Kabbalah, the Round Table and the Grail myth
In my school of the soul, called ‘Circle of Avalon’ which is a school in the western esoteric tradition, the myths and legends of the Round Table & the Grail form a specific lineage of spiritual teaching that we transmit. Over de years, through the groups that have gathered and formed a Round Table and the many workshops I have given, much material and experience has brought me to write this book about ‘Kabbalah and the Grail myth’. Because a myth is endless in its evolution and source of inspiration, this book could be endless as well. I would like to share with you in this article, the introduction of this book that I intend to publish in 2021. It’s content is not just the work of a scholar but is a direct and intimate manuscript about the tales of the myth and the experiences of modern seekers who follow that same Grail Quest…
“Whoever searches must continue to search until they find,
When they find they will be disturbed,
And being disturbed, they will marvel,
And will reign over all”
(Gospel of Thomas, Logion 2)
In this book we follow two fascinating streams of spiritual thought and discipline: the way of Kabbalah and the myth of the Round Table – Holy Grail quest. Both paths are ways for the human soul to travel, leading to a spiritual evolution, holding within its symbolism an ageless and universal wisdom. Whether we speak about the Kabbalistic diagram of the Tree of Life or the Round Table, they contain both a spiritual body of wisdom.
The Tree of Life and the Round Table may appear as very distinctly different forms, but the teachings that they contain are so similar and so easily to compare, that I could not resist bringing these two traditions into one manuscript. Kabbalah and the Quest have in common that they are alive today as they always were. The stories these traditions carry with them, resonate throughout centuries, having not lost any of their wisdom and practical instructions.
Of course, we need to have the conscious skills to be able to read what the symbols and metaphors tell us in this 21st century. Although the human world we have generated around us may have changed drastically, the principles that are the foundation of the world and the universe, have not changed that much. It is exactly these principles that the Kabbalah and the Table Round transmit to us in their teachings through parables, symbols, analogies and metaphors.
Although these wisdom teachings might appear as personal, they are at the same time universal, transpersonal, spiritual and therefore of all times, ages and for all people. These traditions or pathways are both schools of the soul and we may regard them this way, because they teach the soul to rise out of the lower stages of human life and truly become spiritual creatures.
If civilization ever meant something to us apart from technological development, economic wealth and growth of our population, in this context it means to return to our innate connection to the Source of all. In other words: to lead the soul back home. In esoteric teachings, where the soul is the vehicle of consciousness, a school of the soul is a place of gathering, where like-minded people are interested in higher spiritual values through which they wish to change their inner world, become more conscious and thereby have an effect on the outside world. A deeper purpose on that same path within a school of the soul, is living one’s destiny and being of service to the Holy One.
A school of the soul guides and instructs the soul to its destination. In the esoteric traditions and schools of the West, the soul- journey is an individual path. Although souls may gather in schools, temples or elsewhere, the initial journey of the Kabbalist- Questor, is an individual one. Our souls lead individual lives, based upon choices and preferably, free will. At first the journey may be more personal as we all need to traverse our steps to seek and overcome our obstacles and self-constructed limitations.
With perseverance, discipline and love for the path itself, or sometimes called the ‘Work’ or ‘Great Work’, one finds him/ herself on a more serving episode of one’s inner journey. Instead of leading a spiritual life for oneself, there develops a growing sense of serving a greater good.
Life is education for those who seek it, departing from the idea that we do not know enough to know ourselves. The way of Kabbalah and the Quest for the Grail are one and the same path. They may differ in their language, symbols, cultural expressions and lineage, but beyond all the colorful and manifold expression, there we find the common ground of the soul journey and the Spirit that we all seek. For seekers we are, not believers. The seeker is always searching for what he/ she does not know.
The reason why the mythological- esoteric concept of the Table Round is chosen for this book, is because its universal content, its collective-transpersonal work and the acts of greater service that come with it. Camelot and the Table were brought to humanity to establish a greater (spiritual) civilization on the inner and outer planes.
All attending ladies and knights were chosen or came by their own inner calling to support these higher values and this inner work. The Kabbalah, the tradition where we are departing from in the first place, describes the same inner work.
The Kabbalah, the Round Table and the ways of Camelot are a work. These are not accomplished esoteric orders from where spiritual perfection flows forth from. The Table, the Grail and the companions educate, support, sustain, nurture and bring the soul- group (the group energy or current) gradually to an advanced state of consciousness.
Symbiotically, the more souls work from their inspiration, devotion and integrity within these traditions, the more they evolve themselves. In that sense are we carried, supported and directed by these traditional lines, as we do support the tradition by becoming a part of its structure (left pillar on the Tree of Life) and its energy (right side pillar on the Tree of Life).
Many earthly organizations work from the material level to heighten the level of our humanity. From the traditions within this book we work through spiritual paths and esoteric-metaphysical principles. Kabbalistic teachings and the Round Table romances can be told as stories, unfolding wisdom that was written in the pages of existence.
Therefore I tell a tale here, where two strands of wisdom meet in one tapestry. With enough meditations and exercises to accompany the individual or those working in groups, this book can be used as a guide on your way. A practical instruction for the Kabbalist who explores the tradition with a complete different set of symbols and archetypes. My experience of working this way and giving lectures and workshops, have shown that many people find new personal treasures within.
For those just beginning their spiritual journey or those who are somewhat further down the road. Take your time to become acquainted with the story, the symbols and the archetypes. They have many layers and depths, telling different tales and revealing wisdom as the seeker develops. The diagrams of the Tree of Life and Jacobs ladder show you in a metaphysical structure how to interpret the myth of the Round Table and your place within it.
Allow me to take you on this journey for a while. Together walking the parallel paths of Kabbalah and the Quest for the Grail. One school of the soul.
How to use this book?
The myth of the Round Table and the grail are stories that are easy to understand because of the colorful symbols and characters. These are called archetypes as they contain age-old psycho-spiritual principles. Archetypes carry psychological forms and spiritual essences within them, speaking the universal language that explains our cosmic nature.
This book has been written as a story, as if one is part of a school of the soul, a Kabbalah group, a companion of the Round Table. In such a way you can go through this story, follow the myth, contemplate the metaphysics and perform the different exercises and meditations. If you choose to treat this books as such, you are following the main intention of the author. For it the transmission and preservation of these traditions that is the main focus of the writer. Having said this, you are of course free to read these pages and not engage with the practical side of it.
The beginning Kabbalist or the one who is well on the way, will find many (new) references to the metaphysics on the Tree of Life and Jacobs Ladder. The myth is rich in its prosaic and poetic expression, telling the tale of a world that is of all ages and people. Keep a record of your journey as you move from chapter to chapter. Take as much time as needed to fully incorporate the meaning of the stories and the Kabbalistic metaphysics within them. You may need more time in a chapter depending on your current development and where you are moving towards. No Kabbalist or Round Table companion moves in an exact same fashion and pace on the inner path.
There were (and are) different authors who have written down the Grail Romances down the ages. Some are monks like Nennius or Geoffrey of Monmouth, or came from different parts of Europe like Chretien de Troyes, Wolfgang von Eschenbach or Sir Thomas Malory. Even in more contemporary times there are writers that have contributed to the living and evolving romances. Some of them have written in a complete mythic way, leaving no space for the historical and the factual, while others have mixed some historical details and facts with mythic content, constructing a more legendary story-line. It is necessary and important that I point out in the beginning of this manuscript that some historical events that took place actually happened while others have been exaggerated and deformed.
Furthermore, I would like to emphasize something that was said in the Gospel of Thomas at the beginning of this introduction. The seeker-kabbalist is always on the quest and always seeking. Although treasures and bounties are found on the way and even the Grail may be found at some point, we remain seekers. The Truth is hidden in order to be found. The Holy One or hidden God invites our souls to participate in the great game and quest. In Kabbalah, it is the Shekinah, the Holy Presence of God on earth (within existence) that plays hide and seek with conscious seekers. She (Shekinah) is waiting to be found, while the soul yearns to find. When the inspiration fails us and our eyes are turned away from the quest, we are out of the Divine game.
Eventually, God is looking for God. Through the quest and participating in the game we find meaning and purpose in our lives: a destiny awakens. The compassion within this quest reveals itself in such a way, that each individual soul finds something on the quest that belongs to her/ him. We are all called and propelled to find our own light- within.
Without seeking, there will be no finding and without questions, there will be no answers. To ask questions and be an aspiring soul who beholds life with awe and wonder, is indispensable on the quest. In our deepest center, there is someone who is not recognized but is waiting to be found and affirmed. “The light that we are seeking is already within us”. It is through the fact that we have the Grail within us, that we recognize it when we find it. There are many depths and layers to be found on our quest.
The Grail shows itself in many disguises and forms. Awakening to the reality of our being, the finding of the Grail or Shekinah, greatly troubles and upsets us. What is meant here is the shaking of that part of our psychological make-up (Yesod-ego) who does not wish to turn towards greater things than itself. Growth, as we will see later in this book, asks for a different level of consciousness and intelligence than our mundane ego awareness.