Two "Misleading" Books for Grail Seekers
Christoph Lindenberg with Comments by Robert J. Kelder
he following book review with
the original title “Jenseits von Wahrheit und Wirklichkeit – Zwei Irreführungen
für Gralssucher” first appeared in December 1974 in Die Drei –
Zeitschrift für Kunst, Wissenschaft und soziales Leben, the
monthly organ of the Anthroposophical Society in Stuttgart, Germany. It was reprinted
unchanged in no. 32 of the German journal Flensburger Hefte, 3/1991. The two
so-called misleading books referred to in the subtitle are How
the Grail Sites were Found – Wolfram von Eschenbach and the Reality of the
Grail by Werner Greub and the bestseller The Spear of Destiny by Trevor
For a long time I [Lindenberg] asked myself if it were not better to keep silent about these two books. After all, also a negative review makes advertisement for the books and promotes the sale. But never mind, this cannot be the ultimate consideration for a journal that is engaged in furthering anthroposophy. If under certain circumstances only few persons possess the technical means and the literary apparatus for – let us say carefully – ascertaining the facts, then they must make their findings available to a greater public.*
RJK: In this first paragraph the reviewer introduces himself as a kind of literary pope or even “apparatchik” who as one of the very selected few possesses the necessary “apparatus” to disseminate his newly found truths to the masses. In the following paragraph, he then presents his words as the golden (Christian) mean between the (Luciferic) sensationalism of a Trevor Ravenscroft and the (Ahrimanic) materialism of a Werner Greub. We shall see whether this review really furthered the cause of anthroposophy or rather the opposite.
An opinion on the problematic nature of the two publications is all the more important since the Grail theme is for many people today who are striving towards a knowledge of the supersensible something of an inward orientation. The path of Parzival from tumpfheit (dumbness) via zwivel (doubt) to saelde (bliss) is the path of the soul to the spirit, and the Grail myth represents inward experience in images, which can also be had today. It is all the more dubious when this world of images gets polluted by pseudo occult tabloid journalism (Ravenscroft) or so one-sidedly bound to matter by geographical localization (Greub) that Grail seekers will turn out to be pilgrim-tourists or excavators. Both of these misleading paths are symptomatic for our times that put our sense of judgment to the test.
RJK: The last sentence applies also to Lindenberg’s review as a test for our sense of judgment. We now skip part I on the book by Ravenscroft and go straight to the criticism on Greub.
Greub proceeds from the notion that Wolfram von Eschenbach, the poet of Parzival, was - in the words of Greub - a “geographer”. By that Greub means that Wolfram knew specific places well and that in the Parzival indications can be found allowing us to pinpoint the geographic locations described in the epic; Greub even goes so far as to say that Wolfram would have known these localities through personal experience. Greub finds a starting point for this view in another, far lesser known work by Wolfram entitled Willehalm. The Willehalm does indeed provide indications for such a point of departure, since this poem, as specialists have long known, not only goes back to among others a French source the Bataille d’Aliscans (written around 1180), but also celebrates the heroic deeds of a historic character: Count William of Toulouse.
RJK: Greub does not proceed from the notion, but from the hypothesis that Wolfram is a geographer and cites the Swiss Wolfram scholar Samuel Singer who has come after a long and intensive period of research and study to that conclusion. This may look like a slight methodological difference, but it is not because Lindenberg’s gives the impression that Greub is biased and proceeds from a preconceived notion. What Greub does, rather, is to gradually over many pages of fieldwork and historio-geographical inquiry develop and substantiate this hypothesis with the reservation, as mentioned in my footnote, that for a definite evaluation of his work it is necessary to visit and examine the places under consideration.
Thus, it will not be difficult to discover the southern
French town of
RJK: It may not be difficult for
Lindenberg to discover
Besides the reference to the stone sarcophagi of “Les
Alyscamps”, Greub for instance claims to recognize the Roman amphitheatre in
RJK: Greub is not alone in this
“claim”. In the book “William, Count of
The attentive reader is beset with more doubt when Greub,
in order to match Wolfram’s description with geographical features, has to move
RJK: The first thing to be said
here is that this calculation – as only a very attentive reader could have
noticed – is not made at all in the book under review. Yet, in his formulation
of the text, Lindenberg suggests as if it were. The shifting of the coastline
of some 35 km. is indeed to be found in Greub’s first volume, but the
calculation as such is only to be found in Greub’s second volume on
Willehalm-Kyot as Wolfram von Eschenbach’s source, of which Lindenberg had read
a manuscript, but which at that time and until 1991 (when the Willehalm
Institute published a manuscript version) was not available at all to the
general public! –
One other matter: when Wolfram describes the battle of
Aliscans he does not mention
RJK: Werner Greub also entertains the second possibility, but again, the sarcophagi are only one of the many other local geographical and topographical elements such as canals, salty sees, sources etc. in his chapter of some twenty pages on the battlefield of Alischanz that therefore cannot be dismissed with a few perfunctory lines. The third possibility, the letter by the Bishop of Arles, is actually welcome support for Greub’s view that this battle really did take place then near Arles, a battle that academic historians generally do not recognize as having happened at all.
Lindenberg, perhaps conveniently, also neglects to mention that Werner Greub discovered a historical document of a Swiss regiment from Luzern that he believes took part in this battle.
To make a long story short: when Greub deals with places
and historical characters that can be verified, his affirmations regarding
Wolfram are very shaky. How much more problematical would be a localization of
events of the Grail Legend! The impartial reader of Parzival certainly does not
get the impression that the legend takes place in a concrete earthly landscape.
It is only in the reference to Trevrizent (P. 496, 15 ff.) that we find more
precise geographical locations: Friule,
RJK: The reader in his armchair
or the critic behind his typewriter, or computer nowadays, who has never set
foot on the places under discussion, may of course “feel” Wolfram’s geography
to be pure fantasy and “believe” that this is not relevant. But this is based
partly on faulty translations of place and family names and can hardly be
called an unbiased scientific attitude. That Greub does not expand on the
geographical names such as Friule etc.
in connection with Trevrizent, as Lindenberg charges, is again misleading. In
the chapter on Kyot the Provençal on
page 136 Greub does mention these places, but also explains why he does
not expand on them any further: " Place names too, if viewed in isolation, can be of
little use. A journey from
Upon his return from the battlefield of
higher level, Lindenberg’s perspective is similar to the view of the Gnostics
who regarded the mystery of
We cannot go into the detail of Greub’s entire argumentation here. Regarding Parzival too, he would like to proceed from the “working hypothesis” that “Wolfram must be taken seriously, his reports treated like historical facts”, to “keep close to his geographical indications” and “to stay with each detail until all contradictions are resolved.”
RJK: Only here does Lindenberg indicate correctly that Greub proceeds from a “working hypothesis” and not, as this critic claimed at the beginning, from a preconceived notion. He says not to be able to go into too much detail, which of course in a review is not possible. But his method is then to select those very few details, such as Parzival’s incredible horse ride from Montpellier to Arlesheim in one day, which are indeed to begin with far-fetched and contrary to accepted opinions, while leaving out the many, many detailed discoveries by Werner Greub which cannot be denied.
I will select a few details to show how Greub proceeds.
He is of the opinion that Condwiramurs’ town Pelrapeire is
es floz alda reht in daz mer. At the point where it entered the sea
Pelrapeire stunt wol ze wer. Pelrapeire was well-positioned for defense.
Wolfram tells us that Pelrapeire is well protected by its
location next to the sea. But
Werner Greub devotes three pages to the geographical and historic identification
of Pelrapeire as a town of trade and commerce with a harbour founded by
Willehalm. Lindenberg dismisses it with two “authoritative” sentences. About
the distance from
zwêne segele brûne Now two gleaming sails
di kôs man von der wer hin abe Were made out from the top of the ramparts.
If the town was situated directly by the sea, then one could see the ships also from the quay. But it lies some distance away the sea and therefore the goings on in the harbour can only be spied from the ramparts or the defense tower.” Again, our critic misinterprets or distorts Greub’s text.
The next problem is connected with this: Wolfram tells us
that Parzival rode in one day from Pelrapeire to the castle of the Grail.
Parzival would have ridden his horse straight through wilderness and moor in
one day so fast that “a bird would have found it hard to fly that distance”.
Greub now tells us that in 1968 messenger-pigeons flew from
RJK: This indeed is a most critical point and was for me personally the reason to lay Greub’s book aside for ten years. For the chronology of his work, indeed like the Parzival poem, is like an exquisite, but solid Swiss watch. Take one piece away, and it stops working. After having taken the book up again, I once raised this point with Greub. This is about what he said: Parzival was the greatest initiate of humanity and at that time in the prime of his youth. He was strikingly beautiful and extremely dynamic for he possessed an extremely strong ether body which, in his deep-seated urge to win the Grail and visit his mother, he was able to transmit to his specially bred Grail-horse so that rider and horse became one. As such, they flew like a bird could fly over the route, consisting of partly well preserved Roman roads, that his uncle Kyot had showed him. This flight, which is beyond mere intellectual comprehension, must not be taken with a portion of poetic justice as an astral journey, but in this sense quite literally.
Greub corners himself in such absurdities with
calculations that claim to make the impossible possible. The will fully assumed
distance which Greub encloses with his circle is not confirmed by any fact, but is there instead because Greub knows the result before he starts:
the Grail castle must be in the vicinity of
RJK: Lindenberg would have found
real ammunition for debunking Greub’s work and the identification of Kyot as
Willehalm in particular, if he had double-checked the passage (on p. 50 ff.)
where Greub finds support for his notion that Kyot-Willehalm was alive after
848. Greub does this by relying on a “genuine historical book published in 843
on Carolingian education by the Merowingian princess Dhuoda, the wife of
Willehalm’s brother Bernard von Barcelona. He writes: “Dhuoda lists for her son
all the deceased relatives. But the most famous – Willehalm – is not mentioned,
so that it may be concluded that he was still alive.” In 1985, while on a
lecture tour in
Things get really problematical when Greub deals with the location of the Grail castle itself. Greub has an obvious interest in placing the Grail castle Munsalvaesche near Dornach/ Arlesheim; everything else is then immediately also located there:
Hornichopf = Munsalvaesche
Rengersmatt Farm = Soltane Hermitage
Münchenstein = Castle of Karchobra
Dorneck = Arthur’s Hunting lodge
Birseck = Sigune’s Place and Trevrizent’s Cave
Now it so happens that in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival one very noticeable location is assigned to the Grail castle: it lies in the woods where, in a radius of 30 miles (i.e. at least 45 km.) neither wood nor stone was cut to make a house. This is repeated twice: the first time is when Parzival asks the fisherman by the lake about an inn. Upon which this “trurig man” (man of sorrows) answers (P. 225:19 ff.):
hêr mirst niht bSir, I know of no habitation
daz weder wazzer oder lant Beside the lake or inland
inre drîzec mîln erbûwen sî For thirty miles
Naturally, Greub has read this passage too, but he turns it around to mean: not a radius of 30 miles, but a perimeter of 30 miles around the castle. Stretching things somewhat, one might accept Greub’s interpretation, assuming that the woods were elongated and the castle not exactly in its centre. But that a radius is really meant becomes clear when we read the words with which Sigune greets Parzival on his descent from the castle (P. 250: 20 ff.):
iuch möht des waldes hân bevilt, Riding this way from the ploughlands, though,
von erbûwem lande her geritten. the forest would have been too much for you.
Inre drîzec mîlen wart nie versniten Neither timber nor stone has been hewn
Ze keinem bûwe holz noch stein: To make a dwelling for thirty miles around,
Thus Greub’s location for the Grail castle is clearly
contradicted by Wolfram’s text. In Wolfram’s time, within a thirty-mile radius
from Greub’s Hornichopf, there was already
RJK: Werner Greub, who is Swiss, has no obvious nationalistic self-interest in placing the Grail castle near Dornach, Switzerland, as Lindenberg charges, but proceeds from documented statements by Rudolf Steiner that the Arlesheim Hermitage is the Grail area, where Parzival’s meeting with Sigune and his “schooling” with Trevrizent took place. About the latter I. Schubert writes in the second (not the first) edition of her memoirs “Selbsterlebtes im Zusammensein mit Rudolf Steiner und Marie Steiner” (Zbinden Verlag, 1977) on p. 73: “Dr. Steiner pointed out that Parzival’s schooling by Trevrizent, as described by Wolfram von Eschenbach, took place in the area of the Hermitage in Arlesheim. He indicated it quite exactly, namely where the hut of the hermit is…It was a small, elongated place with a rivulet flowing across that came down from the rocks above. The first of the many serious talks between the two men may have well taken place there.” From these starting points, Greub then proceeds to reconstruct an overall picture of Terre de Salvaesche in which all the individual elements such as Sigune’s dwelling, the Grail castle etc. find their proper place. All this indicates that indeed a perimeter and not a radius of 30 miles is meant by the two quotations that Lindenberg puts forward to make his point, which if true would also falsify Rudolf Steiner’s indications.
Whoever proceeds in the way that Greub does, cannot expect to be granted the status of a scientist or intellectual integrity. Without perhaps even noticing it himself, he leads the reader astray through his use of disorderly and distorted material. He does this by trying to convince his readers to mistake an X for a U. Thus, on page 18 of his book, Greub tells us about Wolfram: “What he says about Kyot counts also for him:
der rehten schrift dôn unde wort The words and source
dîn geist hat gesterket. Have been inspired by Thine Holy Spirit.
But if we look for this passage in Wolfram von Eschenbach, we find it in the Prologue of Willehalm (Wh. 2.16) in his prayer to the Trinity and it applies, not to Kyot, but to Christ. This kind of unreliability can only be noticed, if one takes the trouble to verify. But even the normal cursory reader is bound to note that something which Greub brings up as a supposition or a hypothesis is treated on the next page already as solid fact. This leads to the dubious phenomenon that Greub believes to find things in Wolfram’s text that he made up himself.
RJK: One may at this point be justified in turning Lindenberg’s words about Greub’s lack of scientific or intellectual integrity around and apply them to himself. - Let us look at the above quotation: This concerns a passage where Greub writes about Wolfram’s high moral and literary standards, even though this medieval knight admits that he could neither read nor write (nothing unusual, for in those days only monks could hold a pen). “He (Wolfram) speaks however of a gift to convey the truth as an art which is due to God’s goodness. What he says about Kyot counts also for him.” Whoever accuses Greub that he does not know that the “Thine” in the Willehalm quotation refers to Christ and that Greub is moreover trying to mislead his readers, does him a great injustice. Granted the formulation is somewhat unclear, but obviously what is meant here is that Wolfram also refers to Kyot as his source and that also Kyot was inspired by “Thine Holy Spirit”. Later in this evocation, Wolfram appeals to Saint Willehalm for help and calls out for protection: “Saint Willehalm, my lord, hear my words in your goodness. My sinful lips cry out to you as a saint. Since you yourself are freed from all bonds of hell, protect me, too, from perdition.”
Greub also bases himself on Rudolf Steiner. Steiner supposedly indicated the place where Sigune was mourning the slain Schionatulander. This statement by Steiner is not referenced anywhere, but it obviously seems to be a reference * to Parzival’s first encounter with Sigune when Parzival learns his name (see Steiner’s lecture from January 1, 1914 in the cycle Christ and the Spiritual World – The Quest for the Holy Grail). When they meet a second time, Parzival tells Sigune, whom he does not recognize at first, that he saw her the first time at another place in the forest of Broceliand (P. 253:1 ff.). In other words, if one follows Wolfram’s text as Greub claims to do, and assuming one accepts the statement by Steiner, which has so far not been confirmed, this statement about “Sigune’s Place” in Birseck does not refer to the Grail forest, but to Arthur’s region of the forest of Broceliand.
RJK: That Rudolf Steiner’s
“supposed” statement concerning Sigune is not referenced anywhere by Werner
Greub is simply not true. Greub brings the full passage from the book “Rudolf
Steiner” by Emil Bock, of which Lindenberg only mentions author and title in
the note below. The passage cited by Greub reads: “In the Christmas Course of Lectures
If one rests one case upon Steiner, as Greub does with
such details, then it is not fair to withhold from the readers the fact that
one’s results and judgments are quite different from Steiner’s supersensible
research. For one thing, Steiner does not agree with the special significance
attributed to Wolfram and the devaluation of Chrestien de Troyes, as Greub
does. On at least two occasions, Steiner notes: “I have pointed out elsewhere
that the better literary interpretation of Parzival’s arrival at the Grail
castle is to be found in Chrestien de Troyes’ work.” (January 1,1914 and March
25, 1913). Furthermore: Steiner too makes careful attempts at localizing the
Grail castle, but on every occasion he makes it clear that this Castle cannot
be found in the physical realm – and that it is not, as Greub assumes – a
wooden structure on top of Hornichopf. “And the castle of the Grail was aloft -
only it was above this earth and only those who had been granted faculties by
divine powers were able to step into this spiritual temple.” (
RJK: With probably this criticism in mind, Werner Greub wrote quite lengthy additions to the first version of his third volume “From Grail Christianity to Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy”, for they are a reasonable and convincing answer to it. He makes the point, for example, that the statement by Rudolf Steiner about the Grail castle being aloft refers to the 12th century when human thinking had become so abstract that it was no longer able to conceive of the Grail. These additions are included in my translation of this published third volume and I would refer the interested reader to them.
Just as unambiguous Steiner is in naming
RJK: At this point it may not
surprise the reader to hear that Werner Greub gives solid reasons for the
localisation of Chastelmarveille and Arthur’s Camelot in Dijon, which are
simply rejected by Lindenberg with the wave of a hand. Greub follows Rudolf
Steiner’s view that Arthur was a high title, a noble rank in the
sense that what Arthur was for the Celts, Caesar was for the Romans. There was
thus an original Arthur from before the mystery of
One last example. In Parzival, Wolfram speaks of the course of the stars accompanying Parzival’s way to the castle of the Grail. It is said that Saturn (P. 489:25): “wider an sîn zîl gestuont /stood at its mark again” at the moment that Parzival first stepped into the Grail castle. The question is how to interpret the word zil (Ziel in High German) = aim, goal or mark. Is this what astrologers call “house”? For Greub it is clear: the ‘mark’ of Saturn is Capricorn where astrologers place its house. But Wolfram immediately goes on to say (P. 493:1) “Saturnus louft so hohe enbor / Saturn walks so high”, which cannot be pointing to Capricorn which at that time is low on the horizon. Therefore Steiner says: “At what time did Parzival step into the Grail castle? According to the legend it was Saturn time; Saturn and the Sun were both in Cancer”. If Steiner is right - Wolfram’s reference to summer snow supports Steiner’s understanding that the Sun also stood in Cancer – then Greub’s whole chronological speculation falls apart.
RJK: To give a final and definite comment here on this lingering astronomical/astrosophical controversy is somewhat beyond my horizon. This question was discussed at some length, albeit not resolved at a summer conference in Boulder, Colorado in 1999 on Werner Greub's findings on Wolfram's Grail astronomy as found in his volume I and III of his Grail trilogy, the chapters of which were translated and published into English for that reason. During this astrosophical conference a paper entitled "Parzival und die Sternenschrift" (Parzival and the Script of the Stars), written by Suso Vetter, based on the work of Joachim Schultz, a former co-worker of the Astronomical Section at the Goetheanum who died in 1953, was presented by the English astrosopher Robert Powell. In this – to my knowledge as yet unpublished – paper dating from 1982 the word 'zil' is interpreted along the lines of Lindenberg and Rudolf Steiner, namely that this word refers to Saturn standing in Cancer and thus not, as Werner Greub holds, in Capricorn. This interpretation results in a chronology of the Grail events in Parzival, which predate the chronology as determined by Greub by some 21 years. No consensus was reached at this conference, however, so that this question still remains open for further research. What can be said, however, is that Rudolf Steiner is referring to “what the legend says” and thus not necessarily to his own research. Therefore it is not a question of whether Rudolf Steiner is right, but the legend. – Further complicating the matter is the short, inconclusive chronology as presented by Walter Johannes Stein in appendix IV to his book on the Ninth Century, in which it is argued by way of Elizabeth Vreede, former leader of the Mathematical-Astronomical Section at the Goetheanum, that "if we now reckon that Parzival arrived at the Grail Castle on 29 September, i.e. Michaelmas Day, then the taking of the spear falls on 30 September. Four and a half years and three days later Parzival comes to Trevrizent, i.e. on 3 April. This day is a Good Friday (…) Starting from these considerations, we may ask: When in the ninth century did Good Friday fall on the 3 April? By reckoning we find that it was so in the years 823, 828 and 834." To this the translator has added: "Another candidate for an Easter Sunday falling on 5 April is the year 845."
To sum things up: we have followed Greub’s own maxim to look at Wolfram as a geographer who gives precise description of places. This is a legitimate procedure: we look at it not with our own demands, but on his own terms. We are forced to establish that Greub does not live up to his own conditions. If he had been critical towards himself, he would have been forced to notice that his hypothesis is not supported by the facts. He describes himself as a student of Rudolf Steiner. I do not expect such a student to follow Steiner in every detail, but I think that he should at least grapple with Steiner and not hide, what Steiner himself has to say on the subject. Finally, we cannot neglect the fact that for Steiner the predominant tendency of his treatment of the Grail-motif is its spiritualization, when he says that the “Grail legend is an occult event” (March 16, 1913) or when in the book “Occult Science” he put it thus: “Regarding the knowledge of the Grail, the path leads us to the supersensible worlds, which are described in the early stages of this book.” Greub’s path does not lead to supersensible worlds, but is instead a crudely aggressive spelling out of the rich imagery of the Grail myth, which by its very nature points us to supersensible soul paths, not to geographical facts. Not only does Greub miss the reality of the Grail as is suggested in the title of his book; for the uncritical reader he actually distorts it.
RJK: To sum things up: we have put Lindenberg’s review of Greub’s work to the test and are forced to establish that it is not immanent-critical, i.e. it does not proceed from an understanding of the core of this work, but rather skims its surface. It is an amazing turn of events to see Lindenberg at the end criticizing Greub for not including sufficient Steiner quotations, which Greub withheld for his third volume, and then to see that this review may have well been instrumental for this third volume never reaching the “official” printers! Not only does Lindenberg misread the truth of “How the Grail Sites Were Found - Wolfram von Eschenbach and the Reality of the Grail” as suggested in the title of his review; for the uncritical reader he actually distorts it. His misleading review is beyond truth and reality.
* * *
* I will proceed with both books in such a way that the reader of this criticism can first get an impression of the content or intention of the book and only in a second course, the facts or thoughts shall be referred to that amount to the actual criticism. But it is impossible to say everything concerning these two books under consideration that together count more than 840 pages. Yet both reviews have been written with – for these purposes - an unusual amount of study and meticulousness and claim in any case to take a stand on the central problem of both publications.
RJK: The amount of study that Lindenberg invested in this review (reportedly three months), compares in no way to the amount that Greub invested in his life work; nor can Lindenberg match the typically Swiss meticulousness of Greub, although Lindenberg makes it appear as if it is the other way around. In my comments, I will do my best to try to dispel this notion. Greub states in his book furthermore that it is not really possible to come to a solid assessment of his work without having visited certain key areas, such as for example Besançon (Beâroche=Beautiful Rock) in the east of France. There is no indication in his review that Lindenberg ever visited any of these places, but limited himself to a history and geography exclusively based on written documents, the validity of some of which are questioned by Greub, such as those on the life of William of Orange and King Louis the Pious. Other scholars agree with him in this respect, see the rebuttal proper.
* One can also, namely
following Greub, riding via
* See Emil Bock, Rudolf Steiner,