Except for a solitary castle, rich in all Earthly splendors.
If any seeks it out of set purpose, alas he will not find it.
Nevertheless one sees many who attempt it.
I presume it is unknown to you, sir,
Its name is Muntsalvaesche
WOLFRAM VON ESCHENBACH ¹
The Templar knights kept their precious relic, the Grail, in Muntsalvaesche. The symbol of these Knights of the Temple was the lance, a sign to prepare for combat.
Such good demonstration and strong guard
is mounted by the knights of this region
That neither with fraud nor ruse
Could this zone of mountain be penetrated?
WOLFRAM VON ESCHENBACH
The Dutch chronicler Veldenaer wrote in the fifteenth century that the Swan Knight came from the Grail (dat greal), the former name of Earthly paradise. But according to him, this was not the Holy Paradise, but rather a place of sin. In the same era, Halberstädt’s Saxon chronicle said of Lohengrin, “The chroniclers consider that this young man, the Swan Knight, came from the mountain where Venus is present in the Grail.”
Was the Grail Mountain a Venus mountain? Didn’t this contradict the Grail circle’s precept of chastity?
In its service knights and squires must guard against licentiousness:
A noble brotherood lives there, who by force of arms have warded off men from every land. Only one man ever came there without first having been assigned.
He had not reached years of discretion.
WOLFRAM VON ESCHENBACH
To better understand this contradiction, we should have another look at the poem of Peire Vidal, in which the troubadour pretends to have found the God-Amor in person. At the side of Amor rides a lady. Venus? No, Grace! The leys d’amors prohibited simple love, carnal love.
The troubadours found solace in the grace of their ladies, and the Cathars aspired to a consoling Mani—the help. A feminine principle with purpose. But the chroniclers we just quoted were right when they saw in the Grail Mountain a mountain of Venus, sinning and heretical.
In remote times, Montségur was a sanctuary dedicated to the Goddess Belissena, the Astarté-Artemis-Diana of the Celt Iberians. Astarté was the Paredra de Baal in Phoenician theogony; Artemis, the sister of Apollo in Greek mythology; and Belissena, the wife of Abellio, in the Celt Iberian cosmos of divinities.
In the sanctuary of the divine twins Castor and Pollux in Delphi and Didyma, as in all the important spots where Apollo was worshipped, temples were consecrated to Artemis. Her priests and priestesses had to take an oath of chastity. A small troop of nymphs accompanied the inaccessible goddess in her hunts in the woods. Her symbol was the half moon.
For their part, the Druids had their own sanctuaries dedicated to Belissena in places that were consecrated to Abellio. Not far from present-day Mirepoix—whose lords, the Sons of Belissena, wore the tower, the fish, and a half moon on their coat of arms—is the sacred forest of Belena. Present-day Belesta, just a few hours from the path to Montségur, was consecrated to Belissena. A sanctuary dedicated to Belissena has been found close to another dedicated to Abellio in Lavelanet, at the foot of the promontory of Montségur, where Ramon de Perelha, a Son of Belissena, commanded the fortress.
Many times in Greek mythology, Artemis is identified with Daphne (laurel), the first legendary Sibilla of Delphi. The Sibillas wrote their oracles on laurel leaves, laurel being the sacred tree of poets and prophets. Peire Vidal knew very well why he invited his Lady Grace to rest beneath a laurel tree.
The dove was a bird dedicated to Artemis. In Dodona, the priestesses of Artemis called themselves “doves.” The most sacred oak tree of Greece could be found there, and its timber served as the keel for the Argo before the Argonauts visited the prophet and soothsayer Medea, who helped them in their quest for the Golden Fleece.
The dove was the emblem used by the Cathars—as in the gospels—to designate God-Spirit. A Cathar sculpted a dove in the rocky wall of one of the caves of the Sabarthès. In the ruins of Montségur, small clay pigeons have been found. A dove was depicted on the shield of the Grail knights. A dove left a host on the Grail on Good Friday, the day of the supreme Minne. A legend that I heard from the lips of a shepherd in the Pyrenees told how a dove split Mount Tabor in two and how Esclarmonde transformed herself into the emblem of God-Spirit. The concordance of images that are so apparent here are not susceptible to various interpretations.
The creation of Lucifer brings death with it; death that can only be fought by the refusal to propagate the human species. When there are no longer men, there will no longer be death.
This is the reason the Cathars rejected carnal love and replaced it with the celestial Minne; in other words, they only recognized the original divine Amor-love. Dante called Beatrice, the Queen of his Loves, “The Beloved of the First Love.” Original love has nothing to do with Earthly love that procreates human beings.
When a man’s life ends in such a way that God is not robbed of his soul
Because of the body’s sinning and who nevertheless succeeds in keeping his fellows’ good respect, this is a useful toil.
WOLFRAM VON ESCHENBACH
The laws of chastity reigned in Muntsalvaesche, Monmur, and Montségur. In the “Song of Esclarmonde,” Oberon say, “Huon, keep yourself from being intimate with a virgin. Remain loyal to the beautiful Esclarmonde who awaits you and who rejects all pretenders.” In Wolfram’s Parzival, the knights are of an immaculate purity and Anfortas, King of the Grail, can neither live nor die:
But any lord of the Grail who seeks love other than that allowed him by the Writing will inevitably have to pay for it with pain and suffering fraught with sighs
WOLFRAM VON ESCHENBACH²
Because “There is nothing more pure in the world than a naïve girl,” those who guarded the Grail in Muntsalvaesche were virgins. Their Queen was Repanse de Schoye.
It was not easy to arrive at Muntsalvaesche, Monmur, and Montségur. The forest of Oberon and the woods of Brizljan and Serralunga that surround and protect Montségur, where the Priscillianists found refuge from Roman henchmen, were thick and dark.
In a remote country, far from your steps,
A castle exists that is called Montsalvat …