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Kabala Library

Quest for the Holy Grail

Quest for the Holy Grail


by Jack Courtis

You have had many adventures, but now you are standing at the gate of the Grail Castle. The gatekeeper will not let you pass unless you satisfy him that you are on the Quest and that you are no longer foolish. You must answer his questions:

Q: What do you seek?
A: The Grail.

Q: What is the Grail?
A: It has different forms.

Q: How do you seek the unknown?
A: By following the path.

Q: Where does the path begin?
A: At this gate.

Q: Where does it end?
A: At this gate.

Q: How do you know you are on the path?
A: The Grail guides me.

Q: Is the Quest easy?
A: The path is long and the task heavy.

Q: How shall you accomplish the task?
A: All who go forth on the Quest achieve their heart's desire.

Q: What do you take with you?
A: Courage, love and dedication.

Q: How will you bring back what you find?
A: In my heart.

Q: Where is the Grail hidden?
A: ln the maze in the heart of this castle.

Enter, with my blessing.

You have satisfied the gatekeeper and you are in the hall of the wounded king. The Grail procession goes past and you witness the 5 Transformations. The Emerald Stone of Lucifer becomes the Sword that killed John the Baptist; then it becomes the Spear which pierced Christ on the Cross; it changes to the Cup which held His blood; and finally it is the Dish which carried the head of John the Baptist.

These are the 5 inner mysteries of the Grail. They are the 5 wounds of Christ symbolising the individual quests of Parsifal, Galahad, Bors, Launcelot and Gawain, at their respective castles.

Crown of Thorns Camelot Stone Parsifal
Wrists Corbenic Sword Galahad
Side Adventurous Spear Bors
Ankles Joyous Garde Cup Launcelot
Whipping Marvellous Dish Gawain

Why 5 inner mysteries? How do they relate to:

1 Tree of Life
3 Mother letters/paths
7 Double letters/paths
12 Single letters/paths

The inner landscape of the Grail implies an order amongst the dark forests and stern castles of the imagination. This implicate order points to an explanation of reality that gives it meaning. This meaning lies behind the confusion of images and the numerous characters that are found in this land. It is found in numbers and the relationship between numbers. Here is a clue:

Ain Sof Aur Stone 5 transformations
Emanation Sword 1 Tree of Life
Creation Spear 3 Mother letters
Formation Cup 7 Double letters
Action Dish 12 Single letters

There is a Tree of Life on each of the 4 Worlds of Manifestation and therefore, 3, 7 and 12 letters/paths, on each of those 4 Worlds. Each of the Worlds is symbolised by the 4 Grail objects of Sword, Spear, Cup, Dish. However, the Stone is above manifestation. It simply IS. As a cube, it has 3 dimensions and points to the mystery of the 3-fold Ain Sof Aur. It is the rock on which Christ builds His church.

Alternatively from the above relationship between the Grail objects and the Tree, we can reach the following correspondences. The Dish is an obvious symbol for the zodiac with its 12 signs and the 12 Single letters. The Cup relates to the reversal of the flow of life of the 7 Double letters in the way symbolised by the Tarot card Temperance. There is a flow of energy, backwards and forwards, between 2 cups. Further, the Spear used to pierce the side of Christ on the cross has a metal point in the shape of an elongated triangle. A symbolic reference to the 3 Mother letters. The Sword relates to the Tree in that the emanation of God's life into the universe is via the path of the Flaming Sword. Finally the Stone is itself the beginning and the end of the 5 Transformations.

The 22 paths on each of the 4 Worlds give us ample adventures on the Quest. We must experience all of them, as the outer mysteries. Then we must enter the 5 Castles of the inner mysteries. Only then, can we face the gatekeeper of the Grail Castle, to be allowed into the hall of the wounded king.

Let us observe the Procession more closely. This is as Wolfram describes it. A door opens and 2 maidens enter each carrying a lighted candle. They are followed by 2 ladies carrying ivory stools that are put down in front of the wounded king and Parsifal. Now 2 groups of 4 ladies join them, one group carries tall candles and the other group carries a tabletop. They lay the tabletop on the stools thus creating a symbolic portal of the temple. They form an 8-pointed star.

A further 2 maidens appear carrying a silver knife each. They are followed by 4 more maidens carrying candles. Next come 6 more ladies, carrying vessels, who escort the Grail Queen. She bears the Grail itself. These last 7 form a 7-pointed star.

How many are there? The Queen plus 24. What do the stars mean?

There follows a moment when the Grail Queen stands with one circle of 12 on her left and another circle of 12 on her right. The 2 circles represent the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. They are also the Masonic pillars Joachim and Boaz. Who does the Queen represent? Finally comes the moment when the Queen stands in the middle of a circle of 24, each carrying a light. They represent the 24 elders before the throne of God. But why are they all women? Bread and wine are served. Now there is deep silence. The gatekeeper speaks to you:

"Well Sir Knight, you have seen the Grail Procession. Have you asked the Question?"

What will you tell him? It is no excuse to say that you do not know what question to ask. That means instant failure. Think of it this way, it is the same as the Zen koan:

"What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

There is a technical answer to it but to give it in a book or a discourse is to deprive the Seeker of the right to make the effort to understand. Thus the Grail tradition is the same as Zen in this instance. The aim is for the Seeker to intuitively know what is required. This knowledge comes from the Quest successfully completed. Of course, that is only when the Question is asked.

But why should the healing process be triggered by a question? Because the asking of the Question is a spontaneous gesture and an intuitive act of compassion. Only a Grail Knight who has touched his/her own pain, can respond to the pain of another human being.

Paradox is the very essence of the Quest and the way in which insight is developed. In turn, this is how enlightenment operates; in a non-rational way that is devastatingly powerful as Parsifal discovers. How can it be otherwise? The Quest is about self-discovery in a mythological sense. It is the quest for reality by an explanation that gives it meaning.

The reason why paradox is the road that takes us to a reality that can only be explained by myth, is because in the West we have a confused notion of the nature of reality. Christianity insists that it is historically true and thereby forces upon our consciousness, linear time. That is, reality is something that is measured by a clock. History is therefore the description of the factual, outer world of unique events that are unrepeatable. However myth (as an explanation of reality that gives it meaning) operates on a different kind of time, cyclic time. Myth resonates with our innermost being. It continues to renew its cyclic patterns and symbols. It is precisely these mythical and cyclic motifs that have the power to give us self-transformation. History and linear time do not have this unique ability. Consequently, when a myth is confused with "historical" events, its entire transforming power is lost. Myths describe a reality that is more "real" than the here and now. And so for the Quest, healing is seen as a renewal of the life force of the king and the land. The healing of the king's wound can only be brought about by the radical transformation of each individual into a whole and complete being. This includes both our male and female natures.

Did you notice something about the Grail procession? They were all women. The mysteries of the Grail are female mysteries, well symbolised by the rose. This is important because each Good Friday the dove descends on the Table Round and the mystic rose at its centre unfolds and glows. What does this mean? Look at the rose at the centre of the Hermetic Rose Cross that follows this page. The outer petals have the 12 places for Arthur's knights. The next 7 petals take us through the opposite qualities that the knights must reconcile. The inner 3 petals take us to the mystery of the triune God. At the centre, is the Stone unfolded with its 5 petalled rose that points to the 5 Transformations of the Grail. The 4 great arms of the Cross remind us of the Sword, the Spear, the Cup and the Dish. Within each arm is the 5-fold transformation shown again, within the 3-fold principle.