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Arthur, King

Arthur, King

Legendary king of England, son of Uther Pendragon and Igraine. It seems likely that Arthur was a sixth-century leader whose life and deeds became interwoven with romance mythology. The character of King Arthur is strongly identified with occult legends. Not only do we find his court a veritable center of happenings more or less supernatural, but his mysterious origin and the subsequent events of his career contain matter of considerable interest from an occult standpoint.

He is connected with one of the greatest magical names of early times Merlin the Enchanter. It is possible that Merlin was originally a British deity who in later times degenerated from his high position in the popular imagination. There are many accounts concerning him, one of which states that he was the direct offspring of Satan himself, but that a zealous priest succeeded in baptizing him before his infernal parent could carry him off.

From Merlin, Arthur received much good advice, both magical and rational. Merlin was present when the king was gifted with his magic sword, Excalibur, which endowed him with practical invulnerability, and all through his career Merlin was deep in the king's counsels. Merlin's tragic imprisonment by the Lady Viviana, who shut him up eternally in a rock through the agency of one of his own spells, removed him from his sphere of activity at the Arthurian Court, and from that time the shadows were seen to gather swiftly around Arthur's head.

Innumerable are the tales concerning the knights of his court who met with magical adventures, and as the stories grew older in the popular mind, additions to these naturally became the rule. Of note is the offshoot of the Arthurian epic, known as the Holy Grail, in which the knights who go in quest of it encounter every description of sorcery for the purpose of retarding their progress.

Arthur's end is as strange as his origin, for he is wafted away by fairy hands, or at least by invisible agency, to the Isle of Avil-lion, which probably is the same place as the Celtic otherworld across the ocean.

As a legend and a tradition, that of Arthur is undoubtedly the most powerful and persistent in the British imagination. It has employed the pens and enhanced the dreams of many of the giants of English literature from the time of Geoffrey of Monmouth to the present day. Some claim Arthur was buried at Glastonbury, and tourists who visit are shown a tomb site and may purchase the replica of a cross with an inscription concerning Arthur.

Sources:

De Troyes, Chrétien. Arthurian Romances (Erec and Enide; Cligés; Yvain; Lancelot). London, 1914.

Lacy, Norris J., ed. The Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 1986.

Reiss, Edmund, Louise Horner Reiss, and Beverly Taylor. Arthurian Legend and Literature: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, 1984.

Waite, Arthur Edward. The Holy Grail: The Galahad Quest in the Arthurian Literature. 1933. Reprint, New York: University Books, 1961.

White, Terence H. The Once and Future King. London: Collins, 1958.

Wilhelm, James J., and Laila Zamuelis Gross, eds. The Romance of Arthur. New York: Garland Publishing, 1984.

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King Arthur

King Arthur, or The British Worthy. Semi-opera in prol., 5 acts, and epilogue by Purcell to lib. by Dryden, but really a play with extensive mus. Prod. London 1691, NY 1800.

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King Arthur

King Arthur: see Arthurian legend.

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