Hi Fairytale lovers,
The group is indeed on for tomorrow July 16th at 7pm (811 NW 20th Ave, #103). I'm excited to finally discuss this tale with you. I'm sorry for not getting the tale to you in advance of the class. Here's the first half of the story- we'll read the last half together tomorrow
Parcifal and the Holy Grail
A long time ago a king and his two eldest sons pledged their loyalty to King Arthur, and became His knights. And in serving the vision of Camelot all three men gave up their lives. The widowed queen had just one infant son left to her. To protect him from losing his life the same way, she took him to live in a cottage far away at the edge of the wilderness. Her servants were made to swear never to speak of kings, knights, or noble quests. She called her son Parcifal, which means “innocent fool;” for this is how she meant to keep him.
Parcifal spent his childhood running wild in the forest, and no one taught him anything about the world. Only once he asked his mother how the world came to be, and she felt guilty for keeping him ignorant; so she told him God made the world, and good men served Him. When Parcifal had grown into a handsome youth, one day he was walking along the road and three knights on horseback came charging towards him. Their armor gleamed in the sun, and Parcifal thought one of these magnificent beings must be God Himself, so he threw himself down in front of them, hoping to offer his life in service.
The knights barely managed to stop before trampling him to death. Parcifal picked out the largest man, and asked him: “Are you the Lord who made the world- the One that good men serve?” The knight raised his visor, “We are knights who serve King Arthur. We are chasing a gang of bandits who have kidnapped a maiden. Delay us no longer!”
Parcifal ran home and told his mother he must go at once to King Arthur and become a knight. His mother was heartbroken, but made one last attempt to keep him from harm. She sewed him a one-piece garment out of sackcloth, and made him promise never to take it off. Then she gave him a horse to ride so old and weak it could barely stand. She figured he could never reach King Arthur’s court on that horse, and if he did no one would take him seriously in his boyish outfit. To keep Parcifal safe while he was away from her she gave him three pieces of advice: 1. Greet everyone you meet with courtesy. 2. Treat every woman you meet especially with respect and honor. 3. If a gray-haired man wishes to instruct you, take heed.
So Parcifal set off, carrying his javelin (a boy’s weapon) in place of a lance. Everyone he met laughed at him, but Parcifal greeted them all courteously, and kept on, and after much wandering he found the place where King Arthur reigned. The King recognized his noble bearing (despite his foolish attire) and accepted his request to be knighted. The same day Parcifal killed a fearsome red knight who had challenged King Arthur’s honor and took his red armor and his sorrel mare.
Soon after Parcifal took an evenings rest at the house of an aging nobleman, who’s son had recently died in battle. This man took Parcifal under his wing, and guided him in the ways of knighthood. First, he told Parcifal he must never kill another man unless he had no other option. Second, he convinced Parcifal to take off the homespun garment his mother had given him. And third, he told Parcifal to carry himself with dignity, and always refrain from asking questions, which made a man appear childlike and foolish. Promising to heed his mentor’s advice, Parcifal set out on his away.
One day he was travelling Parcifal became lost in thought and his horse wandered into a dense forest. As the sun was setting, they came upon a beautiful valley at the center of which stood a lake. On the shore a man sat leaned up against a rock fishing. Parcifal greeted him, and asked the fisherman if there was a place nearby where he might spend the night. The fisherman answered slowly in a voice full of pain and sorrow. “This place is Wild Mountain. The only resting place here is the castle which you have just passed.” Parcifal hadn’t seen any castle, but when he turned around a great castle stood towering behind him. “When you reach the drawbridge, tell them the fisherman sent you.”
Parcifal rode up to the castle and called out that the fisherman sent him, and the drawbridge was immediately lowered. Then a crowd of pages took his horse, removed his armor, and led him to a room where he was bathed and anointed with oils. Next he was dressed in a robe of gold, and invited into a great hall, filled with nobles, who were all dressed as if for a great celebration but solemn and quiet.
At the far end of the hall, propped among cushions sat the fisherman, dressed in king’s robes. In a weak voice, he bid Parcifal to sit by him. Parcifal did so, noticing again that the man seemed to be in horrible pain. He wondered what could cause a man such anguish, but kept his peace. Then the main doors flew open, and a page ran in carrying a lance, the tip of which was covered in blood. He ran to each corner of the room, and then out again, and many people in the room began to weep.
The next time the doors flew open a crowd of servants entered. They set up a great garnet table before the king, and tables for his guests, and covered them with candlesticks and crystal lamps, and golden goblets and plates. Then a golden basin was brought and the king washed his hands, and then the room became very still, and in came a princess carrying a golden grail, which she placed it before the king.
When the guests had all sat down they picked up their empty goblets and plates and held them out towards the grail, and suddenly their goblets were overflowing with wine and their plates with every kind of rich food. Parcifal followed their example and the wine and food were like nothing he had ever tasted. But he noticed that the king ate and drank very little. After a while a page came in bearing a golden sword. The king turned to Parcifal and said: “Before God crippled me I carried this sword into many battles. Please take it. It will serve you well.”
Then every eye in the hall turned to Parcifal. He was astounded by everything he had seen, and wondered at the meaning of all these things. But remembering his mentor’s words he restrained himself from asking any questions. Instead, he accepted the king’s gift and bowed deeply in gratitude. Before he knew it, the servants were clearing the tables and the king was wishing him good night.
When Parcifal woke the next morning the castle was deathly still, and his clothes and armor were laid out by his bedside. He assumed something terrible must have happened, so he dressed himself quickly and searched the whole castle-but could find no one. When he walked outside, his horse was standing in the courtyard saddled and bridled, and the drawbridge was down.
He leapt on his horse and galloped across the drawbridge, hoping he could catch up with the king and all his servants wherever they’d gone. But he had barely made it across when someone yanked the drawbridge up behind him, and a voice shouted out: “Damn you, fool! Why didn’t you ask the question?”
Parcifal turned and shouted back, “What do you mean? What question?” But there was no reply, and Parcifal had no choice but to go forward, following the confusion of tracks until they disappeared in the woods...