The Holy Grail is an enduring mystery. However, it is often difficult to define just what it is. Traditionally, it is thought to be the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, but its meaning has gone far beyond this physical artifact.
Rather, it is often seen as symbolic of enlightenment in the mind. It is the quest for the mystical experience, and a connection with the God-head. By connecting, you reach a state of purity.
Many myths have gathered around the Grail. Typical are those concerning King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. In this respect, the Grail Quest becomes one of aspiration, purity and bonding.
Of course, such myths and ideals are said not to play a large part in our lives. After all, it is just make-believe. But could it be that the purpose of Grail myths was to form a distinct mentality within society?
The Grail became synonymous with chivalric purity. This was the ultimate way to be in Medieval times. The whole lifestyle of the Knight was geared around it. In this sense, it was a specific politicism.
Arguably, this was the purpose behind the writing of the Grail romances, such as those by Chretien de Troyes, slowly changing the original legends to represent the Medieval Knightly purpose.
In a way, this is quite worrying. One of the most beautiful mythologies of Christianity actually turned into a form of social control. But then again, it could well have been remembered for this reason in itself.
The important point about the Grail quest is the idea of ‘purity’ or ‘perfection’. It is something to aim for in life. But there is a simple fact about perfection. It cannot ever be attained. We are human, and always have faults.
Icons have always appeared displaying perfection. Typical is the ‘saint’. Such an icon was lauded in Medieval times to show what the person should aim for. Knowing it was impossible, this confirmed in the person the idea that he was a sinner.
In this way, the person at least tried to better himself. But this was only achievable in a system that confirmed the idea of perfection to be attained. Thus, the authorities behind the ideal had, in the idea of perfection, the ultimate form of control over the person.
We can, of course, say we’ve left such things behind. Yet, today we have a ‘celebrity’ culture, populated by people who we class as having the ‘perfection’ of lifestyle or beauty. And it is the purpose of the typical western citizen to aspire to this ideal.
This is done through consumerism, where the celebrity urges us to buy, buy, buy. And of course, deep down we know we cannot really be like them, thus we are imperfect, the modern equivalent of the sinner.
Thus, we have an impulse towards social control still active today after some 2,000 years, and just as potent as it ever was – albeit, represented in very different cultural clothes.
In personal terms, the Grail can be of great benefit to the person in finding themselves. But in wider society the process turns into something much more malign. We are often told that such subjects are of no value today.
The above suggests different. We maybe need to understand such concepts even more, for they can be the root to subservience.