The Holy Grail and the Female Uterus
If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?
—Mary Astell (1666–1731), considered the first English feminist writer
Figure 1 compares a chalice (also called a calyx or goblet) to the female uterus. To start, observe the clear resemblance of both to an inverted pyramid shape.
Let us now review the role of women in the ancient Jewish-Christian tradition. The Old Testament (OT), the first part of the Christian Bible, is based primarily on the Hebrew scriptures (or Tanakh). The New Testament collects later writings. In the OT, the book of Esther relates the story of a Hebrew woman in Persia who thwarted a genocide of her people, while the book of Ruth tells of a woman who married into an Israelite family and converted to Judaism. Ruth is the great-grandmother of King David and, hence, an ancestor of the Messiah .
Then, in the Christian era, we find the controversial figure of Mary Magdalene: Was she really a harlot? Tradition also recalls Veronica. Moved with pity when she saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha, she gave him her veil to wipe his forehead, and his face remained impressed upon it.
How much do we know about the women who helped shape the Mosaic tradition (from Moses, author of the first five books of the OT) and an entire religion ? This is not the place to track down the answer to such a difficult question (which far exceeds our capabilities). We merely underline the primeval and almost forgotten relevance of women in occidental culture. Sadly, like many ancient religious texts, the holy scriptures tell a story generally focused on men.
In the gospel accounts, the Last Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. It is commemorated by Christians on the Thursday before Easter, or Maundy Thursday. The last supper provides the scriptural basis for the eucharist, also known as holy communion. Jesus broke bread, drank wine (standing for his blood), and predicted his death after betrayal by one of the disciples. The cup or chalice he used to drink became the origin of a long story filled with violence, acrimony, and useless search.
In all likelihood, the cup Jesus drank from was a simple metallic goblet common to the day that was nothing special and probably lost in the turmoil of the events that followed. Thereafter, we quickly run into pure legend, speculation, and beliefs.
The Crusades were military expeditions, beginning in the late 11th century and organized by western European Christians in response to centuries of Muslim wars of expansion. Their objectives were to check the spread of Islam, retake control of the Holy Land in the eastern Mediterranean, conquer pagan areas, and recapture formerly Christian territories. The Crusades were seen by many participants as a means of redemption and expiation for sins. Between 1095, when the First Crusade was launched, and 1291, when the Latin Christians were finally expelled from their kingdom in Syria, there were numerous expeditions to the Holy Land, Spain, and even the Baltic.
The Crusades continued for several centuries after 1291, usually as military campaigns intended to halt or slow the advance of Muslim power or to conquer pagan areas. Crusading declined rapidly during the 16th century with the advent of the Protestant Reformation and the decline of papal authority. It is not farfetched to think that these military expeditions perhaps also sought to recover the sacred chalice .
The Bible says, “Male and female He created them. And God blessed them and said to them, ‘be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen. 1:27–28). No doubt, this divine biblical command referred to sexual intercourse (and, thus, to spermatozoids chasing an ovum until one succeeded in its penetration). The natural fertilization procedure since the human race first appeared, irrespective of the biblical command, is based on the sexual drive. Is it, however, a sin, the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God when they ate a forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden? Not at all, and there is little reason to discuss this question in an article centered on women and their relation to the sacred Christian chalice.
Centuries went by, and the human population increased in number, as people throughout time have happily complied with God’s exhortation from the book of Genesis (many, obviously, without necessarily knowing this). However, at least for Catholic readers, many may have a feeling of guilt, the moral load of original sin !
However, curiosity is another natural driving force in humans, who always want “to know.” It is such a driver that, for those who deeply desire children and cannot have them naturally, assisted reproductive technology (ART) has developed. ART is used to achieve pregnancy using procedures such as fertility medication, in vitro fertilization, and surrogacy. Also known as fertility treatment, it belongs to the field of reproductive endocrinology. ART may include intracytoplasmic sperm injection and cryopreservation . The details are complex and highly specialized. Nonetheless, all require the use of a womb or womb-like environment.
Discussion and Conclusions
The two images in Figure 1 exhibit some resemblance to each other—as noted earlier, the chalice and the female reproductive system both look like some kind of inverse pyramid . Thus, no matter what the actual chalice was during the last supper, the true eternal one is the female uterus, where human life begins. It started with the appearance of humans on Earth, and it will continue until the end of time. Is there any other better wonder to admire, respect, and revere? The con of masculinity cannot be so blinding as to deny such truth.
- A. Pelaia. (2017). Biography of Ruth in the Bible. [Online].
- Biblical Archaeology Society. (2018). [Online]
- G. Dickson, M. W. Baldwin, and T. F. Madden. (2018). Crusades. [Online]. Encyclopaedia Britannica.
- BBC. (2009). Religions: Original sin. [Online].
- Wikipedia. (2018). Assisted reproductive technology. [Online].
- D. Brown, The Da Vinci Code. New York: Doubleday, 2003.