The Sacred Feminine
In the 12th century, french epic poet Chretien de Troyes ( literally, "a christian from Troyes" ) wrote the 1st Grail Romance - " Perceval, the story of The Graal. "
Why? Oh, I know the b.s. about his patron, Philip of blah blah blah. But why that story? Why those elements? Why that imagery? Shockingly to most people today, the original Grail story has nothing to do with Jesus. ( Question for speakers of The Green Language: what kind of christian would a "christian of Troy" B? )
The Goddess religion had a multi-thousand-year history in Europe, nowhere more strongly preserved than France. As of the 12th c., Pauline Xtianity - with a freaking ghost supplanting The Goddess - had been around long enough that the long-standing veneration of the Female was endangered. "Chretien" wove together some old pagan legends with some, carefully selected, elements of Xtianity to preserve That Which Matters Most.
As Jean Markale's brilliant work, "The Grail: The Celtic Origins of the Sacred Icon", makes clear, you cannot separate 1) the bleeding lance, 2) the candelabras, 3) the beautiful young girl, and 4) the grail itself. These 4 Elements are the different facets of a multi-faceted image. Consideration of each 1 in isolation is useless.
In Chretien, The Grail is a container of life: The Grail is the "container" of the man's "lance." And The Grail is the womb, the container of new life growing within. And The Grail is Woman, the container of both of these. In the original Grail story, The Grail is the Sacred Feminine; since it has been Lost ( wed., 9PM EST, on ABC ), The Land is The Wasteland.
Wolfram and Hart
Wolfram von Eschenbach, "a German knight and poet"
enter'd the scene, and messed everything up for everybody with statements like "This stone is also called the Grail" and "It is called lapis exilis". ( He couldn't even get "lapsit exillis" right. ) His version of the story has redirected seekers from Chretien's whole point for centuries.
He professes to be illiterate and to have dictated Parzifal, so that could explain the lapis thing. However, he also expresses disdain for Chretien's version - "The phenomenon is compelled to identify itself."
The seeking of the Stone of the Philosophers is very worthy, and ultimately involves The Grail if you get far enough, but they are not the same thing.
My article "Alchemy 4 Dummies", in Jan 2005 archive, is "Gold, Jerry, gold!".
Like an AP course in The Grail
Comparing and contrasting Chretien's Perceval with the Mabinogion's Peredur is not for the faint of heart, or the beginner.