Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Legend of the Holy Grail

"It is one of those fairy tales... in which the search for a 'treasure hard to attain." The Grail Legend by Emma Jung and M-L von Franz

Despite the popularity of comedies and parodies about the Holy Grail, Monty Python most famously, there is in European folklore and myth, the tale of the Holy Grail. The Grail Legend as written by Emma Jung and completed after her death by Marie-Louise von Franz is a compelling examination into the origins and compilation of what today we know as the Grail myth. The story is thought to have originated in parts of Europe, especially in the Northern regions, and in geographic France. Its more recent form is often accredited to 12th century by the Middle Age writer, Chretien de Troyes, an early French speaker. It also may be traced to the Anglo and Germanic regions of Europe. Truly it is of European descent.

The legend in general is told as a story about the search for a mysterious, life sustaining object or vessel guarded by a King in a castle which is remote and difficult to find. The King is lame or sickly; thus the surrounding countryside is suffering, many parts in devastation. The health of the King is paramount to the restoration of the fertility and health of the land. If a knight sufficiently noble and quite excellent can find the castle, and at first sight asks a question there in that place, all will be well. Should he neglect to ask, all remains as before. The castle then is to vanish, the knight to set out once more to search for the vessel. After wandering, should the knight succeed, find the Grail Castle again, ask the question, the King will then be restored to health; the lands will prosper. And that knight, now the hero will become guardian of the Grail from that time onward.

What remains of special interest in this story, even today, has been the focus of study by various individuals, including Emma Jung, wife of the famed psycho-analyst, Carl Jung. Believing in the power of myth and the importance of them in the modern age, Jung set out to examine their components and what they had to teach us about the world we live in and the spiritual world we sense to be. In this story, a unique blend of  "eternal fairy tale enters," writes Jung. She says it reflects the 'Christian eon' as well as fundamental human concerns and spirituality.

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