He used to call me his “red haired goddess.” Not in a pagenistic, worshipful sense. Or maybe it was, I’m not sure. Rather he did so in a way that encourages a young woman – naive to the world and to men – to come to know herself as more than a child and more than a victim of fate.
He saw something in me that was beyond my years, and far beyond my knowing and sought to introduce me to this woman I could become. Through him I discovered the soulful music of Coco Taylor, B. B. King, Buddy Guy, zydeco, and more. I learned lab rats ruled the earth, that Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (Tom Robbins), and that I have more inside of me than I ever dreamed possible.
The Mists of Avalon was his gift to me before moving away.
Written by Marion Zimmer Bradley and published in 1983, this is no ordinary telling of Arthurian legend. It is not for the faint of heart as it is often criticized for its strong pro-feminist, anti-christian themes. I do however find great insight into her interpretation of Gwenhwyhar’s forbidden love for Sir Lancelot and how the guilt drives her to becoming a fundamental religious zealot. The truth behind Merlin, and their love for all that is sacred is touching to say the least.
This legend of King Arthur is told through the eyes and lives of the women who made him the man he was. Isaac Asimov calls it “the best retelling of the Arthurian Saga I have ever read.” I would have to agree with him.
In most Arthurian legends, Morgaine (Morgan La Fey: Queen of the Fairies), is often portrayed as a bitter and evil witch. This telling of the legend places Morgaine as the narrator and main protagonist. She is a strong woman with amazing gifts in a time of great political upheaval and religious change. She is Avalon’s protector.
If I could only meet one magical creature from the past, it would be Morgaine. I would ask her how she over came her hopelessness at the loss of what was (the world she knew where women were revered and respected), a loss that is foreshadowed in her own childhood as she is pushed aside over the birth of a son – and yet finds strength to continue in her call to protect and serve, and come to peace in her now misogynistic world.
It’s been a long time since I’ve traveled those pages. Perhaps this fall at the lake would be a good time to be reintroduced to an old friend and look once again behind the mist. Who knows what magic I’ll find within.
If you could meet one magical creature, who would it be and why?