Chapter 7 Iron John What binds the Wildman in the cage?
In a way, there are a few answers to the question. The Narrative says: “There was great astonishment over the wild man; the King, however, had him put in an iron cage in his courtyard and forbade the door to be opened on pain of death, and the Queen herself was to take the key into her keeping. And from this time forth everyone could again go into the forest with safety.”
The first part of the narrative says: “There was great astonishment over the wild man; the King, however, had him put in an iron cage in his courtyard and forbade the door to be opened on pain of death,”
The Old King of Castle Quo has a desperate need to control everything. As he loses his connection to the centre of his Axis Mundi, which he is supposed to represent for his community. He forgets that true kingship is sacral. He becomes “The King” instead of being informed by the pulsing energies that flow through us between above and below, and from where his authority stems. Chaos and creativity are his shadows. These shadow forces and energies drive him more and more to literal truth, regulations, and laws.
So, the old King’s greatest need is to cage the Wildman in his courtyard. Where he can see him and feel comforted that wildness, chaos, and connections to other worlds are contained, and controlled.
Narrative: “And from this time forth everyone could again go into the forest with safety.”
The Old King has fulfilled his unwritten promise of the status quo that he has control and you are safe with him so long as you eschew wildness. “The King, however, had him put in an iron cage in his courtyard and forbade the door to be opened on pain of death.”
On a personal level we too must cage wildness in our heart and toe the party line. (Bell Hocks) Link to from head to heart.
Narrative: “and the Queen herself was to take the key into her keeping.”
The deep feminine plays a dangerous double game here. On the surface at the level of wife and Queen she plays the role of keeper of morality and what’s “proper” “We are not amused”(Queen Victoria)
However, there is another motivation for her actions, her son. While she needs to be seen to toeing the party line and fully support her husband, she also knows she wants the best for her son, who will be King in his own right.
To this end she needs the Wildman in the courtyard so her son can interact with him. She understands her son cannot become King unless he releases the Wildman from the cage. In the same way we cannot become sovereign over our own psyche unless we marry soul by going on the heroic journey from the head to the heart.
Hiding the Key. Of all the things she could have done with the key she chose to keep it under her pillow, in her bed, the place where she lays her head at night and dreams of her son’s future. Where she makes love to the King. One wonders how the conversation went with the King, her husband, when he gave her ownership of the Key. Certainly, it meant the Old King trusted her completely.
The other role she plays really well is Midwife of the status quo. Seemingly she is in full agreement with the king’s orders and officially announces she will keep the key. This implies that she has a vested interest is seeing wildness caged. As in the Huckleberry Fin story of his domesticating aunts the Queen played the role of domesticating wildness and safely keeping the key to that.
If we look back at the story or the process from the end, we will see two things.
- The old King starts the process when his son is born. Perhaps he remembers his own rise to Kingship perhaps it’s just unconscious competence. He experiences a hunger for something wild….to eat. Then send the hunters out. Then there is a pause while the boy grows up. At seven years old the adventurer arrives; an image of the old male initiator who reveals the Wildman and brings him back to the Castle Quo, then disappears.
- Now the Queen takes over as well as the deep Feminine. She keeps the key safe hoping her son will steal it and let wildness out of its cage; thus begins the process of becoming King. Her son releases the Wildman and goes off with him to the enormous forest of the psyche to learn about Kingship.