Joseph of Arimathea took from the Vessel a host made in the likeness of bread. As he raised it aloft there descended from above a figure like to a child, whose countenance glowed and blazed as bright as fire; and he entered into the bread, which quite distinctly took on human form before the eyes of those assembled there. When Joseph has stood for some while holding his burden up to view, he replaced it in the Holy Vessel. -The Quest for the Holy Grail, trans. Pauline Matarasso
Joseph of Arimathea comes down to us in history as the man who claimed the body of Jesus and buried him in his family tomb. But legend gives that he collected the blood of Jesus at the crucifixion and journeyed to what is now Glastonbury and founded the Abbey there, linking him to the Arthurian legend. The vessel or chalice he used is the vessel used at the last supper and is forever known by its proper name, the Holy Grail.
Initially, we see that the vessel is like a chalice aligned with the biological body. The base is the chest housing the heart, the container itself as the human skull holding the brain and the stand is the neck where the throat acts as a conduit between the head and heart. The mind is for knowledge which in turn gives to wisdom, what the Veda’s call the highest path to enlightenment. The heart is compassion, altruism, love, and intuition. It is not easy to resolve conflicts between the head and the heart. They emerge as the initial pair of opposites that can achieve harmony with life and thus able to move in a centered direction.
In an act of transition, a child descends all aglow as fire which burns away human frailties, resulting in immortality, the immovable spot of a flame in Buddhist teachings. The child enters into the host which in turn takes on human form… a virgin birth, the body of the Christ. The host is bread, golden fields of wheat, a life nourishing substance in the temporal world. This child is lost to us by the illusion that is Maya. We must go back to the innocence of a child but with the wisdom, we’ve gained from living.
This wisdom is given in the form of dreams, both in the waking state and in deep sleep, a rich mythology of archetypes and symbols laced in synchronicity so that life can make sense of itself, just as Theseus laid thread down so he could find his way out of the labyrinth. It tells us we too can find our way out by utilizing the thread of wisdom.
Who is this child? Plato’s daimon, Buddha nature, the Christ within, Shiva’s dance, Jung’s Telesphoros… conductor to our dreams. Its fire like glow… the light of enlightenment burning through the dark regions of the universe all obstacles on our way to the sun. Our imperfections melting down opposites into a whole centered life in temporal form. It burns brighter as we embrace each epiphany in life. We entered into the bread, within the holy vessel to find our daimon by embodying our quest… Thus our labor is held high, seen by those who can appreciate the secret knowledge which abounds everywhere but discovered by so few.
*Photos of Glastonbury Abbey courtesy of Pixabay