Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Traces of Kundalini awakening turn up in the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach, written around 1200, a chivalrous account of the Grail legend. Parzival is wonderfully earthy for a mystic narrative, and often extremely funny. Sexual love lies shoulder-to-shoulder with transcendental union, in a way that suggests an understanding of sublimation and the backward-flowing method. When Parzival and his bride Condwiramurs ("the lady of this land was like a rose still moist, sweet dew revealing in the bud its pristine red and white") consummate their nuptials, groom and bride are so innocently enraptured with one another they lie together for two days without penetration or orgasm:
"For two days they remained thus with one another, happy in their liking, till the third night. He often thought of embracing, as his mother had advised him, and Gurnemanz too had explained to him that man and woman are all one. Then... they entwined their arms and legs, and if you will allow me to say so found what is sweet when near."
Lovers embrasing

The "Grail" that Parzival goes in quest of is not the Christian chalice of the Last Supper. It's described as being a stone. It magically produces food and wine (in an age when starvation was rife) and gives news flashes of the Divine Will. It's the alchemical Philosophers Stone more than it's the Eucharist cup.

There's a poignantly comic moment — again suggestive of states that arise when Kundalini awakens — when Parzival, still unperfected, his quest still unfulfilled, approaches King Arthur's encampment through deep, new-fallen snow. A falcon swoops down on a goose and wounds it. Three drops of blood are splattered on the white snow. Parzival comes to an abrupt halt, and stares down at the blood on the snow:

"It is God's will to give me untold happiness... Condwiramurs, here lies your bright image!"
The three drops on the snow are Condwiramurs. The snow is her skin and the blood is her cheeks and lips. The All is present in the singularity:
"Mighty Love held him enthralled, so sharply did longing for his wife assail him."
Unfortunately, as he sits there on his horse in an out-of-body state, his lance is raised, "ready to joust" (seven hundred years before Freud!) Once again, as on his marriage night, there's a state of sexual arousal without physical release.

In those days, a raised lance was a challenge to fight. Parzival's unconsciously lifted spear demands a warlike response from the knights in the camp (male competitors.) A young hothead charges out, and is just about to knock Parzival down, when Parzival's horse shies, Parzival can no longer see the drops of blood on the snow, comes out of his trance/samadhi and decks the aggressor. This happens a second time. Parzival's horse turns back to the drops of blood once more, Parzival goes back into his out-of-body state, lance raised, and Sir Kaie rushes out to beat up the defenceless man, and is again bested, when Parzival's horse shies.

The third time, it's Sir Gawain, the embodiment of good nature and intelligence, who rides forth to sort the newcomer out. Sir Gawain notices that Parzival is in a trance because he's staring at the blood on the snow, and, instead of attacking Parzival, covers the blood with his cloak. Parzival returns to his body, they greet one another, and Parzival is welcomed into the camp.

It's a world away from the modern forms that Kundalini awakenings take, yet at the heart of it there's a shared awareness. The pingala nadi is represented as being of a red colour, the ida nadi of a white colour, the blood and the snow of the "bright image." Sitting on his horse, dead to the world, in "Might Love's thrall," Parzival has passed, body and mind, into the susumna nadi, the spinal channel, the Middle Way.


  1. Seeing beyond the words of the story to the underlining teaching is also an art form.

  2. This kundalini undercurrent also extends to today's pop culture. Whether intentional or unintentional, writers, artists, filmmakers often weave the kundalini theme into their endeavors. One unconscious example of this is the 1956 science fiction masterpiece, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's not Wolfram von Eschenbach, but I make a case for it here: http://www.commonsensekundalini.com/science_spirituality/kundalini_pop_culture.html