Julius Evola on the Virtues of the Grail

In The Mystery of the Grail: Initiation and Magic in the Quest for the Spirit, Julius Evola examines the Grail Legend from a spiritual perspective, particularly in terms of a pre-Christian initiatory tradition. As such, the Grail is not a physical object, but is seen as a transcendent element or state of spiritual enlightenment. 

Evola outlined six main virtues of the Grail that allude to its transcendental nature, as follows:

1. The Virtue of Light

The Grail radiates a supernatural light in many legends. The Fisher King can light his path with it, and Galahad calls it “the wonder of wonders.” It fills Joseph of Arimathea with the Holy Spirit and makes his 42 years in jail seem like three days (so it can also take people beyond time too). This Virtue of Light is called “an enlightening virtue” by Evola. (The Mystery of the Grail, pp. 64-65) 

2. Gives Nourishment and Life

The Grail provides such complete nourishment that every material craving is abolished. In the Perceval li Gallois, the guests forget to eat and Gawain enters an ecstatic trance and obtains a vision of angels. (65)

3. The Gift of Life

The Grail has the power to heal mortal wounds and to supernaturally renew and prolong life. (66)

4. Power of Victory and Domination 

Those who glimpse the Grail, “besides rejoicing with eternal joy, will never be deprived of their right or defeated in battle” (66).

5. A Destroying Virtue

Some people are harmed or destroyed by the Grail. It “blinds, incinerates, and may even act as a sort of vortex” (67). As such, it acts as a kind of test for spiritual worthiness. Its power can destroy “those who try to hold it without having the proper qualifications, or who attempt to usurp it by repeating the Titanic, Luciferian, or Promethean deed.”

In Le Morte D’Arthur, Lancelot is struck in the face by fire, falls to the ground, loses control of his limbs and was in a state of apparent death for 24 days. Evola says: “Obviously this was an initiatory state, or a state in which the participation in the power of the Grail is made possible by the suspension of the waking consciousness and of the individual limitation relative to it. This avoids the negative, destructive, and overpowering effect that the experience of the contact has in those who are not able to shift to higher forms of consciousness or other states of being” (69).

6. The Double-Virtue of the Grail

The double virtue of the Grail refers to the symbolism of the Grail together with the Lance. The cup is the “feminine, vivifying, and enlightening aspect” and the lance is the “virile, fiery, or regal . . . aspect of the same principle.” The cup “corresponds to the holy wisdom and the [lance] to the dimension of fire and denomination of the same principle” (69).

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It’s apparent that the Grail is not simply a Christian legend, but an esoteric symbol with roots in the pre-Christian Traditions. Numerous other symbols from the Grail Cycle are detailed in Evola’s Mystery of the Grail. It’s also his only book that delves into Christian symbolism, albeit from the standpoint that the legend has a Nordic-Celtic Hyperborean origin. Also of interest in the book is Evola’s analysis of the Grail mythos as an attempt of medieval Ghibellines to restore the Western world back to the Holy Roman Empire and a transcendent, spiritual basis.