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From ritual to romance


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Title:FromRitualtoRomance
Author:JessieL.Weston
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ThisetextwasproducedbyRobertKiesling.

JessieL.Weston
FromRitualtoRomance
Preface
IntheintroductoryChapterthereaderwillfindtheaimandobjectofthese


studiessetforthatlength.Inviewoftheimportanceandcomplexityofthe
problemsinvolveditseemedbettertoincorporatesuchastatementinthebook
itself,ratherthanrelegateittoaPrefacewhichallmightnottroubletoread.Yet
Ifeelthatsuchageneralstatementdoesnotadequatelyexpressmyfulldebtof
obligation.
Amongthemanywhoselabourhasbeenlaidundercontributioninthefollowing
pagestherearecertainscholarswhosepublishedwork,orpersonaladvice,has
beenspeciallyilluminating,andtowhomspecificacknowledgmentistherefore
due.LikemanyothersIowetoSirJ.G.Frazertheinitialinspirationwhichset
me,asImaytrulysay,ontheroadtotheGrailCastle.Withouttheguidanceof
TheGoldenBoughIshouldprobably,asthelateM.GastonParishappily
expressedit,stillbewanderingintheforestofBroceliande!
DuringtheBayreuthFestivalof1911Ihadfrequentopportunitiesofmeeting,
anddiscussionwith,ProfessorvonSchroeder.Iowetohimnotonlythe
introductiontohisownwork,whichIfoundmosthelpful,butreferenceswhich
havebeenofthegreatestassistance;e.g.myknowledgeofCumont'sLes
ReligionsOrientales,andScheftelowitz'svaluablestudyonFishSymbolism,
bothofwhichhavefurnishedimportantlinksinthechainofevidence,isdueto
ProfessorvonSchroeder.
TheperusalofMissJ.E.Harrison'sThemisopenedmyeyestotheextended
importanceoftheseVegetationrites.InviewoftheevidencethereadducedI
askedmyselfwhetherbeliefswhichhadfoundexpressionnotonlyinsocial
institution,andpopularcustom,but,assetforthinSirG.Murray'sstudyon
GreekDramaticOrigins,attachedtothework,alsoinDramaandLiterature,
mightnotreasonably—eveninevitably—beexpectedtohavelefttheirmarkon
Romance?Theoneseemedtomeanecessarycorollaryoftheother,andIfelt
thatIhadgained,astheresultofMissHarrison'swork,awider,andmore
assuredbasisformyownresearches.Iwasnolongerengagedmerelyin
enquiringintothesourcesofafascinatinglegend,butontheidentificationof
anotherfieldofactivityforforceswhosepotencyasagentsofevolutionwewere
onlynowbeginningrightlytoappreciate.
Finally,acasualreference,inAnrich'sworkontheMysteries,totheNaassene
Document,causedmetoapplytoMrG.R.S.Mead,ofwhoseknowledgeofthe
mysteriousborder-landbetweenChristianityandPaganism,andwillingnessto


placethatknowledgeatthedisposalofothers,Ihad,forsomeyearspast,had
pleasantexperience.MrMeadreferredmetohisowntranslationandanalysisof
thetextinquestion,andthere,tomysatisfaction,Ifound,notonlythefinallink
thatcompletedthechainofevolutionfromPaganMysterytoChristian
Ceremonial,butalsoproofofthatwidersignificanceIwasbeginningto
apprehend.TheprobleminvolvedwasnotoneofFolk-lore,notevenoneof
Literature,butofComparativeReligioninitswidestsense.
Thus,whileItrustthatmyco-workersinthefieldofArthurianresearchwill
acceptthesestudiesasapermanentcontributiontotheelucidationoftheGrail
problem,Iwouldfainhopethatthosescholarswholabourinawiderfield,and
towhoseworksIowesomuch,mayfindintheresultsheresetforthelements
thatmayproveofrealvalueinthestudyoftheevolutionofreligiousbelief.
J.L.W.

Paris,
October,1919.


CONTENTS
CHAPTERI
Introductory
NatureoftheGrailproblem.Unsatisfactorycharacterofresultsachieved.
ObjectionstoChristianLegendaryorigin;toFolk-loreorigin.Elementsinboth
theoriessound.Solutiontobesoughtinadirectionwhichwilldojusticetoboth.
SirJ.G.Frazer'sGoldenBoughindicatespossiblelineofresearch.SirW.
Ridgeway'scriticismofVegetationtheoryexamined.DramasandDramatic
Dances.TheLivingandnottheDeadKingthefactorofimportance.
ImpossibilityofprovinghumanoriginforVegetationDeities.NotDeathbut
ResurrectiontheessentialcentreofRitual.Muharramtoolateindateandlacks
Resurrectionfeature.Relationbetweendefunctheroesandspeciallocalities.
Sanctitypossiblyantecedenttoconnection.Mananotnecessarilyacaseofrelics.
Self-actingweaponsfrequentinMedievalRomance.SirJ.G.Frazer'stheory
holdsgood.RemarksonmethodanddesignofpresentStudies.
CHAPTERII
TheTaskoftheHero
Essentialtodeterminetheoriginalnatureofthetaskimposeduponthehero.
Versionsexamined.TheGawainforms—Bleheris,DiûCrône.Percevalversions
—Gerbert,prosePerceval,ChrétiendeTroyes,Perlesvaus,Manessier,Peredur,


Parzival.Galahad—Queste.Result,primarytaskhealingofFisherKingand
removalofcurseofWasteLand.Thetwointer-dependent.IllnessofKingentails
misfortuneonLand.EnquiryintonatureofKing'sdisability.SonedeNansai.
Forelucidationofproblemnecessarytobearinmindcloseconnectionbetween
LandandRuler.ImportanceofWasteLandmotifforcriticism.
CHAPTERIII
TheFreeingoftheWaters
EnquirymaycommencewithearlyAryantradition.TheRig-Veda.Extreme
importanceassignedtoIndra'sfeatof"FreeingtheWaters."Thisalsospecific
achievementofGrailheroes.ExtractsfromRig-Veda.Dramaticpoemsand
monologues.ProfessorvonSchroeder'stheory.MysteriumundMimus.
Rishyaçriñgadrama.ParallelswithPercevalstory.Result,thespecifictaskofthe
GrailheronotaliteraryinventionbutaninheritanceofAryantradition.
CHAPTERIV
TammuzandAdonis
GeneralobjectstobeattainedbytheseNatureCults.StimulationofFertility,
AnimalandVegetable.PrincipleofLifeultimatelyconceivedofin
anthropomorphicform.ThisprocessalreadyadvancedinRig-Veda.Greek
Mythologypreservesintermediatestage.TheEniautosDaimon.Tammuz—
earliestknownrepresentativeofDyingGod.Characteroftheworship.Originof
thename.LamentforTammuz.HisdeathaffectsnotonlyVegetablebutAnimal
life.LackofartisticrepresentationofMysteries.MrLangdon'ssuggestion.
Ritualpossiblydramatic.Summaryofevidence.Adonis—Phoenician-Greek
equivalentofTammuz.ProbablymostpopularandbestknownformofNature
Cult.MythologicaltaleofAdonis.Enquiryintonatureofinjury.Importanceof
recognizingtruenatureofthesecultsandoftheritualobserved.Varyingdatesof
celebration.AdonisprobablyoriginallyEniautosDaimon.PrincipleofLifein
general,hencelackoffixityindate.Detailsoftheritual.ParallelswiththeGrail
legendexamined.DeadKnightorDisabledKing.Consequentmisfortunesof
Land.TheWeepingWomen.TheHairlessMaiden.PositionofCastle.Summing
up.CanincidentsofsuchremoteantiquitybeusedascriticismforaMedieval


text?
CHAPTERV
MedievalandModernFormsofNatureRitual
IsitpossibletoestablishchainofdescentconnectingearlyAryanand
BabylonianRitualwithClassic,MedievalandModernformsofNatureworship?
SurvivalofAdoniscultestablished.EvidenceofMannhardtandFrazer.Existing
Continentalcustomsrecognizedassurvivalsofancientbeliefs.Instances.
'Directlyrelated'toAttis-Adoniscult.VonSchroederestablishesparallel
betweenexistingFertilityprocessionandRig-Vedapoem.IdentificationofLife
PrinciplewithKing.Prosperityoflanddependentonkingasrepresentativeof
god.Celts.Greeks.Moderninstances,theShillukKings.Parallelbetween
ShillukKing,GrailKingandVegetationDeity.SonedeNansaiandtheLament
forTammuz.Identityofsituation.Pleaforunprejudicedcriticism.Impossibility
ofsuchparallelsbeingfortuitous;theresultofdeliberateintention,notan
accidentofliteraryinvention.Ifidentityofcentralcharacterbeadmittedhis
relationtoWasteLandbecomesfundamentalfactorincriticizingversions.
AnotherAfricansurvival.
CHAPTERVI
TheSymbols
Summaryofresultsofpreviousenquiry.TheMedievalStage.Grailromances
probablycontainrecordofsecretritualofaFertilitycult.TheSymbolsofthe
cult—Cup,Lance,Sword,Stone,orDish.PleafortreatingSymbolsasarelated
groupnotasisolatedunits.Failuretodosoprobablycauseofunsatisfactory
resultoflongresearch.EssentialtorecognizeGrailstoryasanoriginalwhole
andtotreatitinitsensembleaspect.Wemustdifferentiatebetweenoriginand
accretion.Instances.TheLegendofLonginus.LanceandCupnotassociatedin
ChristianArt.Evidence.TheSpearofEasternLiturgiesonlyaKnife.The
BleedingLance.TreasuresoftheTuathadeDanann.Correspondasagroupwith
GrailSymbols.DifficultyofequatingCauldron-Grail.Probablybelongtoa
differentlineoftradition.Instancesgiven.RealsignificanceofLanceandCup.
WellknownasLifeSymbols.TheSamurai.FourSymbolsalsopreservedas


SuitsoftheTarot.OriginofTarotdiscussed.ProbablyreachedEuropefromthe
East.UseoftheSymbolsinMagic.Probableexplanationofthesevarious
appearancestobefoundinfactthatassociatedgroupwereatonetimesymbols
ofaFertilitycult.Furtherevidencetobeexamined.
CHAPTERVII
TheSwordDance
RelationofSwordDance,MorrisDance,andMummingPlay.TheirCeremonial
originnowadmittedbyscholars.ConnectedwithseasonalFestivalsandFertility
Ritual.EarliestSwordDancers,theMaruts.VonSchroeder,Mysteriumund
Mimus.Discussionoftheirnatureandfunctions.TheKouretes.Characterof
theirdance.MissJ.E.Harrison,Themis.TheKorybantes.Danceprobably
sacrificialinorigin.TheSalii.Dramaticelementintheirdance.Mars,asFertility
god.MamuriusVeturius.AnnaPerenna.Characterofdanceseasonal.Modern
Britishsurvivals.TheSwordDance.MostlypreservedinNorth.Variants.MrE.
K.Chambers,TheMedievalStage.TheMummingPlays.Description.
Characters.RecognizedasrepresentingDeathandRevivalofVegetationDeity.
DrJevons,MasksandtheOriginoftheGreekDrama.MorrisDances.No
dramaticelement.Costumeofcharactersignificant.Possiblesurvivalof
theriomorphicorigin.Elaboratecharacteroffiguresineachgroup.Symbols
employed.ThePentangle.TheChalice.Presentformshowsdislocation.
ProbabilitythatthreegroupswereonceacombinedwholeandSymbolsunited.
EvidencestrengthensviewadvancedinlastChapter.Symbolsoriginallyagroup
connectedwithlostformofFertilityRitual.PossibleoriginofGrailKnightsto
befoundinSwordDancers.
CHAPTERVIII
TheMedicineMan
TherôleoftheMedicineMan,orDoctorinFertilityRitual.Itsimportanceand
antiquity.TheRig-Vedapoem.Classicalevidence,MrF.Cornford.Tracesof
MedicineManintheGrailromances.GawainasHealer.Persistenttradition.
Possiblesurvivalfrompre-literaryform.EvidenceoftheTriads.Pereduras
Healer.Evolutionoftheme.LeDistdel'Erberie.


CHAPTERIX
TheFisherKing
Summaryofevidencepresented.Needofa'test'element.Tobefoundincentral
figure.Mysteryofhistitle.Analysisofvariants.Gawainversion.Perceval
version.Borronaloneattemptsexplanationoftitle.Parzival.Perlesvaus.Queste.
GrandSaintGraal.Comparisonwithsurvivingritualvariants.Originalform
Kingdead,andrestoredtolife.OldAgeandWoundingthemes.Legitimate
variants.Doublingofcharacteraliterarydevice.Title.WhyFisherKing?
ExaminationofFishSymbolism.FishaLifesymbol.Examples.Indian—Manu,
Vishnu,Buddha.FishinBuddhism.EvidencefromChina.Orpheus.Babylonian
evidence.TammuzLordoftheNet.JewishSymbolism.TheMessianicFishmeal.AdoptedbyChristianity.Evidenceofthecatacombs.SourceofBorron's
Fish-meals.MysterytraditionnotCelticFolk-tale.Comparisonofversionwith
Finnstory.WithMessianictradition.EpitaphofBishopAberkios.Voyageof
SaintBrandan.ConnectionofFishwithgoddessAstarte.Cumont.Connectionof
FishandDove.FishasFertilitySymbol.ItsuseinMarriageceremonies.
Summingupofevidence.FisherKinginexplicablefromChristianpointofview.
Folk-loresolutionunsatisfactory.AsaRitualsurvivalcompletelyinplace.
Centreofaction,andproofofsoundnessoftheory.
CHAPTERX
TheSecretoftheGrail(1)
TheMysteries
TheGrailregardedasanobjectofawe.DangerofspeakingofGrailorrevealing
Itssecrets.Passagesinillustration.Why,ifsurvivalofNaturecults,popular,and
openlyperformed?Atwo-foldelementinthesecults,Exoteric,Esoteric.The
Mysteries.TheirinfluenceonChristianitytobesoughtintheHellenizedrather
thantheHelleniccults.Cumont.Rohde.RadicaldifferencebetweenGreekand
Orientalconceptions.LackofevidenceasregardsMysteriesonthewhole.Best
attestedformthatconnectedwithNaturecults.Attis-Adonis.Popularityofthe
PhrygiancultinRome.EvidenceastoAttisMysteries.UtilizedbyNeoPlatonistsasvehicleforteaching.CloseconnectionwithMithraism.The
Taurobolium.DetailsofAttisMysteries.ParallelswiththeGrailromances.


CHAPTERXI
TheSecretoftheGrail(2)
TheNaasseneDocument
RelationsbetweenearlyChristianity,andpre-Christiancults.EarlyHeresies.
Hippolytus,andTheRefutationofallHeresies.Characterofthework.The
NaasseneDocument.MrMead'sanalysisoftext.AsynthesisofMysteries.
IdentificationofLifePrinciplewiththeLogos.ConnectionbetweenDramaand
MysteriesofAttis.ImportanceofthePhrygianMysteries.Naasseneclaimtobe
soleChristians.Significanceofevidence.Vegetationcultsasvehicleofhigh
spiritualteaching.ExotericandEsotericparallelswiththeGrailtradition.
Processofevolutionsketched.Bleheris.Perlesvaus.BorronandtheMystery
tradition.ChristianLegendary,andFolk-tale,secondary,notprimary,features.
CHAPTERXII
MithraandAttis
Problemofcloseconnectionofcults.Theirapparentdivergence.Natureof
deitiesexamined.Attis.Mithra.TheMessianicFeast.Dieterich,Eine
Mithrasliturgie.Differencebetweenthetwoinitiations.LinkbetweenPhrygian,
Mithraic,andChristian,Mysteriestobefoundintheirhigher,esoteric,teaching.
WomennotadmittedtoMithraicinitiation.PossiblesurvivalinGrailtext.Joint
diffusionthroughtheRomanEmpire.Cumont'sevidence.Tracesofcultin
BritishIsles.PossibleexplanationofunorthodoxcharacterofGraillegend.
Evidenceofsurvivalofcultinfifthcentury.TheElucidationapossiblerecordof
historicfacts.ReasonforconnectingGrailwithArthuriantradition.
CHAPTERXIII
ThePerilousChapel
TheadventureofthePerilousChapelinGrailromances.Gawainform.
Percevalversions.Queste.Perlesvaus.Lancelot.ChevalieràDeux
Espées.PerilousCemetery.EarliestreferenceinChattel


Orguellous.ÂtrePerilleus.ProseLancelot.Adventurepartof
'SecretoftheGrail.'TheChapelofSaintAustin.HistoiredeFulk
Fitz-Warin.Genuinerecordofaninitiation.Probablelocality
NorthBritain.SiteofremainsofMithra-Attiscults.Tracesof
MysterytraditioninMedievalromance.OwainMiles.Bousset,
HimmelfahrtderSeele.Parallelswithromance.AppealtoCeltic
scholars.OtherworldjourneysapossiblesurvivalofMystery
tradition.TheTemplars,weretheyNaassenes?
CHAPTERXIV
TheAuthor
ProvenanceandauthorshipofGrailromantictradition.Evidencepointsto
Wales,probablyPembrokeshire.EarliestformcontainedingroupofGawain
poemsassignedtoBleheris.OfWelshorigin.MasterBlihis,Blihos,Bliheris,
Bréri,Bledhericus.Probablyallreferencestosameperson.Conditionsof
identity.MrE.Owen,andBledriapCadivor.Evidencenotcompletebutfulfils
conditionsofproblemProfessorSingerandpossiblecharacterofBleheris'text.
MrAlfredNutt.IrishandWelshparallels.Recapitulationofevolutionary
process.Summaryandconclusion.

"AnimusadamplitudinemMysteriorumpromodulosuodilatetur,nonMysteria
adangustiasanimiconstringantur."(Bacon.)
"Manyliterarycriticsseemtothinkthatanhypothesisaboutobscureandremote
questionsofhistorycanberefutedbyasimpledemandfortheproductionof
moreevidencethaninfactexists.—Butthetruetestofanhypothesis,ifitcannot
beshewntoconflictwithknowntruths,isthenumberoffactsthatitcorrelaates,
andexplains."(Cornford,OriginsofAtticComedy.)

CHAPTERI
Introductory


InviewoftheextensiveliteraturetowhichtheGraillegendhasalreadygiven
birthitmayseemthattheadditionofanothervolumetothealreadyexisting
corpuscallsforsomewordsofapologyandexplanation.Whenthestudentofthe
subjectcontemplatesthecountlessessaysandbrochures,thevolumesofstudies
andcriticism,whichhavebeendevotedtothisfascinatingsubject,the
conflictingcharacteroftheiraims,theirhopelesslycontradictoryresults,he,or
she,maywellhesitatebeforeaddinganotherelementtosuchaveritablewitches'
cauldronofapparentlyprofitlessstudy.Andindeed,wereInotconvincedthat
thetheoryadvocatedinthefollowingpagescontainsinitselftheelementthat
willresolvetheseconflictingingredientsintooneharmoniouscompoundI
shouldhardlyfeeljustifiedinofferingafurthercontributiontothesubject.
Butitispreciselybecauseupwardsofthirtyyears'steadyandperseveringstudy
oftheGrailtextshasbroughtmegraduallyandinevitablytocertainverydefinite
conclusions,hasplacedmeinpossessionofevidencehithertoignored,or
unsuspected,thatIventuretooffertheresultinthesestudies,trustingthatthey
maybeacceptedas,whatIbelievethemtobe,agenuineElucidationoftheGrail
problem.
Myfellow-workersinthisfieldknowalltoowelltheessentialelementsofthat
problem;Idonotneedheretogooveralreadywell-troddenground;itwillbe
sufficienttopointoutcertainsalientfeaturesoftheposition.
ThemaindifficultyofourresearchliesinthefactthattheGraillegendconsists
ofacongeriesofwidelydifferingelements—elementswhichatfirstsightappear
hopelesslyincongruous,ifnotcompletelycontradictory,yetatthesametimeare
presenttoanextent,andinaform,whichnohonestcriticcanaffordtoignore.
Thusithasbeenperfectlypossibleforonegroupofscholars,relyinguponthe
undeniablyChristian-Legendaryelements,preponderantincertainversions,to
maintainthethesisthattheGraillegendisabinitioaChristian,and
ecclesiastical,legend,andtoanalysetheliteratureonthatbasisalone.
Anothergroup,withequalreason,havepointedtothestronglymarkedFolk-lore
featurespreservedinthetale,toitskinshipwithotherthemes,mainlyofCeltic
provenance,andhavearguedthat,whilethelaterversionsofthecyclehavebeen
workedoverbyecclesiasticalwritersintheinterestsofedification,thestory
itselfisnon-Christian,andFolk-loreinorigin.


Bothgroupshaveabasisoftruthfortheirarguments:thefeaturesuponwhich
theyrelyare,ineachcase,undeniablypresent,yetatthesametimeeachlineof
argumentisfacedwithcertaininsuperabledifficulties,fataltotheclaims
advanced.
Thus,thetheoryofChristianoriginbreaksdownwhenfacedwiththeawkward
factthatthereisnoChristianlegendconcerningJosephofArimatheaandthe
Grail.NeitherinLegendary,norinArt,isthereanytraceofthestory;ithasno
existenceoutsidetheGrailliterature,itisthecreationofromance,andno
genuinetradition.
OnthisverygrounditwasseverelycriticizedbytheDutchwriter
JacobvanMaerlant,in1260.InhisMerlinhedenouncesthewhole
Grailhistoryaslies,assertingthattheChurchknowsnothingof
it—whichistrue.
InthesamewaytheadvocateofaFolk-loreoriginismetwiththeobjectionthat
thesectionofthecycleforwhichsuchasourcecanbedefinitelyproved,i.e.,the
Percevalstory,hasoriginallynothingwhatevertodowiththeGrail;andthat,
whileparallelscanbefoundforthisorthatfeatureofthelegend,suchparallels
areisolatedincharacterandinvolvethebreakingupofthetaleintoacomposite
ofmutuallyindependentthemes.Aprototype,containingthemainfeaturesof
theGrailstory—theWasteLand,theFisherKing,theHiddenCastlewithits
solemnFeast,andmysteriousFeedingVessel,theBleedingLanceandCup—
doesnot,sofarasweknow,exist.NoneofthegreatcollectionsofFolk-tales,
duetotheindustryofaCosquin,aHartland,oraCampbell,haspreserved
specimensofsuchatype;itisnotsuchastoryas,e.g.,TheThreeDays
Tournament,examplesofwhicharefoundallovertheworld.Yetneitherthe
advocateofaChristianorigin,northeFolk-lorist,canaffordtoignorethe
arguments,andevidenceoftheopposingschool,andwhiletheresultofhalfa
centuryofpatientinvestigationhasbeentoshowthattheoriginoftheGrail
storymustbesoughtelsewherethaninecclesiasticallegend,orpopulartale,I
holdthattheresulthasequallybeentodemonstratethatneitherofthese
solutionsshouldbeignored,butthattheultimatesourcemustbesoughtforina
directionwhichshalldojusticetowhatissoundintheclaimsofboth.
Someyearsago,whenfreshfromthestudyofSirJ.G.Frazer'sepoch-making
work,TheGoldenBough,Iwasstruckbytheresemblanceexistingbetween
certainfeaturesoftheGrailstory,andcharacteristicdetailsoftheNatureCults


described.ThemorecloselyIanalysedthetale,themorestrikingbecamethe
resemblance,andIfinallyaskedmyselfwhetheritwerenotpossiblethatinthis
mysteriouslegend—mysteriousalikeinitscharacter,itssuddenappearance,the
importanceapparentlyassignedtoit,followedbyassuddenandcompletea
disappearance—wemightnothavetheconfusedrecordofaritual,oncepopular,
latersurvivingunderconditionsofstrictsecrecy?Thiswouldfullyaccountfor
theatmosphereofaweandreverencewhichevenunderdistinctlynon-Christian
conditionsneverfailstosurroundtheGrail,Itmayactsimplyasafeeding
vessel,Itisnonethelesstoutesaintecose;andalsoforthepresenceinthetaleof
distinctlypopular,andFolk-lore,elements.Suchaninterpretationwouldalso
explainfeaturesirreconcilablewithorthodoxChristianity,whichhadcaused
somescholarstopostulateaheterodoxoriginforthelegend,andthusexplainits
curiouslycompletedisappearanceasaliterarytheme.Inthefirstvolumeofmy
Percevalstudies,publishedin1906,Ihintedatthispossiblesolutionofthe
problem,asolutionworkedoutmorefullyinapaperreadbeforetheFolk-lore
SocietyinDecemberofthesameyear,andpublishedinVolumeXVIII.ofthe
JournaloftheSociety.Bythetimemysecondvolumeofstudieswasreadyfor
publicationin1909,furtherevidencehadcomeintomyhands;Iwasthencertain
thatIwasupontherightpath,andIfeltjustifiedinlayingbeforethepublicthe
outlinesofatheoryofevolution,alikeofthelegend,andoftheliterature,tothe
mainprinciplesofwhichIadhereto-day.
Butcertainlinksweremissinginthechainofevidence,andtheworkwasnot
complete.Noinconsiderablepartoftheinformationatmydisposaldepended
uponpersonaltestimony,thetestimonyofthosewhoknewofthecontinued
existenceofsucharitual,andhadactuallybeeninitiatedintoitsmysteries—and
forsuchevidencethestudentoftheletterhaslittlerespect.Heworshipsthe
writtenword;fortheoral,living,traditionfromwhichthewordderivesforce
andvitalityhehaslittleuse.Thereforethewrittenwordhadtobefound.Ithas
takenmesomenineortenyearslongertocompletetheevidence,butthechainis
atlastlinkedup,andwecannowprovebyprintedtextstheparallelsexisting
betweeneachandeveryfeatureoftheGrailstoryandtherecordedsymbolismof
theMysterycults.Further,wecanshowthatbetweentheseMysterycultsand
Christianitythereexistedatonetimeacloseandintimateunion,suchaunionas
ofitselfinvolvedthepracticalassimilationofthecentralrite,ineachcasea
'Eucharistic'Feast,inwhichtheworshipperspartookoftheFoodofLifefrom
thesacredvessels.
InfaceoftheproofswhichwillbefoundinthesepagesIdonotthinkanyfair-


mindedcriticwillbeinclinedtodisputeanylongertheoriginofthe'Holy'Grail;
afterallitisasaugustandancientanoriginasthemosttenaciousupholderofIts
Christiancharactercoulddesire.
ButIshouldwishitclearlytobeunderstoodthattheaimofthesestudiesis,as
indicatedinthetitle,todeterminetheoriginoftheGrail,nottodiscussthe
provenanceandinterrelationofthedifferentversions.Idonotbelievethislatter
taskcanbesatisfactorilyachievedunlessanduntilweareofoneaccordastothe
characterofthesubjectmatter.Whenwehavemadeupourmindsastowhatthe
Grailreallywas,andwhatitstoodfor,weshallbeabletoanalysetheromances;
todecidewhichofthemcontainsmore,whichless,oftheoriginalmatter,andto
groupthemaccordingly.OnthispointIbelievethatthetableofdescent,printed
inVolumeII.ofmyPercevalstudiesisinthemaincorrect,butthereisstillmuch
analyticalworktobedone,inparticulartheestablishmentoftheoriginalformof
thePerlesvausishighlydesirable.Butapartfromtheprimaryobjectofthese
studies,andtheresultsthereinobtained,Iwoulddrawattentiontothemannerin
whichtheevidencesetforthinthechaptersontheMysterycults,andespecially
thatonTheNaasseneDocument,atextofextraordinaryvaluefrommorethan
onepointofview,supportsandcomplementstheresearchesofSirJ.G.Frazer.I
am,ofcourse,familiarwiththeattacksdirectedagainstthe'Vegetation'theory,
thesarcasmsofwhichithasbeentheobject,andthecriticismsofwhatisheldin
somequarterstobetheexaggeratedimportanceattachedtotheseNaturecults.
Butinviewoftheusemadeofthesecultsasthemediumofimpartinghigh
spiritualteaching,ausewhich,infaceofthedocumentabovereferredto,canno
longerbeignoredorevaded,arewenotratherjustifiedinaskingifthetrue
importanceoftheriteshasasyetbeenrecognized?Canwepossiblyexaggerate
theirvalueasafactorintheevolutionofreligiousconsciousness?
SuchadevelopmentofhisresearchesnaturallylayoutsidetherangeofSirJ.G.
Frazer'swork,butposteritywillprobablydecidethat,likemanyanotherpatient
andhonestworker,he'buildedbetterthanheknew.'
IhavecarefullyreadSirW.Ridgeway'sattackontheschoolinhisDramasand
DramaticDances,andwhiletheaboveremarksexplainmypositionwithregard
tothequestionasawhole,Iwouldheretaketheopportunityofstating
specificallymygroundsfordissentingfromcertainoftheconclusionsatwhich
thelearnedauthorarrives.Idonotwishittobesaid:"Thisisallverywell,but
MissWestonignorestheargumentsontheotherside."Idonotignore,butIdo
notadmittheirvalidity.ItisperfectlyobviousthatSirW.Ridgeway'stheory,


reducedtoabstractterms,wouldresultintheconclusionthatallreligionisbased
uponthecultoftheDead,andthatmenoriginallyknewnogodsbuttheir
grandfathers,atheoryfromwhichasastudentofreligionIabsolutelyand
entirelydissent.IcanunderstandthatsuchDeadAncestorscanbelookedupon
asProtectors,orasBenefactors,butIseenogroundforsupposingthattheyhave
everbeenregardedasCreators,yetitispreciselyasvehicleforthemostlofty
teachingastotheCosmicrelationsexistingbetweenGodandMan,thatthese
Vegetationcultswereemployed.Themorecloselyonestudiespre-Christian
Theology,themorestronglyoneisimpressedwiththedeeply,anddaringly,
spiritualcharacterofitsspeculations,andthemoredoubtfulitappearsthatsuch
teachingcandependupontheunaidedprocessesofhumanthought,orcanhave
beenevolvedfromsuchgermsaswefindamongthesupposedly'primitive'
peoples,suchase.g.theAustraliantribes.Aretheyreallyprimitive?Orarewe
dealing,notwiththeprimaryelementsofreligion,butwiththedisjectamembra
ofavanishedcivilization?Certainitisthatsofarashistoricalevidencegoesour
earliestrecordspointtotherecognitionofaspiritual,notofamaterial,originof
thehumanrace;theSumerianandBabylonianPsalmswerenotcomposedby
menwhobelievedthemselvesthedescendantsof'witchettygrubs.'TheFolk
practicesandceremoniesstudiedinthesepages,theDances,theroughDramas,
thelocalandseasonalcelebrations,donotrepresentthematerialoutofwhich
theAttis-Adoniscultwasformed,butsurvivingfragmentsofaworshipfrom
whichthehighersignificancehasvanished.
SirW.RidgewayisconfidentthatOsiris,Attis,Adonis,wereallatonetime
humanbeings,whosetragicfategrippedholdofpopularimagination,andledto
theirultimatedeification.Thefirst-namedcultstandsonasomewhatdifferent
basisfromtheothers,thebeneficentactivitiesofOsirisbeingmorewidely
diffused,moreuniversalintheiroperation.Ishouldbeinclinedtoregardthe
EgyptiandeityprimarilyasaCultureHero,ratherthanaVegetationGod.
WithregardtoAttisandAdonis,whatevertheiroriginalcharacter(anditseems
tomehighlyimprobablethatthereshouldhavebeentwoyouthseachbelovedby
agoddess,eachvictimofasimilaruntimelyfate),longbeforewehaveanytrace
ofthembothhavebecomesointimatelyidentifiedwiththeprocessesofNature
thattheyhaveceasedtobemenandbecomegods,andassuchalonecanwedeal
withthem.ItisalsopermissibletopointoutthatinthecaseofTammuz,Esmun,
andAdonis,thetitleisnotapropername,butavagueappellative,denotingan
abstractratherthanaconcreteorigin.Proofofthiswillbefoundlater.SirW.
RidgewayoverlooksthefactthatitisnotthetragicdeathofAttis-Adoniswhich


isofimportanceforthesecults,buttheirsubsequentrestorationtolife,afeature
whichcannotbepostulatedofanyordinarymortal.
AndhowarewetoregardTammuz,theprototypeofallthesedeities?Isthere
anypossiblegroundformaintainingthathewaseveraman?Proveitwecannot,
astherecordsofhiscultgobackthousandsofyearsbeforeourera.Here,again,
wehavethesamedominantfeature;itisnotmerelytheuntimelydeathwhichis
lamented,buttherestorationtolifewhichiscelebrated.
Throughoutthewholestudytheauthorfailstodiscriminatebetweenthe
activitiesoftheliving,andthedead,king.TheDeadkingmay,asIhavesaid
above,beregardedastheBenefactor,astheProtector,ofhispeople,butitisthe
Livingkinguponwhomtheiractualandcontinuedprosperitydepends.The
detailthattherulingsovereignissometimesregardedasthere-incarnationofthe
originalfounderoftheracestrengthensthispoint—thekingneverdies—LeRoi
estmort,ViveleRoiisveryemphaticallythemottoofthisFaith.Itisthe
insistenceonLife,Lifecontinuous,andever-renewing,whichistheabiding
characteristicofthesecults,acharacteristicwhichdifferentiatesthemutterlyand
entirelyfromtheancestralworshipwithwhichSirW.Ridgewaywouldfain
connectthem.
Noraretheargumentsbaseduponthememorialritesofdefinitelyhistorical
heroes,ofcomparativelylatedate,suchasHusseinandHossein,ofanyvalue
here.Itispreciselythedeath,andnottheresurrection,ofthemartyrwhichisof
theessenceoftheMuharram.NoonecontendsthatHusseinrosefromthedead,
butitispreciselythispointwhichisofprimaryimportanceintheNaturecults;
andSirW.RidgewaymustsurelybeawarethatFolk-loristsfindinthisvery
MuharramdistincttracesofborrowingfromtheearlierVegetationrites.
TheauthortriumphantlyassertsthatthefactthatcertainBurmeseheroesand
heroinesareafterdeathreverencedastreespirits'setsatrestforever'thebelief
inabstractdeities.Buthowcanhebesurethattheprocesswasnotthereverseof
thatwhichhepostulates,i.e.,thatcertainnaturalobjects,trees,rivers,etc.,were
notregardedassacredbeforetheNatsbecameconnectedwiththem?Thatthe
deifiedhumanbeingswerenotafterdeathassignedtoplacesalreadyheldin
reverence?SuchapossibilityisobvioustoanyFolk-lorestudent,andlocal
traditionsshouldineachcasebecarefullyexaminedbeforethecontraryis
definitelyasserted.


SofarastheoriginsofDramaareconcernedtheOdequotedlaterfromthe
NaasseneDocumentisabsoluteanddefiniteproofofthecloseconnection
existingbetweentheAttisMysteryritual,anddramaticperformances,i.e.,Attis
regardedinhisdeified,Creative,'Logos,'aspect,notAttis,thedeadyouth.
NordoIthinkthattheideaof'Mana'canbelightlydismissedas'anordinary
caseofrelics.'Theinfluencemaywellbesomethingentirelyapartfromthe
continuedexistenceoftheancestor,anindependentforce,assistinghiminlife,
andtransferringitselfafterdeathtohissuccessor.A'Magic'SwordorStaffisnot
necessarilyarelic;Medievalromancesuppliesnumerousinstancesofself-acting
weaponswhosevirtueinnowisedependsupontheirpreviousowner,ase.g.the
SwordinLeChevalieràl'Épée,ortheFlamingLanceoftheChevalierdela
Charrette.DoubtlessthecultofAncestorsplaysalargerôleinthebeliefsof
certainpeoples,butitisnotasufficientlysolidfoundationtobeartheweightof
thesuper-structureSirW.Ridgewaywouldfainrearuponit,whileitdifferstoo
radicallyfromthecultsheattackstobeusedasanargumentagainstthem;the
oneisbaseduponDeath,theotheronLife.
Wherefore,inspiteofallthelearningandingenuitybroughttobearagainstit,I
avowmyselfanimpenitentbelieverinSirJ.G.Frazer'smaintheory,andasI
havesaidabove,Iholdthattheorytobeofgreaterandmorefar-reaching
importancethanhasbeenhithertosuspected.
Iwouldaddafewwordsastotheformofthesestudies—theymaybefound
disconnected.Theyhavebeenwrittenatintervalsoftimeextendingoverseveral
years,andmyaimhasbeentoprovetheessentiallyarchaiccharacterofallthe
elementscomposingtheGrailstoryratherthantoanalysethestoryasa
connectedwhole.WiththisaiminviewIhavedevotedchapterstofeatures
whichhavenoweitherdroppedoutoftheexistingversions,oronlysurviveina
subordinateform,e.g.thechaptersonTheMedicineMan,andTheFreeingof
theWaters.Thestudieswill,Ihope,andbelieve,beacceptedasofferinga
definitecontributiontowardsestablishingthefundamentalcharacterofour
material;asstatedabove,whenweareallatoneastowhattheHolyGrailreally
was,andis,wecanthenproceedwithsomehopeofsuccesstocriticizethe
mannerinwhichdifferentwritershavehandledtheinspiringtheme,butsuch
successseemstobehopelesssolongasweallstartfromdifferent,andoften
utterlyirreconcilable,standpointsandproceedalongwidelydivergingroads.
Oneoranothermay,indeed,arriveatthegoal,butsuchunanimityofopinionas
willlendtoourcriticismauthoritativeweightis,onsuchlines,impossibleof


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