To understand the Grail, it is necessary to focus on five levels at once:
I) The historical level. The Grail is a product of heretical Christianity, the Celtic Church and its survivals and fellow travelers. It is the inner tradition, descended from the very Holy Family of Christ itself. it is also a revitalization of certain transformational pagan motifs. It arose in the late twelfth century and came to its artistic fruition in the early thirteenth, amid much change in the orthodox church.
II) The symbolic level. As a symbol, the Grail represented the salvation, the revitalization of the human condition. It is a break from the rigors of Christian self-mortification, and a definite alternative to a religion of faith. The Grail offers the same experiential spiritual knowledge that was claimed by the gnostics. It also has a claim on the inner teaching, the secret wisdoms, of both the old pagan schools of the Druids and the inner circle of Christ’s disciples. Grail symbolism balances between pagan and Christian, both explications are valid.
III) The mythological level. The mythology of the Grail, in the sense that it is a description of a divine intrusion into matter, is universal. The Grail is all things to all seekers, but to every seeker it is the summum bonum, the greatest good. It is the quest of the personality for the soul, and of the soul for the spirit.
IV) The technical, or ritual level. The Grail texts contain, in addition to their philosophical and mystical teachings, very specific ritual forms that are, perhaps, the only accurate renditions that we have of an ancient magical tradition — one that can be traced back through the gnostics to the Essences, and from them all the way back to Melchizedek, the King of Ur and Salem, who offered bread and wine as an offering to the God Most High. Abraham gave a tithe of the spoils from the battle of the Five Kings to Melchizedek, and it is an ancient tradition that the first covenant, God’s original plan for the future “nation” of Israel, came to Abraham from Melchizedek, who the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament claims was “both unborn and undying, having neither father nor mother.” This puts the Grail ritual at the heart of the western tradition.
V) The transformational level. The Grail mythos is sticky. Once touched upon, like the Tar Baby in Uncle Remus, it is very hard to let it go. Merely coming in contact with these images and experiences launches one on the Quest. One must then understand, as did King Pelinore, that the quest is its own goal. It is enough simply to seek.
Ritual Space: Circle is set up like a Celtic cross, with a north/south corridor and an east/west corridor. An altar is set up in the center.
6 Ritual performers: Narrator, Fisher King, Elaine, Morgana, Morgawse, Igraine
Note: This ritual was created for a large group of people, some of which had never had any experience with magical circles. The Narrator had the very key role of preparing the people for the ritual journey through meditation and induction.
I) Establish deep, slow and regular breathing
II) Ground thoroughly using bump-on-the-planet’s-surface imagery. Use the idea of deep roots, going down toward the planet’s core.
III) “OM” until group resonance is achieved
IV) Activate centers with the interlocking triangle technique, forming a six pointed star in the center of the chest
V) Form link around circle, connecting star to star. “Every man and every woman is a star.”
Guided Visualization Meditation
You are traveling through the Waste Lands, the modern spiritual and physical devastation. See it in as many ways as you like, but notice that it is really “the human condition.”
After a time, you arrive at the shores of the Sea, that great warm womb of Life, the deep unconscious ocean of feelings and images and inspiration. One the beach below you, there is a small boat, waiting to sail.
You approach, and as you step on board, it begins to move, sliding down the beach and out into the Sea.
Sailing to the West, the giant orb of the Sun swallows the boat and the Sea turns red as night falls with the quickness of a blow. Ahead in the orange tinged twilight looms an island, craigy heights covered with an ancient forest.
The boat sails directly onto the rocky beach, pebbles singing with the surge of the surf. Ahead, a trail climbs up into the forest heights. You follow, climbing up and over the weather carved rocks of the trail’s natural stairs.
Under the trees, it is completely dark. Spotty patches of luminescence glow in the depths of the woods, and the rising Moon glints, occasionally, through the gaps in the foliage. You climb higher as the trail narrows to a track.
Feel the forest around now, feel the soft moss and long fallen leaves beneath your feet. Feel the forest stretching away from you on all sides, try to feel it breathing, and understand that it is not unfriendly.
Ahead, yousee the glow of the Moonlight on a clearing. As you step out of the woods, the Moon rises above the trees at the clearings edge and you see and ancient chapel, ivey-covered and overgrown.
You enter and by the light of the Moon streaming in through the eastern window, you see the altar covered in greenery, with a single white candle burning upon it.
Or it may be that you find yourself in an even older sacred place, an ancient growve of white oaks with rocky seatrs and the nearby babble of a small spring, trickling over pebbles.
The cries of wild birds may be heard in the gentle stirrings of the leaves overhead.
Both are places of great power, holy and blessed, and now allow your awareness to sink into this feeling of peace and security.
The Grail Procession
(Fisher King appears when celebrants open their eyes. Fisher King:)
Those who wish may open their eyes.
We have each come here
on our quest for the secret of life,
and the key to joy.
We have come to partake, to share,
to experience, each in our own way,
The Communion of the Grail,
and is yet to come.
Let us call upon the Guardians of the place,
that they may show is the Mystery,
and bless this our Communion.
(As introduced, Queens enter from their Quarters and while Fisher King is speaking, and circumambulate).
I call upon the Queen of the East!
Bearer of the Light that goes before us all,
Elaine the pure, Elaine the chaste,
the elder sister, source of inspiration,
Ceridwen we called thee,
in our youth, before the Dying God,
and the Resurrected Light.
Come forth Queen of Fire,
let thy mystery be revealed
(Queen enters the circle from the east, bearing a lit candle. She circles three times as the invocation is read, then deposits her candle on the altar. She then returns to the East.)
I call upon The Queen of the South!
Bearer of the Spear of Power,
Morgana, the wise,
Morgana, worker of enchantment,
a healer and a counselor,
a worker of spells,
with the knowledge of the inner planes.
Tana we called you in the youth of our spirit
when the power flowed in our limbs.
Come forth O Queen of Air,
and reveal to us thy mystery
(Queen enters the circle from the south, bearing a spear. She circles three times as the invocation is read, then deposits her candle on the altar. She then returns to the South)
I call upon the Queen of the West!
Bearer of the Chalice brighter than the stars,
O Margawse, Lady of the Lake,
Repanse de Schoy, the radiant one,
the vessel of immaculate hope,
the true goal of all our searchings.
Nimue, we called thee,
when the thorn bloomed
in the spring of the world.
Come forth O Queen of Water
reveal to us thy mysteries!
(Queen enters the circle from the west, bearing a grail. She circles three times as the invocation is read, then deposits the grail on the altar and returns to the West)
I call upon the Queen of the North!
Bearer of the Ark of Matter,
Igraine, mother of the night,
Igraine, flower of Darkness,
Lady of earth, bless us and
awaken within us the links with all creation,
Mother of Life, Mother of Death,
Ea we called thee in the pain of birth.
Come forth, O Queen of Earth,
reveal to us thy mysteries
(Queen enters the circle from the north, bearing a casket with bread. She circles three times as the invocation is read, then deposits her bounty on the altar. She then returns to the North)
(The Fisher King speaks.)
Blessed are they that set out on the endless quest,
Blessed are they who walk in Darkness,
seeking the Light,
Blessed are they, who, abandoning all earthly things,
seek out the gates of paradise,
That they may lead all beings to their rightful home.
May our ways be forever blessed; May blessings be.
Invocation and Illumination
“The king and all his followers went home unto Camelot, and so went to evensong in the great minister, and so after that to supper, and every knight sat in his own place Then anon they heard cracking and crying of thunder, and in the midst of this blast enterd a sunbeam more clear by seven times than ever they saw day, and all there were alighted with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Then every kniught to behold other, by their seeming, fairer than ever they saw before, yet among them was no knight who might speak one word a great while, and so they looked every man on the other as though they had been dumb And there was all the place filled with good odours, and every knight had such meats and drinks as he best loved in this world, and here entered into the hall the Holy Grail, and a Light borne before it, and a Spear behind and lastly a fair goodly Dish with bread upon it.”
Fisher King: What Illuminates the Water Land? (Long pause)
Elaine: It is a light to all pilgrims lost in the darkness.
(She turns to face her quarter at the East, draws the Invoking Pentagram and vibrates “Etz – arh – pay.”)
Fisher King: Why does the Spear drip Blood? (Long pause)
Morgana: In token of the sacrifices made on the quest.
(She turns to face her quarter at the South, draws the Invoking Pentagram and vibrates “Be – toe – em.”)
Fisher King: Whom does the Grail serve? (Long pause)
Morgawse: It serves all of Divine creation.
(She turns to face her quarter at the West, draws the Invoking Pentagram and vibrates “Hh – com – ma.”)
Fisher King: What is the harvest of the Grail? (Long pause)
Igraine: Nourishment for all of Life.
(She turns to face her quarter at the North, draws the Invoking Pentagram and vibrates “Na – en – ta.”)
Fisher King: What is the quest?
All Queens: To seek the Grail.
Fisher King: Let us pause to meditate upon the mysteries of the Grail. Close your eyes. Let us each call in our hearts upon the Guardians, that we may perceive these mysteries in the form best suited to us as we go forward on the path to Enlightenment. May we all join the Company of the Chosen, to bring Light and Life and Joy unto the world, for all people.
In the Chapel Perilous, four times revolving,
We came upon the Cauldron of Annwen
With a ridge around its edge of pearls.
By the breath of ninme muses was it warmed
They live by a Stone
whose essence if most pure.
It is called the lapis exillis.
By virture of this Stone,
the Phoenix is burnt to ashes,
in which he is reborn
This Stone is called the Grail.
I invoke the Priestess of the Silver Star,
as I make open the gate of Bliss,
so that the Dove of the Spirit may dscend
from the palace of the stars.
(Fisher King does the opening of the Veil, then leads group in LVX. He does three complete ones, “Let the light descend,” with the last bringing the energy directly down on the altar: “The Light is with us”)
The Grail Communion
Fisher King: Companions, please partake of thse symbolic elements, for here is a Mystery.
(The Queens serve, in reverse order). The Queen of the North says to each person:
May you never hunger for the bread of life.
(The Queen of the North takes the bread from the altar and serves it to the people assembled) The Queen of the West says to each person:
May you never thirst for the water of Life.
(The Queen of the West takes the chalice from the altar and offers drink to the people assembled) The Queen of the South says to each person:
May you never lack the direction of your true will.
(The Queen of the South takes the spear from the altar and gestures with it as she speaks to each individual). The Queen of the East says to each person:
I give you this light that you may find enlightenment.
(A basket of candles are passed around. The Queen of the East lights each individual’s candle from her own)
(All return to their position after serving, holding their ritual objects.)
Fisher King closes:
Let all those who sit this night at the table of the Grail, who have eaten and drunk of its bounty and its love, raise their lights in token of the redemption of the wasteland.
Send forth your thoughts to those in need of healing and strength; to all who are with us in spirit; to the orders of creation, creatures of the Sea, and earth and air, to tree and spring, to hill and stone; to the earth and all which is in our keeping.
Alone we have partaken of the gifts of the grail, yet we shall seek to share the light of the Mystery revealed to our world.
From the place of the Grail there comes a light.
From this circle may the Light of the Grail spread out throughtout the whole world.
Let us return now from this Chapel Perilous. . .