When the weather has been dry for several days in England then it would be rude not to go out into the world and see if you can feel the forces of Nature at work. Not wanting to be rude Kal and I gave a large part of our eating and drinking time over to a journey to our favourite magical woodland – Alderley Edge. It was the first visit of the year, and although it was definitely not Spring-like weather yet, at least it was dry and had been for days, which meant that we could walk around without fear of falling foul of a foot of mud and slutch.
As if our wont, we had to have a question to be working with in order to make the experience bring true reward (yes, wandering around aimlessly can be its own random reward, but if you want to make steady and sure spiritual progress then you need a mission, a plan, a guided meditation). For my part, I had questions about my recent work with The Sword and The Shield. I had managed to absorb some energy into my shield stone and this was very satisfactory. Now, I wanted to know about the Sword aspect. What was it, and how could I go about obtaining it so that I could fulfil my healing potential using these two magickal symbols and their associated energies.
My research into the figure of Galahad had shown that he had encounters involving a sword and a shield. For Galahad they were to be found like this:-
- The Sword of Spirit – a sword drawn from a rock
- The Shield of Faith – a shield found at the altar of a white abbey
Well, that was all to plan so far. I had found a white abbey (Valle Crucis), its ancient altar location, and had transferred the energy of the “shield” into my shield-like stone, and was now able to use that to quickly protect and retain energies for sacred sites. My thoughts thus turned to The Sword. Drawn from a rock? Really? Like Arthur’s sword, Galahad also had to draw a sword from a rock?
Who owns the sword?
Last year I had been doing some research into Gawain. During that year I had some experiences, particularly on Iona, the led me to believe that the Sword is identified with the Will. This is especially true in magickal work. However, was the sword that I would work with this year related to Galahad, Arthur or Gawain? It was a confusing picture! Did it matter? Could the dowsing rods sort it out for me? Or maybe a tarot draw?
The dowsing rods were able to help me divine the answer. It is Galahad’s Sword that I am to find and work with.
“Sir Galahad survives this test [being sat in the Seige Perilous seat], witnessed by King Arthur who, upon realizing the greatness of this new knight, leads him out to the river where a sword lies in a stone with an inscription reading “Never shall man take me hence but only he by whose side I ought to hang; and he shall be the best knight of the world… Galahad accomplishes this test with ease, and King Arthur swiftly proclaims him to be the greatest knight ever. ” (Source: Wikipedia)
Now, on to the Alderley Edge tale, where I find out more answers than I bargained for!
I thought I knew my way around the forest pretty well, so when I turned up to meet Kal in the Wizard’s Car Park (can wizards have car parks?) I was surprised when his introductory sentence was “Do you want to go somewhere you’ve never been before?“. He explained that he had found the place that we could both use to work in. Really#? I was surprised, but he was genuinely excited and promised me that it would meet all expectations. Then, lead on! I suggested, quite excited at the prospect.
He led me around a trail I knew in a great square and back almost to the place we’d started. What was this, I thought? I know this whole area! Apart…from..this bit. I was led through a gate and down a slope until I arrived in another of the forest’s great sandstone ravines.
This ravine was obviously different to others we had discovered before. In this one there was a man-sized cave entrance in the rock. Open. Enter-able. Dry. Clean. Shallow. Inviting!
Inside the cave Kal dowsed for his energetic spot. I took photographs of the surroundings. Kal asked me to dowse for my energetic place. It was exactly the same as Kal’s! We sat on either side of the narrow cave from each other and meditated together.
That was quite unusual, but so was the state of the cave. Most caves are filled with empty beer cans, broken beer bottles, dead fireworks and general plastic rubbish. This cave was almost pristine Long may that continue! I removed one small piece of plastic myself. I’m always keen to keep sacred places tidy. It’s my duty somehow. Self-appointed I believed, until I was led to a site one day for the specific purpose of cleaning up the whole place! Anyway – that’s an old story. On with the new.
During my meditation here’s what I got about the Galahad Sword:-
- Task is from Spring Equinox to Beltane.
- To be found at a lake.
- Will be presented to me.
- Presented by a lady spirit.
Hold on! This is just The Lady of the Lake story, I thought. “Shhh“, said an inside voice,”Let the story unfold! There’s more.…”
- It is the sword that cuts three ways.
- Impales through my spine.
- Cuts off my head.
- Castrates me.
Generally speaking this three modes of using the sword reminds me of The Threefold Death in Celtic literature, especially linked with Merlin Wyllt – the wild Merlin.
I then went on to look at each of the modes in turn. The impalement aspect is discussed by J.A.MacCulloch in Chapter 19 on Sacrifice amongst the Druids in his book The Religion of the Ancient Celts. The beheading aspect reminds me of the Beheading Game in that quintessential Gawain story “Gawain and The Green Knight” – a story that goes back to Irish mythology before it became Christianised in the re-telling. The castration aspect may be related to mistletoe:-
…ancient cultures generally had a tendency to revere anything vaguely genitalia related, and so, combined with the fact that mistletoe grew on sacred oaks, the druids eventually came to the perfectly logical conclusion that the mistletoe must also be sacred. Sacred oak testicles, that is. If there’s one thing you should take away from this article, it’s that everything is balls.
Cutting off the mistletoe was thus something akin to ritual castration of the oak god. The plant would then be hanged inside the house to harness its magical testicle powers that apparently brought you good luck instead of the wrath of high-pitch-voiced deities. (source: Cracked.com)
Each of the modes of cutting can be linked back to a “Celtic” or druidic mode of ritually using the sword, and how these have sometimes come down to us through history preserved in story and mythology related to the Druids,
This quest is becoming fascinating, and it is certainly “sharpening” my attention on solving this threefold riddle. I have determined that the sword is Galahad’s, and that fits with this year’s Galahad orientation. I have also found out that I have the task of obtaining the sword from a water spirit (Undine) and I just need to find the correct lake before Beltane. Ah, my curious life!