Part 4: The Fisher King


According to Arthurian legend, the Fisher King was a guardian of the Holy Grail.  On what had to be the worst day of this guy’s life, he suffered a terrible wound to the groin that left him infertile. Which meant that when he died, the line of Grail guardians would come to an end.

Not only did his power and virility vanish, but his kingdom transformed into a barren wasteland.

The only object that could heal the Fisher King and his dying kingdom was the Holy Grail – the very thing he was sworn to protect.  But he was too weak to stand up and take a sip from the cup.

Seems like it would have been easy for someone to just lean down and hand it to him, but hey, I didn’t write the story.

But I can sympathize.

My past infection has left me with a permanent case of varicocele. And though my doctors told me there is no reason to be pessimistic, there is a chance that my ability to have children could be affected.  But even that aside, the psychological damage caused by the infection, coupled with seeing all my plans over the last few years fall apart, one after another…

It’s hard not to feel impotent.

But now I have a new burst of energy, a new cause for hope.

The Axis Mundi.

The spirits have asked me to hand my doubts over to them. They have promised to lead me to the World Tree.

If they’re telling the truth, this could be the key to my redemption.

But if they’re lying, or if they’re just figments of my imagination…

I can see the headline already:

Body of Anonymous Black Male Found at Bottom of Ravine.


Witnesses say he claimed to be able to see “inter-dimensional portals”


Excerpt from the article:…”He was raving,” say Marcia Gladstone, 45, of Pasadena, CA.  “I mean, really raving. He kept going on and on about climbing a tree that would take him to heaven.  I suspect he was on crack.”

And then the talk among my friends:

“Did you hear what happened to Daryl?
“Really sad…”
“Grandiose delusions…”
So much potential.  He just threw it all away…”

Pick up the phone, says a voice inside of me.  And call a psychiatrist.  Do it now. 

It occurs to me that I’m less afraid of going mad than I am of people thinking I’ve gone mad.

You’re not going to do this, says the voice.  Not again!

“It’ll be different this time,” I say.

Sure it will.

“It feels different!”

You’re deluded. You can’t trust how you feel.

“So what do I do then? Just let everyone else decide for me what’s real and what’s not?”

YES!  Otherwise you’re going to end up on the street, huddled up against a wall, mumbling to yourself. Is that what you want? You want to be the mumbling guy on the street? 

“No, I don’t want to be the mumbling guy on the street.  But that doesn’t have to be my fate.  Besides…

“…a person needs a little madness or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.” (Nikos Kazantzakis)

But why go through all that? Why punish yourself? Why not just stay home, and get a real life and a real job, so that you can live and die like a normal person?

“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” (Francis Chan)

So where are you going to go exactly? The Axis Mundi is beyond time and space. You can’t “find” it.  No one can.

I was seeking something unknown, unknowable. I knew the names of it – I had read a thousand books describing it – but the beast itself roamed out beyond the edge and in the deep centre of things. Yes, in the Fire of fire and the Water of water. Eventually, I knew. I had to let myself become so mad that to be in civilisation would destroy me, so feral and lost and essential that only the wildest places of moor could sustain me.”   (Tom Hiron)

“The universe cannot be asked to remove its mask if the person will not shed his.” (Phillip K. Dick)

Maybe a stronger man could go to that place, but not you.  You don’t have the resolve. You’re a coward. You’ve broken before. You’ll break again. 

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery — isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” (Charles Bukowski)

And I began to laugh.

I laughed because my failures over the last seven years weren’t failures at all.

I’d been afraid to walk my own path because I couldn’t see where it lead.  So I walked down roads carved out by others – roads that had already been battle-tested.  Christian. Ayahuasca healer.  Kaballah mystic.  Peace Pilgrim.  Big-shot writer wannabe.

None of them fit, and my soul fought against them all.  Each time I put on a new mask, my soul would rip it off, screaming, “NO! NOT THIS ONE!”

My failures were my soul’s victories.

And now, after years of defending itself, my soul went on the offensive.  It poured through me, taking back control of my body and mind. Howling at the sky, it raised a hammer and set to forging a new mask, using my fear of madness as the template.

I plunged into my madness and felt it rise into me.  My fear dissipated, revealing a part of myself that I’d sent into exile long ago.  There was an explosion in the center of my belly.  I began to weep.  And then I wailed.

And then I screamed.

And then I roared.

And as I roared – in anger and in pain, in grief and in joy, – more and more of this ancient power coursed through me.

“Remember this,” I whispered to myself.  “Remember this feeling.  Don’t ever forget it.  This is yours.  This is your birthright.”

That was it. It was too late now. There was no turning back.  The bush was burning.


I had become the Mad Griot.


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