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Grail, the Holy

One of the legend cycles of the Middle Ages centered in the Holy Grail (or Graal), the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper. According to the legend the cup was neither lost nor destroyed but was taken away to some safe hiding place where it became the source of many miracles. The legend cycle consists of tales of men, Galahad among them, who dedicated themselves to a search for that which was lost, who did not find it and yet who in a fashion did find it, because the dedication and the search for something holy became for the searcher what the grail itself might have been.

This search for that which was lost was the motif for many tales, poems, ballads, pictures, and dedications where it was not a cup that was lost but something else: the lost pronunciation of the Hebrew name of God; the lost sanctuary; the lost secrets of transmutation in alchemy; the search for a lost pearl; for the blue bird; in an ancient Chinese classic it is a tale of the search for a lost empress; the Spanish Conquistadores came up into the center of America searching for the lost Man of Gold, or the Gran Quivera; the Mayas searched for the bird which had given its plumage to their gods; American Indians have for generations had a ritualistic search for Montezuma; and there is another legend also of how certain Masons searched for a Word in which was contained the secrets of their art. The search for the Grail is no isolated tale, but one form of a theme as old and as wide as the world. Tennyson, and Van Dyke, and Maeterlinek, and the authors of the Golden Legend, and Malory, and an endless procession of poets have also written poems and tales of the search for the grail, each in his own fashion. Freemasons can be proud that one of their own number and of their own scholarship has written what may be the most complete and scholarly and inspired of the many histories of the legend: The Holy Graal; Its Legends anus Symbolism, by Arthur Edward Waite; Rider & Co.; London; 1933. It contains a chapter on Freemasonry, and exhaustive bibliographies. It is Waite's greatest book.

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