The Holy Grail

Contact between East and West effected through the Crusades resulted in a cultural revolution that swept over Europe, beginning at the end of the twelfth century. This transformation included the emergence of the Age of Scholasticism, initiated through the discovery of Greek philosophy by way of the Arabs, the rise of Gothic architecture, and the culture of Chivalry and Romance literature of the troubadours, the Cathar heresy, and the Hebrew Kaballah, all of which intertwined to create the legends of the Holy Grail.

Although Christian in content, most of twentieth-century scholarship concurs in the belief that the romances of the Holy Grail rest ultimately on a pagan foundation of Celtic mythology, and a fertility ritual connected with the cycle of the seasons, the death and rebirth of the year. This would suppose, as Jessie Weston has proposed, in From Ritual to Romance, the survival of an ancient mystery tradition. In fact, occult legend has it that the famous crusader order, the Knights Templar, when in Jerusalem, came into contact with the infamous Ismaili sect of the Assassins, or Hashishim, who derived their teachings from Sabians of Harran, known to practice mystery rites dedicated to Tammuz.


The Templars

Other legends maintain that the Templars had been responsible for conducting excavations beneath the Jerusalem Temple, by which they discovered immeasurable wealth and hidden knowledge. It was from this knowledge that they were said to have constructed the mysterious Gothic cathedrals, of which Notre-Dame is the most noted. In the nineteenth century, the British team of Wilson and Warren had found that the Templars did in fact dig beneath the famous Temple in Jerusalem, a conclusion recently confirmed by a team of Israeli archaeologists, led by Meir Ben-Dov.

This may help to account for the mysterious appearance of the Sepher ha-Bahir, the text that contributed to the emergence of the Mediaeval Kabbalah, and described by Kabbalists as having reached them from Germany or directly from Palestine, in extremely mutilated form, as remnants of scrolls. Gershom Scholem, the last century's foremost expert on the subject, has indicated that this work somehow represented the survival of a Gnostic tradition that had disappeared from Judaism since the first centuries AD, and could not account for its sudden appearance.

Scholem also noted that there was a degree of similarity between the Bahir and the doctrines of the Cathars, a heresy that emerged in southern France, of which many Templars were said to have been members. Finally, Cathar themes were prevalent in the literature of the Troubadours, and it was the combination of the legendary history of Arthur, known as the Matter of Briton, the Cathar or Troubadour themes of Courtly Love, which formed the early legends of the Holy Grail.

The possible meaning of these numerous connections was put forward by the controversial Holy Blood Holy Grail , by authors Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln. Essentially, the course of history the authors claimed to have discovered was that the Holy Grail is concerned with the sacred lineage of the Merovingians, a dynasty that ruled France beginning in the fifth century. These, apparently, were descended from an exiled tribe of Jews, that had formerly migrated to ancient Greece, where they were known as the descendants of Danaus, before coming to Europe. After the Merovingian king Dagobert II had been deposed by the Carolingians, in 679, it was the responsibility of the Priory of Zion, an organization whose existence has yet to be verified, to work towards the their return to power. The Priory of Zion, ostensibly, was founded by Godfroi of Bouillon and was responsible for creating the order of the Templars, who were connected religiously with the Cathars.

According to the authors, the San Graal, or Holy Grail, should be understood as Sang Real, or Holy Blood, pertaining to a lineage related to Jesus Christ and hidden within various European aristocratic bloodlines. However, where the authors have committed their mistake is in recognizing that the Grail legends are Gnostic in content, and, therefore, derived from teachings dating back to Babylon in the sixth century BC, and contrary to the orthodox reform mission of Jesus. Nevertheless, the Grail legends are clearly associated with some particular bloodline, as well as being suffused with occult and Gnostic beliefs.


Septimania

The authors relied mainly on the theories of Jewish researcher Arthur Zuckerman, who constructed the thesis that in the eighth century, the Carolingian monarchs permitted the establishment of a Jewish prince in southern France, then known as Septimania, now referred as the Languedoc, with its capital at Narbonne. Zuckerman based his theory on an appendix to a fourteenth century work titled Sepher ha Kabbalah , according to which:

Then King Charles sent to the King of Baghdad [Caliph] requesting that he dispatch one of his Jews of the seed of royalty of the House of David. He hearkened and sent him one from there, a magnate and sage, Rabbi Makhir by name. And [Charles] settled him in Narbonne, the capital city, and planted him there, and gave him a great possession there at the time he captured it from the Ishmaelites [Arabs]. And he [Makhir] took to wife a woman from among the magnates of the town; *...* and the King made him a nobleman and designed, out of love for [Makhir], good statutes for the benefit of all the Jews dwelling in the city, as is written and sealed in a Latin charter; and the seal of the King therein [bears] his name Carolus; and it is in their possession at the present time. The Prince Makhir became chieftain there. He and his descendants were close [inter-related] with the King and all his descendants.

Zuckerman maintains that this Makhir would then have assumed the Christian name of Theodoric, and married Alda, daughter of Charles Martel. The authors contend however, that Theodoric is also recognized by scholars as being also of Merovingian descent. He was known as Aymery in the romances, and was the father of Guillem de Gellone, about whom there were at least six major epic poems composed before the era of the crusades, including Willehalm, by Wolfram von Eschenbach, the most famous of the mediaeval Grail chroniclers.

However, Dr. Zuckerman's thesis has not been reviewed without some skepticism in historical journals. As Nathaniel Taylor has indicated, Zuckerman's primary sources were late manuscripts. Nevertheless, the legend became quite common, and, true or not, could have founded the basis of the Grail legends. In 1165-66 Benjamin of Tudela, a famous Jewish traveler and chronicler, reported that in Narbonne there are "sages, magnates and princes at the head of whom is... a remnant of the House of David as stated in his family tree." And, according to Taylor:

...the legend of Charlemagne's installation of the dynasty, and of associated grants of privileges, follows a literary pattern which was extremely common in this area in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. To embellish and mythologize the past, and particularly to invent connections to Charlemagne, was a frequent subterfuge of the area's monastic communities, but it appears also to have been true of other social groups - including the Jews. We cannot now determine the validity of the Davidic origins of the Jewish dynasty of Narbonne - or even its continuity, or the names of individual nesiim [Jewish leaders]- before the eleventh century." (Saint William, King David, and Makhir )


The Kabbalah

The legends of the Grail clearly pertain to figures related to some purported lineage, as well as including allusions to the Order of Templar Knights and doctrines of the Cathars. There are also evident links between the ideas present in the Grail and the Kabbalah. Wolfram von Eschenbach, the most famous of the Mediaeval Grail romances, claimed to have received his information from a Jew named Flegetanis. Furthermore, the Grail of Eschenbach corresponds almost perfectly with the symbols the grade of Kabbalistic of initiation known as Tiferet, consisting of a kind of sacrificial death, and rebirth or resurrection into another dimension. As the authors explain:

For the medieval Kabalists the initiation into Tiferet was associated with certain specific symbols. These included a hermit or guide or wise old man, a majestic king, a child, a sacrificed god. In time other symbols were added as well — a truncated pyramid, for example, a cube and a rose cross. The relation of these symbols to the romances is sufficiently apparent. In every Grail narrative there is a wise old hermit — Perceval's or Parzival's uncle frequently — who acts as a spiritual guide. In Wolfram's poem the Grail as "stone" may possibly correspond to the cube.


The Cathars

In a Wolfram poem, Perceval is the father of Lohengrin, the Knight Swan. One day, in his castle Munsalvaesche, the famous Montsegur fortress of the Cathars, he hears a bell toll as a signal to come to the aid of a damsel in distress. According to some sources, she was the duchess of Bouillon, whom Lohengrin hastened to her rescue in a boat drawn by swans. Having defeated her persecutor, he married the lady, though, requiring of her that she not question about his ancestry. At last, wrought with curiosity, she broke the vow, at which point Lohengrin was forced to leave. Behind him, though, he left her with a child, according to various accounts, that was either father or grandfather of Godfroi de Bouillon, leader of the first Crusade.

In 1209 the Catholic Church initiated the Abligensian Crusade, to extirpate the Cathar sect from the Languedoc. Final defeat came upon the Cathars at their famous stronghold of Montsegur in the foothills of the Pyrennees in 1244.

Following similar accusations, the Templars were arrested and tried for heresy in 1307. The Templars were charged of worshipping an idol named Baphomet, along with accusations similar to those assailed against witches: urinating on the cross, ritual murder of children, worshipping the devil in the shape of a black cat and committing acts of sodomy and bestiality. Baphomet was merely a continuation of the ancient dying-god of the mysteries, Baal of the Phoenicians, or Pan of the Greeks, and god of the Underworld, who equated with the planet Venus, whose original Latin name was Lucifer.

Though the order was disbanded, and its leader Jacques de Molay executed, legend has it that a number of knights escaped to Scotland, where they became protectors of a bloodline affiliated to the Merovingians, the Stuarts, supposed descendants of King Arthur.


The Holy Grail

Contact between East and West effected through the Crusades resulted in a cultural revolution that swept over Europe, beginning at the end of the twelfth century. This transformation included the emergence of the Age of Scholasticism, initiated through the discovery of Greek philosophy by way of the Arabs, the rise of Gothic architecture, and the culture of Chivalry and Romance literature of the troubadours, the Cathar heresy, and the Hebrew Kaballah, all of which intertwined to create the legends of the Holy Grail.

Although Christian in content, most of twentieth-century scholarship concurs in the belief that the romances of the Holy Grail rest ultimately on a pagan foundation of Celtic mythology, and a fertility ritual connected with the cycle of the seasons, the death and rebirth of the year. This would suppose, as Jessie Weston has proposed, in From Ritual to Romance, the survival of an ancient mystery tradition. In fact, occult legend has it that the famous crusader order, the Knights Templar, when in Jerusalem, came into contact with the infamous Ismaili sect of the Assassins, or Hashishim, who derived their teachings from Sabians of Harran, known to practice mystery rites dedicated to Tammuz.


The Templars

Other legends maintain that the Templars had been responsible for conducting excavations beneath the Jerusalem Temple, by which they discovered immeasurable wealth and hidden knowledge. It was from this knowledge that they were said to have constructed the mysterious Gothic cathedrals, of which Notre-Dame is the most noted. In the nineteenth century, the British team of Wilson and Warren had found that the Templars did in fact dig beneath the famous Temple in Jerusalem, a conclusion recently confirmed by a team of Israeli archaeologists, led by Meir Ben-Dov.

This may help to account for the mysterious appearance of the Sepher ha-Bahir, the text that contributed to the emergence of the Mediaeval Kabbalah, and described by Kabbalists as having reached them from Germany or directly from Palestine, in extremely mutilated form, as remnants of scrolls. Gershom Scholem, the last century's foremost expert on the subject, has indicated that this work somehow represented the survival of a Gnostic tradition that had disappeared from Judaism since the first centuries AD, and could not account for its sudden appearance.

Scholem also noted that there was a degree of similarity between the Bahir and the doctrines of the Cathars, a heresy that emerged in southern France, of which many Templars were said to have been members. Finally, Cathar themes were prevalent in the literature of the Troubadours, and it was the combination of the legendary history of Arthur, known as the Matter of Briton, the Cathar or Troubadour themes of Courtly Love, which formed the early legends of the Holy Grail.

The possible meaning of these numerous connections was put forward by the controversial Holy Blood Holy Grail , by authors Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln. Essentially, the course of history the authors claimed to have discovered was that the Holy Grail is concerned with the sacred lineage of the Merovingians, a dynasty that ruled France beginning in the fifth century. These, apparently, were descended from an exiled tribe of Jews, that had formerly migrated to ancient Greece, where they were known as the descendants of Danaus, before coming to Europe. After the Merovingian king Dagobert II had been deposed by the Carolingians, in 679, it was the responsibility of the Priory of Zion, an organization whose existence has yet to be verified, to work towards the their return to power. The Priory of Zion, ostensibly, was founded by Godfroi of Bouillon and was responsible for creating the order of the Templars, who were connected religiously with the Cathars.

According to the authors, the San Graal, or Holy Grail, should be understood as Sang Real, or Holy Blood, pertaining to a lineage related to Jesus Christ and hidden within various European aristocratic bloodlines. However, where the authors have committed their mistake is in recognizing that the Grail legends are Gnostic in content, and, therefore, derived from teachings dating back to Babylon in the sixth century BC, and contrary to the orthodox reform mission of Jesus. Nevertheless, the Grail legends are clearly associated with some particular bloodline, as well as being suffused with occult and Gnostic beliefs.


Septimania

The authors relied mainly on the theories of Jewish researcher Arthur Zuckerman, who constructed the thesis that in the eighth century, the Carolingian monarchs permitted the establishment of a Jewish prince in southern France, then known as Septimania, now referred as the Languedoc, with its capital at Narbonne. Zuckerman based his theory on an appendix to a fourteenth century work titled Sepher ha Kabbalah , according to which:

Then King Charles sent to the King of Baghdad [Caliph] requesting that he dispatch one of his Jews of the seed of royalty of the House of David. He hearkened and sent him one from there, a magnate and sage, Rabbi Makhir by name. And [Charles] settled him in Narbonne, the capital city, and planted him there, and gave him a great possession there at the time he captured it from the Ishmaelites [Arabs]. And he [Makhir] took to wife a woman from among the magnates of the town; *...* and the King made him a nobleman and designed, out of love for [Makhir], good statutes for the benefit of all the Jews dwelling in the city, as is written and sealed in a Latin charter; and the seal of the King therein [bears] his name Carolus; and it is in their possession at the present time. The Prince Makhir became chieftain there. He and his descendants were close [inter-related] with the King and all his descendants.

Zuckerman maintains that this Makhir would then have assumed the Christian name of Theodoric, and married Alda, daughter of Charles Martel. The authors contend however, that Theodoric is also recognized by scholars as being also of Merovingian descent. He was known as Aymery in the romances, and was the father of Guillem de Gellone, about whom there were at least six major epic poems composed before the era of the crusades, including Willehalm, by Wolfram von Eschenbach, the most famous of the mediaeval Grail chroniclers.

However, Dr. Zuckerman's thesis has not been reviewed without some skepticism in historical journals. As Nathaniel Taylor has indicated, Zuckerman's primary sources were late manuscripts. Nevertheless, the legend became quite common, and, true or not, could have founded the basis of the Grail legends. In 1165-66 Benjamin of Tudela, a famous Jewish traveler and chronicler, reported that in Narbonne there are "sages, magnates and princes at the head of whom is... a remnant of the House of David as stated in his family tree." And, according to Taylor:

...the legend of Charlemagne's installation of the dynasty, and of associated grants of privileges, follows a literary pattern which was extremely common in this area in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. To embellish and mythologize the past, and particularly to invent connections to Charlemagne, was a frequent subterfuge of the area's monastic communities, but it appears also to have been true of other social groups - including the Jews. We cannot now determine the validity of the Davidic origins of the Jewish dynasty of Narbonne - or even its continuity, or the names of individual nesiim [Jewish leaders]- before the eleventh century." (Saint William, King David, and Makhir )


The Kabbalah

The legends of the Grail clearly pertain to figures related to some purported lineage, as well as including allusions to the Order of Templar Knights and doctrines of the Cathars. There are also evident links between the ideas present in the Grail and the Kabbalah. Wolfram von Eschenbach, the most famous of the Mediaeval Grail romances, claimed to have received his information from a Jew named Flegetanis. Furthermore, the Grail of Eschenbach corresponds almost perfectly with the symbols the grade of Kabbalistic of initiation known as Tiferet, consisting of a kind of sacrificial death, and rebirth or resurrection into another dimension. As the authors explain:

For the medieval Kabalists the initiation into Tiferet was associated with certain specific symbols. These included a hermit or guide or wise old man, a majestic king, a child, a sacrificed god. In time other symbols were added as well — a truncated pyramid, for example, a cube and a rose cross. The relation of these symbols to the romances is sufficiently apparent. In every Grail narrative there is a wise old hermit — Perceval's or Parzival's uncle frequently — who acts as a spiritual guide. In Wolfram's poem the Grail as "stone" may possibly correspond to the cube.


The Cathars

In a Wolfram poem, Perceval is the father of Lohengrin, the Knight Swan. One day, in his castle Munsalvaesche, the famous Montsegur fortress of the Cathars, he hears a bell toll as a signal to come to the aid of a damsel in distress. According to some sources, she was the duchess of Bouillon, whom Lohengrin hastened to her rescue in a boat drawn by swans. Having defeated her persecutor, he married the lady, though, requiring of her that she not question about his ancestry. At last, wrought with curiosity, she broke the vow, at which point Lohengrin was forced to leave. Behind him, though, he left her with a child, according to various accounts, that was either father or grandfather of Godfroi de Bouillon, leader of the first Crusade.

In 1209 the Catholic Church initiated the Abligensian Crusade, to extirpate the Cathar sect from the Languedoc. Final defeat came upon the Cathars at their famous stronghold of Montsegur in the foothills of the Pyrennees in 1244.

Following similar accusations, the Templars were arrested and tried for heresy in 1307. The Templars were charged of worshipping an idol named Baphomet, along with accusations similar to those assailed against witches: urinating on the cross, ritual murder of children, worshipping the devil in the shape of a black cat and committing acts of sodomy and bestiality. Baphomet was merely a continuation of the ancient dying-god of the mysteries, Baal of the Phoenicians, or Pan of the Greeks, and god of the Underworld, who equated with the planet Venus, whose original Latin name was Lucifer.

Though the order was disbanded, and its leader Jacques de Molay executed, legend has it that a number of knights escaped to Scotland, where they became protectors of a bloodline affiliated to the Merovingians, the Stuarts, supposed descendants of King Arthur.