Chapter 2 Iron John
The arrival of the Adventurer The narrative:
This lasted for many years, when a strange huntsman announced himself to the King as seeking a situation and offered to go into the dangerous forest. The King, however, would not give his consent, and said, “It is not safe in there; I fear it would fare with thee no better than with the others, and thou wouldst never come out again.” The huntsman replied, “Lord, I will venture it at my own risk, of fear I know nothing.”
The huntsman, therefore, betook himself with his dog to the forest.
Time travelling within a story: One of the amazing things about these stories is that we can step outside the story and look at the implications of the narrative within the story. Because in a way we are time travelers in this story, we can slot in and out of the narrative at any point we wish, forwards and backwards. The narrative itself follows linear time; we, however, are freed from this restraint. What we usually don’t get is that these stories may encompass many eons of clock time, making the story truly transpersonal and eternal.
The feminine investment in the story: We know that the Feminine wants the story to roll forward; we know that the Feminine can be subversive towards the status Quo at a soul level. The Feminine follows its own agenda, the completion of the Hero cycle at the mystical marriage. The whole purpose of this story and, as a metaphor, life.
Who then is this hunter? This hunter came from outside the castle, certainly from outside the status quo; in a sort of disguise, wild animal skins sewn together, a coat or a cloak that reminds me of Joseph’s many-coloured dream coat. Straightaway he presents an image of another world; another set of values, a person who is his own man. As in the story of the firebird, to be a hunter is to seek something. First the Old King seeks in the enormous forest for something wild, something forgotten, something hungered for, and in a sense, puts this whole story in motion.
The Hunter as a threat to the status Quo: The status quo hates a person who can’t be manipulated or intimidated by privileges promised, or the threats of withdrawal by the status quo. He does not wear the trappings of the status quo. He wears the trappings of nature, of wildness, of adventure, of risk relished and accepted, wrestled with, testing boundaries and skills. A man not intimidated by a King and a castle. A man on a mission, but whose mission? Certainly, the Queens and possibly even the Kings at other levels of consciousness. A life of endless fulfilment, his connection with nature through his dog, his guardian of yet unseen boundaries. The dog that accompanies the hunter is an image right out of the Tarot pack “The Fool”.
The call to adventure: Who might this adventurer be? An Uncle of the boy? An old lover perhaps secret lover of the Queen? One of the original hunters returned to free the boy from the servitude of the Castle Quo? So many possibilities. I have used the term “Call to adventure” because it is at once the first step in the “Hero’s Journey” (see link) but also because the narrative states “This lasted for many years” stasis in the Status quo while, we, the boy, grows up.
“The Call” This is more than just a shout down the hall for a cup of tea. A “Call” is something magical. It is sent out with intention and readiness. The universe answers, sometimes in the most unexpected and yet perfect ways.
The fear of the King: “It is not safe there I fear it would fare thee no better than the others and thou wouldst never come out again.”
In expressing his fear, the King lays out for us why the enormous forest is feared. Members of the status quo go there and disappear. This is completely forbidden. The status quo prides itself on controlling everything, the nanny state. Not coming back is a threat to the implied control of the status quo. The second is “It’s not safe in there”. Like the promise of any nanny state, personal freedoms are given up for the collective promise of safety, which is an illusion after all as demonstrated by Covid -19.
“Those who trade their dreams for the safety of a prescribed life make a false and foolish bargain with the world. They live in a sleeping village even as they pursue a busy life. They have the trappings of outer success but fall into the trap of failing to become who they are at their core.” Michael Meade.
Indeed, the Castle quo is like living on the Moon Palace. A place of disassociation.
An Adventure called Life
A Conversation with the Ancestors.
Some weeks ago, I was fortunate to have a conversation with the ancestors and their message was as follows. First thing. lighten up life is not meant to be such a heavy burden, second thing from where the ancestors stand life is supposed to be an adventure.
I was reminded of Kahlil Gibran poem On Laws
You delight in laying down laws,
Yet you delight more in breaking them.
Like children playing by the ocean who build sand-towers with constancy and then destroy them with laughter.
But while you build your sand-towers the ocean brings more sand to the shore,
And when you destroy them the ocean laughs with you.
Verily the ocean laughs always with the innocent.
But what of those to whom life is not an ocean, and man-made laws are not sand towers,
But to whom life is a rock, and the law a chisel with which they would carve it in their own likeness?
What of the cripple who hates dancers?
What of the ox who loves his yoke and deems the elk and deer of the forest stray and vagrant things?
What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin, and calls all others naked and shameless?
And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that all feasts are violation and all feasters lawbreakers?
What shall I say of these save that they too stand in the sunlight, but with their backs to the sun?
They see only their shadows, and their shadows are their laws.
And what is the sun to them but a caster of shadows?
And what is it to acknowledge the laws but to stoop down and trace their shadows upon the earth?
But you who walk facing the sun, what images drawn on the earth can hold you?
You who travel with the wind, what weather-vane shall direct your course?
What man’s law shall bind you if you break your yoke but upon no man’s prison door?
What laws shall you fear if you dance but stumble against no man’s iron chains?
And who is he that shall bring you to judgment if you tear off your garment yet leave it in no man’s path?
People of Orphalese, you can muffle the drum, and you can loosen the strings of the lyre, but who shall command the skylark not to sing.
“The call to adventure” The second point from the ancestors.
“The speck of stardust implanted in each of our souls is another and perhaps deeper way to consider the old statement of ‘dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.’ We may feel small and insignificant in terms of the cosmic expanse and the growing uncertainties of life on earth, yet we are directly connected to the stars and it is the very the nature of the human soul to bring the stars down to earth.“ – Michael Meade
The call of destiny and the life of adventure. Sandra Ingram in one of her books complained to sprit that she feared giving up her salaried job to lecture full time. She feared without a steady income she would end as a bag lady in New York. The answer she received was “What an adventure that would be to be a bag lady in New York” My point is we need more adventure in our lives and less certainty. We need to lift up our vibration to a higher frequency so we can begin to hear what is being whispered to us from the other side. The deeper we descend in matter the more difficult it is to hear the whispers. Even the word destiny (from the Latin de-stinare (of the stars)) whispers to us of our origins.
Grandfather earth and listening to their wisdom. Think about the sweat lodge. One of the reasons we heat the grandfathers the stones we heat is to bring them up to our vibrational level so they can speak to us. When we pour water on the Grandfathers steam is creating the mystical marriage between Fire and Water. In that space if we can listen, we will hear secrets of the universe and our lives. The secrets of the stars whisper to us our destiny.
The adventure of the Iron John story. So back to the idea of adventure maybe with a different slant. In the Iron John story, the feminine in the guise of the enormous forest calls the young boy into being through the King and the queen. The mother, the queen is not mentioned until the wild man is caged in the courtyard and then never again. However, we know all mothers have a vested interest in seeing their sons prosper. Mothers have brothers and cousins and other extended family members. Remember in the story of Blue Beard it was the girl’s brothers that saved her from her rapacious Bluebeard male part.
So around adult conversation young ears are listening Taking in stories about uncle so and so or cousin so and so who did this or got caught doing that, or left the country in a hurry or lives in a cave on a mountain and so on. And so, the shadow of the family can be discussed safely because those people who carry that shadow are not present and can therefore be talked about. Children are like sponges and soak up this stuff for reference later. Like all good fishing stories why let the facts get in the way of good stories and some exaggeration is accepted as fact.
Different versions of the Iron John story ……. describe the adventure in different ways, he rode a warhorse, his clothes were made up of various animal skins, in some of the other stories the coat was called the coat of many colours, he had a dog with him and he was looking for adventure.
Poem Has anyone seen the boy?? By Rumi.
Has anyone seen the boy who used to come here?
Round faced troublemaker, quick to find a joke, slow to be serious,
Red shirt, perfect coordination, sly, strong muscled, with things always
In his pocket, Reed flute worn pick, polished and ready for his talent.
Do you know that one?
Have you heard stories about him?
Pharaoh and the whole Egyptian world collapsed for such a Joseph.
I’d gladly spend years getting word of him even third or fourth hand.
Remember your own adventure called this life.
Remember this part of yourself that was the adventure? Because at the end of the day all the parts of this story reside in us, The enormous forest, the King, the boy the adventure and the dog. Do you remember a time when everything was a possibility? The world was your oyster ready to be opened. You were full of confidence and had very little fear. An innocence where everything was a wonder to be explored and the world opened itself to you through your curiosity? This is the boy who loved nature, water in its natural habitat, tadpoles’ frogs tree houses a sanctuary away from the shadow of domesticating aunts as Mark Twain put it in Huckleberry Fin polling down the Mississippi river.
And the journey continues\………