Holy Grail

From Anthroposophy

The Holy Grail refers to

  • a legend about the path of the physical chalice used at the Last Supper
  • a medieval story and work of art, most known in the versions written by von Eschenbach and de Troyes
  • the symbolic secret of the Grail in the connection between the upspringing of all the budding new life of nature and the death of Christ on the Cross
  • and in popular media, the search for the Grail represents Man's quest for the valuable and desired higher being

See schema FMC00.118A below for the main dimensions.


  • [2.2] and [2.3] - the symbolic meaning of the story and the experiences by the main characters:
    • Titurel, Amfortas
    • Lohengrin
      • Lohengrin or the swan-knight is a messenger the the White Brotherhood or Grail Lodge, who in the Middle Ages prepared the way for the establishment of towns, a new impulse to enter human civilisation and consciousness of the middle classes. He was an initiate of the third grade, with the swan as his symbol. He must not be asked any questions, for it is a profanation and misunderstanding to ask questions to an initiate concerning occult matters. (see also commentary on Richard Wagner's opera 1905-03-28-GA092)
    • Elsa of Brabant personifies the medieval soul and represents the consciousness of the materialistic civic sense. The human soul is always presented in mysticism as feminine.
    • enemies of the grail (see Schema FMC00.115 below)
      • Klingsor
      • Kundry, the tempress of the lower nature
  • [2.3] - spiritual scientific view (processes, physiology, symbolism)
  • [2.5] - the historical versions of the story (see below)
  • [2.6] - historical perspective
    • timing of the facts
    • location of the grail castle of Monsalvat in Northern Spain
  • relationship with the Arthur stream, and the Parsifal story, for a positioning overview see: Christ Module 6 - Principle in image and story

Main aspects

The story or legend, origin and storyline

One aspect of the legend of the Grail is that the Grail is the physical chalice from which Christ-Jesus drank at the Last Supper, and in which Joseph of Arimathaea gathered some of the blood that flowed from His wounds on the Cross. This chalice was cut from a particularly precious stone from Lucifer's crown when it was struck by Michael's sword of light during the battle waged in the spiritual world between Lucifer and Michael.

In one version the chalice through various travels would have landed on the island of Avalon (near current Glastonbury).

White magic of the Tempeleisen or Knights of the Holy Grail

The earliest legend appears at the turning-point of the Middle Ages: the grail of Christ Jesus is moved from Titirel to castle Spain Monsalvat in Spain, where it is garded by twelve knights.

Now the Templars mysteries of those times were called Tate Gothic mysteries, and their initiates were called Tempelisen or Tempeleisen or Knights of the Holy Grail.The Tempeleisen represented the inner, the true Christianity - in contrast with the Christianity of the Churches.

Lohengrin represents one of these Knights of the Holy Grail, a great initiate the Swan of the third degree of discipleship.

The Swan in Grail stories is a symbol for an initiate who can see into the higher spirit world and passes to a sphere beyond the world of stars from where the initiate experiences the Logos as the primal source of the universe. Such initiate is permeated fully with the Christ principle and whose ether-body which has become Life-Spirit. By this ether-body he is borne upwards to the higher spirit world where the laws of space and time do not hold sway. The Swan is the symbol of this ether body who bears Lohengrin over the sea in a boat (the physical body, regarded purely as an instrument) over the material world.

  • This in contrast to: King Arthur and Round Table (Wales), see Arthur Stream

The productive power that shows itself in the flower chalice of the plant, going up through the other realms, is the same as in the Holy Grail. It merely has to go through purification in the purest, noblest form of Christianity, as we see it in Parsifal.

Black magic of Klingsor

Klingsor his a black magician in opposition of the Templars. Klingsor and temptress Kundry (modern Herodias) represent the enemies of the knighthood of the Holy Grail. Klingor has not destroyed desire, but only the organ of desire.

He represents a form of Christianity coming from the South and that introduced an ascetic life as a way to eliminate a sensual life. However this could not destroy desire, and thereby was unable to reach a higher spiritual knowledge.

Here is a link with degenerated mysteries and Black magic (see 1906-07-29-GA097).

[2.5] the stories

The storyline of the quest for the grail exists in many versions in the various european cultures. Mostly is referred to the two earliest versions of Chrétien de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Rudolf Steiner always refers to von Eschenbach whom he calls an inspired initiate

  • Wolfram von Eschenbach (1160/80-1220) largely adapted this story which is dated to the first quarter of the 13th century
  • Chrétien de Troyes (late 12th century) wrote the Grail romance 'Perceval, the Story of the Grail' in Old French during the 1180s or 1190s , but (probably) left it incomplete.


Schema FMC00.118A provides an overview to structure different logical perspectives. Click to enlarge.


Schema FMC00.114 is an overview table with the key names for the three stories, and the link to the threefold soul (see 1913-02-07-GA144)


Schema FMC00.355 is an illustration from Manly P. Hall's 'Secret teachings of all ages'.

Schema FMC00.354 is a meta study schema, using other schemas as infographics to show a broader scope and the relationship between related aspects. Not all schema or lecture references are given, these can be found on the various pages such as Kundalini, Ganganda Greida, Etherization of blood and related pages. Central theme is the symbolism of the Holy Grail, with on the one hand the grail cup and the bloody lance, and on the other hand the pituitary and pineal gland. The diagram relates the physiological and spiritual processes taking place in Man, with the central role of the blood as the carrier of the Human 'I', and the human heart.

Note: the schema also shows why the Grail is sometimes drawn with the cup downwards, for example on the seventh apocalyptic seal (Schema FMC00.259 on Book of Revelation), see also Schema FMC00.356 on Christ Module 6 - Principle in image and story

Schema FMC00.116 shows the symbol for Good Friday and Easter: the spiritual sun in the physical sun.

Schema FMC00.110 depicts the metaphoric imagery of:

  • the sunray and the flower chalice .. how the plant takes the energy (and higher ethers) contained in the light of a sunray
  • the symbol of the spear and cup directly relating to the same image

Schema FMC00.115 sketches the counterforces of Klingsor, Iblis and Kundry and their contextual story.

This is not purely a symbolic story but the characters and locations have a true historical basis. In other lectures Rudolf Steiner points out Sicily is still regarded as a center of evil influences that is even noticeable in the aura. Then again the Etna has a special (positive) esoteric meaning to, see ao Johanna von Keyserlinck and the story of Empedocles.

Schema FMC00.259 depicts the seventh apocalyptic seal with short description, see also Book of Revelation

The letters around the seal refer to the Rosicrucian: Ex Deo Nascimur (EDN) • In Christo Morimur (ICM) • Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus (PSSR), see also EDN-ICM-PSSR.


Lecture coverage and references

[2.1] - Storyline and characters


1905-03-28-GA092 is on Wagner's Lohengrin opera

The Swan-Knight therefore appears to us as an emissary of the great White Brotherhood. Thus Lohengrin is the messenger of the Holy Grail. A new impulse, a new influence was destined to enter human civilisation. You already know that in mysticism the human soul, or human consciousness, always appears as a woman. Also in this legend of Lohengrin the new form of consciousness, the civilisation of the middle classes, the progress made by the human soul, appears in the vestige of a woman. The new civilisation which had arisen was looked upon as a new and higher stage of consciousness. Elsa of Brabant personifies the medieval soul. Lohengrin, the great initiate, the Swan of the third degree of discipleship, brings with him a new civilisation inspired by the community of the Holy Grail.

He must not be asked any questions, for it is a profanation and a misunderstanding to place questions to an initiate concerning things which must remain occult.

The influence of great initiates always brings about the promotion to new stages of consciousness. ...

.. also in the legend of Lohengrin we come across such a moment of initiation. These legends are important indications, which can only be understood by those who possess an Insight into the connections of things.

The Lohengrin legend (as explained, it is connected with the legend of the meister-singers) has a decidedly Catholic character. Richard Wagner used it for his Lohengrin poem. This reveals Richard Wagner's high inner calling.


The 14th century was the time of the creation of towns. Within a few hundred years independent towns had developed in all civilised European countries. The burgher is the founder of materialism in practical life. This comes to expression in the Lohengrin myth. Lohengrin, the emissary of the Grail Lodge, was the wise leader who took hold in the Middle Ages and prepared the way for the establishment of towns. The swan was his symbol; the initiate of the Third Grade is the Swan. Consciousness is always represented as something feminine. Elsa of Brabant represents the consciousness of the materialistic civic sense.


Kundry the tempress of the lower nature


The Templars were those who stood for true Christianity as distinguished from Church Christianity. In the Middle Ages remnants were still left of the old degenerate mysteries. All that belongs to those is grouped together under the name of Klingsor. He is the black magician in contrast to the white magic of the Holy Grail. Wagner places him in opposition to the Templars.

Kundry is the modern version of Herodias, the symbol of the force of reproduction in nature, the force that can be chaste or unchaste, but is uncontrolled. Beneath chastity and unchastity lies a fundamental unity; everything depends on the way of approach. The force of reproduction that shows itself in the plants, within the chalice of the blossom, and right up through the other kingdoms of nature, is the same as in the Holy Grail. Only, it has to undergo purification in that noblest and purest form of Christianity which manifests in Parsifal.

Kundry has to remain a black enchantress until Parsifal releases and redeems her. In the polarity of Parsifal and Kundry we can sense the working of deepest wisdom. Wagner, more than anyone else, took care that men should be able to receive what he had to give without knowing that they were doing so. He was a missionary who had a most significant message to deliver — to deliver, however, in such a way that mankind was not aware of receiving it.


On the one side, we have the temple of the Holy Grail with its knights, and on the other, the Magic Castle of Klingsor with his knights, who are, in reality, the enemies of the knighthood of the Holy Grail. We are confronted with two forms of Christianity. One kind is represented by the knights of the Holy Grail and the other by Klingsor. Klingsor is the man who has mutilated himself in order not to fall a prey to the senses. But he has not overcome his desires, he has only taken away the possibility to satisfy them. Thus he lives in a sensual sphere. The maidens of the magic castle serve him, and everything belonging to the sphere of desires is at his disposal.

Kundry is the real temptress in this kingdom: she attracts everyone who approaches Klingsor into the sphere of sensual love. Klingsor has not destroyed desire, but only the organ of desire. He personifies the form of Christianity which comes from the South and introduced an ascetic life; it eliminated a sensual life, but it could not destroy desire; it could protect against the tempting powers of Kundry. A higher element was perceived in the power of a spirituality which rises above sensual life into the sphere of purified love, not through compulsion, but through a higher, spiritual knowledge.

Amfortas and the knights of the Holy Grail strive after this, but they do not succeed in establishing this kingdom So long as the true spiritual force is lacking, Amfortas yields to the temptations of Kundry. The higher spirituality personified in Amfortas falls a prey to the lower memory.

[2.5] - Symbols and challenges

1913-03-25-GA145 (SWCC) - see Ganganda greida for full extract

Symbolised by the brain lying within the skull, our human nature on the earth appears as a being under enchantment living in a castle, as a being imprisoned and enclosed by stone walls. Our skull is like the shrunken external symbol of this. But when we look at the etheric forces which lie at its foundation, the earthly man actually appears to us as if he were within the skull, and imprisoned in this castle.

And then from the other parts of the organism there stream up the forces which support this human being who is really within the skull as if in a mighty castle; the forces stream upwards;

  • first the force which comes from the outspread instrument of the astral body: all streams up all that strengthens Man's nerve fibres. All this streams together in the earthly brain-man; this appears as a mighty sword which the human being has forged on the earth.
  • Then stream up the forces of the blood. These appear as that which really wounds the brain-man lying in the enchanted castle of the skull. The forces which in the etheric body stream up to the earthly human being lying in the enchanted castle of the brain are like the bloody lance, streaming up to the noblest parts of the brain.


The I and astral body — the spiritual man — descends into the castle, which is formed of that which is only seen symbolically in the skull. Here the human being lies sleeping, wounded by the blood, the Man of whom we see that thoughts are his strength — that which must be capable of nourishment by all that comes from the kingdom of nature, that which in its purest parts must be served by the finest.

All this symbolically represented resulted in the Legend of the Holy Grail, which tells us of that miraculous food which is prepared from the finest activities of the sense impressions and the finest activities of the mineral extracts, whose purpose it is to nourish the noblest part of man all through the life he spends on earth; for it would be killed by anything else. This heavenly food is what is contained in the Holy Grail.

And that which otherwise takes place, that which presses up from the other kingdoms, we find clearly represented if we go back to the original Grail legend, where a meal is described at which a hind is first set on the table. The penetrating up into the brain where for ever floats the Grail, that is, the vessel for the purest food of the human hero who lies in the castle of the brain, and who is killed by everything else ..

Manly P. Hall writes

In the great temple on Mount Salvat stands Parsifal, the third and last king of the Holy Grail, holding aloft the scintillating green Grain Cup and the sacred spear.

The key to the Grail Mysteries will be apparent if

  • in the sacred spear is recognized the pineal gland with its peculiar pointlike projection
  • and in the Holy Grail the pituitary body containing the mysterious Water of Life.

Mount Salvat is the human body; the domed temple upon its summit, the brain; and the castle of Klingsor in the dark valley below, the animal nature which lures the knights (brain energies) into the garden of illusion and perversion.

The name of the Grail in the stellar script

1914-01-02-GA149 - see Schema FMC00.116 above

[2.5] - The stories

The storyline of the quest for the grail exists in many versions in the various european cultures. Mostly is referred to the two earliest versions of Chrétien de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Rudolf Steiner always refers to von Eschenbach whom he calls an inspired initiate

  • Wolfram von Eschenbach (1160/80-1220) largely adapted this story which is dated to the first quarter of the 13th century
  • Chrétien de Troyes (late 12th century) wrote the Grail romance 'Perceval, the Story of the Grail' in Old French during the 1180s or 1190s , but (probably) left it incomplete.

References to versions of von Eschenbach and de Troyes

Rudolf Steiner as of 1904-5 usually referenced Wolfram von Eschenbach version of the Grail story, however he referenced de Troyes version too:


The best presentation of this is not that by Wolfram, but it is best represented in an external exoteric way (because almost everyone can recognise, when his attention has been drawn to it, that this legend of the Grail is an occult experience which every human being can experience anew every night), it is best represented, in spite of the profanation which has even crept in there, by Chrestien de Troyes. He put what he wished to say in an exoteric form, but this exoteric form hinted at what he wished to convey, for he refers to his teacher and friend who lived in Alsace, who gave him the esoteric knowledge which he put into exoteric form. This took place in an age when it was necessary to do this, on account of the transition indicated in my book, ‘The Spiritual Guidance of Humanity.’ The Grail legend was made exoteric in 1180, shortly before the transition.


On other occasions I have mentioned that the best literary account of Parsifal's arrival at the Castle is to be found in Chrestien de Troyes.


Related pages

References and further reading

  • Walter Johannes Stein: 'The ninth century and the holy grail' (1928 in DE, 1988 in EN)
  • Rudolf Meyer: 'Der Gral und seine Hüter' (1956, 3th edition 1980, 6th edition 2003)
  • W.F. Veltman: 'The Temple and the Grail' (1992 in NL, 2021 in EN)
  • Manfred Schmidt-Brabant and Virginia Sease: 'Paths of the Christian Mysteries: From Compostela to the New World' (2003)
  • Klaus J. Bracker: Grals-Initiation (2009)
  • Gil McHattie (editor): 'The knights templar' (2011) - essays from 2009 conference

Classic bibliography (non esoteric)

The references below are non qualified.

  • Richard W. Barber (1941- ) is an English historian
    • The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief (2004)
    • The Holy Grail, The History of a Legend (2004)