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Lady of the Lake

Enchantress - Queen - Healer - Shapeshifter - Goddess

Beth Clare Johnson (Mystic Amazon)
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This website created as a level three final project for Sisters in Celebration.


Speed, Lancelot (1860-1931), "The Lady of the Lake" from: The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights
. 9th edition. Ed. Sir James Knowles, K. C. V. O. London; New York: Frederick Warne and Co., 1912

 

 


The Lady of the Lake is the most mystical character of any in the Arthurian tales.  Much has been written about her and the land of Avalon, Ynes Affalon, which means the Land of Apples.  Morgan le Fay is one of these women, and she herself is a half sister of King Arthur, an enchantress, healer, queen, and goddess.  Morgana is sometimes regarded as one of the aspects of the goddess Morrigan. 

The Lady of the Lake is the name of several related characters who play integral parts in the Arthurian legend.  These roles include giving King Arthur his sword Excalibur, taking the dying king to Avalon after the battle of Camlann, enchanting Merlin, and raising Lancelot after the death of his father (hence calling him Lancelot du Lac).  Different writers and copyists give her name as Nimue, Viviane, Elaine, Niniane, Nyneve, Nimueh and other variations. The Lady of the Lake's origins are probably ancient and pagan, like Morgan le Fay's, and she and Morgan may have ultimately derived from the same tradition.

Alfred Tennyson adapted several stories of the Lady of the Lake in his "Idylls of the King."  He said that the Lady of the Lake was the good fairy queen Vivian that raised Lancelot, and gave King Arthur Excalibur by holding the sword up from the middle of her Lake.  Then he 'demonized' Morgan le Fay as another part of the Lady, who was Arthur's evil half sister and tried to destroy him.  Morgan also was said to have stolen the scabbard to Excalibur.  Excalibur could never be defeated.  The scabbard could heal anyone and Morgan stole that and threw it back into the lake, so that Arthur could be killed.  Yet another aspect of the Lady in Tennyson's tales was Nimue, who seduced Merlin into teaching her all of his magick, and then trapped him in an oak tree or cave.  It is likely that all three of these aspects, or queens, were the ones who took King Arthur in a boat to Avalon to be healed after his final battle. 

In Caitlin Matthews book, "Ladies of the Lake", there are nine sisters who are priestesses, queens and enchantress-healers, who live on the island of Avalon. Morgana, Igraine, Guinevere, Argante, Nimue, Enid, Kundry, Dindraine, and Ragnell. Argante is the head Lady of the Lake here, although Morgan is the head Lady in other books. 

To me, the Lady of the Lake is a caring goddess, and a very strong healer.  She is wonderful to work with for almost anything.  Some of her symbols are: apples or flowering apple branches, an enchanted boat or barge that pilots itself, and an Avalonian castle.  A gold apple is for immortality, and a red apple is for transformation...either of these are good symbols for her.  She is also linked with the sovereignty of the land, water faeries or mermaids, the Green Lady, and of course, Excalibur and its scabbard.  The Lady's home of Avalon is no longer in the real world, but resides just outside of our world.  It is possible to go through a portal, usually filled with mists, to get there.

She and Her sisters are there waiting to help and advise you, if you will but ask.

 

 

"The Lady of the Lake"
by
Alberto Sangorski
Sangorski, Alberto (1862-1932), "The Lady of the Lake" from:
Morte D'Arthur: A Poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

 

 

 

THE CALL OF THE LADY OF THE LAKE

Nimue, Nineve, Niniane, Vivienne
Morgan, Morgaine, High Priestesses;
Ladies of the Lake, Avalon's Own.

Taliesin, Lancelot, Merlin the Great
Arthur and the Great Sword Excalibur;
Famous men who called upon your help.

Apples and water weave in your tapestry,
Knights and castles in the background
Laughter, tourneys, and ladies' bright gowns.

Fairie Queen, Enchantress of great power,
You rule still in the Mists of the Otherworld
With the Sidhe and your magickal sisters.

I hear faint splashes from the lake,
See white swans majestically floating;
And there you are rising up amid the waters!

Wearing your crown, with swirling wet hair...
You beckon, and point to a small boat
For me to climb in, and journey to Avalon.



Copyright 8/28/2008
by Beth Clare Johnson
(Mystic Amazon)

 

 

 

 

Arthur Receives Excalibur
by
Daniel Maclise
Maclise, Daniel (1806-1870) (J. Thompson engraver). "Arthur Receives Excalibur" (Illustration to "Morte D'Arthur") from: Tennyson, Alfred. Poems by Alfred Tennyson, D.C.L. London: Edward Moxon, 1857

 



 

 

 

FEY MORGANA
 
Of late you have walked in Arthur's lands
Homesick for misty lakes and isles...
Your black hair hiding your fair face,
Hands throbbing with blood and magick.
 
Green velvet you wear, like the grasses
Brown are your eyes and deep amber;
Your great beauty is almost terrifying,
Aura shining with swirled enchantments.
 
You hold a bright red apple in your hand
The color of blood, the symbol of Avalon.
Mists flow around you now as you walk
But they do not block your sacred visions.
 
You stop to pick herbs for your healings
Blessing waters and wells with a breath,
Singing soft enchantments on the wind
Often dancing with the nearby faeries.
 
Faster you dance to the piping tunes
Tying your gown up to kick higher,
Laughing with the wildness of your nature
Blessing the meadows with your footfalls.
 
You ask the birds to sing their trilled tunes
Singing for a young lover to join you,
Lying together on your cloak and soft mosses
To rumble and fertilize the land with sweet love.
 
You shake enchantments from your fingers
As you walk along with those who now follow
A court of young lovers, faeries and knights
Playing cymbals and shrieking with abandon.
 
Morgana, Fey Morgana
We miss your dark beauty
We call for you to join us!
Morgana, Faery Queen
Magick lady, dark lady
Come walk the land once again.
 
Morgana, Fey Morgana
Don't let your knowledge
Fade from the hearts
And memories of women;
Morgana, sweet enchantress
We need your love with us.
 
 
Copyright 8/16/2008
by Beth Clare Johnson
(Mystic Amazon)

Garrett, Edmund H. (1853-1929), "The Boy Arthur and the Lady of the Lake" from: Francis Nimmo Greene. Legends of King Arthur and His Court. Boston: Ginn & Co., 1901.

 

 

 

The Lady of the Lake sits by the Fountain in Arroys
by
Howard Pyle
Pyle, Howard (1853-1911) "The Lady of the Lake sits by the Fountain in Arroys," from: The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, written and illustrated by Howard Pyle. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925.

 

 

 

THE LADY OF THE LAKE
by Howard Chandler Christy

 

 

 


MORGANA

Your long black hair is swirling,
Floating around you in thick waves
Even your hair has magick,
For you are a great enchantress.

For years, you studied ancient tomes
Chanting many types of spells,
Learning witchcraft and healing,
Dedicating yourself to the land.

Morgan le Fay is famous through time,
Your faery blood sings with power;
Do you dwell in the Otherworld now,
Live in Avalon, or Tir Na Nog?

If you call to those who listen,
I am listening now, Great One
And eager to learn the faerie chants,
The herbal wisdoms from long ago.

I see the winds holding you up
Hear strange musics and singing,
See the wild laughter in your dark eyes...
Will you teach me, and take me flying?


Copyright 8/12/08
Beth Clare Johnson

(Mystic Amazon)

 

 

 

THE CALL OF THE MISTS

I came for you,
from the Land of the Mists...
but you were not waiting.
I searched for you,
Raising my torches high.

You must come with me,
Learn our healing,
Learn our ancient magicks.
Many times you came close
Almost at the portal,

But would not pass farther
To join us in Avalon.
Sisters and Priestesses
Are there, and waiting for you
But you look away.

You cannot see what comes,
Your head is held down
And you pine, for your heart
Has become empty and sad.
Look up!  We are your teachers.

We will send our fairy boat
That needs no boatman
To bring you here to Avalon.
You will eat our juicy apples
And grow strong again;

You will swim in our lakes
Talk with the water faeries,
Sing with our birds,
Learn the history of our kind...
It is your story, too.

Let our Queen, Morgana
Tell you stories of heroines,
And of how the goddesses
Return once again to the lands.
You were not meant to pine!

You are close to the Otherworld,
As all women are.
Be proud, be beautiful and strong,
For you are one of us...
Our Mists are calling you home.

 

 September 21, 2008
Beth Clare Johnson
(Mystic Amazon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Excalibur
Tile Designed by
John Moyr Smith

From a set of twelve tiles illustrating the Idylls of the King designed by John Moyr Smith for Minton, c. 1875.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Wikipedia.com 1
Idylls of the King, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson 2
Ladies of the Lake, by Caitlin and John Matthews 3
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
The Mists of Avalon by Marian Zimmer Bradley

 

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