The legends of Camelot have much to teach us about why even the strongest-willed among us can fall victim to others’ manipulation.

In the days of Camelot, it was widely accepted that some people were gifted in the practice of magic. Indeed, if you ever played any role-playing games,  you can choose among characters who possess bodily strength, magical ability, cunning intelligence or spiritual prowess.

I remember the old school Sierra games particularly the Hero’s Quest series where as a player I had to select my avatar in the game. I could be represented by a Fighter with great physical strength, a Magician with spells that defied gravity, rules of physics and logic, or a Thief, whose strength was obtaining undeserved material goods within the honour system of thieves.

The world of Hero’s Quest operated by the same principles as Camelot in that magic was widely recognised, revered and in some cases feared.

Magic, illusion, sorcery, enchantment, deception… These words are different but related. Magic has positive connotations. We all want some magic in our lives. Otherwise, if we’re always grounded in reality, things can seem a little dull and the friction of the ground wears us out.

We want magic to lift us up to the place of dreams. This escapism that we crave in our ordinary lives we get through Hollywood magic when we’re surrounded by fictional characters and landscapes. We allow ourselves to be taken out of our own heads and reality. Magic is mostly harmless but an illusion, sorcery, enchantment and certainly deception are dark indeed.

They take us out of ourselves into dangerous territory which threatens to trap, not free, us.

Seduction is Reduction

King Arthur was borne out of deception. His mother Igraine was tricked by Merlin to sleep with her husband’s mortal enemy Uther Pendragon when his form was changed to that of her husband’s. The birth of Arthur, we all agree, is a positive thing. He became a guiding light in the times of darkness that Ancient England had found herself in.

But, every seduction is a reduction. We see this in chemistry too. Reduction is the name of the chemical process when an atom receives negatively charged electrons from another atom.

All seduction, which arguably is the result of enchantment, which causes a temporary lapse of grounded thinking results in the reduction of the powers of a hero. King Arthur, whose birth to Igraine was the result of Merlin’s deceit was haunted by half-sister Morgause, borne to Igraine and her rightful husband Gorlois.

When one messes with magic or is borne under dubious circumstances the haunting is inevitable. Morgause, and I’m sure all of Igraine’s children resented Arthur despite his innocence in the whole matter of being borne. He was, to them the living representation of Merlin’s treachery. It didn’t help matters that King Arthur’s court attracted all of their children. Gawaine, Gaheris, Aggravaine and Gareth, like moths to the flame, took their place around the roundtable firing up all of Morgause’s hatred of this unwanted half-brother.

“How to reduce him to nothing?” Morgause thought and thought. She collected all of her magical powers and decided on the seduction of her half-brother to set him up for ruin.

Shapeshifting was one of Morgause’s magical abilities and she used this pull the otherwise honourable Arthur into her bed. Yes, I know, Arthur was married to Guinevere, but theirs was a loveless marriage and hence Arthur was highly susceptible to the charms of the seemingly nubile young maiden Morgause had transformed herself into.

No seduction goes unpunished in the world of Camelot. Arthur and Morgause’s affair resulted in a dark fruit with poisonous seeds which eventually led to the decay of the great Kingdom of Camelot. Mordred, Arthur’s bastard child descended upon the roundtable like a vulture, eating away at its virtue one dark sarcastic comment after another after Arthur brought him to the table as a knight.

How to Avoid Manipulation

“Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything” say the wise men. Clearly standing for something isn’t enough as I can’t think of anyone standing so solidly for an ideal than King Arthur. If he’s susceptible to the destruction of the dark arts, imagine how vulnerable you and I are.

How to protect ourselves from market manipulation?

Know your core values. Let them define your key behaviours. This way you will be protected from the bombardment of marketing messages which are trying to seduce you to spend time and money on useless junk. Social media isn’t your friend, you’re just a product on display. Buying unnecessary tech equipment or writers’ retreats when you haven’t done enough work to warrant a retreat aren’t the things that will make you a better writer. The one thing to strengthen your stance is by doing the work.

The work is its own reward.

Over to you…

When was the last time you felt manipulated by a marketer to sign up for something you didn’t truly need? How did you recover from this? What are some measures you’re taking to avouid getting sidetracked, wasting time and money?