Iron John Chapter 008, The Axis Mundi of the world tree, the vertical direction and the Parsifal story

The Parsifal story and the axis Mundi, The vertical direction of     Above, Below and Within.

The duality of the “Enormous forest and the Castle quo”

What can Parsifal teach us about the axis Mundi? Within MKP, very little is spoken about around the vertical direction. Both Robert Bly and Michael Mead have spoken about our need for the vertical direction to give our lives depth, meaning, purpose, and connection to eternal.

Without the vertical component, the macrocosm (the direction of above)crashes down on the microcosms,(the direction of below) obliterating the mesocosm (the direction of within) where the human experience should live. When this happens the transpersonal and the eternal collapses and we run out of time. We look left and right to check what everybody else is doing. We watch our backs to see who is going to stab us. We study the past which we see as behind us. We keep our eyes and attention on the horizon, the future our focus is there. Hardly ever in the moment now. Without the vertical, we live in a flat world. Where we live under the punishments of time. 

On the issue of a flat earth and no vertical direction.

Here is a poem that describes what a flat earth might look like.

When Euclid started out to measure Hades

He found it had neither depth nor height.

Demons flatter than stingrays Swept above the plains of death. 


There were only waves, no hills, 

no chasms or valleys. 

Only lines, parallel happenings, angles lying prone. 

Demons shot along like elliptical plates: 

They covered an endless field in Hades as though with moving dragon scales 


Victims of flat evil, 

With no comfort from a high place 

Or support from a low place. 

Burial mounds are flattened by forgetfulness.


 “I think or intuit that there are such things as inverted guardians. The vessel has to be ready and prepared before something can come into the light. Like in Alchemy the vessel has to be strong enough for the Opus otherwise the transformation can not take place.” and the vessel will shatter”. We talk a lot about the hollow bone but never about the bone itself. The bone has to be strong enough to carry this divine water. That means we need a strong Ego (the bone) that is grounded in Soul. Sam Sleeman

Bread & Wine Friedrich Holderlin.   Here is a link to an Audio version.

Oh Friends we arrived too late. The divine energies are still alive, but isolated above us, in the archetypical world.

They keep on going there, and apparently, don’t bother if humans live or not……..and that is a heavenly mercy.

Sometimes a human’s clay is not strong enough to take the divine  water. Human beings can carry the divine only sometimes.

What is living now? Night dreams of them. But craziness helps, so does sleep. Grief and night toughen us.

Until people capable of sacrifice once more rock in the iron cradle, desire people, like the ancients, strong enough for that water.

In thunderstorms it will arrive. I have the feeling often meanwhile it is better to sleep, since the guest comes so seldom;

we waste our lives waiting, and I haven’t the faintest idea how to act or talk…in the lean years who needs poets??

But poets as you say are like the holy disciple of the wild one. The one who used to stroll over the fields and through the enormous forest through the whole divine night.

Soul however begins with the breaking of the eternal into time. Soul then seeks initiation into life and into the core of the great Self this is the project of a human being’s entire life. The great opus.

The Axis Mundi has been around for some time in the storytelling tradition such as the Norse mythologies in the Yaggersill tree. In the Film “The Lion King”.  The axis Mundi appears with the Shaman “Musasa” who lives in a giant Baobab tree. This clip from  Jordan Peterson on the Lion King explains the relationship between the King, the shaman, who lives across time, and the World-Tree, where Musasa lives.  For ritual elders watch at 1:57. For the World-Tree watch at 5.00 min into clip




The Yaggersill tree of Norse mythology. This is where the Norse gods lived outside of time connecting the three realms or the three directions MKP is familiar with.


The Parsifal story gives us deep insight into the workings of the Axis Mundi and how the masculine was wounded through the gift and the expression of free will. On the earth, free will is given absolutely to mankind as opposed to nature which is driven by cycles of becoming and instinct. So any complaints about life here on the earth can direct to ourselves collectively. A different look at accountability perhaps. 

The Animals kingdom and instinct vs Mans freewill. Every animal instinctively knows how to build a nest or a birthing place, how to give birth, and how to rear its young and keep them safe.

This is not so for humankind due to the wide range of geographical climates and environments all of this nurturing and nesting information is carried in the local mythologies of the village.

However, mythologies can be wrong. Like confusing the colour black with evil, an error that drove apartheid and still drives identity politics today. Racial profiling.



The picture below. If we were able to see ourselves as we are energetically standing in the vertical direction of the Axis Mundi this image is what we would look like. We are beings of tremendous potential when we align ourselves with our own center and eternity.

The Axis Mundi and the Parsifal story.  If we want to understand the vertical axis the “Axis Mundi, the world tree” an understanding of the Grail story will deepen our understanding of the purpose and function of the axis Mundi. The Four directions North, South, East, and West are much more easily accessible as they exist in our material universe.

The vertical axis does not exist in our world but rather outside of time, in the Eternal. When we speak of finding our center we are speaking about getting closer to the axis Mundi. The further we drift away from the center the more we are under the sway of Time

The punishments of time. We all know and experience this as it is in our everyday language. “I didn’t have time” “I haven’t got time now”, “some other time” “there is never enough time” “Time waits for no one” “I’ll do it later”

In the development of our Ego, whether your male or female the status quo and our Mothers want a nice boy or girl (if you want to be safe and accepted in society be nice) And so we always chase the 1.9 cars 2.3 wives ( or is it the other way around)1.8 children, etc. (whatever we are told is the norm) When we buy into the promise of the status quo we automatically move away from our own center and therefore the vertical enlivening axis the axis Mundi. When we say we are depressed or bored, life isn’t worth living it is because we have lost our contact with the very thing that enlivens us, the axis Mundi, so we are living under the punishments of time. Of course, the four archetypes of the directions are a great road map of the horizontal territory however the map is not the territory. Another way of saying this is we have lost our connection to Soul. This is what anthropologists describe from indigenous cultures who understood this state of being as loss of Soul.

 Loss of Soul. In this condition a person is out of themselves, unable to find either the outer connection between humans or the inner connection to Self. Soul is that inner child that retreated by the threat of harm and lack of acceptance, Soul went and lived in the enormous forest of the psyche and left the Ego in Castle Quo. Soul waits impatiently for us to return while slowly regressing and becoming enraged. Soul retrieval is then a difficult journey. “I’m sorry” is not going to cut it.

Why then would I want to go back to the Parsifal story? The Parsifal story carries for us a deeper version of the creation of duality described in the beginning of Iron John. Indeed, the Parsifal story happens outside of time in some realm of consciousness to which we only have access through stories, art, music, trance, movies, and dance.

Now to the Parsifal story. I have chosen the Fisher king version of the story and am guilty of cherry-picking bits of the wider story which suits my purpose. There is a whole preamble of how Parsifal gets to meet the Fisher King. The name Parsifal can also translate as Fool, not stupid as it has come to mean but rather young, innocent full of awe and wonder but little discrimination and what we would call life experience. In our world we call that “still wet behind the ears”, small puppy-like.

The Fisher King story begins with the young boy (us) questing for the Holy Grail, having been sent out by King Arthur from Camelot in reparation for the death of the red knight.

The Sword in the stone. In the Once and Future king stories, the rightful king of England would be the one who pulled the sword from the stone. That was how Auther became king. The kingship required the ability to discriminate the literal truth represented by stone and to be able to make decisions in spite of being surrounded by the literal truths of the status quo. As we will see in the Parsifal story the sword of discrimination, off discernment, and decision-making. Decision (To cut away from) That sword is broken. The symbol of the masculine and the direction of above.

The killing of the red Knight heralds the first appearance of the spear, Parsifal takes the red Knight’s own spear and throws it at him striking him in the eye through the slit in his armour, killing him.

Parsifal, after killing the red Knight, puts on the red armour over his homespun clothes. Much like us in our world. We put on new ideas over the top of the old ideas we learnt at home on our mother’s knee without integrating them into our being. Much like the ideas we are introduced to at high school and university. This lack of integration this lack of discernment and acceptance creates our part of our shadow as what we truly know gets banished and denied to accept what we are told with authority. This cut off part comes back to bite us… as we will see just now.

The warrior and one-pointed attention. Much can be said about one-pointed attention as a spiritual practice. In throwing the spear in such a way it seems to be something the youth of our world are naturally capable of. In the same way, young people seem to have the unerring ability to see through their parents’ masks and expose their parent’s shadow. As a metaphor parents and the status quo are the red Knight and our children, see right through our masks and not knowing any better, take our armoring and masks; putting them on, over their own being believing that they have done a great thing. The status quo applauds this “you’ve grown up, at last, this is the real world.

The sins of the fathers and so, the sins of the father are visited on to the children even unto the seventh generation. Therefore, in our world, family reunions are fraught with such danger. The children complete with their red armour, come to the parent’s house. The parents are not happy to see themselves reflected in their own children, especially the worst bits. The children have axes to grind about hurts and injustices of the past, real and perceived, for which they blame the parents. The whole thing is fraught with tension. The Parent’s house may not be our personal parent’s house, rather the collective house of race, tribe, community, country, etc.

Our Fisher king story. We all have a fisher king experience when we are about 13 years old even if we don’t recognise it for what it is. We have a glimpse into the Grail Castle. What we need to do to make ourselves whole. How to get rid of the armour of the red night. What are the gifts we bring into this world and how we can share them? We will meet this idea again with the anima figure of the Crone, and at the edge of the Golden pond, later in the Iron John story.

Our first meeting with Fisher King. The young man (us) arrives at a stream where there is a man sitting in a boat, fishing. A conversation begins the man in the boat (the King of the Grail Castle, Amfortas) who is wounded in the thigh, a wound that will not heal. He sits in the boat in the stream fishing because this is the only place where his wound does not ache.

While there are whole books written about the symbology of this fishing and women at wells – Jonah’s whale and Moabi Dick. The Maiden Czar. Suffice to say that while sitting in the stream of the feminine, fishing brings up stuff from the lower worlds, from other levels of consciousness, small manageable amounts at a time into this world. This process of fishing brings the King relief. Which tells us of the nature of his wound and its implications. One of the implications is that while he is sitting in the boat, he is not fulfilling his kingly duties.

The wounded Masculine. The Fisher King. There is a lot of moral judgment made as to why the King is wounded in the thigh or testicles. This story was overtaken by Christianity in the 9th century and like many legends were reinterpreted to suit that purpose and their morality. However, there are older understandings as to why the masculine is wounded. There is the story of “The Star Woman” found at his link. There is another description of what happened to the Masculine and indeed is still ongoing by James Hillman “When Fathering is absent”.

WHEN FATHER-ING IS ABSENT,  What happens to the sons? What happens to the world

How the missing fathers do not mentor us into the direction of above in the axis Mundi. 

A descent into identity politics and political correctness.

The missing father is not your or my personal father.   He is the absent father of our culture, the viable Senex  The elder who provides not daily bread but spirit through meaning and order.   The missing father is the dead god who offered a focus for spiritual things.   Without this focus, we turn to dreams and oracles, rather than to prayer, code, tradition, and ritual.   When mother replaces father, magic substitutes for logos, and son-priests contaminate the Pure spirit.

Unable to go backward to revive the dead father of tradition, we go downward into the mothers of the collective unconscious, seeking an all-embracing comprehension.   We ask for help in getting through the narrow straits without harm; the son wants invulnerability.   Grant us protection, foreknowledge; cherish us.   Our prayer is to the night for a dream, to a love for understanding, to a little rite or exercise for a moment of wisdom.   Above all, we want assurance through a vision beforehand that it will all come out all right.

Without the father, we lose also that capacity which the Church recognised as “discrimination of the spirits”:   The ability to know a call when we hear one and to discriminate between the voices …

The mother encourages her son: go ahead, embrace it all.   For her, all equals everything.   The father’s instruction, on the contrary, is: all equals nothing – unless the all be precisely discriminated.

James Hillman   from  “The Rag & bone shop of the heart.”

Without the vertical component, The Senex. the macrocosm (the direction of above)crashes down on the microcosms,(the direction of below) obliterating the mesocosm (the direction of within) where the human experience should live. When this happens the transpersonal and the eternal collapses and we run out of time. We look left and right to check what everybody else is doing. We watch our backs to see who is going to stab us. We study the past which we see as behind us. We keep our eyes and attention on the horizon, the future our focus is there. Hardly ever in the moment now. Without the vertical, we live in a flat world, where we live under the punishments of time. 

Poets understood this loss such as this Rumi Poem about the missing boy. The missing boy of our world.

Has anyone seen the boy??          By  Rumi.

Has anyone seen the boy who used to come here?

Round faced trouble maker, 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.

The poem laments something missing from the world that should be here.

The kingdom is a wasteland. Without the Senex,  the missing father, the land is desolate. No seasons flow across the land, only winter, no fruits, no newborn animals. The kingdom is locked in death. It also implies that while sitting in the stream of the feminine, the King’s wound does not ache, he is close to his center and the vertical direction. A separation from the feminine is at once the cause of his discomfort and the cause of the wasteland. And my implication a cure.

The meeting with a mentor and the mentoring moment.  In the story the king asks us to grill the fish so that we can both eat. The King is unable to cook the fish and perhaps we are unable to fish in those waters. Either way, the relationship between the old king and youth begins, and so each helps the other. The story tells us that in cooking the fish we burn our fingers. Often, we see an older man, seemingly doing nothing (or not much anyway) only to find that he has a very hectic and courageous life, explored uncharted places, etc. Now once we begin to connect with the person the King is, he is quite happy to talk to us about what he did; but has no interest in doing it himself. This is the mentoring moment. He will share his knowledge, but we must do it. If it is for us, we will burn our fingers, literally and figuratively.

Wounds to an extremity of the body.  This wound to an extremity of the body tells us that an initiation is coming. The king invites us back to the Grail Castle to attend to our wound, the young man is greeted with great joy and expectation

The Questing Ego. On entering the castle Parsifal is well and truly fêted. There is a prophecy that says a young man (us) pure of heart will be able to lift the curse of the land, and, the wound of the King. In this way, this story is a father redemption story and much more. The inner wasteland is always awaiting a redeemer. The Ego is eternally questing to heal the wasteland. It is an eternal cycle endlessly playing its self out in every geography, culture, language, and people.

Fêted.   His horse is stabled, brushed, fed, and watered. Parsifal is bathed and given fine clothes to wear. We are invited to dinner and observe the Grail procession. I am only going to give an outline here of the procession which will serve our purpose. A fuller description is in many other texts. The deeper meaning of this procession covers all the esoteric parts of us that create an individual’s incarnation and their interrelationship.

The procession The Fisher King is seated on his throne in pain and agonizing discomfort. Blood drips from his wound into a cup. A procession of Maiden’s appear (aspect of the pure feminine, the Great Mother – not human) a spear which is placed in the wound of the King bringing instant relief. Following the spear comes maidens carrying the Grail, a platter, a cornucopia, and a broken sword on a cushion. The cornucopia feeds everybody in the hall with food and drink as they desire. The Grail heals everybody as required individually. The sword of discernment remains broken and awaits a knight “of pure heart” to re-forge the holy blade. For without the balancing Masculine of discernment and differentiation (the direction of above) the Grail Castle remains unhealed and obscured through the mists of antiquity and the punishments of time.  This is the sword work (Warrior work) of an I group and other 12 step type of work which we can revisit later.

The wastelands. The pursuit of what is lost is the basis of the Hero cycle. What is lost creates an internal wasteland and ultimately an external wasteland in this world. All those post-apocryphal movies are preoccupied with the wasteland, (Mad Max) laid out and recapitulated in most of our stories, plays, movies and indeed life.

The quest for the solution to the wasteland is the hero cycle or monomyth of Joseph Campbell’s work “The hero with a thousand faces”. Also, there is the sour grape story, one of the other choices where we deny and attack that which we originally loved. This plays itself out through our divorce courts. Such acrimonious divorces and battles using our own children’s love and affection as weapons against each other. Once where there was love there is now seemingly endless enmity.

In metaphor these two stories describe how we arrive at the beginning of the Iron John story. “Once upon a time there was a King who lived in a castle next to an enormous forest sometimes a hawk and an eagle flew over it.” The Hawk and an eagle in the shamanic world indicate two similar aspects of pure spirit who watches over the forest, two Masculine energies that balance the feminine of Below, and the feminine energy of the enormous forest.

Our state of collective duality, The very beginning of the Iron John story describes for us our state of collective duality, the juxtaposition of Ego and Soul. So that is all fine but how did we get here? How we got to this point and perhaps its purpose is what I will try to explore here.

The quest to find who we are. By way of explanation while these stories seem to describe how a boy, or a man or the masculine might go on such a quest and ending in the mystical marriage the marriage between Soul and Ego. This would seem to exclude women and girls unnecessarily and is false in my understanding. Women can also carry the masculine energy and often do.

The Ego quest of both men and women. The Heros Journey of the masculine. Here is how I see it now; both men and women have Ego and Soul. It is the Ego that needs to go on the quest for the Soul. This quest culminates in the mystical marriage, the union of Ego and Soul. To the extent that we describe Ego as He, we are referring to the energetic nature of Ego. Goal-directedness, penetrative, risk-taking, curious and hungry for experiences and adventures of all sorts. Women go on this journey as well and while the original narrative refers to males, boys, and young men, it is the Ego that they are attempting to describe, not the sexual orientation or plumbing of the protagonist. One of the best expressions of the masculine is Kingship. Kingship refers to a sovereign or regent and is an asexual term like teacher. I have thought to replace the word with other words but it makes clumsy reading, so please infer from the context what is meant.

Punishments of time. As we explore the idea of the axis Mundi, we see that there is a vertical component of above, below, and center. The Middle is uniquely occupied by mankind. This is an expression of the eternal and is outside of time. When we say “find your center” this is where we mean, and what we mean. As we move away from the vertical axis outwards towards the four directions, North South East, and West, we begin to experience time.  Indeed “Soul creates time by the first separation from pure spirit, time is required for incarnation.” (Michael Meade quote.)


Punishments of time happen when we lose or forget our connection to the eternal. We become “flat worlders”

The macrocosm (the direction of above)crashes down on the microcosms,(the direction of below) obliterating the mesocosm (the direction of within) where the human experience should live. We run out of time. We look left and right to check what everybody else is doing. We watch our backs to see who is going to stab us. We study the past which we see as behind us. We keep our eyes and attention on the horizon, the future our focus is there. Hardly ever in the moment now. Soul however begins with the breaking of the eternal into time. Soul then seeks initiation into life and into the core of the great Self this is the project of a human being’s entire life. The great opus.

Initiation is the constant breaking open of new areas of life for the Soul and Self to experience, and this must happen within Time. This Self is incarnating through us, this is the grand mystery and the grand opus of life itself. The Soul is deeply internal but at the same time connected with all outside events.     (James Hillman, Soul attributes meaning, etc.)

At the moment of birth, we float out of the mother’s womb on or in the waters of chaos, and one of the cords is cut to the Eternal We are now bound in time and the Soul and the Great Self begins the opus called life, through a deepening process of incorporation of Soul into matter. A person’s life is a combination of being bound in time and the eternal. Ego and Soul combining in the Great Self and the heroic journey that it is.

Imagine our two feet. One dancing to the rhythm of the eternal one dancing to the rhythm of matter, life becomes a dance between these two. This is why in any shamanic practice or healing work dance, is used to flex the physical and the eternal to create a flow of divine energy back and forth. Healing only takes place in ritual space, Only in the presence of the divine. This is how we enter the march of history, our personal experience of our part in history may be markedly different from other people’s perception of your contribution to that same history.

The Soul is teleological has its own purpose—Victor Frankl

When we do not grasp our destiny like “the drowning man” we will become doomed to our fate.

EE Cummings To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.

Michael Meade expresses it thus. The ground of myth is the field of imagination the ground of the Soul, the flights of spirit.

Symbols so far in the Grail story. (there are others)

  • Wounded King. The non or undiscriminating ruling Masculine principle.
  • The stream of Feminine consciousness where the wounded King fishes
  • The Grail Castle. The container of the literal truth at this level of consciousness.
  • The procession of the Feminine who are the guardians of the deeper mysteries of the direction of below.
  • The Cup
  • The cornucopia
  • The spear
  • The broken sword
  • The platter
  • The Grail
  • The Ego questing to repair the wasteland

What’s missing ???

  • The direction of above
  • Discrimination
  • Differentiation
  • The balancing Masculine force. (bring balance to the force, LOLS)
  • The direction of the middle the place where mankind stands between the other two poles.

Parsifal. The child.  was instructed by his mother to be polite and not to ask too many questions (to be seen and not heard, in my experience to be invisible until we want to show you off) so, in our childlike innocence, we fail or are unable to ask the meaning of what we saw in the Grail processions, and in the healing of the king.  As an adolescent, we have no context to put it in. The ability to question what we saw would be a step into adulthood and requires some life experience. Many times in our world, things happen or are said that we never question. Only later does the full import of that moment or that remark strike home; leaving us wondering why we never asked for clarity at the time. “Oh, I never understood that.” Like the list of symbols, above it takes a lifetime of experience to unravel these threads and we need the help of those who went before us.

The traditional questions for the Grail experience are “Who does the Grail serve and what ails thee”?

Let us begin with the last question first. What ails thee? Part of the answer to this question comes from understanding the nature of the Grail Castle and the Grail ceremony. The Grail ceremony represents the differentiated unity of the masculine and the undifferentiated unity of the feminine. In the Grail space there is a constant flow of energy between the feminine and the masculine in both directions simultaneously, and so fulfills the requirement of creation and healing as energy. Once again, we need to remember this is happening at other levels of consciousness than we are usually aware of.

When I saw this image, I knew what it meant for me, if we could see the connection between Masculine and Feminine, with mankind standing between the poles, it would look something like this.

What ails the King? He is wounded in the thigh or his testicles, a male’s most tender part. The kingdom is a wasteland. Only when the spear is replaced in the wound does the wound stop hurting. In our world, this is like when a lover leaves us and hurts us, through betrayal or abandonment. Only the reconnection with that lover will heal that wound that hurts so much. So too the replacing of the spear in the wound brings relief but not permanent healing.

Judgments There are lots of judgmental descriptions of how the king was wounded I do not think that helps in our understanding. However, going back to the Star woman story, we see that we as the young man were unable to make a healthy sustainable relationship with our Soul, with the obvious consequences. a form of death. A life without Soul and the beginning of the eternal quest. We can also intuit that the Fisher King somehow lost the true connection to the feminine, the sword is broken. This is at once the sword of discrimination, discernment, decision making, and truth-speaking.  The secret of relationships is intimacy, the ability to speak the truth to each other. Without discernment and differentiation, this is not possible.


Second time around. In other images of our later adult, we return to the Grail Castle. We see we must crawl across from our world to the Grail world along the sharp edge of the great sword. This sword, like discernment, cuts both ways. Its edge is always sharp and demands we stay in the moment. Like speaking truth, there is a need to remain conscious and in the moment. In the last episode of “Lord of the rings,” “The return of the king” the sword of the true king is reforged and ultimately after the last battle with attackers from the shadow realms, the land is healed. We will visit this theme again in Iron John.

Intimate relationships, and the way back to Soul. Intimacy is about speaking the truth to each other and to ourselves. In MKP’s (Mankind Project) I groups, this is one of the practices where we get an opportunity to speak the truth and to explore how deeply the truth is buried in the stories, we tell ourselves. This is the way back to personal intimacy, and how we cross the sword bridge of discernment on our return to the Grail Castle.

The spear or lance is another symbol altogether. While Christianity claims the spear to be the same spear that pierced Christ’s body on the cross, this story predates Christ and exists at other levels of consciousness, rather than in our physical world.

The symbolism of the spear is that it is a stabbing weapon, a piercing weapon. We could imagine that the King was caught “Inflagrante delicto” and was speared through that offending part of the body…. or we can leave it as a metaphor.

Either way, it is like falling out of the tree for the young Ego in the “Star Woman Story”; or falling from the grace of the axis Mundi tree. The result is the same. Paradise is lost, the feminine and the masculine are split. As Socrates says, the two-backed beasts of man, which caused the gods so much trouble, the gods split them apart. The two separate parts now constantly quest for each other and leave the gods in peace.

Returning to the second question may help us here: “Who does the Grail serve?”. Going back to the Star woman story may help us with the answer. Firstly, the relationship with the Star woman was most likely sexual in nature. She was relegated to the bottle except for the time when she was released into the young man’s room – his private space. It is as though he was ashamed to own up to a Soul connection.

When the King sits on his throne (the four-legged throne being a symbol of the feminine), the divine energy flows through him and out into the land through the four aspects of the feminine: the four quarters; the land is healed and nourished, the land and its inhabitants, animals and people, all prosper through the right flow of energy.

The Grail is not so much an object but the dynamic flow of energy between above and below, the conduit for this is the Grail Castle in the other world. Like the symbol of a well, the Grail Castle is built of stone. The castle itself serves to insulate the flow of divine energy from the other world. The castle-like the edges of a well and keeps the divine energies free from contamination. The divine energy is directed through those structures that can contain and direct it. The castle in the Iron John story also carries the same image as a container for the divine energies, not to be defiled or contaminated, until released in safe quantities by the reigning sovereign into the land for the good of the land.

The King’s son (which we all are) of the Iron John story, needs to prepare for these divine energies to flow through us. This is the bone of the hollow bone. The bone deals with issues of containment and insulation while allowing the free flow of divine energies. This process of strengthening and hollowing is what the Iron John story is about, and describes in metaphor how we might get there, to honour our birthright, as the child of a King, and a King in waiting.

Now we have arrived at the beginning of the Iron John story, just one world removed from our own. There is a castle representing Ego and the literal truth, and a container for the divine energies that need to flow into the land. There is a dark forest with eagles and hawks flying over, representing undifferentiated creativity. Soul and of course the third leg of the stool, which is us. We are all of us, men and women, the boy in the story, searching for the missing mystery, our Soul. The individual soul that has split eternity into a lifetime and started us on our journey to the mystical marriage.



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