Sources for King Arthur and Osiris

Completed 9 September 2003.
Last modified 13 May 2004.
© Text Copyright 2004 Michael Wild

I can be reached at:- dagonet_uk 'at',uk


Quotation from Owen Morgan (Morien)


NOW we return to the narrative: "But," states Arthur, "I may not stand, my head works (throbs) so. Ah, Sir Lancelot, this day have I sore missed thee. Alas, that ever I was against thee, for now have I my death, whereof Sir Gawaine me warned in my dream."

Then Sir Lucan took up the king the one part, and Sir Bedivere the other part, and in lifting, the king swooned, and Sir Lucan fell in a swoon with the lift (the weight of) that part of his bowels fell out of his body, and therewith the noble knight's heart brast (burst).

And when King Arthur came to himself again, he beheld Sir Lucan how he lay foaming at the mouth, and part of his bowels lay at his feet.

"Alas," said the king, "this is unto me a full heavy sight, to see this noble duke so die for my sake, for he would have helpen me that had more need of help than I. Alas, he would not complain him, his heart was so set to help me. Now Jesu have mercy on his soul."

then Sir Bedivere wept for the death of his brother.

"Leave this mourning and weeping," said the king, "for this will not avail me: for, wit thou well, and I might live myself, the death of Sir Lucan would grive me evermore; bu my time hieth fast."

"Therefore," said Arthur, " take thou Excalibur, my good sword, and go with it to yonder water side, and when thou comest there, I charge thee, throw my sword into that water and come again, and tell me what thou there seest.

"My lord," said Bedivere, "your commandment shall be done."

In the foregoing it is quite evident the compiler has been using materials which he found in the Welsh language for his novel. the proper names he employs are Welsh. In the name Lucan we find the Welsh name Lleuver (Light) Latinised. it will be observed, when Arthur, the personified sun, swoons, Lucan, or Light, perishes.

Sir Gawaine is Gwyion, or the warmed humidity personified. When Arthur's power__sun's power__ is diminishing, prefigured by the rebellion of Mordred, Arthur swoons; Gawaine, or Gwyion, dies; that is, the sun no longer operates on the seeds of the earth through the agency of the warmed dew which ceases to exist in the atmosphere. The name Bedivere is pure Welsh, but retaining the archaic form of spelling. In the modern mode of spelling its form is Bâdeivêr. It signifies the Boat (dew), His Mer or Water; to distinguish it from the coracle, which is another symbol of the ark or mastless ship (Llong Voel) as symbol of Cêd, Cetus or Der Ketos, the consort of the Almighty. The moon, six days old, being crescent shaped, was, it will be remembered, a symbol of the sacred bâd or boat of the sun, and it will be observed that "Bedivere" is said in the narrative to be the brother of Sir Lucan (Lleuver); Latin, Lucis, or of Light__Heat, brother of Light. Vêr, mutated from Mêr, is a very old Welsh name of water, and is only found now in use in the composition of compound words, such Cymmer (meeting of waters); diveru (unwatering), and used in the sense of to drop or to drizzle. The di, at the beginning of the word is a negative prefix. The word is usually spelt, erroniously, dyferu; the"dy" being used as an intensitive, but misapplied here.

To resume the Arthurian narrative: "So Sir Bedivere departed, and by the way he beheld that noble sword, that the pommel and haft were all of precious stones, and then he said to himself, 'If I throw this rich sword into the water, thereof shall never come good, but harm and loss.' And then Sir Bedivere hid Excalibur under a tree. And as soon as he might, he came again unto the king, and said, he had been at the water, and had thrown the sword into the water. 'What sawest thou there?' said the king. 'Sir,' he said, 'I saw nothing but waves and wind.' 'That is untruly said of thee,' said the king (he lied by saying he had seen the wind)."'therefore, go thou lightly" (swiftly) " again, and do my command as thou art to me lief and dear, spare not, but throw it in.' Then Sir Bedivere returned again, and took the sword in his hand; and then him thought sin and shame to throw away that noble sword, and so eft he hid the sword, and returned again, and told to the king that he had been at the water, and done his command. 'What saw thou there?' said the king. 'Sir,' he said, 'I saw nothing but the waters wap and the waves wan.' 'Ah, traitor, untrue,'said King Arthur, 'now hast thou betrayed me twice. Who would have wend that thou that hast been to me so lief and dear, and thou art named a noble knight, and would betray me for the riches of the sword. But now, go again lightly (swiftly) for thy long tarrying putteth me in great jeopardy of my life, for I have taken cold. And, but if thou do (not) now, as i bid thee, if ever I may see thee, I shall slay thee with my own hands, for thou wouldest for my rich sword see me dead.

Then Sir Bedivere departed, and went to the sword, and lightly (swiftly) took it up, and went to the water side, and there he bound the girdle about the hilts, and then he threw the sword as far into the water as he might, and there came an arm and an hand above the water, and met it, and caught it, and so shook it THRICE__Triune Divinity( \|/ )__and brandished it, and then vanished away the hand with the sword in the water."

Now, the only portions of the above narrative which appertain to the solar allegory of the Druidic Arthur, are the boat, the sword Excalibur, the lake, the arm, the shakes, and the hand. The "sword" is the decrepit membrum virilis of Arthur's old age; the lake is the sea of Annwn (hades); the arm and hand are those of Cêd, the consort of the Almighty and mother of the sun, rescuing the symbol of the sun's divine seminal agency from destruction in the wreck of his corporeal destruction at sunset on each December 20th. In Egypt she is Isis I. It is Isis II (Venus) who cries after Osiris's Phallus, which Typhon had thrown into the sea. It is the same idea as Cetus or Der Ketos receiving the white dove, as Adonis (the masculine living principle in the sun), for safety unto herself in the Red Sea, and sometimes in the Indian Ocean in the solar allegory of Phoenicia, Syria or Egypt; and the wren of the Druids received into the ark. Let us now examine the name of Arthur's "sword." It is Excalibur. It is amusing to witness the ingenuity which the compiler of the Morte d'Arthur exercised with a view to throw a thin veil over the significance of "Excalibur." We detect the meaining of the word, or name, in its middle. Cali or Cala is the Druidic name of the membrum virilis. The Bur termination is the Gaelic Borr, which is a verb signifying to swell. Then Ex, at the beginning of the name, is a Latin prefix, denoting "formerly." Ex-Cali-Bur, therefore, signifies, Phallus-that-Swelled-Formerly.

If the reader will refer to the Rev. J. Lempriere, D.D.'s Classical Dictionary, he will find the following under the name "Osiris," one of the Egyptian titles of the sun. The first portion of the account refers to the priest of Osiris, the sun's representative in the Egyptian religious system, and bearing his name in consequence of his representative character. After describing the murder of Osiris by Typhon, his brother, and that Typhon had divided the body of Osiris amongst his murderous companions, Isis II., the wife of Osiris, "recovered the mangled pieces of her husband's body, the genitals excepted, which the murderer (Typhon) had thrown into the sea; and to render him all the honour which his humanity deserved, she made as many statues of wax as there were mangled pieces of his body * * "That part of the body of Osiris which had not been recovered (the membrum virilis) was treated with more particular attention by Isis, and she ordered that it should receive honours more solemn, and at the same time more mysterious, than the other members." Let the reader refer also in the same dictionary to the article headed "Phallica." After describing the ceremonies relating to the lost Phallus of Osris, the learned rev. gentleman states:__"The public held it (Phallus) in the greatest veneration * * and the mention of it among the ancients never conveyed any impure thought or lascivious reflection." In the above, Isis, a goddess of Egypt, appears as the wife of Osiris, and she is said have been pregnant by Osiris before she left her mother's womb. Who, then, was her mother? This is Venus, the Morwyn of Gwen y Môr (the sacred one of the sea), of Druidism, or the fecundity of the earth in spring. This Isis is cow-horned Athor of Egypt. The greater Isis is "the mother of the child" Horus, who is Osiris as a young man, the sun in spring, the second person of the Egyptian Trinity, but really the first, counting from the equinoctial line northwards, and corresponds with the Druidic Alawn and Plennydd. The greater Isis, mother of Venus (the second Isis,) is identical with Cêd or Ceridwen (Cetus Ketos, &c.), the consort of the Almighty Celi of Druidism, and she has taken into her care the virile attribute of the personified sun in the sea, which her daughter, the second isis, Gwen, Enid, or Mor'wyn (Virgin), could not discover, and the sun of the New Year reappears, endowed by the great mother of the sun child with all the requisite attributes necessary to, on attaining the age of puberty in spring, to propagate the seeds of the surface of the earth (Venus) that year, to ripen in her into maturity in September.

In like manner, Arthur and his "sword Excalibur" ar restored, "renewed" to maturity, to the world every spring.

Again we return to the Arthurian story:__"So Sir Bedivere came again to the King, and told him what he saw.'Alas!' said the King, 'help me hence, for I dread me I have tarried over long.' Then Sir Bedivere took the King upon his back, and so went with him to the water-side. And when they were at the water-side, even fast by the bank, hoved a little barge" (the same thing as the coracle in which Taliesin was found, only here it is the departure of the coracle for the south-west, and the old sun in it is implied), "with many fair ladies in it, and among them was a Queen" (their mother Cêd was the coracle or barge itself). "And they all had black hoods" (night time). "And they all wept and shrieked when they saw King Arthur. 'Now put me into the barge,' said the King, and so they did softly. And there received him Three Queens, with great mourning, and so they set him down; and in one of their laps King Arthur laid his head. And then that Queen (the Virgin Venus) said, 'Ah, dear brother,'" (she was his sister-spouse) "'why have ye tarried so long from me? Alas! this wound in thy head hath caught over much cold.'" (The Annwn or Hades [Hell] of northern ideas is cold.) "And so they rowed from the land, and Sir Bedivere beheld all these ladies go from him." He had lost his Phallus "sword," and consequently had now become uninteresting to them all, except to his mother (the coracle), Cêd, Ceridwen, otherwise Isis the First. "Then Sir Bedivere cried, 'Ah, my Lord Arthur, what shall become of me now ye go from me, and leave me here alone among my enemies?' 'Comfort yourself,' said the King, 'and do as well as thou mayest, for in me is no trust (strength) to trust in! For I will go into the Vale of Avalon, to heal me of my grievous wound. And if thou hear no more of me, pray for my soul.' But ever the queens and the ladies wept and shrieked, that it was a pity to hear. * * And as soon as Sir Bedivere had lost sight of the barge he wept and wailed, and so took to the forest." Then we are told the first Queen was Morwyn le Fay, the second was the Queen of North Wales, and the third was the Queen of Waste Lands. Also there was Nimue, the Chief Lady of the Lake. the monk has been at it concealing again. Nimue is evidently the Latin Nimius, which name, associated with the Lady of the Lake, signifies "Exceeding Great Lady." She is the Cêd of Druidism, the mother of Arthur, and the greater Isis of Egypt, mother of Osiris. It was her hand that receivedthe sword Excalibur under water, and she is the restorer of Arthur as Hu Gadarn, otherwise Taliesin, Hesus the Mighty, as a babe on each December 22nd, or according to the Julian Calender, on December 25th. The Druidic names of the three are Morwyn, Blodwen and Tynghedwen-Dyrraith, as already explained in Chapter II.

Where did Arthur go to alone in the barge, or, more correctly, in the Llong Voel (symbolised as a goddess, and also as a coracle), or naked ship or boat! The Rev. Thomas Price, in his History of Wales, quotes among the "sepulture stanzas" the following:__

Bedd i March, bedd i Gwythur;
Bedd i Gwgawn Gleddfrydd;
Anoeth bydd bedd i Arthur.

A grave for March, grave for Gwythur;
A grave for Gwgawn Gleddfrydd (Free Sword)
It would be folly to provide a grave for Arthur.

We believe that the word anoeth (uncertain) ought to be annoeth (unwise or folly). For the Welsh and Breton nations fully believed Arthur had not died, but had simply gone to fairyland, to be there renovated. Therefore, providing a grave for Arthur would be unwise or unnecessary. It was to endeavour to remove from the minds of the Welsh Britons that Arthur was alive, and would again return to lead them to battle against their foes, that Henry II., King of England, induced the monks of Glastonbury to assist him, by perpetrating another pious fraud by pretending to discover the grave of Arthur there for that purpose.

But what is meant by Avalon, to which it is stated Arthur said, to Bedivere, he was going in the barge? As we have already pointed out, the Druids symbolised the sun's influence in spring, summer, and winter, by three apples, and the juice of the apple was used as a symbol of the sun's divine essence, as the juice of the grape was used as a similar symbol in grape-growing countries, and it became natural, therefore, to regard the region where life is renewed after death, as the everlasting source of the divine essence, as an Island of Apples. Avalon, or Havalon, signifies perennial apple; or the perennial divine juice, the elixir of life. It would be highly important, as well as interesting, to ascertain clearly when Avalon came first to be identified with Glastonbury. The reader should recollect that the work bearing the name of "Richard of Cirencester," a work which poisoned the history of Britain during a century, is proved to be a forgery, and that any reference to Avalon in it is fictitious, except the quotations in it from other worls of undoubted authenticity. There is, we believe, no doubt, Galstonbury came first to be associated with Aval-on__the Insula Pomorum or Britain, as the Island of apples__at the period when English, or rather Norman , Kings sought by fraud to persuade the Welsh Britons to believe the body of Arthur had been discovered at Glastonbury. The Vita Merlini of Geoffrey in no way connects it with Glastonbury. Geoffrey, its author, wrote about A.D. 1140. As already hinted, it appears to have escaped notice that Avalon is in the singular number, while the Insula Pomorum of the monks is in the plural number. One signifies ever-durable apple, and the other the Island of apples. The Druids, 'tis true, had three sacred apples in their circular church, otherwise garden__the garden of the Hesperides form which Hercules stole three apples__but the termination "on" in Welsh primitive nouns, except personal ones, as dynion (men), Iuddewon (Jews), &c., is never a sign plural,but of perenniality, as in ffynon (water, spring); calon (heart, always beating); ffon (a walking stick, because it is in shape like the old Druidic "f," and always moving with the walker). The three apples symbolised the sun as seen in three stages from the earth. But as transmitter of heavens essence he was one. In the name Arthur__the sun as Arddir, or gardener, or husbandman, it is only the sun's one attribute, as a fertiliser of the seeds of the earth, that is implied as the source of the fertilising juice from heaven operating on the seeds of the earth in spring, &c. The essence has it (sic) source in the Paradise (Gwenydva) of the Druids, where decay and death are unknown, and is discharged by the agency of the sun to the seeds of the earth. The sun, or Arthur, returning on the solar new year's morning, with youth renewed, is still symbolised in Wales on the morning of the new year, by the symbol of an apple, dressed with evergreens, and carried from door to door, and the carrier, and the group of children with him, singing a joyous old melody. In ancient times, the custom, no doubt, was regarded as a pious one. It implied the return of the sun from Gwenydva (Elysium) of the Druids, renewed, and charged with a fresh supply of the invigorating essence of life, derived from where the essence of the material creation began, like yeast fermenting, to renovate the face of the earth. The district of Hades beneath the earth, and beyond the "river," was the fairyland of our ancestors__the source of the passive principle of life. Neither the old sun nor the new sun had anything to do with the perfected souls already gone into Gwynva, or Heaven, in the northern sky we repeat.

Owen Morgan (Morien), The Light of Britannia, no date, London: Whittaker & Co., pp.188-97.

Quotations from W. Y. Evans-Wentz

P. 309

Arthur in the character of a culture hero,3 with god-like powers to instruct mortals in wisdom, and, also, as a being in some way related to the sun__as a sun-god perhaps__can well be considered the human-divine institutor of the mystic brotherhood known as the Round Table. We ought probably, to consider Arthur, like Cuchulainn, as a god incarnate in a human body for the purpose of educating the race of men: and thus, while living as a man, related definitely and, apparently, consciously to the invisible gods or fairy-folk. Among the Aztecs and Peruvians in the New World there was a widespread belief that great heroes who had once been men have now their celestial abode in the sun and from time to time reincarnate to become teachers of...their

3cf. Rhys, Studies in the Arthurian Legend., pp 24, 48. Sir John Rhys sees good reasons for regarding Arthur as a culture hero, because of Arthur's traditional relation with agriculture, which most culture heroes, like Osiris, have taught their people (ib., pp. 41-3).

P. 310

of...their less developed brethren of our own race; and a belief of the same character existed among the Egyptians and other peoples of the Old World, including the Celts. It will be further shown, in our study of the Celtic Doctrine of Re-birth, that anciently among the Gaels and Brythons such heroes as Cuchulainn and Arthur were also considered reincarnate sun-divinities. As a being related to the sun, as a sun-god, Arthur is like Osiris, the Great Being, who with his brotherhood of great heroes and god-companions enters daily the underworld or Hades to battle against the demons and forces of evil,1 even as the Tuatha De Danann battled against the Fomors. And the most important things in the traditions of the great Brythonic hero connect him directly with this strange world of subjectivity. First of all, his own father, Uthr Bendragon,2 was a king of Hades, in that Arthur himself, being his child, is a direct descendant of this Otherworld. Second, the Arthurian Legend traces the origin of the Round Table back to Arthur's father, Hades being 'the realm whence all culture was fabled to have been derived'.3 Third the name of Arthur's wife, Gwenhwyvar, resolves itself into White Phantom of White Apparition, in harmony with Arthur's line of descent from the region of phantoms and apparitions of fairy-folk.

1 Cf. G. Maspero, Contes populaires de l'Égypte Ancienne3 (Paris, 1906)
2 Sommer's Malory's Morte D'Arthur, iii. I
3Rhys, Studies in the Arthurian Legend, P. 9.

Evans-Wentz, W. Y., The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, (Henry Frowde: London, 1911), Dover Publications: Mineola, 2002.

Arthur and Osiris, two culture heroes and sun-gods, as we suggested at first, are strikingly parallel. Osiris came from the Otherworld to this one, became the first divine Ruler and Culture Hero of Egypt, and then returned to the Otherworld, where he is now a king. Arthur's father was a ruler in the Otherworld, and Arthur evidently came from there to be the Supreme Champion of the Brythons, and then returned to that realm whence he took his origin, a realm which poets called Avalon. The passing of Arthur seems mystically to represent the sunset over the Western Ocean: Arthur disappears beneath the horizon into the Lower World which is also the Halls of Osiris, wherein Osiris journeys between sunset and sunrise, between death and re-birth. Merlin found the infant Arthur floating on the waves: the sun rising across the waters is this birth of Arthur, the birth of Osiris.

Evans-Wentz, W. Y., The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Country ies, (Henry Frowde: London, 1911), Dover Publications: Mineola, 2002, pp. 320-1.

P. 380


As a non-Celtic parallel to what has preceded concerning the Otherworld of the Celts and their Doctrine of Re-birth, we offer the second of the Stories of the High-priests of Memphis, as published by Mr. F. l. Griffith from ancient manuscripts.4 It is a history of Si-Osiri (the son of Osiris), whose father was Setme Khamuas. This wonderful divine son when still a child took his human father on a journey to see Amenti, the Otherworld of the Dead; and when twelve years of age he was wiser than the wisest of the scribes and unequalled in magic. At this period in his life there arrived in Egupt and Ethiopian Magician who came with the...object

4 f. L. Griffith, Stories of the High-priests of Memphis (Oxford, 1909) c. iii. The text of this story is written onthe back of two Greek documents bearing the date of the seventh year of the Emperor Claudius (A. D. 46-7), not before published.

P. 381

the...object of humbling the kingdom; but Si-Osiri read what was in the unopened letter of the stranger, and knew that its bearer was the reincarnation of 'Hor the son of the Negress', the most formidable of the three Ethiopian magicians who fifteen hundred years before had waged war with the magicians of Egypt. At that time the Egyptian Hor, the son of Pa-neshe, had defeated the great magician of Ethiopia in the final struggle between White and Black Magic which took place in the prescence of the Pharoah.1 And 'Hor the son of the Negress' had agreed not to return to Egypt again for fifteen hundred years. But now the time was elapsed, and, unmasking the character of the messenger, Si-Osiri destroyed him with magical fire. After this, Si-Osiri revealed himself as the reincarnation of Hor the son of Pa-neshe, and declared that Osiris had permitted him to return to earth to destroy the powerful hereditary enemy of Egypt. When the revelation was made, Si-Osiri 'passed away as a shade', going back again, even as the Celtic Arthur, into the realm invisible from which he came.

1 It is interesting to compare with this episode the episodes of how the magic of St. Patrick prevailed over the magic of the Druids when the old and the new religions met in warfare on the Holl of Tara, in the prescence of the high king of Ireland and his court.

Evans-Wentz, W. Y., The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Country ies, (Henry Frowde: London, 1911), Dover Publications: Mineola, 2002.

John Rhys makes Arthur a Culture Hero

The following qotations from John Rhys form the nux of his convoluted argument that justifies using the term 'Culture Hero' to designate Arthur. A Culture Hero was one who was responsible for a great cultural innovation in a society. One that led to his name becoming associated for all time with this innovation. Rhys begins his argument by associating the Irish Cultural Hero Echaid Airem with Arthur through a parallels he perceives in their wives. He describes how Echaid gained the epiphet Airem for an agricultural innovation that he introduced into Ireland. He follows with a tortuous section that connects the name 'Arthur' with the act of ploughing. Then he cites an inscription to 'Mercurius Artaius', which he interprets as assigning the role of a Cultural Hero, connected with agriculture, to Mercury. Then he asserts that this Mercury was identical with the mythological Arthur; when viewed as a Cultural Hero. He finally justifies this proposal that Arthur was a Culture Hero concerned with agriculture by citing examples from the tale of Kulhwch and Olwen in which Arthur accomplishes some agricultural tasks. It is this thinking that lies behind W. Y. Evans-Wentz assertion that Arthur was a Culture Hero who can be compared with Osiris: he who taught the Egyptians how to cultivate.

pp. 27-8

After introducing himself, Mider asked the king to play chess with him; but he would have been no nearer his object, except by playing for stakes to be fixed by the winner at the end of the game. This was right royally agreed to, and Mider was beaten; the king named as the price of his victory that Mider and his fairies should, besides making a considerable payment, do four things for him, which were, to construct a causeway across Móin Láimbraide or Láimbraid's Bog, to clear Meath of stones, to cover the district of Tethba with rushes, and that of Darbrech with trees1. By observing the fairies at their laborious work of making the causeway, Airem learned to yoke his oxen at the neck and shoulder; for hitherto the men of Erinn had been in the habit of making their cattle draw by their heads and forheads. this we are told, was the reason why the king received the surname of Airem

1 See the Bk. of the Dun, 132a, but compare the Bk. of Leinster, 163b; in both instances we refer to the Royal Irish Academy's facsimiles.

P. 34-5

Now though Airem is usually explained to mean a ploughman, it will be seen to fail to fit the story about the origin of the proper name. For it not said that ploughing was learned in his time from the fairies, nor does any ploughing appear to be included in the labours imposed upon them by Airem. What the story relates is, that he saw how the fairies yoked their cattle and that he followed their example in a way which was, till then, unknown to the men of Erinn. So the inference is, that, by applying to him on that account the epiphet Airem, it was not so much intended to call him a ploughman as one who yokes or harnesses his team: in other words, the later and attested meaning of Airem as that of ploughman is too narrow for the requirements of the story, and we may accordingly distinguish two meanings of the word, (1) the later and narrower meaning of ploughman, and (2) the earlier meaning of harnesser or binder, which probably included the other more restricted signification. Nay, it is possible that the original meaning was still wider, but we need not now discuss it any further.
Returning to the Arthurian legend, the reader need scarcely be told that the story of Arthur's queen seized by Medrod, or eloping with Melwas after he had lain in wait for her a whole year, has its parallel in that of Mider searching for a year for Airem's queen Etain, and finally carrying her away to his own abode. Provided due allowance is made for the difference between the social settings of the respective stories, the similarity becomes more unmistakable the more it is scanned. For even the avatars of Etain have something which can be set over against them in the Welsh Triads, a something which can only be understood by means of them. We allude more especially to the fact that one of the Triads1 speaks of Arthur as the husband not of one wife called Gwenhwyvar, but of three wives bearing each the one and the same name. This has sometims been regarded as too absurd to deserve serious consideration; but in light of Etain's story it is readily seen to have a meaning. The three Gwenhwyvars are the Welsh equivalents of the three Etains*, and the article in the Triads must be admitted to bear the stamp of great antiqity; for no Arthurian storytelly, whether Welsh or Norman, ever avails himself of the three Gwenhwyvars. The reason is evident: the three would have spoiled his plot and reduced the human interest in it far more than threefold, at any rate in the state of society in which the Arthurian myth developed itself into romance. So we are forced to refer the basis of the Triad to a far earlier age.

1 i. 59; ii. 16; iii. 109.

* Rhys is here alluding to the three successive successive existences of Etain... 'we find her first in the possession of Mider, king of the fairies and the other world. From him she was separated by a rival of hers, and we find her next in the Mac Oc's glass bower as the consort of that divinity, from whom she was severed by the wiles of the same rival. She was now blown, in the form of a fly, hither and thither over Erinn for the space of seven years in great misery and wretchedness, until at length she alighted on a beam in the roof of a house in Ulster where there happened to be an ale banquet going on. She fell at last into the golden goblet that stood by the wife of Etar, and she was swallowed unawares with the drink. In due time she was born the daughter of Etar's queen, and they called her Etain daughter of Etar' (Rhys, P. 29-30).


It is deserving of notice that all these verbs (meaning to plough), Greek, Latin, Teutonic and Celtic, are derivitive ones; but if Latin, for instance, had instead of arare a strong verb arere, a ploughman would in that case have been not arator but artor, and that is just what we have in the name Arthur, as representing an early Celtic equivalent artor, genitive artoros, which in the later stages of the language could not avoid being reduced to Arthur. There is no phonological difficulty; but was there ever such a word as artor if this origin? There certainly was in the Litu-Slavic languages, as its exact eqivalent appears in Lithuanian in the form artojis, 'a ploughman,' Old Prussian artoys, 'a husbandman,' Old Bulgarian rataj, Bohemian ratey, of the same meaning. With these words are connected Lith. arklys, 'a horse,' arklas, 'a plough,' which is closely related to Bohemian radlo, 'a plough,' Old Bulg. ralo and oralo, likewise 'a plough,' Old Norse arddrs, gen. arddrs, 'a plough.' Add to this the O. H. German arl, 'a ploughshare,' as closely akin. In all these last words, together with Lith. arti, 'to plough,' and arta-s, ploughed1, the root ar is found with terminations affixed without an intervening vowel; but no Celtic word is included, though such an instance is not altogether wanting__we allude to the Gaulish goddess called Artio2, whom one may compare, at least in name, with the English Earth and the old Germanic Ertha3. Still more to the point is the Gaulish epiphet of the god called in Latin Mercurius Artaius, who may more intelligibly described in Latin as Mercurius Cultor, mentioned

1See Johannes Schmidt in Kuhn's Zeitschrift, xxv, 27-9; and Schmidt's Vocalismus, ii, 145; see also Brugmann's Grundriss der vergl. Grammatik, ii, 115, 201, on the formation of the wordsràdlo, ralo, &c.
2 Hib. Lec. p. 73.
3 There is some difficulty about the reading of the passage in the Germania of Tacitus, c. 40. Becker prints 'nisi quod in commune Herthum, id est terram matrem, colunt,' while Ritter differs in giving the proper name the form Ertham; but Holder ventures in print thus__'nisi quod Mammun Ertha id est Terram Matrem, colunt,' the... italicized a is Hodder's.

P. 40 inscription from Heilbron 1. This is something more than a mere matter of etymology, for it is a Mercury and Culture hero that we have all along taken the mythological Arthur to have been; at the same time it raises the question as to the exact meaning of the name Arthur. On the whole, we should probably not be far wrong in regarding it as coinciding in this respect with the Irish Airem, taken in its wider sense of one who binds or harnesses. But in what way, it may be asked, can Arthur have been connected with agriculture? It is hardly to be expected that a great monarch would be decribed engaging himself in the common-place operations of farming; one will, however, remember how the Irish story of Echaid describes the latter acquiring the surname Airem. He is not represented doing any agricultural work himself, but only compelling the fairies to undertake work for him, and learning from them how to yoke his oxen in a way never till then practiced by the Men of Erinn. The Welsh counterpart is to be found in the story of Kulhwch, who asks a boon of Arthur, which involves the latter's having to see the execution of the labours insisted upon by Yspyddaden2 before he lets his daughter Olwen become Kulhwch's wife. One of the labours was to find the prison of the sun-god Mabon, and release him to take part in the fabulous hunt of the boar called Twrch Trwyth: but precedence over it given to another labour, which in fact takes the position of importance at the head of the list, and it is of an agricultural nature, as will be seen from the following extracts:__
"Seest thou that vast hill yonder? said Yspyddaden to Kulhwch . . . .

1 Brambrach's Corpus Insc. Rhenanarum, No. 1591
2Hib. Lec. pp. 486-92.

P. 42

"I must have it rooted up from the ground, and the grubbings burned for manure on the face of the land: I must have it ploughed and sown in one day, and have it ripen in the space of one day. Of that wheat it is that I must have food and liquor duly made for the wedding of thee and my daughter . . . .
"No husbandman can till or dress that land on account of its tangled state except Amaethon son of Dôn: he will not follow thee of his own free will, and thou canst not force him . . . .
"Though thou wert to get that, there is yet that which thou wilt not get, and that is Govannon son of Dôn to attend the furrows' ends to rid the iron: he only works of his own will for a rightful king, and thou canst not force him . . . .
"Though thou shouldst get that, there is that which thou wilt not get, namely the two oxen of Gwlwlyd Wineu as fellow feeders, to plough that rugged land there well: he will not give them of his free will, and thou canst not force him . . . .
"The Yellow Ox of Spring and the Brindled Ox I must have as fellow-feeders . . . .
"Though thou wert to get them, there is yet that which thou wilt not get, namely, the Bannawc Oxen, of which the one is on the further side of Bannawc Mountain and the other on this side, to be yoked together to the same plough. They are, to wit, Nynniaw and Pelibbiaw, whom God made into oxen on account of their sins1."
Kulhwch acting like Jason, on the advice of her he loves, undertakes to have all the difficulties laid in his way duly removed; but in harmony with the usual Celtic treatment, the Celtic Jason performs his tasks by...deputy

1 R. B. Mab. pp. 120-2; Guest, ii. 280-2.

P. 43

by...deputy, and that deputy is chiefly his uncle Arthur. So to each of Ysyddaden's demands Kulhwch replies that he will readily meet it, and the whole plot depends on Arthur getting for him, by force or friendship, all that Yspyddaden specifies, involving, besides the ploughing in question, other processes of husbandry, such as harvesting a crop of flax under peculiar circumstances, making incomparable bragget for the wedding, and procuring proper vessels to hold it uninjured. It would be tedious to describe these matters severally: suffice it to say that, as compared with the Irish tale about Airem, Arthur's connection with agriculture is more abundantly set forth in this story, excepting only that the storyteller does not pause to say, 'and therefore was he called Arthur.

Rhys, J., Studies in the Arthurian Legend, Oxford, 1901.

Quotations from Lewis Spence

And there is sufficient evidence that the religious ideas and mystical ideas of the earlier Iberian peoples triumphed, completely dominating in the end those of the Central European new-comers, and giving for all time a peculiarly "Iberian" aspect to British religious an mystical thought. Britain was, indeed, destined to remain Iberian in a religious sense long after the Iberian Cult of the Dead had vanished in its own original milieu. Once introduced, this Iberian form appears to have taken a powerful hold on the imagination of the native stock and its successors, and even the later Celtic invaders seem to have adapted its basic principles and to have grafted their mythology upon it. This then it was which rendered British mystical thought unique in Europe, and caused it to be looked upon by the peoples of the Continent at the beginning of the Christian era as the exemplar and prototype of the ancient faith of the West.
Controversy rages on the priority of civilization in East and West. Those who maintain the more venerable character of Eastern civilization regard the Iberian culture of Spain as a reflection of that of the Eastern Mediterranean, or, at least, a carrier of its benefits to more northern lands. But the bare fact that the megalithic or rough stone monuments of Spain exhibit exactly similar, if more conventualized, paintings to those of the more ancient Capsian culture which came from North-West Africa, should give the protagonists of Eastern civilization considerable pause. It is precisely the great centres of megalithic architecture in Europe which have obviously the closest affiliation with survivals from the Old Stone Age of the West, an age pre-dating anything that the Nile or Mesopotamia have to show.
Even the Old Stone Age in Spain and France was not only demonstrably native to the West and more ancient than the cultures of the East, but it assuredly exhibits the earliest known germs of the great Cult of the Dead. Late Aurignacian burials display the first steps in the development of mummification at a period of at least 14000 years B.C. The flesh was removed from the bones and these were painted red, the colour of life. "The dead man was to live agian in his own body, of which the bones were the framework," says Professor Macalister. "To paint it with the colour of life was the nearest thing to mummification that the Paleolithic people knew; it was an attempt to make the body again serviceable for its owners use." Microscopic examination has proved that the bones so treated were in several cases wrapped around by skins, the first crude prototype of mummy-swathing. The simple fact is that Egypt has nothing so ancient to showing the way of early efforts of embalming.

Spence, L., The Mysteries of Britain,: Secret Rites and Traditions of Ancient Britain, Senate, 1994, pp. 27-29.

__the thesis that both West and East drew the idea of the Cult of the Dead from a common source, a North African source. My own belief is that this great and ancient cult, dating from late Palæolithic times, spread from some centre in North-West Africa to Egypt on the one hand, and to Spain, Gaul, and eventually to Britain on the other. That it had already begun to develop in Spain in late Aurignacian times we have seen, and that it invaded Britain through "Spanish" influence about 2000 B.C., and Egypt about the First Dynasty, is also clear. My contention is that it was this very ancient cult which brought to Britain the elements of that faith which later took shape as Druidism, a religion which came to have an especial hold and sanction in our island, and which was, indeed, the root and beginning of British mysticism. Britain, we know from Cæsar, was regarded as the official home of Druidism. Let us see precisely what evidence we possess of the North-West African origin of the Cult of the Dead.
Mummification, the preservation of the human body after death in order that it might once more be revivified by the return of the spirit, seems to have arisen in Egypt out of the Cult of Osiris, god of the dead and the Underworld. Osiris does not make his appearance in Egypt before the period of the first Dynasty, or about 3400 B.C., when a centre of his worship was found at Abydos. the so-called Book of the Dead, or early fragments of it, are known to have been in use in Egypt early in the Osirian era.
Now the Book of the Dead is obviously, in its earlier fragments, the written expression of a much older ritual dating from prehistoric times, and digested into writing in early dynastic or late pre-Dynastic times. It is also the book of Osiris and the Osirian cult. Dr. Budge says of Osiris "his home and origin wee possibly Libyan, that is, he came from the West."
Sanconiathon, the Carthaginian writer, tells us that the cult of the Cabiri, a mysterious religion, originated in North-West Africa, and was delivered among others "to the Egyptian Osiris." The Cabiri are said by Sanconiathon to have been the inventors of boats, of the arts of fishing, building and agriculture, writing and medicine. There is little doubt, indeed, that they were the old civilized race of the West, whom we have seen penetrating to British shores in their dug-out canoes. If Osiris was one of its apostles, then the religion of the Cabiri was merely the Cult of the Dead, as Sanconiathon asserts. Cicero calls the Cabiri the "Sons of Prosperine," goddess of the Underworld, which is to say as much. Dionysus of Halicarnassus, Macrobius, Varro, and others, regarded the Cabiri as the Penates of the Romans, that is the dead presiding as household familiars, and Vossius thought them the ministers of the gods who were deified after their death. Strabo regarded them as the ministers of Hecate, and Bochart recognized them as "infernal deities".1
This Cabirian cult, then, hailing from North-West Africa, is evidently nothing but a dim survival or memorial of the ancient civilized race of that region, which made its way into Spain, and after undergoing many phases there from Palæolithic to Neolithic times, gardually found its way, or sent its doctrine of the Cult of the Dead, to Egypt on the one hand and to Britain on the other. This theory explains in a word all the notions of Egyptian influence in Britain, and the many apparent resemblances between Egyptian and British mysticism and folk-belief.
But it may be said, and with some justice, that all this is scarcely of the nature of evidence. Who, after all, wa Sanconiathon, someone may ask, the problematical Carthaginian model of a late Roman writer? It has, however, been proved long ago that Sanconiathon's account was in all probability genuine enough. Still, let us get on firmer footing. We have it on the soundest authority that more than one race of African origin invaded or crossed over to Europe in Palæolithic and Neolithic times. Great theories, indeed, stand or fall by this assertion, and tey are backed by sturdy proofs enow. The Capsian Culture, which came to Europe as we have seen, emanated from North-West Africa; it is indeed, named after Capsa of Gafsa in tunis. The Azilian culture is also indisputably African. "With the Capsian cuture," says Professor Macalister, "must undoubably be associated the Spanish wall-paintings at alpera, Cozul, and elswhere . . . the Capsian flint industry is the parent of the Azilian-Tardenosian." The Azilain culture in its earliest phase is to be found in North-West Africa.

1 See Rich, Occult Sciences, p. 160 ff.

Spence, L., The Mysteries of Britain,: Secret Rites and Traditions of Ancient Britain, Senate, 1994, pp. 30-33.

It is plain that he (Arthur), like Osiris, is the god of a mystical cult who must periodically take a journey through the underworld, not only for the purpose of subduing its evil inhabitants, but of learning their secrets and passwords in order that the souls of the just, the perfected initiates, will be enabled to journey through that plane unharmed. this Osiris did. By his agency, through the spells and passwords given in his books, the dead Osirian, the man of his cult, is franked safely through the gloomy region of Amenti, the Egyptian Annwn, to the golden realm of the divinity, so that he may live for ever.
That Arthur and Osiris are indeed figures originating in a common source must be reasonably clear to the student of myth. Druidism is only the cult of Osiris in another form, and Arthur seems to have a common origin with Auser or Osiris. When Arthur is slain at the battle of Camelon by his treacherous nephew Mordred, he is carried off in a barque by his sister to the mysterious island of Avallach or Avallon, an oversea or underworld locality, "the Place of Apples". There he remains, neither alive nor dead, awaiting the fateful day when Britain shall require his sword
The history of Osiris has many points of resemblance with that of Arthur. When slain by his treacherous brother Set, the body of the Egyptian god was ferried in the sacred barque across the Nile, accompanied by his mourning sisters, Isis and Nephthys, to the region of Aalu in the West, a place of plenteous fruits and grain. There Osiris was suppose to rule as the god of the not-dead, awaiting a glorious resurrection.
Both Arthur and Osiris were associated with the cult of the bull. Osiris, indeed, is referred to as a bull, the Apis bull was merely a form of him, and in the poem of Taliesin (The Spoils of Annwn) quoted previously, the sacred ox is alluded to in connection with Arthur's descent into Annwn.
Horus is probably the resurrected form of Osiris, and his myth bears a close resemblance to that of Arthur. Like that monarch, he gathers round him a company of warriors who devote themselves to the destruction of evil monsters. Horus was typified by the hawk, as Arthur was by the crow, for no Englishman in olden times would kill a crow lest it held the hero's spirit. The name of Arthur's nephew Gwalchmei also means "hawk".
It will be thus seen that the points of resemblance between Arthur and Osiris are neither few nor unimportant, and that their myths appear to have arisen from a common source. That Arthur was the god of a mystical cult, one of whose rites was associated with a real or allegorical pasage through a lower plane from which mysterious secrets and treasures might be reft, seems certain enough.

Spence, L., The Mysteries of Britain,: Secret Rites and Traditions of Ancient Britain, Senate, 1994, pp. 127-129.

It will be necessary to say a word regarding Arthur's glass-ship, alluded to in the legend of the descent into Annwn. this vessel has been construed by various authorities as a diving-bell, and so forth, and has been equated with the boat of glass in Irish myth in which Condla the Red was spirited away to the Land of the Everliving by a fairy princess. But I think it is obvious that the vessel has more a spiritual than a material significance, that, indeed, it more nearly resembles the ship of the Egyptian Osiris, which was supposed to navigate the dark waters of Amenti, the Egyptian Underworld. The two myths are, indeed, one, and obviously emanate froma common source. This craft is, indeed, the ship of souls, just as is the barque of Osiris, and in this this connection we may recall the myth cited by the late Greek writer Procopius . . . . in which he describes the passage of the dead souls by ship to the shores of Britain. This proves that a very ancient myth actually existed relative to the bearing of the souls of the departed into the land of darkness by means of a magical vessel. This magical vessel was, indeed the vehicle by which the astral shape was transported into its appropriate plane, and, in the case of Arthur and his comrades, it was obviously able to transport also the astral shapes of the living to an extra-terrestrial sphere. What was the nature of this vessel?
That this ship had a solar significance we may be pretty certain. the similar Egyptian barque which plumbed the depths of Amenti was certainly of solar origin, and its symbolical significance seems to be that of light invading darkness, the ship of the Sun god penetrating the gloom of the world of Death or non-being.

Spence, L., The Mysteries of Britain,: Secret Rites and Traditions of Ancient Britain, Senate, 1994, pp. 156-7.

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