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Quentin Roosevelt Robert F. Kennedy

THE CAMELOT STORY


Camelot is a mythical kingdom that may or may not have existed on the English Isles around the sixth century of the western Common Era. It also may have been a bleed-through reality, occurring simultaneously on a parallel Earth several time/spirals over, with enough force and resonance to be able to enter the mythology, if not the actuality, of our own world. Camelot’s cast of characters - King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, the magician Merlin and the knights of the Round Table - are the embodiments of supernatural passion, prestidigitation and power, and have long served as icons of romance, whether they ever existed or not. After hearing their tale, who has not wished for a taste of some of their triumph and grandeur or even a hint of their ardent tragedy?
The enduring symbol of the Camelot legend is the Round Table. Within its circular frame lies both an outer outline of high-hearted chivalry and an inner design of betrayal and destruction. Since Camelot is a circular story, it has continued to spin its way down through time, to be reenacted on different levels, perhaps so that its magical weave may one day be drawn to a full and satisfying conclusion for all concerned.


There are many different tellings of the Camelot tale, but the traditional story, told from the perspective of many bardic chroniclers, begins with Pendragon, the son of a king of the Britons. He dies in battle and his brother Uther takes on his name and becomes Uther Pendragon, while assuming the title of king. After establishing a roundtable of knights, he becomes diverted from his larger political ambitions over lust for Ygraine, the beautiful wife of Duke Gorlois of Cornwall. She, however, finds his intense attention deeply disturbing and withdraws with her husband to their castle after the impolite king’s obsessive repeated advances. In the magical madness of desire, Uther besieges her castle and has the magician Merlin shape-shift him into the guise of Duke Gorlois. By surrendering his own form, he becomes the Duke on the outside, while remaining himself on the inside. This unintegrated duality of character then becomes a continuous theme in the rest of the story. Ygraine is duly deceived and through their passionate congress, a son, Arthur, is born. The real Duke dies in battle, and Uther takes the reluctant Ygraine for his unhappy wife. Arthur is brought up in secrecy and when he is fifteen, his father dies, thereby leaving the kingship in question.
As legend has it, Arthur unites with his destiny by an act of enchantment, lifting a sword imbedded by spell in a stone. Quickly proving to be an adept leader, Arthur establishes a fair and righteous kingship and comes to house a stable of virtually superhuman warriors who embody a lot of the idealized mythos of manliness. Arthur’s life is imbued with a deep magic on all levels, from his adviser/enchanter Merlin to his invincible sword Excalibur. The latter was given to him by the Lady of the Lake, who, though concealed in her waters, thrusts the weapon up to the surface one day. This gift was a bestowal of all-conquering erect manhood on Arthur by a creature hidden deep within him. She is the male ethos of conquest and aggressively sprayed seed in anima or opposite form, who gives Arthur the appropriately formidable weapon of warrior authority to complement his kingliness.
Arthur marries the beguiling Guinevere, the daughter herself of a king, and their union is a happy one, so that a great court flourishes with the two at its head. Here the story could very well have ended with everyone living to a joyous and riotous old age, had not it been the tale of the full circle of power and passion, whose other side would have to be manifested as well.
Arthur loves one knight above all the others, the lionhearted Lancelot. But Lancelot and Guinevere betray Arthur by climbing into one another with such intensity that it cracks the veneer of the Round Table and frees the darkness hidden within to come slithering forth. Camelot groans from its deep wounds of dishonor, knighthood falls into disarray, the king goes into mourning for himself and the land again hears the cry of victim and violence. Camelot becomes the reflection of a dying, rather than a living, king, for Arthur does not know how to claim the elements of his hidden self that have been passionately freed by the two people he loved the most.
Our own mythic Camelot is, in turn, a turning of the wheel of the original alternate tale, where the story begins with a land greatly divided and depressed, power continually contested, and an impotent king sitting over it all, to show how the spirit of rule is wrapped in both the body of the ruler and the land of the ruled, which becomes an extension of that body. From that side of the circle, this base Camelot moves towards a far different conclusion from our own, for it started at a different point on the story-telling wheel, and therefore found a different ending point as well. It is reflected in the German legend of Parsifal, who eventually frees the king and the land, by proving his compassion, after first failing to do so, and suffering mightily for many a year, until he is given a second opportunity.
Parsifal had been on a quest for the Holy Grail, the chalice traditionally used by the prophet Jesus during his last supper, which, the story goes, was then brought to England by one of his followers before disappearing into romantic legend. The quest for the Grail is a major theme in the Arthurian cycles, and the source of much adventure for the knights of the Round Table. Only the purest of hearts can see it, for it is the feminine, receptive side of warriordom, signaling the underlying healing and compassion behind all overt action. The Grail, coupled with the Spear that pierced Jesus’ side and mercifully killed him while he was on the cross, are the two holy relics of Christendom most closely associated with the integration of the masculine and the feminine as divinely anointed manifestations of the complete circle of humanity. The search by the warrior knights for the holy emblem of the Grail, was a quest for spiritual completion, and for finding their feminine in order to unite divine love with earthly valor in a romance that would transcend both Time’n’Space.
The romantic power of love, which was a decisive instrument in our Camelot’s creation, would also be an integral part of its downfall. Although the Round Table held the full circle of love and trust and lust and loss, its king could only personify a small slice of it. He could not acknowledge that he, too, needed the experience of lust and loss to complete himself, since he was, after all, a child of similar male passion. His is the divided character of kingship that becomes lost when it fails to recognize itself in its actions, and the actions created around it. Camelot would subtly pass down a strong need to control romantic impulse to its heirs, creating a very unromantic legacy of male will and male manifestation of power in its ultimate wake, while throughly squashing the equal power of the feminine.
As a final disintegration in some of the legends, Arthur is enchanted by his half-sister, Morgawse, and his seed is drawn into her. That incestuous deception produces Mordred, who becomes the political instrument of Arthur’s eventual death in an august battle between forces loyal to and opposing the king.
Fittingly, Arthur is slain by the unintegrated elements of his own kingdom, the outer drama reflecting the inner turmoil. At story’s end, his sword is flung back into the lake and his deceased body drifts off on a funeral barge to the mythic isle of Avalon as his kingdom passes into the mists with him, to circle its way down the subsequent imagination of time.
King Arthur is a figure of both magnificence and pathos. He is a victim of greatness who holds both creation and destruction within him, while he seems to inspire others to act out his own failings. He is the ‘blameless king’ who suffers the downfall of his kingdom and loses the people he loves the most. Arthur is also a holder of the circle. It is his symbol of warrior completion. He is the embodiment of everything in that Round Table circle, including the betrayals that defined his life, so that he is a trinity of rulers in one, the blameless king, the wounded king and the betrayed king. As holder of the circle, he allowed others to personify and act out his flaws, perhaps because he was unable to do so himself. The lessons of Arthur, that we are the full circle of all that happens around us, is not one that people usually associate with Camelot.
The mythic story that has come to us is not a tale of the circle, but a tale of the straight line, a morality play with a beginning, an ending, many lines of action, many lines of blame, punishment for the wicked, and a hoped-for future resurrection of the principle figure. The deeper mythos of Camelot, however, with its central circular symbol, seems far more of a round pagan tale than a straight-line Judeo-Christian one.
The Mirror of Merlin
The primary pagan element in the Camelot legend is the nature-magician Merlin. Merlin, in our reality, was a court bard or poet to Arthur who ultimately lost his reason and perished by the banks of a river during an epic battle between the Romans and the Britons. In the Camelot legends, he is the son of an earthly mother who was seduced by a demon. He is later baptized, and his self-expressive skills soon stretch into the supernatural. Eventually, he becomes a prime instrument of power for Arthur, as he had been for his father, offering him guidance, counsel and wisdom, as well as the manipulation of nature for his advance. He is ultimately taken out of the story, and captured and frozen in time by someone who wished his power, the same Lady of the Lake who gave Arthur his sword. Just as she bestowed masculine warrior manhood on Arthur, she also entrapped the magic of the feminine by closing off the physical persona of Merlin in a thorn-bush, thereby making the warrior world of the future a world without magic, a sphere of pure physical sensation with none of its deeper multi-level and multi-dimensional realities.
Merlin also seems to be one more figure of seduction and betrayal whose wisdom ultimately causes him to be eternally imprisoned in the straight line version of the story. Perhaps this is another illusion on the part of Merlin, rendering him impotent and invisible to all who choose to view this world in linear fashion. As a male manifestation of the feminine, he winds up locked into his own self so that he will remain purposefully unintegrated with the logical, rational sphere of things to come.
Merlin’s parental origins, a father not of this Earth and a mortal mother, mirror the inaugural birth of Christendom. They also loosely reflect Arthur’s own parental creators, for Merlin is the interior of the kings that he served. He draws the dreams out of Uther and Arthur and makes them manifest so that the the two can experience themselves in the full circle of desire, power and repercussion.
Merlin is the inner voice and the inner dream come live, an integrator of realities and the living embodiment of the dream/nature of reality. He is a magical bridge that spans the dangerous chasm between emotion and actuality. Since he is not a figure of time, he does not suffer death, only suspension in his own inner world. He has long seen he will not be a part of the upcoming civilization of the synthesizing cross, with its divided interiors and exteriors, its overt masculine and its repressed feminine, and so, adopts a pose of ultimate passivity, perhaps waiting to be resurrected himself, when the circle once more comes forth as the shape of the spiritual world here.
Whenever an attempt at a Camelot is made in the ongoing story of the West, Merlin is always noticeably absent. This desire to recreate Camelot without its magical base and the true spirit of the feminine, has been one of the frustrations of social thinkers from that time forward. Romance and politics have difficulty uniting in a world that can only take its magic in strict, orthodox, heavy-handed doses. Without an appreciation of magic as the inner self come alive, Camelot loses its larger meaning as a cautionary tale of a king who refused to look at himself, and gave silent permission in that refusal for everyone and everything to disintegrate around him. This failure of leadership to recognize and confront its own Self, thereby allowing fragments of that Self to be acted out by others, has wound up as a common failing in much of the ongoing story of authority in our world following the original Camelot.
On some level, the story of the ‘blameless king’ has helped enshrine all the non-reflective heroes that would follow Arthur, reducing their actions to the outer surface of things. There are few vibrant inner lives for these beings of derring and do, for the complexity of their true natures would only be confusing and threatening to succeeding generations with a need to express one-dimensional hero/worship. The Camelot story of the full circle of the personality of power has merely become a legend of goodness and betrayal in our straight line medieval and modern world. In its succeeding manifestations these themes would obscure the deeper mysteries of power that Arthur embodied for the leaders that would follow him.
The inability to see how their kingdoms and empires and polities reflected them has been a consistent failing in many of our tales of Earthly political power. That failing reflects a complete lack of reflection on the part of the multitude of charismatic characters who have sought and been given leadership here. Perhaps this weakness is a reason why they need to be recorded and renowned, otherwise they would have no other way of seeing themselves, for their gaze is always powerfully turned outward and only lightly within, for fear of what they might see.
Camelot is a cautionary tale with both elements of the lunar and the solar in it. The failure of the sun and moon to know permanent union over a perfect land, after showing the round tabled potential that they could, is a circular story of magic. By creating a magical kingdom through manipulation and deceit, it would inevitably disintegrate back down into manipulation and deceit, and the permanent loss of magic, for it had been misused.
The loss of lunar magic has been the Solar Age’s bane ever since, because that deep-seated view of things, from both within and without, has been completely lacking in most of the leadership that subsequently played off the Camelot themes.
Perhaps our Stellar Age will be different, and somewhere along its unfoldment, Camelot can finally shine through, because all its players have the ability to truly see themselves and one another, and therefore have no need to betray their mutual visions, but can deal with them on a far more imaginative level. They will then be directly reflecting and encompassing the totality of their realms, for the two always go hand-in-hand, and we can finally see our way into a future that works for one and all, because it has finally achieved the full circle of itself, allowing all to sit as equals at its round table.

 

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