Sunday, July 29, 2012
The Grail Mysteries
The Grail Mysteries
The mysteries of the dark side of the Goddess, which in ancient cultures was seen as the moon's menstruation, were described again in the medieval myths of the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is the cup that contained the sacred blood of Christ, used by Him at the Last Supper. In the Middle Ages, a body of stories grew up around this legend, and were incorporated into the Arthurian literature. There was a period in the Middle Ages when the feminine principle tried to emerge into the collective consciousness. Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz, in their book on The Holy Grail,13 see these stories, as well as the emergence of alchemy, as an attempt to re-integrate the feminine spirit back into the collective Christian consciousness of the times, the very issue we are faced with again today. Although the attempt seems to have failed on a large scale, there was a resurgence of interest in the more magical consciousness of the feminine imagination. The Grail stories, which also incorporate some ancient Celtic lore about the goddess Cerridwen's cauldron of plenty, tell of the great quest of the knights of Arthur's court. The Grail appears in a vision to them, and all the knights set out on a quest to find the Grail. They go off alone, making sure not to take the usual tracks into the forest. Only a virtuous knight can even hope to find the Grail, and not many of them succeed. When the Grail hero, whether Gawain, Perceval, or Galahad, finally comes to the Grail castle, he must ask the question, "What is the meaning of this?" or "Whom does this Grail serve?" When the question is finally asked, the wounded Fisher King is restored to health, and the land, which had become a wasteland because of the wound, blooms again. The Grail serves Life, and these knights learn that their purpose is to serve life as well. It is the Grail hero's attitude to the mystery of life, the very fact that he asks the question, which works the magic. Psychologically, this signifies an ego attitude that isn't afraid to look to feminine consciousness for meaning. It is a willingness to ask what meaning our dreams and fantasies have in order to live a balanced and more soul-full life.
One of the earliest versions of this story is The Maidens of the Wells, which you read at in the beginning of this book. Because the feminine spirit has been ravished and robbed of its nurturing capacity, the land is laid waste. The medieval stories of the Grail speak of the Cup as the renewal of life, and though associated with the Christian mysteries, it was also about the quest for the hidden mystery of the feminine principle, which is concretely available to women in our own bleeding.