The Quest for the Grail
The symbol of the Grail has occupied a place in the imagination since awareness of it first dawned in the European Middle Ages, and it continues to exert a fascination upon all who come within its sphere of influence. As a sacred vessel, the grail has strong links with Celtic myth, with the hermetic vessel and the Philosophers’ Stone of alchemy. Cup stone or jewel, however it is depicted, the grail has remained a symbol of spiritual wholeness leading to union with the divine, which has been the aim of seekers after truth in every land and every century. It is a symbol ‘whose home is properly in the uncharted country of the soul’.
-The legend: Its origins and development-
At Eleusis, as in most other mystery religions, the keynote was of passage, during trance, from this world to another, Paradisial sphere, in which lay delight and healing for the soul, hitherto divided by its sojourn, the physical world. It is here that the second great strand in the history of the Grail comes into being. For medieval stories lie not only the ancient myths of the rape of the sun vessel, as in the story of Indra, or the creation of the cosmos in the Krater of the gods, not only the search for knowledge and truth, but also the eternal quest for paradise, where all secrets will be revealed and the pains and sorrows of this live are washed away. The Grail, the Cauldron of Ceridwen, the Krater, and the bowl and cups of the Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries were all gateways to Paradise whether Christian or Pagan; and it was in Paradise that they were to be found.
Text: John Matthews, The grail: Quest for the eternal, pp.10
Image: Title 'The Paradise' by: Jan Brueghel the Elder, c. 1620.