Throughout history Guinevere has been portrayed in many ways. She has been portrayed as the weak woman that ultimately betrayed her husband the revered King Arthur. Or that she was pious virtuous woman who sacrificed her love for the first knight Lancelot to remain the Queen and devoted wife to King Arthur Pendragon.
Yet who was she without these labels? What does she evoke in us when we think of her? Guinevere speaks to us through the stories that have been distorted through time. She asks us to delve deeper, she asks us to listen more to our hearts than those that have spoken of her throughout history.
I see her as I look through the window of Tintagel castle, the sea is roaring like a fiery dragon about to devour the land. She is stood gazing out to the ocean her eyes transfixed. Her face is pale like porcelain dainty, her hair is tied back in an elaborate style woven like gold, she has a jewelled crown on her head. She is dressed in a grey gown and she looks at me with sadness, her gown reflects the dullness of her expression.
She turns to speak to me, ‘ So here I am stuck in this castle, I may as well be chained to this very stone.’
I look at her in alarm, she pays no attention and continues sighing with a deep breath,’ I was once as wild as those waves crashing against the shore, daughter of the dragon. I ran free through the forests and swam naked in the sea. The animals, birds and fish were my kin. I was trained to be able to fight and to weave the spells of the web. My godfather Merlin taught me how to scry and to use the elements to spin and morph.’
I was mesmerized by her tale and asked, ‘ Then what happened?’
She turned to look at me with deep grey eyes, looking straight at me yet past me into some hidden realm. It was when they came to tame all things that need to run wild, to cage to manipulate and disempower. They destroyed the stone circles, women were raped, lynched, tortured, burnt and enslaved. The sacred groves were set on fire, all altars to the Goddess were torn down and annihilated. They came in their droves armies, we tried to fight them but it was not enough. To save my people I had to make alliance and marry Arthur Pendragon and so I did. I loved another Lancelot, yet we both loved our people and so the sacrifice was made by us both. ‘
I sat down near her as she continued looking out towards the sea tears in her eyes.
‘ My heart was torn out beating as I married Arthur. Arthur was a gentleman and a honest man who tried to keep the balance between the Pagan and the ever increasing Christian of the land. Yet I could no longer ride wild I was bound by the duties of what was now classed as womanly. Then one day I was in the garden and a deep breeze came by I knew that my love was approaching. As I turned I saw him on his white horse it was Lancelot, returning from the battle. I did not know that Lancelot was Arthur’s first knight, and they had formed a deep friendship whilst fighting together. Our eyes met and I could not stop the tears from flowing. Protocol and code meant that I could not openly approach him or him me. So we satisfied our hearts by stealing glances at each other. ‘
‘One day we planned to meet in the stable away from the castle and prying eyes. Neither of us could resist each others bodies, and the passion that flowed within our blood. We met whenever we could after this time. Yet we knew that this bond between us could not last as neither us were traitors. There was a force so deep that spanned through space and time between us that could not be yielded. ‘
She turned to look at me with a tear stained face. ‘It was not that I didn’t love Arthur or wanted to hurt him in any way. I grew to love Arthur because of his character and his tenderness for me. Yet Lancelot was in my blood, our hearts beat the same rhythm, we had been together through life times and we had each other etched within our souls. So we decided it was best for Lancelot to go and to never return. So it was again the sacrifice was made to ensure that any repercussions would not fall back on our people. I bid him farewell forever. ‘
I walk over to her and placed my hand on her dainty shoulder as she weeps. Once she has cried her tears she then looks straight into my eyes her eyes are red through crying. She grips my shoulders and exclaims. ‘ I want you to share these words to all those that will listen. That I am not what I am portrayed to be. I wait forever for my beloved yearning his return, to run into the sea and to become one with him once more. ‘
I place my hands on her shoulders and looking deep into her eyes and exclaim, ‘It is time Guinevere to be united with Lancelot. The Goddess has returned to these lands, you no longer need to protect your people. King Arthur has made his name through history as the bringer of peace. Now it is time that you unite with your beloved with no repercussions only love and to mark the change, to celebrate Her return.
I take her hand in mine and we run. As we run her hair becomes loose and is blowing in the wind wild and free. She throws of her crown her jewels behind her as she moves. Her gown she rips off her body and she stands on the shore of the cove naked. Her pale skin glowing and her eyes radiating, The birds bring a crown made of flowers and fly by placing it on her head. I watch in astonishment. She looks out to the sea and there he is Lancelot coming out of the water riding out on his white horse. He comes riding onto the shore and without stopping swoops her up into his arms,together they both ride into the sunset.
I hope that you can be inspired by the tale of love, sacrifice and union. Of the beautiful noble Queen Guinevere who was a sacred warrior of the Goddess.
Love Layla ©
Art by Irina Karkabi and various artists
Music that inspired the story by Loreena Mckennitt The Mystics Dream from the Album The Mask and the Mirror