Si le Graal est un symbole phare — aussi mystérieux que fascinant — de la mythologie et de l’inconscient collectif européens, Croisade contre le Graal appartient à la famille — peu nombreuse — des ouvrages mythiques, des livres cultes. Depuis sa parution (1933 en Allemagne, 1934 en France), il a guidé des générations de rêveurs vers les cimes ariégeoises, en général, et le château de Montségur, en particulier. Régulièrement réédité des deux côtés du Rhin, il est régulièrement épuisé et recherché. Adversaires et partisans des thèses développées par Otto Rahn, tous s’accordent sur un point: Croisade contre le Graal a largement contribué à l’engouement touristique pour les Pyrénées cathares.
The Grail. Between 1190 and 1240, it formed the central theme of a series of literary works that spoke of, and appealed to, a new social class, that of the knights and warriors and the adventures they encountered on their travels. In recent decades, it unleashed Indiana Jones on one of his death-defying treasure hunts and was the central ingredient of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, one of the biggest bestselling novels ever.
For Richard Barber, in The Holy Grail: The History of a legend, “it is, in all its forms, a construct of the creative imagination”. However, for dozens of other authors, the Grail is not a literary invention, but a veritable treasure, out there, somewhere. Unfortunately, in general, studies trying to identify and trace the physical Grail have taken on flights of fancy. The Grail has been linked with countries from the Middle East to America, as well as with the persecuted Cathars and even extra-terrestrial beings. It has been labelled a code word for the Ark of the Covenant, after the Templars allegedly transported it from the Middle East to a new hiding place in France.
In the early 20th century, a series of palm leaves, containing anomalous writing, were apparently discovered within a hidden cache of the walls of the Cathar castle of Montségur. Though without any intrinsic value, the “wooden book” – as it became known – would become the centrepiece of the esoteric and metaphysical community; its discoverers even labelled it “the Oracle” and said it was able to contact the hidden masters of Agharta.
Montségur is seen as the final stronghold of the Cathar faith, a bastion of true devotion besieged by the worldly ambitions of the papal troops. In March 1244, the Cathars that had been locked inside the castle for months finally surrendered; approximately 220 were burned en masse in a bonfire at the foot of the pog when they refused to renounce their convictions.
I recently visited the former South of France residence of the legendary Grail hunter Otto Rahn, only to discover that it was scheduled to be demolished, thus ending an era, and prompting this memorial.
I believe Otto Rahn (1904-1939) was a hero; the real Indiana Jones and prototype for Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon character. A tireless explorer, Rahn was a gifted researcher, committed to the quest like no one before, or since. Quite simply, he was a grail hunter extraordinaire.
Rahn was obsessed with the Cathars, and was convinced that their treasure remained hidden in the shadowy crevasses of the Pyrenees. His research led to Montségur, which he believed to be Munsalvaesche, the Mountain of Salvation of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s epic grail romance, Parzival. Not surprisingly, the entire region around Montségur soon became Rahn’s esoteric playground.
La vraie langue celtique et le Cromleck de Rennes-les-Bains.
The treasure of Volkes tectosages.
A Roman proconsul of the name of Cæpion took from a votive lake 80 tons of gold and money and immediately re-melted this into ingots. This apparantly disappeared during its transport towards the port of Narbonne following an attack from Volkes tectosages upset by this profanation of their sacred offerings. They would have then withdrawn to the high valley of the Aude and would have hidden the treasure in this area which is easy to defend.
Boudet speaks directly of the Volkes Tectosages, who became Galatian after Brennus, the Celtic Raven God, took the treasures of Delphi and brought them to Tolosa (Toulouse)[Strabo]. The treasure was cursed and so they threw them into a lake.
In Geography Strabo (64 B.C-23 A.D.) tells of a massive 300 tons of gold and silver bullion that was recovered by the Romans from the Celtic temples at Narbonne. This is near the mouth of the Aude river on the French Mediterranean coast. A further eighty kilometres up the Aude is Rennes-le-Chateau. Strabo attributes the bullion as either an accumulation of Celtic sacred offerings, or else the Celts' loot from the Greek treasuries at Delphi, sacked in 278 B.C. The Romans somehow lost the bullion near Narbonne during Caesar's Gallic Wars and it was never recovered.
The gold was taken from a votive lake by a Roman proconsul by the name of Cæpion. He took 80 tons of gold and money and immediately re-melted this into ingots. This apparently disappeared during its transport towards the port of Narbonne following an attack from Volkes tectosages upset by this profanation of their sacred offerings. They would have then withdrawn to the high valley of the Aude and would have hidden the treasure in this area which is easy to police.
Otto Wilhelm Rahn (February 18, 1904—March 13, 1939) was a German medievalist and a Obersturmführer (First Lieutenant) of the SS, born in Michelstadt, Germany.
Speculation still swirls around Otto Rahn and his research. From an early age, he became interested in the legends of Parsifal, Holy Grail, Lohengrin, and the Nibelungenlied. While attending the University of Giessen he was inspired by his professor, the Baron von Gall, to study the Albigensian (Catharism) movement, and the massacre that occurred at Montségur. Rahn is quoted as saying that "It was a subject that completely captivated me''".
Very little is certain in the short life of Otto Rahn. But one of the few things one can with any confidence say about him is that he looked nothing like Harrison Ford. Yet Rahn, small and weasel-faced, with a hesitant, toothy smile and hair like a neatly contoured oil slick, undoubtedly served as inspiration for Ford's most famous role, Indiana Jones.
Like Jones, Rahn was an archaeologist, like him he fell foul of the Nazis and like him he was obsessed with finding the Holy Grail - the cup reputedly used to catch Christ's blood when he was crucified. But whereas Jones rode the Grail-train to box-office glory, Rahn's obsession ended up costing him his life.
Berlin between the wars was a city known throughout Europe for its bohemian subculture of young intellectuals. Amongst the personalities who hotly debated the many modernist “isms” that were fracturing the old ideological certainties that had glued together the 19th century, few individuals were more colorful or conspicuous than a febrile dark-haired, green-eyed young man called Otto Wilhelm Rahn.
Rahn was welcomed in the cafes and nightclubs of 1930’s Berlin because he was a hyper-intense intellectual – a brilliant talker with a great deal to say but he was also a conspicuous outsider in that he was unfashionably dismissive of the emergent modernism that so excited his peers. Moreover, he had even less empathy with the cynicism and decadence that colored there lifestyle. Rather, like that of most Germans outside of Berlin, Rahn’s sensibility had been molded by influences wholly incompatible with the café society avante-garde.