Posts Tagged ‘guinivere’

Arthurian Archetypes of the Cross

As a druid I work with mental imagery to facilitate connections to sources of intelligence and wisdom beyond the confines of my own psyche. The format of those mental images, the focal points if you like, are fairly arbitrary for the most part. Although we have created some cultural thought-forms (many of which have energy and sentience all of their own due to that energetic input) I believe that the best use of these mental focal points is for them to be a visual gateway into The Otherworld. The cultural images we use are a sort of universal pass to get you into a frame of mind that allows a connection to one source or another of Otherworld information. This Otherworld is a realm of ideas and knowing that is beyond the ordinary five-sense reality that we spend most of our time in.
Druid Archetypes
I want to define a specific phrase to contain the ideas I am trying to express here. Let me call them “druidic archetypes”. You may call them Gods or The Goddess. You may call them any host of ‘mythical’ names such as from the Arthurian tales, or The Mabinogion. Whatever source you choose to derive your druidic archetypes from (you may even have created or found your own) let me define them here as “druidic archetypes” as a shorthand. I may refer to them as “sources” too, if generalising.

Archetypical druid (c) Chris Young/PA

I found some of these druidic archetypes useful at the time when I opened up my DNA to changes related to healing. During that process I employed Arthurian archetypes in order to work with energies that I discovered were available at particular sacred sites. During that process I was able to adopt their energies, utilise them, and gain a great deal of insight as part of that assimilation process. However, time moves on, and after that process had completed I pretty much forgot about all but the main archetypes I was using such as Merlin, for example. To be honest, I didn’t really know their extent, or how to use them as part of any kind of ritualistic or seasonal basis.
The Cross
As druids we tend to shy away from The Cross, given its associations, yet as Julian Cope always says we need to reclaim this icon. It’s far more useful for us than it is for ‘them’. It had a far older history than the current religious paradigm of the western world. For me, I have found that The Cross is a framework upon which to place the four main division points of the year. In this context The Cross also provides me with a means to place the druidic archetypes against these four annual divisions, and to link the two concepts together. Of course, it also allows for elemental associations, and for cardinal positions too. Such a useful framework!
Rediscovering the archetypes
Something prompted me to re-discover these sources. A task this year involving Merlin startled me into a recognition that these archetypes weren’t a one-off symbol that I was using – they were becoming part of the way I worked with the land and the elements. So I began to explore what benefits they could bring me. Certainly I will never be worshipping any of them as gods, but as psychological archetypes could it be possible to externalize their energy forms such that I could learn something about my own spiritual development by aligning myself with one of the Arthurian figures at a specific time of the year or for specific purposes?

Fitzalan’s Lessons – Water Magick

For several weeks I had been passing by Old Oswestry Hillfort in Shropshire on my travels to Wales and to some of the closer megalithic sites in North Shropshire. Every time I passed it my eye was caught by its level top and the sheer size of it. I loved the sight of its steep front, and wanted to see whether it had any energetic remainders or interesting energy forms in it. One evening I couldn’t contain myself any longer, and I got on my motorbike and rode down to Oswestry on the pretext of giving the bike a bit of a run to charge up the battery. Any excuse!

At the back of my mind I had another agenda too. I had wanted to find out whether I could really make use of The Fitzalan Shade that I had picked up from Clun Castle the week before (see previous post: Clun Castle and the Shade of the Warlock) – the spirit of a warlock with whom I had negotiated a bargain for knowledge sharing. Now was the time to test this out. Would the arrangement be up to anything at all, or was I wasting my time?

Guinivere’s Touch

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this story, let me take you on an interesting diversion. As often happens in my unusual life when walking The Shining Path (I give this questing life many names) I go to places that have intuitively called to me. Afterwards when I do my research on the sites I find that they have some link to my spiritual progression that I had not expected. Such was the case with Old Oswestry. To me, it was that hill fort that I kept seeing and which called to me this year (even though I have been passing it for many years now). This year has seen a change in my Arthurian archetype. Last year I was completely bound up in quests for Merlin, culminating with his spirit merging with my own at Dinas Emrys.

This year I have been inextricably woven into the fabric of Arthur’s life – first at Tintagel, then at places such as Arthur’s Cave at Symond’s Yat, then Arthur’s Grave in Pembrokeshire. The sites have been never-ending, each linked to King Arthur and me seemingly destined to visit when my tasks and destinations have been dowsed and plotted on maps. Such has been the course of this year. How intriguing then that when I researched Oswestry Hill Fort I find that it too is strongly linked with the Arthurian myth. More weft for the rich tapestry.

Oswestry: The Welsh name means City of Gogyrfan. According to legend, Gogyrfan was father to Queen Guinevere and therefore father in law to King Arthur. This fort was said to be Guinevere’s birthplace. (source: Oswestry Town Talk)

Ariel view of Oswestry Hillfort

Now I will tell you all about my first usage of the Fitzalan Stone and whether it truly does have magickal properties.

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Summer Solstice 2011 Part 2 – Camelot, The Tor and the Healing Thorn

This is the final part of my Summer Solstice 2011 quest in and around Glastonbury. In the first part of the day I had meditated at Glastonbury Abbey and seen a vision of Arthur and Guinivere, visited the Holy Thorn tree, and then mixed the red and the white waters from the Tor’s streams together. Now I was heading to Cadbury Castle – a site I had tried to find the time to visit on previous pilgrimages, but had never managed to get to.

5. Cadbury Castle

Finding the castle was easy. I set the navigation systems for South Cadbury village, and from there the signs were obvious – there were small brown tourist signs telling me where to go from that point. No esoteric signs required, and still no dowsing rods needed (which was fortunate because I hadn’t brought them deliberately). This was intuitive work, and I was being tested to see if I could hack it.

I parked the car and noticed a girl walking her dog was wearing wellingtons despite the outrageous heat of the day. I wondered if she knew something I didn’t. As I walked up the dark tunnel made by hawthorn trees that led me up the hill to the castle I realised that she did know something – the path was incredibly rutted and muddy! The ascent went slowly as I picked my way through the delightful remainders of a cow’s digestion, the inches deep mud, and the streams of…well, I didn’t dare contemplate what they might be, but I hoped they were water.

The original Camelot?

As I neared the top of the slope I was presented with various possible paths. I decided to follow my intuition again. Which was the correct entrance for a servant of Merlin, I wondered? I felt a path to the right was the correct one, so I took it despite it being surrounded by high nettles. Soon there was no path any more, only nettles. I stopped because I couldn’t go any further and I looked down at my feet as something caught my eye – there was a black feather to go with the white swan feather that I had brought with me for some reason. A complimentary pair! I picked it up and picked my way up the hill, somehow finding the path I came in on and then I was able to climb into the castle, mounting its embankments to survey the scene.

It's a black and white situation

The scene was difficult to imagine as a castle. There was a flat wide-open space, slanting uphill towards a concrete pillar at the summit, and the field was enclosed by six-feet high embankments that enclosed a herd of grazing cows. The wind was also rushing sternly across the top of the hill ensuring that I didn’t hang about wistfully imagining a fantasy Arthurian Camelot scene. Instead I headed for the lee side of the slope at the peak of the site where the wind was stiller and the sun beat down like a proper English summer day. I rested there with my staff, breathing in the summer air, listening to the insects at work, and delighting in the occasional call of a songbird.

When my lazy urge had passed I set about creating an elemental crystal layout and tried to unify the two feathers in terms of their energy, like Arthur and Guinivere. I positioned the feathers in what I felt was a unifying manner, and then surrounded them with the four quadrants of the elements – the cardinal points. Frustratingly nothing felt as though it was happening. I tried several configurations of crystals. Maybe I just had them int he wrong position, or the wrong order, or….nothing was happening. At that moment when all hope had vanished and I had cleared the paraphernalia away I was interrupted by a jovial set of old Americans who proceeded to give me a short history of the castle unbidden. No harm in that! We passed the time and then I departed for more hospitable places – the wind was spoiling the beautiful summer day heat.

What had happened to the magical moments of this pilgrimage? Had I taken a wrong turn? I returned to Glastonbury feeling like a simple tourist.

6. Chalice Well Gardens

What better place to while away the time before the sunset than at the most beautiful small garden in Somerset? Chalice Well Gardens are a haven from the bustle of the town and the Tor on a Solstice afternoon.

Chalice Well Gardens in full flow

I was just in time for the gardens at what must be their quietest time of the day – late afternoon. I admired the flowers and plants, then headed for a high spot to meditate. It was difficult, so I went to the spot between the yew trees and called the Goddess, like a famous druid had told me to do. This worked well and soon i was feeling energised, but still no information was forthcoming. One last try – I went to my favourite spot and looked at the dappled sunlight through the trees. It worked.

Ironically, the message that I got was that I had to work on patience. I had to learn to be more patient with people, and to wait for situations to come about as they would, not to force things. This was exactly what a friend had said to me recently. I promised to the unseen forces that I would try. One of the other things to come out of the meditation was the news that the feathers could only be used for the last part of the day’s work on the Tor itself at sundown. That was why they hadn’t done anything at Cadbury Castle. Now I understood. Should have been more patient, eh?

7. The Tor

For the last part of the day Kal re-joined me in Glastonbury town. Yet again he had trekked across the vast wastelands of the south-western fringes of civilization to partake in some jocularity and light-hearted piss-taking. Oh, and he may have been there for the solstice sunset too, perhaps. He had, of course, his own quest to follow so as I told him of my day’s work he picked up on the waters of the red and white stream that I had mixed. He will tell you his own tale of how he found out some critical information whilst meditating in the Glabbey grounds, and how then he found he needed the waters that I had mixed to complete his own health quest. That’s a story worth telling in its own right. For now, let me continue with my story.

We walked up the Tor by the easy route, but started it just above the two springs. The climb was much easier now that we were both a lot fitter. At the top of the Tor I waited for the “right time”. With no dowsing rods this was difficult, but eventually, about 9:40pm, I was ready to work. I went to the west slope and put the two feathers in formation. I had picked up a grey pigeon feather from my walk through the town earlier and the three of them seemed to make sense now – white, grey and black, This seemed to signal the end of the Hawk of May quest – officially.

People gathered on Glastonbury Tor for the solstice sunset

One the Tor I was getting nothing for my meditation. Perhaps it was too busy or too noisy? Maybe the wind was too strong? There were a hundred excuses but the result was the same – I couldn’t see or intuit anything on this ancient place of power about where my quest would go next. Nothing was forthcoming. Then I remembered one of the elements of the tarot that I had drawn at the start of the quest – “Don’t be afraid to ask“, and also remembered that in the grail myth Gawain failed the quest initially by not asking the important question that would release the grail to him. Suddenly I knew what to do. I had recently been in contact with The Hawk of May – Gwalchmai. This archetype or spirit is associated with Gawain and the Grail Quest too, but I knew that in the myth it was Percival who fails to ask the question. Was I Percival in this quest? Was I failing to ask the right question – to ask for help? Could Gwalchmai help me now?

I sat before the Tor’s church tower and called upon Gwalchmai three times. Suddenly I saw and simultaneously was a hawk circling the Tor. I could see it from where I sat and yet I was the hawk too, looking down on my distant figure below as I meditated. I asked the Hawk to show me what my next quest would be. I saw a hawk in my mind circling the Tor, then it flew straight through the building and out to Wearyall Hill. The hawk landed on the cage surrounding the Holy Thorn. The indication was clear to me – I would be doing more healing work, possibly more protection work too.

I knew that for the next six months I would be learning how to heal. This was an area I had been staying away from, but now the signs were clear and unrelenting. It was time for healing work – serious healing work. I had to learn to be a healer whether I liked it or not, and it would take…key word of the day….patience.



Summer Solstice 2011 Part 1 – Union of the Red and White Streams

As regular readers may know I have begun a tradition – to visit Glastonbury for the Summer Solstice. I go alone, but usually at some point Kal is involved and joins me for part of the quest. This solstice was no different so Kal will make an important appearance throughout this quest’s tale, but I spent the solstice day itself alone in Glastonbury performing a pilgrimage from site to site, meditating or performing some ritual acts at each place.

This solstice I did some preparation for the forthcoming journey by drawing some tarot cards to guide me because when I had dowsed as to what activities I might be doing at Glastonbury the only answer that had come back was that I must learn to follow my own intuition, and that I must not take my dowsing rods! You can imagine how much this filled me with a sense of wariness, because I use dowsing rods for almost all quests and journeys involving energy or decision-making. Oddly, even though they were my primary information sources, the one thing the dowsing rods insisted on was that they would not be involved in this solstice quest! Well, that information has been coming to me from many sources recently too, so I took the hint and left all of my rods at home.

Saturday 18th June
I did a tarot card reading before I got to Glastonbury using the new WildWood Tarot cards that I had recently purchased. Like all the tarot decks that I seem to respond to this reading proved incredibly portentous, very personal, and contained mainly important face cards, rather than innocuous suit cards.

The WIldWood Tarot set

The draw would be five cards. Three cards to give me enough information to work out a starting point for my quest, and then a card to tell me which obstacles I would face on the quest, and a card to inspire me with a reward if the obstacle was overcome. I drew the cards with the intention of the card in mind, and then revealed and interpreted each one in turn.

  • 3 cards to identify the start point:
  1. Queen of Stones – The Bear – “Often linked to Arthurian legend, the bear remains a symbol of power and protection of the land.” If the King Bear is Arthur, then the Queen Bear is Guinivere. The constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor – fixed stars in the cycle around the Pole.
  2. The Ancestor – could relate to burial sites, meeting ancient archetypes. The Pathfinder. Elen of the Roads/Ways. Ley line and ancient places of power.
  3. King of Arrows – the Kingfisher – The Fisher King. The guardian of the Grail. Associated with Bran the Blessed – the Celtic god of regeneration – whom I meet regularly at Dinas Bran. Links the health of the land to the health of the king. Gwalchmai and Gawain associated with this image. Impulsiveness.
  • 1 card to identify the obstacle:

Eight of Vessels – Rebirth, learn from past mistakes, take positive action, don’t fear to ask.

  • 1 card to identify the reward:

The Journey – Renewals, a new birth, a new quest, death to the old modes and concepts.

Monday 20th June

I arrived in Glastonbury with mixed weather – dark clouds all around and threatening a downpour. I got into my accommodation and picked up my piece of paper which contained the hastily scribbled notes about which tarot cards I had picked. The best place to find a decision is at the bottom of a glass of locally-brewed real ale, so I headed off to a local hostelry with the intention of seeking inspiration. Luckily, Kal had ventured into town for the evening so we strode into the King William pub and began to get inspired. As I quizzed him about possible interpretations of the tarot cards I kept noticing that the pub was bedecked with Arthurian paraphernalia – a genealogy of Arthurian personae and a map of the country’s best Arthurian sites were situated right in the corner where we sat and chatted. I looked around the pub – no other walls had such decorations! Our first coincidence.

We interpreted the reading as meaning that I should start my quest at a place where an ancestor was buried, where ley lines run, and linked to Arthur and Guinivere. I knew this place to be the burial site of Arthur & Guinivere at Glastonbury Abbey. I happened to be staying at a Bed & Breakfast called Magdelene House. I had picked the accommodation because it had been the only one in the town that had a room close to the solstice because I booked quite close to the midsummer date. When I arrived I found that Magdelene House is the closest accommodation you can get to Glastonbury Abbey short of camping in the abbey grounds! The second coincidence of the journey so far. The signs were good.

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Cornwall – Tintagel, The Spirit of Arthur and The Blessed Isle

Sunday, 22nd August, 2010 – Tintagel, Cornwall.

In the final post of our Cornwall visit I have reserved the best tale until last. Tintagel was supposed to be simply a passing visit to an historic site, but as usual mystical things began to happen once the dowsing rods had pointed the way.

Tintagel is renowned as a site associated with the legend of King Arthur, although signs dotted around the castle grounds do readily admit that there is little actual evidence for either the existence of Arthur himself, or his relationship with the castle. Yet, this has not stopped the small town of Tintagel from attaching the Arthur and Merlin names to almost every shop, pub, hotel and entertainment venue in sight. I made a reluctant Kal take my picture next to a life-sized plastic Merlin. Oh, the shame on both sides!

The rain that had been tumbling all day had slightly relented, but louring skies heralded more soon. Yet, our enthusiasm was not dampened. I, in particular, was quite excited about the prospect of testing Tintagel Castle for the presence of Arthur and Merlin – whether that be an historical remnant or simply the hint of association. We avoided the Land Rover offering an expensive ride down the steep hill to the castle, and we joyously let our legs find their own speed down the hill, noticing a sign to a church on the way down. We paid our dues and then the rain came down, just as we were about to make the precarious crossing of the wooden bridge between the mainland and the steep cliff-lined island that formed the formidable fortifications of the castle.

As the seas crashed below us and the rain lashed our already damp clothing we climbed the steep slippery steps to stand with the stunning sight of huge caves, high headland and strange islets as we stood looking out over the edge of Cornwall. We stood on a promontory looking at Merlin’s Cave when the thought struck me – was there anything I could do to find out whether this stuff about Merlin and Arthur was actually true? Was there anything I could do – I was supposed to be a dowser! Of course there was something I could do!

The Spirit of Merlin and the Shade of Arthur

I got my dowsing rods at the ready and began to consider what I was going to ask about, but as soon as the mental images of Arthurian characters began to formulate itself into a question there was a nearby flurry of feathers and flaps as a hawk swooped across our vision only feet away to land in the small outcrop of rock just above us. I hate to say it, because in the next few posts this is going to get repeated quite often and is likely to become a little boringly repetitive, but I have come to see the appearance of a hawk as a sign of Merlin, ever since an encounter at Dinas Emrys one evening when I was pursuing an encounter with the spirit of Merlin.

After getting over that ‘sign’ I began the dowsing proper. I began by framing the context of the questions. I would be asking about the concepts of “Merlin” and “Arthur” and until I asked specifically I was not distinguishing between the physically real and the mythological concept of either of those figures. Here are some of the questions I asked:-

  • Had Merlin been born at this site? NO
  • Had Merlin lived at Tintagel? NO
  • Had Merlin visited this place? YES. Interesting.
  • Had Arthur been born at this site? NO. Not much information being revealed so far!
  • Had Arthur lived at Tintagel? YES. Oh!
  • Had Arthur been buried on this site? NO.

Time to move on to the question of whether these characters were real or mythological.

  • Was Arthur a real king of England? YES.
  • Was Arthur a myth? YES. What?
  • Was Arthur both a mythological character AND a real person? YES. Confusing!
  • Was Merlin a real magician? NO.
  • Was Merlin a myth? YES. But…earlier the dowsing had said that he had visited….
  • Did Merlin visit Arthur at Tintagel in some magical way, rather than a physical way? YES.

OK, that was both a little clearer and a little muddier at the same time. I wanted to see now whether there was anything remaining at the site of either of those people (or ideas).

  • Was there any of Merlin’s energy remaining at Tintagel? NO.
  • Was there any of the Spirit of Arthur’s energy at this site? YES.
  • Was there anything of the mortal remains of Arthur at this site? YES. Oh, now that was interesting!
  • What was it of Arthur that remained? His bones? NO. His energetic shroud? YES.

So, a real person who had either been named Arthur, or who had adopted the title, had ruled here at Tintagel, and now there was the remains of his energy somewhere on this island. That was quote exciting, so I set about trying to find it with the dowsing rods, letting them lead me to where this ‘shade; might be. I didn’t know yet what I was going to ask when I got there, but the hint was on!

Arthur’s Viewpoint

In one of the last scenes from the excellent film “Excalibur” there is a poignant moment where Arthur is laid to rest in his final moments with a view out over the ocean, high up on a cliff-top. Now that I have visited Tintagel that scene makes much more sense to me – of course if Arthur had died anywhere close to Tintagel then that would be where he would want to spend his final moments. Who wouldn’t?

View of The Sisters islands from Tintagel

My dowsing rods led me to a place on the island where they indicated that the shade, the energetic shroud, or the remnants of his spirit, could be found. I am not going to say where that was. I wish to respect his peace. If you want to find this place then feel free to make the effort to locate it for yourself. Perhaps he will have moved by the time you get there. Perhaps he is in different places for different people. Whichever is the case, it was a special place. I felt that straight away and soon I stopped dowsing questions about who or what this was, and I sat looking out at the view. I asked if it would be appropriate for me to ask for information spiritually, and got a positive response, so I began to tune in. Soon I was deep into a conversation inside my head with whatever this spirit was.

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Robert J Stewart: The Life and Mysticism of Merlin

I have just finished two of the most impressive books on the subject of the Western Mystery Tradition’s greatest and original prophet: Merlin.To most of us, to almost everyone, Merlin has been portrayed as a caricature, a cartoon character, and a convenient symbol of a “wizard” with a Celtic flavour. With the exception of John Boorman’s excellent film “Excalibur” Merlin has been degraded into a mythical similie of mystical power.

For a more level-headed, considered, erudite and focused study I urge you to read Robert J.Stewart’s two books in sequence: “The Prophesies of Merlin” and the even more astounding “The Mystic Life of Merlin“. In the prophesies book, as you might expect, we get a clever deconstruction and interpretation of the meaning of Merlin’s supposed prophetic utterances. The back story is remarkably well explained and decoded, which leads beautifully into the convincing middle section. This is where Merlin’s predictions are considered in the light of historical record, and with startling results. Stewart then goes on to reveal Merlin’s continued stream of consciousness until the end of mankind. We are left with a clear wake-up call to our own consciousness – our consciousness of life, the universe, history and future.

In the partner sequel, “The Mystic Life of Merlin” Stewart delves into a number of interesting areas. He follows Geoffrey of Monmouth’sVita Merlini in terms of exposition, but interweaves elements of the Prophesies where it re-enforces his argument for an extremely early Celtic origin for the story. It derives, he claims with consistent evidence, from a western mystery tradition of training in natural magick – although that is my terminology that I’m employing. Taliesin, the Welsh bard of legend, is also associated closely with helping Merlin understand the world through an ancient catechism in which Taliesin reveals that forces at work in the world and beyond it. Stewart presents a good case for a geometric link between the forces at play in Merlin’s life as it pertains to the stages of psychological development along the path from king to madman, to seer, magician and prophet, and eventually into enlightenment.

We also get a link in with the origins of Tarot Cards, relating the characters of Merlin’s life story with the original Major Arcana depictions. The Rider Waite set also retain many of the personae and events from the story of Merlin’s life in their composition, meaning and detail.

It’s an astounding and revealing interpretation of a system of magickal teachings passed down through first oral, then written tradition. For those who seek to re-discover some of those abilities, these books point the way.


Following in the footsteps of the dragon.

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Taliesin introduced
Kevan Manwaring recites the bard Taliesin's CV.
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