THE HOLY GRAIL MYSTERY PLAY
By William Bond and Pamela Suffield
Setting. A ruined castle, partly overgrown by climbing and trailing vegetation.
Morgan Le Fay and two of her friends, elegantly dressed in long flowing robes, sit eating and drinking, waited on by male servants. Another male servant enters. He kneels in front of the women and waits for their attention.
Male Servant - Your ladyship. Three Knights of the Round Table have arrived. Should I allow them to attend you?
Morgan le Fay - Yes, you may bring them to us.
The servant leaves but returns quickly with three young, powerful men. They appear travel-weary but eager.
Male Servant - (in a loud voice) Sir Galahad, Sir Perceval and Sir Bors.
The three knights bow to the seated Ladies.
Morgan le Fay - You are welcomed. We have been expecting you. Please - take a seat.
She indicates an intricately carved settle. The three knights sit down.
Morgan le Fay - Now, gentle men -for what reason do we have the pleasure of your visit?
Sir Perceval - My Lady. For many long years we three have been on a quest, to search for the Holy Grail. Because we have been guided to this place, we believe that the Holy Grail must surely be in this Castle.
Morgan le Fay - Indeed -you have been brought to the fulfillment of your search. The Holy Grail is within this very room.
The three knights begin to look around the room. The three Ladies smile at them in amusement.
Sir Perceval - My Lady, may we gaze on it? (He is unable to keep the longing from his voice)
Morgan le Fay - You have to earn that right. Unless you understand what the Holy Grail is, you will never look on it.
The three knights continue to search avidly around the room, examining corners and high places with piercing eyes.
Morgan le Fay - You may rise to assist your search if you wish.
The three knights immediately leap to their feet and prowl about the room, much to the amusement of the three Ladies. After exhausting all possibilities, they abandon the fruitless search and resume their seats.
Morgan le Fay - You will not find the Holy Grail hiding in a corner somewhere. It is where you may plainly see it.
Sir Bors - Forgive me for asking, My Lady, but if it is plainly in view yet we cannot see it, then what is the Holy Grail? Can you give us a sign?
Morgan le Fay - You have been given signs, on your journey to this castle.
The three knights begin to talk quietly among themselves. Then they turn to face the ladies again.
Sir Perceval - On our way here we all shared the same vision one night. In our dream we stayed at a castle where we were shown a mysterious ceremony. The head of a King was displayed on a silver platter filled with blood. We believe that this was a symbol of the Holy Grail, though we do not understand its import.
Morgan le Fay - Gentle knights. If you can discern the meaning of this sign, you will realise what the Holy Grail is.
The knights once again quietly discuss their vision before facing the three Ladies again.
Sir Perceval - My mother told me that in ancient times the people sacrificed their king for the fertility of the crops. Would this be the purpose of the ceremony?
Morgan le Fay - Yes, it was.
Sir Perceval - (with a puzzled frown) Are you saying that we have to sacrifice ourselves before we can see the Holy Grail?
Morgan le Fay - (smiling) We do not expect you to chop off your heads. But you will have to understand the true meaning of sacrifice in order to drink from the Holy Grail.
Sir Perceval - Drink from the Holy Grail! But it is full of blood! ( He pauses)
What would happen to us if we were to drink from the Holy Grail?
Morgan le Fay - You would obtain everlasting happiness.
Sir Perceval - Is this because it contains the blood of Jesus Christ?
Morgan le Fay - Perhaps.
Sir Galahad - But is it the blood of sacrifice?
Morgan le Fay - In your vision it was.
Sir Perceval - So Jesus Christ, like the ancient kings, sacrificed himself for the good of the people.
Morgan le Fay - Yes, such people sacrificed themselves for the sake of others.
Sir Galahad - Are we required to sacrifice ourselves?
Morgan le Fay - Nothing is required of you. Sacrifice has to be given in complete freedom and with no regret.
Sir Bors - But is it only through sacrifice, that we will find the Holy Grail and drink from it to obtain everlasting happiness?
Morgan le Fay - That is so.
The knights are clearly puzzled. They regard each other thoughtfully for a few moments.
Sir Perceval - Are we required to allow ourselves to die in a sacrificial ritual?
Morgan le Fay - (sighing gently) Death would only be a sacrifice of the body. No. Once you are willing to devote your whole being; your mind, body and soul, to the Holy Grail, then will you be allowed to drink from it.
Sir Perceval - What more can we give if death is not enough! How is it possible for us to sacrifice our whole being?
Morgan le Fay - It is late, gentle knights, and you have travelled far to reach us. It is time for you to retire. The servants will lead you to your chambers. The Holy Grail will not be given to those who do not understand. Be sure that we will continue to aid you on the morrow.
The knights stand and bow to the ladies. They are escorted from the room by servants.
End of Scene 1.
The curtain opens on the same room, one of the few sheltered from the elements by a complete roof. Morgan Le Fay stands at the window. Outside, a young, pale sun casts its watery light on the surrounding landscape. Among ruined buildings and the skeletons of dead trees, a green haze of new shoots carpets the ground. When the three knights are ushered into the room, she turns and joins the two women in their woven chairs and waves the men to their seat.
Sir Perceval - My Lady. We pondered the meaning of your words long into the night and woke this morning with our hearts still yearning to drink from the Holy Grail. This is our thought. As Knights of the Round Table we swore an oath to protect the weak and poor against the powerful; to serve and protect all women. Is this what you mean by sacrifice?
The three ladies laugh. One rises from her chair to touch the hand of Sir Perceval as if to reassure him that their laughter is not unkind.
Morgan le Fay - No, gentle men. ( She looks gravely at them) As Knights of the Round Table you have served your King well, but the honor of drinking from the Holy Grail asks far more of you. What are you willing to give?
Sir Perceval -earnestly - Everything! Our minds, bodies and souls if such is needed.
Morgan le Fay - (smiling) Do you believe, in all honesty, that you are capable of sacrificing yourself completely?
The three knights look at each other, unsure of her meaning.
Morgan Le Fay - Would you be willing to surrender yourself into total servitude?
Sir Perceval - Why must we do this, my Lady?
Morgan le Fay - To learn the joy of giving without thought for yourself.
Sir Bors - Do we have to become slaves to learn how to do this?
Morgan le Fay - A slave is constrained to obey and does not do so of his own free will. A man must become a willing servant.
Sir Perceval - Then it is different for a woman?
Morgan le Fay - Indeed. Women, in this world, are the creators of life. As such, they love their creations because all women are reflections of our spiritual Creator. Unless she has forgotten who she is, a woman cares for and nurtures her children, and feels at one with all things. Over time, she has not forgotten how to love others unconditionally, since she remembers that we are all one. Women have sacrificed themselves for countless generations, putting the needs of others before their own because it gave them happiness to see others thrive and grow. A man as yet has seen no reason to sacrifice himself for others, and has accepted the love of women as his right.
Sir Galahad - Are you asking us to become like women?
Morgan le Fay - You cannot bear a child, but you can learn the charity, love and compassion of a woman.
Sir Bors - Please, my Lady. Tell us. What should we do?
Morgan le Fay - Do nothing. We seek nothing from you. Yet you cannot drink from the Holy Grail unless you desire more than anything in the world to surrender your whole life in giving, to learn the joy of service to those who have lovingly nurtured you in the past as you explored your desires.
Sir Galahad - Then the Holy Grail is something to do with women. Its sacredness is only revealed to those who truly wish to serve it. (He is becoming excited)
Morgan le Fay - (smiling) Gentle knight- you are right. The Holy Grail is only sacred to those who see it as such. It is made of no precious metals, adorned with no gems. It is not a relic of a famous person, revered by millions. Yet some details of the stories you have heard are truth. It is filled with blood.
Sir Bors - And it is in this room. My Lady, you are human and thus filled with blood. Are you the Holy Grail?
Morgan le Fay - (laughing) Your veins run with blood as mine do, Sir Bors.
Sir Perceval - There is only one answer possible. The Grail is your womb and the blood is menstrual blood. (wonderingly) My mother told me in secret, once, that before kings were sacrificed for the harvest, women blessed the growing crops with their holy blood. My Lady, are we required to drink menstrual blood?
Morgan le Fay - You are required, by your own need to serve, to learn unconditional love for others. Drinking from the Holy Grail is but one lesson in this. The head of the king on a platter, which you saw in your vision, is not merely a symbol of sacrifice. It is also representative of a man worshiping a menstruating woman.
Sir Perceval - So is the ceremony our initiation?
Morgan le Fay - To a new way of life. One where that which was reviled is now revealed as sacred. One where the pleasure of giving and caring is discovered, a pleasure as yet unknown to most men. It is only by learning unconditional love that a man can obtain everlasting happiness. And his teachers are women, who will receive in great measure what they have already given to others.
Sir Perceval - We have to become your willing servants.
Morgan le Fay - Everyone's, though you will find that you are guided to those who are ready to accept your service. The finding of the Holy Grail is not an end, but the beginning of a completely new way of living. Look outside. See the new life springing from the dead ashes of the old. Then choose. Do you wish to commence this new quest, to learn about unconditional love for others?
The Knights - (together) I do.
Morgan le Fay - It is well spoken. We can begin. 'Tis only fair to start by allowing you to drink from the Holy Grail, which lay beneath our gowns the whole time you searched!
She smiles mischievously and raises her skirts. The men kneel before the simple altars of the women's willow chairs, positioned with their mouths on the sacred triangle. It is the Holiest of Holy places, from whence all human life emerges. Blood and golden nectar flow from their bodies, and the men close their eyes in ecstatic bliss. Afterwards they are led away to begin new lives of service.