Relics were highly esteemed in the Middle Ages and continue to draw devotees to this day. Why would anyone strive to own something so grizzly as the bone of a saint? The answer goes back to the practice of the Greek mysteries, particularly in relation to the cults devoted to female divinities. Jane Ellen Harrison tells us, “ . . . a mystery is a rite in which certain sacra are exhibited, which cannot be safely seen by the worshipper till he has undergone certain purifications.”
There are three levels of relic. Pieces of The Cross, The Holy Grail, The Ark of the Covenant, or The Holy Spear are considered the purest forms of spiritual power. To touch any one of them would be like directly touching electricity. To have or possess such an item is said to endow that person with the ability to become the next messiah or to smite all in battle. However, the item must be seen in the mind’s eye or possessed within the soul for it to give such power. Like the sword in the stone, these items are reserved for only the most worthy of candidates who have spent years doing spiritual practices and studying the spiritual texts.
The second level of relic is deemed to have absorbed the power of the saint. A bone or personal item, such as a rosary or favorite prayer book, is thought to contain the powers obtained and practiced by that particular saint. These powers are locked within the item even after the holy person as passed into the next world.
An item does not have to be genuine or come directly from a holy person or holy site for the mystery to work. The third level of relic is the basic symbol. The symbols are representations of the power associated with that image. If you believe in the institution or master, are purified or empty, or if you understand the meaning and are willing accept this power into your being, then the power of the symbol will fill your inner sanctum. This is why churches and worship centers are highly decorated. Symbols are found in the stain glass windows, carvings, plaques, statues, and even the structure of the worship center itself. Many people also collect, wear, and use basic symbols as a part of their everyday life.
The mystery is a basic physics principle. Nature abhors a vacuum. That which is empty will be filled. This is why only the righteous, purified, or empty can receive or feel the power of a relic. Those who are “full of themselves” will be left in the dark, overwhelmed, slapped, or stricken down by the power of a relic.