MAN ~ PHYSICAL & SPIRITUAL
The Teaching of the Holy Grail
The great magician, Taliesin, was born of the three drops of the cauldron of Ceridwin and in a sense the cauldron of Ceridwin was the Pagan symbol of the Holy Grail. In the story of the sword Excalibur, the sword of the spirit was held fast in the Rock or Stone, and that stone is symbolic of that great and glorious white stone of Atlantis which could be moulded by thought and by the hands of those who had spiritual power to mould it to any form or shape but which could not be broken. Our lives must be guided by the Rock, the Key and the Light, and the rock is symbolically the same rock or stone, the stone of which the great and glorious Arthurian temples were built and the stone which held fast for the Sword of Spirit until the man who could hold the hilt of the sword and had the power to withdraw it appeared on the scene, placed his hand upon it and it was instantly, without pain or travail or trouble, removed.
Every student of spiritual things, that is, of the Mysteries, must pass their initiation, and when the moment comes for the test of initiation to begin, there is a very powerful and determined influence from the presiding planet of the life of that child of God. We have noticed seven planets and now other planets are looming on the horizon which link those whose lives come under their influence with the age of Aquarius, but until the completion of the age of Pisces the lives of the children of men were guided by the influence of the seven planets, and everything on earth was influenced by those planets and their position in the heavens at the birth of the child, their position at various points through the life of the child and their position in relation to the various experiences of initiation which every student of the Mysteries must take.
ART : ‘How Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival Were Fed with the Sanct Grael; but Sir Percival’s Sister Died by the Way’ ~ 1864 Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882 Bequeathed by Beresford Rimington Heaton 1940 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05234
When the moment comes for those who guide you to call you to initiation they call upon the Twelve angels, and no child of God can tread the path of initiation until those twelve angels have touched him with their fingers and shown their desire to stand beside him during that period of testing, of trial and of difficulty. Those twelve angels may represent to you twelve guiding spirits who come from one or other of the great etheric schools of healing. They will be familiar to you from their touch and their colour, if you have worked and served with them in a previous incarnation, but they represent the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and each one of those twelve angels is responsible for some portion of your path in the test, in the initiation, through which you are passing. You cannot attempt the path of initiation unless the twelve angels stand beside you. They come to one as healers, to one as a group of teachers, to one as warriors, but they are never absent from the student of initiation.
ART : ‘Coronation of the Virgin’ (detail) by Fra Angelico, 1435
The training and the teaching of the initiation is undertaken by the Lunar spirits, therefore it is of vital importance that every child who studies the Mysteries should have some knowledge of the position of the Moon in his chart, and should come to some realisation of the part that the Moon has played with him in previous incarnations. The Lunar path in every man’s chart today is of great importance because he goes forward into the age of Aquarius and leaves the age of Pisces behind, and therefore he must be prepared not only to hold the influence of the twelve angels and the seven planets close to him but he must also be prepared to touch with understanding new planets which will become visible in the heavens and have a bearing on the life of every child of Aquarius.
The Round Table, which consisted of the Knights of the Holy Grail, is one of the most vivid and glorious interpretations of this very initiation. The leader, known as Arthur, would not ever attempt to send out any Knight on a mission of life or initiation unless the whole twelve were present at the moment of the sending forth, and therefore there grew up a custom at the Round Table that the sending forth, either on initiatory or material missions, always took place at the moment of the Full Moon for some special occasion, and these special occasions were determined entirely by the forces of nature. The Spring Equinox, the Autumn Equinox, the Summer Solstice, and the Winter Solstice, represented the four most important meetings, and therefore one realises that those who follow the pattern of the Round Table must of necessity face their first steps in initiation at one or two of those periods, the Spring Equinox, the Autumn Equinox, the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice.
ART : ‘King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table’
The Knights of the Grail were men of the world. They were men who understood and knew the hearts of their fellow-men, who had taken up the path of life from the material angle of the man of the Court, the courtier, and who studied courtesy, clear-seeing, compassion, constancy, truth and loyalty at its very source, but they were also Kings of the Spirit, for no Knight of the Grail would ever be set forth upon a mission unless he had reached that point in the unfoldment of his consciousness where he could see and understand the past, the present and the future. Therefore they were not only men of the world but they were kings of the spirit, for they had the vision of the spiritual world from which they had come, within which they were living, although they were in the body of flesh, and to which they were going. There were certain symbols which bound them together. These symbols were of very great importance throughout their lives; the main and the most important symbol was the one that was placed always in the centre of the Table and that was the Grail Cup, that portion of the jewel from the crown of Lucifer which had been bent and moulded by the hands of those who held spiritual power, into the shape of the Cup, and which even those thousands of years before the birth of Christ Jesus was prepared to hold the Blood of the Master.
That stone played its part in the light of every Knight, and you will find in the name or word ‘Knight’ if you take it to pieces ‘King’ with the ‘K N’, which is of such importance. They were followers of the King even if he were an invisible King to the world of men; he was not invisible to them. Therefore the first symbol which demanded their loyalty was the Holy Grail, the Cup made of the stone of glory, the vision of which is given to each student of initiation when he has completed that portion of his service which has found favour in the eyes of his Father-Mother God. Therefore they were men of the world, which is represented by ‘ights’, from the old English, and they were Kings of the spirit, which was represented by the first two letters ‘K N’.
You will find when you study the Grail story, that the word ‘Caer’ or ‘cader’ plays a very large part in their rituals and all that they undertook in the way of missions or service through their leader to their Father-Mother God, and the word ‘caer’ means an enclosed place or a sanctuary, and therefore the Knights of the Grail would meet round a great oval table, twelve in number, each symbolic of his own Zodiacal sign within the Caer or sanctuary, the doors locked that none might enter. They came under the charge of the seven angels or spirits, the great planets or planetary forces, whose influence would be felt at such times in a way that we should find it very difficult to understand today.
So were the meetings of the Winter Solstice and the Autumn Equinox held, but the meetings of the Round Table for the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice were held in the open and they were held under the oak tree, which is the symbol of the warrior because it is governed by Mars. Therefore, at such times when they met under the oak tree the mission that they would be given by their leader would be a mission of a warrior, and the sword of the spirit brought down to the more material angle of the sword of the knight in the material world, would be the symbol of that meeting under the oak.
ART : A Morris & Co. Tapestry (Right)
They would be sent out as warriors, glorious in the light which Mars draws from his allay the Sun, and glorious too in the power which enfolded them to strengthen them when they went out as warriors. They represented the light and they fought against the darkness, the darkness of the world of men, both from creature and mankind, and especially from the darkness in the hearts of men.
At such moments the Grail Cup would not be brought into their midst, but in place of the Grail Cup was the Rock or Stone of Light and each Knight in turn, to prove his worthiness or readiness to take the path of initiation, would move forward and remove the Sword of the Spirit from the Stone and lay it at the feet of King Arthur where he stood.
Do not think of Arthur as a reigning king or a worldly king. His title was given to him because he was a King of the Spirit, and until that last great test, when all twelve Knights were called to do battle with the soul of mankind, Arthur himself never went on a mission. He had cleared and cleansed and purified his soul before that time and therefore he stood as adviser to his knights.
During the period of the Druid teaching, the Arthurian knights were chosen from the bards. The bards were not less important than the priests. It was the bards who had the vision of the past, the present and the future, and therefore they were able, knowing where they as beings had failed in the past, to touch the present with understanding and to go out into the future knowing what lay before them with the spiritual vision which was necessary for their great undertaking.
That portion of the Arthurian legend which represents the passing of Arthur is not entirely given with truth by those who have endeavoured to use poetic license to describe it, but the one point in it that we must always remember is that Arthur was succoured after that last dread battle by the Knight Bedevere, and you will remember that in Tennyson’s poem there is a wonderful description of the broken chancel, the broken cross that stood ‘on a dark stretch of barren land’. The land was barren because those Kings of the Spirit had left it. Arthur, the leader, was the last to go, the last to hold together the remnants of that caer or cairn or cader which was represented by the broken chancel, the earthly stone, the hard carven granite with the broken cross above it. The bold Sir Bedevere uplifted him. Sir Bedevere, the last of all of his knights, bore him to a temple ‘nigh the field, a broken chancel with a broken cross, that stood on a dark strait of barren land’. The temple gone, the light fled, the age of the Grail completed, the Grail had been lifted long since into the heavenly places, for the Master Jesus had come to earth and had shed His Blood upon the very earth itself, so that the whole earth was the Grail, the Holy Stone which man must subdue and conquer and understand.
It was those twelve Knights to whom was given the great privilege of removing the mistletoe from the oak tree, the Golden Bough with its double stem, its silver fruit. It must not touch the earth because the earth was filled with the Blood. It could not come into touch with that power of etherisation which would be released when it touched the soil; therefore it must be caught in a white sheet, a sheet of spiritual light woven into matter, the same samite as was used for the Druids garments, and used with such tenderness in those rites under the oak tree, the oak tree which was the symbol of the warrior.
The ceremony or ritual completed, there was a hymn, a hymn of joy, not a noisy chant, but a quiet hymn of glorious thankfulness, that there had gone out once again into the world twelve men who were able to conquer the darkness and to hold the light, who held within their hands the Sword of the Spirit, and within their hearts the Word of God, men of the world who were Kings of light.
ART : Detail from the Temple of Khonsu at Ipet-Sut, the Precinct of Amon-Ra at Uaset-Thebes:
a double representation of Khonsu (falcon-headed, wearing the Lunar Crown with the Crescent and holding the Ankh and the Uas-scepter) flanked by the Two Goddesses (Nekhbet at left and Uadjet at right) in Their form of winged Uraei.
After that ceremony that great gathering of priests and knights, of warriors, of bards and students, would move within the grove of birch trees, for their work was completed. The birch tree, unlike the oak tree which is governed by Mars, is governed by Venus, and under the birch tree the harps were played. It is always the harp, the voice of the harp, that closes the door of the physical world to those who have earned the right to go through to the shining land of death. It is the harp which greets the soul on its arrival in the shining land of death. It is the harp which is held and carried and used by the twelve Angels who come to the call of those who guide each one of you when you are ready to take that step forward, the step which seems as if you were treading downwards into the valley of darkness but in reality leads you upwards under the guidance of the Lunar teachers towards the world of Eternal Light.