this- Condi gets rid of Clamide, and Parzival then becomes king of Condi's castle (she had no husband, so was heir to the castle). Parzival remains here for about 15 months, then requests leave from his wife to go back and see how his mother is doing. While this is far from the end of Parzival's story, it does represent him developing and taking on additional responsibilities- maturing, in other words. No longer the impulsive young man who defeated the Red Knight, Parzival demonstrates an increasing level of awareness and social responsibility.

So away he goes, to see Herzeloyde. And, as is often the case with our erstwhile hero, finds himself completely somewhere else. While on his travels, Parzival comes to a lake called Brumbane, where he encounters Amfortas, who is fishing. (Amfortas is alternately called the Rich Fisher or the Fisher King for this reason). Amfortas takes Parzival to his castle, Munsalvaesche, where Parzival has dinner with Amfortas and his sister and Queen, Repanse. All the Fisher King's knights are present as well, and sad that their King is injured and seemingly unable to recover. Parzival watches as a lance is brought into the room, which causes all the knights to mourn- blood issues from its tip, and we later discover that this blood is Amfortas' blood. With this lance is the Grail, here described as a stone of "garnet hyacinth". The Grail/stone provides all that the King and his court could require in terms of sustenance. Though Parzival sees all this, he remembers Gornemant's advice and does not ask about the lance. Therein lies the problem, as had he asked, the King would have been healed. Parzival wakes from a night of troubled dreams to find an empty castle, with no one there but a squire who tells him he should have asked the question on his mind.
 This is a High Priestess symbol- (remember, though the symbols are present in Parzival's tale, they don't necessarily fall into the same order as the Fool's journey). In the court of Amfortas, we find a very High Priestess-esque situation. Everything is put in plain sight, but whether or not it is understood depends on the person. Like the Priestess, everything is hidden in plain sight, yet before it can be understood we must demonstrate understanding and insight enough to unlock the mystery. In the case of Parzival, he is not yet worthy, that is, has not advanced far enough in his understanding, to unlock the mysteries that are presented to him.
From here, Parzival continues to develop and learn, much as our own Fool does, growing and learning from each new person he encounters. Though he has had a glance of the greater world which includes himself at Amfortas' castle, he is not yet sufficiently matured and wise enough to grasp what his place is in that world, and how to take that place.


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