When I was an unhappy sophomore transfer student at Reed College in Portland,
Oregon, I spent my lonely evenings in the library, taking notes from Funk &Wagnalls Encyclopedia of Folklore and Mythology.
I was fascinated by the articles about obscure holiday customs, the symbolism of flowers, magical stones and strange deities.
I still have my notes from those days, written in green ink fountain pen ink.
But today I don't have to go to the library. I have my own copy of Funk
& Wagnalls, inherited from my mentor, Helen Farias, and full of her penciled margin notes. I keep it right beside my desk.
It's still the single best place to turn for folklore. After spending hours researching the lotus in various flower books,
I finally turned to F&W and found both three times the quality and quantity of information. Reliable, user-friendly and
now available in paperback.
The other richest source of folklore in my collection is the great compendium
(12 volumes when first published in 1890) by the great Scottish folklorist, Sir James George Frazer. Like many other brilliant
scholars (Robert Graves and Barbara Walker come to mind), he had an agenda and managed to make the data he collected
fit the patterns he discerned.
I am skeptical of his theories about the annual ritual killing of the
sacred King (perhaps because it's not a tradition I wish to perpetuate) but I'm Ok with his lumping together Jesus, Adonis,
and Osiris as reborn and dying vegetation gods (some scholars don't agree). Also Frazer, in his 19th century way, assumed
that "primitive" peoples did things like make love in the fields or light bonfires at summer solstice because they believed
that through sympathetic magic these acts would encourage the plants to grow and the sun to rise. It seems just as likely
they understood the value of a symbolic act, the same way we do.
-- Excerpt from Living in Season, the official newsletter of School of the Seasons, Volume 1, number 10 (c) Waverley Fitzgerald.
Tale of Camelot
The tale of Camelot is not one, but many tales.
The Tale of Camelot
The Search for the Holy Grail
There first is the tale of poor Arthur, begotten from out of the shadow of deception
and murder. His father bequested to him a life of betrayal and doom, but in the course of this life he fulfilled the shining
prophecy of the wizard Merlin to become the greatest king of the greatest kingdom on Earth.
The ideals and spirit of Camelot became like the very Grail that was their
quest to centuries of dreamers, who even today dream of a society where honor is respected, the weak are protected, the many
can be one, and might does not make right.
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The scales of Fate held Arthur's life in balance as he paid for the sin of
his father, who deceived a married woman using Merlin's sorcery and caused her to betray her husband. King Uther satisfied
his lust and murderous appetites without regard for constraints of the present or fear of retribution in the future. The progeny
of that union, Arthur, paid for it with his own future by being deceived and betrayed by love at every turn.
first was betrayed by his own half-sister Morgause, who used her magickal arts to snare him and lay with him to conceive his
child and his bane, Mordred. But though this consequence would be inevitable and the end of it all, the betrayal of his cherished
wife Guinevere was a cut felt more deeply.
The tale of
Guinevere is yet another fable of pitiful helplessness under irresistible forces. Poor Guinevere, the young maiden who gave
her first love to Arthur. At his side, she was adored by the people, but the love of Arthur's best friend and the best of
all his knights broke their union and the kingdom apart. Loveless, childless, homeless, she fled in shame to a nunnery to
seek solace in submission to God.
is the tale of Merlin, Arthur's teacher and father-substitute, counselor and enabler, the wises and most learned of men --
but ultimately a man who was not immune to deception and betrayal by woman himself.
Wondrous is the tale of Excalibur, the sword which possessed strength and mystical powers
to elevate Arthur from the low station to which he had been abandoned to that foreordained to him as King. As it was the talisman
of the beginning of Arthur's ascension, so it paid his passage to his descent from glorious life. When Lancelot's fever spread
the sickness of discord around the Round Table and Mordred and his armies had destroyed the kingdom and dealt his body mortal
wounds, Arthur's final journey was to return the sword to the Lady of the Lake, to Avalon, where some say Arthur still resides.
Arthur the Once and Future King of all the Britons has been remembered beyond all the
days of his life; the tale of Camelot lingers on when all memories of that time have long slipped into legend.
Joseph Campbell, in his epochal book 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces,'
emphasizes that the essential trait of a hero in the making is his restlessness. Not at ease with his immediate environment
and circumstances, a constant unease gnaws at his heart, prompting him to question the very nature of his existence. This
inner strife is the first inkling that a greater destiny lies ahead of the potential hero.
Campbell divides the evolution
of the hero into five distinct phases:
1. The Call to Adventure 2. Crossing
of the Threshold (Entering the Unknown) 3. Trials and Tribulations of the Journey 4. Attainment of Enlightenment 5.
Return of the Hero
The Buddha's journey to spiritual awakening
or 'Nirvana,' as it is popularly called, perfectly mirrors the above mentioned progressive development of a hero. Read
the rest of this article at ExoticIndia.
Why did architects and stone carvers use them in so many variations to
adorn medieval cathedrals? Many believe their purpose was to ward off evil in a world rife with fear and superstition as
plague and afflictions thought to be of demonic influence killed thousands. Evidence has been discovered that suggests that
griffins and gargoyles may have been modeled on creatures that actually existed.