The Arthurian Mythos

Copyright by Searles O'Dubhain

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The legend of Arthur permeates British Celtic tradition. This is a discussion of its details and how it has analogies in the other tales and traditions of the Celts.

Celtic Workshop #18 - "The Arthurian Mythos"

This workshop introduces the references for the study of Arthur, King of Britain and his knights of the Round Table. We discussed the archetypical nature of the Arthurian Mythos and touched upon the historical basis for a real Arthur. I've included the initial greetings and socialization.
Marion&Jeremy | And so we await the arrival of OD?
Rhianna & Kevin | Nope he just got here!
Marion&Jeremy | So, FP, wazzup?
Rhianna & Kevin | I think FPs away for a moment ...
faust | what's on the tap tonight?
O'Dubhain | Dia Dhuit!
Rhianna & Kevin | MM, OD!
Freepowder | back!
| Hi all!
Marion&Jeremy | R&K: another dual-personality here?
| Noswaith da, OD
Rhianna & Kevin | Yep! For tonight anyway.
O'Dubhain | Merry Meet Rhianna!
Rhianna & Kevin | M&J, (and everyone) please meet Kevin, my
| roommate!
faust | hello kevin
Rhianna & Kevin | And Demelza (feline friend and erstwhile
| familiar) she's
| here too1
Nancy | Helloooooooo ya'll!!!
Rhianna & Kevin | Hi Nancy!
O'Dubhain | Hi Kevin!!! You lucky dude!
Nancy | Rhianna.
faust | hello demelza
Marion&Jeremy | Hi there, Kevin. Btw, This is Jeremy doing
| the typing tonight, with Marion
| looking on and, of course, adding her own 2
| cents worth
Rhianna & Kevin | (Rh) <blushing>
O'Dubhain | Noswaith da, J&M!
Rhianna & Kevin | THanks OD!
Teb | Rhianna, Minnaloushe is still sleeping in the
| sun
Marion&Jeremy | Well Hi there Nancy!
Rhianna & Kevin | Still sleeping!!! That lazy beast :-)
Marion&Jeremy | Nancy: Have you tried mine yet?<G>
Teb | I'm sure he'll be along to greet Demelza
Rhianna & Kevin | Rhianna's typing ... Kevin will be lucky to
| get $.01 in!
Nancy | Jeremy! Marion! evenin'!
| nope, not yet!
| but I will, promise<G>
Freepowder | lightning outside.
Marion&Jeremy | Well, I haven't mixed up yours yet, either
| <EG>
Nancy | you mean you may get some....rain?
Rhianna & Kevin | Ah ... a little lightning never hurt anyone
| ... well not too
| bad!
Nancy | <GGG>
Marion&Jeremy | FP: We had enough lightning at the Solstice
| circle we attended Saturday!
Freepowder | vaporised my computer one time
Rhianna & Kevin | Yep. that's one of my worst nightmares ...
Nancy | Naw, Freep, it was jest a lil warnin!
Rhianna & Kevin | doesn't stop me from COing, though.
Nancy | Where's Deb?
O'Dubhain | I got knocked off line 3 times today by
| lightnings.
Rhianna & Kevin | I must like living dangerously!
Trailstalker | right her
| here
Nancy | ahhh! thinking of you today, my sister!
Marion&Jeremy | Btw, for any who might have wondered, we were
| knocked offline last week and
| couldn't get back on.
Trailstalker | yeah... miss you too.
Marion&Jeremy | We did _not_ just go without saying bye or
| anything.
Rhianna & Kevin | Sure, M&J ...
| We believe *that* one! <G>
Marion&Jeremy | Yep, one moment we were about to join the
| masses in the hot tub, the next
| moment we are disconnected!
O'Dubhain | Hey I bet it was a sticky coelfbren did it to
| ya M&J!
| <G>
Marion&Jeremy | OD: heh! I hate it when they get sticky!
Rhianna & Kevin | coeflbren?????
| Did I miss something?
faust | arrghhhhh!
O'Dubhain | Coelbren!
| An OD typo!
faust | fire alarm just went off right behind me!
Rhianna & Kevin | I don't know what a Coelbren is either! <dumb
| expression on face>
O'Dubhain | anyway Let's get started on the Workshop
Nancy | faust>why?
faust | dust
Nancy | wait, OD, need to see if faust is afire!
O'Dubhain | A Coelbren is a piece of wood that Welsh
| Bards wrote a secret script
| on
faust | no, i'm ok
Rhianna & Kevin | Ah! I remember something about that ... maybe
| ...
| Thanks OD!
O'Dubhain | kinda like Oghams and then they stacked them
| up as sorta books
| or groups of messages or poems
Nancy | well, why would a piece of wood knock 'em off
| line....oh
O'Dubhain | looked like lincoln logs I guess!<G>
Marion&Jeremy | OD: And how the bards got them sticky we
| won't get into!
Rhianna & Kevin | kinda sorta? <G>
Nancy | forget it....not my swiftest day!
O'Dubhain | I don't really do Coelbrens...It's a Welsh
| thing...<G>
| But I read about them
Marion&Jeremy | <G>
Rhianna & Kevin | <G>
O'Dubhain | Iolo Iolo Iolo!
| Magic incantations!
| And now we begin!<G>
Rhianna & Kevin | Iolo, Iolo, Iolo, HEY!
Marion&Jeremy | OD, you sound like you have something in your
| throat!
Nancy | he can yodel too.
| more of a celtic bray.
O'Dubhain | I figure the name's good for all kinds of
| creative energies!
Rhianna & Kevin | Nancy> HAHAHA
Marion&Jeremy | And the chocolate coating is tasty, too!
| so, OD, I believe you were about to begin?
O'Dubhain | yeppers!
| here we go
Nancy | good nudge, M&J!
O'Dubhain | "The Arthurian Mythos"
| Tonight I will try to shed some light upon a
| topic that has been obscured within the Mists
| of Avalon, "The Arthurian Mythos". Everyone
| has heard some type of legend about Arthur
cherokee | ,
O'Dubhain | and the Knights of the Round Table. Who was
| this man? Was he a real, historical figure?
| When did he live and what did he do? How
| did he get to be such a legend? How did
| a Celtic border battle chieftain become the
Nancy | .
O'Dubhain | Once and Future King? Tonight I hope
| to discuss the history, the myths and the
| legends surrounding this great Celtic
| Archetype. (Though I will be the first to admit
| that of the four groups of Celtic peoples,
| I know the least about the Britains and the
| Bretons!<G> So....if you have a favorite
| story about Arthur or a pet theory feel free
| to raise your hand and share the wealth!)
cherokee | .
O'Dubhain | "The Beginnings of the Story"
| The first thing I'd like to do tonight is
| to present a brief outline of how this legend
| has developed. According to Murry Hope in his
| book Practical Celtic Magick what follows is a
| chronology of stories about Arthur:
| Annales Cambriae - 537 CE. (An actual
| historical record of British Battles and
| events).
O'Dubhain | Historia Britonium - Nennius - 800 CE.
| (Also a history though Nennius may or may
| not actually be the author. He is
| traditionally
| assigned as such).
O'Dubhain | Historia Regum Britaniae - Geoffrey of
| Monmouth. 12th century (About as good
| as it gets considering he wrote 500 years
| after the facts, based upon oral history and
| traditions).
| Vita Merlini - Geoffrey of Monmouth. also
| 12th century.
| The Mabinogion - Welsh Bardic Tradition
| written down in 1225 CE.(These are
| actually much to the 5th
| century CE...but the earliest actual piece
| of verifiable writing is 13th century).
cherokee | .
Rhianna & Kevin | .
O'Dubhain | Le Morte D'Arthur - Sir Thomas Mallory
| in 1485 CE. (A historical romance)
| "More Romances"
| To this list we can add others such as
| Chre'tien de Troyes in his "Contes del
| Graal" in 1208 CE and Robert de Boron in
| his "Joseph d'Arimathie" or "Didot Perceval"
| written between sometime between 1191
| and 1210 CE.
k.o.s.p. | .
Rhianna & Kevin | .
O'Dubhain | There are other works that describe the
| times of Arthur but these are the major
| pieces used in most studies. In fact,
| some of these other stories are Irish and
| contain descriptions of defeats heaped
| upon Arthur by the Irish kings that were
| habitually raiding the Isle of Britain!
| (Niall of the Nine Hostages and Conghal
| Cla'iringhneach to name only two!.) Still
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | other stories make Arthur out to be only a
| Celtic chieftain and battle leader. In still
| other stories he is pleading with the Irish
| to come to his rescue from the invading Saxons!
| A good instance of this type of story
| follows:
O'Dubhain | "In his preface to Le Morte D'Arthur,
| the eminent Welsh scholar and historian,
| Sir John Rhys, mentions that in the
| Annales Cambriae dated AD 537, one of the
| oldest documents available in Britain,
| there is an "Arthur" referred to, but
| not in the kingly mode, although the
| cross is mentioned as being his symbol
| and he was spoken of synonymously with
| St. George. The Book of Taliesin also
| refers to him as 'Imperator Defectu
O'Dubhain | Oraculorum', and states that he was
| regularly served by Druidic priests who
| prophesied for him." (The Elements of the
| Celtic Tradition by Caitlin Matthews). In
| fact, Arthur was only a war leader in this
| story and was not of noble descent.
| Even though the legendary King Arthur is
| know by many in myth, very little was written
| about him historically. He was not a
| Medieval King with knights in shining
O'Dubhain | armor until the Medieval writers made him
| so. All in all, the historical Arthur is very
| difficult to locate and identify because few
| actual records were made of his battles.
| He was also called by many names and
| sometimes the name was that of a local
| hero or God:
O'Dubhain | "It is only natural that the Celtic
| inhabitants of Britain in the west should
| have transmitted legends to us - legends
| of which we cannot now test the validity.
| Gildas tells us that a last stand was made
| by one Aurelius Ambrosianus, 'the last of
| the Romans', somewhere in the west,
| perhaps on the Welsh border; but it came
| to nothing. Still later tradition, purely
| Celtic and oral for many centuries, would
| identify the Ambrosianus with King Arthur.
| We have no early written records for Arthur,
O'Dubhain | but we have an ever-growing corpus of
| tradition, including one which would credit
| him with a victory at Mons Badonicus around
| 500, which held up the Saxon advance for
| about fifty years. Nevertheless, the fact
| is beyond doubt that lowland England, like
| Gaul across the Channel, gradually became a
| predominantly Teutonic country." (Practical
| Celtic Magic by Murry Hope)
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | A minor glitch has jumped on my
| presentation!<GGG>
| Not to worry!
| Got blown out of the CO and lost my place!
| <GGG>
| but I'm back and will endeavor to persevere!
O'Dubhain | "Riothamus"
| Other writers, such as Geoffrey Ashe have
| linked Arthur with the great Celtic king,
| Riothamus, who fought upon the mainland.
| Still others say there was a King Arthur
| himself. There are a multitude of theories
| on just who King Arthur was and what the true
| story of his adventures and reign were. My
| purpose tonight is not to be a historian nor
| and archaeologist. Tonight I want to talk about
| King Arthur as a Celtic archetype and, even
| more as a heroic archetype.
O'Dubhain | "A Mixture of Many Heroes"
| Every item of the Arthurian Mythos has a
| correspondence in the legends and the
| stories of other heroes. The sword Excalibur
| is directly related to the sword of Fergus,
| Calaborg. It can even be tied to the Sword
| of Power used by Nuada of the Silver hand.
| Other correlations are: Merlin and Amergin,
| Guinevere and Finnabhair, the Knights of the
| Round Table and the members of the Fianna,
| the sword in the stone and the sword that
| Theseus, King of Athens pulls from a stone,
| the Holy Grail and the Cauldron of Rebirth,
| Morgan le Fay and the Morrigan, Gwydion
O'Dubhain | and Arthur, Lancelot and Lugh, The Lady of
| the Lake and Rhiannon, Bran and Uther,
| Bran and Balor, Gwalchmai and Galahad.
| .
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | Many other correspondences also exist
| between the Tales of the Tain Bo Cualng
| and the Arthurian Mythos, notably a direct
| relationship between the tale of "Sir Gawain
| and the Green Knight" and the Irish story
O'Dubhain | of beheadings done by Cuchullain in the tale
| about the "Heroes Portion". The pattern that
| develops is that Arthur, his knights and
| ladies become the heroic myth for all peoples.
Gordon E. | -
O'Dubhain | "The Cycle of Mabon"
| In her work, "Mabon and the Mysteries of
| Britain", Ca'itlin Matthews shows the ancient
| commonality of this type of hero occurring
| as groups containing three main archetypes:
| A Divine Mother, A Heroic Son and an
| Unknown or Doubtful Father:
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain |
| Rhiannon, Gwri/Pryderi, Pwyll/Arawn.
| Arianrhod, Llew, Gwydion/Math.
| Morgan, Owain, Urien.
| Lady of the Lake, Lancelot, Afallach.
| Igrayne, Arthur, Uthur/Gorlais.
| Rhea, Zeus, Cronos.
| Leto, Appollo, Zeus.
| Cyrene, Aristos, Appollo.
| Mary, Jesus, Holy Spirit/Joseph.
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | .
| This is an old and universal tale of the
| Western Tradition. The basics of the story
| always follows the same outline. I have
| added the episodes from the Arthurian
| Mythos to each of the following instances.
| Perhaps you could do the same with your
| favorite heroic myth?
| .
| "The Story of the Blessed Child"
| .
| The boy is conceived by a virgin or through
| Otherworldly aid. (Arthur is conceived when
| Uther Pendragon seduces Igrayne while
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | disguised as Gorlais. Merlin has used the
| "charm of Making " to disguise or "shape
| change" Uther.)
| .
| His father is unknown or Otherworldly.
| (Uther is the father of Arthur through
| the use of Drai'ocht...see above)
| .
| The virgin's father or tribe reject her
| because her son's birth presents them with a
| danger. (Igrayne is scorned by her people for
| laying with Uther even though she was tricked.)
| .
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | She gives birth with great difficulty and
| under duress. (She gives birth while her castle
| is besieged by Uther and her people have
| no leader....for Gorlais is dead. Uther comes
| and takes the new babe from his mother as
| payment for Merlin's help.)
| .
| The child is hidden among animals or simple
| people to disguise his true birth and to
| protect him. (Merlin takes the young child
| Arthur to be raised in the woods and hollow
| hills as a Druid and future king.)
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | .
| A person of wisdom adopts or "fosters" the
| child to allow him to develop his unusual
| talents and/or powers. (Merlin as above.
| Also Sir Ectorius raises Arthur to be a
| knight.)
| .
| When the boy eventually comes to court
| he amazes everyone with his talents and/or
| powers. (Arthur pulls the sword from the
| stone as well as encouraging modern
| science and improvements for Camelot.)
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | .
| His mother recognizes him and receives
| him, usually giving him weapons or
| magical powers. (This is handled by the
| Lady of the Lake in Arthur's case.)
Starlite | What is the topic?
O'Dubhain | .
| He becomes a great hero and leader of
| men as a warrior/king or as a poet/seer.
| (Arthur is a little of both.)
| .
| He brings change to the old order and
| initiates a new and nobler order.
| (The order of the Knights of the Round
| Table as well as encouraging
| Christianity.)
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | .
| His opponents cannot overcome him
| until he has fulfilled his destiny and he
| has set in motion the events that will
| eventually cause him to be reborn again
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | under similar circumstances.
| (The Golden Age of Camelot and the
| quest for the Holy Grail. His fathering
| of Mordred by his sister Morgan.)
| .
| Once he accepts his Destiny, he dies for
| a cause and is reborn either as a King of
| the Underworld or as a Guide and mentor
| to those that will follow his new way.
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | (The last battle against the forces of
| Mordred. He sails away to Avalon with
| Three Queens to await the time when
| he will be called forth to save mankind.)
| .
| Try this type of association for other heroic
| tales and I'm sure you will agree that the
| tale of Arthur is Archetypical and Universal.
k.o.s.p. | .
| .
O'Dubhain | .
| What started out as a simple tale of a
| Celtic battle leader attempting to protect
| his lands from the invading Saxons has
| turned into a myth for the ages. This is a
| tale that is, at once, Welsh, Breton, Britain
| and Irish. It is a tale of heroes and Queens.
| Gods and Goddesses and Objects of Power.
k.o.s.p. | .
O'Dubhain | .
| "Hallowquest"
| .
| Next week I will discuss the book
| "Hallowquest" by Caitlin and John Matthews.
| It is a presentation of all the Arthurian
| Archetypes as well as their use in the Tarot.
| It contains an entire systen for working with
| these archetypes.
| That's all I am presenting tonight....anyone
O'Dubhain | have any comments or questions?
Nancy | !
Nan | hi everyone! <g>
O'Dubhain | The subject of Arthur and the Matter of Britain
O'Dubhain | is one that everyone is sure to have
O'Dubhain | an opinion on!
Nancy | !!
Teb | !
Rhianna & Kevin | !
O'Dubhain | Hi Nan!
| Ok
| Nancy ga
Nancy | Searles! I enjoyed your presentation very
| much...not sure how
| much I agree on some of the Archtypal western
| image.....but enjoyed
| it nontheless. Thanks!
| GA
O'Dubhain | Well perhaps we should discuss it a little
| more next
| week?
Nancy | sure!
O'Dubhain | ok I believe Teb has a comment? ga
Teb | yes
| just wanted to say that this is the first
| session
| I've been able to attend (my class is over)
faust | I've got a question about druidism in general.
Teb | and I've liked it very much
| good material, good presentation, all that
| sort of thing
| ga
O'Dubhain | Thank you very much!
| Ok Rhianna & Kevin then faust
Rhianna & Kevin | Well...
O'Dubhain | ga Rhianna & Kevin
Rhianna & Kevin | I was a teeny bit disappointed ... you left
| off one of my
| favorite sources ...
Trailstalker | ?
Rhianna & Kevin | "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
| Come on ...isn't that how it really
| happened????
| <G>
| GA
O'Dubhain | hahaha!
Rolo | Hello! formal?
O'Dubhain | Well I'm holding out on that one until we get
| a little more advanced.
Rhianna & Kevin | Okay!
Nan | lol
O'Dubhain | yes formal Rolo
Trailstalker | OD? have you seen the book called Jung and
| the Tarot... he discusses the 22 major acarna
| as Jungian Archetypes... pretty
| interesting... is that what Hallowquest is
| also?
O'Dubhain | <kinda he said>
| Ok faust ga
faust | ?
| in 21 lessons, monroe says that to break
| silence about druid secrets
| could have a druid expelled fron the order.
| dosen't writing 21 lessons equal that in
| terms of druid secrest?
| sorry. secrets?
O'Dubhain | Monroe did the same thing Crowley did.
| He leads one down the path and deliberately
| makes you "leap" the gap on
| your
faust | sorry, i'm not familliar w/ crowley
O'Dubhain | that you are basically discovering
| secrets for yourself.
faust | ok. thanks
Marion&Jeremy | !
O'Dubhain | The 21 Lessons sometimes looks like it is
| unsubstantiated.
| What I take this to mean is that Monroe wants
| us to dig for the sources and discover the
| underlying principles for ourselves.
| Now I believe it's Marion & Jeremy's turn ga
Marion&Jeremy | THanks OD
| I wanted to mention, for Faust's sake, that
| nearly any esoteric society
| will require certain oaths of secrecy.
| However, much of what is revealed as secret
| is today available in
| paperbacks. Of course sorting out these
| secrets is another matter. GA
faust | thanks ga.
O'Dubhain | M&J ...I agree totally!
Marion&Jeremy | thanks OD
O'Dubhain | My first OOBE was a technique that is
| easily obtained in many books...but I don't
| think many people would actually put in the
| work and time required to actually do one.
| Many other techniques are like that.
| Drawing Down the Moon for instance in a Wiccan
| Ritual is something that is easily read about
| but that doesn't mean everyone could or even
| should try to do it.
cherokee | .
O'Dubhain | The same is true for many things.
| We learn a lot intellectually but how much do
| we really embrace
Marion&Jeremy | One more point along those lines is that the
| best place to hide a tree
| is in a forest!
O'Dubhain | and take to heart?
faust | like the gateway rite, perhaps?
Rhianna & Kevin | Good points!
Steve | subject?
O'Dubhain | Once again...I agree..The first book I ever
| read on Celtic Magick I put down and said....
| Yuck!!! this'll never work!
| Said it about 20 more times,
O'Dubhain | but I kept at it and next thing I know it's
| not
Nancy | I can' t believe you said "yuck" 20 times!<G>
O'Dubhain | getting it to work that is a problem
Trailstalker | The best way I heard it explained is the
| difference between information and knowledge,
| information you get from books and through
| application of that information you get
| knowledge
O'Dubhain | It's controlling it!<GGG>
| TS...I think I understand you perfectly on
| that!:)
Trailstalker | with that library of yours.... you should
| <GGG>
Nan | hahahaha
O'Dubhain | The books have a way of hiding in plain sight
| just as Jeremy & Marion indicated previously!
| <G>
Rhianna & Kevin | Mine do that too! <G>
O'Dubhain | Anyway folks next week we will go into DETAIL
O'Dubhain | on the Arthurian Archetypes!
Nan | speaking of hiding.....anyone here good at
| psychically finding lost things?
Rhianna & Kevin | Nan> not really :-(
Starlite | Nan ... I need someone to do that also!
Nan | darn :( (looking for lost computer
| keyboard)
Rivquah | better at losing things myself...
Freepowder | lost *keyboard*!!!!
O'Dubhain | <-----has two of everything
Starlite | I lost a very important earring (gift)
Rhianna & Kevin | Everything, OD???
Marion&Jeremy | Everything??????
O'Dubhain | Just buy another...the first is sure to
| appear immediately thereafter!
Rivquah | everything?
Nan | yeah, i'm stuck on a lousy mac portable :(
O'Dubhain | Well.....
| methings do DOUBLE duty!<G>
Nan | lol OD that's what I'm trying to avoid!
Rhianna & Kevin | HAHAHAHA!
Trailstalker | beer anyone?
Marion&Jeremy | God save the Queen!
faust | to the bar then?
Starlite | OD> I want to find the one I lost
cherokee | well folks goodnight
Rhianna & Kevin | No beers for me (us) ... :-(
Nan | beth, it probably went to the same place mine
| went
O'Dubhain | Workshop is dismissed!
Rhianna & Kevin | Goodnight from us, too!
Rivquah | goodnight cherokee!
Rhianna & Kevin | Beannacht Leat, everyone!
| Thanks OD!
Trailstalker | race you to the bar sweetie
Marion&Jeremy | Nos da, Cherokee!
O'Dubhain | Let's practice bending elbows in room 4
Nan | thanks for an intertesting intro OD
O'Dubhain | VB&G!
cherokee | it's been a pleasure
| being the keeper of
| the sacred period as
| usual
O'Dubhain | Ta Failte romhat,a Nhan!<G>
cherokee | kisses
O'Dubhain | And double for the Kosp!
Rivquah | and good job you do cherokee
cherokee | walk inbeauty!
Nan | see y'all at the bar
O'Dubhain | Teb ...thanks for coming
| Hope it wasn't too incomplete.
Teb | glad to be here
| no, the material's familiar
| liked what you're doing with it
| and you use CE and BCE!!! Wonderful!
O'Dubhain | Thanks!!
Freepowder | I use right guard and crest!
Teb | you'd be amazed how many people don't
| you would
O'Dubhain | I try...some of the authors I quoted used the
| inaccurate AD notation.
Teb | naturally
Freepowder | not to mention LS/MFT
Teb | there's a book--in the living room actually
| I'll send you title and author
O'Dubhain | Hey or Old Gold!
Teb | you might like it
| literary and archeological material
O'Dubhain | Thanks again
Teb | evaluated
O'Dubhain | Now I must be away to the VB&G1
Teb | (I think it's in the living room--it's
| somewhere)
O'Dubhain | thanks again and Blessed Be!
Teb | okay
| see you there maybe
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