Apotheosis ~ Drinking from the Holy Grail

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Apotheosis: from Late Latin apotheosis “deification,” from Greek apotheosis, from apotheoun “deify, make (someone) a god,” from apo- special use of this prefix, meaning, here, “change” + theos “god” (see theo-).

In his book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell writes that the Hero must pass through a stage of Apotheosis. According to Campbell, apotheosis is the expansion of consciousness that the hero experiences after defeating his foe.

To continue using the Grail as a metaphor for the Soul, as it was  given to me in the dream that I recounted in my post, “The Quest for the Holy Grail”, to drink from the Grail would be to heal the divide between one’s ego and one’s Soul. To be languishing in the wasteland is to be separated from one’s divinity; to drink from the Grail is to experience the divinity of one’s Soul.  To be healed would be to put aside the inauthentic life one was living and to embark upon the true purpose of one’s Soul.

How does this divide between the ego and the soul arise?  Presumably it could arise from a variety of causes, but perhaps the spilt is engendered by the very foe that must be defeated. In my case, which is likely not that unusual, it arose from the treatment I received from my father.  The inherent abilities I possessed, my interests, my values, and areas in which I lacked ability, these were all constantly disparaged.  This degrading treatment caused an internal estrangement of me from my own higher self.  I disowned and discounted what was devalued by those around me. Over the years I have sought healing for this in many forms, with varying success.

Recently, another person has entered one sphere of my life whose attitude toward life and whose treatment of me is remarkably similar to that of my father’s. Though it is painful to experience being treated in such a demeaning fashion again, this time around it also easier to not take it personally as one unavoidably does as a child.  And it is also easy to see the pain that this man carries that causes him to approach life as he does.  Rather than causing me to become angry, he elicits sympathy.  Rather than causing me to divorce my own self, he gives me an opportunity to dive in more deeply to maintain my center.

Campbell also writes that an integral part of the apotheosis process is to achieve atonement with the father.

So it is clear that this troubled person who has entered my life is a purposeful part of my present quest to connect more fully to my Soul and to live out my Soul’s purpose.  Through my encounter with him I can heal the old wounds from my father, reconcile the estrangement from my Soul, and thus experience apotheosis. May it be that I drink deeply from the Holy Grail.

 

Shrine of the Goddess

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The nigh lands of Kingfield hold so many sacred sites…I encountered this one on my walk this morning.

Though the statue is of an angel, it seems to hold the Goddess energy.

 

I was just gifted this poem from a friend; it feels appropriate to couple it with this image:

http://www.evolutionarytantra.com/984

DEAR BEAUTIFUL MEN:

If you want to change the world… Love a woman – really Love her. Find the one who calls to your soul, who doesn’t make sense.

Throw away your check list and put your ear to her heart and listen. Hear the names, the prayers, the songs of every living thing-every winged one, every furry and scaled one, every underground and underwater one, every green and flowering one, every not yet born and dying one…

Hear their melancholy praises back to the One who gave them life. If you haven’t heard your own name yet, you haven’t listened long enough.

If your eyes aren’t filled with tears, if you aren’t bowing at her feet, you haven’t ever grieved having almost lost her. If you want to change the world…

Love a woman – one woman beyond yourself, beyond desire and reason,beyond your male preferences for youth, beauty and variety and all your superficial concepts of freedom.

We have given ourselves so many choices we have forgotten that true liberation comes from standing in the middle of the soul’s fire and burning through our resistance to Love.

There is one Goddess in every woman. Look into Her eyes and see-really see if she is the one to bring the axe to your head. If not, walk away. Right now. Don’t waste time “trying.”

Know that your decision has nothing to do with her because ultimately it’s not with who, but when we choose to surrender.

If you want to change the world… Love a woman. Love her for life – beyond your fear of death,beyond your fear of being manipulated by the Mother inside your head.

Don’t tell her you’re willing to die for her. Say you’re willing to LIVE with her, plant trees with her and watch them grow.

Be her hero by telling her how beautiful she is in her vulnerable majesty, by helping her to remember every day that she IS Goddess through your adoration and devotion.

If you want to change the world… Love a woman in all her faces, through all her seasons and she will heal you of your schizophrenia-your double-mindedness and half-heartedness which keeps your Spirit and body separate-which keeps you alone and always looking outside your Self for something to make your life worth living.

There will always be another woman. Soon the new shiny one will become the old dull one and you’ll grow restless again, trading in women like cars, trading in the Goddess for the latest object of your desire.

Man doesn’t need any more choices. What man needs is a Woman, the Way of the Feminine, of Patience and Compassion, non-seeking, non-doing, of breathing in one place and sinking deep intertwining roots strong enough to hold the Earth together while she shakes off the cement and steel from her skin.

If you want to change the world… Love a woman, just one woman. Love and protect her as if she is the last holy vessel.

Love her through her fear of abandonment which she has been holding for all of humanity.

No, the wound is not hers to heal alone. No, she is not weak in her co-dependence. If you want to change the world…

Love a woman all the way through until she believes you, until her instincts, her visions, her voice, her art, her passion, her wildness have returned to her …

… until she is a force of Love more powerful than all the political media demons who seek to devalue and destroy her.

If you want to change the world, lay down your causes, your guns and protest signs.

Lay down your inner war, righteous anger and Love a woman…beyond all of your striving for greatness, beyond your tenacious quest for enlightenment.

The holy grail stands before you if you would only take her in your arms and let go of searching for something beyond this intimacy.

What if peace is a dream which can only be re-membered through the heart of the feminine, in man or woman?

What if a man’s Love for Woman, the Way of the Feminine is the key to opening Her (and His) heart?

If you want to change the world…Love a woman to the depths of your shadow, to the highest reaches of your Being, back to the Garden where you first met her, to the gateway of the rainbow realm where you walk through together as Light as One,to the point of no return,to the ends and the beginning of a new Earth…”

by Tantric Goddess Artist Lisa Citore

A Vision of the Holy Grail

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Our Knight, who had lived as though entombed in an eternal gloom…

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…long had he wandered in the winter of his wasteland…

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…trudging through the desolation, his erring steps inexorably betraying him more and more, he was at last brought to his knees by overwhelming grief.  As the winds of anguish howled through his chest, they blew upon the embers of his withering soul, kindling them within their blanket of ash.

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In the dark before dawn, his wakened soul urged him from his slumbers, to venture into the chill darkness.  Clad against the cold, his guided footsteps led him to the hallowed lake, and there the rising sun revealed that still, after his long neglect, there was yet a path out of his frozen waste.

Sunrise over frozen Lake Harriet

 

Henceforth the knight resolved to rise each day to greet the sun and secure what succor might be found in the promise of each new dawn, and to demonstrate to what gods there may be his commitment to his re-found path.

A faltering spring struggled against the grip of the relentless winter, as though the claws of cold might once more ensnare the world.  But the sun prevailed and the knight, rewarded for his faithfulness to his pledge,  was  charged with a quest –  to slay the shadows that lurked within his soul.

Thus the erring knight became the Knight-Errant.  Upon his quest he wandered the environs around the hallowed lake, undergoing adventures fantastic and extraordinary …until one day, sufficiently purged, the scales fell from his eyes and he saw in the rising sun  a vision of the Holy Grail…

 

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And recalled his sullen poetry from his days of desolation..

“The sun shines upon the Moon,
The Moon shines upon the Water,
The Water shines upon Me.

A reflection of a reflection,
of a reflection of a reflection,
of That which shines within the Sun.

But I see only the reflection in the stream,
not the Moon that shines upon the Water
nor the Sun, that shines upon the Moon.
nor That which shines within the Sun.

A lost soul, a mere reflection,
bereft of my fount,
untethered from my Source.

So many layers of beauty to ponder,
Such sublime distances to travel,
to reach the Source of all that is.

Yet, in a moment,
in an instant,
we are there.”

 

Though he had yet to grasp the Grail and drink from its lips, this bear glimpse of its glory ignited the flame within his chest,  and once again he felt the Source that burns within the sun burn within his Soul.  And the light of the sun shone upon the face of the knight.

 

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“And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
― Joseph Campbell

 

“If you are falling…dive!”
― Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

The Quest for the Holy Grail

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When approaching a discussion of one’s thoughts about the Holy Grail, it’s difficult not to be a bit circumspect. What comes to mind is the experience of King Arthur and his knights in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail; when seeking aid from a French castle in their quest for the Grail, the French taunt Arthur’s entourage, saying, “We’ve already got one!”

Assuredly, everyone has their own vision of what the Holy Grail is and what it represents.  Nevertheless, I’m going to present my concept of it, even though you’ve already got one.

Actually, my experience of the Grail comes from a dream I had several years ago. I had picked up a copy of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon and, so enthralled was I by her retelling of the legend, that I put aside all else and read the voluminous epic cover to cover in a couple of days. When I had finished reading I found myself quite spontaneously asking the Great Mother for a dream. I had never done such a thing before and was surprised by my own impulse. I was not disappointed.

This is the dream that emerged from my request:

I am walking through a medieval forest and encounter a path that leads into a clearing in the woods. I pass by a ritual space where a bull has been sacrificed, then join a crowd of people who are watching a priestess who stands on a raised platform.

The priestess stands behind an immense glass basin that is filled with water. In her hand she holds a crystalline goblet.

The priestess raises the goblet and speaks in a clear, strong voice that carries across the crowd, “A Grail cannot be destroyed…” she says, and with that she strikes the goblet against a stone with all of her might. The goblet is undamaged.

“But, she continues, “a Grail can be fragmented ….”, she now inserts a silver rod into the goblet and pries against the rim. A small, jagged crystal chip cracks away from the rim.

Again she raises the goblet in the air and proclaims, “A Grail cannot be filled…” plunging the goblet into the transparent basin of water as she speaks. All can see that no matter how she turns it, no water will enter the goblet.

“A Grail,” she explains, “can only fill itself.” She then holds the goblet upside down and begins rotating it in her wrist over the top of the basin. As she does so, water begins twirling in an upward spiral out of the basin, filling the still upside down goblet.

As the water fills the goblet, the goblet sings as the twirling water traces its rim. When striking the place where the goblet is chipped, rather than causing discord, the tone intensifies with harmonics.

 

Upon awakening from the dream, its interpretation was already in my consciousness.   The crystalline goblet, the Grail, is the Soul.   A Soul cannot be destroyed, but it can be wounded and fragmented*.   A purpose cannot be imposed a Soul, at least not one that will fulfill it. A Soul comes into this life with its own intentions and can only be fulfilled by that purpose. That purpose can be called forth and actualized even in seemingly impossible conditions. The wounds a Soul has endured are connected to its purpose and its fulfillment. In the process of actualizing its purpose, a Soul will resonate more intensely where it once was wounded.

What brings this dream to mind now is of course the content of some of my recent posts. When I began my Sunrise Sadhana in early April, I had no inkling that my morning ritual would take on the character of a quest and that I would imagine myself in the guise of a knight-errant.

It wasn’t simply my visiting water tower with the statues of the knights that inspired me to take on this persona, but the addition of discovering near the water tower a Little Free Library  that held a book with an image of a sword that resembled those held by the knights. The coinciding of these 3 components felt like far more than mere coincidence.

So, while it wasn’t the equivalent of having a sword bestowed upon me by the Lady of the Lake, nor the equivalent of drawing the Sword from the Stone, perhaps, if one were to be generous, one could construe my experience as receiving a sword from the Lady of the Library? Or perhaps drawing the Sword from the Shelf?  : )   In  any case, it did feel quite compelling, like the experience had been orchestrated for a purpose.

In the book that I was led to, the name of the sword is “Shadowslayer”, which, as I have blogged, has been wielded thus far only against my own shadow.   Something that is central to the Arthurian legends ~ one must be virtuous enough to find the Grail. So I have been pondering this.

 

Just last week I saw the film “Finding Joe” about Joseph Campbell and his works, so I’ve been curious what insights this venerable sage had to offer about the Grail. After a little searching, I found a wonderful article on the internet. One of my questions about the Grail was how it relates to nature; Campbell provides a profound answer to this. You can read the entire article at bottom.  There are volumes that could be said, perhaps I will write more at a later date, but here are the main takeaways for me from the article, as they relate to my dream and my present quest:

  • The theme of the Grail romance is that the land, the country, the whole territory of concern has been laid waste. It is called a wasteland. And what is the nature of the wasteland? It is a land where everybody is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing as you’re told, with no courage for your own life.
  • The Grail becomes symbolic of an authentic life that is lived in terms of its own volition, in terms of its own impulse system
  • The Grail represents the fulfillment of the highest spiritual potentialities of the human consciousness.
  • …the separation of matter and spirit, of the dynamism of life and the realm of the spirit, of natural grace and supernatural grace, has really castrated nature. And the European mind, the European life, has been, as it were, emasculated by this separation. The true spirituality, which would have come from the union of matter and spirit, has been killed.
  • Nature and spirit are yearning for each other to meet in this experience. And the Grail that these romantic legends were searching for is the union once again of what has been divided
  • And so the impulses of nature are what give authenticity to life, not the rules coming from a supernatural authority—that’s the sense of the Grail.
  • Obeying societal norms, the adventure fails.
  • And then it takes years of ordeals and embarrassments and all kinds of things to get back to a revelation of the Grail and the opportunity to heal the self and heal society, through the natural opening of the human heart. That’s the Grail.

 

Two footnotes:

* These fragments can be healed and reintegrated through therapy or  through such mediums as a Shamanic Soul Retrieval.

~  Last night I loaded the Grail picture from Monty Python. This morning I took the picture of the sunrise ~ I am struck by some similarities.

 

 

http://www.slc.edu/magazine/lost-found/2013-03-15-the-holy-grail-mag.html

 

The Holy Grail

Joseph Campbell on Western culture’s iconic quest

Adapted from “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers

CAMPBELL There’s a very interesting statement about the origin of the Grail. One early writer says that the Grail was brought from heaven by the neutral angels. You see, during the war in heaven between God and Satan, between good and evil, some angelic hosts sided with Satan and some with God. The Grail was brought down through the middle by the neutral angels. It represents that spiritual path that is between pairs of opposites, between fear and desire, between good and evil.

The theme of the Grail romance is that the land, the country, the whole territory of concern has been laid waste. It is called a wasteland. And what is the nature of the wasteland? It is a land where everybody is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing as you’re told, with no courage for your own life. That is the wasteland. And that is what T. S. Eliot meant in his poem “The Waste Land.”

In a wasteland the surface does not represent the actuality of what it is supposed to be representing, and people are living inauthentic lives. “I’ve never done a thing I wanted to in all my life. I’ve done as I was told.” You know?

MOYERS And the Grail becomes?

CAMPBELL The Grail becomes the—what can we call it?—that which is attained and realized by people who have lived their own lives. The Grail represents the fulfillment of the highest spiritual potentialities of the human consciousness. The Grail King, for example, was a lovely young man, but he had not earned the position of Grail King. He rode forth from his castle with the war cry “Amor!” Well, that’s proper for youth, but it doesn’t belong to the guardianship of the Grail. And as he’s riding forth, a Muslim, a pagan knight, comes out of the woods. They both level their lances at each other, and they drive at each other. The lance of the Grail King kills the pagan, but the pagan’s lance castrates the Grail King.

What that means is that the Christian separation of matter and spirit, of the dynamism of life and the realm of the spirit, of natural grace and supernatural grace, has really castrated nature. And the European mind, the European life, has been, as it were, emasculated by this separation. The true spirituality, which would have come from the union of matter and spirit, has been killed. And then what did the pagan represent? He was a person from the suburbs of Eden. He was regarded as a nature man, and on the head of his lance was written the word “Grail.” That is to say, nature intends the Grail. Spiritual life is the bouquet, the perfume, the flowering and fulfillment of a human life, not a supernatural virtue imposed upon it.

And so the impulses of nature are what give authenticity to life, not the rules coming from a supernatural authority—that’s the sense of the Grail.

MOYERS Is this what Thomas Mann meant when he talked about mankind being the noblest work because it joins nature and spirit?

CAMPBELL Yes.

MOYERS Nature and spirit are yearning for each other to meet in this experience. And the Grail that these romantic legends were searching for is the union once again of what has been divided, the peace that comes from joining.

CAMPBELL The Grail becomes symbolic of an authentic life that is lived in terms of its own volition, in terms of its own impulse system, that carries itself between the pairs of opposites of good and evil, light and dark. One writer of the Grail legend starts his long epic with a short poem saying, “Every act has both good and evil results.” Every act in life yields pairs of opposites in its results. The best we can do is lean toward the light, toward the harmonious relationships that come from compassion with suffering, from understanding the other person. This is what the Grail is about. And this is what comes out in the romance.

In the Grail legend young Perceval has been brought up in the country by a mother who refused the courts and wanted her son to know nothing about the court rules. Perceval’s life is lived in terms of the dynamic of his own impulse system until he becomes more mature. Then he is offered a lovely young girl in marriage by her father, who has trained him to be a knight. And Perceval says, “No, I must earn a wife, not be given a wife.” And that’s the beginning of Europe.

MOYERS The beginning of Europe?

CAMPBELL Yes—the individual Europe, the Grail Europe.

Now, when Perceval comes to the Grail castle, he meets the Grail King, who is brought in on a litter, wounded, kept alive simply by the presence of the Grail. Perceval’s compassion moves him to ask, “What ails you, Uncle?” But he doesn’t ask the question because he has been taught by his instructor that a knight doesn’t ask unnecessary questions. So he obeys the rule, and the adventure fails.

And then it takes him five years of ordeals and embarrassments and all kinds of things to get back to that castle and ask the question that heals the king and heals society. The question is an expression, not of the rules of the society, but of compassion, the natural opening of the human heart to another human being. That’s the Grail.

MOYERS Eliot speaks about the still point of the turning world, where motion and stasis are together, the hub where the movement of time and the stillness of eternity are together.

CAMPBELL That’s the inexhaustible center that is represented by the Grail. When life comes into being, it is neither afraid nor desiring, it is just becoming. Then it gets into being, and it begins to be afraid and desiring. When you can get rid of fear and desire and just get back to where you’re becoming, you’ve hit the spot. … The goal of your quest for knowledge of yourself is to be found at that burning point in yourself, that becoming thing in yourself, which is innocent of the goods and evils of the world as already become, and therefore desireless and fearless. That is the condition of a warrior going into battle with perfect courage. That is life in movement. That is the essence of the mysticism of war as well as of a plant growing. I think of grass—you know, every two weeks a chap comes out with a lawnmower and cuts it down. Suppose the grass were to say, “Well, for Pete’s sake, what’s the use if you keep getting cut down this way?” Instead, it keeps on growing. That’s the sense of the energy of the center. That’s the meaning of the image of the Grail, of the inexhaustible fountain, of the source. The source doesn’t care what happens once it gives into being. It’s the giving and coming into being that counts, and that’s the becoming life point in you. That’s what all these myths are concerned to tell you.