King Arthur

I have many books on King Arthur; I have collected them since I was a teenager. I have 2 Tarot decks associated with the legend, purely because they are associated with the legend!  On my bookshelf in total there are 27 with “Arthur” or “Arthurian” in the title, and that’s not including all the various “Myth and Legends of the British Isles” genre.

Not a huge amount, but enough for someone interested in the Arthurian Legends you might think. But curiously enough, I have not read ANY of them! Oh yes I’ve flicked through, skimmed, and glanced at pages, and illustrations, and always intended to read them, but every time I sit down and open a book, the words stay on the page.  They stay there, unmoving, un yielding, un read (by comparison, when I pick up a Terry Pratchett novel, the words leap off the page and pull me in to Discworld).

You may think that I should give up.  But Arthur keeps calling, like he has since my teen years.  Somehow I have to find the way in to the story. But I have come to the conclusion that it is not through books, and the stories are so set in stone that people now argue with alternate versions.  Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the stories down for William, who wanted a “One Land, One King” legend to refer to,  Malory recorded his version (which obviously I cannot comment on because I haven’t read it) and latter day authors have mixed in their versions too, like John Matthews, Kevin Crossley Holland, and Michael Morpurgo.  New books appear every year, claiming to have proof of Arthur being in Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, and yet everyone has their own King Arthur, and their own Merlin.  They may not go by these names, but the essence of the figure remains, and can be associated with each of these characters.

The stories of Jesus are written in a book and people believe in them, but Jesus affects peoples’ lives in different ways.  He is friend to some, saviour to others, prophet to many and nothing to some.  They say there is historical proof, but what does that matter to those who BELIEVE in him?

So that leaves me thinking that people don’t believe in Arthur and Merlin, because there’s too much red tape. Where the legends of Arthur and Merlin are concerned, there are different versions yes, but when someone releases their version, the old dusty copies come out and critics say “but that’s not the story, or that’s not historically accurate”.

What is Arthur to you?  What is Arthur to me? What is Merlin to me?  I don’t know, is the answer, but they keep tugging at my sleeve, whispering in my ear, drifting into my dreams. Do they need labelling? Pigeon holing? Restricting? No!!!!

I don’t live in Cornwall, or Wales, or Brittany. I live on the slopes of Titterstone Clee, in South Shropshire, one time gathering place of the clans of the Middle Lands and this beautiful, quarry scarred landscape has given me its stories to tell the world. The Hill tells me of a Serpent deep within that turns the wheel of the year, and the Ancient Yew told me of the Dragons, a stream told me how the Mistletoe came to this valley. And now Arthur and Merlin are trying to do the same. But how can I get the stories? Are they too the stories of this land? The Land of Oak, Albion, Merlin’s Isle, Britain.

So many stories, myths, legends all captured in books, stories from other lands brought in and adapted, it is time to free them to take them from the pages, melt them down into their base form, and then with alchemical force bring them to life in their raw state, without political opinion, without religious view, without historical accuracy.

Gather the kindling, light the tinder, fill the bellows.

A story is real, while it is being told.

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