Every new beginning is an opportunity to embrace the fool within us. Moving house is no different. Sometimes the spirit of the new place we move into helps us realise we’d been a fool. Last week we moved into a house, a proper house with a backyard. With our large backyard, we are closer to nature than we’d ever been. Rainbow lorikeets, magpies, possums and kookaburras, those icons of the Australian bush visit our balcony regularly.
Maybe it was the anticipation of this convening with nature which helped me gain a whole new understanding of King Arthur. You see, I’d been obsessed and writing about how his spirit was manifesting itself in my household. Unlike the household I grew up in, I wanted the one I’m growing, with my two-year-old and two-month-old girls to be one where everyone feels valued, is listened to, heard, supported and challenged, in short, a roundtable situation that King Arthur would be proud of.
In my writer’s mind, which frantically looks for meaning and symbolism in even the most mundane, there was something that troubled me about King Arthur. Despite his wisdom in bringing feuding warlords together around a roundtable and showing them a vision of the Holy Grail to get them to collaborate on their quests, his personal life was a royal blunder. He ignored his wife Guinevere, who found the affection she was seeking in his best knight Lancelot’s arms. She was a woman created to be loved and it could’ve been that King Arthur was created to do the highly specialised work of raising all those who came to his roundtable to their full potentials. Ignoring everything outside of the roundtable proved to be the undoing of Camelot and cost King Arthur his life. All of that good work down the tubes.
So how could I use King Arthur as an inspiration for the household I’m growing, where I hope to raise everyone within it to their full potentials? Did this mean that I too was doomed? To state the obvious, I’m a female and King Arthur is a male as are all of his knights. What sort of message would this convey to my girls when I talked of his glory? Would they think that it was best left to men to reach for and obtain greatness?
Fortunately, a few weeks before our move into this beautiful house on the lower north shore part of Sydney in a suburb called Lane Cove, I came across a new tarot deck, The Wisdom of Avalon. Access to a wide variety of shops, including the crystal shop where I found the deck was one of the good things about our old neighbourhood, Crows Nest. Crows Nest, by its virtue of being a few kilometers closer to the city, is crowded, cramped and the homes allow little space for play, at times our townhouse feeling as tiny as a crow’s nest, which prompted our move further up north.
The best thing about the deck was that as soon as I picked it up, the shop owner gave me the backstory on Avalon. She confirmed what I’d been feeling around me. There’s a shift in economy, thought, energy and understanding of our purpose as humanity. Up until now rigid hirerarchical structures ruled our lives. Bureaucracy within government, corporate highrises housing the corporate ladder, the churches with their hierarchies, ossified financial institutions are a few examples making up the tight matrix we find ourselves in. So I thought, this is why I cling onto King Arthur as the figure of the savior. He saw that the world is round and created a table of equality as an alternative to tables, such as those in the boardroom, with a head. Growing up, I felt that our dinner table wasn’t completely round. I had a father who was at the time a broadcaster. True to his profession, instead of listening, he broadcasted his views to those of us gathered around the dinner table.
So with all his idealism, why was King Arthur failing me now and what wisdom did Avalon have to offer?
She told me the cards are there to remind us where King Arthur’s powers came from – Avalon, the mystical and mythical land honoured by the druids. According to Pagan tradition, Avalon was guarded by a sisterhood of nine priestesses who could lift the veils of mist to reveal this island where apples grew year around to those deemed worthy. When the Romans invaded England, out went the pagan beliefs and worship of earth to be replaced by the patriarchal Christian beliefs. No coincidence then King Arthur became a Christ-like figure but the truth remained. His power came from the priestesses of Avalon one of whom is the Lady of the Lake. Excalibur, King Arthur’s sword was forged in Avalon and after his death, he was taken to Avalon by the Lady of the Lake to be resurrected.
This was my answer.
As a female I didn’t have to identify with the King Arthur archetype, certainly not this year when my primary duty is watching my girls turn one and three in good health. I was certainly no Guinevere. So here was a third option. I had to consider the Lady of the Lake as an archetype I could work within my creative practice.
“You need to listen more…” my partner would say. I’d get upset. I thought he was trying to shut me up. How dare he! I’d get upset at his arrogance. It was not as though he knew best and I knew or more importantly, felt nothing and I had opinions to express too.
Talking with the crystal shop owner, it was clear. I’m not King Arthur. I’m not Guinevere but the Lady of the Lake. She was the one King Arthur had to go to see and could only be accessed when he delved into the depths of the lake, perhaps a symbolism for his psyche. My role in the relationship is as one who leads my partner to his truths. He earns enough money for our household. I’m not burdened by a need to earn money to pay off the household expenses. The one thing I must do is to open my heart and feel. When I feel, I write and that leads me to my truths which seduces out others’ truths.
What I found is that I’m also a mirror when I shut up and listen. When my partner gets home from work I leave him alone for ten to fifteen minutes and then insist on hearing about his day with all its details and then I just listen. Yeah, some of it is hard to comprehend and I make no pretense of understanding the money markets but I listen and look at him to understand the feelings behind the words. I ask him questions where I need clarification. In his explanations I sense that he comes to new realisations and this is how we’re building the foundations for Camelot, our own household that will always offer a roundtable to all of its members. This is my intention and for the vision of the roundtable to be realised, I felt I needed this beginning in a new neighbourhood.
No more trying to be present in the world in a way a man would, seeking rewards in terms of material fulfillment alone.
No more valuing myself and my gift in terms of whether what I’m doing, writing, leads to money or not.
Released from all these restraints I hope to create more time and space for writing as it’s already proven to be an effective way for me to heal myself and those around me. My partner and I now communicate in a way we understand each others’ motivations behind the words. The feelings that arise when stories, memories and goals are relayed shape our future together. For the future to be as we both envision it, we must first keep talking about the Holy Grail and what that looks like so we can both see, smell, feel it. For both of us, the general shape of it looks like raising our small family here in Lane Cove where he once grew up, went to school, took pottery classes, got up to mischief with his mates and explored himself and the numerous people around him to shape his view of the world. I must add, he never ceases to amaze me in the accuracy with which he creates his future.
So as a beginner, I give myself permission to be a fool and explore my surroundings, talk to the people, explore the institutions, churches, primary schools, gyms, libraries and understand that only through committing to this beginning will I create the best possible future for myself and my family.
Over to you…
What’s a new beginning you’ve made and why is it necessary to start over for you to achieve your personal Holy Grail? What does your Holy Grail look, smell, sound, feel like to you?
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