Grail Metaphors

  It seems obviously more appropriate, though, to interpret the Grail Castle as the region of the unconscious which can, it is true, be looked on as a sort of underworld in the sense that it is the realm of the immortal images.  Turning back to the unconscious and paying attention to its contents is often depicted in dreams and fantasies as a descent into the underworld, and this motif also frequently recurs as one of the typical deeds or tasks of a hero.  But inasmuch as the unconscious also contains life and the future – that is, growth and development – within itself, it is more than merely the realm of the dead or an accumulation of the departed.  The Grail Castle is therefore suitably compared with the unconscious, since anyone who penetrates to it can also, in contrast to the situation in the underworld, return from it. 

The sword is therefore a symbol or representative, so to speak, of its owner, and since the knight has the task of coming to terms with the outer world and overcoming it, the sword can be compared with certain functions of the ego personality to whom this task belongs.  TGL 79

Only after he has realized through direct contemplation those unconscious contents symbolized by the Grail can Perceval restore the sword to wholeness again.  TGL 81

The (glass) bridge could therefore be conceived of as a human construction that causes the transcendent function to become a consciously realized and continually helpful attitude which takes that function into lasting consideration and makes a practical use of it.  This is also indicated in the priesthood of the pontifex.  TGL 279

The mountain is almost a parallel to the Hill of Calvary and symbolizes the anguish of becoming conscious.  Tying the horse to the pillar accords with a painful binding and restriction of the animal soul, which is subjugated and bound to the centre, the Self.  In so far as the horse represents the instinct that carries consciousness, it means that instinct, by being bound to the pillar, is concentrated on the individuation process and robbed of its free roaming motion.  The pillar was set up by Merlin; therefore his figure and that of his daughter acquire an ever more profound significance; they seem to personify the principium individuationis par excellence.  TGL 285