The Quest for the Grail : Jungian Perspectives on Arthurian Legend

As we head into the long, dark nights of Winter, we, like our people in the past, draw ourselves closer to the fire and tell stories in the flickering light. The stories for this lecture are those of chivalry, heroism, the royal court of Arthur, damsels in distress, Merlin’s trickery and tales of valour. In this lecture I first want to outline the history of the Grail in terms of the Arthurian literature. Important for us is to see how the origins of the Grail are understood from a variety of perspectives – yet ultimately coalesce around the theme of archetypes. What is the Grail a symbol of? How are the Grail, the lance and the Fisher King related? In the Celtic myth of Peredur, the Grail contains a severed head, in Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval it contains the Host, yet in von Eschenbach’s Parsifal it is a stone – why such variation? The second core issue is to focus on the unasked questions of Perceval – “Why does the Lance bleed?” “Who is fed from the Grail?” but most critically, and especially from a Jungian perspective – “What ails Thee my King?” The last question is one to which we all have to attend as part of our lifelong journey of individuation.

Lecture: Oct. 29, 2010 7:30 – 9:45 PM

University of Victoria—David Strong Building, C116