Mermaids Are Real: Part Seven

lady of the lake
lady of the lake

Were The Ladies Of The Lake; Mermaids?

In previous videos we have mentioned that the Ama and Heanyo breath holding divers are mermaids, as are many of the witches of medieval times. A similar case can also be made for the Ladies of the lake in Arthurian stories

There are a few aspects of the Arthurian stories that are very strange. Most of them begin with the story of the sword in the stone, in which only Arthur is capable of taking the sword from the stone, thus proving he is the rightful King.

Even today the common practice is that Kingship is passed down from father to son. If the king didn't have a son, then the throne was given to his closest male relative. Why didn’t it happen in this case? The answer might lie in the fact that the earliest Arthurian stories are very old. probably older than Christianity. What this story might be concealing is that there was a time when kingship was not passed down from father to son'.

Way back in our pagan past, the strict form of marriage we know in Christian times simply didn't exist, where the wife was expected to have sexual relations only with her husband. Without this strict code, a man who became a king couldn't pass his throne on to one of his sons because he didn't know for sure who his sons were. In a culture without clearly defined marriage laws, a woman was free to have sex with any man she liked, and even she couldn't be sure who exactly was the father of her children

It meant that power and wealth could only be passed down the female line, since the lineage of the male line was so uncertain. For this reason, it was a queen who inherited the throne. A man could only become a king if he was her lover or husband. It was Queen Guinevere who inherited the throne we think of as Arthur's and this is what the story of the sword in the stone is concealing

The story is also a symbolic tale of sexual innuendo. If we see Queen Guinevere as the stone and Arthur as the sword, this tells us what the story was really about. It suggests that Queen Guinevere was ruling alone, but was put under pressure to have a male consort ruling beside her. She rejected all the likely candidates that were put forward and because of this, may have gained a reputation for having a stony heart

When she met Arthur, she changed her mind and they became lovers. This subtle interpretation is confirmed in the story. Not only does Arthur withdraw the sword from the stone but he also puts it back in again and takes it out several times to demonstrate he can do this easily. He has made love to Guinevere many times, is recognized as her lover and can therefore become King.

This free and easy attitude to relationships between men and women is also shown later when Sir Lancelot becomes Queen Guinevere’s lover. Arthur seems incapable of doing anything about this, demonstrating that such behaviour in those days was perfectly acceptable. This is in complete contrast to later times when Queen Ann Boleyn, the wife of Henry VIII was executed after being accused of adultery. Even today, a man who has sex with the wife of a King or heir to the throne in England is technically guilty of High Treason. We also find in the Arthurian stories that many of the well-known characters like King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Merlin and Sir Perceval were all fatherless children, brought up by their mothers. This suggests that the stories originated from a time before our customs of marriage and fatherhood when families were headed by a woman who might have no idea who had fathered her children.

The Sword In The Lake

Only a breath holding diver could hold up a sword from under the water
Only a breath holding diver could hold up a sword from under the water

The Sword Excalibur

We also see symbolism in the stories of the Ladies of the Lake. Arthur is given his magical sword Excalibur by the ladies of the lake. A mysterious hand appears from a lake and hands him the sword.

If we take the magical element out of the story, it gives us a clue as to what sort of person was holding Excalibur in its hand. The only type of person who could stay underwater for any length of time holding a sword above the water, would be a breath holding diver.

It suggests that the ladies of the lake were mermaids. Excalibur is also supposed to be a magical sword, giving its user invincibility in battle. Again if we take away the magical aspect of the story, the salient fact might be that Excalibur was made from iron. An iron sword could be made longer and stronger than a bronze sword, so at a time when most warriors were using bronze weapons, an iron one would give the owner a distinct advantage. So what were the ladies of the lake doing with an iron sword?

The first iron weapons would have been made for particular individuals, so they would be rare. Only very rich people could afford to have them made, which tells us that the Ladies of the Lake were wealthy women, and leaders of their communities. It also suggests that this story originated at the beginning of the Iron Age. There is evidence that people living in swamps were skilled metal workers.

This information comes from the Fenlands of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk in England, which was once the home of the Iceni people. Under the leadership of Queen Boudicca in 60 AD, they led a major uprising against the occupying Roman Forces. Archaeologists have discovered very sophisticated metalwork in the Fenland dated to about the time of Iceni people. This suggests that if the swamp people were skilled in metalwork they could have made a sword like Excalibur

It also suggests that this story originated at the beginning of the Iron Age. Another possibility is that Excalibur was a steel sword. When iron weapons were first being made, blacksmiths experimented with the iron, beating it and adding the right amount of carbon to the iron to make it stronger. These practices turned iron into steel. Expertise would come about through trial and error and at first the metal workers would have no idea why one sword was stronger than another. They lacked the scientific knowledge we have today.

Since no-one knew why this sword was so much stronger than other metal swords it would be seen as a magical sword and be very highly prized. All of this suggests that the ladies of the lake held high power and status in the society of the time since they owned such a valuable sword.

Morgan le Fay
Morgan le Fay

Morgan le Fay

The ladies of the lake are also called Queens in some stories, which suggests they were the rulers of their communities. The expensive present of Excalibur may have been a gift from one ruler to another.

One of the ladies of the Lake, Morgan le Fay, was often described as the half sister of Arthur, suggesting they had the same mother but as was the custom of the times, different fathers. It 's possible that Arthur was brought up in the Mermaid communities

The same can also be said of Sir Lancelot who is called “Sir Lancelot of the lake” in some stories, giving us a big clue to his origins. Does this mean that the relationship between Arthur and Guinevere might have been one arranged by the royal families of the time, much like the ones we see later in history, where marriage is used to unite different royal families?

This brings up a controversial aspect of the Arthurian stories when we are told that Arthur and Morgan le Fay become lovers and produce a son, Mordred. Most cultures for the last two thousand years have had a taboo against incest, but before that, it was commonplace in royal families

Prior to the invention of Christian marriage, in which the wife has to remain faithful to her husband, the only way a king’s son could become a king himself, was to marry his sister, who was the one that power devolved to. This was once the practise in the ancient Egyptian royal family. The male Pharaoh had to marry his sister, and in one case his mother, to become Pharaoh

The death of King Arthur
The death of King Arthur

King Arthur, Morgan le Fay And Mordred

In the Arthurian stories, it is Morgan le Fay who seduces Arthur, but it could well have been the other way around, with Arthur wanting to be co-ruler of the land she ruled over. In some stories it is Mordred who brings about the downfall of Arthur.

He leaves the kingdom for a while and in his absence Mordred takes his throne and attempts to marry Guinevere. This tells us again, that power lay with Guinevere and marrying her was the only way he could legitimise his Kingship.

When Arthur returned they fought three battles over the throne and in the third battle Arthur was mortally wounded. He was placed in a barge and his body was carried away by Morgan le Fay. Excalibur was thrown back into the lake. A mysterious hand came out of the lake to catch it and return it to the Ladies of the lake who had given it to Arthur. Sir Lancelot subsequently killed Mordred for daring to claim Guinevere as his Queen

In the later, medieval stories of Arthur, Morgan le Fay is depicted as a wicked woman, even though in the very early stories she is a healer. In the ancient Breton language, Morgens are sea-women, water spirits or mermaids. Fay also means fairy, so she seems to be being called a sea-fairy. She was also sometimes described as “The Great Queen”. In Scotland, the treacherous whirlpool in the Inner Hebrides, commonly known as the Corryveckan, was once known as “Morrigan’s Cauldron”. Some healing wells are also sacred to her in Britain and known as Morgan’s wells. In the ancient Celtic stories, Morgens were clearly held in high regard, and were probably the spiritual leaders of the community

Witches and Mermaids were the same people
Witches and Mermaids were the same people

Witches And Mermaids

This would tie in with what we said in an earlier video of the connection between mermaids and witches

Mermaids were gatherers, finding their food in swamps, rivers, lakes and on the seashore, something people have been doing for millions of years. When people discovered farming not all people became farmers. They preferred the old way of life and perhaps for a very good reason

After people switched to farming, their diet became very restricted, even though more food was available, because the bulk of their diet consisted of cereal crops. Much of their food was lacking in vital nutrients, which led to deficiency diseases. The farming communities discovered that the gatherers, with their vast knowledge of plants and herbs, knew of plants that could overcome these dietary deficiencies. So the farmers began using the witches of the gathering communities as doctors. We find much the same in mermaid stories, where mermaids are also described as herbalists. This could also be why the Ladies of the lake were known as healers

Farmers And The Wetland People

As long as the farming communities and the mermaids got on well together, there would be no problem in showing Morgan le Fay and the other ladies of the lake in a good light in the Arthurian stories.

But when the farmers wanted to drain the wetlands where mermaids foraged for food, the two communities came into conflict. It was a dispute that the mermaids couldn't win as the farmers greatly outnumbered the mermaids.

The mermaids resorted to frightening the farming people through their fear of magic. Unfortunately, this backfired when the Christian church used this fear to turn the people against witches and mermaids. Witch hunts began and the people living in the wetlands, were simply wiped out. The Arthurian stories were used in the propaganda war against the witches and mermaids. Morgan le Fey and the Ladies of the lake, once mysterious and powerful women with benevolent healing skills became wicked, scheming monsters.

© 2011 William Bond

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Comments 4 comments

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

Interesting facts and ideas. I haven't yet read the other pages in this series - that's something I will have to do I think!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

William, this is a brilliant hub and explanation of what the legends are about! Voted up and tagged as Awesome!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Very interesting and I now look forward to reading many more of your hubs.

Take care

Eiddwen.


Anate profile image

Anate 2 years ago

There is one problem with this argument. Ancient societies were usually very jealous of who women slept with. It was men that could sleep with anyone they chose.

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