Looks like Pierre Droal knows the wild man and king are one and the same, eh? Nice!
So the huntsman who is not afraid of inner space, shall we say, has bailed out the lake into which men and dogs have been disappearing. He finds at bottom of that particular inner space a wild man described as the color of rust. "They bound him with cords, and led him away to the castle" and imprison him in an iron cage. The king "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 every one could again go into the forest with safety." Since the lake and the hole in the ground are both archetypally feminine (water and earth), we can add that symbolic tint to the fact that the queen's keeping the key- for starters!
Alchemically the metals are a big deal. Metalsmiths, including blacksmiths who work with iron, were highly revered; their art was a magical one requiring the use of all four elements. Norse Odin or Wotan's got many attributes; one is that of blacksmith. In the Finnish tradition the deity Vainamoinen is also a magician-blacksmith. Anyway, let's pause to look at iron, the metal of the planet Mars, because it's part of this story-teaching.
First, iron oxide color is prehistorically found to refer to earth goddesses. That's more than likely because it's basically the same as blood; our oxygen carrying red blood cells contain hemoglobin, formed around iron, and women and blood, birth and death and moons and all that...
Next, iron's magnetism makes obvious to our eyes the sometimes invisible law of attraction and repulsion that governs a lot of human experience. Magnetism's polar opposites are a huge factor in the attraction between masculine and feminine energies, and understanding opposites or duality consciousness is fundamental to alchemy.
And though all metals are of Earth and therefore earth element (thus the red goddess), within that earth element category we split again into male and female, and iron is a male metal. Iron's planet, Mars, is so macho that the symbol for male is the same as the symbol for Mars! That rust referred to in the story is the result of the metal interacting with both air (masculine) and water (feminine). Interesting! Here is a great little blurb on iron (scroll down a bit since the page starts with lead). And here's a line from the page I want to highlight; "By transmuting iron, we learn to assert ourselves without dominating or submitting to others. We gain insight into our behavior and become aware of the forces of soul within." This soul aware one is the wise king, the protagonist's journey in our tale. This understanding about domination and submission is 3rd chakra work, the fire chakra.
If anger and other expressions of inner fire are overly repressed, misunderstood, and have no outlet, anger can turn back upon us in the form of fear and anxiety; or we can move so far away from our inner fire-spark that we get lost in depression. Properly used fire element sparks our lives into radiant vitality, creativity, joy, symbolized in alchemy by the sun. We are capable of drawing healthy boundaries, of saying "no" and holding to it. Physiologically fire is sympathetic nervous system arousal, excitation and the so-called fight or flight reaction. Our king is stuck in flight; therefore, if he's to really master masculine fire, he's got to explore fight. And he will- later.
The Romans had a thing about Mars and war; martial force and aggression were to be used in the interest of peace. That's an ideal, as we all know, but if it manifests then of course it would be the wise king again. Mars's strong link to the archetypally feminine Earth (agriculture) is found in his birth; he is the only parthenogenic child of Juno. Just as Minerva sprang full grown from Jupiter's head, so did Mars begin forming in Juno's body without any help from Jupiter. Pretty funny, huh? Goddesses springing from foreheads? But that's the masculine creative power; air element, the mind.
Later in Roman history Juno's Mars fell out of favor as a father of Rome and was superseded in his divine martial position by Jupiter's Minerva, a goddess of wisdom and knowledge as well as martial strategy and the domestic arts. Notice in the old print above that Mars is ruling Scorpio; it was rendered before the discovery of Pluto, now Scorpio's ruler.
"The King had a son eight years old, who was once playing in the court-yard,and while he was playing, his golden ball fell into the cage."
Another pause to consider this golden ball symbolism, which will morph later in the story to golden apples and golden coins. First, a reminder; alchemy uses the metal gold to symbolize the eternal, the divine Self, to symbolize the state of being that is seated in the eternal, our own inner royal throne where we know ourselves without doubt to be eternal beings rather than bodies and personalities only.
Second, the symbolism of the circle, of the ball, is that of the soul and/or unity consciousness. It's a symbol that crops up a lot in these alchemical tales; it did show itself as a clew of yarn in The Six Swans (last fairy tale interped) and in The Seven Ravens as the parents' ring (previous to The Six Swans). As the photo of a royal orb and sceptre above describes, the golden orb as symbolizing both (archetypally masculine golden) ethereal power and (feminine round) earthly power is ubiquitous in Euro-Western culture.
Anyhoo, as the Wicki article on the matter states, "The Orb is a religious symbol that represents the Monarch's role as Defender of the Faith and as Supreme Governor of the Church of England."
So the orb is a symbol of our spiritual side, if you will (the faith); the sceptre-wand represents the king's earthly power. Here are a few images of the orb's use in Christian art;
Jesus is held by his mother; this is another way to think of the fact that the queen holds the key. In the womb and in early childhood we are connected with soul in part through the relationship with the mother, our primary human love relationship. When men mature, enter manhood, they are developmentally oriented towards breaking this bond- for now. However, wisdom tells us this soul centered, all-embracing (the womb) love will be revisited, though it will likely shapeshift. In fact there is no essential difference between this love and every other; people will somehow find both personal and the mythic Divine Mother in the face of every beloved. Love is after all love, though humans are very entertained (and I am sure, entertaining) by exploring varying expressions of love, by cocreating differing versions of it depending on the object thereof, the dance of Shiva and Shakti.
The key the queen holds is, from our protagonist's angle, all about the next development (it opens a new door) of the very soul connected mother-child relationship, subset male child. A feminine figure has the key, but within any psyche there are many ways to imagine our developmental door-opening events. Thus there could be many such keys used in a lifetime, keys kept by, given by, used by an number of inner aspects, inner archetypal players. Probably the best reason to feature the mother in this story is because of that first totally connected relationship. However, once we get into the soul, it holds both feminine and masculine qualities, of course. Soul is only feminine in relation to the masculine "outer", worldly experience.
Notice also the typical Western Church icon benediction mudra or hand gesture above; it's done by the right, or masculine, outgoing-energy-hand (the wand-scepter) while the left is in contact with the feminine globe. Again, sitting on the lap of the Great Mother, Magna Mater, describes the experience of soul connection for everyone. I mention this mudra because our fairy tale boy is going to be sticking his fingers (wand? penis?) into a still, mirroring pool, into powerful feminine soul-space, penetrating it as a key penetrates a lock.
That's pretty much what childhood is about; a divine soul exploring human embodied experience, exploring this reality, this realm called Earth. The souls that we are discover that this is a place of limitation. Limitation creates different forms of suffering for humans, including the suffering which is part of dualistic thinking- and vice versa. It's another circular concept; experiential limitation results in dualistic thinking results in limitation results in...
If we were not in dualistic realms, we could not learn to be disloyal to Self, for example; we would remain in self-unity. We would not judge and negatively criticize self and therefore other. To the individual soul, human experience is very much about working with the rules of restriction. Saturn, the god and planet of limitation, is associated with lead, that which alchemists turn into gold. We are caged in ways the soul hopes to use for transformation, both of self and of "the world", Jesus's salvation message. Wisdom sees through the illusion of limitation; that movement from duality to the third way is part of the golden ball game.
The boy asks the wild man, Iron John, "'Give me my ball.' 'Not till thou hast opened the door for me,' answered the man. 'No,' said the boy, 'I will not do that; the King has forbidden it,' and ran away."
It's a great day when we realize that the choice was always ours, whether it was made consciously or unconsciously. The soul, oversoul, higher self, etc. perspective is needed in order to go all the way in accepting the power of our choicemaking, of true self responsibility. From the transpersonal perspective the free divine being that we are chooses to come here fully aware of the veil of forgetting, aware of human unconsciousness and other restrictions, aware of the human suffering requirement.
Though there are intended or likely, fated life events, there are also cocreative options. There is self-created, "unnecessary" suffering as well as possible surprising leaps beyond suffering's cages. When we assume we didn't know what we were in for before we incarnated, we can't imagine why we would choose to experience horrible, damaging events. We can't explain why children are set up to make lots of unconscious choices, unconscious in the sense of not being considered by the reasoning intellect.
Later we go back into the forest of our past and untangle those unconscious or conscious choices that are crucial to us as adults. And then we can make a different choice, which is the prerogative of adulthood, when we are not as dependent on others for our very survival, when we know more about how things work in the physical realm. That's exactly what our boy is going to do, because that is exactly what enlightenment and wisdom development, lead to gold, hinges on; bringing light to that which is unconscious, dark, in our human experience.
The inner wild man, however, does know where the key is, in the way of his first bit of wisdom teaching; "It lies under thy mother's pillow, thou canst get it there", he says. And the boy-king decides to end the situation of disconnectedness by going to the soft feminine "marriage pillow"; by inviting some form of intimacy into his life, symbolically indicated by woman + pillow = intimacy. We are going to assume it's self intimacy, because our king is going to learn all sorts of things about how he operates inside his own wild psyche. This key that sets the soul man free is the willingness to connect deeply and lovingly with whatever he encounters in his inner space, rather than fearing it for all the many conditioned reasons he's come to do so. Such dropping of inner defenses, of inner iron clad cage-bars, such self trust is one and the same with self loyalty. Believing that "the world", as opposed to your own inner divine connection, has the answers to your suffering is self betrayal.
Intimacy is the very benchmark of the soul; it's this feminine intimacy of soul which magnetizes the outward moving masculine, "sucks it into" its darkness, its void, its womb, into closeness and oneness, for intimacy experiences the two as one. Experiencing intimacy is one and the same with experiencing soul; ours, others', the world's... and it can certainly be done without anyone else around! Such magnetic, self reliant, self trusting, self intimate connectivity is what draws lots of folks to practice whatever art they love, from baby-making to music-making to money-making.
A quote from Carolyn Myss on choice; not the one I was looking for, but it works. The matter of choice is very often addressed in these transformational tales.
The boy is given his ball and the wild man hurries away. But having pinched his fingers, the boy is like all humans who haven't moved beyond fear yet; afraid. As we grow up we experience physical, psychological, and emotional pain after pain, small and large, and our innate, natural reaction to it is to avoid it in the future. An alarm system is unconsciously set up as part of our animal selves; fear. That fear-alarm is also the existential loss of the ball, the disconnect the king is learning about, thus Myss's advice about moving towards fear rather than away from. And his inner child promptly displays this for us;
"The boy became afraid; he called and cried after him, "Oh, wild man, do not go away, or I shall be beaten!" The wild man turned back, took him up, set him on his shoulder, and went with hasty steps into the forest."
So this very connected part of the psyche (boy) stays with the wild part of the king's inner experience, because he is afraid. The specific fear here, of parental punishment, is the stereotypical conditioning, cage-making event. In fact our childhood conditioning is only partly the direct result of parental actions; it doesn't do to remain focused on parents in our self inquiry, though it is crucial to know that we have internalized the parental voices and other behaviors. Parents are the compelled and often unwitting agents of our fates in the form of cocreating the lead that will later be transformed.
Unfortunately, there are not so many images on line for this tale. Next post, we'll get some alchemical apprenticeship tips from Iron John. Until then, Rumi;
Lakeman also uses flowers; a simple "friendship flower", just like the flowers that the prince will offer to the princess later in the story. The "golden view" is the soul's view, Lakeman's "tender eyes", the intimate view, that key under the feminine pillow. Pauper vs. King comes up when the golden haired boy has no interest in the gold ducats given him by the princess. Of course Lakeman could mean something different in some of this; the "send yourself away" is a bit confusing symbolically.
Poor as paupers, proud as kings,
All we do is aim for better things.
That finger, finger of faith comes out and touches me,
It`s better, better late than never for honesty,
That sender, go and send yourself another dream.
Go and send yourself away, go and dream,
Go and dream, go and send yourself away.
Poor as paupers, proud as kings,
All we do is aim for better things.
Your so tender, tender eyes, release that golden view.
It`s simple, simple friendship flower is passed to you,
Your picture, picture perfect, pathways are laid for you.
Go and send yourself away, go and dream,
Go and dream, go and send yourself away.
Poor as pauper, proud as king, and I say that
All I do is aim for better things.
Next- the boy's alchemical apprenticeship begins!