Weapons from Paradise: Contents of the poem

Weapons from Paradise

by Christopher Lewis

The Epic

of the Holy Grail

Volume One

Prologue            The Sword of Fire

Book I                When the Mists of Avalon were Lifted

Book II            The Life-Giving Spear

Volume Two

Book III            Bran the Archdruid

Book IV            Heroes Who Climbed the Singing Constellations

Book V            The Council of the Kings

Book VI            Evalak, King of Avalon

Book VII            The Gallic Wars

Book VIII            The Sword and the Shield

Volume Three

Book IX               In Caerleon by Torchlight

Book X            The Festival of May

Book XI            The Training of a Warrior

Book XII            A War of Unseen Powers

Volume Four

Book XIII             The Vision of Paradise

Book XIV            Apostles into the West

Book XV            The Descent into Annwyn

Book XVI            Joseph of Arimathea

Book XVII            The Procession of the Holy Vessel

Volume Five

Book XVIII            The Dolorous Blow

Book XIX            The Black Queen

Book XX            The Red Queen

Book XXI            The War with Rome

Book XXII            Boadica’s Field of Battle

Volume Six

Book XXIII            The Wasteland

Book XXIV            Bran the Blessed

Book XXV            Aristobulus the Elder

Epilogue            The Prophecies of Bran


Prologue:  The Sword of Fire

The passion of Christ is described by a Temple soldier who was sent by the Pharisees into Gethsemene to arrest him.

Book I:  When the Mists of Avalon were Lifted

A mad wanderer after witnessing the crucifixion, the soldier comes by chance to the Island of Britain. His passage from the inner sea, the Mediterranean (earthly sea), to the outer sea, the Atlantic (ocean of the cosmos), through the straits of Gibraltar (legs of Atlas) (firmament dividing seas above from seas below) to the islands of the West, follows the mythological theme of ancient journeys to the other world.

Book II:  The Life-Giving Spear

He meets the Blessed Longinus who comes from Christianized Gaul with letters for Joseph of Arimathea in Glastonbury. He hears of Christ’s resurrection and the miracles of the early Church but is not able to believe them.

Book III:  Bran the Archdruid

This powerful figure of a spiritual leader of the Celts of Britain and Gaul, to whom Joseph of Arimathea had been sent, remained unconverted. Representing the noblest aspirations of the ancient world, he introduces its mysteries and legends.

Book IV:  Heroes who Climbed the Singing Constellations

The Archdruid points out the regions of the constellations, explaining how their heroes entered the otherworld and returned with divine weapons. He invites the soldier to become a trained warrior against  Rome in a last stand of the ancient world against  a new order of gross materialism and martial pride.

Book V:  The Council of the Kings

A war council of the kings and queens of Britain argues whether to accept Roman rule or to continue resistance. To inspire courage, Bran names the twelve kings and queens and recites the ancient lore of their realms.

Book VI:  Evalak, King of Avalon

Bran uses the occasion to scold Evalak, in whose hall the council is held, for giving the sacred isle of Avalon to Joseph of Arimathea. Evalak, inspired, replies that there are mysteries which have not been revealed even to the archdruids.

Book VII: The Gallic Wars

The poets of the twelve kingdoms then recite the history of the wars with Rome in Gaul and Britain. The council considers the election of King Caradoc, Bran’s son, as war-leader (“pendragon”) against the Romans.

Book VIII: The Sword and the Shield

Evalak reveals the shield given him by Josephes, son of Joseph of Arimathea. Bran forbids Evalak to take part in the war, and commands his poet to sing the history of the Celtic magical sword of fire. Invoking it, the poet sees it in a vision.

Book IX: In Caerleon by Torchlight

Bran and the soldier travel with Caradoc to his home in Caerleon. On the way, they notice the land has begun to succumb to drought, and they passionately discuss the loss of understanding of the ancient traditions. Caerleon itself, however, remains an oasis in a dry land. Caradoc’s family, unknown to him, has come under the instruction of Joseph of Arimathea. Caradoc’s daughters, who have re-organized the druidic school there, have themselves become something divine and almost unrecognizable.

Book X:  The Festival of May

The spring festival is celebrated in the Isle of Man at a fair attended by the whole population. In an intensely magical and romantic atmosphere, the soldier falls in love with Eurgain,  daughter of  Caradoc. The festival concludes with  the crowning of the Mayqueen.

Book XI: The Training of a Warrior

The training begins with a convocation  of bards, where ancient lore is recited to all. The bards and the warriors begin periods of intensive training.

Book XII: A War of Unseen Powers

Bran is brought into a conflict of power with the druid Arawn, with whom he disagrees concerning the nature of the druidic religion.

Book XIII: The Vision of Paradise

Training is interrupted at midsummer for some days of fasting, during which dreams and visions are experienced. The priest Josephes, son of Joseph of Arimathea, appears to the soldier and warns him of danger. He then

takes him on Joseph’s shirt to Gaul (France), to show the vision of the miraculous blossoming of the early Church throughout the territories of the western Celts.

Book XIV:  Apostles into the West

He sees clearly how the apostolic foundations of the Church were laid, what kind of life was experienced by the churches in Gaul, and how Joseph of Arimathea was sent as a missionary into Britain.

Book XV: The Descent into Annwyn

The horned god, Cerrenos, appears to Bran and the druids, and gives the soldier a sword of power from Annwyn, the underworld. Bran’s suspicion of the god’s appearance makes him so unpopular that Arawn gains control of the druids.

At Samhain, the druids descend into Ysbaddadin, an ancient burial cavern that has not been entered for centuries. In its depths, Cerrenos the god demands the re-institution of human sacrifice. At this, Bran openly confronts the god. To settle the conflict of power, all agree to send the soldier to steal the spear of Longinus, which the ancient god Ysbaddadin in the depths of Annwyn has demanded.

Book XVI:  Joseph of Arimathea

The soldier attempts to enter Avalon in secret; but he is met by Joseph, who tells him how he helped raise the boy Jesus, bringing him along in his journeys as a merchant to Avalon. He explains the mystery of the crucifixion, not simply as it had been witnessed by the soldier, but as it is to be revealed in the sacramental procession.

Book XVII:  The Procession of the Holy Vessel

The soldier sees the “grail procession” and is instructed in the mysteries of the eucharistic chalice.  Joseph freely gives the spear but directs him to tell Bran that if he wishes to possess the chalice, Bran himself must come. The holiness and mysteriousness of this meeting concludes with an encounter with Christ himself, who reminds the soldier what He Himself had told him during his last days, instructing him in the nature of his interior battle of faith and doubt and foretelling how certain teachers would instruct him further.

Book XVIII:  The Dolorous Blow

When the soldier brings the spear and Joseph’s message to the assembly of druids, some of the druids leave for Avalon to become students of Joseph. Arguments among the rest are interrupted by a messenger bringing news that the Roman army has discovered Caradoc’s stronghold.

The newly trained warriors are too late to help. Caradoc has been defeated, and though he escaped, his wife and family (Eurgain among them) have been taken prisoner and sent to Rome. Immediately the Romans march to the Isle of Man to destroy this druid stronghold which has stirred up and organized so much opposition to the Roman campaigns in Britain and Gaul. In a weird, wild scene the island is brutally conquered. Bran and a Roman struggle over the sacred spear, and Bran is wounded with it through the legs.

Book XIX:  The Black Queen

The defeated British flee to Queen Cartimandua in the north. She, however, for her own political advantage, imprisons Caradoc and delivers him to the Romans.

Book XX: The Red Queen

Betrayed by Cartimandua, the soldier frees her imprisoned husband, Venutius, and with him begins to stir the Britons to revenge for the burning of Anglessey. They join the violent rebellion against Rome led by Queen Boadica in the east.

Book XXI:  The War with Rome

The new Roman cities are burned and the citizens massacred. The soldier finds Longinus’ tomb and angrily defaces it, but cannot find the spear.

Book XXII: Boadica’s Field of Battle

A last pitched battle with Rome ends in Boadica’s defeat. Punitive legions scourge the countryside until Evalak is begged to come to the defense of the Britons with his shield. As he brings it out onto the battlefield, he is met by a legion led by the new spear-bearer. These are Longinus’ disciples, who in the name of Rome make peace with the Britons.

Book XXIII:  The Wasteland

Bran volunteers to go to Rome as a hostage for his people. He wishes to join his son Caradoc and his family there. Having received letters that his granddaughter has married a senator and is housing the Christian community in her own villa, he is curious to investigate the new faith. The druids furiously renounce him and adhere themselves to the devotees of the horned god. Their doctrines and rites degenerate into orgies of dark power, the land itself suffers drought and ruin, and the Christians are persecuted. The interior state of the soldier becomes desperate.

Book XXIV:  Bran the Blessed

A transformed and radiant  Bran returns to Britain as a disciple of the extraordinarily wise elder Aristobulus. With them is Eurgain, who founds a church at Caer Salog (Salisbury).

Book XXV:  Aristobulus the Elder

During the martyrdom of Aristobulus, the warrior is forced to choose between Bran and the druids who have made him into a powerful but alienated warlord.

Epilogue:  The Prophecies of Bran

One of the ancient books that was lost in the burning of Glastonbury.


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