Years of work through IDRIART and its Slovenian representative organization Gandin Foundation has led to internationally acknowledged cultural work. Based on the connections between the castle Borl (Ankenstein) and the Wolfram of Eschenbach’s story of Parzival a substantial work has been invested in the past twenty years, innovating interdisciplinary, intercultural and transgenerational approach.
In the epic medieval poem “Parzival” the main hero’s way interestingly concerns the whole Slovenia, while author is specifically mentioning places in Celje region and today’s upper and lover Podravje. Eventually this has led to the idea of an extended project “Terra Parzival” where the story of Parzival is constituting the broaden, holistic understanding of the region - not only in terms of statistical regions as we know them today, but a region as a geographical, cultural and historical unity of this part of Europe. This, combined with the unique Macro Violin Approach, is forming the basis of the Terra Parzival - European Regional Development Model.
The story of Parzival
Around the year 1212 Wolfram von Eschenbach (1160 - 1220) created a magnificent epic about Parzival, Knights of the Round Table and the search for the Holy Grail. The 24,812 verses of the medieval epic story written in high German language a mysterious story about finding the human sense of spiritual growth, love, grief, growing up, and wisdom is hidden. This artistic gem, only comparable to Dante’s Divine Comedy, highlights the mission of Central Europe and reveals its vibrant cultural archetypes. This “literary cathedral” is part of the world cultural heritage and at the same time still undiscovered source of Slovenian identity.
Medieval epic story of Parzival is in an exceptional artistic way describing the life and personal growth of Parzival and at the same time represents the way of humanity as a whole. From enthusiastic, naive and ignorant boy he is, after a dramatic fall when he with resignation denounces the world and the holly, able to elevate himself to the ideal of nobility and inner balance. Then only he is able to become the king of the Holy Grail.
In Parzival story it is about the way of the individual everymen in the maze of life. From the gifts and strokes of fate into the search of a genuine relationship to the world, society, nature, and truth itself. Finding the Holy Grail is to find the greatest treasure of the world, to discover the source of eternal youth, to learn the fate of mankind and to allow the innermost sphere of world events to emerge in our own consciousness. The Holy Grail, which is symbolized by a dove, is a living spirit, a higher form of presence in here and now which builds on personal experience, and for which the person seeking has to become spiritually mature. As Parzival, every one of us must ask the fundamental question at him/herself and in innerly find own interest in recognition of the good.
In this epic the amazing number of characters arouse, among them more than 70 are related, who are creating diverse relationships and very modern fantasy story about love, failure, happiness, hope, childhood, growing up, finding their life purpose and many other topics.
In all relationships between sympathetic, among enemies and rivals, including children and parents, between leaders and subordinates, between good and evil a universal tendency for achieving wholeness is involved, in which Parzival is represented as the one, who connects two poles, two cultural circles: Eastern, sacred, gralic and Western, royal, arthusic cultural circle. Medieval polarity between spiritual clergy and secular-oriented nobles is in Parzival exceed by he third, spiritual and secular combined, which is not only of interest for human interiority or only of interest for external goods, but also about internal and external dimension of human existence at the same time. Parzival becomes king who has a family and interest in the kingdom, but at the same time he is also living as a monk his interior spiritual life. Parzival is in a midway between heaven and earth, between spirit and nature, where the central mystery of time is hidden today.
On the world map we can palace spiritual Parzival as a representative of Europe - precious, cultural, cosmopolitan and ethically awakened Europe, where every individual is breathing freely in the community and where the ideal of a balanced exercise of freedom, equality and fraternity is alive. Parzival is thus representative of the future.
Slovenia and Parzival
Slovenian landscape is associated with Parzival in many ways. It is not just the fact that Slovenia, as Parzival as an individual, is itself geographically and culturally uniting east and west, the northern formative and southern life-giving forces, but it is also specifically mentioned in the content and an essential part Eschenbach’s epic Parzival.
To mention just a few details: it is certainly very interesting that in the epic Parzival’s grandfather king Gandin comes from Slovenian village of the same name - Gandin (today Hajdina) which lies on the site, “where the river Grajena flows into the gold-carrying river Drava” as Eschenbach says. Gandin’s son and
Parzival’s father Gahmuret is wearing the coat of arms of “the upside down turned white anchor with a gold rope below on a green background,” which is the historical coat of arms of Borl Castle, located near the mouth of the Drava and Grajena on the edge of Haloze in Slovenia. The entire story is, according to the Eschenbach’s words, happening in the 9th century, when these actual sites were indeed very much alive as part of Karantania, the first Slovenian historically documented state.
The vast majority of cities and provinces in the epic are bearing unfamiliar names and they are difficult to locate while in the most dramatic, the central part of the epic (in the ninth book) when it comes to Parzival’s internal upheaval, Trevricent, Parzival’s uncle, talks about his knightly journey from Celje to Rogatec “where he fought with the brave knights of Slovenian descent,” until he came to Hajdina and Parzival’s family who originated there.
It is not only that these hints are quite unknown to us, it is also interesting how even after 800 years since this epic has been created the story still resonates in our region and announces Parzival’s cosmopolitan impulse of the future. Today, at time of cultural crisis, it is even more important to find the resources that go beyond the deepest possible spiritual crisis. Parzival and its destiny associated with Slovenia is certainly one of the most important.
*Text on Parzival contributed by Davorin Peršič, univ. dipl. fil.