How to Find the Holy Grail
1. Which are the greatest flaws of this site?
That the grail legend originated in Spain has been said before, but claiming that it is based on the phoenix myth and not the Eucharist is highly controversial, to say the least! As soon as Chrétien and Wolfram had launched grail romance, the "bishops of Rome" attacked their challenge with all its might. Check out Grail Riddles to learn what it's all about! That's why the Vatican countered with an alchemist idea of Thomas Aquinas and had churchmen invent the Didot Perceval, Queste del Saint Graal and Estoire del Saint Graal to distort the popular symbolism. If we manage to clean up this mess and actually prove the Greek origins, we would be the first to have solved this riddle in eight hundred years, which is obviously pretentious and clearly the greatest flaw of our site! How could we have solved a mystery that eluded the most noted scholars for centuries? Although we found the sources by accident, the way we deal with them is also flawed because we attack the academic establishment as if this were a medieval joust – and simply rely on guts when the evidence is missing!
We also chose this rhetorical style for its entertainment value and because the Arthurian scenario needs to be acknowledged, but we must challenge some religious traditions which could easily offend the faithful. Although we are fully committed to compassion, tolerance and pluralism there are controversies that can't be ignored! We suggest therefore that you should only join our "jousts" if you are sure in your faith, dislike all forms of fanaticism, and find it interesting when diverse points of view are offered.
Other flaws are our lack of eloquence and style – including typos and grammatical errors. It's here where you can practice some compassion as it would help greatly with your quest! The site is in English to facilitate access from around the globe, and although this writer speaks several languages he only learned English as his fourth. Please accept his apologies for not doing any better, but improvements are ongoing and translations will follow as soon as possible!
If some texts are too large or too small, you should change their size with your browser. You can zoom to 125% or 150% if you have a wide screen! If some colums don't quite line up, they will if you adjust the size. However, if you're trying to read this on your cell phone you are ahead of us! Sites with graphics and images don't lend themselves to such reductions yet and you may have to wait for a good app to facilitate this access.
2. Is the "Holy Grail" the Cup of the Last Supper?
The first notice that there
is something like a grail is from the 1180s. The most celebrated poet of
the Middle Ages, Chrétien de Troyes, had read about it in a
book and felt obliged to put the story into rhyme. At the turn
of the same century
Robert de Boron claimed the discovery of a bigger book as source
for his version. The German Wolfram von Eschenbach added his tale at
around that time as well. He credits Master Kyot, who
had found a "discarded manuscript" about the
in Toledo, Spain.
All three poets, who are considered the originators of grail romance, worked apparently from different sources and offered different concepts of what a grail might be. Chrétien describes it as a golden bowl with precious stones, which should have some weight because he was the first to mention the grail and even coined the word.
Robert, a fairly obscure poet, claims in his "Estoire dou Graal" that he offers the historical context. He begins with Joseph of Arimathea in Jerusalem, who settles with his relatives in an unnamed location, and then remains behind when they leave westward in subsequent groups until they reach the "farthest west". Robert hides the identity of the grail keepers in a riddle – King Arthur and his knights are not even mentioned – and changes Chrétien's golden bowl into a Paschal dish from the "Last Supper". He was the first to recycle by adding the Holy Blood because the vessel was used after the crucifixion to collect the blood of Christ. As a result, later grail romance was reduced to a purely Christian theme and Robert's dish changed into the Cup of the Last Supper. Although an anti-Semitic remark gives Robert an aura of authenticity and "orthodoxy" we may conclude that he copied a rhetorical trick of Chrétien to fool his audience. Scholars regard him as a "poor poet", which is probably unjust because so few copies of his work survive.
Wolfram completed the trilogy by following Chrétien's work very closely, often scene by scene, but also made major changes. The French original ends abruptly before Perceval can return to the grail castle to correct his failure of asking the right question, probably because of the poet's sudden death. Wolfram completes the story, but adds numerous chapters and an entirely new framework. He ages several characters by one generation and questions in the end whether Chrétien identified the right generation of protagonists. His work is encrypted with a hidden code, which is a complex numerology based on Plato and Plutarch, and offers the third variation of the grail: It is neither a cup nor bowl, but a "lapsit exillis", a mysterious stone from paradise.
These changes by Robert and Wolfram, who were familiar with the original and may have been confratres of Chrétien, cannot be dismissed as a simple poetic license. These were important decisions that caused substantial controversy at the medieval courts! That there are three contradicting concepts of the grail is equally important for us if we want to find it. But are we going to search for a cup, bowl or stone? Those who believe that the Cup of the Last Supper is the grail have really no reason to join us. According to some Christian traditions, at least two of the vessels have already been found. One is in Valencia, Spain, and the other in Brugge, Belgium.
Another problem is that there was much talk about Glastonbury when Chrétien's poem became popular. The ancient abbey had burned to the ground in 1184 and because the monks needed of funds to rebuild it, they conveniently "discovered" the tomb of the venerated King Arthur and Guinevere, all of which was exposed eloquently by a resident of that town, the English scholar Geoffrey Ashe. Unaware of the fraud, many latter-day medieval poets promoted the "Matter of Britain" to celebrate the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, who hosted poets at their courts and wined and dined those with entertaining ideas. First, some poets corrected Robert by claiming Joseph of Arimathea had come all the way to England. Then they borrowed Chrétien's Arthurian scenario, changed Robert's French "Avaron" to the English "Avalon" and added popular Celtic legends. They topped this off by turning the grail into the one and only "Cup of the Last Supper". In competition with the transubstantiation theory of Thomas Aquinas, this vessel with magic feeding qualities captivated medieval audiences immediately. No wonder a Frenchman came up with the catchy title "San Greal" – and the "Holy Grail" as we know it today reached international fame.
This also shows how sophisticated entertainment had become at the European courts, and explains why the origins were quickly forgotten. We owe it to pope Alexander III and atrocious events like the Albigensian Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition that the loss was a permanent one. Not even George Lucas had to consider that the grail is not a cup when he revived the cycle in Indiana Jones, The Last Crusade.* The same can be said about scholars like Norris Lacy, who painted themselves into a corner as members of the Arthurian Society to celebrate the "Matter of Britain". When Dan Brown came along, he barely needed to scratch the surface to recycle the grail for The Da Vinci Code.
However, if we dismiss the above trivia and open our mind to the fact that the creators of grail romance presented three entirely different grails, we must consider quite seriously that the real grail is none of the above and may not even be a material object! Although finding the elusive "Holy Grail" is the goal of our study, we may have to start with the lost treasure....
* Other trivia: This writer worked on the movie in Hollywood before its release and pointed out that Hitler autographed the grail book "Adolph Hitler" – which Spielberg had to redo with "Adolf Hitler".
3. What is King Arthur's connection to the Holy Grail?
Aside from being a
master poet and storyteller, Chrétien de Troyes invented a successful
formula which is still used in popular TV-series and soap operas:
Each story develops from a familiar starting point, King Arthur's
court and the Round Table, with reoccurring characters like Queen
Guinevere, Gawain, Lancelot, and occasional "guest stars" like
Perceval. The tales celebrated courtly love and honor, but like a
modern science-fiction showed little regard for the restrictions of time and
Although King Arthur was known decades before Chrétien through Geoffrey of Monmouth, attempts to prove he was a real person has kept academics busy. Geoffrey Ashe relies partially on Geoffrey, he must like the name, and proposes that Arthur is based on "Riothamus". C. Scott Littleton and Linda Malcor found him in the 2nd. century CE and identify "Lucius Artorius Castus". Amazingly, the major exploits of "Riothamus" and "Artorius" were not in England but on the continent, specifically in France. It is not surprising, therefore, that the originators of grail romance said this all along! Wolfram, for example, names Nantes as Arthur's court.
This raises the question into which time and space Chrétien had localized the grail event? We may have to consider that the grail was far removed from Arthur's realm as well. Key to this question is probably Perceval, a minor character from Chrétien's earlier poems. This is why an important part of our project should be the identification of his historical counterpart. We may conclude that King Arthur represents the symbolic scenario, a fiction, and that Perceval is as real as Alexander. And that the Holy Grail is real as well, but helas, without any connection to the legendary king and his noble knights.
4. Could San Greal mean Sang Real?
The meaning of Holy Grail
is taken one step further, one step beyond in a sense, by a few Brits. As
stated earlier, the novel idea that the letter G was "esoterically"
misplaced, that San Greal is a secret code for Sang Real (royal blood), has
led to the popular idea that the descendants of Jesus Christ had formed
a secret society. This entertaining hypothesis, which has no foundation
in grail romance, challenges the most fundamental Christian beliefs by
developing from another book, The Passover Plot, that Jesus survived
the crucifixion and went on to marry Mary Magdalene who bore him a daughter.
This "happy end" of Golgotha was presented quite eloquently in The
Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (Lincoln, Baigent, Leigh), a bestseller of
the 1980's. Of their many sources Gerard de Sede and Arthur Zuckerman are
the most interesting. The former has some tantalizing ideas about
Alaric's treasure and the latter in regards to the Jewish roots of
Guillem de Gellone.
The book remains a questionable contribution to grail research and the conclusions suggest that its authors have either withheld their true findings, or failed to see the obvious once they had a profitable hypothesis. It seems that Lincoln was the idea-man, Baigent backed it up with research, and Leigh framed everything with eloquence. All three were probably Masons who had great fun (and monetary benefits) with their challenge of the Vatican with a new controversy. We should add that our hypothesis not only debunks theirs, but is based on two legends from Mont Verdera, which is only 60 miles from Rennes-le-Château where the Brits got stuck with fraudulent "dossiers secrets".
5. Was the Holy Grail guarded by the Knights Templar?
This was first implied by Wolfram von Eschenbach in the beginning of the 13th century, is featured in Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and has since become part of grail lore. It should be noted, however, that Wolfram uses the term templeisen, which favors the translation "templer" (temple dweller). We shall see at a later point that Isidor's "etymologies" were widely read during the Middle Ages, and that poets like Chrétien and Wolfram took their choice of words very seriously. It would be wise not to underestimate these so-called "poets" either! In a world without books, newspapers, TV, and Internet, these traveling bards were the information network of their time.
If we analyse the word
"templeisen", it implies that the grail keepers lived in some kind of
temple. This is an important focus of our researches because the Knights
Templar developed within the folds of the Church, while the grail symbolism
favors the Gnosticism of the heretic sects that were widely persecuted and
burned at the stake. We must also consider that Wolfram demonstrates an
intimate knowledge of the crusades, while none of the grail knights behave
like crusaders. Even their coat of arms which depicts a "turtledove" relates
to a different spiritual theme, which like the grail ritual sets them apart
from the Templar Order. We will show that Wolfram may have localized the
"templeisen" at a Greek temple of Aphrodite.
In other words, the Knights Templar are unlikely candidates as guardians of the grail, but certainly qualify as seekers, probably under secret orders of the Church. This is supported by the "skull and crossbones", a famous Templar symbol, which is linked to the grail secrets. Wolfram implies that some of its knights were initiated at a later date, but it remains unknown whether the Freemasons derived from the former or the latter. Jewish sources, which are independent from the Maurists and Bollandists, quote the Rosicrucians and suggest that the poets were Pythagorean beggar monks! For starters, the Masons among you could shed some light on this, although it would be funny (and sad) if those who always say they know nothing are telling the truth!
6. Why was the Holy Grail never found?
For all we know it may have
been found, but it all depends on what a grail really is. According to the
medieval sources it could be a platter, bowl, cup, stone – or something
else. The most amazing properties of the grail are claimed by Wolfram who
says that it gives the phoenix the power to be reborn from ashes. He
also praises the wisdom of Pythagoras, Plato and the Sibyl, who allegedly
taught in their time that the grail provides any food our hand reaches for,
hot and cold, new food and old food, of domesticated animals and game. This
symbolism invokes the philosophy and mythology of the ancients and is
clearly meant as food for thought. Furthermore, it seems that Wolfram
foresaw that everyone who searches for the grail, and writes about it, would
come up with a different conclusion. Books about these conjectures fill our
libraries, offering Celtic, Persian, English, Greek, German, Indian, or
Jewish origins. And naturally, each hypothesis is paired by another
hypothesis about the Holy Grail. In other words, only if we discover
what a grail really is, and only if our identification satisfies the
original symbolism with all allegories and metaphors, are we the first to
have achieved this lofty goal.
This much can be said: Forty years of research have persuaded this writer that the symbolism of the poets, which features a link between the above and the below, the macrocosm and the microcosm, is an important clue. Based on the body of work on the subject: The answer is that the Holy Grail has not been found because no one seems to know what it is!
7. Why should we succeed if others have failed?
Because we live in the
Information Age! Eight hundred years ago, when grail romance was created, a
poor man had to join a holy order to learn reading and writing. Aristocrats
employed tutors, who usually were men of the cloth as well. Hence, an elite
minority was educated by the Church and the general public kept in the
dark. Before the invention of the printing press all books were copied by
hand and kept in monastic and aristocratic libraries, which made it
impossible for a commoner to get access.
In those days, anyone who wanted to read a certain book would have had to walk to Paris or Rome, for example, if they couldn't afford a horse. Besides, many works were lost in the fire of Alexandria, like Aristotle's writings that had to be retranslated from the Arabic. Other important books were not even written yet. And women were excluded altogether, unless they joined a holy order, because their fate was to bear children and tend to the household.
The general public was even excluded after the invention of the printing press because all important religious, philosophical and scientific works were written in Latin. This had the practical purpose to allow an educated elite to communicate across language barriers. The German astronomer Kepler, for example, was able to correspond with his Italian colleague Galileo. It also gave the Roman Church control over international holdings, political interests, and congregations all over the world. This practice continued well into the 20th century, notably in medicine and religion, and is still used today to keep information from laypeople.
Everything changed with the introduction of cars, trains and airplanes, and more dramatically with the internet, making our planet a global village. Now, a Coptic monk, an Eskimo fisherwoman, and a Tamil Tiger could all be reading these words and decide to join our project. And yes, they would be welcome if they have an open mind! In celebration of the brotherhood of man – and with equal emphasis of the sisterhood of woman!
During most of the eight centuries since Chrétien, it would have taken years to research what we can do in a day, or in seconds on the web. Then there was another "obstacle" we tend to overlook: The Holy Roman Inquisition, which lasted in some countries well into the 19th century. Only during the 20th century were the advances made to allow research of almost any given subject, by almost anyone. The other advantage of the information age is that most libraries are open to the public. Information is easily accessible if a search is properly conducted, or in the sense of the grail tradition, if the right questions are asked. As libraries are being linked to the growing Internet every word that was ever put down in writing can soon be accessed by anyone in the world. In the near future we will be able to extract the essence of human wisdom through word processing. The time will come when visionaries focus once again on causes rather than effects to process every thought ever recorded. (We owe much to Google which launched this revolutionary concept decades ago.) Until everything is digitized, books and articles with innovating ideas continue to collect dust in libraries, but as soon as they are fully processed all our scientific, philosophical, and religious doctrines are revised automatically. Alzheimer's, cancer, racism, fanatism and most other human ailments will be cured at last – and there will be enough food, water, and energy for everyone! But this is only the first step – the one to the "Stone of the Wise".
This writer spent over forty years on the quest. He lived in many countries and researched in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The focus of extensive research was in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Israel, and Greece. Original manuscripts are usually examined at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and published works at the New York Public Library and UCLA Young Library in Los Angeles. In other words, we can easily succeed for the first time in history where others have failed – so please, get with it and do your share!
8. Is the Holy Grail connected to a lost treasure?
It must be said here and now:
Only because an immense treasure was lost is there a body of work known as
grail romance. It started with the treasure of the Visigoths, taken as booty
during their sack of Rome in AD 410. Many details are documented,
including a written account of what the Romans paid to Alaric as ransom
prior to the actual sack. It included 5 000 pounds of gold and 30,000 pounds
of silver. The gold would have a value of about 80 million Euros and the
silver over 20 millions, not counting the immense archeological value of the
artifacts and coins.
But this was only the prelude, the actual sack and destruction of Rome was to follow and is described in the works of Orosius, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and others. They lament that the "End of the World" had come, and even that "Rome deserved her fate". We can safely say today that the value of the entire booty would even put Bill Gates to shame. In fact, many writers speculate that it included artifacts from Solomon's Temple, like the menorah the Romans took during their sack of Jerusalem in the year 70 of the Christian era. There is a marble relief inside the Arch of Titus in Rome, which depicts captured Jews who had to carry these holy objects through the city. Little else is known about the treasure – it seems to have vanished without a trace.
According to a legend, part of the treasure was buried with Alaric in Italy. Then the Visigoths settled briefly in south-western France, north of the Pyrenees, from where they conquered Spain in the company of the Alans, Suebes and Vandals. The fate of the treasure has been the subject of much speculation by Gerard de Sède and other masters of conjecture, and is featured extensively in Holy Blood, Holy Grail as pertaining to the Holy Grail or legendary Cathar treasure. But that treasure would have been spiritual and not contain any Roman loot – for good reasons that pertain to the grail secrets that's all we can reveal here and now!
9. Why should we search for the Holy Grail?
This is the most
important question of all, but the answer can only be found in your heart!
It could be that the loss of Alaric's treasure becomes our reward in the
Gnostic sense of both, the material and the spiritual. Therefore, we should
probably seek the lost treasure so that we can discover these higher,
spiritual values, but there is the inherent danger that we could find the
former before the latter, which would make us rich and keep us ignorant. Let
it be noted here and now that only a third of the treasure is yours to keep,
after taxes, if you should find it before we reveal its location! A third
must be donated to a local charity, and a third belongs to GrailGate to
fund a non-profit foundation for continued researches. Please bear in
mind that thieves will be prosecuted under the full extent of international
If you are a devout disciple of latter-day Theosophists, Anthroposophists or Rosicrucians, you will have issues with our "material" theories because you are too far into "metaphysics" to safely return to basics without side-effects! Only if your heart is pure (true) and your mind free from indoctrination will the ancients treat you kindly and show you the way. Otherwise, you might easily loose your way and mind! This means that you must start out as a fool like Perceval who was told to forget the "good lessons" of his mother. Only then will you find your way out of the darkness to a bright window in time where the cosmic keys to other dimensions await you. And always remember that there are no short-cuts through the ancient maze. You too will have to spend time in the dangerous pitfalls and dungeons of sinister minds, but if you allow yourself to see both, the allegorical thorns and roses, you could have the time of your life.
Once you have mastered Quadrivium you should be able to trap the elusive Phoenix and like the fourth monkey, the least loved, jump on the back of this fabulous bird. If you can grasp its red and golden feathers, it will take you on a cosmic ride through to time and space: From Abraham's Ur to Imhotep's Heliopolis, Hammurabi's Babylon, Ahab's Baal, Solomon's Temple, and other exotic places until you reach the real Temple of the Sun. As we witness the death and rebirth of this eternal creature, the ancient magic will conjure up a vision of a Holy Grail in the evening sky. But only as phantasmagoria of medieval mystics – because it is only a prelude of more important things to come.
Aside from the Phoenix and Christmas Star, we will follow "flying allegories" like noisy magpies, crows and raven. The magpie may take us to the Griffons that guard the Caucasus gold, and a winged female Sphinx from Greece to her earthbound mate in Egypt, to solve silly riddles about crawling babies, startled hares, a watchful falcon and (in a more serious vain) a bleeding goose, and a very sad and shaggy cynocephalus. This is why Wolfram joked that the grail is a magic feeding-dish that serves the most delicious soul food we can possibly desire: hot and cold, new and old, of domesticated animals and of game. In a satire of fellow poets, he quotes Plato and the Sibyl who recommended to "accept old wisdom as new", and by praising Pythagoras as the "wisest man since Adam" so we would understand the meaning of the esoteric triangles that are hot and cold.
You may probably want to start with Chrétien who established the rules of our quest. His prologue opens with the parable of the seed and leads to the graal, a shining, golden platter, decorated with the most precious stones on earth and in the seas. It shines so brightly that the light of the candles in the grail castle fade like stars, when sun or moon are rising. This link between macrocosm and microcosm, of what is bound in heaven and on earth, relates to the cosmic and Solar symbolism of the Holy Grail in medieval terms. But if the corruptions of the French texts make you feel insecure, turn to Wolfram's "second opinion". It is the only version that made it though the centuries unchanged.
If you have no interest in allegorical speculation and entertaining mind games because they seem like poetic nonsense to you, you should probably start with Kepler because he is a bit more cerebral when he juggles facts and fantasy to fool the ecclestiastics. The German astronomer describes this process as finding a 'pearl' or 'grain of truth' in the dung of superstition, which is a dead give-away that he knew about Michael Scot's precious pearl and the lapsit exillis. If you have some extra time please check out Kepler's treatise de nive sexangula! He claims it's a gift of nothing, and you'll believe him until you get the bigger picture. If you had a natural aversion against Latin in your school days, like yours truly, you may have to wait until our scientists have solved his puzzles, see link. But by then, you might already know why a Jesuit occupies Peter's chair and that our search for the grail is crucial!