Updated: Jul 6, 2020
I have been intrigued by the BBC show Merlin for the past couple of months. It aired for five years in the UK, from 2008 through 2012, though I just recently became aware of it. The writing, the acting and creativity of the program are of very high quality. I did a little research and found out that there is a significant fan community and people are still talking about the show in 2020. I watched an interview with the creators and the fans had an opportunity to ask questions. The fans are well educated people and asked questions about the research sources for the show. At first I thought, “Wow, what geeks.” I recognized this as a judgmental thought – and then I realized that I was just as into it as they were!
King Arthur is thought to have lived sometime around 500 AD, though there have been hundreds (thousands?) of epic poems, novels and now TV shows and movies dedicated to the exploration of the Arthurian legends. Why are the stories of King Arthur so profound, so ingrained in the human psyche? For this answer, I go to Joseph Campbell, who was a professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College and wrote the well-known book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I have been learning screenwriting and storytelling and I came upon Campbell’s work and its association with Star Wars. (George Lucas said one time that if it were not for Campbell’s work, he may still be sitting somewhere trying to write Star Wars!) In the late 1980s, Joseph Campbell filmed an amazing PBS documentary at the Lucas Skywalker Ranch in California. Over two summers he sat in interviews with Bill Moyers and talked about the power of myth. (And, incidentally, resulting from those discussions was a new book titled The Power of Myth.) Campbell speaks about world myths and religious stories – Native American, Hindu, African, Celtic, etc. He mentions the many similarities of themes and recurring structure and narratives, regardless of culture and period. He is obviously well versed in psychology and especially the work of Carl Jung. It is Jung’s archetypes that Campbell says come alive in our collective myths, and that ultimately our stories are road maps for our spiritual journey home. Campbell defined what is now discussed in literature courses as "the hero’s journey." He brings to light a shamanic three-step process of leaving the known, gathering wisdom, and then returning to share it with the world. This is the path of the hero and ultimately a journey that we all take. Campbell’s words are profound, and he displays a deep understanding of human consciousness and that which is beyond the realm of form.
As I thought about Campbell and “the power of myth,” I did some internal exploration about the story of King Arthur. Why is this story so compelling? Part of it is that round table! We are guided back over and over to this story to remember the importance of the round table as a major clue to inner peace. The round table symbolizes equality. There is no above or below, or better than, or less than; there is only Oneness. I recently posted a quote by Michael Drake on my Instagram account. Drake wrote a book called The Shamanic Drum: A Guide to Sacred Drumming in which he says, “The structures of shamanic cultures are circular. Like the hoop of the drum, the circle represents the wheel of life. All are equal in the circle; no one is above or below. In a circle, each person’s face can be seen; each person’s voice can be heard and valued.”
So, Arthur’s round table tells us that a true leader brings equality. What an interesting topic for this year of 2020! Though rather than an external pointer, I find this myth most compelling as an internal key. A man I met some time ago was very skilled in a system of personal mastery called holodynamics. While I did not personally pursue that path, he did teach me a couple of the practices. A foundational practice is to create with the mind an inner “place of peace.” This is a space created within, and it is a safe place whereby there is an agreement to non-violence. In this place, you meet with any aspects of yourself that would like to come forward for discussion. The meeting is held in a circle, and there is no fear or judgement of what “shows up,” no matter what it may feel like or look like visually in your mind’s eye. There is also a process of transformation available to less mature aspects of self that are ready to voluntarily take the journey of transformation. The key to this is that, as the facilitator of the place of peace, one must be centered in witness consciousness, non-judgement. While it is not often seen this way, judgement is a form of violence. If for some reason, one is not able to hold the center required (i.e., you get knocked off balance) you can request a member of your council to assist, and then request the aspect to visit at a later time, as you intend to address what has been shown. Developing an internal place of peace and a highly developed conscious communication system within the inner community seems like a very helpful process!
I reflected a little bit on this as I have worked so much on internal leadership. When we are so strong in our equanimity, there is trust. We trust our community and our community trusts us back. As we act with integrity over and over, we strengthen in Oneness. Aspects of self that are scared or hurt watch quietly from the shadows and decide if they can trust the one who is leading. So, who is leading? If it is the ego, the intellect, we likely have trouble. However, if we lead with the heart, we hold the ultimate key to peace.
In the show Merlin, there is a scene where a power-hungry uncle is trying to convince Arthur that it is part of his duty to show his strength and also to do what his people “expect” of him rather than what his own heart is telling him. (The uncle thought that Arthur should marry to meet social expectations and solidify power rather than marry for love.) Well, isn’t this what we call in religious life a temptation? In the first PBS documentary episode, Campbell talks about the three temptations of Christ and the three temptations of the Buddha. One of the Buddha’s temptations that he had to overcome was adherence to social duty. Not that social duty is a “bad” thing, though adhering to the collective ego rather than following one’s own heart is a problem of our present time. To have the courage to live the Truth of one’s life, to own one’s power, and to come into full responsibility is the challenge that all must face to reach spiritual maturity. When we bow to others' expectations, we give our power away and continue to be dependent upon a system of energetic “stealing” to survive. When we begin to live from our own authority, our energetic sustenance is drawn from Source itself. Therefore, we are no longer dependent, rather we are independent. We are no longer of the world, though we may be in the world.
Today is the day of the full moon and a lunar eclipse. I read a couple of astrology reports about the eclipse – that it is a conclusion of a series. Some aspects of ourselves are dying, though not all endings must be sad. Some aspects can die in peace, knowing that what is coming after is part of the great continuation of evolution. Collectively, part of what is dying is the system that adheres to structure over fluidity, to duty over Love, to illusion over Truth. We are in the midst of the Great Shift. We are facing the collective shadow in order to transmute it moment by moment. Those conscious of this process are putting forth tremendous effort in holding vibration and thoughts high for the collective. This does not mean that any are better than others. Some have simply been trained for this purpose, as others may have another purpose. All are in their process exactly where they are meant to be.
So, there is King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, who together represent the balanced Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine. But the show isn’t called Arthur and Guinevere, is it? So, what about Merlin? Merlin is a wizard, a great magician archetype. He is one who can effect great change and whose power is a great responsibility. Because of his spiritual power, his choices generally effect many people. This character also resonates with shamans in native cultures. Shamans would (or do) often journey to the other world (i.e. another band of consciousness not experienced by the typical waking person) and bring back information for the benefit of the community. I once read that shamans could request a vision to hold for the community, a vision that would be beneficial to hold in the consciousness to help manifest a beneficial future for all people. While during this full moon, some aspects are dying to the light, we also have the opportunity to imagine, to hold a vision of what a beautiful future for all looks like to us. This is not done as a control mechanism to push your ideas on anyone, rather, it is your offering to the collective of what ideal looks like for you. Consciously created images are powerful, they are real, and the Universe sees them and hears your prayers. I was thinking that I would spend a few minutes on this tonight and make my own contribution. In this way, we also communicate to our inner community what our true intentions are. If we are leading from the heart, from our round table, surely there will be Trust from our inner aspects. Even those aspects we may have issue with can potentially at least come to neutrality. Peace between the kingdoms was the Great Work of Arthur and the characters of his legends. And here we are, many years later, still engaged in the Great Work. Thanks to our teachers and ancestors, they have left some myths and stories for us to serve as maps as we make our hero’s journey, returning home and bringing peace to our own kingdoms.
May it be so.
With love, Orianna