The Historical Grail

Tales of a modern-day Grail hunter

Greetings traveller. Welcome, and thank you for joining me on my journey, for I am on a Grail Quest!

For centuries, those in search of answers have set out on their own quests, trying to learn about the timeless mysteries held within the shallow bowl of this cup. The term “Holy Grail” is now used to describe the ultimate, the pinnacle, the final destination of whatever search on which we may find ourselves. As for me, I am on a quest to find the “Holy Grail” of all legends, specifically the Holy Grail itself -- not the magical, floating, giver of eternal life from the medieval romances, but whatever seed of historical truth there might have been in the beginning to create such a legend.

The Holy Grail story is the perfect union between the foggy, mysterious environs of the Dark Ages and the intricate, ornate, complexities of the High Middle Ages. As such, it is difficult to find any historical truth amid the superstition and heavy handed storytelling contributed from both time periods. In order to actually learn anything from the legend, we will need to have an understanding of the history involved as well as a little understanding of ancient and medieval psychology. Before we can find out what is important in these stories, we will first have to know what was important to the story teller -- in essence, to “get inside the mind” of those who came before us along this road.

The first bit of psychology with which we must come to terms is the time honored tradition of pridefulness. To say “we know” is to admit our ignorance. Like the youthful knight Perceval, the first Grail Knight who failed to ask a crucial question out of fear of appearing simple, we who embark upon this quest must leave behind all of our suppositions, all of our modern sensibilities, and most of all, learn to never ever use the terms, “....couldn’t possibly.....” or “.....must have been....” In other words, approach each situation as if you’ve never seen or heard of it before, and make your conclusions simply from what evidence presents itself and whatever other information you’ve learned along the way.


chret


Since October of 1992, I have studied the legend of the Holy Grail. Why you may ask? In reply, I would ask you, why not? It may seem an odd pursuit. Some people are interested in Civil War History, or World War history, history of a certain time period such as the French or Russian Revolutions, or Tudor England. I chose a different path. I began to study the Holy Grail for two reasons. First, I am a Christian. As such, I wish to know more about the life, times, and person of Jesus. I'm sure many would not accept that as scholarly study, but we must remember that historical writers accept Jesus as a historical person, and as such, the events and characters that interacted with Him*. In addition, I don't see the investigation of things or places involved with the story of Jesus as being merely allegorical or the product of fiction. He lived, died, ate, drank, walked, talked, and used different objects just as you or I do. Therefore, the study of eating and drinking vessels associated with Him is, to me, a valid investigation into history and archeology. Second, I have always been intrigued by mysteries, especially of an archeological or historical nature. I enjoy little more than digging into books trying to find answers to age-old questions. As luck would have it, the topic of the Holy Grail appeals both to my historical and archeological interests, my love of a good puzzle, and my faith. So, you might say this is the perfect fit for me.

In the beginning the work was simple enough…read everything I could find pertaining to the Holy Grail, King Arthur, early Christian legends — the works. I started by reading Morte d'Arthur of course, but then went on to read Chrétien de Troyes' Conte du Graal, (or Story of the Grail), The High History of the Holy Grail, and Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival. The only versions I have yet to read are the "continuations" to Chrétien's romance because I had not found any versions translated into English. Only in April of 2015 did anyone publish an anthology of these works in English. I now have a copy of Nigel Bryant's The Complete Story of the Grail, which it really is! It contains Chrétien's original story, and all these following continuations, as well as a few of the lesser known "add-ons", such as the "Elucidation Prologue" and the "Bliocadran", neither of which I have ever read. At the time of this writing, I have not read the continuations, but plan on doing so soon.

After I became familiar with all the "originating" works that I could read, I began reading as many of the modern treatises on the subject as possible. Some were obviously not going to be of much help to me, as they dealt with the Grail in terms of some sort of spiritual purification process or a direct conduit to God Himself. At this point, I feel it is necessary to speak to my intentions in studying the Grail. Unlike most treatments which seek either to further mystify the topic or to treat the legend superficially, I have attempted to identify whatever small motes of truth and history I can. I treat the Grail as an historical and archeological relic, not an item of highest veneration or metaphysical transcendence. It is to me an artifact of the time of Christ — nothing more. I have also dealt with a small amount of criticism from other Christians who see my search as a search for "proof" that Christ lived. To them I say, I need no proof, not that this would be such proof even if I were. The fact is, just as people take trips to Jerusalem, for fun or as a pilgrimage, I do this just to get closer to the story and learn more about Jesus Himself.

My goal in this research is not necessarily to convince anyone that the Holy Grail is a real world artifact, (although that would certainly be nice). If I accomplish nothing else with this work, it would be to make people think about a subject that most scholars agree needs no thought. The answer has been found — the Holy Grail is a myth, a legend, a quaint medieval story, nothing more. Despite being what most would call a "passionate amateur", (a non-degreed researcher), I have in my nearly 25 years of study found evidence enough to demonstrate that this thought is not only erroneous, but also arrogant and, simply put, lazy. No, the Holy Grail was not a gold and bejeweled cup that floated through the air disseminating a feast to the worthy warrior, nor is it a cup allowing the drinker the gift of eternal life, (at least not if a physical sense). My Grail, the Historical Grail, is simply that — something from the time of Christ which played a role in his life, death, and the time that followed.

The contents of these pages are a briefest introduction to my work, findings, and the larger topics involved in the study of the Grail Legend, the King Arthur Legend to a limited extent, and that of the relics that have come out of the early Church claiming to be involved with Christ's crucifixion and entombment, or the Passover meal which He shared with His disciples not long before his death, now called the Last Supper. To gain anything from this site, you will need to consider a few things, the mention of which I hope causes no animosity between myself and anyone reading these pages. First, if you are not willing to read about things having to do with the thought of Christ as a real, living man, the events in His life, or the items that may have been used by Him or his disciples, you need read no further. You will find nothing of use here. Second, if you have already made up your mind about the topic of the Holy Grail and wish to find ammunition for a future debate with me on the topic, you need read no further. I am always happy to discuss this, or most any other topic with any interested party, but I flatly refuse to "debate" with anyone. I have no interest, and no time, to engage in idle argument. Third, if you are a devotee of some sort of spiritual walk trying to find enlightenment, a higher plain of consciousness, or some secret knowledge kept from the public by the church, the government, or whatever socio-political body you personally have a beef against, you need read no further. Fourth, yes…I do consider reading the fictional works dealing with the Holy Grail during the Middle Ages and after a legitimate resource for finding information about a historical Holy Grail. I do not find this in opposition to my statement that I see the Grail as a historical object instead of the subject of myth. Quite often, it is less important specifically what someone says, but that they said it. A passing phrase can sometimes be very telling, pointing you toward some small fragment of the larger picture. When a medieval writer mentions a place name, or some other seemingly innocuous tidbit of information, it can sometimes make a great deal of difference in fixing that writer, that text, or the subject in a set time and place. My goal in making these statements is to demonstrate that to get anything of value from this site, you will need to think, and not just think, but think for yourself. Set aside all preconceived notions you may have, and begin anew, proceeding with the study as a study. As Perceval, the original Grail Knight and Hero, was told he could only achieve the Grail with a question, not an answer, so too should you go forth with a question mark before your eyes instead of a thesis upon your mind.

I hope you find the research I provide on this site both informative and thought provoking. As ever, if you have questions, comments, or would just like to discuss the Holy Grail or related topics, please feel free to contact me. Obviously, I enjoy talking about this subject, so don't hesitate to email me if you're interested. Let us now enter the dark woods of time, and see what may be found. Perhaps if we are fortunate, we may encounter some good hermit along the way, willing to illuminate some of the curiosities we shall find therein.




* I have been challenged for using capitalization when referring to either God or Jesus in my writing. As grammatical rules often do, this may have changed, but I was taught to use a capital here, not by priests or theologians, but by my elementary school teacher.


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This is the book of thy descent,
here begins the book of the Holy Grail,
here begin the terrors,
here begin the marvels.


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