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Initiates of the Flame

By Manly P. Hall

Chapter VI - Knights of the Holy Grail

Before starting to take up the study of the Grail legends, it will be well for all who are interested to read those tales that are now listed under the heading of children’s fairy stories. For example the story of good King Arthur and his Round Table is a cosmic myth, and while there is little doubt that he as a man also lived, the real mystery as in the story of the Christ, is not the literal tale, but the great mystic or occult truth that it concealed under allegory and parable. It is the same with the story of Parsifal which can never be really understood and appreciated until the student sees in the Knight and later King of the Sacred Cup, his own spiritual development and the temptations he must also master if he would become a King of the Grail.

In Lohengrin also the same truth is shown to the world. It is the path of Initiation along which each must pass on his road to self-mastery. To every nation and in every tongue sacred legends have been given to teach man the path he must follow. The blind Homer of the Greeks who told of the wanderings of Ulysses gave the same great truths to the world. The Scalds of ancient Norway and Sweden and the Prophets of the Jews used the same means, and everywhere from the Sacred Books of the East to the legends of the American Indians we find one great connected truth told to many different people in ways that were best suited for their development.

Such a truth is the legend of the Round Table, given to King Arthur as a wedding gift. All true students know what wedding that was. Not of earth but the wedding of the Spiritual and Intellectual within the Initiate himself, when the spirit and the body are united eternally, each swearing to honor and protect the other. Of such a marriage was the union of Arthur and Guinevere in the legend of the King.

Let us first of all consider the coming of Arthur the King. We read in the legend of Arthur regarding Merlin the Magician, the wise man who it is said had charge of the coming King during his youth. Merlin represents the hand of the Elder Brothers, who realizing that a great ego had come into the world, had consecrated themselves to the work of preparing him for his mission.

It was under the direction of Merlin, the master mind, that the anvil and stone with the sword thrust into it were raised in the square of the city when it became necessary for a new king to be selected. It was he also who called all of the brave knights of the country and told them that the one who could draw forth the sword would be king of all the land. And of all the knights in the land, Arthur the half-grown boy was the only one who could release the sword.

There is a very wonderful mystery of the soul contained within that divine allegory. Let us read the letters that were engraved upon the sword. “WHO SO PULLETH OUT THIS SWORD OF THIS STONE AND ANVIL IS RIGHT-WISE KING BORN OF ENGLAND.”

The cube stone is the body; it has been so symbolized for centuries, and today among the Masons the Ashler is the symbol of Man. Experience is the anvil, and it is upon this anvil that the sword is tempered. The sword is spirit, and he who would be King in the true spiritual sense of the word must first show his divine power by freeing the Sword of Spirit from the casings of the lower man and the world.

It is the same symbol as that later used by Sir Galahad, the guileless knight, the personification of the purified man, who comes without a sword but who later arms himself with the sword of spirit that he draws from the cube block which was floating down the river (of life) past Camelot. Sir Galahad had the strength of ten because his heart was pure, and the Knight of today must follow in the same path.

If you have read the story of King Arthur, you will remember how he was given Excalibur, the enchanted sword, how it came up out of the water held by a hand draped in white. Excalibur represents light and truth, which is the weapon of the true Initiate.

In England there still hangs on a courthouse wall the Round Table of King Arthur. In the very center of the table is a beautiful rose painted in natural colors. This symbol is that of the Rosicrucians, the ancient alchemists, and there is a direct connection between the legend of the British King and the ancient philosophers of fire.

Now let us turn our attention for a moment to the history of the Holy Grail, or the cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper and which was said to have caught his blood when he was dying upon the cross. Ancient legends tell us that this cup was made from a sacred stone which had been the crown jewel of Lucifer, the dynamic energy of the universe. It was said that the green stone had been struck from the crown of Lucifer by the archangel Michael during the famous battle in heaven.

After the death of Christ it is said that Joseph of Arimathea took the sacred cup and the spear of the Passion and carried them into a distant land. He wandered with his sacred relics through Europe and is said to have finally died, and those who came after him after many centuries of tribulation carried the sacred relics to Mount Salvart in northern Spain where they remained until Parsifal finally took the grail and spear back to the East where it is to be now preserved.

It is around this cup and spear that the legends of Parsifal and King Arthur have been written, and it is through study of this fact that we are able to better understand the mystery of the Great White Lodge of which the Round Table of Arthur and the circular temple of the knights of the Grail is a symbol.

Although we no longer have the cup as a physical symbol, it is not gone from among us, and as in the days of old the brave knights of the Round Table went out to fight for right, so those knights of today who belong to the Great White Brotherhood go out into the world in the name of truth and labor with mankind and seek to right the wrongs of the world. It is said that the knights of Arthur’s court always fought for virtue and purity, and so did those who rode out of Mount Salvart.

The grail cup is the symbol of the creative force of nature; it is also the symbol of the human race which is slowly learning the mysteries of creation. Within the cup is the blood of Christ, that force which is transmuting the body into soul, fast or slowly as we give it greater or lesser opportunity.

In the sacred spear we find symbolized again the creative force, which in the hands of Klingsor, the evil one, wounds and causes suffering, but which when held by the pure Parsifal heals the very wound that it caused.

A great lesson is being taught to man through these allegories, but the average person is unwilling to stop and consider them. They do not realize that they themselves are the ones whom the Elder Brothers of humanity must use in the fight against the forces of evil. They do not realize that the dragons and ogres of the legends are their own lower natures which they must overcome. They do not see in the hand to hand combat of the knights of old for a lady’s hand the higher and lower man fighting for the soul within.

The knight of today does not realize that the white armor that he wears is his own purified body which is proof against all the attacks of vice and passion, but nevertheless this is the meaning of the legend. His shield is truth, which is a perfect protection to the inner man. His strong right arm is the knowledge and spiritual power he has developed within, and the sword that he uses is the spiritual light with which the pure flame of the spirit fire dispels the darkness of ignorance and the demons of lust.

The sacred spear and the cup which he serves are the two poles of the creative life force within, the development of which he gains as he daily serves his fellow men.

Far from the uninitiated the twelve Elder Brothers of mankind sitting around the circular table of the universe watch the knights in their battle of life, and the time comes when the student having finished his work here is liberated at the foot of the Grail. There the candidate stands robed from head to foot in the armor of spirit and in the pure white of a body that has been cleansed. Then the cloth is lifted from the sacred cup, and he is illuminated by the light which would have killed him had he seen it without purification. He then takes his place among the knights of the Round Table, and joins those who give up all and labor for humanity.

When in sickness and in suffering we beg of the great unknown that he send us help, then indeed our knight comes to us as Lohengrin came to Elsa. When our loved ones pass into the great unknown, there stands the brother of the Grail, the invisible helper, who through days of labor has earned the right to become a member of that great band of servers who gather around the table of the King, and while their bodies are asleep still labor in their great search for light and truth, and pray for the day when they shall also become Kings of the Holy Grail.

 

 

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