The Fourth Door into Albedo, or Into the Fish’s Mouth

  • Before I was proficient in learning
  • I travelled in the earth
  • I made a circuit
  • I slept in a hundred islands
  • I visited a hundred caers
  • I have been a multitude of shapes
  • Before I assumed consistent form
  • I have been a hound
  • I have been a hawk
  • I have been a horse
  • I have been willing game for the banquet
  • I have been a narrow variegated sword,
  • I have been a sword in the grasp of the hand
  • I have been a tear in the air
  • I have been a string in a harp
  • I  have been the light of lanterns
  • I have been the dullest of stars
  • I have been a word among letters
  • I have been the origin of a book
  • I have been wood in the covert
  • I have been a continuing bridge over three score river mouths
  • I have been a coracle upon the seas
  • I have been a shield in battle
  • I have been ash in the fire
  • I was formed
  • Of the blossoms of time hill
  • Of the flowers of trees and shrubs
  • I was formed
  • Of the fruit of fruits
  • Of earth
  • I was formed
  • Of an earthly course
  • Adapted from Taliesin

To say Parzival is put out by Cundrie’s chastisement (click here) is an understatement. He is sullen and resentful, wallowing in despair and self-pity, and utterly unwilling, perhaps even powerless, to engage in any kind of introspection much less actually alter his behavior. So much so that Wolfram abandons him as protagonist and picks up his tale with Gawain’s adventures. However, if I follow the patterns of the Moon and the Stars (click here),  the fourth gate that opens on Parzival’s journey is Fomalhaut, the Fish’s Mouth in the constellation of Aquarius during the Spring Equinox.

Personally, I have long been baffled by the astrological attributes of the constellation of Aquarius.  Why would a constellation associated with the element of Air be named after water and described as Ganymede, water-bearer and servant of the gods?


Then I was introduced to Fomalhaut,  although technically in Pisces Austrinus, the star bridges the constellations of Aquarius and Pisces. As it drops ever downward the farther north one travels, in the far north Fomalhaut appears to be sitting on the magical illusionary boundary between sky and sea. When the Fish’s mouth touches the horizon and the Moon opens the gate between heaven and earth, the waters of wisdom begin to flow for the Moon as Lord of the Sea rules over 3 realms:

  • The watery ocean here on earth
  • The infinite ocean of the night sky
  • The mystical mysterious inner ocean of our womb waters and visionary realms

I had to change my static understanding of the element of Air to incorporate storms, the vital force that carries water through the skies, driving it to the time and place where it may fall as rain, for as rain from the skies renews the earthly waters, so do the heavens renew our spiritual waters.

fish moouth

As Heimdall, the Whitest of the Asar, and son of the Nine Moons, the Lord of the Sea is the progenitor of mankind.  When he steps from the heavens to the seashore, he calls himself Rig and fathers the three classes of men.

  • Thralls are woodsmen, herbalists, hunters, brewers
  • Churls or Carls are the artisans, farmers, bakers, weavers, blacksmiths
  • Earls are the runes-men, horsemen and travelers over land, sea, and air

We know from Merlin and King Arthur’s tale that the moment of conception is of great import in forming a person’s destiny and in pre-Christian times, the moment of conception, the patterns of the Moon and Stars during pregnancy, and the time of birth, out-weighed any consideration of the position and importance of a child’s physical parents.  The quest, the drama, and the tragedy of life is the heroic effort it takes to integrate the spiritual calling of one’s destiny with the mundane circumstances of one’s birth.   Parzival’s inner storms eventually drive him to take refuge as a guest of the knight become hermit-monk Trevrizent. There he begins to learn the circumstances of his conception and birth, which is especially poignant for Parzival as his mother left him ignorant of his father’s life and his own lineage.

This is also the point in the story when Wolfram finally addresses his source and mentor, Kyot, who derived his wisdom from the heavens.  Scholars tend to interpret Wolfram’s insistence that he did not learn from a book to mean that he was illiterate.  In the context of his own pre-Gutenberg press times however, there was only one book widely available and that was the Christian Bible. I tend to see Wolfram’s rejection of bookishness as a way to emphasize the distinctly non-Christian roots of his tale. I would suggest that as the Moon has many names and is known to tread upon the shore and visit among men,  Wolfram’s mentor may be the Lord of the Seas himself.

There is some speculation that the Externsteine is the physical site  where Trevrizent’s  hermitage was. It may be a reasonable speculation as the site appears to have been long-standing archeo-astrological lunar observatory and was a hermitage in medieval times. And indeed the 1992 version of the Rune inscriptions from the site does advise that one observe the Moon and Stars to predict the birth of the Shining Leek, the White Knight, who unites Heaven and Earth.


Discovering the starry silver-headed animal the King keeps hidden can only be done by turning to the Whitest One and venturing into the misty visionary realms. Since Taliesin of the Shining Brow, the Welsh poet, left us guidance for recreating the basis of the four-day visionary quest for one’s lineage in his poem the Spoils of Annwn (click here), there is a traditional tribal framework for all our modern-day neo-shamanic Parzival’s to undertake the heroic journey to discover their ancestral roots and begin to integrate their mundane lives and their spiritual callings.

Click for the beginning or for more

or you can indulge in this brief excursion down the hallucinogenicly enhanced 70’s  musical cry for Aquarian enlightenment complete with a contemporary Parzival and cameo  of the horse dance:

and decide if Hair the movie is worth revisiting….


5 thoughts on “The Fourth Door into Albedo, or Into the Fish’s Mouth

  1. “Why would a constellation associated with the element of Air be named after water and described as Ganymede, water-bearer and servant of the gods?”

    I have wondered about this too Sara. Wonderful connection you make of storminess or perhaps even atmosphere as a bridge between heaven and earth.

    • yes, sometimes when I am really banging my head against the metaphorical wall, I have to back way up and consider what a word like ‘air’ might really mean in a different cultural context. Getting a grip on the alchemists’ view of the element of air took me somewhere more along a principle of movement than a bunch of N2 molecules hanging out around the planet….;)

      • So true. We so easily can take words or how we think of the stuff of life, for granted.

        James Hillman wrote an entire chapter on air in his book Alchemical Psychology, making the point that the understanding of air, moving from its qualities to quantities, was the bridge from alchemy to chemistry.

        “Geist, Logos, Pneuma, Spiritus, Prana, Ruach, Psyche, Anima/Animus – words of air, forms of its imagination. Air makes possible this perceptible world, transmitting the colors, sounds and smells that qualify and inform our animal immersion.”

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