Weapons play an important role
Since time immemorial, there have been weapons that served man not only for obtaining food and protection from attack, but were used by man primarily for land conquest and the spread of power. In ancient times up to the Middle Ages, the preferred weapons were the lance, the spear, the crossbow and the sword. In the 11th-13th centuries, the Crusaders went to the Holy Land with swords and lances to reconquer the Christian territories from the Muslim occupiers. Again, the sword was used against Christian spiritual religious communities, such as the Albigensians and the Bogomils. Religious fanaticism was evident here, with murder and manslaughter. Religion was understood here also as an external process in which fighting for a divine idea justified bloodshed.
Even in modern times, weapons play an important role in protecting one’s own people and in the global political game for power. However, the weapon in earthly hands destroys and inflicts wounds.
Weapons as spiritual forces
The sword, the spear or the lance also have a symbolic meaning. In Matthew 10:34 it says, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” The Revelation of John 1:16 speaks of the Son of Man with a sharp two-edged sword protruding from his mouth. The Letter to the Hebrews 4:12f reads: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.“
The inner fight
The sword or lance also appears in myths and sagas. For example, in the Song of the Nibelungs, Siegfried slays the dragon and is rewarded with the Nibelungen hoard. Likewise, Saint George kills a dragon that was tyrannizing the city. For this he is rewarded with gold by the king.
The dragon can be understood as a symbol of the lower self, that is, of all the aggressions and lower desires within us. These must be overcome by us and integrated into consciousness so that the divine soul, symbolized by the gold treasure, can unfold.
The spear and the Grail
A weapon also plays an important role in Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal. The spear with which Jesus’ side was slashed on the cross and the Grail in which the blood from the wound was collected are kept as relics in the Grail Castle. Strengthened by the Grail, the Grail Knights set out to fight for good. Klingsor, who was excluded from the Grail community because of his unchastity, built a magic castle outside the Grail area with seductive girls as inhabitants. Amfortas, who went out with the spear to defeat Klingsor and put an end to this goings-on, himself fell for the seductive courtship of the girls and thus lost the spear to Klingsor, who struck him a wound with it. It is a wound that does not heal and that causes even more agonizing pain with every unveiling of the Grail. Only Parsifal, purified after years of wandering, who returnes to the Grail region as a pure fool, feels the pain of Amfortas’ wound in his heart and renounces Kundry’s seduction, can recover the spear and free Amfortas from his torment.
The spear, which in Wagner’s opera is associated with the handling of divine creative forces, inflicts an incurable wound on the one who does not use them according to the divine will. And is it not the case that every human being carries a deep, non-healing wound within himself? It is in his heart that is not any more connected to the divine forces of its origin. This wound cannot be healed with earthly powers; it requires a higher, spiritual power.
The flaming sword
How can we understand the double-edged sword of the Bible in this context? In Revelation, the sword comes from the mouth of the Son of Man. In Hebrews, a connection is made to the Word of God. This Word is experienced as a judging power that calls for the purification of the heart and thoughts, thereby first causing a painful process. It is thus a holy wound that this sword inflicts upon us, a wound which wants to awaken our consciousness and open our eyes to our actual state of being.
At the end of Genesis 3, there is talk of a flaming sword being driven into the ground by the Elohim to deny man access to the Tree of Life. “He drove out man, made him dwell east of the Garden of Eden, and set up the cherubim and the flaming sword-blade to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Gen 3:24)
It is a flaming sword associated with firepower. However, it is not meant here the sword of the assertiveness of the ego strength and earthly power, but it is a sword glowing with divine fire. We cannot use this sword, we would burn. It requires another power. The spirit is equated with fire. Thus, we ourselves must become the fiery power of the spirit in order to pass through the fire gate. How is this to be understood? We have to silence our ego will and let it fade into the background so that the spiritual will can take its place in us again and lead us. However, this does not mean spiritual euphoria, such as the Knights Templar displayed in the 11th-13th centuries when they stormed into Jerusalem to retake the Holy City. No, it is a silent, yet painful storm within us that leads us to humility in heart, in the purity of which we can receive the Spirit.
And is not the sword also a symbol of the spine of man? Does not our spine also need to become a flaming sword? The spine is responsible for more than man’s upright posture. When the spirit enters a human being, the spine is also flooded by it. After the spirit has taken up residence in the heart, it can ascend to the head, to flow from there along the spine, down to the pelvis and sacral center, to redeem us from karma, and then, together with the cleansed karma, to ascend the spine again to the head. Then we are flooded with the fiery power of the spirit and can pass through the fire gate of the flaming sword with the Kerubim as gatekeepers and enter the spiritual earth.