Grail knights as medieval examples of spiritual relationships

Everybody knows the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Stories about brave knights who would save maidens from evil knights or dragons.

In this period a new topic appeared in literature: courtly love. Courtly love was a medieval European literary conception of love that emphasized nobility and chivalry. Medieval literature is filled with examples of knights setting out on adventures and performing various services for ladies because of their “courtly love”. Courtly love was closely connected to the quest for the Holy Grail. And, since this Holy Grail was a highly feminine concept as a result the appreciation of the female grew much higher. Women with their magical ability to create and bear children are in fact Holy Grails of sorts.

As said women in Courtly Love literature were treated with the highest regards. These women often had a high degree of purity and often were good. Of course there were evil women too, just as there were bad knights. Many knights would battle in honor for one queen. These knights would love this queen even if it would mean their deaths, but there was no physical consummation.

One curious thing about this is that knights would always leave again in search of new quests. There was no ‘and they lived happily ever after’. There was always another dragon or evil knight to be slain. Even if the knight would have had a young family. And yet: these knights were no barbarians. It hurt to depart the ones you loved. For the female it would be also have been be difficult. She would lose the protection of her lover and become subject to the advances of other knights. And still she waved him goodbye. Duty called and honor sent a pigeon. Why was this so?

Courtly love and the grail quest were mystery traditions which elevated the actions of the knights from their mundane world into the spiritual world. But still their actions were in the here and now and the center focus of all was a Love. This Love later became Christian, but before that it had the pagan Love for the Goddess.

You would show your devotion to the Goddess to go and fight for what is right in every way possible. The Goddess would offer you quests which you were not allowed to reject. The bigger the quest with the greater dangers, meant the more honor which you could gain. Only a coward would run away from such a quest. A courageous knight would accept these quests. In his heart there was a great faith that if he would follow his heart, the Goddess would take care of him. If the quest would fail, the cause would be the knight and not the difficulty of the quest.

There are great symbolical mysteries concealed in the knights jousting with each other and knights saving maidens from dragons. When you look at it from an energetic perspective, the battles are clashes of pure forces of the spirit with unclean forces of the body. The pure forces are represented by the maidens and the impure forces by the evil knights and dragons. In the victory of the good knight, he has been able to purify unclean aspects within himself and / or of society. The more battles he would win, the more energetically cleansed he would be. His battles are considered good deeds with the ultimate reward of receiving the Holy Grail.

These challenges would always remain. The knight was not permitted to stop his holy quest. It was a way of life. For this reason, the knight would stay with a maiden only to recover from his wounds and then go on for other quests. The idea that knights would fight for a maiden and stay with in a long term relationship is a romantic fabrication.

The relationships of grail knights with their maidens can be seen as medieval examples of spiritual relationships. Yes, you would find and connect with each other on that quest at that time, but as soon as the quest was completed, the need for the relationship disappeared and one would let the other go. In search for other quests in order to grow spiritually as much as possible.


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