Fisher King

Fisher King: “The Myth, of the Fisher King

A young man (the Hero or Fool) leaves his forest home in the Waste Land to follow the knights of King Arthur. He has many adventures, but when he seeks to return home to his dying mother, the young man loses his way. Eventually, he happens upon an old fisherman in a boat. The fisherman instructs him to go upstream to a hill, from where he will see the fisherman’s house. At first, the young sees nothing, but then spies a tower in the distance. He rides to a castle where he is welcomed and ushered in to a great hall.

There, he finds the fisherman and a lavish feast waiting. The old man gives the boy a sword, and tells him that once he himself was a great knight, but a wound in his leg, which will not heal, confines him to his home. He now passes the time by fishing.

As they talk and dine, a procession of youths passes before them-a boy carrying a white lance with blood spilling from its tip, two youths carrying golden candlesticks burning ten candles each, a young girl carrying a golden grail; embedded with jewels, and a girl carrying a silver dish.

The young man wonders about the meaning of all these objects, but remains silent. Upon awakening the next day he finds the castle empty. He begins to search for members of the household and is told by a maiden in the forest that he has been in the Fisher King’s castle, and that by not inquiring about the procession, he failed in his quest, putting the kingdom at risk.

Wishing to set things right, he tries to find the castle again is hopelessly lost. He wanders for five years before finding the castle of the Fisher King. Again, he is welcomed and led to the king who is waiting with a great feast. Again, the mysterious procession passes before them, but this time, the young man asks, ‘Whom does the grail serve?”