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Mythbusting 101
Lesson 5

The Most Enigmatic of All Enigmas

Reflections on the Organic Light, Mary Magdalene, the Priory of Sion, and the Da Vinci Code Scam

Like most people with strong imaginations, I tend, if left to my own devices, to extrapolate into some pretty remote and arcane dimensions. This tendency is the schizophrenic or mythomaniac bias of the modern artist, lavishly demonstrated from Antonin Artaud—the leading European exemplar, disregarding the Russian crew which, if taken into account, would oblige us to place Velimir Khlebnikov at the head of the pack—to Philip K. Dick; or, if you prefer, Woody Allen. On American soil, Melville and Poe provide the primary case-studies. It doesn't take too much reflection to conclude that almost all Romantics who inherited the unfinished karma of Europe, i.e., the long range consequences of the destruction of the Mysteries, suffer from the affliction of schizoid imaginative extrapolation, in one form or another.

"My heart is what isn't my ego... To love the ego is to love death, but the law of the Virgin is infinite." Artaud, Revolt Against Poetry.

I only class myself with these characters due to similarity in the affliction, not in what can be made of it. There are a good number of "mythophrenics" out there, most of whom, sad to say, are viewed as a menace to society.

Arriving at Lesson Five in Mythbusting 101, the patient reader may well wonder where I'm going with this demanding metahistorical exercise. Well, there is a finale, a punch line, if you will, and it may well be worth the trek, if only for its shock value.... Yes, we eventually come around to the bloody horror of it all.

Meanwhile, it would perhaps ease the burden of these demanding lessons if I explained why I dwell so intently on tales from the Middle Ages. I date the Grail Quest historically to a nodal moment, 968 AD, and following that, I emphasize the writing down of the tale around 1210 AD by Wolfram von Eschenbach, a Bavarian knight. These are remote dates, linked to obscure events. It is hard to see how what happenedthen could have any possible relevance to the world now, in 2006.

But what if then is now?

Let me see if I can elucidate how these excursions into Arthurian romance can be of any value to life in the world today.

The Dead Red Herring

    The legends of the Grail are perhaps the most tantalizing in all Arthurian romance. That "saintisme vaisselle" (most sacred vessel) is of all enigmas
    the most enigmatic.
    R. S. Loomis, Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance

Romance is a genre of medieval literature, including works of prose and poetry written in lost languages such as Welsh, Breton, Provencal, and Middle High German. Arthurian romance is the body of tales and legends concerning the knights, lords, and ladies associated with the quasi-historical king Arthur. The centerpiece of Arthurian romance is the Grail Legend or Quest for the Holy Grail. In these lessons in Mythbusting 101, I am attempting to show how this legend contains a power that comes to those who participate imaginatively in the story, the power to defy and defeat the Paternal Lie—that is to say, the deceit that legitimates all that is false and life-negating in human affairs. To be involved in the Quest is a most effective way to overthrow the dominator culture in which we live, because the power gained through participation in this unique story awakens an innate, insuperable capacity in each individual. We prepare ourselves to overcome external tyranny by owning and mastering something internal to each one of us: the gift of creative imagination.

Galahad lured by white-robed faery women who often appear in the role of Grail Maidens. Painting by Arthur Hughes, 1874.

I mean genuine creative imagination, which is also moral imagination. I do not mean what passes today for imagination—for instance, Star Wars schlock, or multi-player, multi-level video games, or the latest glad rags on the catwalk, or the jackhammer-editing of an MTV video. To cite but a few examples out of hundreds that come to mind.

By insisting on the importance of the Grail Quest, and plunging the reader into the misty realm of Arthurian romance, I seem to be taking a long detour into the past, or perhaps I am just hopelessly lost back there, and trying to pull in some company. After all, isn't it ridiculous to try to revive such a dead subject? Isn't it futile to expect anyone today to be engaged by these obscure, fantastical plots and these medieval characters? And after all, who in modern times would take any interest in such an obscure subject as the Holy Grail?

Well, considering the discussion going on around The Da Vinci Code, I'd say that by now a good quarter of the population of the planet may be getting interested in that obscure subject. 1.5 billion would be all the Christians on earth whose faith is put in question because the DVC associates the Grail with their savior figure, Jesus Christ. And many non-Christians, as well, are getting pulled into the debate. The book is by far the bestselling novel of all time. It has been translated into 40 languages. The film based on it will come out this month, May, 2006.

So, maybe I'm on the right track, after all. But am I making the right moves? It doesn't quite look like I am. I seem to be doing the jitterbug when everyone else in doing the lambada. My odd moves are due to the fact that I'm stalking the subject from a rather odd angle, setting these studies apart from the rest of the debate.

"To study the Grail legend is to dig down through the ruins of buried cities, to uncover layer after layer of extinct civilizations and forgotten religions." Loomis again, in Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance.

Well, there you go. If the leading Arthurian scholar were here today, he might well be jitterbugging with me. When it comes to putting the Grail together with the Mysteries, he was way ahead of my game. (On this connection as Loomis worked it out, there is more coming up in lessons ahead.) In these lessons I am explaining the Grail Quest as an outgrowth of the Mysteries. Search as you will in all the debate around the DVC and I don't think you will find this connection being made. I reckon that you won't find the Mysteries even mentioned. Yet I propose that what the Arthurian knights sought in the Grail had previously been known firsthand to initiates in the Hellenistic Mysteries. This view is consistent with advanced Arthurian scholarship on the Grail, demonstrated by the venerable Roger Sherman Loomis, but it has been totally overlooked in the current debate over novel and film. Why?

The reason is simple: current worldwide fascination with the Holy Grail, sparked by The Da Vinci Code, is not what it appears to be. The debate over that book seems to be drawing attention to the Grail, but in reality it diverts attention from direct, verifiable experience of the mysterious presence of the Grail. The debate even acts as a deterrent to any discussion about such experience. Attention is brought to the Grail, and, at the same time, directed away from the course of inquiry that would lead to "attaining the Grail." The DVC debate is a runaway game of sterile fantasy. It is a volunteer conspiracy whose participants maintain the plot, continually embellishing and expanding it, while the conspiracy does nothing but feed off itself. That red stuff in the chalice is not Christ's blood. Look again. It is the slimy flesh of a dead herring.

The massive attention brought to the Grail today is a gross diversion from what the Grail is, considered mystically. It distracts us from the experience the Grail can offer to those who genuinely seek it. Loomis was right: of all enigmas, this is the most enigmatic. It might be argued that the Grail can be many things to many people, and neither John Lash nor anyone else is going to have the final and exclusive say on what it is. That is true enough. But it is equally true that the Grail can only be one thing. It can be many things, and, at one time, it has to be one thing and one thing only. That one thing the Grail is, is the most enigmatic part of the enigma.

    The Stone is One; nothing else must be added to it; out of one substance the Sages attain our remedy. This Magistery grows from one original root, which branches out into several parts, and from which springs one thing.

Thus the old alchemists advise, time and again, in many versions of the same message. (From "The Golden Tract," in The Hermetic Museum, edited by A. E. Waite.) I am writing to disclose and elucidate that one thing, which in the past has been regarded as the most sacred and secret matter in the world.

Virtual Conspiracy

The Priory of Sion is said to be a secret society founded in 1099 that preserves hidden information about the life of Jesus: namely, that he was married to Mary Magdalene and she bore his child or children. The documents that launched this tale were deposited in the National Library of France in the 1950s. By a huge leap of imagination, they are titled dossiers secrets. Anyone who has looked at them knows what a laugh they are. Amateurish work, probably typed on an old clunker in a seedy mansarde somewhere in Paris. These documents, and the Prior of Sion whose existence they announce, are widely considered to be a hoax, but not just an ordinary hoax. I would call it a hoax in the form of a virtual conspiracy. I do not mean that the Priory of Sion, the alleged secret society, is a real conspiracy, but that the story about the Priory is a conspiratorial fiction.

A virtual conspiracy is an act of collusion, not for the purpose of doing something (such as assassinating a political leader, destroying skyscrapers, or preserving a secret), but for the purpose of introducing a false story about something claimed to have been done. The Priory of Sion is a fictional invention intended to serve a definite end, which it serves extremely well, even though the Priory doesn't exist. The trick is that the virtual conspiracy (a secret society called the Priory of Sion) is the delivery system for certain information (the sacred blood-line descended from Jesus). The two components, delivery system and false information, make a self-propagating delusional system. The society does not have to exist for it to be the source of the information it introduces. Once introduced, the information goes about propagating itself.

A good example of a virtual conspiracy is the Himalayan Brotherhood or Great White Brotherhood of Madame Blavatsky. The "secret lodge" of Mahatmas (the "elder brothers" of humanity) is a pure invention, but it acts as an delivery system for information about "the ancient wisdom religion" coming from Blavatsky. The object of the conspiracy is to spread information ("teachings"), some of which may be true and valuable, as we see with Blavatsky. More often, however, the virtual conspiracy is used to spread lies and disinformation. It is the ideal vehicle for the Paternal Lie.

The virtual conspiracy is a potent tool of mind control. Indeed, one of the most potent ever conceived by the human mind. It produces a huge return on a minimal investment. To succeed with a virtual conspiracy, you do not have to control what people do, and you do not even have to set up an elaborate scheme to make something happen in the world: you merely have to suggest how things may be perceived to happen, or to have happened.

Needless to say, mounting an actual conspiracy is complicated and risky. The operation is always vulnerable at the weakest link. Moreover, an actual conspiracy can be found out, the perpetrators can be identified and made accountable. But a virtual conspiracy, which may be instigated by a single person in the most banal manner, requires no such complex arrangements. Even if the source of the conspiracy is identified, as has been done with the Priory of Scion, it continues to thrive, unaffected by exposure. Is the product of everyone who takes interest in it, whether they believe it or not.

Because it relies on the power of suggestion and unverifiable claims, a virtual conspiracy is strong, even at the weakest link. For example, it has been argued that the amateurish quality of the dossiers secrets was intentional because the very look of those documents would discredit the information and turn away those who were incapable of looking deeper. In other words, the documents were presented that way as a filtering device, a tactic of misdirection. Whoever came up with this notion was elaborating the virtual conspiracy by making its originators look clever. The originators have only to sit back and watch their project grow in the minds of those who consider and discuss it.

The Priory of Sion is an extremely clever virtual conspiracy that acts as the catalyst for a mind control experiment in which millions of people are now avidly participating. The originators make a minimal effort, planting some bogus documents, and the conspiracy takes off under its own power. The fictional Priory is the source of certain information, the delivery device for claims that permutate wildly in the minds of everyone gets intrigued by the information. The secret society itself does not exist, and never did, but such is the cleverness of the system: it does not have to exist in order to deliver the information.

The bogus story about the Priory planted in the National Library in Paris, and subsequently embellished by Henry Lincoln, drawing on a pulp novel about hidden treasure in southern France, then elaborated by Lincoln, Baigent, and Leigh in Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and finally fictionalized by Dan Brown, has become the vehicle for spreading a dense smokescreen around the Holy Grail. All the discussion and debate hides the Grail of the Mysteries—not to protect it, and not for benevolent reasons. Far from it. The mind control strategy operating here buries the Grail in bla-bla to make it inaccessible to humanity.

Now, it could be argued that I'm concocting a conspiracy as well. I am saying that someone—whoever planted the bogus documents at the source of the virtual conspiracy about the Priory of Sion—did so to deny humanity access to the Grail, the encounter with the Organic Light. Who is that someone, and why are they doing this? I will tackle the second part of this question now, and the first part a little further down the road in these lessons.

An Immense Denial

Why would anyone want to deny humanity access to the Grail—by which I mean genuine, firsthand experience of the Sophianic Light? You may as well ask, Why were the Mysteries destroyed? Why were the visionary Gnostic cults dedicated to Sophia eradicated? It can be shown on solid historical evidence that the Mysteries were deliberately eradicated, and it is natural to inquire about the motive for this unparalleled act of destruction. Was it because some special interest group wanted to forbid people from the unique mystical experience of Sophianic initiation? If so, could the motive operating then be the motive now, the intention behind the Da Vinci Code scam? What if then is now?

In the Pagan Mysteries many generations of people had a direct encounter with the Grail, the Organic Light of the Gnostic Sophia, the radiant Wisdom Stone of the alchemists. First-hand access to this experience was widely available over a long period of time in Europe, the Levant, and Egypt. When Christianity came to power as state religion of the Roman Empire, access to this sublime mystical experience was strictly forbidden, under penalty of death. And once again today, access is forbidden, although it seems just the opposite: everyone and his brother is on the verge of discovering the secret of the Holy Grail.

In reality, the presumed exposé of the secret conceals the secret. This is why it is time to come out and state the secret, openly and explicitly. This is the best way to refute the specious exposé of the secret.

There is no mystery about what happened to the Mysteries. History tells us that Christianity triumphed by overthrowing Pagan religion and demolishing its rites and institutions. If the Mysteries had survived, Christianity would not have been able to gain the power and scope that it did. History itself indicates the reason for keeping people from the Grail, i.e., forbidding initiation: this was done deliberately so that a rigid belief-system could be imposed in place of the knowledge that flowed spontaneously from the initiatory experience. Had the opportunity to encounter the Organic Light continued, many people in the classical world would not have adopted the salvationist belief-system and would even have resisted it, and argued persuasively against it—exactly as Gnostics did, until they were silenced by the criminalization of initiation (under the Theodosian Code), book-burning, desecration of the sacred sites, persecution, and murder.

This is not conspiracy theory. It is history — the history of an immense act of denial. I am not inventing a scenario about the destruction of the Mysteries. I am building a fair and accurate picture from known historical evidence. And I am proposing that the revival of interest in the Holy Grail due to the Priory of Sion conspiracy is a continuation of that immense denial, the extension of an insidious plan to dominate humankind by deceit.

Imagine this: the triumph of Christian faith in salvation by an off-planet deity (the false promise of the Paternal Lie) is a product of an immense denial. The long-term "plan" (I use this term advisedly—to be clarified as we proceed) to deceive and dominate the human mind can only succeed if it works like a virtual conspiracy that requires minimal effort from those who originate it because it relies on a volunteer system. People who don't have the faintest idea of the plan happily volunteer to implement it. How can this happen? It happens when people deny in themselves what the plan would forbid them to have. In other words, there is an internal submission to the power of the deceivers and dominators. They count on this submission to achieve their plan. If this were not so, those who operate the denial program would have one hell of a time to keep it going.

Self-denial in humanity assists and advances the plan to deny access to the Grail of the Mysteries, the most precious birthright of our species. Nevertheless, the problem is not merely subjective. Internal self-denial and the external program of denial work together, and reinforce each other.

"Divine Spark"

Let's proceed carefully here, and take a moment to scrutinize this issue of self-denial. It could be said—in fact, it has been said, in interpretations that endorse Gnosticism, or a given model of it, but differ radically from the reclamation of Gnostic teachings found in this site—that we all have in us the inner light of divinity. The inner light may be understood as "God Within," or "Christ in Us," or the potential for Buddhahood, or the capacity to realize "Thou Art That," Atma is Brahma, God dwells in the interior of your own self, and so forth. But if we deny this light, we go against our innate divine essence, and become subject to deceit and domination from outside. According to the model accepted by almost all scholars, Gnostics taught that humans possess a divine spark that has become trapped in the material world, lost and forgotten in the prison of the flesh. The goal of gnosis is to recognize the "godseed" we possess and liberate it from imprisonment. So the story goes, over and over again, in both popular and scholarly treatments of Gnosticism.

Currently, discussions of the Gospel of Judas cite the "divine spark" model of Gnosticism. In that document, Jesus asks Judas to betray him to the Romans so that he, the illumined savior, "can be liberated from the man who clothes me." At first encounter with this passage, it is rather upsetting to hear that the wise, kindhearted master feels such repulsion for his tailor, but then one realizes that Jesus is talking about his body. We are now asked to consider that his request for Judas to assist him in being publicly executed is a Gnostic tactic that will permit the master to liberate his divine spark from corporeal confinement. In a tv documentary on the Gospel of Judas, the writers point out that this text, which appears to be consistent with Nag Hammadi writings of the 3rd Century, ends with Judas' kiss of betrayal and says nothing about the resurrection of Jesus. This is so, they say, because Gnostics wanted liberation from the prison of the flesh, not corporeal resurrection. Indeed, it would be an absurdity for those who believed the divine spark to be imprisoned in matter to long for life in a material body, even a perfect, resurrected one.

Patient reader, bear in mind that early Christians regarded resurrection in a literal sense. Jesus was able to rise from the dead in a new physical body. Through the power of Jesus, in collaboration with the Father God, the same miraculous feat is possible for everyone. Irenaeus (c. 140 - 220 CE) was the Church ideologue who insisted that only the four Gospels attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were valid, and called for the destruction of all other writings about Jesus, especially writings by Gnostics. At the end of Book I of Against Heresies, Irenaeus refers to the Gospel of Judas, saying of Judas that "he brought about the mystery of the betrayal." Obviously, scholars were extremely pleased to have come upon a lost text whose existence was signaled in this way, 1800 years before a copy of it was discovered. (Portrait of Irenaeus, the typical theocrat with beard and book.)

The lost works attributed to Irenaeus but paraphrased by later writers contain an account of some slaves, recent converts to Christianity, who were arrested and tortured,

    in order to learn from them some secret things practiced among Christians. These slaves [had] nothing do say that would meet the wishes of their tormentors, except that they had heard from their masters that the divine communion was the body and blood of Christ, and imagining that it was actually flesh and blood, gave their inquisitors answers to that effect. (Ireneaus and Hippolytus: Ante-Nicene Christian Library Down to 325 AD, Part Nine. T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1869. Italics added.)

The slaves had heard from their masters that resurrection was literally possible, and believed it without question or doubt. Why? Because that belief relieved them, not just from fear of death, but from death itself—which goes some way to explaining the defiant and courageous attitude of some Christian martyrs. The belief of these slaves is held today by many Christians whose main attachment to their faith (so they tell me) is the assurance that after death they will live again physically, and be united in corporeal reality with their departed loved ones.

The writers of the Gospel of Judas documentary state that Gnostic refusal of bodily resurrection in favor of liberation of the divine spark into an incorporeal void (the Pleroma) was unacceptable to the early Church, and caused Gnostics to be persecuted and eradicated as the Church rose to power. While it is correct that Gnostics of the Pagan schools denied the miracle of bodily resurrection, to Jesus and everyone else, it is incorrect to argue that they did so in preference to liberating the "divine spark." My studies indicate that the "divine spark" model derives from disinformation spread by ideologues like Irenaeus, who personally hated the Gnostics. (The documentary does not mention that Irenaeus lost his wife when she joined a Gnostic sect, reportedly lured by rumors of their sexual orgies.) In the Sophianic, Gaia-oriented version of Gnostic spirituality developed in this site, I argue that Gnostics (AKA the telestai, the guardians and teachers of the Mysteries) did not claim that we each possess a divine spark that must be liberated from the darkness and confinement of corporal embodiment.

As I understand it, Pagan Gnostics taught that we have a divine faculty called nous, a capacity to know that needs to be developed so that we can realize both the true nature of the material, sensory world, and our connection to supernatural realms. Nous is the divine spark, if you will, but it is not a spiritual essence, it is a faculty. It is not an egoic locus of immortal identity, it is a divine capacity to learn, love, evolve. Nous is our dose of the Sophianic intelligence, the interactive circuit connecting us to the Gaian planetary mind.

Forever Young

The above passage may look like a digression, but the issue of belief in corporeal resurrection takes us right back to the main topic of this lesson: how self-denial operates, setting us up for deceit and domination, especially in spiritual matters. The most common tool of self-denial is belief. For instance, "I'd like to be a champion swimmer, but I'm just not disciplined enough." As I have noted elsewhere in this site, belief has no power to create anything, but it acts as a filter on all that we can truly create, imagine, and achieve. It conditions how we come to perceive our true potential. You may not have the discipline it takes to be a champion swimmer, but you can only know by trying, not by pre-deciding the matter on the basis of a negative belief statement. The negative belief not only stops you from becoming a champion swimmer, it even stops you from finding out if you can become one. In short, it blocks the spontaneous process by which you recognize, own, and actualize your innate potential.

Negative beliefs impede our very capacity to live, for living to the fullest potential involves finding things out by trial and error, testing and experimenting, daring to try, not pre-deciding what we can or cannot do. But positive beliefs can do the same thing. In fact, they can do far worse. The slaves in Irenaeus' anecdote held the positive belief in corporeal resurrection; hence they feared not to die. But Gnostics taught otherwise:

    Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing. The Gospel of Philip 73.1-5.

Those who were initiated into the presence of the Mystery Light can be said to have attained resurrection while still alive. This is exactly how Arthurian tales describe the effect of witnessing the Grail:

    Never was a man in such pain but from that day he beholds the Stone, he cannot die in the week that follows immediately after. Nor will his complexion ever decline. He will be averred to have such color as he possessed when he saw the Stone - whether it be a maid or man - as when his best season of life commenced. If that person saw the Stone for two hundred years, his hair would never turn gray. Such power does the Stone bestow that flesh and bone immediately acquire youth. (Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival, Ch. 9.)

It appears like the belief in corporeal resurrection is as good as it gets, until you find out there is something even better, the magnificent option or choice known to heretics (heresy comes from a Greek verb meaning "to choose"). Obviously, parties with a special interest in imposing the belief in resurrection through Christ would want to make sure that no one finds out about the option. There you have a motive for enforcement of the immense denial that has informed the history of our species over the last two thousand years.

The Elixir of Life

It is crucially important to understand that the experience of the radiant Wisdom Stone, the primary substance body of Sophia, has nothing to do with a divine spark. There is no inner light to behold: the Grail is out there, consubstantial with the body of the planet itself. It is objective and tangible, as physically real as the ozone layer or the 80 percent nitrogen content in the air. In the documentary on the Gospel of Judas, when the narrator explains that Gnostics had inner, intuitive knowledge of divine things, we are shown people sitting quietly and devoutly with their eyes closed, as if communing with something within, or gazing upon an inner light. This way of portraying Gnostic illumination is utterly misleading. No one sees the Grail by closing their eyes and letting imagination run wild; or if they do, they see an hallucination, a fallacious play of lights and colors, not the soft, steady presence of the Organic Light.

Gnosis involves heightened perception in direct engagement with the external world, not some vague inner sense of illumination, not a vision of holy light seen behind fluttering eyelids. Of course, the Organic Light is in your head, but you don't see it there because you are designed to look outward from your head. You see it outside, permeating all that is solid and sensorially evident. It is called a Stone because it has a palpable density, but zero mass. The paradox of high-density, zero-mass defies what we know of nature, of course, but nature is a clever girl and she has her ways of getting around the laws of physics. The porosity of the Organic Light allows it to be both extremely dense and mass-free, like thick, floating foam. Indigenous peoples who witnessed the Organic Light in nature and perceived its mysterious porosity were inspired to describe it in just that way: as foam. Among the Zuni Indians, the Earth Mother (read: Sophia) has a terraced bowl (read: Grail,). She churns all the ingredients of the natural world in the bowl and whips them into foam. "The foam rose high up around the rim of the bowl." The Earth Mother tells her children:

    See, the bowl is the world, the rim in its distant horizon, and the foam-bounded terraces around it, my features, which they shall call mountains, whence white clouds shall rise, float away, and bursting, shed spray, so that my children may drink the water of life and from my substances add into the flesh of their being. (Donald A. MacKenzie, "The Milk Goddess and Her Pot," in Myths of Pre-Columbian America, p. 175).

This passage celebrates corporeal resurrection by participation in the biophysics of the planetary body, here and now. Gnostic seers who knew how to behold the Organic Light, when they went out into nature in the daytime, felt and saw themselves being metabolized in the atmosphere.

In the previous lesson, I proposed that some alchemists were "atmospheric mystics" capable of the same kind of heightened perception of the natural world. This claim may sound extravagant, as if it were a projection of this author's ideas upon what native people experience, but it is consistent with the testimony of indigenous shamanism. Among the mountain tribes of New Guinea, shamans are "cosmologists [who] construct a model of complex and hidden systems of circulating substances in life forms, a kind of comprehensive physiology or alchemy of life forms animating the world around them" (Richard Rudgley, The Alchemy of Culture, p. 82, citing Fredrik Barth, Cosmologies in the Making). Such a construction is not an intellectual artifice, it is a spontaneous artistic response to intensive contact with nature.

The cosmologies of "primitive societies" contain those eternal patterns of animation that are also discovered in mystical experience directed toward the natural world, rather than toward the "inner world" of the psyche, the interior self. "You must go forward to completion by true teaching in accordance with the facts of Nature," advises Thomas Norton in The Ordinal of Alchemy. Alchemical schemata of the terrestrial and celestial elements (shown on left above, illustration for The Ordinal of Alchemy) may be the evidence of male-mind model-making, but in some cases they exhibit a sense of human metabolization in the biosphere.


When all is said and done, the faith that informs the often chimerical art of alchemy comes down to one notion: we can achieve rejuvenation by deep participation in the processes of the biosphere. In short, immortality within Gaia-Sophia. The "Delectable Stone" is the Elixir of Life.

So, who needs to wait for resurrection after death when you can have the experience of perpetual regeneration, directly and ecstatically, through mystical union with the life-processes of the Earth?

But the problem is, you cannot have this kind of experience if you are prevented from knowing that it exists, not to mention forbidden from doing what it takes to induce it. The controlling power of the Paternal Lie depends on the taboo on mystic participation in the one true Grail, Elixir Vitae, the living light of Sophia. As a spurious substitute for this experience, religionists offer the Christian sacrament, a symbolic ingestion of the blood and body of Christ. The Host is a placebo: you have to believe in it for it to work, to give you anything at all, even a slight rise of morale. The sacrament of the Grail is no placebo: it really delivers an experience that you don't have to believe is true or even possible, you just have to undergo it. And this requires observing a few simple conditions, the rules of the rite, which are what they have always been....

I would call the encounter with the Grail of the Mysteries a "mystical act." The problem with the controversy around The Da Vinci Code is that it is generating enormous talk about the Grail considered as a Christian relic, or the blood-line of Jesus and Magdalene, or a mystical archetype of spiritual wholeness, and so forth—but all this speculation happens with no reference to the mystical act of beholding the Grail firsthand. The virtual conspiracy supports the Paternal Lie and continues to enforce the taboo on mystical participation in Sophia, the divine luminosity of the Earth.

The Alabaster Jar

To defy and defeat the Paternal Lie, you must at the very least be able to know when the Lie is being shoved right in your face. In the DVC scam, the Lie makes Mary Magdalene out to be a breeder of royal stock, rather like a thoroughbred mare. Volunteers in the virtual conspiracy cite Gnostic writings to support the Priory of Sion claim that Magdalene and Jesus had carnal relations. Here the tactics of half-truth come into play. Gnostic materials do assert that Jesus and Magdalene were both carnally and spiritually intimate, but if they were genuine Gnostics and rejected procreation, how can they be presented as a couple who desired to have children?

The fact that Gnostics rejected biological procreation is attested by all scholars, but totally ignored in the DVC debate. A fragmentary Gnostic text, Zostrianos, condemns "the madness and bondage of femininity," by which is meant, not women as such, and not the female gender, but blind biological procreation (NHC VIII 131.5 ff.). How can such an important point of Gnostic outlook and practice be ignored? If Mary Magdalene was a Gnostic, she would certainly not have been a mother, nor would the Gnostic Jesus have been a father. To cite Gnostic evidence in support of the holy bloodline scenario is absurd. And perverse.

Loomis says that "the Christian aspect of the Grail legend is but one aspect—the least baffling, the least mysterious" (Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance, p. 140). Yet this is the aspect that gets all the airplay in the current debate. Let's recall that the Magdalene was traditionally pictured with an urn full of precious ointment (spikenard) for anointing the feet of Jesus. This urn is clearly not the chalice in which the blood of Jesus was collected. (Detail of painting by Dagli Orti, showing a blond Madgalene anointing the feet of Jesus.)


The urn is a Pagan artifact, linked to the role of Goddess cults in the anointment of the candidate for sacred kingship—a subject I have elaborated quite extensively through this site. There is no way to confuse urn and chalice:






For the Priory of Sion scam to work, the urn has to disappear, but its function is retained and assigned a different value. This is the twist: the Paternal Lie indemnifies theocracy (royal kingship) by shoving the chalice of the sacred bloodline in our faces, even telling us that the chalice is the body of a woman who carries the seed of Jesus in her womb, while Magdalene stands on the sidelines with the alabaster jar full of precious ointment, the Pagan artifact of theocratic anointing. There is a covert act of substitution operating here: chalice-sacred bloodline-Magdalene, wife of Jesus is substituted for urn-sacred anointing-Magdalene, priestess of the Goddess. The DVC debate is totally absorbed in the former, and largely ignores the latter. Even when the latter image is evoked, as in Margaret Starbird's The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, is it offered in the service of the Paternal power structure: Jesus and Magdalene ought to be taken for the model of "spiritual marriage," complete with a brood of kids (Starbird has five), which model, if accepted by the Church, would improve and advance Christianity. Such is Starbird's argument.

Loomis cites a passage in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur where the nobles at Arthur's court witness the appearance of a Grail maiden on a white horse and wonder if she is Magdalene. In the method of comparative mythology (known in its less respectable form as mythophrenia), Magdalen is a Grail maiden like Repanse de Schoie in Parzival. She does not carry the seed of Jesus in her womb. She is not the holy chalice incarnate. The Grail she carries is the sacred urn of anointing. Or perhaps it is the cup with the entheogenic potion... In either case, it is definitely not a vessel that supports the fantasy of blood-line theocracy.

The subject of the Holy Grail may well be the most enigmatic matter in the world, but it is not incomprehensible. As we consider it, we ought to look at all the options, all the variations that play into attempts to describe what the Grail is. The DVC debate focuses attention on the Christian angle, "the least baffling, the least mysterious" aspect of the Grail. The holy bloodline scenario seems heretical, but it really isn't. The Roman Church and other denominations of the One True Faith may object to the blasphemy of a sexual Christ, or more precisely, a procreating Christ, but the Sangraal/Sangreal fantasy is still squarely in Christian territory. It does not propose to destroy Christianity, but to give it temporal and political legitimacy. It endorses the Paternal Lie that there is something special about the blood of the savior. Making a biological proposition out of theology, it does not go against the essential message of Christianity—namely, that we are saved by a mysterious power dwelling in the blood of Jesus Christ—it merely gives it a new look.

I, for one, would not be surprised if the DVC controversy ends up affording increased power and expanded membership to the Christian fold, especially Roman Catholicism. At the very least, it will tighten and strengthen the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church—which is precisely what the current Pope, Benedict XVII, has stated publicly that he would like to do.

To see how the Paternal Lie is operating within the DVC debate, and follow the future transmogrifications it might assume, there is no better exercise than a trek through the material of Arthurian romance. By strict definition, this is a literary genre comprizing tales and legends about knights of the Round Table (more on this in the next lesson, The Cult of the Spiritual Warrior), but it is also much more than that. Arthurian romance is that aspect of Western culture that presents the parallel history of resistance to the Paternal Lie. The lore of chivalry, which Loomis asserts is "making a romance out of ancient tales from Greece and Palestine," and "less a series of adventures than a series of initiations," is the narrative setting where we learn about how the Mysteries survived in the Dark Ages then, and how they might be revived in the Dark Ages that are dawning now.

jll: April-May 2006 Flanders




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