Parzival and the journey of adolescence (2023)

Edited version published inRenewal, a Waldorf education magazine, vol. 15 no. 1, Spring/Summer 2006 - This original version is provided with the permission of the author.

parzival, Wolfram von Eschenbach's medieval epic, offers a portrait of the transitYouth. The core of the eleventh grade curriculum in a Waldorf school is often considered the core of the entire Waldorf curriculum.

It is possible to look through Parzival's lens and better understand the journey of youth.

development context
We know that the small child, especially the head, spends most of his energy during the first seven years in the formation of his physical body, the instrument by which he will live his life. The little child lives mainly by grasping, playing, working, walking in the world, acting, by the voluntary activity of the limbs in the world.

We know that the growing child in the second phase of life, between teething and puberty, mainly develops the heart and lungs, breathes in and out, learns, one might say, mainly through the rhythmic system. The child skillfully shapes the paths, the rhythms, the habits that allow him to experience life, shapes, one might say, his vital (or etheric) body while learning mainly by touch.

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Only in the third stage, adolescence, does the metabolic system develop; only then will the young be able to reproduce. Only then are the legs and arms extended to their final fullness. And yet, in terms of the faculties of the soul, it is only after puberty that legitimate, natural, organic thought emerges and flourishes as a new faculty of its own. Perhaps the essential question of Waldorf education is: how can this new "soul body" (or astral body) be helped to grow as harmoniously as possible in relation to the physical body and the vital body on the one hand, and serve as skillfully as Is it possible, on the other hand, the next emergence of individuality, the "I AM"?

How can the Waldorf school curriculum answer this question? One way is to strive to teach in ninth grade in a way that anchors the newborn's thinking skills as best as possible to the laws and realities of the physical world, recapitulating the first seven years of development. So, in the tenth grade, teachers try to develop the thinking of the soul and the body by teaching in a way that guides the student to understand how things work, how poetry works, stories, epics, mechanics, geometry Euclidean, physiology, etc. . of the world as experienced by the vital body. Then, in the eleventh grade, thinking reaches its purest form, since it does not recapitulate previous stages of development, but can think conceptually for itself. And in twelfth grade, the curriculum artistically imagines, from something actually experienced in late adolescence, early adulthood, the emergence of the I AM.

Parzival's family background
How is Parzival's story a portrait of this entire period of development? First, some context of Parzival's legacy. Parzival's father, Gahmuret, first married a beautiful black Moorish queen, Belacane, with whom he had a black and white son, Feirefiz. Then, when he won a powerful tournament in Spain, the Christian chivalric codes invalidated his marriage to the Moors and the law of the tournament forced him to marry the Christian queen Herzeleide. Despite their growing love for each other, he left in time to help his former teacher, the Baruch of Baghdad, who was killed in battle. In her grief at the news of her husband's death, Herzeleide gave birth to a son, Perzival, but swore that she would never meet the knights, so that no woman would suffer as much pain as she did.

Therefore, Parzival's childhood was completely sheltered in the forest of Soltane. The boy did not even know his own name, only the nickname his mother gave him, bon fils, cher fils, beau fils. As a son of the desert with a sensitive soul, he could shoot birds with his little homemade bow and arrows, and his singing brought tears to his eyes. When his mother discovered the source of his pain, she destroyed all the birds in the area. As her son suffered even more from her absence, he realized, "Who was she that changed God's commandments?" When the boy asked what "God" was, she replied: "a bright light." One day, when the boy saw three bright lights on horseback, he asked them if they were God. No, they were not God; they were knights bestowed by King Arthur. When the boy told his mother that he would become a knight, his heart sank. Despite knowing his will, she put him in fool's clothes, on a bad horse, with some important motherly advice, including: avoid a dark ford, listen to a gray man, and kiss a woman for her ring and salute. She told him that he had lost two kingdoms. The boy bravely went in search of King Arthur, armed only with his javelin. Unbeknownst to him, his mother, Herzeleid, fell dead in grief almost immediately at the second loss of her.

Ninth grade

In a way, this is the boy entering the ninth grade, the big world of high school, lanky, a little goofy in his robes, armed with "motherly" advice and a rebellious heart. In a sense, the "mother's realm" naturally disappears for each teen as the teen transitions into the "parent's realm."


1) Parzival, still unable to read real water, followed her advice literally, walking through a stream in the shadows before crossing the water, again in the language of myth, a spatial image of entering a new level of experience. Yes, he soon met a half-naked beautiful lady (Yeshuth) sleeping in a tent. Yes, he obediently sprang to her, kissed her, took her ring and her brooch, and, not hungry for lust but for hunger, devoured not her but her food, and departed satisfied at first adventure. so well mastered of her. Unbeknownst to him, her master returned from her to find her apparently devastated, punished her with public shame, broke her saddle, and allowed her to wear only the dress she wore. 2) Then the young fool [Parzival] found a grieving woman (Sigune) nursing the still warm corpse of her boyfriend (Shionetulander). When the boy identified himself to her as "Bon fils, cher fils, beau fils", recognizing her cousin, she told him her real name: "Parzival, which means direct". him and that he should rule. And to protect the boy disguised as a fool, she sent him away from Arthur. 3) A fisherman offered him accommodation for the Yeshuth brooch and sent it to Arthur the next day. 4) As Percival approached Arthur's camp, he found a red-haired knight in red armor on a red horse, wearing red robes, holding a red-gold chalice that he had taken from Arthur's court as a symbol of his intent to reclaim his lordship. kingdom . Ither, the Red Knight, sent the boy to the Round Table to convey the challenge to him. As the jester entered the courtyard, not only did he see Arthurs everywhere, but the knights and ladies, despite the jester's naïveté and attire, recognized a rare individual of high birth. A woman laughed at who was prophesied that she would never laugh until she saw the greatest gentleman in the land. No seneschal hit her for laughing at that fool. A servant who was prophesied to be mute until he saw the greatest knight in the land speak for the first time. Keie hit him too.
With no one willing to fight Ither, Arthur gave the boy permission to take Ither's red armor, which he wanted if he could, as part of his process of becoming a knight. When Parzival returned to tell Ither that he wanted his armor, the knight laughed and struck the boy's head with his spear. With an instinctive and immediate rage, Parzival hurled his javelin at the eye of Ither's red helm, killing it. A page had to come out of Arthur's court to show the ignorant boy how to remove his armor and put it on over the jester's cloak. The unknown boy, wearing the Red Knight armor, jumped on the Red Horse and went out into the world.

ninth grade student
Like the boy dressed like a fool on the bony horse, ninth graders, especially boys, are dangerously clumsy in their suddenly expanding bodies, as ill-fitting in their old clothes as they are in their new long limbs. Because of this physical and mental awkwardness, high schools often make the ninth grade less visible to the public, such as not having a play. Like the fool with Yeshuth, the ninth grader understands little of the mystery of the woman, and the ninth grader, boy or girl, still understands little of the soul-body that is formed, though the girl is far ahead. of the child in his astral. awareness. The ninth grader has lost the two kingdoms of childhood and adolescence, which he will regain when he is able to transform his physical and vital body through the increasing activity of his own individuality, a lifelong process. As "bon fils, beau fils, cher fils", the ninth grader abandons subjective family and childhood nicknames and increasingly knows himself by his objective birth name, in this case "Parzival". Like the fool at the round table, the ninth grader is being watched closely by the teachers in his still foolish form, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the teachers are straining to see the higher self, both of whom they reflect something. of the inner origins of the student and learn something about the future destiny of him. Realizing this higher self can give voice to the joy of the soul (cunneware) and the awakening of the spirit (antenor) in the area. Like the boy with the Red Knight, the ninth year has high ideals (becoming a knight) and yet often acts and reacts without thinking (his desire for him for the armor led him to kill Ither). Even Parzival reining in the horse is an image of the unconscious unfolding of fate itself.

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Parzival tenth series
Not knowing how to control the speed of the red horse, the new Red Knight galloped further into the unknown in one day than any experienced rider in two.
1) Seeing the battlements and towers of a castle that seemed to rise from the ground, the naive mind saw a gray-bearded lord (Gurnemanz) and finally, remembering his mother's advice, he agreed to dismount from his horse. The servants were shocked to find fool's clothing under the Red Knight's armor. But after bathing him, they brought him a white robe and a long robe of scarlet wool. Gurnemanz also recognized the handsome young man's origins and patiently taught him the knightly skills of horsemanship, fencing, jousting, etc., as well as the knightly rules of courtesy towards ladies like his beautiful daughter Liaze. Gurnemanz quickly fell in love with the Red Knight like a son willing to marry his daughter. However, the Red Knight felt that he must first prove himself in acts of chivalry. As the Red Knight had initially spoken only of his mother, Gurnemanz gave him new advice, which included not asking too many questions, having mercy on opponents in battle, and that man and woman are one.

2) The confident and courteous Red Knight reined in his horse and, having thrown off his fool's clothes, entered a kingdom, Pelrapeire, which had been under siege for so long that the inhabitants were starving. When the Red Knight entered, they feasted in hopes of help as he listened to the plight of the beautiful Queen Condwiramurs, who was besieged by the army of an unwanted suitor, King Clamid, and his seneschal, Kingrun. That night, the beautiful Condwiramurs, in a white robe, entered her room, continued to tell her story, asked if she would sleep with him, "and the very boundaries of femininity were not crossed."

In the next day's battle, the Red Knight successfully defeated the king's seneschal, remembered Gurnemanz's grace advice, and sent him to serve Lady Cunneware, who had been beaten for laughing at Parzival. On the second night, "he left her, who was called the Red Knight, a girl." After defeating King Clamid and sending him into Cunneware's service as well, Queen Condwiramours and the Red Knight were reunited as husband and wife on the third night, and he became the ruler of Pelrapeire. The whole kingdom feasted on the newly brought food and prospered again. And yet, over time, as much as he and the queen loved each other, the new king of Pelrapeire felt the need to find his mother.

tenth grade students
The 10th graders quickly overcome the difficulties of the 9th graders because they don't know how to function with themselves, at school, in social life. The tenth grader wears, one might say, the white robe, which reflects the pure life forces of childhood, but without the stupidity, and the long scarlet robe, which represents the life of the developing soul. The second grade student learns the ways of the world, the codes, the procedures, successfully achieves an attitude, a proportion, that reflects the attitude of ancient Greece that pervades the tenth grade. Harmonious balance...includes increased self-confidence; therefore someone makes amends, as the Red Knight begins to do, by sending the two great warriors into Cunneware's service. Tenth graders prove themselves in combat, in team sports, in Model United Nations, in community service experiences. "The Red Knight" is the name by which Parzival became known throughout the world for his exploits. Although the image of marriage is obviously premature, tenth graders become capable of some courtesy to the opposite sex. Many embark on the exchange to live in other cultures. There is a kind of fulfillment. "I can handle what high school demands of me." And indeed, when they return from their exchange, they often feel like the king or queen of the world, and it can be hard for them to imagine what high school has to offer. offer.

Eleventh Year Parzival
1) The Red Knight let his horse find its way again and at the end of his first day he found no shelter until he came across a lake where a man in a hat made of peacock feathers was fishing. Following the fisherman's advice, the knight proceeded to the only inn for thirty miles, up the road, to a castle "like a winch," where he was greeted, bathed, and presented with a cloak by Queen Repanse of Schoie. Four hundred knights were seated in the great hall, and before the fire was the king, the fisherman himself. When he carried a blood-soaked spear through the hall, everyone cried. Twenty-four virgins visited the queen who wore the "perfection of paradise." Whatever a gentleman or lady wanted to eat or drink, this "paradisal perfection" provided. The sick king presented the mute guest of honor with a sword. All retired.

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2) When the Red Knight awoke from a nightmare, he found himself alone in an abandoned castle. After dressing and arming himself, he left; a squire on the drawbridge yelled at him, "Goose! If only you had asked the question!"

3) Eventually he came across a woman who was mourning her embalmed lover. His cousin Sigune told him that she had spent the night in Munsalvaesche, where the Holy Grail kept the sick King Anfortas alive until his sufferings were eased. She told Parzival that the sword Anfortas gave him would one day break; If he then placed his pieces in Karnant's Well, the sword would be complete, never to break again. However, when he learned that Parzival was silent, Anfortas did not ask any questions, called him an angry wolf, said that he had lost honor to him in Munsalvaesche and sent him away.

4) Parzival next found a battered and neglected horse ridden by a woman whose rags were essentially knots trying to cover up the holes that exposed her pale flesh. Despite her red armor, Yeshuth recognized her extraordinary beauty and identified him as the "source of all her suffering". When Parzival remembered and began to understand, he vowed to correct his mistakes. When his knight Orilus arrived, Parzival defeated him in battle, swore him to serve Cunneware, and took him to a hermit's cell, where Parzival swore Yeshua's innocence so that Orilus could "forgive" her and be reunited with her in love. . "Then he was a fool, not a man, and he had not yet grown in wisdom," the king of Pelrapeire said of his mood when he left his mother disguised as a fool.

5) Although it was May, Pentecost, the snow had fallen and a hawk had injured a goose and left three drops of blood on the snow. Unaware that Arthur's entourage was nearby [actually searching for the Red Knight], Parzival was entranced by Lady Love, the red blood on the white snow reminding him of the Condwiramours of him. Almost without realizing it, he absentmindedly deposed two of Arthur's knights and broke the second arm and leg of none other than Keie the Steward, who defeated Cunneware and Antenor over Parzival. When Gawain had the sentience to cover the three drops of blood, Parzival came to his senses and was escorted to the court of Arthur, who had sought out the Red Knight to grant him the epitome of worldly honour, membership of the Round Table.

6) At the moment of the greatest applause for the Red Knight, Kundrie La Sorciere appeared, ugly as many beasts, with uglier news, the public proclamation that the glory of the Red Knight was nothing more than a falsehood, that instead of happiness he had brought the curse mostly for not curing the Lord of the Grail, he was no better than a "viper's tooth". Humiliated, ashamed, Parzival vowed to doggedly pursue the Grail. He denied God for putting such shame on him.

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eleventh grade student
The eleventh grade trip is usually, and inevitably, the loneliest of all. The nagging question often arises: "When will I be complete?" and yet there is usually a glimpse of that yet future experience: "Here I am in essence." on the one hand and on the other, but also the mysterious and always nourishing potential that the Grail itself implies to experience “who I am”, my eternal identity. However, as long as the growing individual behaves in accordance with another's directives (Gurnemanz), he is not present enough to identify with the other's suffering. Although Parzival dons the mantle of the Guardian of the Grail, he remains silent due to Gurnemanz's general code; he is incapable of acting individually on his own will. Less than individually he is called "goose", "wolf", "snake", which perhaps implies that in each of his soul's faculties, thinking, feeling and willing, he is more animal than human, not yet fully human. Sigune reveals to Parzival the secret of the Grail Sword that, once broken, can be properly healed to be whole forever, an image of the fragility of the emerging ego that feels restored as the higher self, the eternal self that I can be. . .

The eleventh year student may have a growing awareness to set things right, as Parzival has restored Yeshuth to his rightful place in the heart of Orilus. In a way, since the soul does not develop until the eleventh degree, love can really take hold, as shown in the drops of blood on the snow. Thought empowerment in the maturing adult body can lead to mundane success and recognition, as in the Red Knight's invitation to join the Round Table. And yet, every eleventh grader's self-esteem is severely attacked in one way or another, externally or internally, so there can be a sense of being lost, of escaping fate, as described in Parzival turning his back on God. However, Parzival's commitment to the quest for the Grail alone provides the almost instinctive lifeline to continue, as broken and inhuman as one may feel, in seeking to heal oneself and therefore the world.

Twelfth series of Parzival

For four and a half years, Parzival wandered the desert alone in search of the Grail. Sometimes Parzival would also send the knights he defeated in search of the grail. 1) Finally, long after Parzival's Grail sword had been broken and made whole again, the wandering knight came to a hermit's cell where a pale old woman guarded a coffin. Sigune, fed the Grail by Kundrie La Sorciere, withdrew her criticism of her cousin upon learning of her long and lonely quest and pointed her to the Grail Castle. But Parzival wasn't ready on the inside. When a repentant family informed Parzival that the day was Good Friday, urging him to mourn his soul, Parzival recalled that he had long since severed his relationship with his creator... the hermit's cave, Parzival was able to tell the elder Trevricent: "Lord, give me some advice... I am a man who has sinned." the virginity of the land by the blood of his brother Abel and the Grail community, including the fact that one can only stumble upon the Grail Castle without realizing it. When Parzival confessed to killing Ither the Red Knight, Treverizent informed him that he had killed his cousin in the process and that her mother (Treverizent's sister) had died when Parzival left her. Parzival then confessed to being the one who had not asked the sick Grail Lord (Treverizent's brother) why he was suffering and let him and the kingdom continue to suffer. After Parzival had done penance for fifteen days, the holy hermit Treverzent took upon himself Parzival's sins. [The goose is on the way to the dove, emblem of the Holy Spirit, emblem of the Knights Templar, guardians of the Holy Grail. ] 3) One morning, at dawn, two armed knights met and fought a great battle until a page called "Gawain" finally appeared. The other knight, on the verge of victory, stopped, removed his helmet, and declared, "I have defeated myself." 4) Although upset by the close fight with his beloved and respected Gawain, Percival found himself in time for a similar fight with the most magnificent knight he had ever seen, who turned out to be the most capable knight he had ever fought. When Parzival came close to defeat for the first time in his life, the other knight identified himself as Feirefiz, son of Gahmuret, and Parzival realized that he was fighting his own brother, the most powerful knight. powerful of the Moorish east. 5) Kundrie soon reappeared, no longer hated, with very different news, that Parzival had been blessed, had been called Lord of the Grail. 6) Parzival, who was allowed to be accompanied by the black and white Feirefiz, entered the Grail Castle, saw the dying Grail Lord, Anfortas, and asked in the most intimate and informal manner: "Oh, what do you passed?" (Uncle, what are you worried about?') Anfortas's health was immediately restored, joy was restored to everyone in Munsalvaesche, and the entire earth kingdom, Terre de Salvaesche, was restored from desolation to fertility. Parzival became the Lord of the Grail.

1) Parzival, Lord of the Grail, was able to reunite with his faithful after completing his quest
dear Condwuiramurs and his twins Kardiez and Loheringrin.
2) Parzival met for the fourth and last time with his older cousin Sigune, who was now
able to die and join his beloved Shionetulander in the afterlife.
3) Feirefiz, wishing to see the Grail, was baptized, married Repanse de Schoie,
the Queen of the Grail, and returned to the East and engendered Prester John, legendary
Founder of the Christian Empire in the East.

12th grade students
If we remember that the 12th grade Waldorf curriculum functions as an ingenious anticipation, even a homeopathic concentration, of a maturation that does not really reach its fullness before the age of 21, we can only recognize Parzival's wandering on the wasteland for four years. . years and a half as a picture of this time arc, from eleventh grade (seventeen) to twenty-one. Because Parzival can finally say, "I am a man who has sinned," the old man can usually take full responsibility for his actions. Just as Trevrizent Parzival recalled the fall of Lucifer, Cain, and Abel, the story of the Grail, the twelfth grade curriculum returns to the contemporary world and recapitulates, examining entire areas of history, including the evolution of child development in ways that are not they were possible. As Sigune retracts his condemnation of Parzival for his failures and Trevrizent owns up to Parzival's sins, teachers and other adult leaders recognize Senior as a blank slate, new opportunities, regardless of his failings or limitations during the turbulent journey of education. superior. school.

One can see Parzival's struggles with dear Gawain and brother Feirefiz as images of Parzival embracing Gawain's wisdom of the ways of the heart and Feirefiz's strong will, his ability to unite many of the great armies in different parts of the world. to lead. The 12th grade student, through the transformation of his own understanding, heart and will, becomes more capable of opening himself to the I AM, the individuality of the other. Called to the Castle of the Grail, Parzival can simply reach out, acknowledge, and empathize with the suffering of another human being. When Parzival does this, he heals the individual and the entire earth kingdom. When the 12th grader “comes back” from the mind-numbing trials of 11th grade and manages, in the simplest way, to “recognize” individuals in the school community, there is a healing effect. The elders set the tone at school. This ability to complete the atmosphere, to regenerate the "health" of the entire school, will gradually spread, eventually, to the entire world. In the meeting of Parzival and Feirefiz, the meeting of Parzival and Condwiramurs, and the marriage of Feirefiz and Repanse de Schoie, the reconciliation of East and West, of Moors and Christians, of blacks and whites, of man and woman, finally reconciliation, it is represented by all opposites. Then the whole world will be refertilized; Nothing less is the goal, the work of Waldorf education.
Although Parzival can be seen as a picture of a lifetime's journey, even as an outline of the main stages of evolution, it serves, concentrated, microcosmically, to reveal much of the journey of youth.

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