Ancient Mysteries Unexplained Hidden Church of the Holy Graal

Hidden Church of the Holy Graal

Hidden Church of the Holy Graal
Catalog # SKU1418
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 3.00 lbs
Author Name Arthur Edward Waite
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


The Hidden Church
of the
Holy Graal

Its Legends And Symbolism

By Arthur Edward Waite

IF deeper pitfalls are laid by anything more than by the facts of coincidence, it is perhaps by the intimations and suggestions of writings which bear, or are held to bear, on their surface the seals of allegory and, still more, of dual allusion; as in the cases of coincidence, so in these, it is necessary for the historical student to stand zealously on his guard and not to acknowledge second meaning or claims implied, however plausible, unless they are controlled and strengthened by independent evidence. Even with this precaution, his work will remain anxious, for the lineal path is difficult to find and follow. Perhaps there is one consolation offered by the gentle life of letters. In matters of interpretation, if always to succeed is denied us, to have deserved it is at least something.


Among our aids there is one aid which arises from the correspondences between distinct systems of allegory and symbolism. They are important within their own sphere; and it is by subsidiary lights of this nature that research can be directed occasionally into new tracks, from which unexpected and perhaps indubitable results may be derived ultimately.

When the existence of a secondary and concealed meaning seems therefore inferentially certain in a given department of literature--if ordinary processes, depending on evidence of the external kind, have been found wanting--its purpose and intention may be ascertained by a comparison with other secret literatures, which is equivalent to saying that the firmest hermeneutical ground in such cases must be sought in evidence which inheres and is common to several departments of cryptic writing. It is in this way that the prepared mind moves through the world of criticism as through outward worlds of discovery.

I am about to set forth after a new manner, and chiefly for the use of English mystics, the nature of the mystery which is enshrined in the old romance-literature of the Holy Graal. As a literature it can be approached from several standpoints; and at the root it has a direct consanguinity with other mysteries, belonging to the more secret life of the soul. I propose to give a very full account of all the considerations which it involves, the imperfect speculations included of some who have preceded me in the same path--writers whose interests at a far distance are not utterly dissimilar to my own, though their equipment has been all too slight. I shall endeavour to establish at the end that there are certain things in transcendence which must not be sought in the literature, and yet they arise out of it.

The task will serve, among several objects, two which may be put on record at the moment--on the one hand, and quite obviously, to illustrate the deeper intimations of Graal literature, and, on the other, certain collateral intimations which lie behind the teachings of the great churches and are, in the official sense, as if beyond their ken. Of such intimations is all high seership. The task itself has been undertaken as the initial consequence of several first-hand considerations. If I note this fact at so early a stage as the preface, it is because of the opportunity which it gives me to make plain, even from the beginning, that I hold no warrant to impugn preconceived judgments, as such, or, as such, to set out in search of novelties. In my own defence it will be desirable to add that I have not written either as an enthusiast or a partisan, though in honour to my school there are great dedications to which I must confess with my heart.

On the historical side there is much and very much in which some issues of the evidence, on production, will be found to fall short of demonstration, and, so far as this part is concerned, I offer it at its proper worth. On the symbolical side, and on that of certain implicits, it is otherwise, and my thesis to those of my school will, I think, come not only with a strong appeal, but as something which is conclusive within its own lines. I should add that, rather than sought out, the undertaking has been imposed through a familiarity with analogical fields of symbolism, the correspondences of which must be unknown almost of necessity to students who have not passed through the secret schools of thought.

It will be intelligible from these statements that it has not been my purpose to put forward the analogies which I have established as a thesis for the instruction of scholarship, firstly, because it is concerned with other matters which are important after their own kind, and, secondly, as I have already intimated, because I am aware that a particular equipment is necessary for their full appreciation, and this, for obvious reasons, is not found in the constituted or authorised academies of official research. My own investigation is designed rather for those who are already acquainted with some part at least of the hidden knowledge, who have been concerned with the study of its traces through an interest proper to themselves--in other words, for those who have taken their place within the sanctuary of the mystic life, or at least in its outer circles.

In so far as I have put forward my thesis under the guidance of the sovereign reason, I look for the recognition of scholarship, which in its study of the literature has loved the truth above all things, though its particular form of appreciation has led it rather to dedicate especial zeal to a mere demonstration that the literature of the Graal has its basis in a cycle of legend wherein there is neither a Sacred Vessel nor a Holy Mystery. This notwithstanding, there is no scholar now living in England whose conditional sympathy at least I may not expect to command from the beginning, even though I deal ultimately with subjects that are beyond the province in which folk-lore societies can adjudicate, and in which they have earned such high titles of honour.

After accepting every explanation of modern erudition as to the origin of the Graal elements, there remain various features of the romances as things outside the general horizon of research, and they are those which, from my standpoint, are of the last and most real importance. A scheme of criticism which fails to account for the claim to a super-valid formula of Eucharistic consecration and to a super-apostolical succession accounts for very little that matters finally. I have therefore taken up the subject at the point where it has been left by the students of folk-lore and all that which might term itself authorised scholarship. Ut adeptis appareat me illis parem et fratrem, I have made myself acquainted with the chief criticism of the cycle, and I have explored more than one curious tract which is adjacent to the cycle itself. It is with the texts, however, that I am concerned only, and I approach them from a new standpoint.

As to this, it will be better to specify from the outset some divisions of my scheme as follows: (1) The appropriation of certain myths and legends which are held to be pre-Christian in the origin thereof, and their penetration by an advanced form of Christian Symbolism carried to a particular term; (2) the evidence of three fairly distinct sections or schools, the diversity of which is not, however, in the fundamental part of their subject, but more properly in the extent and mode of its development; (3) the connection of this mode and of that part with other schools of symbolism, the evolution of which was beginning at the same period as that of the Graal literature or followed thereon; (4) the close analogy, in respect of the root-matter, between the catholic literature of the Holy Graal and that which is connoted in the term mysticism; (5) the traces through Graal romance and other coincident literatures of a hidden school in Christianity.

The Graal romances are not documents of this school put forward by the external way, but are its rumours at a far distance. They are not authorised, nor are they stolen; they have arisen, or the consideration of that which I understand with reserves, and for want of a better title, as the Hidden Church of Sacramental Mystery follows from their consideration as something in the intellectual order connected therewith. The offices of romance are one thing, and of another order are the high mysteries of religion--if a statement so obvious can be tolerated. There are, of course, religious romances, and the Spanish literature of chivalry furnishes a notable instance of a sacred allegorical intention which reposes on the surface of the sense, as in the Pilgrim's Progress. Except in some isolated sections, as, for example, in the Galahad Quest and the Longer Prose Perceval, the cycle of the Holy Graal does not move in the region of allegory, but in that of concealed intention, and it is out of this fact that there arises my whole inquiry, with the justification for the title which I have chosen. The existence of a concealed sanctuary, of a Hidden Church, is perhaps the one thing which seems plain on the face of the literature, and the next fact is that it was pre-eminent, ex hypothesi, in its possession of the most sacred memorials connected with the passion of Christ.

It was from the manner in which these were derived that the other claims followed. The idea of a Graal Church has been faintly recognised by official scholarship, and seeing, therefore, that there is a certain common ground, the question which transpires for consideration is whether there is not a deeper significance in the claim, and whether we are dealing with mere legend or with the rumours at a distance of that which "once in time and somewhere in the world" was actually existent, under whatever veils of mystery.

Following this point of view, it is possible to collect out of the general body of the literature what I should term its intimations of sub-surface meaning into a brief schedule as follows: (a) The existence of a clouded sanctuary; (b) a great mystery; (c) a desirable communication which, except under certain circumstances, cannot take place; (d) suffering within and sorcery without, being pageants of the mystery; (e) supernatural grace which does not possess efficacy on the external side; (f) healing which comes from without, sometimes carrying all the signs of insufficiency and even of inhibition; (g) in fine, that which is without enters and takes over the charge of the mystery, but it is either removed altogether or goes into deeper concealment--the outer world profits only by the abrogation of a vague enchantment.

Softcover, 8" x 10.75", 480+ pages

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