Glossary entry for
The mystical tradition embodied by the troubadours is not widely recognized.
Traditional historians will claim they originated in southern France,
during the 12th and 13th centuries. They will often cite that the troubadours were
an evolution of the 10th century minstrels, and themselves evolved into the trouvores of the
14th century. Be this as it may, there is much more to the troubadour story than simple
entertainment via love songs.
That troubadours sung of courtly love is undisputed. Courtly love was a vogue at the time
that was characterized by a romantic devotion for a sexually unattainable woman, usually another
man's wife. In some circles, the woman was abstracted to an ideal and held to be the Virgin Mary.
It is generally accepted that the troubadours embodied these concepts in their songs, but
the mystical tradition holds that the troubadours, in fact, originated them, and as a
result, the code of chivalry itself. The mystic holds that the love songs were in fact
odes to God, who in the vocabulary of the mystic is called the beloved.
There is reason to believe that these troubadours originated in Saracen Spain, and they were an
act of spiritual impregnation of the West by the Near East. The seed that would grow a religion
of love. "The darkness of scholastic Christianity is being replaced by the light and warmth of
Saracen life, in spite of the eclipse of it's military power," says Jules Michlet in his
Satanism and Witchcraft (London, 1960). Not only have historians noted that the troubadours resembled
Arab singers "not only in sentiment and character but also in the very forms of their minstrelsy"
(P. Hitte, History of the Arabs, New York, 1951), some also note that the very word
'troubadour' drives from the Arabic root TRB which means (among other things) to find.
The troubadours were finders.
To the casual listener, the songs were sweet and moving love songs, whose effect was to
soften the heart, it's object obviously a female. To the mystic, it was a reminder that Love
is the both the sustainer of the phenomenal world as well as the Path to enlightenment. As the
Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi said, "Whatever you are, whatever your condition is, be a lover."
(It is an interesting aside, that both Rumi (d. 1275) and the mystic poet Omar
Khayyam (d. 1122)
both referred to themselves as troubadours.) The pinnacle of this movement resulted in
the Arthur legends, and the Grail cycle; Avalon et. al.
Associations between love and poetry, poet and musician, all of these and magician, run all
through the mystic traditions of the near east (both Semitic and Arabic), and were later embodied in
the West through the legacy of the Rosy Cross, the Templars, and Masons as they searched to find
the Philosophers Stone; that which could transform the bestial man to divine human. The alchemy
of love. The poet Yeats, whose mystical phrase has so enamored Van, was the head of the magick circle
The Order of the Golden Dawn whose membership included Alister Crowley.
In Van Morrison, we see the tradition of the troubadours resurrected in the modern age with the full
light of the mystic tradition undiminished and in fact renewed. The Seeker of his own wellspring.
The Finder of a tradition as old as humans. The Healer of hearts.
Contributed by Frank LoPinto
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Part of the van-the-man.info unofficial website