The Pagan Grail Part 1 – Y Tho?

The Pagan Grail Part 1 – Y Tho?

Last weekend at Witchfest Midlands I gave a talk titled The Pagan Grail that focussed a little on the Grail from the Taliesin poem The Spoils of Annwn, but the main intent was to ask the question, what is the modern Pagan Grail? I got some very inspiring feedback from the talk so the obvious next step was to bring aspects of the talk to the blog and ask the same questions here.

So let us begin…

Our local monthly pub moot is a talking stick moot. We all gather around one large table (or bring more tables over if the group is a big one). We then draw a piece of paper from The Jam Jar of Possibilities. This jar contains loads of folded bits of paper upon which we have written topics that we would like to discuss at the moot. At the beginning of each moot, we ask if there are any new topics people would like to talk about, and if there are, they are written down, folded up, and added to the jar. Once the topic is drawn we pass around the Talking Beermat, and whoever holds the mat, has the floor, and can speak, uninterrupted, and the paper of the drawn topic is discarded.


There is one piece of paper that is placed back after being discussed. It’s a small piece of paper with just two things written upon it.

Y tho?

What do we mean by Y tho? It’s a really powerful and important question to ask ourselves every now and then. Why do we do what we do? Why do we identify as a Pagan/Druid/Witch/Wiccan? What do we do on a daily basis that expresses our Path? All of those questions. Once that piece of paper is drawn, it is then placed back in, to be drawn another time, so we can re-visit and ask those questions again.

So this was a perfect first question to ask in our search for our own personal modern Pagan Grail.

What is the Grail for you personally?

Have you ever considered your Path as your own Grail Quest?

Are you the mystic that expresses your Path by how you view the world, who you are?

Are you the magician who expresses your Path by what you do, by your actions in the world?

I was once asked to try to sum up modern Druidry in one sentence, and the closest I could find was ‘a set of practices inspired by the ancient Druids that enables a closer relationship with the natural world both seen and unseen’. Nowhere near perfect, but it was ok. It suggests a connection to the land. A way of healing the separation many people feel in our modern age between the land and the people. The Arthurian Grail Quests are caused by a separation between sovereignty and the land, and this separation causes The Wasteland. The promise of the Grail is to heal that separation and bring back harmony to the land. If people really felt a deep connection to the land then Fracking simply could not happen. So many other practices that threaten to destroy life here on Earth would become anathema. But there is a separation, there is a Wasteland. Any Path that inspires that closer relationship with the Natural World is so important these days.

So how is that relationship expressed? Gardening, working an allotment, bushcraft, recycling, buying decisions, all are incredibly important and fulfilling, but none of these are exclusively Pagan. What is the essence that is there when a Pagan works their allotment or tends their garden? Obviously, that spark is incredibly personal and only you will know the answer, but I’ve spoken to so many people over the years who haven’t asked themselves that question. It’s a good question to ask. For me, it expresses in the form of relationship. Lots of people take their dogs for walks in the woods or by the beach and enjoy being in that environment, but not so many talk to the trees as they walk, or stop and take time to commune with the Spirit of the Ocean. I’ve described my path as being that of a Polytheistic Animist. So when I commune with the Spirit of the Sea, that great Spirit that covers two thirds of the entire planet, and I see that Spirit as a powerful Spirit, some may even say a Deity, but not a separate being that strides the ocean like Poseidon or Neptune, trident in hand on the back of a giant seahorse. No. To me, there is no separation, no separate being – the Spirit of the Ocean is the aware consciousness of the entire ocean itself. And it’s that relationship that is my Pagan essence, that spiritual thing that comes from the well-spring of Pagan folklore, magical practice, and attitude.

Spiritual Relationship.

Do you want to join me on the Pagan Grail Quest?

This is going to be a series of blog articles, and each one will ask questions and I hope to encourage some very deep thinking and consideration. Don’t for a moment think I have already answered the questions I am asking myself – I’m on this Quest with you.

So, until next time –

What is the Grail for you personally?

Have you ever considered your Path as your own Grail Quest?

Are you the mystic that expresses your Path by how you view the world, who you are?

Are you the magician who expresses your Path by what you do, by your actions in the world?


What is the essence that makes these acts or sense of beingness a part of your Path?

15 responses to “The Pagan Grail Part 1 – Y Tho?”

  1. What is the Grail for you personally?

    Have you ever considered your Path as your own Grail Quest?
    Yes… always but my view of what that Grail Quest has changed. Before I committed to a Druid path the Quest was ‘the Path’. Once on this Path it became about finding connection but completely… a dissolving into Spiirit. I’m not saying I have that but there are moments and I try not to grab always and make the Grail quest only about that. Now I suppose my Grail is living my best life possible – with consideration of my Druidry in everything I do. It’s not always easy…

    Are you the mystic that expresses your Path by how you view the world, who you are? I am more the Mystic as I do not seem to see the world as most people I know…

    Are you the magician who expresses your Path by what you do, by your actions in the world? I don’t think of myself as Magician but actually I strongly believe in leading by example… and I’ve always had a strong manifestation ability… so

    Both? Yes…

    What is the essence that makes these acts or sense of beingness a part of your Path? Communication I think… like you I talk to nature always – and I receive an enormous amount back – it is a two way conversation – I ask for guidance and it is always given. I neither make a decision nor act without asking God Goddess or Spirit for assistance. It works.

  2. My first thought is a profound not-knowing. But, as I consider it more, I suppose my current Grail is a Paganism that fits me and takes my circumstances into account, instead of someone else’s paganism that I am trying to fit into, though it is not my size or appropriate to me in many ways.

    I am currently The Hermit, reversed. Isolation as opposed to solitude, being alone as a barrier as opposed to a boundary.

    This fits nicely with John Beckett’s “Building the Pagan Institutions We Need Now” post.

  3. As I‘m not so long awoken to the pagan path I haven’t asked me this question but I‘ll keep it on mind.

    In fact I‘ve spoken to all forms of nature, trees, animals, the little creek in the woods near my parents house even the stars since I can remember. It has always been totally normal to me – and made me a bit weird in the eyes of others.

    You see it’s not easy to answere your question. Maybe I can some day.


  4. Many ears ago when I first started to walk this path I felt everything was clear, the path was well marked and easy to follow and each day was an exciting journey. Until one day, quite out of the blue, that small voice in the inner ear said ” We hold you back in this life … …. …” and at the time I wondered if perhaps I should stop and become again the person I was and the life I led. But I didn’t. I’m still on that path but I now do question exactly where I’m going and what that destination will be.

  5. What an interesting thought. I don’t think in terms of a Grail because that’s a lost sacred object. Instead, I think in terms of connection with other beings, and I’ve always been in search of connections that I can “live in,” connections so deep, so true and constant, that I’m always aware of them no matter what I’m doing.

    Do I see the world differently than the dominant culture view? Oh my, yes. Everything is alive, everything has a spirit, everything can be connected with. Not all things are benign, some things are downright nasty and best avoided–but all things are alive.

    Do I live my path by my actions? I can’t do anything else. My entire life is geared towards becoming all of myself which means using all of my abilities. Illness is currently in the way of fully using my magical abilities (energy work), so I do what I can as I can where I can, always conscious that I’m moving forward even if only by inches.

    What started me on my path was an inner drive for authenticity. It takes both the worldview and the actions to walk this path into authenticity, into being all of my true self; I suppose one could say an authentic life was my Grail. I still don’t think in terms of an object, though. 🙂

  6. What is the Grail for you personally?

    The Grail for me personally is something that I strive to find. It is out there somewhere and I believe that when I find it my life will be complete (death). If you were to find your Grail, in my opinion, then what would be next? What would we be studying, researching or striving for?

    Have you ever considered your Path as your own Grail Quest?

    Absolutely, as I said above this is the reason I study, write and strive in life }:-)

    Are you the mystic that expresses your Path by how you view the world, who you are?

    I am a magical being that expresses itself through all that I do in the world. I make a difference to people every day and for this I am grateful!

    Are you the magician who expresses your Path by what you do, by your actions in the world?

    As said above }:-)

    What is the essence that makes these acts or sense of beingness a part of your Path?

    The essence that makes the acts above part of my path is that I was born to do this. I was born to make a difference in the world any way that I can, (my belief is that is why we are all born, to make our difference in the world).

    Blessings to you all }:-)


  7. I see The Grail as the personal endeavor to find the Core of that which is the Magical Me. The Magician within. The Ab as the Egyptians called it, the Heartforce which makes connection with the Seen and Unseen Worlds. The finding of True Self makes for right action in the world and magical work. Then we ARE Heka, and we do not need to DO Heka.

  8. To be as one with Nature, to be unafraid of mortality, to be accepting of others views to achieve these aims is my PRESENT Grail search but surely this must be forever changing

  9. When I was but 10 years old, my favorite brother gave me what became my favorite book…”King Arthur and the Holy Grail”. I was instantly spellbound, read it over and over, everything felt so…familiar and vivid and soul speak. I scoured the library for every book or piece of information on Arthur…and the Grail. Which, of course, led me to such deeper, other study…and thus began the flood that led me to the river of my path. And as I stood on the bank of the river and donned the cloak and mantle…they slipped and slithered and gathered around me, every fiber settling on me in perfect fit. Since then, no matter how the ebbs and flows have run, the cloak and mantle stay the most steady part of me. And so…the Grail must then be…? 🙂

  10. Something that I’ve accepted too readily, without questioning, is why is this most Christian of artifacts, the grail, used as a device in paganism at all? Serious question, I really would like to know, I’d be obliged if someone could point towards an explanation.
    Many thanks.

    • Absolutely! I think many Pagans look the the poem in the Book of Taliesin called the Spoils of Annwn in which Arthur seeks the Cauldron of Annwn (a version, maybe the original Pagan version) of the Grail. A magical Caudron of Rebirth that will not boil the food of a coward, that is warmed by the Breath of the Nine Maidens, whose chains hang from and infinite sky, and that is held within the Spinning Castle of Caer Siddi in the ‘not-world’ of Annwn. The poem is bookended and seemingly dedicated to the Christian God, yet everything held between drips ancient Paganism.

  11. I don’t personally think of it, The Grail as a holy thing like Christian people seem to, ‘it’ is whatever it means to each person. However I think for myself and what I feel it means is simply the knowing of all and feel we are not allowed to find it or see it until the time is right and we are worthy, when we do find ‘the knowing of all’ we are near death and not allowed to tell others what we see or have seen, I feel people are not allowed to know before it is their time (near or at death) But we all keep seeking anyway so many wonderful things leading up to this moment.

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