The Welsh Lady of the Lake

Exploring myths of the past you often stumble across strange fairy tales and pieces of things that seem to be relics of a much older mythology. The Welsh tale of the Lady of the Lake is one such myth.

Lady of the Lake, Alan Lee

One of the things I did years ago is start compiling ancient Celtic stories and symbols about the various water spirits associated with springs throughout England. Most of the stories surrounding these sprites and spirits involves the concept of the feminine form with various bodies of water. Because so much of the early English myths about these places have been washed over by pre-Christian Saxon and Angle myths and culture, very little of the older Celtic myths are left. This was one of Tolkien’s chief reasons for his own use of such tales in his own work……the desire to construct his own, more complete fairy tale for England. He wrote letters describing that type of thing.

Most of the stories that remain about the Lady of the Lake and various water spirits come from Western England and the Welsh. They often describe a Goddess who is eternal and undying, who lives within the spring or lake, and a being that both blesses and curses those that drink from it. For those who seek to harm the spring are granted a much worse fate.

The Lady of the Lake found in King Arthur is a relic of that same Goddess in more modern story. In her we see the power she has over the lives and destinies of others…..the Goddess being responsible for delivering the sword of Excalibur to King Arthur, or the placing of curses on the wizard Merlin, her lover.

But her powers are apparently tied to something much more profound, much more eternal.

In my research, found these water spirits to be really really ancient…..something pre-Celtic even, and likely a very old relic of some previous culture tied to some indigenous group that once lived at these springs. The idea of an Earth Mother embodied in water is as old an idea as any other in myth in Europe. For its roots go back to our most ancient of ancestors. The fact that these feminine forms are associated with springs and lakes is itself mysterious enough, yet we connect to that idea so easily and accept it in our cultural imagination, for some strange reason. It is why, when you dig deep enough into these stories, they draw forth a mystery about ourselves, our culture, and our ancestors……something dark and mysterious that comes out of the story yet out of the pre-history of Mankind, as well.

Images of these Gods or Goddesses and the Natural elements they represent help to connect us with not just the fairy tales and geography associated with them, but with the water spirits and Nature that live both around us yet within us.

Because ultimately Nature, and the Gods or Goddess of our ancestors they placed over these springs is meaningless today……yet, in the symbols behind these places still hides a dark mystery and dim memory born of our minds deeper psychology. Therein lie the secret fount of those archetypes, the sacred pool of our minds that truly brings to life the Lady of the Lake when we hear her name. Whether in a book, a fairy tale, a religious text, or a movie, the sensitive artists left in society will forever return to that muse, write about her mysterious beauty, and so reconnect us back to the eternal springs that bubble and spill over into our cultural memory, even now.

– the Author

Created June 30, 2017, 6:11 PM



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