Inspired by the Myths & Legends of King Arthur
She cast the juniper on the fire, and as the smoke rose, bound the branch of hazel to her forehead. She laid fruit and flowers before the fire, then touched salt and oil to her breast, took a bite of the bread and a sip of the wine, then, trembling, laid the silver mirror where the firelight shone on it and, from the barrel which was kept for washing the women’s hair, poured clear rainwater across the silver surface of the mirror. She whispered “By common things and by uncommon, by water and fire, salt and oil and wine, by fruit and flowers together, I beg you, Goddess, let me see my sister Viviane.”
-from The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1984.
When life gets to be too much, I threaten the world with a fist shake and a stern warning that the cats and I are going to pack up, flee to Leeds, England, and enter their graduate program in medieval studies. The Arthurian myths and legends are one of several aspects of Celtic-medieval history that truly call me! (I really want to learn to read medieval French!) For now, however, I have decided to channel my passions into this botanical perfume project. And I hope it pleases you!
The Four Arthurian Perfumes
I designed each Arthurian perfume to resonate with one of four elements.
Like many of my botanical perfumes, my Winter Collection can also be used as an anointing oil for meditating, journeying, or other personal, sacred work.
Merlin the Bard
“It was magic — magic as black as Merlin could make it.
And the whole sea was green fire and white foam with singing mermaids in it… “
from The Book of Merlin by TH White.
Morgaine of the Faeries
“They were seldom seen, even here in the far hills, anywhere in village and field; they lived their own life secretly in deserted hills and forests where they had fled when the Romans came. But I knew they were there, that the little folk who had never lost sight of Her watched over me… I knew better than to look for them directly, but they were there and I knew they would be there if I needed them. It was not for nothing that I had been given that old name, Morgaine of the Faeries… And now they acknowledged me as their priestess and their queen.”
from The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Lady of the Lake
“The Goddess knows, child, I love you as I have never loved any other human being on earth,” Viviane said steadily, through the knifing pain in her heart. “But when I brought you here, I told you: A time may come when you might hate me as much as you loved me then. I am Lady of Avalon; I do not give reasons for what I do. I do what I must, no more and no less, and so will you when the day comes.”
from The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
“Here lies Arthur,
King once and King to be.”
from Le Morte D’Arthur, Thomas Mallory
A note re: Arthur, The Once and Future King
I think we have all heard this term, many times, but halfway through my research it occurred to me that I did not fully understand what it meant. Not truly. I must say, in this current climate of political injustice and war-mongering, I was grateful to discover the essence of this phrase. To me, King Arthur represents the suite of Cups in the tarot. He consulted his heart, intuition, as well as his intellect, and embodies the wisdom of balanced justice and tempered action. Moreso, in his balancing of the masculine and feminine, of pagan and Christian, of head with heart, he brings to mind the Temperance card in the Tarot, the arcanum version of the suite of cups. His title, the Once and Future King, outlines the hope that heart-centered justice will return to the world, someday.
A note re: the female Arthurian characters
The original roles of the women in the Arthurian legends were not evil. Their characters once evoked true mystery, respect, dignity and power as representational aspects of the Goddess. It is only when these myths passed through the filters of dualization and medieval Christianity that we see the magical female characters of the Arthurian legend turn into warped, twisted, and evil/manipulative personas. Foregoing what Celtic scholar Jean Markale calls the “distinctly masculine and patriarchal attitude on the lines that men are the unfortunate victims of wicked women who must be punished…” I have chosen to quote from Bradley’s Mists of Avalon when referring to Morgaine of the Faeries and The Lady of the Lake, out of respect for the feminine.
I recommend Jean Markale’s book Women of the Celts for more on this important subject.
Recommended Reading from my Bibliography and Research
I have thoroughly enjoyed researching Arthurian myth, symbol and folklore for the development of this collection and I thought I would share my bibliography with you.
I hope you will find the perfumes as appealing and endearing as the personas, symbolism and archetypes upon which they are based.
Lady of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1997.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1982.
Four Arthurian Romances by Chretien DeTroyes c. 1170’s
A Life of Merlin by Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1150’s
The White Goddess by Robert Graves, 1948.
Morte D’Arthur: King Arthur and His Noble Knights of the Round Table by Thomas Mallory, c. 1450-1470.
Women of the Celts by Jean Markale, 1986.
King Arthur and the Grail Quest: Myth and Vision from Celtic Times to the Present by John Matthews, 1994.
The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights by John Steinbeck, 1976.
Merlin and The Gleam by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1889.
The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1842.
The Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1859.
Morte D’Arthur by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833.
Merlin the Bard: A Ballad from Brittany in Four Languages by Theodore de la Villamarque, 2010.
The Book of Merlin by T.H. White, 1987.
The Once and Future King by T.H. White, 1938-1958.
The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkein, edited by Christopher Tolkein, 2013.
The Lancelot-Grail c. 1210-30. (Vulgate Cycle, author unattributed)