(Can I get this post written before I have to go to the supermarket? Well, let’s try.)
In ancient days when Rome wallowed in its ruin and records were but poorly kept, if at all, there was said to be a Lady of the Lake who gave King Arthur his sword, Excalibur; and when Arthur died, it had to be returned to her.
For old-time Celtic peoples on both sides of the English Channel, certain ponds and lakes and bogs were considered holy places, mysterious places, places of power; and precious things were thrown into the water as sacrifices–swords, helmets, golden cups and cauldrons, and sometimes a prince or a princess, too.
There was probably more than one Lady of the Lake. What was she? A pagan priestess? But why should Christian kings and knights consult a pagan priestess? Was she mortal or immortal? She may have been a scholar: literacy would have been a rare gift in those days. We are talking fifteen hundred years ago, or more. And of course she would have precious swords: kings and chieftains had been tossing them into the lake for centuries.
How did the Lady of the Lake come to be responsible for raising and instructing Lancelot? How came she to fall in love with Sir Pelleas? Was she a witch? Was she Merlin’s pupil, who later turned against him because he had conceived an unlawful passion for her?
These are mysteries that are probably going to stay mysteries, try as we might to unravel them. But who knows what other discoveries we will make along the way?