Previous articles in this series
“Hear ye the history of the most holy vessel that is called the Grail,
in which the precious blood of Jesus was received
on the day that He was put on the Cross.”
– Early 13th Century
Last month, in the article Sangreal, The Holy Grail: Recovering the Cosmic Science of Antiquity – Part 1 I wrote,
“That the Grail has a cosmic dimension of meaning is indicated unequivocally by the texts themselves,” and also “. . . ancient adepts had a highly sophisticated concept of Exobiology and the Grail as a symbol was a repository of this knowledge.”
I also listed some of the varied symbols and meanings that have been associated with the Grail through the centuries. The image that most frequently comes to mind is that of a special cup, or chalice, the very cup, according to the anonymous author of Perlesvaus, from which Christ drank at the Last Supper, the same cup used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect the blood flowing from the wound in the side of Christ, when, presumably, he was being removed from the cross and about to be conveyed to Joseph’s nearby private tomb. According to legend, as reported by William of Malmesbury, at the direction of Phillip the Apostle Joseph and 12 monks carried the Chalice to England, to the Vales of Avalon. There they built a small circular chapel in which it was to be housed. This chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, went through several incarnations and eventually, in the Middle Ages, evolved into the great Abbey of Glastonbury, whose ruins are still extant.
The Grail is a complex, multilayered symbol and as such it represents a complex multilayered reality. An integrated whole in its pristine state the Grail, upon being deconstructed, appeared as the diverse, often apparently contradictory images as depicted in the vast corpus of Medieval Grail literature. This complexity has led Grail scholars to invoke a varied array of explanations and interpretations in an effort to come to some degree of understanding of the enigmatic imagery. In reference to this confusion modern Grail scholar Roger Sheman Loomis has written
“It is not strange that the medieval legends should have engendered in our century so diverse an offspring, for they form a bewildering assortment of battle and banquet, earthy magic and sacramental miracle, blood-feuds and mysterious rites. Bewilderment begets curiosity and seeks a solution, and over the last hundred years, scholars and would-be scholars have tried to discover the secrets of the Grail, with such contrasting results that the reading public, eager for enlightenment, may well feel more puzzled than ever.” (The Grail: From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol (1963) Roger Sherman Loomis, University of Wales Press and Columbia University Press)
In other words, the secret of the Grail has abided behind a veil of mystery for 800 years and is now ready to reveal itself in all its glory to those seekers of requisite dedication and enthusiasm.
Many of the learned expositions on the meaning of the Grail contain an element of veracity. Where modern scholarship has missed the mark is in assuming that the Grail must have a single meaning to make sense, and have therefore failed to realize that the Grail mythos is a carefully composed code, or cryptogram, that has been deliberately disassembled for purposes of concealment, preservation and transmission. The modern Grail quest then becomes the attempt to recover and reassemble the symbolic components to reveal the original structure in its entirety, to restore the coherent whole, which, I might conjecture, would not have been possible with the level of scientific knowledge even a generation ago. In other words, the secret of the Grail has abided behind a veil of mystery for 800 years and is now ready to reveal itself in all its glory to those seekers of requisite dedication and enthusiasm.
Allow me to go ahead and state here and now the true meaning of the Grail as unambiguously as possible, ever keeping in mind the admonition of Gautier de Doulens in The Story of the Grail:
“No man may speak or tell of it. Whoever does so is in trouble. For it is the sign of the Grail.”
But if ever there was a time that the world was in need of the truth represented by Sangreal, the Holy Grail, it is now.
So here goes.
The Grail is a symbol for a lost technology of individual, social and planetary regeneration.
The Grail Quest then, is an allegory for the search and eventual recovery of this technology for the restoration of both the debilitated king and the devastated kingdom that has devolved into an infertile wasteland.
I made the rather audacious claim that the Grail as a symbol is a repository of certain information relevant to the science of Exobiology, as discussed last month. Leaving aside the image of the chalice for the moment, we will turn to the writings of Wolfram von Eschenbach, a Bavarian knight and one of the most important of the Grail expositors. In Parzival he elucidates the origins of the Grail mythos, attributing it to a certain Flagetanis, a descendant of King Solomon himself. What Wolfram has to say is truly extraordinary and he describes the Grail in more explicitly cosmic terms than any other author.
“A heathen, Flagetanis, had achieved high renown for his learning. This scholar of nature was descended from Solomon and born of a family which had long been Israelite, until baptism became our shield against the fire of Hell. He wrote the adventure of the Grail…The heathen Flagetanis could tell us how all the stars set and rise again. To the circling course of the stars man’s affairs and destiny are linked. Flagetanis the heathen saw with his own eyes in the constellations things he was shy to talk about, Hidden Mysteries. He said there was a thing called the Grail, whose name he had read clearly in the constellations. A host of angels left it on the earth…” (Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival. Trans by Mustard and Passage (1961) p. 243)
Clearly, Flagetanis was in possession of a sophisticated astronomical knowledge. And Wolfram emphasizes the inextricable bond between the stars and man’s destiny, not in some vague or credulous sense, but as a discernible, direct and dominant influence over the affairs humankind. The Grail is the clear and potent expression of this connection between the realms celestial and terrestrial, whose name Wolfram “read clearly in the constellations.”
The late John Michell, who wrote widely on matters of antiquity and sacred knowledge, addressed himself to the meaning and significance of the Holy Grail.
“The legend of the Grail is the Celtic version, with particular application to Britain, of a universal theme concerning something which has vanished and must be found or invoked again for the redemption of life on earth.” John Michell and Christine Rhone (1991) Twelve Tribe Nations and the Science of Enchanting the Landscape
In my next article I will delve deeper into the “Hidden Mysteries” of the Holy Grail. As a clue to what these mysteries consist of I will quote another modern Grail scholar, Jonathan Hughes, from his work Arthurian Myths and Alchemy: The Kingship of Edward IV (2002), pp. 168 – 168. If you have read, and remember, my previous articles what he has to say should convey some rather astounding implications.
“Another manifestation of the grail and the philosopher’s stone was the comet, the lance-shaped ray of light that could blight a land or bring salvation . . . Merlin was also an astrologer who interpreted to Uther Pendragon at Stonehenge the significance of a comet with two tails, shaped like a dragon, which he said presaged the death of a king and the rebirth of a dynasty, a time of joy and bliss . . .”