“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…” – Parzival
We left off last month with a synopsis of a portion of Chretien de Troyes account of the Grail quest. We learned how Percival became a knight in King Arthur’s court and subsequently set out in pursuit of adventure, whereupon he encounters a fisherman who directs him to a castle. Within a great hall in this castle Percival witnesses the ‘Grail Procession.’ One of the items carried in the procession is a white lance dripping blood. The grail itself, when conveyed through the hall, is overwhelmingly brilliant. He later learns that the fisherman is a king who has suffered a grievous wound which will not heal. Failing to inquire as to the meaning of the spectacle he witnesses, Percival is condemned to wander for another five years, during which the kingdom transforms into a wasteland. The grail itself is the cure for both debilitated land and king and must be found and its meaning deciphered for the restoration of health and fertility.
The mystery of the meaning of the Grail Procession is deep and complex. It is my intention to offer one possible solution to this mystery. It is clear from all accounts that the theme of blood plays a major part in the Grail mythos, from the references to blood at the Last Supper, to the collection, and presumably preservation, of Christ’s blood at the crucifixion, and to the reiteration of this theme in its association with a white lance. Recall that a lance was used by the Roman centurion Longinus to pierce the side of Jesus to determine if he was, in fact, dead after a mere six hours on the cross. “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” (John, 19-34) The blood-grail connection was discussed by the late Laurence Gardner in his 1996 book Bloodline of the Holy Grail, wherein he elaborates upon the idea presented in Holy Blood, Holy Grail that the Grail symbolized the royal bloodline of the Davidic kings propagated through the lineage of Jesus. In reference to the multi-faceted countenance of the Grail, Gardner says:
“It has been symbolized by many things, but as a material item it is most commonly perceived as a chalice that contains, or once contained, the life-blood of Jesus. The Grail has additionally been portrayed as a vine, weaving its way through the annals of time. The fruit of the vine is the grape, and from the grape comes wine. In this respect, the symbolic elements of the chalice and vine coincide, for wine has long been equated with the blood of Jesus. Indeed, this tradition sits at the very heart of the Eucharist sacrament, and the perpetual blood of the Grail chalice represents no less than the enduring Messianic bloodline.”
Here Wolfram is pointing directly to the central secret surrounding the meaning and identity of the Grail. It is something beheld against the backdrop of the sky, in the constellations. That it moves with respect to the constellations is clearly implied in that it ultimately finds its way to Earth through the agency of ‘angels.’ But what has this to do with blood?
Mythic and prophetic traditions have long acknowledged a cosmic affiliation with blood. The 8th chapter of Revelation describes the onset of the Apocalypse by the appearance of Seven Angels, announcing their arrival with trumpet blasts.
“And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth . . .”
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