Sunrise Qi Gong : Being the Grail

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Once again exploring the theme of the Holy Grail as a metaphor for the Human Soul…

 

Watching the sun rise this morning…

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While standing upon this dock….

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I began going through the Qi Gong series of movements called “Harmony of Universal Energy”

~ at one stage of the series, one is standing with legs spread, gathering energy as one slowly raises one’s arms, pausing for a moment at the apex with hands fully upraised to the sky, forming a Vee with one’s arms ~

as I was going through these motions I realized that I was standing in the form of a chalice, in the form of the Grail, which was mirrored by the rising sun and its reflection upon water…

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and felt the sublime experience of being the individual Grail, face to face with the Universal Grail, of being the individual Spirit face to face with the Absolute Spirit, of being the Microcosm face to face with the Macrocosm…. a moment of Universal Harmony.

 

the picture at top is from the website: http://www.albahealingarts.com/spring-forst-qigong/

 

 

 

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.

 

The Hero’s Journey

 

http://findingjoethemovie.com

 

Saw this movie, Finding Joe, last night.   Highly recommend it.  So excellent.

Pretty big synchronicity as well, for recently I have been thinking very seriously about reading “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” .

This meshes so well with my own current journey, and my playful – yet autobiographical – series of blog posts: Quest of the Knight Errant.

Actually, I had better read the book so as to find out which chapter of my journey I’m in.   Would be so good to know where I’m at!   : )

Fire Dragon, Water Dragon, Wood Dragon

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Having been recognized by the Lord of the Dragons as  Dragonkin…

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…the knight…

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…now observed dragons of many forms joining him in his quest. This day the Fire Dragon and it’s mirror, the Water Dragon, made themselves known to him…IMG_0861

Though what role they might play in his quest he knew not.   But perhaps the most enigmatic of all was the Wood Dragon, which made contact from a land far off and foreign…

: )

Here there be Dragons

 

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Our knight-errant…

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In the course of continuing his Quest, was led by the gleam of the rising sun to Dragon Gate…

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For three days and three nights he readied himself to journey though the gateway.

When finally prepared, he let go his physical being and his  disembodied soul entered the portal, and traveled through the winding passages of wyrm holes.  Soon he found himself, not in a den of a solitary dragon, but within a dragons’ lair holding dozens of the creatures.

 

Uncertain of his purpose, he carefully snaked his way through the throngs of snarling beasts.   There, a young dragonling befriended him..

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With its aid, other dragons the knight met,  and then was flown to the heavens, for an audience with, Draco, Lord of the Dragons..

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And there what transpired cannot be told in the tongues of men.

 

 

: )

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Quest

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I first discovered this water tower in Minneapolis about 2 years ago.   While on my walk this morning I realized that I must now live not too far away from it. Heading in its direction I found that I live about  10 or 11 blocks away.   The tower has 8 knights around it – I believe in the 8 cardinal points of the compass, but I need to verify that – and 8 eagles, one above each of the knights.  This is a rather uncanny followup to my post yesterday, with the Invocation to the 8 Directions & the 8 Cycles.  And it also connects to my Inguz post from the day before.

 

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close-up of one of the knights

 

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close-up of one of the eagles.

 

At the foot of the hill I discover another Little Library (see my earlier post ~ this makes 6!).   In it I found this book:

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The cover image is so reminiscent of the knights’ swords, one could not help but draw a connection.   When one finds oneself in the midst of a synchronicity…

 

 

http://www.cindachima.com/Warrior_Heir/Warrior_Heir.htm

About The Warrior Heir

One March day, Jack Swift, a high school student in a small college town, forgets to take the medicine he’s taken daily since he was an infant. There ensues a cascade of events that puts him in mortal danger.

Jack discovers he carries a secret within him that has made him a target of the ruthless wizards of the Red and White Rose. Jack is a Warrior Heir, the last of a dying breed, sought after by the Roses to fight in the tournaments that are used to allocate power among the Wizard Houses. Unknown to him, Jack has lived all his life surrounded by members of the Magical Guilds: wizards, enchanters, soothsayers, and sorcerers. They are determined to save him from the Roses.

With the aid of his aunt, a beautiful enchanter, Jack desperately tries to acquire the skills that might save his life. Jack and his friends, Will and Fitch, unearth a magical sword from a cemetery and fight off the wizards who would take it from them. Jack begins training with the dark and dangerous Leander Hastings, a wizard with a mysterious past.

Meanwhile, Jack is torn between his attraction to Ellen Stephenson, a new student at Trinity High School, and Leesha Middleton, his former girlfriend, who decides she wants him back.

Discovered and besieged by treachery at home, he flees to the Lake District of England. There he is confronted by the greatest challenge of all.

 

So it’s a young adult book, but this should be fun.   It seems there are two more books in the series.

 

 

 

A video of the knights as I walk around the tower.  I like the effect of the fence pickets flowing by in front of the knights…

 

More info on the water tower:

From Wikipedia:

The Washburn Water Tower was designed by Henry Wild Jones in 1932.  The story goes that as Jones was clearing underbrush at his home nearby, which was also in its construction phase, a giant eagle (with nearly an 8-foot (2.4 m) wingspan) had attacked him. He had the eagle maimed, captured, and brought to town where it began attracting much attention. In part, he used the eagle’s extraordinary dimensions (and the artistic skills of John Karl Daniels) to cast eight concrete look-alikes, that now sit atop the tower to watch over their former domain. In addition, eight 18-foot-tall (5.5 m) “Guardians of Health” were placed around the tower (one under each eagle), to prevent any bad-tasting or bad-smelling water pollutants from contaminating the water supply, which were believed to be the cause of many typhoid fever outbreaks around that time.

 

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/hpc/landmarks/hpc_landmarks_prospect_ave_401_washburn_park_water_tower

The Washburn Tower suggests a strong medieval feeling; its cylindrical dome is like a Roman warrior’s helmet. Eight hooded knights surround the tower in perpetual vigilance while, overhead, eight eagles stand, as if pausing in flight, atop the evenly spaced pilasters. The 110-foot structure holds 1.35 million gallons of water and still performs its original function in the summer months. The water tower remains an excellent example of the use of artistic design features in a public works facility.