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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Share a Spread Sunday: Perceval's Questions

Perceval and the Grail Procession
Sometimes it feels like our journey through life is too brutal to be borne. We feel like the pain is too much for us. We want answers. We want someone to solve the mystery. Or at the very least, we want a way to make it hurt less. This spread was born out of those feelings.

In Chretien de Troyes' Perceval: Story of the Grail, Perceval fails to attain the Grail when he refrains from asking questions about it. (Chretien never finished this poem, and so the mystery has fired the imaginations of generations.) Perceval, a simple youth raised away from the world of men, has undertaken to find a mysterious object called 'the graal', and finds himself invited into the very odd castle of the Fisher King, where in the hall, a strange procession marches past him: a young man carrying a bleeding lance, two boys carrying a candelabra, and a beautiful girl carrying a highly decorated 'graal', a flat serving dish. Having been upbraided by other knights for asking too many questions, Perceval keeps silent about these strange sights. The next morning, he is told by a 'loathely lady' that if he had only asked the right questions, the Fisher King would have been healed. He should have asked why the lance bleeds, and whom the grail serves. Chretien's poem ends here, unfinished. 

What a strange story! The images are visceral, Perceval's 'failure' seems brutally unfair. But we have the Grail questions: Why does the lance bleed? Whom does the grail serve? In other words, what the heck is going on and what does it all mean??? Isn't that what we all want to know when life presents us with its parade of incomprehensible weirdness? And so, these questions become the tarot spread for painful times, when no answer seems clear, and we aren't even sure of what to ask: 

1. What is the lance that bleeds? In other words, what is the wound that does not heal?
2. What is the Grail? What am I searching for? What is the purpose of my quest? 
3. What can heal my wound that does not heal? 

This is not a light-hearted tarot spread. It is one to use when we feel deep pain about something, and we need help. 

I first wrote this spread and posted my own personal reading last December, in a blog entry titled To Follow that Star


  1. Thanks, Carla, for sharing this spread again.

  2. This spread feels almost scarily deep! Maybe I'll be brave enough to try it this time around...