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In the Search of the Holy Grail
According to tradition, the search for the grail used by Jesus at the Last supper, covers large parts of Mediterranean lands, from Palestine to Atlantic, and links up with similar traditions in other cultures, such as the Ark of the Covenant of the Israelites.
The Holy Grail is vessel able to transmit divine qualities to all it holds. Its remotest origins may be found in cave paintings representing the vulva, symbol of fertility and recipient of the mystery of live, that afterwards is transformer into an inverted triangle and, later still, into a goblet, a chalice.
In Central Europe, the search for this sacred object gave rise to the Knights of the Round Table, whose exploits killing dragons and saving damsels in distress, occupy a large part of European collective imaginings throughout the Middle Ages. In Andalusia, the search for the Holy Grail is concentrated above all in Jaen and the surrounding area.
The journey begins in the quarter of La Magdalena in Jaen, where, according to legend, a terrible dragon, terrified the neighbours; it was slain by a man condemned to death who traded his pardon in exchange for freeing the town of this danger. Juan Eslava attributes to the dragon the role of the guardian at the entrance to a cave of the hill of Santa Catalina, that housed a table of gold and precious stones, the table of Solomon, another of the treasures linked with the Holy Grail in the mythical tradition. There is a monument to the legendary dragon in a fountain in this quarter, what is said to have been its skin is on view at the chuch of San Idelfonso and according to tradition, the monster appeared through the archway of La Magdalena.
Other aspects of magic are also frequent in Jaen, that owes its name to the Arabic Xauen- sanctuary. In the same quarter of La Magdalena, there are many houses with the Knot of Solomon, a triangle formed by the union of three circles, secret emblem used for recognising each other by the followers of the wise author of the Song of Songs.
This ode to love, as the generating and fertilizing principle, is the source of an old tradition, persecuted by the hierarchies of all established religions, appears here and there under different forms. One of them are the Galactrofusai, the Virgins of the Milk who, while suckling their child, transmit the divine essence. Oue lady of Soterraño belongs to the style, the image of the Virgin now called of La Antigua venerated in the main chapel of Jaén Cathedral.
The table of Salomon, holy Grail, gold and precious stones… Jaen is full of legends of hidden treasures. In the town of Jaén there is one about such a treasure hidden in the house where the niche of Jesus of the Three Eggs is to be found. Also in the city's surrounding districts, in the hamlets of Mariblanca and Pilatos and on Pitas hill, a name allusive to hens- and their corresponding Golden Eggs- that find the spot where the treasure is buried when pecking.
We now leave Jaen towards the south, to seek the Sierra de Otiñar, a centre of archeological finds. On Veleta hill, there is a very, very ancient dolmen and to the soyth, in La Tinaja gully, the cave of Los Soles, with prehistoric engravings representing Venus - once again a goddess of fertility- surrounded by suns. Back to Jaen and out northwards on the local Cuevas road, towards Perulera hill.
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