Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Faery Gates of Avalon re-opened!

Just reissued by Skylight Press.

This is a mind blowing re-take on the function of the ladies of the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table.
The knights of King Arthur's Round Table - Erec, Lancelot, Yvain, Perceval and Gawain - first appeared in the works of Chretien de Troyes, who cast into Old French stories told by Welsh and Breton story tellers which had their origin in Celtic myth and legend.
Chretien wrote at a time when faery lore was still taken seriously - some leading families even claimed descent from faery ancestors! So we do well to look again at these early stories, for they were written not so much in terms of mystical quests or examples of military chivalry but as records of initiation into Otherworld dynamics.
And those who initiated the knight heroes were faery women, in the role of guides, guardians or lovers. In this respect a study of the ladies of Arthurian legend can prove to be more instructive than the adventures of the knights, whom they lured onto quests that were in reality initiations into Faeryland.
What is more, by going to the well spring of Arthurian tradition to unveil these original principles, they can be regenerated today. Opening the faery gates can have its reward not only in terms of personal satisfaction and spiritual growth but as part of a much needed realignment of our spiritual responsibilities as human beings on planet Earth.
"The fusion of the natural with the supernatural was so complete amongst the Celts that the two worlds are found in constant juxtaposition" [Anne Ross - "Pagan Celtic Britain"]
"...the passage between the worlds can only be made in love and respect, not idle curiosity" Wendy Berg - "Red Tree, White Tree"}
For further details go to


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Opening up those Faery Gates!

The Faery Gates of Avalon (just re-issued by Skylight Press) is an invaluable guide to the meaning and power of the faery tradition as it appears in the main works of the medieval trouvére Chrétien de Troyes. Widely recognised as the first of the Grail romanciers, Chrétien wrote into his poetic tales a large amount of material dealing with the Realm of Faery. Sometimes, as in Erec and Enide, this material is concealed, whereas in other tales the faery elements are clearly visible. Chrétien falls into the long line of initiate-poets and authors. His narrative visions of the land of faery present a series of transformative initiatory scenarios that can be entered in waking dream-vision and drawn upon according to our level of skill and experience.

The Faery Gates of Avalon opens with a brief introduction to Chrétien, his life and associations with the faery tradition, and to how some of his tales are connected to Welsh redactions in the Mabinogion. Then follows a summary of the main scenes in four of Chrétien’s works: Erec and Enide, Lancelot and Guenevere, (or Knight of the Cart), Yvain (Knight of the Lion) and Le Conte du Graal. The latter given two chapters devoted to Perceval and Gawain, respectively, who are the two major hero figures in the tale. In addition to the clear and concise summaries, each of these chapters contains masterful insights into the main images and magical sequences of Chrétien’s faery world.

Gareth Knight’s book is no mere theoretical treatise, however, but a highly practical work. As Gareth says: “Chrétien’s romances can act not merely as works of reference on faery tradition, but as devices for tuning consciousness toward reception of such contacts ourselves.”

Additional practical help is given in the final two chapters. Chapter Seven deals with the key characters, locations and situations in Chrétien’s faery realm. Here we read of the significance of questing heroes, faery partners, helpers and guides, guardians and adversaries, and mystery centres and their custodians. Chapter Eight, entitled, “Reopening the Faery Gates”, presents a visionary sequence that can be followed in meditation, but which is open-ended in a way that allows each of us to create our own “continuation” just as Chrétien’s unfinished Conte du Graal sparked a number of literary continuations. No matter what level we are at, however, Gareth Knight’s Faery Gates of Avalon stands alone as the definitive guide to our journeys.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Last word on Melusine???

The Book of Melusine of Lusignan: In History, Legend and Romance

 Edited by Gareth Knight  ISBN 978-1-908011-67-1  Publ: Skylight Press

Mr. Knight, you have done your lovely lady Melusine proud! Taken together, the three volumes mentioned, culminating in this book, are the fullest exposition of the legend, lore and history of Melusine and her “serpentine bloodline”. This is the definitive academic and romantic work on Melusine in the English language.

I wonder if you have ever seen the wonderful Mediaeval illustrations from the “Tres Riches Heures” of the Duc de Berry? If you have, and have seen the picture representing March, you will have seen the Chateau de Lusignan, and perhaps noticed what looks like a golden dragon flying above the tower on the right hand side. This is no dragon proper, but a winged serpent, one of the forms taken by the castle’s foundress, the Faery Melusine. Sadly the Chateau no longer exists as shown in the picture; it was burned to the ground in 1575. However, the legend of Melusine was documented by Jean d’Arras, the Duc’s secretary, and this story has survived in various incarnations since the 14th Century.

Gareth Knight has long been fascinated by the serpent-tailed Melusine, and has investigated her links with the history of her descendants, the lords of Lusignan. He has previously published “Melusine of Lusignan and the Cult of the Faery Woman” (RJ Stewart Books 2010) a short monograph on the legend, and has subsequently made a masterly translation of the evocative 20th century novel “ The Romance of the Faery Melusine” by Andre Lebey from the French. (Skylight press 2011)

However, as Mr. Knight says in his introduction to this latest book, “I think she deserves better.” And so he has edited a book of source material which gives the reader a more rounded picture of his muse, much of which is translated from the French for the first time. This new material will be invaluable to the scholar, not least in his masterly comparison of core texts.

 We have several versions of the legend, followed by material Gareth Knight has collated about the castle, the town and the church at Lusignan, an area that is well-known to him after visiting there with his family. There is nothing like going to the actual sites where these mythical events took place, one makes a connection with the land and the forces that have been playing out down the centuries. It may sound fanciful to say that it is as though Mr. Knight  met the Lady Melusine on her own terms, however it is clearly a labour of love as well as a labour of scholarship.

 I was particularly interested in the final two chapters, where Gareth Knight answers such questions as “So what” or “Why does this story, and similar tales, matter?” Or more usefully, “What happened next ? What is the relevance of these far-off histories today?”

 Simply, that we can see the results of an Ideal, that of the other-worldly marriage being enacted upon a particular place on Earth, in historical time, and the repercussions thereof.  As usual, things did not go quite to plan; however, sometimes apparent failure is a part of a particular process, as any student of comparative myth will know. Melusine founded a remarkable dynasty, a dynasty that left the realms of legend to enter that of history. The first of these essays is “A Historical Outline of the Lords of Lusignan” and is scholarly and historical. The second essay is more speculative, perhaps, and explores the links between families who seem to have married into the world of faery, and sheds fresh light on relationships between seemingly disparate myth cycles.

 Mr. Knight, you have done your lovely lady Melusine proud! Taken together, the three volumes mentioned, culminating in this book, are the fullest exposition of the legend, lore and history of Melusine and her “serpentine bloodline”. This is the definitive academic and romantic work on Melusine in the English language.

 Review Editor – Inner Light Journal