What is the Grail?

St Johns Chalice Bakewell England

In truth the Grail did not emerge strongly into the popular culture until around the 12th and 13th centuries with the familiar poems and stories written by Chretien de Troyes, Wolfram von Echenbach and others, but traces of its idea in Celtic cauldrons and various legends can and have been found.

It is believed basically and originally to be the cup that caught the blood of Christ as he hung from the cross or was even used by him at the last supper. The most recent beliefs are in stark contrast to this and yet still back up the Christ mythos and even various royalist propaganda as we shall see.

Ever since the publication of The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail by the authors, Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln in the early 80’s we have had a constant barrage of “bloodline” theories thrown at us, culminating in The Da Vinci Code hysteria we see today.

This recent concept gives us the idea that the original word or words used for the Grail; san graal in reality means ‘Holy Blood’. However, Walter Skeat (1835–1912 AD) was one of the greatest investigators of the roots of the English language and in his English Etymology, he points out that the etymology of the Holy Grail:

‘ . . . was very early falsified by an intentional change from San Greal (Holy Dish) to Sang Real (Royal Blood.)’

Skeat claims that the word was a corruption of the Low Latin, cratella, a “small bowl,” or “crater” which actually and originally meant a bowl in which things were mixed, from the Greek kpa – “I mix.”

Of course, before the evidence in The Serpent Grail is released then this etymology makes little or no sense, but as we shall see, all shall become clear.

St Johns Chalice Southwell England

But, there was more than the actual etymology of the 80’s theory that we needed to look at, in-order to “prove it to be incorrect” as we believed it was. In the first place and most strongly we have shown in the new book that Christ, as a literal man, and in all likeliehood all those surrounding him, may never have in fact existed and were created elements of a much older mystical language of enlightenment. Therefore both existing theories on the Holy Grail would fall. There can be no chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper or a vessel which caught his blood. There can also be no “children” of Christ spawning the Merovingian lineage. There is in fact no Bloodline at all and Christ is in reality an ancient serpent archetypal deity, as too are St. John, Horus, Aesculapius and a thousand others.

In-order to disprove the bloodline theory we also have to look at the infamous Priory of Sion nonsense. For those who know nothing of this Priory, it is simply a re-creation of a supposed secret organisation said to protect the bloodline of Christ by the fraudster Pierre Plantard. Indeed we even got hold of his early “Newsletters” and found that they were nothing more than a kind of ‘neighbourhood watch’. We shall reveal in our new version of The Shining Ones (due Sept 2006) that the whole thing was a complete fraud to bolster the ego of Mr Plantard and make money for the local hotelier at Rennes.

Three levels of our Grail re-analysis

So, with all this in mind we needed to completely re-appraise the whole mythos of the Grail and what we were to find was startling.

There is the obvious tradition that the Grail is a journey, a method of self improvement and we looked into all the texts we could find with this Gnostic viewpoint in mind. We found that this was completely correct and that Grail literature was in reality hiding the Gnostic traditions of the “mixing of the opposites”.

This is in essence where the split personalities of the “mind” are re-joined repetitively in-order to “make the perfect man” – symbolised by alchemists as the Androgyne or Hermaphrodite (Hermes and Aphrodite, man and woman united within us). The process is of course much deeper than this and would take too long to explain in full, suffice it to say that this mixing procedure occurred in the “brain” and therefore the skull, and was envisaged in colours symbolically as red and white.

White knight slays red dragon, Lichfield Cathedral

This brain or skull location became apparent in other cultures from where the European Gnostic ideas had also arisen, one of these being the Tantric Skull cups of India and even in the story of Christ as he spills his sacrificial blood at Golgotha – the place of the skull.

In essence the whole mystical process was virtually the same the world over and is commonly known today as the Kundalini. This is an Eastern tradition of attaining enlightenment and means coiled serpent. It is the method of raising up twin serpents through a specific psychological process until one is completely illuminated – obtained the Grail. In each case, from around the world, this process related to the serpent or snake or dragon, each one being for this mythical purpose the same thing. It can be seen clearly today in the infamous image of the Caduceus upon medical insignia, ambulances, hospitals and elsewhere. It can also be seen in the powerful representation of the Uraeus serpent, which emerges from the forehead of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Thrysos in bowl, Notre Dame, Paris

Now what we discovered during the course of our research was the amazing occurrence of the serpent in myth, folklore and religion across the entire world and in every period.

We can see its origins even as far back as ancient Africa where even today the serpent is pinned to a tree or cross as a sacrifice for the community. This is a continuance of a system, which stretches back in time for thousands of years. It is a symbolic element but it also has a practical level, as we shall see. Even as late as the 16th century there were German coins caller Thalers with Christ on the cross on one side and a snake on a cross on the reverse. The image was said to depict the “all-healer.”

We can also see the serpent influence in the Bible as early as Adam and Eve. Believe it or not, Eve actually means female serpent, coming from the root hawwah or hevviah, and is derived from, amongst others, the goddess Ninlil the Sumerian serpent deity also associated with the goddess Asherah, who was seen in the Temple of Jerusalem as a tree entwined with serpents. Even the constellation “serpens” was called “little eve” by certain Arabs.

Adam was fabled to be the father of Seth, who was called the “Son of Serpents”.

The serpent was not bringing mankind down at all – he was making Adam and Eve like “God”, he was bestowing the ultimate knowledge. This is Gnostic language for the very knowledge to be found within oneself via the union of the male and female opposites and a whole process of psychological growth imaged as the Kundalini.

We even see the ultimate image of Godhead or enlightenment in the aura or halo seen around the heads of saints. This image we show derived from the hooded cobra of India as a symbol of immortality and divine serpentine wisdom.

In Malta we uncovered elongated skulls of certain priests dating right back to the Temple building era. These skulls were created using planks of wood on the heads of babies, in-order to make the individual appear serpent headed, with long drawn eyes and stretched skin. These people were known as serpent priests and the elongation of the skulls made the glands in the brain secrete certain mind or consciousness-altering inducing hormones, beneficial to the enlightenment experience and altered states of consciousness.

Of course Malta itself is overrun with serpent folklore, the latest being that of St. Paul. This is a story created in the 13th century whereby St. Paul is said to have shipwrecked on Malta and subdued the vicious serpents and then to have gone on and healed people with his new found serpentine power. Of course none of this happened, but you can’t knock the Christians for their marketing skills.

Having now, we believe, sufficiently proven the fact of worldwide serpent worship, and basically reinforced what certain Victorian scholars had failed to bring full weight to because of Christian fear, we moved on and into each and everyone of these traditions.

In each case the serpent or snake was a symbol of wisdom and immortality.

The wisdom element of the serpent could now be explained via the “awakening” of the “coiled serpent” or Kundalini process, but this did not entirely explain the immortality aspect of the serpent symbolism. For an explanation of this we had to turn to science, and it was really here that the whole process had started in the first place.

The Elixir

17th century pharmacy sign Paris

Before I had ever thought about writing a book on the Grail, Elixir or Philosophers Stone, I had released The Shining Ones and had just finished doing lots of publicity and radio. I was now, at this stage, looking around for something else to have a go at. Well, one night I lay in bed reading some fusty old book about alchemy.

I know others might have different ideas about what to do in bed, but this is my normal nightly routine – I am a real life Casanova.

It was about 1:00 am and I was having a cup of tea, when my wife, who was reading her medical journals, said something about snake venom and T-cells. It didn’t make any sense so I asked her to elucidate.

P Gardiner in Paris

She explained that scientists had found that certain elements of snake venom had been recently found to help T-cell replication. T-cells she said were the things that helped our immune system – keeping us alive.

Well, my mind went into overdrive as I already even at this stage knew a lot about serpents, dragons and their symbolic elements in the legends of Arthur and others. I instantly knew or was “enlightened” to the fact that this was a physical side of the symbolic immortality of the snake and so two years of research began into the snake, its myths and now, science.

What I found following an awful lot of scientific research and cross checking was that the unique proteins, peptides, polypeptides and enzymes found within snake venom had in fact been used by ancient man for thousands of years in all kinds of medical applications and that it was even amazingly mixed with the snakes or a hosts blood. This was the red and white mixing together to aid the health and boost the life of the individual. We amazingly found that this was mixed within a “mixing bowl” or skull and then drunk as an Elixir of Life and that this had then come down to us as one of the elements of the Holy Grail.

As snake venom is by dry weight 90% protein, the substance was also made into a “stone” or pill. We also found that snake venom has psychoactive properties which induce altered states of consciousness and mystical experiences, much akin to those needed for the true enlightenment experience. It was therefore seen physically as a method of meeting with the “gods”.

In both ways then, as a serious vitamin pill and as a key to the mystical world, the venom of the snake was a unique product.

To add to this we then found that the same “Christ” who it was said provided the blood of “everlasting life” in the chalice, was seen originally in early Christian and Gnostic cults, such as the Ophites or snake worshippers, as nothing more than a serpent himself!

“Just as Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, so too must Christ be lifted up” – says the Bible and so he was.

Brazen Serpent & Moses, Salisbury cathedral

Early Christians even had a Eucharist of the Agathodemon or “good serpent”, enacted with live snakes and a special chalice, and this became the fabled Holy Grail we all know so well today. In the early years of Christianity Jesus was even imaged as a snake on a Tau cross.

Going back to ancient Africa though, we noted the similarity even here of the crucified Christ and the serpent pinned to the tree. But what we also found was that these same people were then actually taking the various parts of the snake and using them for healing, with the saliva or venom producing glands being the most treasured.

Another side effect of taking the snake venom is the genetic malformations created by the huge amounts of protein and one of these malformations is cranial – thereby elongating the skull, just as those we found on Malta.


Ouroborus, death and rebirth, skull and child

Although we do not have the space to explain the Philosophers Stone in this short article, we did find that this truly represented both the Gnostic and duality aspect of the wisdom side of the serpent and also was used as a cover for the true mixing of the venom and blood within alchemical texts. As the infamous grail author Wolfram von Echenbach himself claimed that the stone and the grail were one and the same, we indeed found this to be the case.

Basically then, the whole Grail mythos is wrong. Not just the latest “bloodline” theory, but also the original concept of it being the literal cup which caught the blood of Christ. In fact this element of the myth is symbolic and should remain as such, for Christ as the good serpent did provide his true Elixir of eternal life, in both Gnostic psychological concepts such as the Kundalini and also in the literal venom and blood of the snake. An indication of Christ as the serpent was also found in the sloughing of skin. Snakes regularly slough their skin and the ancients saw this as a re-birth. This was copied with Christ entering the cave and sloughing his shroud.

Arthur, as a literary figure, was chosen as the modern “saviour” to re-discover this chalice because he was the Pendragon. Pen means head and therefore Arthur is the head dragon or serpent, just as Jesus was.

What we also find in the book is that every single royal lineage on the globe has claimed descent from the serpent. Whether it be the Merovingian or the Chinese Dragon Emperors – they are all claiming to be descended from the “bloodline” of the serpent!

The history of the world is certainly not as we once thought.

Philip Gardiner and Gary Osborn

Philip Gardiner and Gary Osborn can be contacted via their own websites: www.gardinerosborn.com, www.philipgardiner.net, www.serpentgrail.com, www.theshiningones.com

The next book from both authors will be The Shining Ones: The World’s Most Powerful Secret Society Revealed in Sept 2006 – a revised and updated edition of the best selling The Shining Ones by Philip Gardiner. From Philip Gardiner in Spring 2006 there will be Gnosis: The Secret of Solomon’s Temple Revealed and in Spring 2007 there will be Gateway to the Serpent Realm: Is there life after death.

Following and during this both authors are working on television documentaries to accompany the books as well as doing tours around the world in association with www.powerplaces.com. They will also be doing numerous media appearances and conferences.