III. The Arlesheim Hermitage

 as Grail landscape


The following translated text was written for the exhibition in the museum Trotte in Arlesheim, Switzerland on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Arlesheim Hermitage as an English Garden. This annotated version appeared in the local weekly Wochenblatt für das Birseck und Dorneck with two illustrations and texts based on this book by Werner Greub on April 4, 1985 under the title Arlesheim in the 9th century. The illustration below depicts the romantic Arlesheim Hermitage at the end of the 18th century.




rlesheim possesses a more than thousand year old mystery tradition. For the Celtic Druids, Ottilia and Irish-Scottish Christianity, the knights of King Arthur and the Grail, the Friends of God, Rosicrucians and Freemasons have all left their mark in the Hermitage. In his booklet Arlesheim and Ottilia – History and Legend of a Village and its benevolent Patron Saint (Arlesheim, 1967) the author Hermann Jülich has described this.

The designation Grail landscape for this ancient mystery tradition of Arlesheim can become a living  experience, if in the company of Rudolf Steiner 1 one tries to understand under the term Holy Grail all that is associated with the Christian renewal of the mysteries of the Orient that have reemerged since the 4th century within the mysteries of the Occident.2 Then also the supposition that the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate was the one responsible for the construction of the irrigation system and the hollowing out of the rocky caves for the purpose of building a mystery centre in the Hermitage gains credibility. For Julian, who around the middle of the 4th century resided for some time in his palace nearby Kaiseraugst on the Rhine, was passionate in striving everywhere to connect the pagan mysteries with a cosmic, sun-like Christianity.3

Among those conceding that the Grail events possess at least some kind of earthly reality, it is now generally accepted that the Grail Landscape Terre de Salvaesche as described by Wolfram von Eschenbach in his Parzival romance is situated in the Pyrenees (Montségur) where the essential Grail events are said to have occured in the 12th century.4  Indications attributed to Rudolf Steiner, however, point to the direction of Arlesheim and the 9th century.5 But because no conclusive documentary evidence was thought to exist, this question remained unresolved.

With the publication of Werner Greub’s work How The Grail Sites Were Found – Wolfram von Eschenbach and the Reality of the Grail 6, however, this situation has since then changed considerably. For with this research report based on a careful comparison of the original (Middle High German) Parzival text with the geographical and topographical reality of Arlesheim and surroundings and by means of numerous philological, astronomical-astrological and religious-historical studies, Werner Greub has attempted to verify what has been handed down by Rudolf Steiner from a purely anthroposophic mode of spiritual scientific research. As such, Werner Greub has made the results of his research on the Hermitage available as a basis for discussion for those interested:


The Arlesheim Hermitage was in the 9th century the Grail landscape Terre de Salvaesche, the centre stage of the Grail events that occurred during that period.


Robert J. Kelder


1 In his basic book Occult Science – An Outline Rudolf Steiner has named anthroposophy also science of the Grail. 

2 Rudolf Steiner The Mysteries of the East and Christianity. For another approach, see Rudolf Steiner’s lecture cycle Christ and the Spiritual World and the Search for the Holy Grail, both available from the Anthroposophic Press (USA) and the Rudolf Steiner Press in England.

3 This supposition is made by Werner Greub in his manuscript Vom Gralschristentum zur Anthroposophie Rudolf Steiners  (From Grail Christianity to Rudolf Steiner‘s Anthroposophy) which has not yet officially been published.

4 See e.g. Otto Rahn Kruezzug gegen den Gral (Crusade against the Grail, Germany 1933).  In the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by M. Baigent, R. Leigh and H. Lincoln (first published in London, 1982, Pocket ed. p.56) it is maintained without any precise reference that “Wolfram von Eschenbach, in one of his Grail romances, declares that theGrail castle  (Munsalvaesche) was situated in the Pyrenees.”

5 In her memoirs Selbsterlebtes im Zusammensein mit Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner (Personal experiences in the company of Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner, published in Basle, 2 ed. 1977) Ilona Schubert writes that  Rudolf Steiner designated the whole area of the Arlesheim Hermitage as Grail territory where Parzival’s meetings with Sigune and his schooling with Trevrizent had taken place. According to Rudolf Steiner there were not one but several Grail castles. A further remark by I. Schubert, however, according to which Rudolf Steiner said that “the Grail castle where Trevrizent and Anfortas guarded the Grail was situated in northern Spain and later on at Montségur in southern France” is difficult to rhyme with the location of the Grail castle as described by Wolfram. For it is clear from the whole Parzival context that Trevrizent as well as Sigune lived in close proximity to Munsalvaesche (e.g. “a mile or more”). If one comes to regard Parzival not as a fairy-tale, but a true geographically and historically based poetic document, it follows that Wolfram’s Munsalvaesche could not have been in Spain or France, but only here in Arlesheim. See also Emil Bock Studien zum Lebenswerk Rudolf Steiners (Stuttgart, 1961) and Walter Johannes Stein The Ninth Century – World History in the Light of the Holy Grail (London, 1991).

6 Werner Greub writes in this book that he was aware from the time of his youth of the historical truth of Wolfram’s epics. During World War II he had as a Swiss army officer his command post in the Goetheanum building from where his task was to reconnoitre the whole terrain in and around the Hermitage with its many grottos and caves for defense purposes, the same area that he was later to identify as the central Grail area Terre de Salvaesche.