Part II. The Sacred Warrior King
Apologies for the delay in continuing this series of blogs on Arthurian legend. Moving and an operation from which I am fully recovered has sidelined me for the last six months. So onward! The second part of this blog series further discusses Arthur, the sacred warrior king, as the archetypal hero of British legend and his relationship to the divine feminine and further explores the Celtic narrative in which he is situated.
Very little of this world has the staying power of mythology. Mythological narratives make use of spiritual and psychological archetypes, as well as, material symbolism to work on the subconscious in an attempt to bring realization of spiritual truths to the level of consciousness. Its archetypal nature is found, as Jung points out, in the collective unconscious of humanity, and is therefore salient to all cultures. Archetypes are primal, such as the great mother/father, warrior, hero, fool, and puer (the eternal male child). Primal archetypes are reinvented and cast in different cultural stories throughout the ages. In western mythology, none is arguably more powerful and pervasive than the mythology surrounding King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Perhaps this is due to Arthur’s later twelfth century medieval personification as the resurrected Christ. Similar to the Christ story, the sacred warrior king and his chivalrous Knights of the Round Table will return when the time is right.
This sacred warrior king encapsulates the archetypal hero like no other. And I say “encapsulates” because a wealth of imagery and narrative stories have been built up around him, situated firmly in the elemental/magical forces found in Celtic mythology. The Arthurian narrative is replete with supernatural beings, magical powers, entrapment, testing of one’s resourcefulness and mettle, and of course, the rapturous love and desire of the troubadour tradition passed on by the oral songs of the bardic poet.
The Arthurian narrative is also found in pre-Christian Celtic mythology in stories of young sacrificial gods such as Oengus, Merlin Emrys, and Segda Saerlabraid. The young gods, who serve in a sacrificial role, follow the story cycle of a mysterious conception, fosterage, and pre-destined fate. The sacred king is neither human nor divine but connected and sanctioned by the elements through his relationship with the Goddess of the Land, also known as Sovereignty. Their sacred union is a key feature of Celtic kingship. As such, the sacred king has not only a sacred obligation to the land but to magically empowering objects which he must guard and revere. These objects are called the Hallows of the land, given as gifts by the Goddess of Sovereignty to hold in trust for the entire kingdom.