Sunday, October 7, 2007

Grail legends

I am moving here a discussion which started under a request for Feedback on this blog (not the right place--please, everyone, comments should relate to the original post. If you want to start a new topic, email the text to someone on the board so they can start a new post).

Nil wrote on September 28, 2007:

I should like to ask for views on whether we can regard the grail legends as esoteric? They seems to me to fall within Faivre's definitions. I'm thinking chiefly of the Mabinogien collection of Welsh stories and the many attendant mythic histories of Arthur of Britain. The grail procession itself may indicate practical magic and certainly the whole corpus comes under the order of signs...

IFAstudent responded on October 7, 2007:

With reference to Nil’s question, I am also interested in how the Grail legends could be classified. It would be useful to keep in mind not only their classic formulations, but also their development by modern writers, some of who are particularly sensitive to their dialectic of concealment and revelation, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Avalon series, Deepak Chopra in The Return of Merlin, Stephen Lawhead in the Warlords of Nin, and thinkers in the modern esoteric tradition who have appropriated them, such as Katherine Maltwood’s work on Glastonbury and Dion Fortune's Society of the Inner Light.

The legends embody the notion of the coexistence of concealment and revelation, central to much esoteric thought[by the way Moshe Halbertal has just brought out what promises to be a fascinating book with that title in relation to esotericism in Jewish thought]The physical vessel becomes a hierophany for something beyond itself. The vessel also enables an initiation into possibilities of existence in the person who beholds or holds it which would otherwise have remained concealed. Again, the opening into something present but concealed. The Grail quest also operates at two levels-the basic level of a physical journey and the deeper level of an initiatory quest, where the events on the journey become symbolic doors that prepare one for perceiving the ultimate mystery. Perhaps this effort at characterising their esoteric character is rather general but could serve as a starting point. I am developing a blog at which compares the use of Arthurian lore by Maltwood with a similar cosmographic effort in Africa which uses a different inspirational source.

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