The Original Great Mother Tradition
Mother Worship

MatriTalks 22


Questions & Answers
Han Marie Stiekema Sermes

The Relevance of the Grail

Q. What interests me a great deal is the role of males or the "masculine principle" in A Feminine World View. Could you elaborate?

A. Let's start at the beginning. Central in Western history stands the myth of the Great Mother. She is bearing Sons and Daughters. The former symbolizing the Vegetation God, the one Who dies every autumn in order to be reborn in spring. He is Her Son/Lover, the one who is Her "executive" with regard to safeguarding the harvests. If he takes care of his responsibilities well, he may become King. King in the Name of the Mother, obviously*. The Daughter is the Goddess. She represents the substance ("subsistence") of life. By fulfilling Her duty with regard to taking care of the Whole, She becomes Queen. Queen in anticipation of once becoming a Mother.

* In later stages the Son/King took over power from the Mother, while denying his descent from Her. It was the beginning of patriarchy.

Q. You mean the topic of today: the Grail Legend is connected to pre-historic myth?

A. Let's first follow the adventures of Parcival*. Raised by his Mother only (in that case a boy has to "find everything out" himself), he got the strong desire of becoming a knight (e.g. start following a spiritual quest). Three decisive elements can be distinguished. First of all, his encountering of difficulties e.g. subsequently overcoming them through "defeating" other knights. This stands for being confronted with inner obstacles and the need for integration. Secondly, his encounters with women, the latter, who stimulate him in doing all kinds of selfless actions, which is a vital element in the mission of a man. Thirdly, his quest for the Grail itself, representing Self-realization or "Enlightenment". The first time, however, that he reaches the Grail Castle and indeed was granted to see the Grail**, he miserably failed. Only many years later - during which he still had to learn a lot - he got his second chance. It was only after asking the crucial question: "What is the Grail?" - acknowledging the Grail as the Motherly Womb, out of Which all life sprouts - that he acquired his Kingship. Later, Christian writers changed this in the expressing of his compassion with the suffering of the King, after which the King renounced the throne in favor of Parcival.***

* Parcival, meaning: "who has gone through the Valley", e.g. the one who knows the Great Mother.

** The Grail Chalice symbolizing the Cosmic Womb, making the Legend a Quest for the Great Mother.

*** Not his achievements, but his compassion eventually made him a suitable candidate. It is a guarantee, that the future ruler will have "heart" for his people and the land.

Q.  This resembles pretty much the three elements of the Grail Vision, like it was revealed to you by the Great Mother?       

A. The Vision made it possible for me to truly understand the meaning of the Grail Legend and vice versa. This is really the fulfillment of a prophecy, the ultimate confirmation and a cause of great, great joy! I cannot praise the Mother enough for this. 

Q. I can imagine that. What is the next important thing in the Legend?

A. What always has been underexposed, is the role of women in the tale. Usually, they only play a subordinate role (as usual), in this case to helping Parcival reaching his goal, as elaborated by earlier commentators. In reality, their role has clearly a self-affirmative purpose, though. It is embodied by the figure of Blanchefleur. She loves Parcival, despite the fact, that (in the beginning) he behaves disrespectful to her. Her mission is to "spinning life", creating substance, extending her network of relationship with the world around her. This may not sound very spectacular. However, it is. It symbolizes the "women's" role of representing the "Web of Life", their central role in the interconnectedness of the living world. Her patience with regard to Parcival is striking. It is so powerful, that it forces him to develop selflessness by (step by step) fitting himself in into the Whole.

Q. Aren't you afraid, that feminists will accuse you of promoting traditional "values", in which the women play a passive role in contrast to the men, who always play the hero?

A. First of all, "woman" and "men" in the Grail Legend don't stand for actual women and men, but represent their archetypes, which means "feminine principle" (the soul) versus "masculine principle" (the ego). In reality, every human being proves to be a unique "mixture" of both elements. Added to that, it may be said, that nowadays many women have identified themselves with the patriarchal ego-mind, rather than representing the "feminine principle".

Q. I also mean this with regard to social behavior. The example of Blanchefleur tends to emphasize the role of "housewife", for instance.

A. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the role of housewife. After painful experiences with public careers, many women prefer to lead a life of relative freedom, once again*. But you are right, "spinning" could indeed become identified with performing the "duties" at home. This situation has changed drastically though. In my concept, "Spinning the Web of Life" has now become extended to reclaiming a central role in building the community. As you know, the Mother's community is the foundation of life, indeed of society. It has the right to regain political power, in the sense, that it becomes self-governing. Women representing "substance" e.g. "subsistence" are the legitimate heirs here, in the sense of once again fulfilling a central role. "Spinning the Web of Life" therefore is a challenging task, for which organizational, political, social and spiritual skills are needed.

* Indicator is the use of anti-depressant drugs. In The Netherlands the usage of these drugs increases every year with 6%. Women take twice as much as men...

Q. How in the Grail legend the feminine and masculine principles finally go together?     

A. It is absolutely fascinating to see, how in the legend both "principles" are empowering each other. This is totally unique, really. Nowhere in the spiritual tradition a similar example can be found. And not only because of this. Equal emphasis on awakening, personal integration and selflessness - like revealed by the Vision - exceeds all other approaches, that try to define the essence of the spiritual Path. Hence, I consider the Grail as belonging to the top achievements in spirituality.  

Q. What does this mean for every day life?

A. First of all, both women and men are free to identify themselves with either the "feminine" or the "masculine" principle.* Subsequently, you may then see, that both principles are complementary. Women represent the substance of life, while men's mission consists of sacrificing itself to the benefit of the Whole. Both paths lead to nobility. The women, through their central role in the community, become "Queen", while the men, by sacrificing themselves to the benefit of the Whole, become "King". (And of course, finally the two will marry...(laughter)). The inner path and the outer path are thus two sides of the same coin.

Q. I thought that the Grail is all about the inner Path.

A. Eventually, the Grail is worldly oriented, which is another of its unique features, emphasizing the need of making your spiritual achievements available to healing the world. With this final interpretation of the Grail Legend, a new spiritual foundation has been created, a foundation upon which people can start giving their lives a new meaning. Summarizing: In the end, we are back at the beginning: like in ancient Sumer the Son/lover becomes King and the Daughter becomes Queen, everything in the Name of the Mother. Re-introducing spiritual nobility to everyday life corresponds with our concept of Self-sovereignty: A Self-sovereign individual in A Self-sovereign family, in A Self-sovereign street, in A Self-sovereign neighborhood, in A Self-sovereign commune....

* See "Androgyny".

Q. Is there any relationship between the Grail and Christianity?

A. The surprise is, that both the Grail and the life of Jesus have a link to pre-Christian (pre-Jewish) tradition.

Q. What! How do you explain that?

A. With regard to Kingship, it is maybe good to know, that Jesus never considered himself "Son of God". He was an Enlightened One, which means that he was granted God-realization (like many other people are). Knowing that you are a Son of the Mother in the matriarchal tradition (of which Jewish/Canaanite culture still had a memory) means, that you are destined to become a King. Not a "heavenly", but an earthly one! The continuous emphasis on the "House of David", into which Jesus seems to have been born; the formation of an armed (...) bodyguard; his anointment (by a woman!) and his glorious entry into Jerusalem; his frustration and anger, as he realized the disastrous outcome, bear witness to that. It was an attempt to actually becoming the Ruler ("Priest/King") of the country!*

Q.  This makes it all much more realistic.

A. As we all know, he failed miserably. Thus, for Jesus the mission was finished. The only choice left, was to flee or to die "for his principles", hoping that some kind of post-mortum recognition would come out of that. It was Paul though, who - using Jesus for his own purposes - eventually turned a failure into a success, by "spiritualizing" the story, "upgrading" Jesus to a "God", something Jesus himself would never have thought of.  

* Courtesy to Ton Hilberink "Jesjoea, Paulus en de macht", 1995 Uitg. Jan Mets.

With gratitude,

Custodian of the Grail

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Last revising: 02/07/10