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Lundy, Isle of Avalon


Wolfram von Eschenbach

   Lundy, Isle of Avalon         Mythology

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Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote the poem "Parzival" sometime between 1200 and 1210. Wolfram was a Bavarian, knighted by one of the Counts von Henneberg at Massfeld near Meiningen. He was a legendary figure even in his own time. Well known from his lyrics, he is supposed to have been one of the founders of the mastersingers. Wolfram von Eschenbach was present with the German contingent at the siege of Damietta in Egypt during the fifth crusade where he may have been impressed by the actions of the military orders, esp. the Templars

The Chapel of the Holy Grail


"He professed himself unable to read, and his acquaintance with the French language was surely defective, but a man who invented anagrams and quoted Latin with understanding, even if only two words, was certainly no illiterate." - Roger Sherman Loomis, The Grail, From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol

'In Parzival, the German version of the romance, the author Wolfram von Eschenbach sees the quest as one of the individual struggling towards a sense of wholeness. The source of that wholeness is expressed by the Grail. It's very presence nourishes the seeker. In Parzival we read of the split between spontaneous nature and the rigid Christian belief in God or Super-Nature, separate and superior to Nature. Wolfram...says that "Every act has Good and Evil results." The secret map of the quest is to be found in the natural and spontaneous , and therefore compassionate impulse...What is especially precious in Wolfram's story is that he attempts to formulate a spirituality which is firmly based within nature. The natural and spontaneous man will always choose the good, says Wolfram. That is the nature of Nature. He would have celebrated a man like the Chinese master of Tao, Lao Tzu. This is the very first time a voice had been heard in the West which echoes the Eastern Way of Tao, the path of allowing the natural flow of life to guide ones actions.'    Malcolm Godwin, The Holy Grail.

At the end of "Parzival" Wolfram relates that as Chretien de Troyes told the tale amiss he, Wolfram, chose to follow Kyot the Provencal. In Toledo, Kyot found a book written by a Saracen known as Flegetanis, who had read about the Grail in the stars.

"There was a heathen named Flegetanis who was highly renowned for his acquirements. This same physicus was descended from Solomon, begotten of Isrealitish kin all the way down from ancient times...He wrote of the marvels of the Grail. Flegetanis, who worshipped a calf as though it were his god, was a heathen by his father....With his own eyes the heathen Flegetanis saw - and he spoke of it reverentially - hidden secrets in the constellations. He declared there was a thing called the Grail, whose name he read in the stars without more ad[?]. 'A troop [of Angels] left it on earth and then rose high above the stars, as if their innocence drew them back again'." - Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival

"There are certain strongly marked points in which Wolfram's account of the Grail, and of all connected with it, coincided with that of later French version impossible for him to have known. The two most significant are the idea of an organized community, the center of whose life is the Grail (the Axum clergy), and the idea of a hereditary line of guardians (the Solomonic kings of Ethiopia). Both are absent from Chretien's story. But Wolfram's order is an order of knighthood, the Templiesen, modeled on that of the Knights Templar..." - Noel Currer-Briggs, Shroud Mafia - The Creation of a Relic? (1995)

"It is well known to me that many formidable fighting men dwell at Munsalvaeshe [the Grail Castle] with the Grail. They are continually riding out on sorties in quest of adventure. Whether these same Templeisen  reap trouble or renown, they bear it for their sins. A warlike company lives there." - Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival

Wolfram "evidently thought of the guardians as forming an order like that of the Knights Templars, dedicated to the defenses of the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem. The Grail knights, like the Templars, were vowed to celibacy, while the Grail Kings, like the Kings of Jerusalem, were not." - Roger Sherman Loomis, The Grail, From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol

Wolfram wrote Parzival between 1200 and 1210; the Knights Templar owned Lundy, by grant of the English crown, from 1166 until 1220.

In Parzival, the Grail castle, is a manifestation of the Celtic otherworldly fortress, where time passes slowly and there is no disease, but the chalice/Grail has become a stone, the ' lapis exilis.' This stone inherits all the magical powers typical of the chalice/Grail.

"Parsifal entered the fortress and was welcomed by a page. When he had washed himself and changed his clothes, he was led into a great hall. A fire was burning, and a hundred tables were set up, each for four knights. Parsifal encountered the old, sickly lord of the castle, wrapped in furs despite the heat, and was invited to take place beside him. At that moment, a strange scene unfolded. "Next, something extraordinary happened. A pageboy leapt in through the door carrying a lance - an act which evoked a scream of agony. Its sheath was dripping blood, which ran down the shaft to the boys hand, finally oozing into his sleeve. A great moaning and screaming arose in the broad hall. The population of thirty countries could not have screamed louder than those knights. "He carried the lance in his hands right round the four walls, back to the door, and then went out again. The howling ended. "A remarkable procession then entered: young girls, marching in pairs with candles, ivory stools, a platter made of precious stones, and silver knives. And finally came the queen herself: "A glow came from her countenance, like the break of day. The Lady was clothed in Pfellel of Arabia. On a green Achmardi she bore the fruits of paradise, roots too, and rice. It was the thing that was called the Grail, overflowing with all that man could desire. She who was worthy to carry the Grail was called Repanse de Schoye [spreading of joy]. The Grail could only be entrusted to pure hands; they who would have care of the Grail, they must be without guile." - Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival

"...The Grail castle recalls the pagan otherworld, where there is no aging and no disease, and where the immortals feast on whatever they like best. But the Grail is now a stone which resembles the Philosopher's Stone of the alchemists. It too surpassed all earthly perfection, cured disease, and kept its possessor forever young." - Richard Cavendish, "Grail", Man, Myth & Magic, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural, Vol. 9

"I will tell you how they are fed: they live from a stone whose Essence is pure...It is called lapis exilis [small, or paltry, stone]. By virtue of this stone the Phoenix is burned to ashes, in which she is reborn. Thus does the Phoenix molt her feathers, after which she shines dazzling and bright, and as lovely as before. However ill a mortal man may be, from the day on which he sees the Stone, he cannot die for that week, nor does he lose his color. For if anyone, maid or man, were to look at the Grail for two hundred years, you would have to admit that his color was as fresh as in his early prime...Such powers does the Stone confer on mortal men that their flesh and bones are soon made young again. This stone is also called the Grail." - Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival

One possibility for the origin of lapis exilis "is regarded by many researchers as the most probably correct one. This is the derivation of lapsit exillis from lapis ex coelis or lapis de coelis, both of which mean: the stone from the heavens. Bodo Mergell even suggests that lapsit exillis might be a contraction of lapis lapsus ex illis stellis, which translates as: 'the stone which came down from the stars'. Bodo Mergell even suggests that lapsit exillis might be a contraction of lapis lapsus ex illis stellis, which translates as: 'the stone which came down from the stars'."

"This miraculous immunity from physical decay...was ascribed to the followers of Bran the Blessed as they spent eighty years on the island of Grassholm, and has been carried down into the Arthurian romances and applied to those who formed the household of the Fisher King." Wolfram's "originality and genius also appear in his statement that the stone owed its powers to a mass-wafer deposited on it every Good Friday by a dove descending from heaven. This, we may well believe, is a deliberate alteration of Chretien's concept of the Grail as a receptacle for the Host - a concept first set forth by the hermit on Good Friday. It also embodies a eucharistic doctrine which can be traced back to the fourth century, namely that it is the Third Member of the Trinity [the Holy Spirit] who descends on the bread and wine at the celebration of the mass and changes them into the body and blood of the Second Member [the Son]." - Roger Sherman Loomis, The Grail, From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol

"...Whatever one reached one's hand to take, it was found there before the Grail: food warm and cold, foods new and old, both cultivated and wild...For the Grail was beatitude's own fruit and provided such abundance of the world's sweetness that its delights were very like what we are told of the kingdom of heaven...And for whatever drink one held one's cup, that was the drink that flowed by the power of the Grail - white wine, mulberry, or red." - Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival

"My prayers and entreaties will I now send forth heart and hands aloft to Helicon, to that ninefold throne whence the fountains spring from which the gift of words and meaning flow. Its host and its nine hostesses are Apollo and the Camenae....And could I obtain of it but a single drop, my words would be dipped in the glowing crucible of Camenian inspiration, to be there transmuted into something strangely wonderful, make to order, like Arabian gold." - Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival

"...There exists a similar, much older, but Celtic tradition which is well worth consideration as one of the sources for the later Parsifal legend. The hero of this tale is called Peronik: he is a poor boy, who hears from a passing knight that in the castle of Ker Glas there are two miraculous objects. The first is a diamond lance, which destroys everything that it strikes, and the second is a golden basin, the contents of which will cure all ills. These things are the properties of a magician called Rogear, who lives in Ker Glas. The knight had also learnt from a hermit that to reach Ker Glas, one must first pass through a phantom forest [Trugwald], then pluck an apple from a tree guarded by a dwarf with a fiery sword, and then find a laughing flower protected by a lion. The road then leads through a dragon lake, through the Valley of Joy, and finally to a river where the seeker is expected by a black-clad woman at the only ford. The woman must be taken up onto the seeker's horse, for only she knows the way beyond. All of those who have so far undertaken this venture, said the knight in conclusion, have died in the process. Of course, none of this deterred Peronik from setting forth. He passed through the phantom forest, plucked the apple, found the laughing flower, and finally, accompanied by the black woman, arrived at Ker Glas. The hero defeats the magician when he gives him the apple to eat and the black woman touches him. In the underground vaults of the castle Peronik discovers the lance and the basin. At that instant, the castle disappears in a clap of thunder and Peronik finds himself back in the forest. He makes his way to the king's court, where he is showered with gifts and made supreme commander of the royal army. "The parallels with the later Parsifal saga are distinct: like Parsifal, Peronik grew up apart from and in isolation from the world, he meets a knight who induces him to break out, he experiences many adventures, he finally reaches the magic castle, where there is a miraculous diamond spear and a vessel." - Johannes and Peter Fiebag, The Discovery of the Grail, translated from the German by George Sassoon


related pages

The Knights Templar

The Grail Legends.

Perlesvaus or the High History of the Holy Grail
L’Estoire del Saint Graal




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