Gold trail

On the trail of eternity

Eisenhans and the Gold Well in the Forest (2: Initiation)

The Gold Well (in "The Iron Man")

By on 7 May 2020


Eisenhans and the Gold Well (2: Initiation)

The wild man now takes the king's son out into the forest. "So now you are in my kingdom," said the iron man, "and the gold well must not be touched!"

So what is this fountain all about?

The next section of the fairy tale:

Eisenhans and the Gold Well 

In the dark forest

The wild man, having returned to the dark forest, put the boy down from his shoulders and said to him: "You will not see your father and mother again, but I will keep you with me, for you have freed me and I have pity on you. If thou wilt do all that I tell thee, it shall be well with thee. I have treasures and gold enough and more than anyone in the world."

Eisenhans and the Gold Well

The iron man gave the boy a task: "You see, the fountain of gold is bright and clear as crystal, you must sit by it and take care that nothing falls into it, otherwise it will be polluted. Every evening I will come and see if you have obeyed my command." The boy sat down at the edge of the well, saw how sometimes a golden fish, sometimes a golden snake appeared in it, and was careful that nothing fell in.

The gilded finger

As he sat there, his finger hurt so badly that he involuntarily stuck it into the water. He quickly pulled it out again, but saw that it was all gold-plated, and no matter how hard he tried to wipe the gold off, it was all in vain. In the evening the iron man came back, looked at the boy and said, "What has happened to the well?" - "Nothing, nothing," he answered, holding his finger behind his back that he should not see it. But the man said, "You have dipped your finger in the water. This time it may go, but beware lest you drop something in again!"

The gilded head hair

But on the second day, water got on his head due to carelessness and on the third day, when he wanted to look at his reflection in the water, all his hair fell into the gold pond. Eisenhans said: "You have failed the test and can no longer stay here.

Out into the world!

Go out into the world and you will find out what poverty is like. But because you do not have an evil heart and I mean well for you, I will allow you one thing. If you are in need, go to the forest and call: 'Ironman!', then I will come and help you. My power is great, greater than you think, and I have gold and silver in abundance."

Symbols and interpretations 

In the dark forest, in the realm of Eisenhans - Who is he?

The forest symbolises the unconscious in the realm of the body. Here is the realm of Eisenhans, who is a strict teacher and master. He lets the boy know that he will do well if he follows his instructions.

Who is he who has enough gold and treasure?

As such, he is a lord over matter, and because of his connection with the drive, he can be called an Animus-figure. This represents the drive in matter and is ambivalent as in the figure of this Archetypes:

Ambivalence - curse and blessing

This ambivalent function is held in the Sumerian tradition the god EnKi (the god of earth and wisdom) (see Enki's monster). Also in the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic the god Shamash has two faces. On the one hand he represents the drive, but on the other hand he is also the one who can lead across the waters of death (and thus a Christ figure, see The Waters of Death).

Eisenhans and the gold well - the drive and the feminine
The gold well - the female womb and the water of life

Gold symbolises eternal life and abundance. Water is a feminine symbol (s. Water - female).
The gold fountain is a symbol of the female womb[1] with its miracle-working power that gives birth to life and reality (s. The female womb as a miracle-working vessel). New life can grow in the womb of the woman. In it the weary wanderer finds rest and the hero fullness and refreshment.

Shiny like crystal

Living water, water of life, bright and clear like crystal, can be seen as an image for the "Anointing", the vaginal fluid of the woman. (It glitters like crystal; see also the biblical image of the "river of God".[2]).

Reality giving birth to matter

And in a broader sense, the great feminine as living, "reality-birthing" matter) brings forth from its "womb" new reality (see. The creation of new reality).

The task: Do not dishonour the well - love and desire
Honour or desire?

Nothing may fall into the fountain of gold. Thus the woman's womb can also be defiled by something "falling" into it "too-fully". (This is a vivid image, in the figurative language of the body). Something" can accidentally fall into this sacred vessel (which leads to wholeness), namely by consuming the woman's body without binding intention and for mere pleasure. (Sex without love does not have to do with "honour" but with desire).

Love more precious than gold and gems

The love of a woman of integrity is an extremely precious commodity, a treasure more valuable than gold. It is her honour and the dignity of woman. In her womb dwell life and abundance, more precious than gold.

The Gilded Finger - "Goldfinger
The first sexual intercourse as initiation for the path of love

The finger is thoughtlessly "dipped in" because the burning pain, the desire, is too strong ... It is a symbol for sexual intercourse. For the boy it is perhaps his first sexual intercourse and thus his initiation, his "initiation" for the path of love.

The finger for the male member

But one also involuntarily thinks of the villain in the Bond film adaptation "Goldfinger" and the lyrics of the title song: "Golden words he will pour in yourears, but his lies can disguise what you fear: [...] It's the kiss of death ! from Mister Goldfinger... (Golden lies pour in your ears, but in you fear says: Now you are lost ...[3]).

In the fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel", for example, the finger is also a symbol for the male member. The wicked witch wants to "eat" Hansel as soon as his "finger" is thick enough. 

The gilded hair - sex as an obsession out of a longing for oneness

The longing for union, which promises fulfilment for a brief magical moment during sexual intercourse, can get into a person's head or literally go over his head. Sex can thus become an obsession that occupies the whole mind. Behind it, however, lies the longing that is deeply anchored in the human heart: the deep desire for wholeness and oneness (symbolised by gold).

Inevitable failure and out into the world!

It's difficult for a child to sit there all day focused and doing nothing, especially in the face of such a lure as a fountain of gold. Everyone understands that. It can sometimes be equally difficult for a man to resist the lure of the feminine.

The prohibition and compulsive infringement

It is precisely the commandment or the prohibition that draws all attention to the temptation (cf. Paul and the Law[5]). As in the biblical account of the Fall, the prohibition also stands at the beginning of this fairy tale: only one thing is not allowed ... There the "eating" of the fruit, here the "dishonouring" of the well. Both can be related to the problem that love can degenerate into a consumer good (cf. The account of the Fall).

The consequence of the offence is being expelled from "home". So our hero will next have to prove himself in the harsh reality far from the comfort of his parents' royal castle.

Click here to go to: Interpretation of all symbols of this section "Eisenhans and the Gold Well". 

The modern story emerges from the above interpretations:

Eisenhans and the gold well - the story told differently

Thomas continues:

In the dark forest, in the realm of Eisenhans

I spontaneously signed up for a men's retreat. We spent a week in the wilderness. It was good for me to just be in the lap of Mother Nature. It was the first time I had been with men only. Barren nature and the barren community. Not being accountable to anyone, being on my own. - Somehow it feels as if I have arrived at my own place.
Now I am back to everyday life. Anna hasn't been in touch. It's just as well. I don't want a female relationship at the moment. First I want to find myself.

Eisenhans and the Gold Well

What amazes me is that suddenly I seem to be attractive to women. Now that I'm not actually looking for a relationship with a woman. - Well, that's not exactly true. To be honest: I met Lilo. I noticed her right away, she's new in our company. I like her. But there's more: there's just something ... She's special. I don't know why, but I have butterflies in my stomach when I see her. It's magic.

The gilded finger

Well, it happened after all ... with Lilo. The other day at a company event.
We had drunk a lot. I took her home because her flat is on my way home anyway. She asked me to come up quickly to help her move a piece of furniture that was too heavy for her alone. Then I was inside her stylish flat. The city lights shone below us and in front of me her eyes lit up like stars. It was so romantic - and promptly... we ended up in bed together.

Yes it was nice. But I didn't want that! I just wanted to be in the light of her magical radiance and enjoy the life force that emanates from her!
That would have been enough, at least for the moment. Now I feel bad. I am not ready for a relationship. - But Lilo is not a woman for one night. Oh! What am I supposed to do now? ??

The gilded head hair

I have become entangled, got deeper into it than I would like. I keep thinking of Lilo. Moreover, I can't avoid encounters at work. It's crazy, but I just feel strongly attracted to her! - And yet I have only just won my freedom! - I have to talk to her and try to explain - the sooner the better!

Out into the world!

There! Now it's over! Yesterday it happened that we were alone for a moment. She turned to me and smiled her radiant smile, in which there is so much warmth:
"The other day ...", she said, and I felt another stab in my heart. What would she say? Was she hoping for a relationship? I looked at her in silence and she continued: "The other day was a great moment! And it will remain so - for both of us, won't it?" I felt myself collapsing inside and looked at her hesitantly. Again she smiled warmly as she continued:
"Let's give this hour back to the stars! You must set out to find your own life!" With that she placed her hand on my arm. I was speechless. I just nodded and swallowed the lump in my throat. Finally I managed to say: "Thank you! You speak from my heart." - "I know," she replied softly.

After a short silence, I pulled myself together and said:
"I am facing major changes in every respect: I'm going to quit my job here." She just nodded in agreement, as if she had expected nothing else. "When the time is right, we will meet again," she said.

The second phase of the Hero's Path

With this, the hero has completed the second phase of the Hero's Path.
[To the background article for this episode: The second phase of the Hero's Path - Initiation].

Initiation: "Consecration" or "Initiation" for the path of love
Initiation means "consecration" or "initiation". It is a first perceptible sign of the decision to walk the path of love. For the man it includes the detachment from the female-maternal security, which is the prerequisite for him to be able to set out on the hero's path at all (s. Detachment from the Mother). The first sexual intercourse as a physical union of male and female is a first step towards the wholeness of both. The goal, however, is that every human being unites both in himself and thus attains wholeness (s. Holy Wedding - Wholeness). 

For an overview of the heroic path of Eisenhans, the second phase ("Eisenhans and the Gold Well"), this table:


The hero's path next leads to the desert, where the sincerity of his heart and constancy of his good intention are tested..

We continue with:

In the foreign castle


[1] The body and the woman are called the vessel, for example in Bible, New Testament, 1st Epistle of Peter, chapter 3:7 and 1st Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, chapter 4:4.

[2] Cf. also Bible, New Testament, Revelation of John, chapter 22,1: Water of life, shining like crystal

[3] Dhe lyrics of the theme song to the James Bold film Goldfinger are (literally translated): "Golden words he'll pour in your ears, but his lies can't hide what you fear. For a golden girl knows when he's kissed her, it's the kiss of death ... from Mister Goldfinger..." The song by John Barry is sung to Shirley Bassey, the lyrics are by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.

[4] C.G. Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 5, Symbols of Transformation, p. 547 § 672.

[5] Bible, New Testament, Letter of Paul to the Romans, chapter 7 ,24 ff.

[6] Bible, New Testament, Gospel according to Luke, chap. 6,20

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