The Holy Grail:
I warned you that there were worse things than arguing from no evidence at all.  There is arguing from bad evidence, and in this case I mean the occult.  I wrote my honors thesis in college on the Holy Grail.  I assumed it was a bit of folklore with a strong psychological appeal that had been drafted into mainstream literature as a sort of an allegory.  To my dismay I learned years later that the Holy Grail was part of the occult tradition.  So here I sit with a degree from a top ranking university that gives my high honors in the occult.  Well anyway, ignorant and misguided as I may be in the field, I am quite likely better than the next person who talks to you about it.

Before defining the Holy Grail, we need to distinguish between a theoretical definition and a functional definition.  Take the tide, for instance.  Go down to my dock and look at the pilings.  Water goes up and down.  If the water goes up and down over a period of seconds, that is called a wave, and it may have been started by the wind, by a passing boat or a jumping fish or whatever, but it makes no difference.  It is the same wave, defined by the depth and the energy it contains, regardless of where that energy came from.    If the water goes up and down over a period of hours, that is called a tide, and the energy generally comes from the pull of astronomical objects like the sun and moon as well as winds and the barometric pressure.  But it is still only a wave.  It follows exactly the same laws as a wave with a period of seconds.  In between is something that we used to call a tidal wave.  It could be powered by earthquake, volcano, underwater landslide and in principle the close passage of an astronomical object of appropriate size.  The wave does not know.  It just carries its energy.  In fact the tide off my dock gets most of its energy from the pull of astronomical objects, but its time course is several hours out of synch with those gravitational forces.  It’s just a wave. 

So the functional definition of the tide is the movement of water over a period of hours.  The theoretical definition would be that it is caused by gravitational pull, but then you have to include a lot of other things.  If you catch water with a dam and let it out later, is it still the tide?  What if the dam is natural, meaning that you have an estuary.  That’s still the tide, isn’t it?  And what if some of the flow in the estuary is runoff from rivers?  Is it still tide?  Maybe there’s this big monster named Charybdis that periodically swallows the sea. The theoretical definition can get you into a lot of trouble.  The functional definition - water goes up and down over hours - that is pretty easy.  So we shall start with the functional definition of the Holy Grail. 

One version of the story goes like this.  There was a knight named Balin, who had the reputation of being impulsive, who was riding along with a maiden friend and met another knight who was moaning and wailing and raising a great fuss.  When Balin inquired, he learned that this other man was expecting to be killed shortly by Garlon, an invisible knight.  Balin offered to protect his new acquaintance.  It seemed like a pretty good bet until a spear carried by no visible knight appeared and killed the hapless acquaintance.  This of course made Balin look bad in front of the girl. 
Shortly thereafter the two arrived at a castle, where a king entertained them and where they were shown a knight and told it was Garlon, visible at the moment.  So Balin killed him.  The king thought this was not courteous coming from a guest, so he attacked Balin, who retreated until he entered a chapel where there was a long red spear, the very spear that pierced the side of Jesus.  Balin grabbed the spear to defend himself, wounded the king and then the whole castle collapsed.  Merlin came and rescued Balin.  The wounding of the king was the “Dolorous Stroke.”  They found the kingdom to have become the Waste Land.  It was totally depopulated and doomed to remain so until someone achieved the Holy Grail, which was the only thing that could restore the kingdom.

The functional definition is that the land is depopulated and the Holy Grail is what can restore the fertility. 

There are a number of theoretical definitions.  In medieval romance, the Grail was generally taken to be a religious artifact, such as the cup that rested in Jesus hand at the Last Supper or a cup used to catch his blood on the cross or maybe the same cup did both things.  If you had such a cup and could prove it, I imagine you could get a pretty penny for it on EBay, and if anything is going to work a miracle, that should be it.  So that was what I assumed for many years.

A second theoretical definition looks to psychology and remarks that the spear that wounds and the cup of the Grail together represent male-female imagery existing in a context of fertility, so it is all about sex.  Indeed it would take little courage to say that the King Arthur stories are about sex and violence.  This was noted at the time.  Dante in his Inferno has a character remark that the legend was just good for seducing women. 

A more modern theory is that the Holy Grail is no cup at all but the blood line that goes back to Jesus, who purportedly married Mary Magdalene.  Let us ease off on the sacrilege (we are getting into what seems like sacrilege quite enough anyway, thank you) and say Mary married one of his brothers.  That would have been perfectly respectable then, although the gesture might now raise some eyebrows.  So there is this blood line.  So what?  The line purports, if you read the sources, to go back to the Merovingian kings of the Salic Franks and from there to Mary.  But at the time of the Merovingian kings, the people doing the real work of government were the Mayors of the Palace, and a good case can be made that they were of the identical male line as the kings, going back to Mary also.  The Mayors ultimately became kings, the line now called Carolingian, meaning going back to Charlemagne.  The Carolingian line still exists, so there is no real reason for a big flap or mystery.

Since notion has been raised that the blood line is of some interest, I suppose we must wallow in it a little more.  (I don’t like writing about the occult.  I don’t mind reading about it or anything else into which people have put a lot of energy, because I share their humanity, however foolish the ideas.  But when I write, it becomes my own personal folly.) 

The New Testament starts out with Mathew giving a genealogy for Jesus.  That is tedious, but he seems to think it is important.  Then he starts to add up generations, and to my reading gets his arithmetic wrong.  But he has hinted that one might count generations.  By my count if you start with Adam as generation one, you wind up with Jesus as generation 60. (There are enough contradictions and ambiguities so I am sure you could find another number if you tried, but this is the occult and good sense is not required.)   60 is a remarkable number for the time and place.  The Mesopotamians, who still had a lot of prestige in Judea at the turn from BC to AD, used a number system based on 360, the approximate number of days in a year.  We still divide the circle into 360 degrees.  The 60 degree angle is a remarkable one, since it is one corner of an equilateral triangle, which seems important to people in that time and place since two of them go together to make a Star of David. 

It gets murkier if you review your astrology.  Astrology dates back to the same time and place more or less.  By this discipline, the sky is divided into 12 “houses” of about 30 degrees each.  The earth is taken to be at the center of a circle with the “planets,” Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the sun and the moon, arranged around the outside, each residing in a house.  Each planet represents something or other.  If the planets are in the same house, they are in conjunction and their forces work together.  If they are 180 degrees apart, things are not good.  The forces oppose each other.  If they are at 90 degrees the person or situation is “star crossed” and the forces subvert and betray each other.  And if the planets are at 120 degrees, that is the best of all.  The forces are in “trine” and work together harmoniously.  So what you would really like to have is all your planets in an equilateral triangle, everything in conjunction or trine with everything else.

I know this all sounds totally mad, but we are talking about a couple of thousand years ago.  There was very little that seemed predictable.  The motions of the planets were very predictable, and intelligent people took a great interest. 

So an equilateral triangle is a good thing and 60 degrees must be a good thing.  We still speak of generations of separation as degrees of separation, so the jump from degrees to generations seems arguable.  Consider an equilateral triangle with corners A, B and C.  Standing at A, corners B and C are 60 degrees apart.  Now if you step to the center of the circle, B and C are 120 degrees apart.  So generation 120 after Adam should be something of great interest. 

You find that by counting down the generations of the children of Mary Magdalene.  You have to go through the Carolingian line because the Merovingian line died out and you can’t go through the Earls of Pembroke in Wilton because they died out and you have to make a couple of more jumps that are at least as problematic as the Jesus – Mary Magdalene connection, but if you play it right you wind up with generation 120 being alive today and in early adulthood.  As always, you can take a different count, but look at what good news that is.   By that line of reasoning, a new and wonderful age is dawning.  The trouble is that if you look at the books that are following the blood line, they make no mention of it.  Yes, this occult stuff is all balderdash, but that is no excuse for not doing your homework. 

But the big problem with the bloodline theory of the Holy Grail is that it in no way addresses the question of fertility.  There is no Waste Land.  I can put up with someone being totally irrational, I can stomach lack of any evidence, I can even forgive no homework and still listen, but at least come back to the subject from time to time.  Otherwise maybe you can and Doll Common can have a web site together.

So returning to the functional definition of the Holy Grail, “that thing that will prevent or repair the disappearance of a population,” obviously we have a theory of our very own.  It is the matter of a rational mating strategy.  Unlike all those other theories it is backed by good evidence and suggests that rational approach may be successful at averting the present crisis and avoiding it in the future.

Since it seems clear that population implosions have happened any number of times, it is no surprise that people have a memory of such things however dim and have theories about it, however futile.  This theory beats all the others, so if anybody has ever achieved the Holy Grail, you have.  And now you know it.  Don’t sell yourself short.  I know it wasn’t easy getting here.

And now you must decide what to do next.  In terms of the imagery of the Medieval and Renaissance romances, you have found the cave.  The old hermit has shown you the Grail.  He has told you the story. 

But this has happened before.  Some of Arthur’s knights found the Grail.  But not one ever got back to Camelot to tell about it.  So the hard part of your quest begins now.  Get this thing back to Camelot.  It will do no good here in the cave.  It will do no good until people know about it.  I really don’t know how you are going to do it.  But I hope you try.

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