It’s March!! In a couple of weeks the Spring Equinox will be well and truly upon us, Daffodils will be blooming (and they have already started), thoughts will be turning to summer. Seeds are being sown, flower beds dug and we look forward to the first long bank holiday weekend of Easter…an excuse to over indulge on the sweet and the sickly!
Yet I write this now in the hopes that we might turn our thoughts to a perhaps more esoteric side of the festivities. Spring has always been considered a time of beginnings. The way has been cleared at Candlemas and by the time the Equinox arrives we will have made good first steps and laid the ground work for the rest of the year. You may even say that spring is a time for initiations…
Certainly in terms of the Sacred King cycle the spring would be when our once and future King comes of age, takes up Arms and embarks on his journey to manhood and to the fulfilment of his destiny. A rite of passage we all experience as teenagers, whether it be the first menstruation in girls or perhaps our first job or first car… however it is marked, initiation into maturity is a rite of passage we all experience and mark in some way or another.
In one of the most well-known Welsh Myths, Llew Llaw Gyffes receives this initiation through his Mother, Arianrhod (‘The Silver Wheel’ aka Dame Fate) at which point he is armed and is also given his name. I refer you to the full story if you are not familiar (a good version can be found online here) but it’s a beautiful illustration of an initiation into maturity if ever I saw one. In this particular story, Fate holds all the cards until the young lad has shown himself worthy (albeit through trickery and cunning) at which point she is defeated and bestows upon our young one weapons, a name and a bride, all he needs to become a man…a warrior…a Hero!
From the classical Hercules or Jason (of the Argonauts) to Cu Chullain of the Irish, stories like this have played a major role in almost all civilisations’ mythos (even more biblical Heroes like Jesus who we remember as receiving one of the most powerful of initiations around the spring). Many of these tales of Heroic trial and conquest have been passed down through the ages, only to become firmly ingrained in the psyche of us all.
So much so that Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell delineated ‘The Hero’ as one of their many archetypes, one which represents that part of our deepest self we perhaps strive to be, that part which exists in order to know, to will and most importantly, to dare…
Carl Jung considers an archetype to be the result of the numerous experiences of our ancestors. So whilst Archetypes are indeed constructs they are not invented. They have built up over the thousands of years of human existence and are often expressed through works of art, paintings, myths and even music, often without the artist’s or writer’s awareness of such constructs. Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins are all contemporary examples of the fictional Hero, but examination of their stories shows them to be good examples of the Archetypal Hero as well.
Yet a Hero can’t be a Hero without a Quest. Whether it be the Quest to destroy the one ring, or the Quest for the Holy Grail, all Heroes need a reason to be, just as any poet needs their Muse.
In order to continue on as Sacred King, our master must become The Hero, in order to become the Hero, he must embark on the Quest. Behind all this, pulling all the strings, weaving her web, holding all the cards, is the Mistress of Fate…the Hero’s Muse and it is She who must be wooed and seduced in order for him to become the true initiate.
Carol Pearson has done some great work on the Heroic Quest and suggests that all Quests have 5 main attributes:-
The Quest – The Goal
The Fear – The motivating factor
The Obstacles – What must be overcome to accomplish the goal.
The Task – What must be done to accomplish the goal.
The Rewards – What our hero receives at the end of their Quest.
The Hero exists in all things…we all have our Quest, which in turn means we all have the potential to earn the right of Sacred Kingship providing we succeed. Take a look at your path as a spiritual being… Your quest, your fears, the obstacles you have faced, the tasks you have accomplished, the blood, sweat and tears you have poured into getting where you are now, the sacrifices you have made, and of course, the rewards that you have relished and are still yet to njoy.
As I write this I stand on the brink of a new leg of my personal journey through the deep dark depths and bright dizzying heights of my craft. At this time of the Spring Equinox I ponder the awesome significance of the timing of this new chapter, this new quest, and I embrace the inner Hero, this so-called Archetype with open arms. I prepare for the obstacles which I am sure to face. Just like Sir Gawain another archetypal Hero, I wonder what battles await me, what ‘Green Knight’ I may have to confront, what tasks will be worth the salt and what sweet rewards await me the end of the journey…all in the name of my Muse who is Truth, Beauty, Love and Wisdom. And who to this day has been my motivation, my raison d’être and my constant inspiration.
Pearson, C.S. (1991). Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World,