is rightwise King born of all England.’
Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur (ca 1469), Book I, chapter 5.
My wife and I visited a number of places in England that are said to be associated with King Arthur—places including:
● Tintagel Castle, perched high on a majestic headland in Cornwall, where according to at least one account Arthur was born, and where in 1998 was found a 1,500 year old piece of slate with two Latin inscriptions one of which seems to link Arthur with Tintagel,
Was it also Camelot, Arthur's castle and court?
● Glastonbury Abbey, in the very heart of Glastonbury, Somerset, where King Arthur and his wife Guinevere were said to have been buried, with the tomb surving until the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539, the Abbey itself supposedly having been built on the site where Joseph of Arimathea and his companions settled at Glastonbury and founded the church,
and later where Arthur was taken to recover after the Battle of Camlann.)
● Chalice Well, at Glastonbury, Somerset, which supposedly marks the site where Joseph placed the holy chalice, and which has a spring from which perenially flows water with a distinctive orange-red colour, supposedly 'blood-stained' as a result of the buried chalice, and
tradition are inextricably mixed
● the Iron Age hill fort known as Cadbury Castle, at South Cadbury, also in Somerset, which is said by some to have been the site of the picturesque castle Camelot.
Midsummer’s Eve leads a troop of mounted knights down the slopes of the hill.)
So, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Arthur was probably a 5th and early 6th century Romano-Celtic warrior chief -- a Briton and not English -- who for a time protected his peoples from the Saxon invaders from countries in the north of Europe. Either that or a composite of several individuals later uprooted from the Dark Ages and thrust into medieval times to become a romantic legendary and literary figure of lasting renown.
Fact, legend or a mixture of both, the story of King Arthur is not not true. You see, a myth or legend, as well as a character of folklore and literary invention, when seen as such, can never be said to be false. Myths, legends and folklore, having their roots in human experience, are about eternal verities and they can have great transformative power if they are approached with the right mindset and intent. King Arthur, as a symbol of every person in the pursuit of truth, knowledge and power, is very real. Actually, there are two Arthurs in Arthurian legend and literature. One is the flawless epic hero and the other is much more human, imperfect and fallible. In truth, both are real, for both are true of each one of us.
Merlin symbolizes Arthur’s spiritual guide or teacher as well as the means by which the Round Table is created, a table symbolical not just of equality and brotherhood but also of the whole universe as well as life and death (with no beginning and no end). In later stories, Merlin is also responsible for building Excalibur. It is also through the assistance of Merlin that Arthur is born. He guides Arthur to withdraw Excalibur from the stone. Merlin is also the prophet of the Holy Grail and he assists Arthur to achieve many of his goals. In short, Merlin represents the creative power and principle in our lives -- the one presence and power active in our lives and in the universe as well. Call it the life force if you wish. In truth, we must all be our own Merlin, that is, our own guide, master and teacher – and our own pupil. Enlightenment or salvation occurs when we---wake up!
Now, these false selves are illusory, not because they do not exist--for they do indeed exist as images in our mind--but because they have no separate, distinct, permanent identity from the person that we are, the latter being a mind-body complex that is ontologically real (the 'physical "I"'). Only the person that you are---a person among persons---is ontologically real. The good news is that each one of us can be relieved of the bondage of self -- the Holy Grail, so to speak -- but first we must come to understand that we need no longer be a slave to self.
I like both images. A stone is hard and the false selves that we hold in our mind can be as hard as stone. It is not easy to extricate the sword of truth from something as hard as that but it can and must be done. The image of a lake is also rich in symbolic power, for water suggests the movement of thought and consciousness (always feminine in ancient symbology), and our false selves are just that – thoughts waxing and waning in our consciousness. Still, they can be damn persistent for all that.