By Robert Powell

He said there was a thing called the Grail
whose name he had read clearly
In the Constellations.
A host of angels left it on the earth
and then flew away up over the stars.

(trsl. H. Mustard and C. Passage, New York, 1961, p.244)

From the words quoted here it is evident that a cosmic mystery is connected with the Holy Grail, for reference is made to the stellar constellations and to a host of angels. This angelic host bore the Grail, left it on the earth, and then returned to the world of stars. How is this to be understood?

Legend connects the Holy Grail with the sacred vessel used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, and which at the crucifixion Joseph of Arimathea held under the Cross in order to collect some of the Messiah's holy blood in it. The Grail thus bore the essence of Christ's Being, and symbolizes the mystery bound up with his blood, which became sacrificed for the redemption of the earth and mankind. At the Last Supper the holy vessel bore the wine which Jesus Christ blessed and handed to his disciples, saying: "Take the wine and share it among you; henceforth I shall drink no wine, until the Kingdom of God comes. Now a new era and a new sacrifice is beginning, which will last until the end of the world." According to legend, this was the same vessel with which Melchizedek instituted the sacrifice of bread and wine, which he handed over to Abraham, the founding father of the people of Israel. From Abraham the sacred vessel became handed down to Moses, and later it became part of the treasures of the Temple, remaining in the temple until the time of Jesus Christ, when through divine dispensation - it became sold to one of his followers in Jerusalem.

Whatever the actual origins of the sacred vessel used at the Last Supper may be, it clearly symbolizes a mystery: the mystery of the covenant between God and humanity. The first covenant - at which Melchizedek played the role of mediator - was between God and the people of Israel, represented by Abraham; for Melchizedek, king of Salem, was priest of the Most High God. And the second covenant, instituted at the Last Supper, was between the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and his followers, represented by the disciples. The covenant was brought to fulfilment at the crucifixion as the blood of Christ united with the earth. This was the covenant, by way of Christ's blood, with the earth itself. And it was the mystery of the eternal covenant with the earth to which Joseph of Arimathea aspired, when he held up the sacred vessel to receive some of the blood as it issued forth from Christ's wounds. This mystery, however, has a cosmic dimension which could not be grasped by human beings at the time of Christ. For this reason the Mystery of Christ, symbolized by the Holy Grail, became preserved by angels until the time became ripe for it to be revealed.

As the Grail legend recounts, angels brought the Grail to Titurel, a mysterious and highly spiritual human being, who - like his predecessor Melchizedek in antiquity - in the service of the Most High God instituted the mystery of the communion from the Grail, and founded the brotherhood of the Holy Grail. The Grail family descended from Titurel, and those called to serve the Holy Grail were able to grasp something of the Mystery of Christ more on the level of feelings, rather than in a fully conscious way. A more conscious participation in the Mystery of Christ was reserved for a later period of time, for the Age of the Second Coming of Christ.

Here is an analogy between the communion instituted by Melchizedek as preparation for the institution by Christ himself of the Holy Sacrament at the Last Supper, and the communion instituted by Titurel as preparation for the more conscious participation in the mystery of the Holy Grail that is now becoming possible through the Second Coming of Christ.

In the space of this article only the briefest indications may be given concerning the Age of the Second Coming of Christ - the coming of the Resurrected One in spiritual form, as a figure of Light - the onset of which began earlier this century, and will last some 2500 years. (For the source of the ideas concerning the dating of the Second Coming, readers are referred to the appendix entitled "The Second Coming" in my book Hermetic Astrology, Vol.II: Astrology and Reincarnation published in 1987 by Hermetika, Kinsau, West Germany; distributed by Element Books & in the USA by the American Federation of Astrologers and Golden Stone Press, Box 233, RD2, Harlemville, NY 12075.)

Just as the angels bore the Grail down from the cosmic realms to Titurel, so, with the onset of the Second Coming, Christ himself descended from the cosmos towards the Earth, passing through the sphere of the angels - cosmically the sphere 'bounded by the orbit of the Moon - between 1920 and 1933. After this came the onset of the Second Coming in the human realm, the earthly sphere, which may be dated to 1932/1933.

The period from 1920 to 1932 is of special significance, for during this time the Grail Mystery became renewed within the angelic realm not just on the level of feeling, but embracing human will, feeling, thinking, and also the self of the human being. At the time of Titurel the possibility was opened up for those in the brother hood of the Holy Grail to experience something of the Mystery of Christ on the level of feeling. This was enabled by way of the connection established between the angelic realm - in which this Mystery has been guarded since the time of Christ - and the human realm, beginning with Titurel. This was only a preparation, however, for the time when Christ himself would enter the angelic realm, when experience of the renewed Grail Mystery would become more fully possible. This was during the period 1920 to 1933, during which a new connection between the angelic kingdom, i.e. the Moon sphere and the human kingdom on earth would become opened up. But just as an individual worthy to fulfil the task of bearing the Grail Mystery to human beings had to be found at the time of Titurel, so in the period following 1920 an individual was sought who would be worthy of bringing the new Grail Impulse to mankind. This was Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), founder of the Anthroposophical Society.

In fact, preparation for this task had begun in Rudolf Steiner's life already long before, parallel with the descent of Christ from cosmic realms. This descent may be followed with the help of a particular cosmic rhythm - the passage of Jupiter through the constellations of the zodiac. But in accordance with the cosmic nature of Christ, the Spirit of the Sun, it is the heliocentric orbit of Jupiter that is relevant. (Heliocentric means Sun-centered, signifying the orbits of the planets against a back- ground of the starry constellations as seen from the sun.) And the division of the constellations into unequal stellar groupings as in modern astronomy is not quite accurate; rather, it is the predecessor of the astronomical zodiac - the original astronomical/astrological zodiac of the Babylonians, Egyptians and ancient Greeks - which is relevant here. This Zodiac, known as the sidereal zodiac, comprises a division of the constellations into twelve equal stellar groupings each 30 degrees long, i.e. twelve sidereal signs in which the 30 degree sidereal signs coincide approximately with the constellations of the astronomical zodiac (see figure ):

In particular, it is the entrance (ingress) of Jupiter- viewed heliocentrically -into the sidereal sign of Leo which evidently is the most important rhythm underlying the descent of Christ from cosmic realms towards the earth. This rhythm repeats itself every twelve years, less approximately seven weeks. The heliocentric ingress of Jupiter into sidereal Leo took place close to the summer solstice in 1920 and recurred again around Ascension day in the year 1932. It was during this period that the passage of Christ through the angelic realm (Moon sphere) took place. Harmonizing with this rhythm of Jupiter, it emerges that the onset of the Second Coming - the reappearance of the Resurrected Christ in a spiritual form - in the human realm (the earthly sphere) coincided more or less with Ascension day in 1932 (Thursday, May 5th).

It was on Ascension day in the year AD 33 (Thursday, May 14th) that Jesus Christ, in his resurrection body, departed from the earthly realm to begin his ascent to the cosmic realm of the Father, entering on the path of this ascent first of all into the angelic realm (Moon Sphere) bordering onto the human realm. On this day the Resurrected One, accompanied by his disciples, proceeded to the summit of the Mount of Olives, becoming ever more resplendent with light as he made his way. Upon reaching the summit he shone with a light more radiant than the midday Sun. Then he raised his right hand and laid his left hand across his breast; turning slowly he blessed the whole world. The glory of the light emanating from Jesus Christ became greater and greater until he disappeared into the cloud of right. From this light two angels then appeared and addressed the apostles and disciples left behind on the Mount of Olives, saying in resounding tones: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." The angels then vanished into the receding cloud of light, returning to the angelic realm, the sphere bounded by the orbit of the Moon.

Just as the Resurrected One departed from the earthly realm in this way on Ascension day AD 33, it emerges that his return - as promised by the angels accompanying him - began some nineteen centuries later, around Ascension day in the year 1932. This coincided fairly closely with the heliocentric ingress of Jupiter into sidereal Leo.

The modern quest for the Holy Grail is the search for the Resurrected Christ, the Risen One, who through his Second Coming has inaugurated a New Age. And a modern-day science of the Grail is the task of grasping the cosmic mystery of Christ, which remained concealed to human beings (although sensed by some, such as Joseph of Arimathea) at the start of the Christian era, and only glimpses of which were possible to members of the brotherhood of the Holy Grail founded by Titurel in the eighth/ninth centuries AD. (Titurel was a contemporary of Charlememagne.)

A new star wisdom embodied in the new science of the Grail is concerned, among other things, with the mystery of communion, that is, the cosmic communion between man and the world of stars: Star Wisdom, in the light of the Holy Grail, has the task of discerning when the cosmic configurations arise which are propitious for the inner communion of the human being with the Risen One. Such a configuration is indicated by Jupiter's heliocentric ingress into sidereal Leo. It was precisely this configuration which prevailed at Rudolph Steiner's birth on February 25, 1861. (See Hermetic Astrology, Vol. I, Chart 13, p.220). This configuration repeated itself, at twelve-year intervals, on: January 9th, 1873; November 24th, 1884; September 27th 1896; August 10th, 1908; June 20th, 1920 and May 1st, 1932. From Rudolf Steiner's birth until Michaelmas 1896 the descent of Christ from cosmic realms belonged to the Sun sphere, that of lofty spiritual beings (Kyriotetes, Dynamis, Exousiai) of the second hierarchy. On his path of descent through the Sun sphere, Christ was received into the realm of Kyriotetes without hindrance (1861-1873). But during the passage (1873- 1884) through the realm of the Dynamis he encountered resistance, which was mirrored on the earth in the Russo-Turkish war (1877-1873). The passage (1884-1896) through the realm of the Exusiai went unhindered, as also the descent (1896-1908) through the realm of the Archai, the Time Spirits.

It was shortly after the entrance of Christ into the realm of Archai that Rudolf Steiner underwent a profound experience, a Christian initiation, which changed the whole course of his life and prepared him to become a spiritual teacher with the task of proclaiming the approach of the Second Coming. At this time Christ was passing through the sphere of Archai, and Rudolf Steiner later wrote in his autobiography (The Course of my Life) of this deep experience as having taken place towards the end of the nineteenth century.

The passage (1908-1920) of Christ through the sphere of Archangels (Folk Spirits) called forth resistance, which became mirrored on earth as World War I (1914- 1918). Shortly after Christ's entrance into the cosmic sphere of the Archangels, Rudolf Steiner underwent an experience of Christ which enabled him to begin to proclaim with certainty that the Second Coming was underway and that soon some human beings would be able to behold the Risen One in the earthly realm (as did the disciples between Easter and Ascension in AD 33) - see, for example, the speech of Theodora in Rudolf Steiner's mystery drama The Portal of Initiation, which was first performed in Munich on August 15th, 1910.

The passage (1920-1932) of Christ through the sphere of the angels opened up a further new experience of the Second Coming for Rudolf Steiner. Arising out of this experience, he was called to inaugurate the Grail Mystery anew in the twentieth century, the culmination of which took place on Christmas day in the year 1923. At this Christmas Foundation Meeting of the Anthroposophical Society he was called - like Titurel more than one thousand years earlier- to renew the Grail Mystery, to establish a new connection between the human and angelic realms. The meditation revealed out of the angelic realm by Rudolf Steiner on this occasion - the Foundation Stone meditation - refers to the sacred stone of love ( a symbol for the Holy Grail), which embodies the Mystery of Christ (at that time descending through the angelic realm). The four verses of this meditation are directed to the human will, feeling, thinking and the self, to place themselves in connection with the cosmic ranks of the spiritual hierarchies and with the radiant Christ-Sun - the Risen One - coming again to mankind through the Second Coming, being born anew from the angelic realm into which he ascended on Ascension day AD 33.

A fully conscious experience of the content of this meditation is possible only from within the angelic realm from which it stems, where the Grail Mystery is guarded, but the endeavor of the human being to bring this meditation to realization within himself constitutes a step in the direction of forming a new link between human and angelic realms, towards a new participation in the Mystery of Christ.

The question remains: what is the significance of the Jupiter rhythm referred to above, and why should it be connected with the descent of Christ through the cosmic spheres of the hierarchies towards the earth?

The heliocentric orbit of Jupiter denotes the boundary of the stages of cosmic evolution known as Ancient Sun (see Chapter 8 of my book Hermetic Astrology, Vol. II: Astrological Biography). It was during this stage of evolution that the life-body of the human being was formed, and Christ's resurrected body is essentially a body of life infinitely more intense than that of human beings. The resurrection body is, so to say, a "piece of Sun", and it accords with the rhythm of Jupiter carried over as a memory from Ancient Sun. This rhythm, viewed heliocentrically, is such that Jupiter requires almost twelve years to make one orbit of the sidereal zodiac, thus spending about one year in each zodiac sign. But why should the ingress of Jupiter into sidereal Leo signify the starting point of this rhythm (with respect to Christ), rather than, say, its entrance into sidereal Aries?

Here it is a matter of a Mystery connected with the human heart, for the heart is formed out of the zodiacal forces emanating from sidereal Leo. And the heart - macrocosmically Leo - is the starting point for the development of the Christ Impulse, which is implanted in the heart of every human being. Rudolf Steiner referred to the heart as the center into which the Foundation Stone of love is to become implanted in order to unfold its spiritual potential. The ingress of Jupiter, heliocentrically, into sidereal Leo corresponds macrocosmically to the unfolding of the new cycle of the Christ Impulse, which may be taken up initially in the heart. In this light the designation of Christ as the "Lion of Judah" - obviously referring to the zodiacal sign of Leo - is highly appropriate.

Lastly, looking at the dates of Jupiter's heliocentric ingress into sidereal Leo - its return to the same zodiacal location as at Rudolf Steiner's birth - we arrive at the following dates since 1932: March 12th, 1944; January 22nd, 1956; December 3rd, 1967 and October 14th, 1979. These dates are connected with the further passage of Christ since the onset of the Second Coming in 1932. In the period 1932-1944, when the Second Coming began in the earthly sphere, Christ's coming called forth a resistance in the human realm, and this became mirrored in World War ll (1939-1945).

In each case the foregoing dates represent stages in the unfolding of the Christ Impulse in the New Age, that of the Second Coming, which began in 1932. Only the briefest indications can be given here of the historical manifestations of the upsurge of new heart impulses mirroring this unfolding, each taking place as Jupiter was in sidereal Leo (the following being the most striking manifestations in the social realm):

In 1956 : the popular uprising in Hungary for freedom;

In 1968 : the emergence in Czechoslovakia of "socialism with a human face".(Prague Spring);

In 1979/80: the arising of the Solidarity movement in Poland calling for liberalization .

The date of the next heliocentric ingress of Jupiter into sidereal Leo is August 25, 1991, and Jupiter will remain in Leo until September 1992. All the above dates, although given exactly, should not be treated as exact to the day, for it is a matter of the unfolding of a cosmic impulse, which - like the growth of a plant - occurs gently. But these dates can be taken as indicators of the gentle process of the unfolding of the Christ Impulse through the Second Coming. In this sense, it is the author's hope that this article may contribute towards new awareness of the cosmos and its rhythms, and of man's relationship to the cosmos in the quest of the Holy Grail, the search for a new and conscious communion with Christ, the cosmic communion, which the new star wisdom seeks to serve.

Author's Note:

The zodiac used in hermetic astrology is the sidereal zodiac which was originally defined by the Babylonians and was used by them from the fifth century B.C. onwards as an astronomical frame of reference and for casting horoscopes. This zodiac became transmitted to Egypt and was also used by early Greek astrologers. It even became transmitted to India, where it is still used to this day by Indian astrologers, albeit with minor modifications. An ephemeris for the period 1976-2000 listing daily positions of the Sun, Moon and planets in the sidereal zodiac has been compiled by Neil Michelsen and published (l by Astro Computing Services (The American Sidereal Ephemeris. 1976-2000 San Diego, 1981). Cf. Robert Powell and Peter Treadold, his home page for ASTRO EPHEMERIS The Sidereal Zodiac (AFA Publications Tempe, 1985) and Robert Powell, The Zodiac: A Historical Survey (ACS Publications, San Diego, 1984).