The Arthurian tales are closely connected with the Western Mystery Tradition and it seems many with an interest in Dion Fortune's activities have an associated interest in things Arthurian. I came across a web based resource relating to Arthurian mythology maintained by the University of Rochester at http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot-project that some may find of interest.
Many thanks for posting this link - it looks like a very interesting website.
You mention that many folk with an interest in Dion Fortune are also interested in the Arthurian and Grail legends, and I’m sure you’re right. I think DF had a profound understanding of the magical potential in these stories, and she realised how they could be worked with as a practical system of magic. It's a pity that she didn't write more fully about them - and surprisingly most of what she did write in regard to the legends' deeper meaning can be found ‘The Magical Battle of Britain,’ although as we’ve noted elsewhere on this website this book is arguably her most revealing in terms of how she practiced her magic. If only she had penned an Arthurian novel! Her Lady of the Lake would surely be a figure comparable to the Sea Priestess.
We do know however that her Fraternity of the Inner Light used some of the magical symbolism from the legends in their rituals, and to my knowledge it was Dion Fortune who introduced - or perhaps it might be more accurate to say remembered - the technique of adopting the name of one of the Arthurian Knights or Ladies and then ‘living out’ certain aspects of their story through your own experiences, particularly in your dedicated magical work. For instance you might become a ‘Follower of Gawain’ and re-live his search for the Green Chapel, or become a Companion of the Lady of the Lake and explore what this means for the present day.
I’m sure that the stories are intended to be used and worked with in a practical fashion. For example, a magical group of twelve I once worked with took as a basic idea of the Round Table as a symbol of the signs of the zodiac, allied each sign with either a Knight or Lady and explored each sign/character in turn. I seem to remember that we had Galahad/Gemini; Percivale/Cancer; Kundry/Scorpio; Elaine/Virgo…..and so on. (Not sure if I'd use the same attributions now, but we had great fun at the time and it was remarkably enlightening!)
So many books have been written about the Arthurian and Grail legends, and a lot of them are written from a purely literary point of view rather than as practical magic, which means it can be difficult to know where to start. My personal favourite version is Malory’s ‘Morte d’Arthur.’ You can open it at almost any page and find some truly magical writing that brings the characters alive - it seems instantly to take you into the inner-worlds.
Thomas, thank you for highlighting the origin of Nascien, the Hermit in Arthurian and Grail tradition. He is an interesting figure!
He is associated with the city (sometimes described as an island) of Sarras, which is where Joseph of Arimathea first took the Grail while conveying it from from Jerusalem to Britain. Joseph of Arimathea’s son Josephus was invested at Sarras as the ‘First Bishop,’ and it is said that from him descended a line of ‘Kings’ who became rulers of Britain.
These ‘bishops’ and ‘kings’ are not the same as those recognised in the outer world where James the Just, brother of Jesus, is generally agreed to have been the first Christian Bishop. My belief is that they represent an Innerworld tradition of Priests of the Grail. Nascien was originally called Seraphe, which means ‘Fiery,’ but after receiving communion from the Grail he changed his name to Nascien, which suggests, perhaps, a ‘stepping down’ into human form. Again, this Grail Communion would not have been the same as the communion offered by Christ at the Last Supper, but something different.
At the end of the story, the Grail was gradually withdrawn from earthly sight and was returned to Sarras on the Ship of Solomon. Nascien, his wife Flegentyne, and Saracynthe the wife of the King of Sarras, all die on the same day. A real Mystery!
Well now, those are two very interesting questions. I can right away give you two short answers. To the first question - Yes. And to the second question - No.
There are bigger issued behind these immediate questions of course, and I would like to take a little time to think this through and perhaps discuss it with my Companions colleagues.
In the meantime, I wonder if you could say a little more about 'Melchizedek symbols?' I'm not sure what symbols you refer to or even if there are any actual symbols attached to the Melchizedek lineage so far as I know. (though I don't know everything!!) And there's another question - what is meant by the 'Melchizedek lineage?" I hazard the guess that different folk might have different ideas about this. .
In the meantime I would like to share my recollection that Nascien's son was called Celidoine, which I believe is an alternative name for the flower Celandine. My garden is currently full of Celandines. This is surely another indication that the beings described in these legends are not human 'as we know them!'
I get most of my information from when I was in S.OL. Asbestos and the Bed hive were symbols as I remembet. I brightness may have come from some inner plane communications by Dion Fortun e. I also learned some from William Gray. The Priest King description of Melchizedek was used by him in connection with the Sangreal Sacrifice of the Sacred King. This is described in his Rite of Light and Western Inner Workings. Mr. Gray held some kind of initiation lineage along these lines that he connected to the Sangreal . Bob Sterwart would know more about this. The Peace Profound that is the goal of Grays mysticsm also connects with the Priest of Salem.. I've wondered how much of this came from the fraternity of the Inner Light as Bill was amusement at one point.
I hope you are keeping well. If I could add to the current discussion, I would say it is likely that many folk who have an interest in the Western Mystery Tradition will find a resonance with the archetypal Priest King Melchizedek. I know that Dion Fortune acknowledged him to be part of this tradition, but so far as I am aware it was not a well-developed part of her work.
The problem is that the Bible tells us so little about this figure that it is easy to ascribe almost any magical tradition and 'sacred lineage' to him, and then of course claim to be an 'initiated' member of that lineage. I would not like to suggest that any of these claims are false, but I'm not sure how we can say that any is the 'one and only true.' In my book "Red Tree, White Tree" I put forward the suggestion that a line of priestly descent from Melchizedek appears to be connected with the Grail legends, and that the Grail legends appear to be connected with Faery. For me, this happens to ring true! But I can't claim more than that.
I think it is probably up to each of us, should we feel so inclined, to develop and work with our contact with Melchizedek and to form our own conclusions based upon our experience. I'm sure that any work in this direction, if it is done with a sincere (and humble!) approach, will bring valuable results.
Dear Wendy, Thanks for the reply to my inquiries. I think Gray got his Melcizedek lineage from his Martinist source. But it as you say could not be construed as the one and only lineage. I feel that there is an Inner Plane lineage that calls out and possibly the right individuals respond. Stewart discusses Ronald Heavers Melchezidek contacts in his book on him. I enjoy your books and consider them as some of the more important esoteric books being published now. The collection of Cosmic Doctrine essays was great . At any rate I believe Grays Rite of Light is one way to get into contact with The Priest of Salem's tradition.