Arthur and Grail Quests

So, I have a lot of thoughts on Arthur, if you’re lucky you’ll see them in book form in some years time. If I’m lucky they’ll even be published. I have a lot of thoughts on the grail quest, mostly heavily influenced by John Matthews notions of the Arthurian legends.

Right, here are the basics of my thoughts (It’s not a dissertation or book so I’ve not bothered with citations or pointing you at things I’ve read/looked at. I’m happy to do that at some other point, this is just what I think.):
– the evidence for a historical ‘Arthur’ in the ‘Dark Ages’ of Britain is too great to be ignored
– the archaelogy for most of the twelve battles of Britain seems to fall in roughly the ‘correct’ order if you accept certain places as being the sites of the battles
– the literary Arthur has had a lot of twiddly bits added on (want to get me started – mention Chretien de Troyes)
– many parts of the legends were originally about kings that pre-existed Arthur (eg. Bran, Lud etc.)
– Arthur existed and was a King of Britain for a particular value of the word King (feel free to moan about semantics and through around terms like Dux Bellorum if you like) and a particular value of the term Britain
– Arthur is the Once and Future King

Now onto the grail.

Observant people who know about this kind of stuff might have noticed that earlier I bitched about Chretien de Troyes, which is a bit funny if I’m heading off on a grail quest since he’s often credited with being the first writer to come up with the notion of the holy grail. Well, that really depends on if you reckon the Holy Grail is the Christian Medeival/Dan Brown version of the cup that caught the blood of Christ/was used at the last supper/was Mary Magdalen. I don’t.

It’s not popular to claim that there were Celtic beginnings to all the Arthur myths because there frankly weren’t and a lot were just medeival romance. It’s been over done, but the four treasures of Britain remain as a Celtic original and one of them is the grail. (The others are a spear, a sword and a stone for anyone wondering). It’s gift is that of immortality which comes via the accumulation of knowledge, because the grail is a mystery, this quest is about the revelation of mysteries.

So, I’m going to go find this cup/bowl and drink deep from it. Knights, magician, cunning-man, cook, squire, healer and diplomat – we set off in the morning at first light. Turn no one away who wants to ride with us. This needs to be an honourable journey.

21 thoughts on “Arthur and Grail Quests

  1. Yeah, well he can dig ’em out again whilst he makes us breakfast. It seems our fair Lady, the Witch Queen of the North, is communing with the gods…in the land of dreams.

  2. Now about these four treasures…

    My money is on the four treasures being those of the Tuatha De Danann, which they brought to Ireland, and that there are Thirteen Royal Treasures of the Island of Britain. The latter includes, according to fifteenth and sixteenth century manuscripts…

    White-Hilt, The Sword of Rhydderch Hael,

    The (drinking) Horn of Bran the Niggard from the North,

    The Cauldron of Dyrnwch the Giant,


    The Whetstone of Tudwal Tydglyd,

    but, no spear.

    I think the spear comes from somewhere else, and I don’t mean that stuff about the Place of the Skull.

  3. In the land of dreams I met with giants who told me to head towards a place of fire and water. Any ideas guys?

  4. Short of the large sigil emblazoned on our bathroom floor (for are not bathrooms places where these two elements meet in our chilly northern climes!), I’d say that you are being directed towards the left-hand-path of moderation, over the right-hand-path of extremes. It’s a hard path, but immortality is definitely part of it, according to those on the path who have spoken over the millenia.

  5. Dealing in emotions, it brings to my mind the fire of passion in the blood and the cold reason of the mind.

  6. Have I read you ‘Britannia’ by my friend Jo W.? I think any serious grail questers would be moved by it. It has moved me to tears more than once.

  7. Hmm… Not so sure we follow the directions of giant-kin too closely, but we should probably head that way anyway, just to see what’s there. It’ll be fun, apart from anything else.

    As for where: Fire+water?
    There are a number of possibilties, although my favourite:
    Fire + Water => putting the kettle on

  8. The fire of life, the water of life; fire-water; either way, the route to uisgebeatha seems clear.

  9. When giants of old tell me to go places I know that only old things lurk there. Things unbidden in the bottoms of deep oceans where vents warm an oasis of life in a sun-less dark.

    Perhaps it is time to visit old things, bring light to the dark … and uncloud the mystery.

    So a riddle for a riddle…

    What do Knights, a Lady, a Magus, a Cunning-Man, and a Cook have missing?

  10. Well you missed out the squire and the diplomat, but what do we have missing? We have no one missing and yet we have room for everyone who would join us. So my answer is, whatever you would bring sir.

  11. "Fire and water?

    Together they make steam. There is a land to the north where the rocks are black and belch forth steam, like the breath of dragons.

    And steam can move iron."

    So says the man who mumbles into his beard.

    "Also, in dealing with giants…always count the heads."

  12. Makes me think of Iceland. Of geysers.

    Bearing in mind you latest blog entry I would say that a place of fire and water is what some know as a place of fire in ice.

  13. Mmmm this quest is indeed well begun. So where should we head for fire and water (and possibly giants), the bathroom, the kitchen, the nearest whiskey distillery, somewhere old at the bottom of an ocean, a land to the north… Iceland.

    Then let us ride forth into Scotland and take passage to this land to the North and see what we find there. Cunning-man and Manly Viking, you seem to know the way best of all of us, for this part of the journey you shall lead and we others follow.

    And as we ride we shall balance our emotions and our reason as the Lady says, treating all with fairness showing no immoderate action towards any we might meet in order that we might follow also the Magician’s suggestion.

  14. Every quest needs a jester. During the hardest times when doubts linger in the minds of the questers the one constant is that there will be someone there to play the fool. I humbly accept this role – crap jokes smut and innuendo shall be the pleasures i shall be

    plus back rubs for our leader 🙂

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