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An Alternative History of the Grail, 1

 

Grail Magic Versus the Paternal Lie

Understanding the Western Spiritual Quest

We live on a planet tyrannized and terrorized by men in beards who tell the inhabitants what God says and what God wants. Other men, who are not bearded but also tyrannize and terrorise the world, believe in a bearded paternal God for whom they speak, and whose orders they follow. The entire planet suffers under a supreme and sovereign LIE: that God the Father has ever said anything to its inhabitants. Due to their innate and incurable credulity, the inhabitants (or "natives" as they used to be called in a sentimental vein) tend to believe that the Creator did speak to someone on the planet, at some time, in some context. He (or who knows, maybe even She—although the men who speak for HIM would never allow that possibility) must have done so, they believe. But where? When? To whom? And to what purpose?

Mythbusting 101 is a short course in several lessons, devoted to exploring these questions.

The Amfortas Wound

What is incredible about life on this planet is how the inhabitants are willing to accept the word of bearded men, or shaven men who follow a bearded deity, when those men say that God commands them to war, domination, and acts of retribution. These men are theocrats who would rule the earth as agents, if not embodiments, of "Our Father Who Art in Heaven." Of all the things that God might say in speaking to the inhabitants of this planet, the assetion of God's mandate to tyrannize and terrorize the world seems to be the most important, most compelling feature of divine revelation. The supremacy of genocidal power seems to be the message that carries the most clout for humankind. But why?

It is of course not the message of any god, but the message of the theocratic pretenders (bearded and unbearded) who claim to speak for God, and who draw their authority from HIM. The familiar message of war, domination and retribution reflects its source: men who cannot feel unity with life, who despise their own weakness but are unable to see that it is due to that very disconnection from life, and who hate all that they cannot control, including women, children, and nature. The power of their thundering message consists almost entirely in intimidation. It intimidates, first, by assuming the authority of an off-planet super-parent who cannot be challenged or questioned. It intimidates, second, by the implication that those who speak for the retributive power of God also have the capacity to wield it, to inflict it on anyone they like. It intimidates, third, because it draws collateral power from the pain of the patriarchal wound, a pain felt by all the inhabitants of the planet.

What is the wound of patriarchy? A thousand or so years ago it was called the Amfortas wound. Amfortas was the the Grail King who was mortally wounded by "a spear through the thighs," say the old medieval epics. Scholars blandly note that "thighs" is a euphemism for the groin. The Amfortas Wound is sexual. All the theocratic pretenders are sexual cripples who conceal their affliction by the invocation of countless begettings. They began their regime with a litany of begettings that culminated in the birth of God's only human offspring, the divine messiah. They are now culminating their 6000-year regime with a litany of begettings (in the form of genetic experimentation) that will lead to perfect human replication—so they believe. Their hidden aim is to destroy flesh-and-blood humanity and replace it with a New Jerusalem populated by remote-controlled clones, over which they will reign immortally because they partake of the company of one who is “without father, without mother, without descent or generation, having neither beginning of days nor end of life" (Hebrews 7:3). This is Melchizedek, the ET Messiah, the Prince of Righteousness. With their telltale fondness for religious symbolism, the theocratic masterminds have deemed that Melchizedek be the "guardian angel" of the Zionist State.

"Jerusalem is the dwelling place of many Archons," warns The Second Apocalypse of James from Nag Hammadi.

Consider the insane aspiration of the theocrats: The US government supports Israel because the hidden controllers behind that government and behind the State of Israel both share a common goal unknown to the inhabitants of the planet. This goal is the pseudo-divine status of cloned immortality for themselves and their families, making them kin to Melchizedek. They are convinced of the feasibility of their aspiration to defeat human mortality because they have met and seen the proof, or been persuaded by those who have seen it. It only takes one replicant to show that replication is possible. Behold the simulacrum, dine at his table, drink the wine from his Sardinian vineyards, and you will be convinced.

The promise of physical immortality is the arch-con of the Archons.

In the Germanic version of Parsival written by Wolfram von Eschenbach around 1220 CE, the Grail King is called Enfermetez, "ailing, afflicted." In Gallic versions, this name is softened to Amfortas. This figure drawn from the medieval aristocracy does not represent the likes of Melchizedek or anyone in the open-air asylum of theocratic pretenders. Amfortas is not a theocrat, but he stands for the wounded humanity inflicted on all of us by the theocratic system, the main politico-religious instrument of patriarchy.

Amfortas is called the Fisher King because he represents the plight of the patriarchal masters in the Piscean Age, the Age of the Fishes. Parzival (the Middle High German version of Wolfram von Eschenbach, fl. 1195-1225) is full of compassion for this plight, yet it also relies on artistic contrivance to disguise the true story. In that time and setting, Amfortas could not have been depicted as evil because the Grail story was written for and about the feudal aristocracy, the class to which the Fisher King belonged. [Manesse MS., c. 1335, Heidelberg, Wolfram von Eschenbach as an armed knight. In Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology. Figure 51.]

Indeed, Amfortas symbolized the best of La Noblesse, the most humane aspect of the Nobility. In Parzival the agent of evil is not Amfortas but Klingsor, the black magician who plots against the seekers of the Holy Grail. Of whom more anon.

The Son of a Widow

Medieval legends of the Grail Quest incorporate the terms of an ancient riddle, comparable to the riddle of the Sphinx: Amfortas, who embodies the pain of the wound of patriarchy, can only be healed when the secret of the Grail is won by the son of a widow. The conditions are clear and simple, albeit baffling: The Grail hero must be a boy whose father died before he was born. He must come unkowingly to the Grail Castle, without any idea at first of what he is seeking. Even without knowing that he is seeking anything. Then he must behold the Grail, and be struck dumb, without being able to "ask the question." He must learn about the strange plight of the Fisher King: to suffer a wound from which he cannot die, but which will never heal, either—until someone comes to succeed the King as Holder of the Grail. After this baffling experience, Parzival must wander for years with no apparent aim until he comes again to the Grail Castle. This time, he knows what he must ask in order to receive and release the regenerative power of the Grail and heal the Amfortas wound, thus providing the conditions for humankind to heal itself.

Does power of the human race to save itself from terminal degeneration ride on this ancient riddling plot? It well may, because this plot is the directive narrative of spiritual life in the Western world. Joseph Cambell said that the Grail Legend presents "the earliest definition of secular mythology that is today the guiding spiritual force of the European West" (Creative Mythology, p. 564). But this assertion applies to the American West, as well. Indeed, insofar as the West determines the fate of the global community, it applies to the entire planet.

Parzival (Parsifal in the softer Gallic spelling) means "pierced through the core, the very heart." His mother is Herzeloyde, "heart-rending." She suffers because her husband, a noble knight named Gahmuret ("ripened fate"), was killed in battle some months before the son he conceived with her was born. Her fate is heart-rending, yet it fulfils the condition demanded by the riddle: the one who first attains the Grail and ends the suffering of the wounded king.

In his knightly career and quest for the Grail, Parzival relies on the aid and recognition of numerous women: his wife Condwiramurs ("guiding love"); his paternal aunt Furdamurs ("sheltering love"); Ginover (Guenevere, "ever faithful"), the wife of King Arthur; Liaze ("flirtatious'), the daughter of Parzival's tutor and guide Gurnemanz ("concentrated on fate"); Kundrie La Sorciere, dakini-like messenger of the Grail and adept of Kundalini, the Serpent Power; the fairy queen Terdelaschoye ("much-belated joy"); Sigune ("struck by fate") his cousin; and, last but not least, Repanse de Schoye ("rebounding joy"), the Grail maiden who leads the sacred rite, The Showing of the Grail, performed in the main hall of the castle of the Fisher King.

Parzival is not an allegory like Pilgrim's Progress. These wonderful, redolent names evoke the flavor of "medieval romance," the genre to which the Grail Quest belongs. The story is not entirely fictional. It parallels certain events that occurred in central Europe in the 9th and 10th Centuries. At first the tale was preserved orally, then it was written down about 200 years after these events.

Although Parzival is a knight's tale, a chivalric epic whose main characters are men, these characters do not represent the system of patriarchy, but male opposition to it, even subversion of it. They are not patriarchal champions but genuine heroes who live by a non-patriarchal code of romantic love, amor courtois. The genuine hero can be distinguished from the champion by his dependence upon woman and his close relation to the Goddess. (I have argued this distinction at length in my book, The Hero - Manhood and Power.) That this is true for Parzival is shown in many details of the story, but especially in the preponderant role of women in his destiny.

The first lesson in mythbusting to be drawn from the story of Parzival is that the Grail Quest is about overcoming patriarchy and defeating the Paternal Lie: that God the Father has spoken to men (and men only) who tell us his words, impose his rules, and execute his orders. The Quest is not just another story to replace the directive script of patriarchy. It is a way to disempower that script, reclaim what the Paternal Lie has forbidden, and enter a path of experience that allows the full flowering of the human spirit from the rich soil of Western civilization.

As explained in Myth in Metahistory, Part One, the Goddess Mysteries and the Hero Cycle are the two parmount narratives that determine the moral, spiritual, cultural, and historical evolution of humanity in the West. They are what Joseph Campbells calls "paradigms of secular human experience in a depth dimension." They are also foundational to the genuine religious experience outside doctrinal and institutional limits. We reclaim the Goddess Mysteries through Gnostic teachings and the Sophia Mythos—widely developed in this site. We reclaim the Hero Cycle by learning and engaging the story of the Grail Quest, whose central figure is Parzival.

The decisive events of the Parzival story take place in La Terre Gaste, the Wasteland. This is the country around the Grail Castle. It is a wasteland because the sexual affliction of Amfortas produces a kind of biospheric contamination that ruins the land, withers the plants, and prevents new growth. The predictions concerning the Grail state that until the son of a widow comes to the castle and asks the "Grail Question," nature will continue to suffer due to the sexual wound of humanity—the toxic pathology of patriarchy, if you will. [The Fisher King pierced in the thigh. Le Roman du Saint-Graal, France, 14thC.]

The Grail Question

The plot device employed by Wolfram and other narrators of the legend is quite precise about the "Grail Question." Parzival must behold the Grail once without knowing what it means, and without being able to formulate the question, and then, a second time, when he sees and siezes the opportunity to pose the question.We can all identify with Parzival, called the Holy Fool, who exemplifies the stumblebum method of initiation. He knows not what to ask or when to ask it, even when standing before a living miracle. We resemble him when we realize that the secret of life comes to us first without us knowing what it is, or even that it is a secret, and then, later in life, it presents us with another encounter, another opportunity to meet the cosmos on the magical level. We engage the secret simply by asking, by making ourselves receptive to learn something. Asking also shows the willingness to take on a commitment, but we must ask the cosmos to confer that commitment upon us. We cannot sieze the commitment by force or sheer will power, for we must request that it be given to us. Other notions concerning the question could be elaborated...

Suffice it to say that the situation of Parzival is exemplary for those of us who deeply and perhaps unknowingly long to unite our personal destiny with the larger designs of the cosmos. Mythbusting 101 shows how to do this by breaking through the toxic myths that block our way to that connection.

What is the Grail Question, and to whom does the hero ask it? According to Wolfram, upon his second visit to the Grail Castle Parzival finds himself before his paternal uncle, Amfortas, the wounded Grail King. At the critical moment, he asks, "Dear Uncle, what ails thee?" Since his uncle is merely a representative of humanity, Parzival is really asking "Humanity, what ails thee?" This is the Grail Question each of us must ask to enter the Quest and attain the Grail. Following the example of Parzival, we must inquire into the sickness of the species, but specifically as it stems from patriarchy and the Paternal Lie. The answer to the Grail question comes to us individually, in a myriad of ways that nurture and support precious insight into the human condition.

Immediately upon Parzival's asking of the question, a magical effect spreads through the company of the Grail, as the members of the Fisher King's court are called. They all stand in awe before the manifestation of the San Graal, a numinous vessel of light that overflows with healing balm and rich, tasty nourishment. Then Parzival turns to the Grail itself and poses another question: "How can I serve thee?" By doing so, he entirely reverses the magic of the Grail as it has been traditionally known before that moment. Stranded in the Wasteland where the environment is polluted and nothing grows,the Company of the Grail were nevertheless able to survive by taking periodic nourishment from the sacred vessel. Even Amfortas, who could neither die from his wound nor be healed of it, took comfort from his pain by balm from the Grail, applied to his wound on the point of a sacred spear. For an untold time, the noble Family was served by the Grail, living by grace from an inexhaustible source of spiritual and physical nourishment.

But upon commiting himself to understand the suffering of humanity, Parzival does not ask to be served by the Grail, but how he may serve it. He enters a higher calling and invokes a superior magic, for generosity is superior to grace. In his commitment, Parzival knows intuitively that there is more power in serving the Grail than in being served by it. This realization on his part may engender a series of valuable insights for us, if we choose to reflect on it.

In the time and setting of the Grail romance, Parzival's choice to serve the Grail posed a daring lesson in humility for the European Nobility to whom the story was addressed. Rather than live on their privileges in the Wasteland, tolerating the ruin and even contributing to it, they could choose to serve the power that mysteriously sustained them. Today, one can hardly imagine what kind of impact this message must have had as it seeped into the psychic infrastructure of the European Nobility at the end of the Middle Ages. For one thing, it led in some measure to the upsurge of Humanism that brought the Rennaissance, the return to Pagan, indigenous values.

Today, the same lesson holds true for those who (as consumers) profit from the wasting of the earth, in one way or another. The problem in modern society is not merely that power is in the hands of insane, wounded men who speak for God. The problem is, that privilege destroys the balance of any society, sane or insane. Indeed, how would the men of power fare if the people in the world they ruled were not susceptible to subornment by privilege? In the Grail legend, the noble classes of late medieval Europe found a deep moral lesson in humility, a lesson as relevant today as it ever was. But today it is revelant to all of us.

In what way does the story of the Grail Quest tell us how to heal the wound of patriarchy?

This is the question one would normally ask, of course. But with dynamic mythology, narrative power does not always work in a straightforward, literal-minded way. Granted, there are plenty of truths and insights to be drawn from this wonderful story, but these do not comprise its truly radical healing power. It is not just what the story tells us that heals the wound—even more so, it is the story itself that heals. The way to defeat patriarchy is to love and learn this story, and live this story. The story is like a key that fits into a lock. The teeth of the key are cut to fit the lock. Now, when you arrive at the door, do you stop and scrutinize the teeth and ask, How does the profile of the teeth, the way they are cut and angled, open the door? You put the key in the door and open it. The key opens the door, not your reflections on the profile of the teeth. And just so, the story of the Amfortas Wound is the very force that heals that wound.

Enter the story, get involved with it, and you engage that force.

The Magical Cauldron

But what of the Grail itself, that most enigmatic of sacred artifacts? What can we know of it today, or what might we imagine that will engage us with the story of the Grail Quest and show where it goes after Parzival asks the Question?

There are many attempts to describe the Grail. Wolfram himself says that it was a piece of the lapis exilis, "the rejected stone," a jewel that fell from the crown of Lucifer when he plunged from heaven due to his arrogant claim to be able to make a world as beautiful as the one the Creator made for us. This legend is very tangled, mixing up strands of medieval Jewish legends about fallen angels with the Gnostic notion of a fallen deity. Yet the lapis clue is helpful because it equates the Grail with the White Stone of the alchemists, the Philosopher's Stone. Looking to the Gnostic myth of the Aeon Sophia, the goddess who fell to earth, we might imagine that the radiant stone belongs to her, rather than to Lucifer (a late contrivance of the Church in its desperate attempt to objectify evil).

This line of narrative accords well with the Celtic mythology in the background of the Grail Quest. All scholars agree that the Grail is a late medieval version of the magical cauldron of Keridwen, a Celtic manifestation of the White Goddess. The cauldron of Keridwen was the source of inspiration to shamanic bards like Taliesin, who became divinely inspired by taking three drops from it on his tongue. It was the magical possession most coveted by ancient kings who could sustain their lives indefinitely by its nourishment. Hence, it was both a source of physical regeneration and poetic creativity.

In From Ritual to Romance (1920), Jesse L. Weston proposed the continuity of ancient pagan fertility gods with the Celtic cauldron and the medieval Grail. Nobel laureate T. S. Eliot relied heavily upon her ideas in writing his poem "The Waste Land," the landmark of Modernism. The Grail Legend by Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz goes further and deeper than Weston into the indigenous origins of the Grail. Despite the prominence of the Grail Legend and its motifs in Modernism (for which Joseph Campbell makes a strong case), and the strong interest stemming from Jungian studies, the thread of the story was lost. Today we in the West are still as far from the experience of Parzival as we ever were.

Galahad receiving the Grail from the Grail maidens. Detail from a painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. [In The Hero-Manhood and Power by John Lash, Thames & Hudson, 1995.]

There is, however, a great deal of interest in the Christian Grail. The long three-part poem called Le Roman de Graal, written by Robert de Boron around 1200 CE, is the first Medieval work to identify the Celtic Grail with the chalice used at the Last Supper, the same vessel used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect the blood of Jesus. (I have seen and touched the original vellum of this medieval ms., which is kept in the private collection of the Biblioteca Hermetica in Amsterdam.) With this single literary stroke, the Grail was hijacked into the service of Christian theology. It became a prop in a redemption scenario in which the blood of Christ takes the place of the mysterious, all-nourishing Light that fills the Grail. More recently, fantastic claims woven around the Priory of Sion, an alleged secret society said to possess forbidden knowledge about Jesus, have taken cooptation to unprecedented levels. The Scion scenario relies on a pun: San Graal/Sang Real, "holy grail, holy blood." In this esoteric fantasy, the Grail is said to be a code name for the bloodline descended from Jesus. Apart from being total nonsense, this pun distorts the Grail Legend in the direction of the Catholic blood cult and messianic-masonic-monarchistic delusions of power. The entire repertoire of bogus mythology from Le Roman du Graal to The Da Vinci Code belies a devious, deliberate ploy to conceal the immense healing power of the Grail Legend and deny it to the modern world.

There is no Christian Grail, for Christianity is a redemptive religion and the Grail Quest is not a redemptive script. It is an heroic romance charged with feminist, ecological and overtly anti-patriarchal, anti-religious values. Wolfram will have none of the Grail/chalice conflation. A staunch Pagan and anti-Christian, he sticks closely to the ancient Celtic provenance of the Legend. (Wolfram was no prude, either: he says plainly that Amfortas was wounded "by a poisoned lance - through the scrotum.") He sees in the Grail a tellurian matrix of regenerative power, but also a source of celestial writing, star language. He compares the Grail to the crescent moon and describes how a magical script spontaneously appears around the rim of the sacred vessel:

As to those who are appointed to the Gral, hear how they are made known. Under the top edge of the Stone an Inscription announces the name and lineage of the one summoned to make the glad journey [the Grail Quest]... As soon as the name has been read, it vanishes from sight!

The magical writing on the Grail brings to mind the mysterious self-writing scrolls called termas in Tibetan Buddhism. Teachings of accomplished masters may be found written on precious scrolls in golden inks, or in the phenomena of nature, or in the pure thoughts of the human mind. Those who find termas are called tertons, "treasure-finders." The Gral is both a treasure so found, and the source of the occult messaging that leads one to find it, or predicts who will find it. In Nyingma traditions, masters who leave termas are also known to predict who will find them. Parzival is the exemplar of a Western terton.

Comparison of the Stone with the crescent moon clarifies the strange motif of celestial writing. The young crescent moon resembles a flattened chalice, bowl, or curved plate. Wolfram insists that the Gral is a plate, not a cup. By its vivid appearance against the background of the stars, the thin crescent moon, when still not too bright to efface the pattern of background stars, stands like cursor or bracket indicating a certain passage in the celestial writing—lines in the Zodiacal code language. The precise position and angle of the crescent relative to the star patterns in the background reveals the bracketed "text," the cosmic writing revealed at the moment of observation. The next night, the crescent has shifted and the writing has been altered or expanded. But as the crescent grows larger, its light erases the specific passage of code it has deselected from the Zodiacal script. This is exactly how the Inscription on the Gral behaves.

Historical Myth

Wolfram makes a great deal of the celestial patterns that parallel the Quest. At the start of his book, he explains that the tale originated with an astrologer named Flegetanis. The direct source of Wolfram's version of the tale came, he claimed, from a Provencal poet named Kyot, who seems to have been sponsored by Rene, Duke of Anjou. (This explains why the Grail family would be identified historically with the House of Anjou: the poet contrives the tale to honor his patron.) Apparently, ancient star lore preserved in Arabia — Flegetanis may be the Latin adaptation of an Arabic name — was preserved orally by the Provencal poets of Southern France, then turned over to Wolfram to be rendered in written form.

Throughout Parzival Wolfram refers to Zodiacal and planetary events that transpire during the Quest. His information is so precise and detailed that one can locate the historical counterpart of the Grail Legend in the three-year period when the planet saturn transits the constellation of Cancer, the Crab. The transit happens three times in every century, but the Zodiacal conditions are highly specific. The transits mentioned by Wolfram could be matched with events in the middle of the 9th Century, around 848, but also in the middle of the 10th century, around 966.

Wolfram links the constellation of the Crab explicitly with the Amfortas Wound: "We know from the wound and the summer snow that the planet Saturn had returned to its mark." The Middle High German word zil, here translated "mark", means "mansion, house, zenith" in astrological usage. The zenith of the Zodiac is Cancer. The legend says that Amfortas feels exceptional pain when Saturn returns to this position, but this is also the moment when the Grail Quest is culminated, and Parzival finally asks the Question.

As I write these words, Saturn is at zenith, in transit through the constellation of the Crab.

Astrological clues spread throughout Wolfram's Parzival make it possible to determine the dating of the Quest, or, to put it otherwise, to trace the historical reflection of the mythological events that unfold in the Quest narrative. For what it's worth, it may be possible to identify known historical persons involved in the Quest, including a likely candidate for the role of Parzival. For instance, the Provencal poet Kyot may be identified with Guillaume of Toulouse, also known as William of Orange.

Other references in the book make it possible to work out key geographical locations of the story. There appear to have been a number of Grail Castles in medieval Europe. According to Rudolf Steiner, who attributed huge importance to the Parzival story, the Spanish Grail castle was located in the Pyrenees, near the town of Jaca. Due to all the murk and disinformation around the Sangraal pun, it is impossible to say where the principle French Grail Castle may have been located, but I would guess somewhere in the ancestral lands of the House of Anjou, wherever that was. The Grail Castle associated with Lohengrin, the son of Parzival, was probably Konigsburg in Germany near the Roman city of Trier.

The Grail Legend is an historical myth. It unfolds in linear time even though its motifs are eternal, timeless. Because it addresses the problem of patriarchal wounding and the Paternal Lie, it must have an historical dimension—othewise, it could not present a way to exit the nightmare of history and cancel the self-validating script of the theocratic pretenders.

The Handover

The conclusion of Parzival in Wolfram's version contains some extremely remarkable things, but no one seems to have paid much attention to them. We will be looking at them in some detail. For orientation to these lessons, Creative Mythology by Joseph Campbell contains the best modern introduction and psychological commentary on the Legend. Campbell devotes the entirety of Chapters 7 and 8, running to 175 pages, to the Fisher King and Parzival. He makes mind-numbing digressions and his verbosity is gargantuan, so take what you like and leave the rest. To his credit, Campbell does consider what happens after the Grail is won, a subject almost totally ignored in the many other works on this momentous tale.

Parzival with his half-brother, the infidel Feirefiz. Manuscript Cgm 19, folio 49v, State Library, Munich.

There are 16 chapters in the surviving version of Wolfram's epic poem in Middle High German. (Recommended version: Parzival, translated by A. T. Hatto, Penguin Classics.) The last chapter of Parzival is packed with surprizing developments. We learn that the end of the Quest for the Grail is the beginning of another Quest, which is now ongoing. Both historically and timelessly, those who choose to engage with the Grail Legend are carried into another episode, toward a future myth. As Hesse wrote in the first line of Journey to the East, "It was my destiny to join in a great experience...." In fact, the continuation of the Grail Quest does lead in just that direction, toward the East.Wolfram says that after winning the Grail, healing Amfortas, and assuming the throne of Grail King, Parzival immediately abdicated his role and turned the Grail over to his half-brother, Feirefiz ("pied son"), who took it to India and presented it to Prester John, the mysterious regent of a kingdom beyond the Himalayas. In short, the Grail was carried to Tibet, the legendary realm of Shambala. This extraordinary transmission from West to East occurred in the 10th century.

After giving the sacred artifact of the Grail to Feirefiz, Parzival entrusted to his son, Lohengrin, the secret of the mission that remained after the Grail was won.

The handover of the Grail is the current, ongoing part of the Grail Legend. The sequel concerns Parzival's son by Condwiramurs: Lohengrin, the Swan Knight. The legend of Lohengrin—that is to say, the germinal form of the future story of the Grail Quest—unfolds in Lotharingia, the Latin province named after him. In French this becomes Lorraine, a region of northwestern France, but tradition associates the Swan Knight with the area somewhat north and east of present-day Lorraine—namely, modern Belgium. In a famous incident, the Swan Knight sails up the river Schelde, the main river in Belgium, to Antwerp where he meets the woman who will decide his destiny.

In Parzival, Wolfram sets the stage for Lohengrin's tale by inserting feudal associations with the House of Anjou, hereditary seat of the Grail Castle. Amfortas, who turns out to be the paternal uncle of Parzival, belonged to the House of Anjou. A small feudal kingdom formed through an alliance of Anjou with the King of Gascony (southwest France) provides the setting for the Lohengrin tale, the sequel to the Grail Quest. This kingdom was ruled by Lambekin, Duke of Brabant and Hainault. These names survive today in two provinces of southwestern Belgium: Brabant (or Flemish Brabant) and Hainaut. This is the area of Belgium established as the Province of Flanders during the reign of Baudouin I (King Baldwin the First), who lived during the 9th Century when some historical events mirroring the Grail Legend may have occured. The same region was later ruled by the Crusader king, Baldwin the Ninth, a contemporary of Wolfram who wrote the Grail romance.

Geographically speaking, Flanders is where to pick up the thread of the Quest.

Mythbusting 101, Lesson 2: The Destiny of the Swan Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2017 by John Lash.