The Jungian, Robert A. Johnson, in The Fisher King & the Handless Maiden, writing of another version of the Fisher King, writes of the “inarticulate wound” that many carry within themselves. This wound, unlike external wounds, often is ambiguous and is like a ghost that haunts, while the sufferer cannot quite grasp why he or she is plagued by this ungraspable and indefinable, inner, pain. We can call this existential pain.
Following Carl Jung’s theory of the Self, which is the Self at one with all others, or the True Self, Johnson remarks that the healing of the king arises from being connected to the Self. Indeed, and of import, the king could not even see that the container right beside him was the Grail, even as persons entangled in serving the self, in a perpetual motion of self-focus, cannot see or avail themselves of the Grace that is always with them.
The question arises, “What is the way out of this self-entanglement?” Well, this happens not by rejecting the self. A person becomes aware of the Grail, of Grace, when she is in connection with, nurturing, and living from the Self, which is one with God, with everything, for there is no individual Self, only One, Universal, Wondrous Presence.
Parry might be psychotic, but Jack is as lost, or more so, for his life has been based on promoting himself. The tale illustrates the deceitfulness of striving after such self-aggrandizing riches and power. However, it addresses the self-focus of those who employ religion and spirituality to escape the world, even their own bodies, and attain higher states of consciousness or privileged status with God, Buddha, whatever, for themselves.
Rather, the Fisher King story shows that realization of Grace accompanies humbly serving others. The “Fool” is that servant, which is the dark side of the king. Therefore, this repressed Servant aspect must be brought into the consciousness of the king, and is only when he has become so weak that he is no longer able to care for himself.
Do we not, often, awaken to the wise Fool within us, the only way to escape our futile entanglement in self-focus and seeking self-security, by suffering enough to exhaust all our efforts to find Grace through the maneuverings of the self, or ego? Basically, the self creates and perpetuates the very misery it tries to escape, for its very effort still represses the means of realizing the Holy Grail, Heaven, the Kingdom of God, Nirvana, Love, ... here and now. Indeed, that self will seek to use “spiritual” or “religious” escapes from the dying essential to wellness and healing the inarticulate wound, the wound that blocks the heart from Love, loving, and receiving love.