Time for one of Paul’s original posts for Smorgasbord and today he explores the legend of King Arthur further and reveals some of the links that have been made to Arthur and the giant figures formed from features in the landscape around the mythical Glastonbury Tor. This includes writings from nearly 500 hundred years ago that seems to support more modern theories.
The Glastonbury Zodiac by Paul Andruss
Image from theholisticworks.com
In 1929, local artist and mystic, Katherine Maltwood was commissioned to illustrate ‘The High History of the Holy Grail’, a French medieval Arthurian romance recently translated into English. While involved in this work she discovered the Glastonbury Zodiac, which she called the Temple of the Stars. It consisted of twelve giant figures, plus the Zodiac’s guardian the Girt Dog of Langport, formed from features in the landscape across an area 11 miles in diameter around Glastonbury Tor.
The High History claimed it was written in Glastonbury Abbey and conflicted with accepted Arthurian tradition. In it, Arthur’s foster brother Kai murders Arthur and Guinevere’s son Loholt and the queen dies from grief. So, there is no affair between Launcelot and Guinevere and no fateful Battle of Camlann, caused by Arthur’s nephew (or illegitimate son of incest) seizing the queen and the throne while Arthur is fighting Launcelot.
The High History may represent an occult treatise preserving garbled pre-Christian Celtic and Gnostic Christian beliefs. There is some archaeological evidence from Christian Late Roman Villas, uncovered in Southern England, hinting the Holy Grail legend may be linked with the gnostic influenced early Celtic Church, which did not submit to the Pope until the Synod of Whitby in 664AD: over a century and a half after Arthur was supposed to have lived.
In an article from a 1969 magazine Gandalf’s Garden, Katherine Maltwood’s successor, Mary Caine, explains how Maltwood discovered Glastonbury’s Temple of the Stars by mapping the journey of the grail knights from Cadbury Castle, an iron-age hillfort across the valley from Glastonbury.
In 1542 the antiquarian, John Leland reported the locals referred to Cadbury Castle as Camelot. When he came to excavate the summit of the hill, an old man asked if he came to take away the King. According to tradition Arthur and his Knights sleep inside the hillfort, waiting for the call to defend Britain.
It is said each Midsummer Eve they emerge, pausing only to let their horses drink from the spring at the southwest gate. An old lane at the hillfort’s base is called King Arthur’s Lane. Locals claim on wild winter nights the king and his hounds are heard rushing along it.
Caine tells how Maltwood, with the help of ordinance survey maps and, later, aerial photographs, soon identified each figure, sometimes miles across, by tracing tell-tale features in the landscape; ancient boundaries, hills, earthworks, paths, field borders and waterways. She claimed if you overlaid a star chart on a map of Glastonbury the figures matched the size and shape of the zodiac constellations in the heavens with the corresponding stars falling within each figure’s outline.
Inside each figure, ancient place names give clues to the house of the zodiac, e.g. Fisher’s Hill is within Pisces. According to Maltwood, Arthur is the horseman archer Sagittarius. The horse mounted archer of Sagittarius, representing King Arthur, has the horse’s tail resting on Arthur’s Bridge, and includes Canter’s Green. Virgo as Guinevere (located by Queen Camel) faces Leo who is Arthur’s foster brother Sir Kai.
Some early traditions, before Launcelot was introduced into the developing legend, claim Guinevere and Kai were the original adulterous couple. Arthur and Kai represent the summer and winter kings vying for the ancient White Goddess. Sagittarius is threatened by the claws of Scorpio, representing the treacherous Mordred.
The earliest traditions of Arthur suggest he was a Celtic divinity rather than a Dark Age warrior. Arthur battles supernatural monsters and raids the underworld to steal Gwyn Ap Nudd’s Cauldron of Inspiration from his glass castle. In old stories Glastonbury Tor is called the Isle of Glass and associated with the underworld and Avalon.
Similarly Arthur’s foster brother and rival Kai appears to be a Celtic sun-god as he can grow to the size of the tallest tree, radiate sun-like heat and has a round mirrored shield.
Guinevere means ‘White Phantom’. She is the triple faced moon goddess: full moon, old and new. ‘The Triads of the Isle of Britain’ say Arthur had three wives all called Guinevere, and all faithless.
The Easter sacrificial lamb of Aries is the young impetuous Gawain, found in a later version of the battle between spring and winter. ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ says Gawain preferred to fight before noon. After mid-day his strength waned with the weakening sun. Gwain represents returning summer while the Green Knight, armed with an evergreen holly bush, is winter.
Maybe through changes in the topography of the landscape, Cancer the crab is now a ship. Its earlier shape is perhaps still discernible in the curved hull and raised prow and stern signifying the crab’s shell and claws. The same has happened to Libra, now a dove rather than scales, and Aquarius, now an eagle or phoenix.
Cancer is Arthur’s ship Prydwen, which sailed his knights to Annwn to steal the Cauldron of Inspiration. Its name means ‘white face’. It is the moon ship that sails the sun-god through the night from dusk to dawn. Its presence led to claims of a much older origin for the Glastonbury Zodiac.
The Libran dove symbolises the spiritual quest for the Holy Grail. Holy Spirit takes a dove’s form. Known in the Genesis creation story as the ‘spirit that moves across the face of the waters’, the Holy Spirit was originally female. She is Sophia (Wisdom), whom ancient Jewish mystics considered to be God’s wife.
Aquarius is either an eagle or phoenix. An eagle represents the hero’s soul ascending to heaven. Roman historians mention seeing an eagle soaring over the Emperor Augustus’ funeral pyre as he ascended to take his place among the gods. Lleu Llaw Gyffes, the Welsh hero from the Mabinogion, was also changed into an eagle after his rival Gronw murdered him.
The phoenix, a legend from ancient Egypt, is reborn from the flames of its own funeral pyre. The sun bird is from Heliopolis; one of the oldest cities in ancient Egypt, dating back to the pre-dynastic period, possibly 10,000 years. It represents the reincarnated Summer King as Sol Invictus – the triumphant sun returning in the spring. In its beak it holds the Holy Grail or at least the Chalice Well where the grail was reputedly hidden by Joseph of Arimathea.
The thirteenth figure of the zodiac’s guardian is the Girt Dog Langport, which we will look at another time.
Critics deny there is a Glastonbury Zodiac. They say there is simply no evidence to support its existence and dismiss the Glastonbury Zodiac as coincidence, fantasy, or fraud. Bearing this in mind, how do they account for the following?
In 1580 the English magician Dr Dee, scientist and astronomer to Queen Elizabeth I, wrote, somewhat mysteriously, about constellations lying mapped on the ground.
‘the stars agree with their reproduction on the ground… all the greater stars of Sagittarius fall in the hindquarters of horse while the others fall on its chest… exactly married and measured in a scientific reconstruction of the heavens.’
No one is sure what Dee meant. Much of his magical work remains obscure. If the Glastonbury Zodiac was something Katherine Maltwood invented in 1929, then how do you explain Dr Dee’s words from 350 years earlier?
(Download here: http://www.heroofcamelot.com/docs/High-History-of-the-Holy-Graal.pdf)
About Paul Andruss
Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.
Paul is a modest but very talented author and he has two books currently available. Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.
I have read and reviewed Thomas the Rhymer earlier in the year, and here is the link to download the epub version of the books for FREE.
Paul also has a pdf file available and you can read for FREE by obtaining a copy from Barnes & Noble for Nook readers and also from Kobo.
You can find out how to download from Paul’s site and also links to the other options at this link. http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/amazon-links.php
It would be amazing if you do download and enjoy the book as much as I did. If so then it would be great if you could put a review on Amazon by adding in a sentence at the beginning – Disclaimer: I was gifted with a copy of this book from the author.. Or you can leave a review on Facebook and tag Paul in the post by using his full name Paul George Boylan.
Paul’s second books is Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.
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You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/
Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally