Similar to the boardrooms of today’s corporate structures, King Art’s roundtable was fueled by male energy. Like the execs in today’s world, the knights donned suits, suits of armour that is and they went and well, executed. Where were the women? Isn’t King Art, my guiding spirit, meant to be the example of an inclusive, fair and humane ruler who valued diversity of thought in his kingdom?
He was no pillager, that’s for sure and operated under a code of conduct known as the Code of Chivalry but of course, what they were famous for as knights was conquests of lands unknown, siring of children, chasing beasts, questing and jousting where weapons and physical prowess yielded victories.
And the women? They were honoured, cherished as things of beauty under the Code of Chivalry yet without the female energy in Camelot, the round table would’ve been a dull place indeed. Though you’d be hard pressed to find any classic King Arthur legends written by women for women, these days there are women who’ve taken a fancy and rewritten the legends from the perspective of the ladies. The one book I found on my quest for Arthurian knowledge is called The Girl’s King Arthur: Tales of the Women of Camelot.
So who were these women and what impact did they have on the fate of Camelot? You may remember from the 2002 film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the mother of the household telling her daughter that the man may be the head of the household but the woman is the neck and that the neck can turn the head wherever she wants.
As such, Camelot was born, thrived and eventually fell because of the misguided passion of one woman in particular, Queen Guinevere who turned the wrong head.
The greatest tragedy was that she was married to King Arthur even though she didn’t love him. In those days women didn’t get a say in who they were married off to. Trapped in a loveless marriage, her eyes caught Lancelot’s, the best knight in King Arthur’s court. Cupid’s careless arrow started the destruction of Camelot, which was formed around the very round table given to King Arthur by Guinevere’s father as a wedding gift.
The last days of Camelot came about when the knights of the roundtable clashed violently with each other because some believed despite King Art’s and Lancelot’s denial that Guinevere was an adulteress and the source of discontent they could all feel.
There are other heroines and villainesses besides Guinevere who left their mark on Camelot and the legends. Morgan Le Fay comes to mind. She is King Art’s half-sister and received her education in a convent where alongside spirituality and education she’s thought to have picked up the art of dark magic. Any woman whose intelligence exceeded that of men was immediately under suspicion of being a witch in those days. Morgan Le Fay is depicted in many legends as a sorceress and one who doesn’t always use her powers for good. It could be that she was an exceptionally creative woman without an outlet or a receptacle for her gifts. Creativity that doesn’t find the right channels to be of service spoils and turns toxic.
Both Guinevere and Morgan are enemies of Camelot and again, this confirms the male telling of origin stories. In the Bible, Eve’s curiosity gets her and Adam kicked out of Eden and in Greek mythology, Pandora’s curiosity releases evil onto the perfect (and dull) world.
However, before we dismiss Camelot as breeding grounds for misogyny, a fraternity of male chauvinists, there’s one last story to share that goes to show that when a man takes the time to understand women, he creates his own paradise.
Sir Gawain was a wise man who understood the concept of “happy wife, happy life”. There’s a little backstory about a lady named Ragnall, who was enchanted by her evil brother Gromer to look like a hag. She came to King Art’s rescue and saved him from death by whispering the answer to Gromer’s riddle in his ear. “What is it women most desire?” he asks to which Art responds “Women desire to have sovereignty over men”.
Yes, he does utter the words but it doesn’t occur to him to give Guinevere sovereignty. I suppose he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, old King Art. Regardless Gawain gets the message and as part of the agreement with Art, Ragnall asked to be married to the handsome redhead Gawain. On his wedding day, Gawain is asked to decide whether he wants Ragnall looking like her beautiful self by day and foul by night or vice versa. Gawain, fully understanding the meaning of the riddle turns to Ragnall and asks her to decide. Upon this Ragnall is disenchanted and has attained sovereignty. The couple enjoys true wedded bliss.
And lastly, let’s not forget that it was the Lady of the Lake who restored King Arthur’s powers and brought him back out onto the world with the mighty Excalibur. Goes to show when treated right those exercising their feminine energy (whether in the male or female physical form) are life savers.
Over to you…
How are you taking the time to honour your female energy (we all have it, even the manliest among us)? You know the one that leads you to creativity and appreciation of beauty around you.