Enchantment and Disenchantment

   The idea of enchantment and disenchantment is that people at a certain time and place are forced to perceive the world in a way that is inadequate or improper to its character.  This makes me think of the Gnostic aphorism in the Gospel according to Thomas in which Christ is asked when the Kingdom will come.  And Christ says, “It will not come by expectation.  It is here now.  The Kingdom of the Father is spread over the earth and men do not see it.”  Men do not see it because of an enchantment.  In those legends the savior who is to disenchant the world is the equivalent of Christ, the Savior who opens men’s eyes.

   In the Oriental tradition of Buddhism, it is the Buddha who releases you from the enchantment of maya.  And the enchantment of maya in modern psychological terms, is exactly the image of the world that you have as a consequence of your fears and desires.  If you could break away from your ego limitations, you would behold the world of paradise right here and now.  There is a Buddhist saying: “This world with all its ills, with all its horrors, with all its stupidities, with all its darkness, is the golden lotus world.”  This is the golden lotus world, right now as it is.  And if you cannot see it as such, it is not the world’s fault.  What must be corrected is not the world, but your own perspective.  And so we find in the Grail Legend that everything needed is all there, only it is not being seen.  And what the hero is to do is to clarify the situation.  

   Another enchantment of Wolfram’s story runs parallel to the enchantment of the Grail Castle.  This is the enchantment of the Castle of Marvels, which concerns not the realm of the spirit but the realm of love – physical, erotic love.  It concerns the world of the troubadours.  This part of the story tells of Clinschor, a very powerful, well-known, and distinguished duke, who falls in love with the wife of a noble king of Sicily, probabl Frederick II.  And in the way of the twelfth-century troubadours, he becomes the lover of the kings’ wife.  But when the king discovers the two together, the king castrates this man, who is so mortified, as well as physically stricken, that he decides on revenge.  He goes to Persia and learns tremendously powerful magic.  And then he comes back and enchants the whole aristocracy of Europe in a castle known as the Castle of Marvels.  All the queens, countesses, and beautiful women, and all the glorious knights, are separated from one another, even forgetting who they all are. 

   On the one hand we have the Castle of Marvels enchanted in the wasteland of love of which I spoke earlier in connection with the Tristan story.  And on the other, we have the Castle of the Grail, lost in the Waste Land of spiritual life.  Both the spiritual and the secular worlds of spiritual experience, love and beauty, are under this pall of enchantment through these two castrati, Clinschor and poor young Anfortas.  (Here we can see the influence on Wagner already.)  That’s the situation.  That’s what has to be healed.  And two heroes are available, one for each task.  One here is Parzival, who starts out as a young, callow fool.  And the other is graceful, courteous, lovely Gawain, a highly sophisticated philanderer.  Wolfram presents Gawain as he goes in and out of bed and in and out of the battlefield, and all of it in grand style.  But all that represents part of the enchantment situation.  Each hero must disenchant himself before his is able to disenchant the Waste Land.  RG 155

Enchantment - Grail Community

One of the characteristics of an enchantment is that there are people all around who know the rules of the enchantment.  These are the people of the Grail Castle community.  They know what the curse is and how it works, but they can’t dispel it.  The only way the enchantment can be broken is by some naïve person doing the thing that has to be done unintentionally, out of his true nature.  To do something intentionally will no break the spell.  In other words, the rescue of the world occurs through an intrinsic nobility of nature expressed by the hero.  In this tradition the hero is called the Great Fool, one who is uninstructed in the secret of the enchantment.  Nevertheless, because of his purity – and I don’t mean purity in the Galahad sense but rather in the sense of the integrity, honesty, courage, and forthrightness of his character – he is able to restore the proper natural order, as against the enforced social order of the anointments.  Here is a king, the Grail King, who was not naturally competent for his job but has been anointed.  And he right away becomes interested in the adventure of love.   RG 156