So we all know that the Holy Grail might have been a cup featured in the Last Supper and used to collect blood from Jesus while he hung on the cross. Or, conversely, the Holy Grail is actually the bloodline of Jesus – an unbroken chain of descendants from the children of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. But what if it was none of these things and was actually a magical stone?
But what if the Holy Grail actually originated with Satan – the lord of all darkness? And it was a stone!
Let me run you through the theory in outline. The New Testament ends with a very strange and apocalyptic section called the Book of Revelation. it describes a war that raged in heaven when the Devil attempted to overthrow God. The Archangel Michael leads the good angels against the rebel angels whose leader, the soon-to-be Devil, is often referred to as Lucifer.
Lucifer was incredibly beautiful and gifted and God favoured him above all the other angels. His fondness for Lucifer is what made the angel’s betrayal that much worse. Is this mentioned in the bible? Not exactly. It’s an account that has evolved over the centuries. But it’s loosely based on a few verses in Ezekiel where a very angry God (isn’t he always in the Old Testament?) lays out what terrible punishments he intends to inflict on the King of Tyre – an implacable enemy of the Israelites.
These verses touch on the king’s beauty and wisdom, how his pride will be his ruin and how his downfall will be full of agony and torment. Curiously, at one point, the passage refers to the king as having been in the Garden of Eden. That clearly was unlikely – unless he’d lived to an astonishing age. And this is what has been seized on to suggest that the King of Tyre isn’t really the subject of these verses at all. It’s therefore assumed by some that God is instead referring at this point to none other than Satan.
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The Holy Grail as a stone – popping out of Satan’s head!
As a result of rebelling, Satan was ejected from the heavens with considerable force. And as he tumbled down to his new realm of hell, a stone popped out of his crown and hurtled to the earth. This is the so-called Lapis Exillis. And it’s this magical pebble which is mentioned by the medieval author and knight, Wolfram von Eschenbach. He wrote his own version of the legend of the Arthurian legend called Parzival. And in this tale of valiant warriors, he refers to the Templars and the sacred stone they guarded – the Lapis Exillis – also known as the Grail.
One of the properties of this stone was that merely by sitting on top of it, the legendary Phoenix was firstly burnt to a crisp and then reborn from magical flames. Even human beings who gazed upon the stone were incapable of dying for a week. And if you stuck around the stone long enough, you might endure for two hundred years without ever ageing.
In this account then, we have a stone that brings the Phoenix back to life and stops people from ageing, which is guarded by Templar knights. Eschenbach was indeed a contemporary of the Knights Templar and did service as a crusader in the Holy Land. This has given rise to the idea that not only did he rub shoulders with Templars but got wind of the strange and secret rites they indulged in – which he wove into his Parzival epic.
The Holy Grail stone is called Lapis Exillis
The name of the stone – Lapis Exillis – has generated lots of detective work. Different theories basically on what the Latin means. One notion is that the words should be read: lapis de coelis. If you did Latin at school, you’ll know that roughly translates as ‘stone from heaven’. I now anticipate a hail of abuse from Latin grammarians yelling that ain’t true. But – indulge me for a moment – because it would give rise to the idea that the stone was an astronomical phenomenon.
You see – some have speculated that the stone that fell from the Devil’s crown was a meteorite. They point to the frequency of meteor worship in ancient cultures from ancient Egypt to the Roman Empire. Take for example the wayward teenage Roman emperor Elagabalus (pictured below) who brought an object called the Black Stone of Emesa and its high priest to be worshipped in the city. He was later murdered by the Praetorian Guard but the stone shows an already established cult around meteors.
Today in Mecca, millions of Muslims venerate a black stone at the Kaaba that some claim is a meteor – though that is disputed. It clearly originated in pre-Islamic Arabia and has somehow been integrated into the holiest place in Islam. Important to say the black stone is not worshipped as an idol. But there it is – a meteor in Mecca still venerated by pilgrims every year.
Objects that fall from heaven with sacred power is a recurring theme in ancient mythology. A wooden figure of the goddess Pallas Athene was said to have fallen from the skies. It was used to protect the city of Troy and later reputedly ended up in Rome where it guaranteed the strength of the empire.
Long before the Roman empire was founded, the city was ruled by Etruscan kings and the second of these kings – Numa Pompilius – possessed a magical shield called the Ancile that fell from heaven. Several Roman writers described it including Ovid, Livy and Suetonius. Ovid described the moment when Numa, wearing a white hood, begged the god Jupiter to send him holy weapons and as he implored, the skies raged furiously with thunder, then “yawned” and a shield landed at the king’s feet.
So – the Holy Grail as a magical stone that fell as a fireball from above. Any takers?