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The Grail Hallows and Harry Potter by Bandersnatch

In medieval tales about the search for the Holy Grail, the word hallows has been used to describe a set of four sacred or magical objects. These objects have been connected back to Celtic mythology, as well as to the Tarot deck. Is Rowling referring to them in the title of her final book in the Harry Potter saga, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? The first three sections of this essay will present some information about hallows that may (or may not) be relevant to Book Seven. In the final section, I will follow Dumbledore’s lead and journey, as many fans have done, “into thickets of wildest guesswork” (HBP 10).

The Grail Hallows[1]
In many versions of the Grail story, the questing knight enters a castle in a barren wasteland. There he meets the Keeper of the Grail, sometimes also identified as the Fisher King, the Rich Fisher, or the Maimed King. He is an old man whose life has been unnaturally prolonged, but who is inflicted with a wound that will not heal. He lives in the castle with his attendants and guards the Grail. Within the castle are four objects of magical or religious significance, the Grail Hallows, which are usually displayed before the knight as he dines there. Their exact natures differ from story to story, and in some versions not all four are mentioned, but in general they are: 1. A sword, sometimes broken; often presented to the knight. 2. A spear or lance, dripping blood from its point; usually said to be involved in the Crucifixion tale and/or the weapon which wounded the Grail Keeper. 3. The Grail itself, described as a cup, chalice, or bowl; from it issues forth boundless food and drink. 4. A silver platter or serving dish (but in other versions it is a disk-shaped Eucharist dish, a dish with a severed head on it, a table, a stone, a stone chair, or even a magical chessboard). See this link for various versions of the Fisher King tale, each mentioning some or all of the Grail Hallows. They are most clearly portrayed in the version by Chretien de


The Treasures of the Tuatha de Danaan
Several scholars (such as folklorist Alfred Nutt and Arthurian academic Jessie Weston) have suggested that the four Grail Hallows originate from Celtic mythology, specifically from the four Treasures of the Tuatha de Danaan.[2] According to the tales, the Tuatha de Danaan were a race of mystical beings who came to Ireland in the distant past, bringing with them four magical objects: 1. The Sword of Nuada. 2. The Spear of Lugh. 3. The Cauldron of Dagda, from which came limitless food and drink. 4. The Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny, which would roar with joy when stood upon by kings.[3] In Gods and Fighting Men, Lady Augusta Gregory’s 1904 retelling of Celtic tales, the Treasures are said to have come from four cities, “where they [the Tuatha de Danaan] fought their battle for learning…. And in those cities they had four wise men to teach their young men skill and knowledge and perfect wisdom…” (from Part I, Book I).

The Tarot Suits[4]
Arthur Waite, the British occultist who (with illustrator Pamela Smith) published the Rider Pack of Tarot cards in 1910, was influenced by Nutt and other scholars. He was convinced that the symbols on the Tarot cards were an esoteric tradition passed down through the ages. He also decided that the four suits of the Tarot - swords, wands, cups, and coins - were derived from the Grail Hallows, and ultimately from the Celtic Treasures. To make this connection, he associated wands with the lance / spear, and cups with the Grail / cauldron. Waite also replaced the original suit of coins that appeared on earlier versions of the cards with the pentacle, and connected it to the platter / stone. (Waite’s Magician card, which has images of all four objects, depicts the five-pointed star etched on a disk.) Jessie Weston, who later wrote of the Grail Hallow / Tarot suit connection (without mentioning Waite), fantasized that this pentacle was a design on Gawain’s shield.

The Deathly Hallows - Some Speculations

In HBP23, Dumbledore explains to Harry that “Lord Voldemort liked to collect trophies, and he preferred objects with a powerful magical history. … Four objects from the four founders would, I am sure, have exerted a powerful pull over Voldemort’s imagination.” These relics, possessing magical properties, having once belonged to four great wizards and witches who sought to educate children in the ways of magic - these Voldemort wished to infuse with fragments of his maimed soul, granting him everlasting life (one of the gifts of the Grail). Fans have speculated that these objects will turn out to correspond to the four Grail Hallows, and their cousins, the Celtic Treasures and the Tarot suits. (See this fan essay in Scribbulus, for example, in which the author Erin Dolmage connected the four founders’ relics to the Tarot suits.) Hufflepuff’s cup might correspond to the Grail, the Celtic cauldron, and the Tarot cup. Slytherin’s locket could perhaps connect to the Celtic stone or the Tarot coin / pentacledisk. The remaining two founders’ objects that Voldemort coveted are as yet unknown. Gryffindor’s sword (his “only known relic”) is a tempting choice, leaving fans to speculate that Ravenclaw’s object might be a wand, a spear, a staff, or the like. Voldemort may not have obtained his goal of collecting all four founders’ relics; Dumbledore, at least, is certain that Gryffindor’s sword was untouched. But the ones that he did acquire have been defiled by unspeakable evil, tainted with fragments of a murderer’s soul. Are they what Rowling means by deathly hallows? Whether this speculation is true or not, it seems clear that in the final book, Harry will go on a kind of anti-Grail quest, first seeking out these hallowed objects to purify them, and then denying immortality to The Dark Lord, who waits at the end of the journey as a sort of inverted Fisher King.

Disclaimer: I am not at all an expert in Arthurian lore, Celtic myths, or Tarot cards. In fact, I had never heard of the Grail Hallows and their cousins until Rowling’s title inspired some internet research. Thanks to Donna Hosie for pointing me towards the first in a chain of interesting web sites. I also cannot pretend that the above speculations are original. The connections of the final four Horcruxes to the Treasures of the Tuatha de Danaan and the Tarot suits have been made by cleverer fans than I, even before the release of Rowling’s final title. My hat is off to them.

(VI) HALLOWS: Many scholars agree that the four hallows carried in the Grail procession are likely derived from the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danaan, the tribe of the great Irish goddess Danu. And there is considerable grounds for the

comparison. The treasures of this early Celtic rite were the Sword of Nuada, the Lia Fail, the Cauldron of Dagda and the Spear of Lugh. Compare these to the broken sword, the silver serving dish, the Grail, and the bleeding Lance as found in Chr tien, and it becomes apparent that the argument is well-founded. Weston has suggested that the hallows can be reduced to the realm of sexual symbolism, with the male principle of the Blade (the Sword and the Lance) and the female principle of the Chalice (the Platter and the Grail), but as the Oxford medievalist attests in David Lodge's Small World, "This business of phallic symbolism is a lot of rot." No, it seems clear that an old Irish or Celtic ritual is the true source of the Hallows. A separate frivolous interpretation also links the four treasures with the suits of the Tarot, where Swords = the Broken Sword, Pentacles = the Serving Dish, Wands = the Bleeding Lance, and Cups = the Grail. The matter of the Sword falls into two main categories, Celtic and Christian. In Celtic lore swords were often believed to possess unique or extraordinary qualities that empowered the hero with superhuman abilities. Magic swords of this type are mentioned in both "The Spoils of Annwn" and "Culhwch and Olwen." In later Grail stories the sword is frequently broken, whereby the mending of the sword represents one of the tasks used to test the mettle of the Grail Knight (Co, Q). Christian stories tend to identify it with the Sword of David. As we are told in the Queste del San Graal, the Sword of David was placed in a ship by Solomon's wife to be sent down the ages until the Grail knights discovered it. The last person who unsheathed the sword, King Parian, was less than worthy. Consequently a blight struck his land and he was later wounded in the thighs and made impotent by the lance. And so the Sword of David lies in wait for Galahad, the symbol of sheer perfection, who eventually finds it and uses it to heal the king and land. Another possible alternative is the sword that Gawain is sent to fetch in Perlesvaus blade used to behead John the Baptist. the

In Chretien, the second treasure, the Platter, is identified as a taill or, or carving dish, made of silver. But in other versions the platter assumes many different forms. At various times it appears as a stone, a paten, a table, a dish with a severed head upon it, or even a stone chair. The most interesting manifestation of the platter, though, would have to be the gaming board in Perlesvaus: [Gawain] looked all around him and saw all the doors shut tight, and then, looking towards the foot of the couch, he could see two candlesticks burning before the chessboard with all the pieces set up; one set was ivory and the other of gold. Sir Gaw ain began to move the ivory men, whereupon the gold pieces countered his moves and checkmated him twice. In the third round Gawain hoped to gain revenge, but seeing that he was heading for defeat once more he broke up the game. Here the board is symbolic of the land and the pieces which move over its surface are the main characters of the Quest, which would explain Gawain's threefold failure; he is not destined to succeed in his quest. Generally speaking the platter is

"It is indeed. the Holy Grail.. This was definitely the case in the early romances.the most elusive of the four hallows. It is the quintessential reward to the most challenging of quests. It clearly sustains the inhabitants of the Grail castle and is further accredited with the longevity of the Fisher King. Christian legend maintains that Longinus was the blind centurion who thrust the spear into Christ's side at the crucifixion. all from the Grail's capacity" (W). the Bleeding Spear/Lance. The third treasure. Generally speaking. Some of Jesus' blood fell upon his eyes and he was healed. the Grail is often perceived as a healing or nurturing vessel. Part of the mystery surrounding the shape and dimensions of the Grail stems from the fact that the word graal is never explained in the early Grail romances. though not to the extent of the platter. precisely the wounding of the Keeper of the Hallows .Mulberry juice. Quite early in the development of the story it comes to be identified with the Lance of Longinus. the Grail goes hand in hand with transformation. Lancelot and Gawain are found to be flawed men in the later versions and are not allowed to commune with the Ultimate Source that the Grail embodies. that of a cup or chalice often associated with the one used by Christ at the Last Supper. where the Grail is said to have served a salmon or pike to the Grail king. to my mind the most curious of all the sacred relics. The occurrence of such a lavish feast in these cases clearly suggests a connection to the horn of plenty or ambrosial cup found in various mythologies. One of these properties is the provision of food and drink. In this station the lance links the wound of the Fisher King to that of Christ. or a wide and slightly deep dish. it is almost always the Grail that provides the sumptuous meal: "The moderate and the gluttonous. It is variously described as a cup.. The Grail carries with it certain representative traits. or deep dish. chalice. employ the more conventional description. Later versions. Consequently. is also steeped in ambiguity. probably representing a primitive form of the Grail itself. morally. on the other hand. wine red or white to please the cup of every knight whatever beverage came to mind the knight within his cup would find. The monk Helinand defined the similar word gradale as meaning scutella lata et aliquantulum profunda. Which brings me to the last of the four hallows. It is the ultimate life-giving and life-sustaining vessel. but those who attempt to grasp its meaning before they are ready are purged. both had just enough to eat. But the fact of the matter is the Grail destroys as readily as it heals.. When the hero reaches the Grail castle. Those chosen few who pass its rigorous tests are transformed.

His plight has been adapted to many different arenas. So he represents something of a paradox: he is a remnant of some much older Irish or Celtic god who was overrun by the Arthurian tradition and then incorporated into the stories as the keeper of the ultimate treasure. In general. In psychology. it seems to me. From his humble beginnings the Fisher King has acquired an almost unheard of amount of notoriety. Robert Johnson has observed that "the fisher king's wounding in the thigh is symbolic of our difficulty in directly sexual matters. It is an image of the Fall. The spear has a mysterious double-edged quality. it is a spear which both heals and wounds. This 'Dolorous Blow' lays waste his lands and only a hero of exceptional power s and worthiness is able to lift the burden and heal the sufferer by using the selfsame spear that wounded him." And though the Lance/Spear later comes to be synonymous with the wounding of the Fisher King. has dried up. it is also the greatest healing influence of the four Hallows. "Man wounds himself. within the essential Grail myth. identified with personal anguish and moral or ideological sterility. or perhaps lacks warmth or attentiveness when tenderness would be appropriate. CONCLUSION: What we have in the figure of the Fisher King. the present and the hereafter.which then takes place. albeit crudely. and numerous authors have used him as a powerful metaphor for modern apathy. he is confined to an otherworld domain. the mythic dynamism of Arthurian Romance is the primitive struggle of man to compel and control the force of Nature. leaving him in a strange state in which he can neither be healed nor actually die. he is a symbol of the fructifying force in Nature." writes Charles Williams. There is something about the Fisher King . But it also represents wounding of other generative functions: one cannot create or produce at one's job. As Malcolm Godwin notes: The Celtic spear. renders impotent whosoever it strikes. In modern times the Fisher King has developed into an broad archetype. is an intermediary between two planes of existence. surrounded by charmed hallows that only prolong his suffering until the arrival of a hero." Movies have been made which address the Fisher King theme. Instead. With his intimate ties to the land. infused with life so that he might die a preordained death. but he does not revel in this role. the very force on which the Fisher King's life depends.

In the earlier Grail romances.that appeals to each and every one of us. although the knowledge of it may be revealed to those worthy of the revelation. the meat of . in Robert de Boron's Joseph d'Arimathie. du selbst zu ihm erkoren. perhaps because the readers could be expected to be familiar with the word.. doch.. it too has this property: whatever one stretched one's hand out for in the presence of the Grail. Less than fifty years before Chrétien wrote his poem. the word graal is not explained.] [Parsifal. Perceval and others to the Grail castle. the tables are filled on every side with the most delectable dishes. it was waiting. in which it is accompanied by other mysterious objects. Swords and Dishes (or Pentangles or Pentacles). details of which differ in various versions of the visit of Gawain. Although Wolfram's Grail is a stone rather than a dish or cup. Symbols of the Grail Procession Parsifal: Wer ist der Gral? Gurnemanz: Das sagt sich nicht. It is a talisman of which one may not speak. was the Grail identified with a cup or chalice. Only later. The Grail appears in a procession. A Tarot pack contains four suits of cards: Cups. the monk Helinand defined the similar word gradale as meaning scutella lata et aliquantulum profunda. lines 4-5. bleibt dir die Kunde unverloren. and the suits of the Tarot. ne of the characteristic properties of the Grail is the provision of food and drink. as the Grail procession passes through the hall.dishes warm. And so he shall persevere. a wide and slightly deep dish. Grail he Grail is variously described as a cup or deep dish. According to Manessier's Continuation. newfangled dishes and old favourites. Act I] Introduction characteristic feature of the medieval Grail romances is the atmosphere of mystery that surrounds the Grail. [The Elucidation. Wands. dishes cold. essie Weston drew attention to the relationship between four of these symbols (sometimes called the Grail Hallows). maybe for all eternity. one found it all ready and to hand . The Grail's secret must be concealed And never by any man revealed .

Thus it suggests a link between the wound of the Maimed King. with the grail (depicted as a ciborium). The bleeding is described either as a continuous stream of blood (as in Wolfram) or a single drop (as in Chrétien) or as three drops. He pointed out that the Old French nominative case for both "horn" and "body" were the same: li cors. the bleeding lance and a sword (on the bier). however. containing a single consecrated wafer. and that of Christ. if dealt by the lance. The procession seen by Gawain at the Grail Castle. . Clearly the Grail is related to the horn of plenty or ambrosial cup found in various mythologies. in the First Continuation.. a feature of Gawain's visits to the Grail castle..beasts both tame and wild . and he suggested that this might explain the remarkable feature of a graal. Originally.S.Loomis held that several of the strange features of the Grail romances had arisen as a result of mistranslation or the misunderstanding of ambiguous words in various texts. for example. He suggested that originally this might have been a magic horn. Another possibility is that this is a development from the body of the dead knight. . Spear he bleeding lance of the Grail castle is another curious feature of the Grail romances. Quite early in the development of the story. the body is carried on a bier in the Grail procession. the Corpus Christi. the bleeding lance was probably a magic weapon. or wide and deep dish. it was identified with the lance of Longinus that had pierced the side of Christ.

or in an unspecified peril. Brian killed the king and put his courtiers to flight. whether Gawain or Perceval. which may be identified with the the preceding weapon. however. but a gift of dubious value. it may be a 'presentation' sword.S. or the sword of Judas Maccabeus. Or it may be the sword with which John the Baptist was beheaded. R. The Quest of the Holy Grail.] . This suggests that the Grail is somewhat larger than a normal cup. Apparently there is another Irish tale in which a spear stands with its head in a cauldron of blood. [J. in some of the Gawain versions of the tale. Brian demanded the spear. as it will break. Sword nother magic weapon is the sword that appears in most of the accounts of the Grail procession. at which Pisear attacked him. may be to ask a significant Question. so that the cup received the blood. a later development of the story. given to the hero on his arrival at the Grail castle. Then he and his brothers went to the room in which the spear was kept. rather than the lance. As students are well aware. or a mysterious sword as estranges ranges. either after the first blow. it seems to have been the sword. the re-welding of which is an essential condition of achieving the quest. in the Perlesvaus. It takes upon itself various forms. Gawain sees a chalice within the Grail. and this may be the origin of the bleeding lance. the Sword of the Grail romances is a very elusive and perplexing feature. In some versions. They found it head down in a cauldron of boiling water. When they reached his castle. from the Fate of the Children of Turenn.L. The task of the Quester.Loomis drew attention to certain similarities between the lance of the Grail castle and the spear that appears in the tale of the Irish hero Brian. or felled the dead knight. or it may be to mend a broken sword.essie Weston concluded that the cup and the lance were sexual symbols. foreseen. pointing to a relationship between the story of the Grail castle and ancient fertility rites. that injured the Maimed King. it may be a broken sword. he three sons of Turenn were compelled by the god Lug to fetch for him the spear of King Pisear. by its original maker. where the blood also runs into the Grail. the lance appeared upright in the Grail. gifted with self-acting powers. so causing the wasting of the land. She noted that. from which it was taken and delivered to Lug.Weston.

although Jessie Weston noted that two knives were associated with the relic of the Holy Blood at the Abbey of Fescamp. in the Grail romances it is described as a dish or cup. Dish n Chrétien's account of the Grail procession. and thus related to the Grail in its Christian form. the Tuatha da Danann. which has the property of never being exhausted. it has been suggested that Wolfram had some difficulty in translating the word tailléor. of silver. As early as 1888. The hero Cailte and a companion enter an Otherworld castle where the host was Fergus Fair-hair. After three days. then it might be a clue to the Celtic origins of some of the symbols of the Grail procession. He did so. Celtic Treasures The Four Treasures of the Tuatha da Danann t has been suggested that the symbols of the Grail procession might have been originally among the treasures of the Shining Ones. in the battle. however. In Wolfram's account. In the Didot Perceval there are two of these dishes. and also mended a spear and a javelin. no obvious relationship between the bleeding lance and the wand of the Dagda. The Thirteen Treasures of Britain Welsh document from the early 15th century contains a list of thirteen treasures of Britain. or carving dish. one of the many magic vessels of Celtic myth. They came to a castle of woman where they were attacked by the enemies of the gods. there are instead two silver knives. of Irish legend. Alfred Nutt proposed that the Welsh god Brân was the prototype . Cailte and two companions left with the weapons. There is. nor does the Grail resemble a cauldron: as noted above. each of the three weapons destroyed one of the enemies. Fergus revealed that each of these weapons was destined to destroy one of the enemies of the gods. One of the treasures is the Horn of Brân.t has been suggested by various commentators that the motif of the broken sword is derived from an Irish tale in the Finn cycle. If the origin of this list is much older. it contains a tailléor. The host asked Cailte to repair a broken sword that the Tuatha da Danann had refused to mend.

In 1932.S. it has the property that it will not boil the food of the coward. which might represent a table or altar. he list also includes the dish of Rhydderch (a historic king of Strathclyde in the 6th century) which has the interesting property that it grants whatever food is desired. If the inner part corresponds to the tailléor. Peredur son of Evrawc. was of Cathar origin and dated from the 12th century. and since then many writers have identified Brân with Robert de Boron's Bron. many red crosses and a square panel. who had been judged unworthy.Loomis suggested that this might be the distant origin of a feature in the Prose Lancelot. There is also a cauldron. . R. wondrous holy Spear! I saw you wielded by unhallowed hand! The Bleeding Lance of the Grail Romances he mysteriously bleeding lance appeared in Wagner's medieval sources. The Meaning of the Spear 4. it was suggested. then we have all four symbols of the Grail procession. It appears not only in the romances of Chrétien and Wolfram but also in other versions of the Grail story. The Bleeding Lance of the Grail Romances 2.of the Fisher King. The Wounding and Healing Holy Spear 1. a broken sword. in the Comte de Villemarque's collection Contes populaires des anciens Bretons: this story has the title. contains twenty crosses in various forms on a black background. The outer part of the panel. The Sceptre and the Bell O wunden-wundervoller heiliger Speer! Ich sah dich schwingen von umheiligster Hand! O wounding. where the Grail serves food to all except Gawain. a solar disk. there was found a wall-painting which. The latter contains an inner square. in a cave below the fortress of Montréal-deSos near Tarascon. which seems to be the same one that appears in poem The Spoils of Annwn. the inner part contains five tear-shaped drops of blood and five white crosses. Wagner and the Spear 3. The Cathar Initiation Rite essie Weston (1850-1928) held the view that central elements of the Grail romances had originated in eyewitness accounts of initiation ceremonies in which certain mysterious symbols played an important part. in French translation. A variant of the story that might have either inspired or been inspired by Chrétien was preserved in the Welsh Mabinogion and later appeared. It shows a lance.

until he experiences Kundry's kiss) and then to return it to Monsalvat. In the Perlesvaus. According to his autobiography Mein Leben the inspiration for Parsifal arrived on Good Friday¹ in 1857. At the end of August 1865 Wagner developed his scenario into a detailed Prose Draft. Wagner and the Spear his new synthesis was not arrived at overnight. and runs down the hand of the bearer. In the Prose Perceval there are three drops of blood that fall from the lance.n Perceval a single drop of blood is seen to fall from the lance. Peredur. as Wagner describes it doing when the relics are united at the end of the opera. in which (eventually) the hero was renamed as Parsifal. Gawain sees the blood running into the Grail. when Wagner made a sketch or scenario that has been lost. At this stage it is unlikely that either the Grail or the spear (as I have discussed elsewhere) played an important role in the story. By doing so. Parsifal achieves the twofold resolution of the drama: Amfortas is healed and relieved of his duties and the mystic union of the two relics enables the regeneration of the community. It is clear that Wagner struggled with the incorporation of the spear. however. he account of events at the Grail Castle in Peredur is recognisably another version of the visit described in Chrétien's unfinished romance. Perlesvaus and other romances has been discussed at length by Jessie L. Above right: the healing of the fisher king. These medieval poems and other sources were used by Richard Wagner to make a new synthesis. . Between Wagner's first encounter with Wolfram's poem in 1845 and the completion of his own poem. after which it is reunited with the Grail. In Peredur there are three streams of blood. In Parzival this becomes a stream of blood. Unlike the medieval questers Wagner's hero first has to recover the spear (although he does not know the nature of this mission. so that it can be used to heal Amfortas. Parzival. which he sees as a chalice (although in this poem the Grail appears in several different forms). there elapsed three decades. there were alternatives to choose between. as it is carried in the Grail procession. As with the Grail. In none of these romances does the blood fall into a vessel. or even that he has one. which contributed to Wolfram's tale of Parzival. Left: a holy lance was discovered in Antioch cathedral during the First Crusade. The relationships between Perceval (and its so-called Continuations). Weston and other authors (see the bibliography for references.

where however there is no suggestion that the spear that belongs with the Grail is the same spear that pierced the side of Christ. Wagner realised that he could make the pagan. This is one of several spearheads that have been claimed as the spear of Longinus. Klingsor had found it first. the spear is carried by Anfortas in his ill-fated assault on Klingsor. But a couple of days later. In the second. it was the first of these alternatives that Wagner chose. the Grail Knights had not yet gained the spear. In either case it is a holy relic that belongs with the Grail. There was the bleeding spear of the Celtic legends. The recovery of the spear became an important element of the story. different traditions. agner considered two alternatives: in the first. At least some of these ideas occurred to Wagner while he was working on his first Prose Draft. at least. As we know. Right: the Spear of Destiny. we are not told explicitly that Klingsor struck the blow). and which is used by Klingsor to wound Anfortas (or so it seems. Finally (perhaps as late as February 1877) Wagner made the identification of the spear wielded by Klingsor with the magic weapon of Mára and his story was complete. . also the spear of Longinus which had pierced the side of the Saviour on the Cross and the spear of Achilles that had both wounded and healed Telephus. in this is preserved the blood that the spear made to flow from the Redeemer's thigh. the pagan Grail had been made into a Christian symbol by medieval writers. bleeding spear into a Christian symbol. drawing a parallel between the wound suffered by Christ and the wound of Anfortas. replacing the Question motif of the medieval romances and linking together all three acts of Wagner's drama.or to combine from. the spear goes with the cup. and won from him. Wagner noted in his diary: As a relic. to be seen in the Hofberg museum in Vienna. The two are complementary. This identification also led Wagner to think about the pure blood of Christ and the impure blood of Anfortas (later Amfortas). at some time between 1865 and 1877.

is explicitly portrayed as a wound to the loins. He also accepts without question the interpretation of Robert Gutman. bass. duration 4 min. in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzifal (sic). Maybe in Wolfram but not in Wagner. Wagner's works time and again return to the image of a pure race threatened by pollution from breeding with a genetically inferior foreigner. Clearly he made this change in order to emphasise the similarity between the two wounds made by the same spear. from regarding Amfortas' wound as sexual in nature. This does not prevent Weiner. perhaps. the literary source for the music drama. Weiner adds. whom Gutman believed was a depiction of someone racially inferior. who writes: Amfortas suffers from a wound in the body that. . who never lets the facts (or the libretto) get in the way of his theories. in which Amfortas' blood became sinful through sexual contact with Kundry. mono. Like Lohengrin. Ivar Andrésen. son of Parzival? Or the flying Dutchman? It is unfortunate that half-baked ideas like these have come to dominate the academic domain of so-called Wagner scholarship. conducted by Leo Blech. not (as in Wolfram's Parzival) in the genitals. recorded in 1927. Ogg format. t should be noted that Wagner deviates from his medieval sources by deliberately locating the wound in the side of Amfortas. This choice does not suit Marc Weiner (whose Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination is even more confused about Parsifal than it is about some of Wagner's earlier works). Orchestra of the Berlin Staatsoper.Titurel the pious hero.) Left: The Holy Spear of Antioch carried by bishop Adhemar of Le Puy into battle against the Saracens.

Wagner's stage directions suggest that Parsifal. in the Bayreuth Festival programme for 1977) the spear symbolises (only) the sin of Amfortas. rather than guarding it as a relic. in another flash of insight. Like the spear of Achilles in the Greek myth of Telephus the holy spear is able both to wound (even to destroy) and to heal the wound that it made. not by Klingsor. why then did the relic not destroy Klingsor when he used it to wound Amfortas? Was that wound caused. this overlooks Wagner's explicit connection of the spear with the suffering of Christ. In particular. realises the power of the spear and it is by his action (in making the sign of the Cross) that Klingsor's domain (and not just the sorcerer himself) is destroyed. It might be objected that these interpretations are unsatisfactory because they fail to account for the dual nature of the spear. rather than from an action of his intended victim? If so. "the reversal of the will" as Schopenhauer understood it. For Carl Dahlhaus (in Richard Wagner's Music Dramas) the spear was to be interpreted as a symbol of compassion. but by the spear itself when Amfortas tried to use it as a weapon? If so.The Meaning of the Spear here has been much speculation about the symbolism of the spear (as there has been about that other relic. The intention of the person who wields the spear would seem to be important here. the Grail) in Wagner's drama. For Klaus Stichweh (Wissendes Mitleid. he question naturally arises of whether the spear is an active or passive element. Weltenwahn) result from Klingsor's use of the spear in an attempt to destroy Parsifal. It is as an instrument of eternal justice that the spear wounds Amfortas when he tries to use it as a weapon. lrike Kienzle (in her book Das Weltüberwindungswerk) identifies the spear with Schopenhauer's concept of "eternal justice" (der ewigen Gerechtigkeit). Does the destruction of Klingsor's domain (that of world-spanning illusion. In Schopenhauerian terms. his attempt to injure . at the end of the second act. it is consistent that another attack with the spear backfires on Klingsor.

Yet. In this purely human are nurtured both the manly and the womanly. that in which understanding is akin to feeling is the purely human. just as Prakriti was the first of many sisters to become a Buddhist nun. tormentor and tormented are one.L. Weston. -. so is Kundry the first of many women who will be called to the service of the Grail. in any case) because in Parsifal he had expressed his idea of community. the veil of Maya (the Weltenwahn of the Upanishads) is rent from top to bottom. As a result then. the Victoriously Perfect. This parallels the situation of Prakriti in Die Sieger who is finally admitted into the monastic community by the Buddha. The necessary impetus of the poetic understanding in writing poetry is therefore love. The Sceptre and the Bell noted above. the Grail Temple. of course. The spear can be interpreted as the masculine element of poetry and the Grail as the feminine element of music. The blood that (in the final text although not in the 1865 draft) flows from the tip of the spear and falls into the cup represents the insemination of music by poetry in order to create the artwork. these relics are sexual symbols.. until the final scene in which an exception is made for Kundry. The aggressor bites only his own flesh. while deluded by the veil of Maya. hese subtexts come together in the final scene of Parsifal when the spiritual hero.and specifically the love of man for woman. whose compassion for the penitent Kundry has opened the gate to the final stage of his enlightenment. thus bringing a healthy balance to Monsalvat. second meaning that can be assigned to the reunification of the two relics and symbols relates to Wagner's aesthetic theories. This has led some to suggest that Parsifal is fundamentally misogynistic. She argued that the spear was a masculine element and the cup was a feminine element. When Klingsor becomes the aggressor. but in the case of Parsifal there does seem to be a sexual sub-text (although whether it is the sexual sub-text proposed by Marc Weiner is less certain). This metaphor was employed by Wagner in his treatise Opera and Drama of 1851: . he returned to the subject of the Buddha's admission of women into his community and called it a beautiful feature of the legend. in the last paragraph that Wagner wrote. Wagner wrote that the Grail and the spear were "complementary". whose compassion for the Chandala girl opens the gate to the final stage of his enlightenment. results only in an increase in his own suffering. excludes women from its holy place. it was suggested by J.. for Parsifal at least. Sometimes.another. in this interpretation. then his aggression turns back on himself. Not only in Parsifal but in other treatments of the legend. Shortly before he died Richard Wagner told Cosima that he did not need to write Die Sieger (it was now too late. So perhaps. yet not the . a cigar is just a cigar. At one level we see a community that is exclusively male and which. brings together the Grail and the spear. which become the human being for the first time when united through love. that which constitutes the essence of the human species as such.

That this nature is no-nature -. When united these ritual objects symbolise enlightenment. but the deep yearning to know himself redeemed from his egoism through his sharing in the rapture of the loving open dimension. In Buddhist legend. Thus the sceptre. in the following way. it is called rdo symbolised by the empty space enclosed by the bell. The sceptre is associated with the right side of the body and it is held in the right hand. The complement to the ritual sceptre is the bell (ghanta in Sanskrit. discussed in a separate article. dril bu in Tibetan). Wagner's Donner). Wagner's last music-drama is not only about sex. On the religious or spiritual plane the central theme of the drama is Parsifal's progress towards total enlightenment. The second of these names indicates the importance of a ritual object called (in Sanskrit) a vajra. upaya). In the conclusion of Parsifal it can be considered as one of the meanings that are carried by the reunion of the two relics. the poetic seed that only in the most ardent transports of love can be produced by his noblest forces -. which is expressed as skilful means (Sanskrit. in isolation. loving woman. about religion. his metaphor can be found in several of Wagner's works.frivolous. nor is it only about the union of poetry and music in the artwork. masculine aspect of enlightenment often equated with skillful means. In Tibet. One of the three major branches of Buddhism and the last of the three to emerge is the form with highly developed rituals.. however. The legend tells of how the Buddha took a thunderbolt from Indra (presumably a metal statue) and bent the prongs until they were closed. carnal love in which man only seeks to satisfy his appetite. ungraspable.this procreative seed is the poetic intent (die dichterische Absicht) which brings to the glorious. which is known both as Tantráyána and Vajráyána². where this became the dominant form of Buddhism.. prajña [in Sanskrit]. This is the activity of wisdom. the origin of the sceptre was the thunderbolt wielded by the Vedic god Indra (which parallels the weapon of the thunder-god in other pantheons. In Buddhist Tantric rituals the masculine sceptre and the feminine bell are used together. and this yearning is the creative moment of understanding. The vajra stands for compassion. symbolises the indissoluble union of wisdom and compassion. the matter that she must bear. which sees the true nature of all phenomena. The bell is associated with the left side of the body and it is held in the left hand. music. which is regarded as a feminine symbol and which represents the perfection of wisdom. It is a sceptre with five closed prongs at each end. from which Vajráyána developed). or so many commentators have claimed. which might be another meaning of the ritual objects that are brought together in the temple at Monsalvat. The necessary donation. Seeing that living beings suffer . It is also. The sceptre is symmetric and the two ends respectively symbolise the virtues of wisdom and compassion (which are prominent in Vajráyána as they were in Maháyána Buddhism. The bell stands for transcendental wisdom. The reunion of the two holy relics after one of them is returned to the desecrated sanctuary by Parsifal can be seen as a metaphor for this final enlightenment. In its entirety it symbolises the active. great compassion. and devoid of any fixed. Wagner was interested in Buddhism. inherent existence -. such as Thor. or bliss.

Footnote 3:The title Bodhisattva means literally "one whose body is bodhi". effort and meditation. and recognising that those 'living beings' are not ultimately separate from himself or herself. On passing beyond the tenth stage the Bodhisattva becomes a Buddha.] Footnote 2: We know of at least one source in which Wagner read about this branch of Buddhism. every nuance of feeling conveyed epigrammatically. Nietzsche was greatly moved: When I see you again. patience.unnecessarily because of their deluded perceptions of life. The book can be seen in Wagner's library at Haus Wahnfried. but a spring morning soon after Richard and Minna moved into the Asyl. and speaking from a purely aesthetic point of view. Nietzsche on Parsifal riedrich Nietzsche had turned against the idol of his youth long before he heard the Prelude to Parsifal for the first time in Monte-Carlo in January 1887. as it was practised in Tibet and Mongolia. Putting aside all irrelevant questions (to what end such music can or should serve?). [Cosima's Diaries. the bell represents the wisdom with which these first five perfections are imbued.) A Bodhisattva is one who follows the path of enlightenment (from life to life and from world to world) that passes through ten stages of progressive awakening. it had not been Good Friday in fact. dessen Wesenheit die höchste Weisheit (bodhi) geworden. has Wagner ever written anything better? The supreme psychological perception and precision as regards what can be said. the cottage beside the Wesendonck Villa. page 36 • • The spear as a magic symbol The wounding and healing of Telephus Footnote 1: Although. expressed. but no longer of the world. 2001. the Bodhisattva³ endowed with transcendental wisdom is impelled to act to help the suffering world. communicated here. ethics. on 28 April 1857. In the final stages the Bodhisattva is in the world. Despite his apostasy. a clarity of musical description that reminds us of a . It was only the stillness of the Asyl garden which felt in his memory like a Good Friday. the extreme of concision and directness of form. where the Buddhist term bodhi can be translated either as enlightenment or awakening. I shall tell you exactly what I then understood. entry for 13 January 1878. The Bodhisattva does this by practising the perfections. Koeppen gave the definition: Derjenige. In October 1858 he read Die Religion des Buddha und ihre Entstehung by Carl Friedrich Koeppen. it was not on Good Friday that his inspiration arrived. Thus the vajra stands for the practice of generosity. (Burnouf explained Bodhisattva as follows: celui qui possède l'essence de la bodhi. The Vajra and the Bell. Vessantara. where he chooses to remain for the sake of all sentient beings. as Wagner later admitted.

all that trembles and is effusive. hieratic aromas . We get something comparable to it in Dante. after many years.even "higher minds" . this old magician! This Klingsor of all Klingsors! How he thus wages war against us! us. Do you understand this? Health. Der Fall Wagner (The Case of Wagner). I understand it. but nowhere else. When listening to this music one lays Protestantism aside as a misunderstanding and also.Ah.I admire this work. It was as if someone were speaking to me again. a misunderstanding! n May 1888. . the cynic warns you . a synthesis of conditions which to many people . seems. Nietzsche wrote to his sister: I cannot think of it without feeling violently shaken. all the feminisms from the idioticon of happiness! . which after all has been the answer of stronger souls than the last two centuries of our era have produced. I will not deny it. O my friends.shield of consummate workmanship. so elevated was I by it. I wish I had written it myself. that does Wagner the highest honour. January 1887] month later.Never before has there been such a deadly hatred of the search for knowledge! . . too healthy. . but the Christian answer.Never was there a greater master in dim. Nietzsche produced his brilliant tirade against Wagner. of sympathy with what is seen and shown forth. as it were. one has to be able to bite in order not to worship here. as against this. then. it casts a shadow over Wagner's earlier art . of forgetting your manhood under a rosebush. of a cognisance and a penetration of vision that cuts through the soul as with a knife. Parsifal will always retain its rank . something experienced in the very depths of music. . the philtres of this art! Nowhere will you find a more agreeable way of enervating your spirit. so deeply moved. and finally an extraordinary sublimity of feeling. Has any painter ever depicted so sorrowful a look of love as Wagner does in the final accents of his Prelude? [Letter to Peter Gast (Heinrich Köselitz). Well. .cave canem.Wagner never had better inspirations than in the end.never was a man equally expert in all small infinities.which now seems too bright.One has to be a cynic in order not to be seduced here. of "loftiness" in the most startling sense of the word. you old seducer. the free spirits! How he indulges every cowardice of the modern soul with the tones of magic maidens! .Drink. failing that. Here the cunning in his alliance of beauty and sickness goes so far that. which I have at other times heard and loved. about the problems that disturb me .as the stroke of genius in seduction. of strict coherence. brightness having the effect of a shadow? almost of an objection? . Here he wrote that the sensuousness of Wagner's last work made it his greatest masterpiece: In the art of seduction.To such an extent have we become pure fools. other really good music.will seem incompatible.naturally not supplying the answers I would give.

the mythologist Joseph Campbell traced how artists since the Middle Ages have used myth. against her will. as his creature and agent -. Moreover. in a truly Manichean dichotomy. as in Wolfram's work. and Sigûne. equally enspelled by a power alien to both. together with something of the Valkyrie. in her own interest.. devotes to it his entire second act.not. which Wagner described as an inexhaustible source for the poet. They are not. Kundry. and a great deal of the Gnostic Sophia ¹. stealing his unguarded lance -the same that had pierced Christ's side -delivered a wound that would never heal until a saviour -. And it had been when he was lying heedless in her toils. dark and light.the prophesied "guileless . against his -. the curtain rises upon Klingsor. as evil and good.. Act III is to be there again. who here is still the Great Fool.Joseph Campbell on Parsifal n the Creative Mythology volume of his The Masks of God (1968). is herself enspelled by Klingsor and. a touch of Goethe's EwigWeibliches. watching in his necromantic mirror (Wagner's adaption of the radiant radar-pillar) the unwitting approach of Parsifal. who had offered herself to the hero if he would be her champion. an offer that he politely declined. Campbell followed trails that lead from the works of the medieval poets Gottfried von Strasburg and Wolfram von Eschenbach to the handling of the same myths by Richard Wagner and James Joyce. . It was she.We are to hear no more from Wolfram of this encounter of Parzival and Orgeluse. however. Act I is at the Temple of the Grail. Wagner. Campbell explains how the second act of Wagner's Parsifal is related to the events of book XII in Wolfram's poem and how it differs. The extract below is a digression in the middle of a longer discussion of the Gawain and Orgeluse section of Wolfram's Parzival. however. He begins by referring to the brief mention of Parzival in the story of Orgeluse.who seduced the Grail King. sitting high in the magic tower of his Castle of Marvels. Klingsor's castle and Titurel's Temple of the Grail are in Wagner's legend opposed. his creature. in whom Wagner has fused the chief female roles and characters of the legend (Orgeluse. In Act II. as in the earlier work. like Samson seduced by Delilah. Amfortas. yearning to be free. Cundrie. that Klingsor.

as the tells. An oracle declares. healing. in his own mind equating the poison with Tristan's wound. In Wolfram's epic. The year. In Wagner's work. still at the height. Or. obviously. together with his tortured wife. the cure is effected by the weapon: the remedy being scraped off the point and sprinkled on the wound.fool" -. of the hero Telephos [Latin form: Telephus]. in contrast. In Wolfram's Parzival it plays but a minor part: [it] is only once mentioned by Trevrizent. he had been still at work on his Tristan when the idea of a Parsifal first occurred to him. April. Or we may think of the elder Isolt and poison of Morold's sword. that winter. he declares. and even. Otto. He that wounded shall also heal!. And the lance. even living. but from the right. moreover. furthermore. Minna. however. the king's wound pains terribly and the poison on the point of the spear becomes hot.. of his own Tristan affair with Mathilde Wesendonck. or the moon at a certain phase. . Trevrizent states that when the planets are in certain courses. which can be healed only by a touch of the one from whom the arrow came. not Clinschor's palace. was 1857. and it was there. wounded by Achilles in the upper thigh with a wound that will not heal. And in fact. in a house named the "Asyl" that had been provided by Mathilde and her patient spouse. in the "Asyl". the allegory is of lust and violence transformed by innocence to compassion (eros and thanatos to agape). like ice. as we read in Wagner's own story of his life. according to another reading. has elevated the lance theme to the leading role in his opus. Then. the wound of the arrow of love. Such a wound suggests.should appear and touch it with the selfsame point. adjacent to their home. It is an old old mythic theme related to that of Medusa. is there in the Castle of the Grail. Richard and Minna had arrived the previous September in Zurich. Act I of Siegfried and commenced work seriously on Tristan. the month. and after a long and painful quest Telephos finds Achilles and is healed. Wagner. and the day [Wagner claimed] -. that he finished. which hardens to glass all around the spear. they lay that point on the wound and it draws the chill from the king's body. There is the Greek legend. moreover. whose blood from the left side brought death..Good Friday.

Already in Tannhäuser. 1842-1844. now its ideality came to me in overwhelming form. the little garden was blooming and the birds singing. The "Venusberg Bacchanal" is there a prelude to . I had not taken another look at that poem. and from the idea of Good Friday I quickly sketched out an entire drama in three acts. Above: The "Asyl". and on Good Friday I awoke to find the sun shining brightly into this house for the first time.Now came [he states] beautiful spring weather. the main lines of Wagner's interpretation of the Grail themes had been anticipated. Filled with this sentiment. on a green hill in the Enge district of Zurich. I suddenly said to myself that this was Good Friday and recalled how meaningful this had seemed to me in Wolfram's Parzival. Ever since that stay in Marienbad. where I had conceived Die Meistersinger and Lohengrin. and at last I could sit out on the parapeted terrace of the little dwelling and enjoy the longed-for tranquillity that seemed so fraught with promise.

And I follow at respectful distance. is unmarried. How sweet your scent!. as though suddenly startled from sleep. His Parsifal of Act II is still the nature boy of Act I. Parsifal. to undo the saving hero. I quicken myself forever at that spring. and the song of the poet Tannhäuser in celebration of the love grotto. Wagner was at work in Lucerne. all in disarray. he sings to them. sky and earth: Thou comest as come from God. he wrote at that time in a letter to Mathilde.. in fact knows nothing yet of either love or life. boyish innocence -there is a reflex of his own entangled life. But. Two years after his Good Friday morning inspiration in the roof tower of the "Asyl". However. but empty. conjures up. lord In short: in Wagner's recognition of the wound of of love and death. altogether in the spirit of a Tristan: So that my yearning may forever burn. in that he is not full. with loyalty to anyone or anything but himself the last thought in his mind or strain of truth in his heart. however. has gone through no ordeal of theological disillusionment or entry into knighthood. tempter of the Buddha. in May 1859. in Heaven's name. Imagine. released enlightenment.not at all "right through the middle"2.Klingsor's Garden of Enchantment. rushing about. the song there assigned to Wolfram as the rival singer in the song contest is (ironically) a paean to love as a heavenly gift -. what has happened! Suddenly it has become hideously clear to me: Amfortas is my Tristan of Act III in a state of inconceivable put it in so many words -a two hundred pound bambino with a tenor voice. attempt to seduce the Grail king as the same as that of Tristan -. of knowledge). jung und dumm. The baritone Klingsor. Below: The daughters of Mára. simply has no idea of what these simpering women might be. indifferent to both the allure of sex and the violence of weapons (unlike the Lord Buddha. a spectacle of damsels in a garden of enchantment. and like the Indian god of love and death3. gazing into his mirror. the guileless fool. and releasing state of sunlike. between black and white. sees the innocent approaching. sitting beneath the Bo-tree. and is simply -.with the Lord Buddha as he seeks total his Parsifal then standing for an idealized. when the analogy of Tristan's wound with the wound of Amfortas in the opera yet to be written filled him with an appalled realization of the task he had assigned himself. on the last act of his Tristan. like the Buddha on the immovable spot. Are you flowers?.. What a devilish business!. .

tried to prevent the Buddha from achieving total enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. tells him it was she who named him Parsi-fal. but with compassion for the male! Amfortas! [he cries] The wound! The wound! It is burning. entrapped in the toils of this world illusion. reaches up. that is to say. now changing from his character as lord of desire to his other as lord of death.Kundry tells him of his father's fame and mother's death. takes hold of it. where the weapons of the lord of death. appears with the precious lance in hand.. plants a kiss full on the boy's mouth with a fervor that fills him first with intense terror. the "Pure Fool". hurled his discus towards the future Buddha. and has known himself since childhood (another Brünnhilde to a Siegfried). like the tempter of the Buddha. now. and as from an earthquake the Castle and Garden of Enchantment disappear. with an appalled realization of the sense of Amfortas' wound: not. and. There . The wound I beheld bleeding: It is bleeding now. Rowling’s Harry Potter. and the curtain falls. never strike him. the damsels collapse to the ground like faded flowers (see the Buddha's "graveyard vision"). inviting him to her mothering arms. but then . and will bear it now to Amfortas (Act III) to heal the sorrowful wound.. when the great spear reaches Parsifal it hangs floating overhead. This weapon remained standing like a canopy of flowers above the one who was absorbed in meditation on the different perfections. in my heart. « “This Is War” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Fan Video Exciting Narnia News and the Deeper Meaning of The Silver Chair and Harry Potter » The Deeper Meaning of the Quest for the Deathly Hallows September 26. Well. unable to contain his surge of anger. within me. 2010 by phoenixweasley Most of the information in the following blog post is can be found in my book. There are many similar accounts of this struggle in Buddhist texts. who.ironically -. For example. fallen (or enspelled) through ignorance. Footnote 1: Divine Wisdom. of how she knew his father and mother. with passion for the female. [Editor's note] Footnote 3: He means the deva Mára. The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. he simply makes the sign of the Cross. that is hardly Wolfram von Eschenbach! Klingsor. K. though flung at the saviour. [Author's note] Footnote 2: "Right through the middle" was Wolfram's explanation of the name Parzival.her own captured energy is the creative force. the anonymous Apadanatthakatha contains these lines: The wrathful Mára. with his army and his daughters. which with a curse he flings. of which -. But again as in the legend of the Buddha.

Typically. Then of course there is the Christian mythology of the quest for the Hallows of the Holy Grail in the Arthurian legends. the Spear of Longinus (also referred to as “the Spear of Destiny”) . the Dish of the Last Supper 3. hallowed be thy name…” The October 31st celebration of Halloween is also known as All Hallows Eve.” The verb “to hallow” means “to make holy. “What are hallows?” What is Albus Perceval Wulfric Brian Dumbledore looking at in this still from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? The noun hallow means “a holy person or saint. to regard and treat with reverence or awe” as in the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father who art in Heaven. so even if you have read my book. to purify” or “to honor as holy. the Holy Grail Cup 4. the Sword of King David or. Enjoy! Have you ever wondered about the deeper meaning of the Deathly Hallows symbol? First we must answer the question.” “Hallows” is a word that refers to “the shrines or relics of saints. (alternately) the Sword that beheaded John Baptist 2. to sanctify.are many new tidbits to be found here as well. there’s more new information to discover in this post. or the Eve of All Saints. the Grail Hallows are identified as: 1.

and the cup is present as the Cup of Hufflepuff.The Four Grail Hallows of Arthurian Legend. then looked for parallels in Harry’s world. or Articles of the Crucifxion of Christ. The cup. I immediately thought of the Grail Hallows and their correspondences with the four suits of the Tarot (swords. The dish or disk has a parallel in the Locket of Slytherin. disks. and realized that a wand would be a suitable quest object in this story about wizards. When the title of the final Harry Potter novel was released. cups. But what of the spear? I examined the parallel with the four suits of the Tarot. When I first saw this representation of the Grail Hallows I thought of the triangular Deathly Hallows symbol. I expected the Sword of Gryffindor to play an important role in the final book. I expected the Spear of Destiny would have a parallel as the Wand of Destiny in the wizarding world. dish. . I discovered that this was indeed the case. and it did. and wands). and when the seventh novel was released. and the spear are part of a larger collection of objects known as the Arma Christi.

Longinus is depicted holding the Holy Lance in his right hand. A sculpture of the legendary saint by the brilliant Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) can be seen in Saint Peter’s Basilca in Rome. . one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. NRSV) Tradition derived from the non-canonical Gospel of Nicodemus gave this Roman soldier a name: Gaius Cassius Longinus.The Spear of Destiny and the Holy Grail Cup of Arthurian Legend have their origins in the Crucifixion of Christ The legend of the Spear of Destiny developed from a passage in the Gospel of John.” (John 19:34. in which Jesus is found dead on the cross: “Instead. and at once blood and water came out.

Among the relics were the True Cross of Christ’s crucifixion. A legend later associated with this Holy Lance claimed . the pillar at which Christ was scourged. Longinus is located in St. Helena. the mother of Constantine the Great.This sculpture of St. discovered relics thought to be the Arma Christi while on a pilgrimage in Jerusalem.D. St. the crown of thorns. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican In 326 A. and the Holy Lance.

Antioch was the brother who wielded the Elder Wand. Hitler believed this relic was truly the Spear of Destiny. . This lance was called the Hofburg Spear. Katherine’s Church for much of the Second World War. and it was kept in Austria’s Hofburg Museum until Adolf Hitler had it removed. allegedly the spear that was found by St. On October 13. The Hofburg Lance was believed to be the Spear of Destiny.that whoever possessed it would be able to conquer the world. in Harry’s world. the wizard who possessed the Elder Wand was thought to be unbeatable. the Holy Lance that came to be known as The Spear of Destiny. Peter’s Cathedral in Antioch during the First Crusade. Harry Potter enthusiasts should notice that “Antioch Peverell” is the name of one of the three brothers who once possessed the Deathly Hallows. 1938 Hitler went to the Hofburg Museum to visit the supposed Holy Lance on the very same day that Nazi Germany took control of Austria. A group of knights found a lance believed to be the Lance of Longinus beneath St. Throughout history there have been many legends surrounding the relics that were thought to be the Lance of Longinus. was possessed by the Holy Roman Emperors. Like the would-be conquerors throughout history who thought that the army who possessed the Spear of Destiny would be invincible. Likewise in the fictional wizarding world of Harry Potter there were many legends surrounding the Elder Wand. also known as the Wand of Destiny. It was believed to have contained one of the nails used in the crucifixion. One candidate for the title of Holy Lance. Possession of the alleged Holy Lance spurred the crusaders on to victory. and possession of it would make him invincible. On March 12. Helena and once belonged to Constantine the Great. 1938 Nazi troops moved the Hofburg Spear from Vienna to Nuremberg where it was on display at St.

composed in 1882 was one of Hitler’s favorites. Rowling said. In the opera. the Holy Grail is a stone. S. It is interesting to note that in Harry’s world. “No. explains that the grail stone in Wolfram’s romance was probably an altar stone. troops under the command of General Patton on April 30. symbolic of the stone that was rolled across the entrance of Jesus’s tomb before the resurrection. where it has remained until this day. It amuses me to make allusions to things that were happening in the Muggle world…” (Anelli. Wagner’s opera Parsifal. 16 July 2005) Hitler’s obsession with the Spear of Destiny may have been the result of his passion for the operas of German composer Richard Wagner. when Nuremburg Castle was captured. the Spear of Destiny is glorified. This small altar was a container for holy relics (hallows). Note that Hitler’s defeat takes place in 1945. In the book Gemstone of Paradise: The Holy Grail in Wolfram’s Parzival. . When asked if it was a coincidence that Grindelwald was defeated in 1945. who is one of the knights who is questing for the Grail Hallows. the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. but in Wolfram’s version of the tale. Why Wolfram chose to portray the Grail as a stone rather than as a cup was a mystery that perplexed scholars for many centuries. was kept in a prison called Nurmengard. 1945 at 3:00 p. a Jesuit priest. most notably in the portrayal of the Grail itself. Father Murphy thought that Wolfram may have been inspired to imagine the Holy Grail as a stone because of his encounter with a portable altar of the type used on the crusades. Wolfram’s Parzival differs from Wagner’s opera in many ways.m. Wagner’s Holy Grail is the traditional cup that one would expect.During the Allied Forces’ bombing of Germany the spear was moved to a secure underground bunker in Nuremberg. the same year that Dumbledore defeated the dark wizard Grindelwald and became the new owner of the Wand of Destiny.m. Hitler committed suicide on April 30.. A recent piece of scholarship may have solved that mystery. The opera’s plot is partially derived from Parzival. The Hofburg Spear came into the hands of U. 1945 at 3:30 p. as well as holding the consecrated bread of the Eucharist inside it beneath the removable altar stone. a German Medieval romance written in 1202-1210 by the poet Wolfram von Eschenbach. who was obsessed with the Wand of Destiny.” The lance was returned to the Hofburg Museum in January 1946. Ronald Murphy. just a half hour after he lost his “Spear of Destiny. author G. The story of the opera is about Parsifal (known as Percival in the English versions of the tale).

One symbol of resurrection is hidden inside of another. the phoenix stone in Wolfram’s language…” (Murphy 185) Indeed. “This is the wood and the stone that guarantee the passage of Good Friday to Easter Sunday. In A.” He later wrote. Dumbledore hides the Deathly Hallow known as the Resurrection Stone within the Golden Snitch. reads as follows: “By virtue of this Stone the Phoenix is burned to ashes. a physical representation of the winged solar disk. death to life. T. is Wolfram’s special stone of Resurrection. . and this is therefore the proper place for the sacrifice of the victim who secures life. Hatto’s English translation of Parzival. this is how Wolfram describes the stone. the passage describing the powers of the Grail Stone. or Stone of Resurrection.This is a type of portable altar used during the Crusades. and perhaps this very portable altar. The portable altar.” (Parzival 239) According to Wolfram. it shines dazzling bright and lovely as before. a phoenix symbol. in which he is reborn—Thus does the Phoenix moult his feathers! Which done. In Harry Potter. the phoenix’s power of Resurrection is from the power of the Grail Stone. Father Murphy translated the Latin inscription on one such an altar as follows: “The altar of Christ’s cross is one with this table.

In alchemical language the Holy Grail. The legendary knight Parzival. Two of the three Deathly Hallows of Rowling’s fiction—the Wand of Destiny and the Resurrection Stone—seem to have been inspired by the Grail Hallows of Arthurian legend. was in fact the Philosopher’s Stone. I was delighted. A Welsh poem called Peveril also featured a character similar to Perceval. or Perceval. Here. K. like the alchemist’s path to the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone.D.” (TBB 99) I had developed my theory of Parzival’s Grail Stone as the inspiration for the Resurrection Stone Deathly Hallow in 2007. Perhaps the name “Peverell” (the surname of the three brothers who possessed the . when creating this stone that can raise the dead."I Open at the Close" fanart by Gold Seven Wolfram von Eschenbach was known to have an interest in alchemy. Rowling is aware of the connection between Wolfram’s Grail Stone and the alchemical Philosopher’s Stone is suggested in a footnote on page 99 of Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Perceval in this version of the tale was thought to have been influenced by the character of Payne Peveril in Fulke le Fitz Waryn (1260 A. one of which was La Folie Perceval. or phoenix stone. before The Tales of Beedle the Bard was published.). I see this footnote as evidence that my theory of the hallows is a plausible one. Rowling prompts her readers to make the connection between the Philosopher’s Stone and the Resurrection Stone from “The Tale of the Three Brothers:” “Many critics believe that Beedle was inspired by the Philosopher’s Stone. which makes the immortality-inducing Elixir of Life. is symbolic of the pursuit of spiritual perfection. When reading Rowling’s footnote from page 99 in December of 2008. That J. The Medieval tales of the quest for the Holy Grail. was the hero of many Medieval romances.

The twelfth treasure. . not unlike the Wizard’s Chess game that Ron Weasley is so fond of playing. is a magical chessboard with “living” chess pieces. The legend of the “Thirteen Treasures of Britain” also known as the “Thirteen Hallows of Britain” describes an impressive collection of magical objects that would not seem out of place in Harry’s world. perhaps we must turn to the ancient mythology of the British Isles. Antioch Peverell was the master of the Elder Wand. the Invisibility Cloak of Harry’s ancestor Ignotus Peverell? For the answer. Hermione discovers the tomb of Harry's ancestor Ignotus Peverell in Godric's Hollow. and Cadmus Peverell held the Resurrection Stone. But what of the third Deathly Hallow. for instance.Deathly Hallows) may have been derived from Peveril.

the cloak that is the third of the Deathly Hallows." said Ron. The thirteenth hallow in this collection is known as “The Mantle of Arthur” with the power to make the wearer invisible. . This is very much like the Invisibility Cloak that was given to Harry by Dumbledore during his first Christmas at Hogwarts."I'll be a knight.

the power of resurrection. . Rather than four Grail Hallows or thirteen Hallows of Britain. this could symbolize the Holy Trinity: the allpowerful Father. The circle represents the stone with the power of resurrection. the three Deathly Hallows are that which is all-powerful. In Christianity. This is the symbol that was mistaken for the “Peverell coat of arms” by Marvolo Gaunt. Rowling creates a trinity of Deathly Hallows.Harry received the Invisibility Cloak for Christmas during his first year at Hogwarts. and the presence that is invisible. the resurrected Son. and finally. Thus. and invisible presence of the Holy Spirit. The Deathly Hallows symbol as it appears in the film. (HBP 207) The vertical line represents the Elder Wand. which is allpowerful. or Wand of Destiny. the triangle represents the cloak with the power to make the wearer invisible. represented by a vertical line and circle contained within a triangle.

the circular halo. . (Luna Lovegood explains this on page 587 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. is used to represent sanctity in Christian art.) A bright ring.The equilateral triangle symbolizes the Holy Trinity of Christianity. The circle in Christian symbolism represents eternity because it has no beginning and no end.

The Celtic symbol of the Holy Trinity combines the triangle and circle in one symbol to represent the Triune God. The circle represents eternity in Christian art.The circular halo represents sanctity. .

and Bors are the three knights who find the Grail. Perceval. Galahad. not unlike the trio of knights who find the Grail in the Medieval Christian romance The Quest of the Holy Grail. . Galahad. and Bors find the Chapel of the Holy Grail. Perceval. in the Harry Potter series there are a trio of protagonists on a quest. In addition to the Trinitarian symbolism of the Deathly Hallows.This symbol which explains the Holy Trinity is quite similar to the Deathly Hallows symbol.

. which symbolize his purity. is surrounded by lilies. the story's Christ figure.Galahad.

.Notice that the third angel is holding the Spear of Destiny and the Dish.

Galahad is identified as a symbol of Christ in the narrative of The Quest of the Holy Grail. He is compared to the “lily of purity” and the “true rose. Harry Potter is the character in Rowling’s saga that is most like Galahad. The angels carry him up to heaven along with the Holy Grail and the Spear of Destiny. His quest is a spiritual one which involves self-sacrifice: he . the flower of strength and healing with the tint of fire.Perceval and Bors complete the Trio of knights who achieve the quest for the Grail Hallows.” The nature of his quest is a spiritual one which ends in his death after finding the Holy Grail.

the symbol of Satan’s ultimate defeat. . takes the shape of the Cross. in the form of a beautiful temptress. Harry deliberately loses the Resurrection Stone in the forest and also renounces the power of the Elder Wand. He is saved from the temptation to sin when he beholds the "red cross that was inlaid in the hilt" of his sword. Perceval’s sword. Satan. like the Sword of Gryffindor. Just as the Grail and Lance are taken up to Heaven. which include being tempted by the Great Serpent.experiences a kind of death and resurrection that saves the wizarding world. Perceval is tempted by Satan in the form of a beautiful woman. Galahad’s companion Perceval triumphs over temptations of the flesh in his many adventures. never to be seen again. The story ends with Harry declaring his intention to return the “Wand of Destiny” to Dumbledore’s tomb where it cannot be used again.

Perceval also rescued a lion’s cub from certain death when he struck the head of the serpent that was trying to devour it. . Voldemort. to destroy the Locket of Slytherin Horcrux. of course. thus destroying a fragment of the wicked soul of that Great Serpent. which appeared as a "great silver cross" in the forest pool. is a symbol of Christ. Perceval was then befriended by the King of Beasts.Ron drew the Sword of Gryffindor. The lion.

and Bors. For just as the Hart rejuvinates itself by shedding part of its hide and coat. Bors is most like Hermione. Ron. faced intellectual temptations on the quest. he conquered death. Galahad. and the three young wizards Harry. Together the three knights Galahad. This is most aptly figured by the Hart.” The three knights followed the white stag. for in changing the Hart into a heavenly being. He had to make difficult decisions concerning moral dilemas. In The Quest for the Holy Grail there is another important parallel with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. in part indeed today. and recovered for us eternal life. so did Our Lord return from death to life when he cast off his mortal . Luke). in no way mortal. He made the correct decision to rescue the the defenseless girl rather than saving his warrior brother. and Hermione represent the spirit. The white stag transformed into a man enthroned as Christ the King. dying. the “soul triptych” that John Granger first identified in his excellent book The Hidden Key to Harry Potter. This has an obvious parallel in Harry Potter: Neville vs. Inside the little church the four lions transformed into the four living creatures that symbolize the four evangelists–the man (St. Mark). John). the lion (St. the thinker of the heroic Trio. and mind. Bors. body. The hermit explained the symbolism of the miracle that the knights had witnessed: For to you has Our Lord revealed His secrets and His hidden mysteries. and Bors were wandering through a forest when they saw a “white hart with its four attendant lions. He showed the transmutation that He underwent upon the Cross: cloaked there in the mortal garment of this human flesh. Nagini.Perceval decapitates the serpent. as when he had to decide whether to rescue his beloved brother Sir Lionel or an innocent maiden who was being abducted by an evil knight. which led them to a chapel where the Mass was being sung by a holy hermit. Percival. the eagle (St. Matthew). unlike Perceval. Perceval. and the bull (St.

—The Quest of the Holy Grail (244) It is only after they have had the vision of the transformation of the white stag that the three knights are able to find the Holy Grail. when the way seems darkest. which accounts for its appearance in this context. But often. John Matthews explains the symbolism of the white stag with relationship to the Holy Grail quest: To reach the temple of the Grail. In medieval iconography the stag was identified with Christ and the soul’s thirst for God. Harry. the knights who set out from Camelot must undergo many tests and experience terrible ordeals. which was human flesh He took in the Blessed Virgin’s womb. Rowling’s Harry Potter by Denise . (Matthews 88) The appearance of the White Stag in the Quest for the Holy Grail has a direct parallel in the appearance of the mysterious Silver Doe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.hide. to lead them forward through the mazes of forest and hill. In The Grail: Quest for the Eternal. the enigmatic white stag or hermit figure appears. K. and Hermione have had no success in destroying the Horcruxes until the Silver Doe appears to lead Harry to the forest pool when the Sword of Gryffindor lay hidden beneath the ice. Intrigued by this blog post? You can read more in The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. Ron.

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