#mystery-of-the-grail (Discord ID: 394878204063776778) in 𝔑𝔬𝔠𝔱𝔲𝔩𝔦𝔞𝔫 𝔚𝔬𝔯𝔩𝔡𝔳𝔦𝔢𝔴, page 1
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The original version of Julius Evola's Mystery of the Grail formed an appendix to the first edition of his masterpiece, Rivolta contra il mondo moderno (1934).^ Three years later he reworked that appendix into the present book, which first appeared as part of a series of religious and esoteric studies published by the renowned Laterza Publishers in Bari, Italy, whose list included works by Sigmund Freud, Richard Wilhelm, and C. G. Jung, among others. The Grail book is closely related to Revolt Against the Modern World, where Evola discussed, within the framework of his "suprahistorical" analysis, medieval chivalry and the notion of a symbolic empire based on a sacred regality. Above all, Evola wanted to make three things clear:
1. The Grail was not a Christian but a Hyperborean mystery.
2. The Grail legend deals with an initiatory mystery.
3. The Grail is a symbolic expression of hope and of the will of specific
ruling classes in the Middle Ages (namely, the Ghibellines),
who wanted to reorganize and reunite the entire Western world as
it was at that time into a Holy Empire, that is, one based on a
transcendental, spiritual basis.
The question of whether Evola was correct in his interpretation cannot, however, be unambiguously answered. Franco Cardini, a professor of medieval studies at the University of Florence, writes in his introduction to the fourth Italian edition (Rome, 1994) of a "peculiar tendency to oversimplify among many authors, who assume that the Grail can be explained with a single, basic theory." First-and here Evola would fully agree-it's a question of a myth, and a myth is by definition not single- but multifaceted. Second, the myth of the Grail embraces many different types of influences, above all:
*This foreword first appeared in Ansata-Verlag's Das Mysterium des Grals (Interlaken, Switzerland, 1978). It is translated from the German by Susan Essex. l. Revolt Against the Modern World, trans. Guido Stucco (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 1995). It is not possible to have a true understanding of Evola without knowledge of his Revolt, which most dearly demonstrates the principles of his worldview.*
1. Christian legend (at least from a later period).
2. Celtic folklore.
3. The so-called Isis Book (the eleventh book of Apuleius's
Metamorphosis, which, based on ancient sources, describes the
opening of the way in the Isis Mystery), as well as the Corpus
That, at least, is the view of Henry and Renee Kahane in the Standard Encyclopedia of Religion (vol. 6, New York, 1987), compiled under the direction of Mircea Eliade, easily the best-known scholar of religions in this century. The various interpretations of the Grail thus differ greatly, extending from the priestly chalice to the "manna machine" for the automatic production of nourishment, or even to the equation of the "Grail of Joy" with the vagina. The cited origins range likewise from the Western world (Burdach) to the Islamic and Persian East (Corbin). To this may also be added the works by such analytical psychologists as Emma Jung, Marie-Louise von Franz, and Robert A. Johnson.
One thing appears to be certain, however: the myth of the Grail does not deal with mere fantasies in a purely aesthetic-poetic sense. As Franco Cardini writes, "No author in the Middle Ages ever wrote a single line on the basis of his pure and bare fantasies, and it would be antihistorical to suggest such a thing:'
Another point of interest, in the current debate of gender differences: It is always men who go off in search of the Grail, because women, by nature, already possess it. Thus in all versions of the legend, only women are referred to as carriers of the Grail. But as Helen Luke believes, expressing a Jungian perspective, many women today have contempt for the spiritually, psychologically, and physically nourishing Grail function of their womanhood, since they are striving for the same positions as men in areas that, until now, were purely masculine domains. 2 In so doing, these women outgrow their own essence and no longer have any counterbalance to their now overpowering masculine sides.
*2. John Matthews, ed., At the Table of the Grail (London, 1984), p. 92.*
In other words, they have lost their own Grail, and have to go off in search of it again, just as the men do, in order to find spiritual harmony. What did Evola hope for when he published his book? In the epilogue to the first edition (1937) he expressed it dearly:
*To live and understand the symbol of the Grail in its purity would mean
today the awakening of powers that could supply a transcendental point of
reference for it, an awakening that could show itself tomorrow, after a
great crisis, in the form of an "epoch that goes beyond the nations." It
would also mean the release of the so-called world revolution from the
false myths that poison it and that make possible its subjugation through
dark, collectivistic, and irrational powers. In addition, it would mean understanding
the way to a true unity that would be genuinely capable of
going beyond not only the materialistic-we could also say Luciferian and
Titanic-forms of power and control but also the lunar forms of the remnants
of religious humility and the current neospiritualistic dissipation.*
But, added Evola, he would have to leave it open whether such a development would occur. It would therefore be useless to form any kind of organization that could be influenced by this development. In order to understand these words fully, one must keep in mind that Evola's endeavor since 1925, at the latest, was to influence the political development of Italy along the lines of a spiritual restoration of the ancient Roman Empire. Fascism, which was already in power at that time, appeared to fulfill quite a lot of prerequisites for such a revolution-indeed, Mussolini himself had no aversion to such ideas.3
In 1928 Evola published his first political book, Imperialismo pagano, which fought for exactly that-a pagan imperialism-in a considerably polemic manner. Mussolini's compact with the Catholic Church in 1929, which opposed any endeavor to extinguish the power of the Church, shattered Evola's hopes once and for all. As Piero Fenili has suggested in his series of essays "Gli errori di Julius Evola" (The errors of Julius Evola; Ignis [December 1991]: 146ff.), Evola, in his Imperialismo pagano, still thought of a restoration "in the framework of a Mediterranean tradition." His belief in the independent powers of that region appears, however, to have suffered in the following years, thanks to Mussolini's behavior and the everyday reality of fascism in Italy.
*3. See also the somewhat detailed explanation of Evola's political activities in my introduction to Julius Evola, Menschen inmitten von Ruinin (Tiibingen, 1991; a German translation of Gli uomine e Ie rovine [Men among ruins]).*
Evola put new heart into his hopes for a union of "the two eagles;' that is, the German and the Roman, through his ever-closer contact with the so-called Conservative Revolution in Germany. The model was the Middle Ages, the time of the German emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, the "Astonishment of the World," who was raised in Italy (Sicily, to be exact) and thus united the German and Italian regions in his Holy Roman Empire, and who also apparently personified the best of both geographical areas. In those years Evola stood strongly under the influence of Ernst Kantorowicz's two-volume biography of the Starfen emperor, at that time the object of great enthusiasm.
Here also was the point of origin of his political motivations for writing The Mystery of the Grail. Just as in the Middle Ages, so now would it again be possible for Germany and Italy to build a new Holy Roman Empire, to be based on a spiritual foundation-specifically, on the mysticism of the Grail. This explains Piero Fenili's accusation that Evola tends to overglorify Germany. In an informative essay in the journal Politica romana (no. 2 : 4lff.), Fenili tries to prove conclusively that it was exactly this Evolian high regard of the Middle Ages that allowed so many Italian Evolians to enter the traditional circles of the Catholic Church, since that enthusiasm for the Middle Ages led inevitably to the recognition of the Church's outstanding position at that time.
The times changed, of course, and nothing could be seen of that spiritual foundation-if anything, the complete opposite was true. The changed circumstances are reflected in Evola's epilogues to his only slightly altered revisions of The Mystery of the Grail, which were published in 1962 and 1972. Evola, free from all old political hopes, now emphasized personal initiative and , the Grail's inner meaning for the individual.
While Evola's idea of the Grail as the culmination of the imperial myth has found little reverberation in the world at large, it is undeniable that, as Gianfranco de Turris and Chiara Nejrotti emphasize in their commentary to the fourth Italian edition, the Middle Ages have come in vogue in recent years. Renewed interest began with the incredible worldwide success of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and continued not only with Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon, which was the starting point of a whole sub genre of fantasy novels, but also with Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Eco, however, probably wrote his novel with exactly the opposite intention of the other two authors: namely, with the intention of portraying the Middle Ages as darkly as possible, in order to allow the light of reason to shine that much brighter. It was an attempt that no doubt came up short.
To what can this fascination for the Middle Ages be attributed, beyond the presumption that people have become weary of rapidly changing technology and the uninterrupted reorientations it demands? Does the paradox apply that it is progressive to be against progress and to question the power of science, as well as that of the purely utilitarian and rational? Only a short step separates a preoccupation with the past from a secret desire for another way of life.
Added to this are new historical findings, especially from the French Annales school, that no longer leave the Middle Ages looking as gloomy as the Enlightenment had painted it. Not only were the houses colorful, but so was life. And since Protestantism and the Catholic Counterreformation were still far away, the pleasures of the senses were also allowed to have their place, as in the baths, for example. When even Marxist historians such as Jacques Ie Goff sing the praises of the Middle Ages, and world-renowned scholars such as Regine Pernoud write books that destroy our prejudices about the Middle Ages, one can perhaps also transfer ideas or images-correspondingly adapted, of course-into our times, or at the least one can think about them. Pernoud even says that contemporary people are very similar to those of the Middle Ages in certain aspects. With this the rebirth of the Arthur cycle and the myth of the Grail, especially in England, can be explained. Here also, Evola's book cannot be completely false; on the contrary, it presents a whole series of interesting ideas, as Franco Cardini points out.
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