Ghost In The Mirror

Can we see ghosts in mirrors?

Seeing ghostly images in the mirror is a form of scrying. I’ll get into that shortly…

But let’s begin by agreeing that mirrors are, of course, portals to other dimensions.

Just ponder the rationality of that simple statement for a moment. When you look into a mirror, you don’t see yourself. Not really. You merely see a mirrored version of yourself. The tint, texture, and contour of the glass will slightly modify or manipulate the mirrored version that you observe. Therefore it’s not you. It’s a version of you. Remember this when checking your face in the morning!

Snow White Evil Queen Complex

What’s more (and this is even more difficult to understand, so take a breath): the person in the mirror is not the same person that everyone else sees. Not only is the person in the mirror not you (because it’s a modified version) but it’s not even the “you” everyone else sees! Others see a presented image of yourself. The mirror provides a reflected image of yourself. In short, if you really want to examine your “true self” ditch the mirror and don’t worry about what people think or say; instead look deep into your inner being. Right, that’s the Snow White “evil queen complex” dealt with — but it’s drifting away from the main point… so let’s get back on track —

It is important to stipulate that I am not suggesting (at this stage) that anything supernatural is going on when we look into mirrors. But on the other hand, I also think we should properly appreciate how genuinely weird a mirrored surface is. We take shiny surfaces for granted, probably because we’re staring at them for much of the day. Shiny surfaces have a magical authority over us… and even an absolute control over our existence in certain cases. If you don’t believe me, try taking someone’s phone away or denying them a television screen.

Ghost in the Mirror

But back to common-or-garden mirrors, I think it’s because the symmetrical reality of the “mirror world” we experience (I call it the symmetrylity) seems so compelling and perceptive that we don’t recognize the deep and intrinsic flaws in our thinking. We honestly believe that the mirror world is real. However, it is not. It is another dimension. For example, how strange is it that when two people look into a mirror at the same time, they see different images on the same surface! And when a person looks at himself in a mirror, what he really sees is the front and back reversed! You need to be a mathematics teacher if you want to explain the inter-dimensional aspect of mirrors.

Although we might expect a “standard” mirror (perhaps the mirror in the hall) to behave in a rational way, and to always provide an accurate representation of the world around us (albeit in reverse) it’s not true. It won’t! When a glassy surface is not held completely flat then it will behave like a lens and will distort (magnify) what we see. And a mirror that is tilted even moderately (maybe not flat against a wall) will give seemingly realistic results, but it will skew images. While a mirror that curves even insignificantly will, nonetheless, reduce larger images.

Can't Look At Myself

If you add these factors to the strange ability that mirrors possess (they allow us to “see behind ourselves” without turning around, which is one of the most useful benefits of reflective surfaces, but it’s also a bit like looking into the past) — when all these attributes are put together you can guess why some folks claim to see visions in mirrored surfaces. And it’s why humankind, since prehistoric times, has used reflective surfaces to attempt to perceive future events or “see” outside the perspective space & time they found themselves somewhat limited by.

Halloween Mirror

Mirrored surfaces, such as the still dark waters of a sacred pool, or the waters glimpsed in a baptismal font, or polished stones & jewels, or very shiny goblets, or glass spheres, have been used since prehistoric times — for clairvoyance (seeing into future), augury (interpreting omens), and divination (the gift of prophecy). When a reflective surface is used for these paranormal activities, it is called scrying.

Concentrating on the medium of exploration (the reflective surface) is said to help scrying practitioners “focus attention” and “free their mind” in much the same way that a guru might meditate or a priest might be prayerful before a religious service. Maybe it’s a kind of self-hypnosis. After this approach, a scryer might report “seeing” images in a reflective surface. Some scryers even report hearing voices. The famous French seer of the 16th century, Nostradamus, practiced scrying before making his famous predictions; he’d stare into a bowl of water or use a “magic mirror” to see the future world while in a trance. Mirrors seem to lift the veil between what we consider our physical realm and a glimpsed spiritual realm. And it is true that ancient civilizations (such as the Mayans) thought mirrors functioned as two-way portals between humanity and gods.

nostradamus

To understand how mirrors might act as portals, we need to recognise that luminescent surfaces are regarded by some as representations of liminal space and can therefore be thresholds between natural and spiritual realms. To learn more about the fascinating topic of liminality, you’ll need to listen to episodes 13, then episode 40, and episode 51 of my Myth & Magic podcast. I also cover the subject of liminality in depth, in my non-fiction writer’s manual “So You Want To Write Fantasy?” But I think it’s interesting to note that people tend to approach mirrors to ask important questions about their existence and future opportunities at liminal moments in their life (at any thresholds they might encounter.) For example, on a wedding night, getting ready for a funeral, before a big presentation at work or in the dark waters of a font at the moment of baptism. (Note: a child younger than 18 months cannot “see” a reflected image, but what do the godparents see?)

Through the Looking Glass

In literature (especially in fantasy fiction) there is a tradition of using mirrors to combine thoughts on mythology and cosmology and to describe a method of visiting multiple worlds that are typically outside a character’s limitations. I am sure you can think of a hundred examples. A mirror is a useful device because it allows the protagonist to wander (in mind and spirit) without having to leave a prosaic existence. Sometimes there is even the suggestion of a physical trip to an “otherworld”. Thus, Alice reflects on what it must be like to live on the other side of a mirror’s reflective surface, so she chooses to travel “Through the Looking-Glass” in Lewis Carroll’s much-loved tale. Alice discovers an alternate dimension in which everything is reversed, including logic (so, for example, running takes you nowhere, walking away from something returns you to it). She finds that her mirror world is divided into sections by streams (reflective surfaces too) suggesting there are a myriad more dimensions to choose from. Harry Potter comes across a “mirror of desire” perhaps that he might be tempted to use to turn back time (a mirror of Erised) or that can be used as a scrying tool to see his (dead) parents.

The Crystal Ball John William Waterhouse 1902

So, returning to the central question, can ghosts be seen in mirrors? Some people, notably those who are prone to such things, are almost certain to “see” puzzling images in reflected surfaces. Some reported sightings might be because of sensory deprivation (the darkness of the pool or the glow of the chalice), or skewed images that might prove unreliable because of a less than perfect surface. We must also take the mental state of the seer into account (is she at a threshold in life? Is it a time of stress and change?) And the health and mindfulness of the seer must be examined, plus their use of recreational, religious / mystical substances, medicines or intoxicants, and the seer’s lack of sleep, and a host of other factors.

There is probably a lot of pareidolia going on too. Pareidolia is the disposition of all observers to see recognizable objects, patterns — and even messages — in totally disconnected presentations. So, for example, we all see faces in everyday objects. How often have you looked at an electrical socket and thought it seemed to be a smiling face looking back? We all see visions in clouds. And we all see spooky humanoids in reflections. Pareidolia is not some kind of psychosis: it is a normal human tendency. And it explains many curious things.

pareidolia

We must also consider the subjective nature of experience: sometimes we too easily forget that we perceive our environments in a completely different way from those around us. The “seen and understood” universe that we experience differs entirely from the “seen and understood” universe that everyone else experiences. This is due to our sensory perceptions being unique to us. They say that each of us has a unique pattern: but we ought to remember that each of us also experiences a uniquely different world — and although our worlds overlap and seem to have many things in common with each other — each world is experienced in a totally different way. So anyone, at any point in their life, might experience what psychologists will call a benign hallucination on a mirrored surface. It is likely to happen to all of us!

Yes, ghosts are seen in mirrors. And that’s perhaps the least disconcerting aspect of reflective surfaces!

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Agree? Disagree? Ideas or comments? Tweet me @neilmach

Words: @neilmach 2021 ©

Neil Mach is the author of “So You Want to Write Fantasy?” and host of the Myth & Magic fantasy writer’s podcast.

5 Ways to Prove a Paranormal Experience Was Plausible

Or: the pragmatic approach to paranormal verification

What may appear to be a puzzling supernatural experience / manifestation to one witness may have an entirely rational & scientific explanation to a better informed researcher. It is imperative that we rule-out any obvious explanation for unexplained phenomena before drawing conclusions.

Most of us know that bumps, creaks and all kinds of strange noises and sensations (the so-called bumps-in-the-night) can be readily attributed to drying building beams, expanding floorboards, bats in the attic, mice behind the plaster, breezes through vents, etc. Anyone who has encountered the hiss of a barn owl when agitated (they like to hang out in old lofts, church-yards and ruins) will attest to this. It’s the most chilling and macabre sound you can possibly imagine (check the video at the foot of the page.) We might place these explanations under one broad heading: “environmental and biological.”

ghost in the mirror

But less is known about the following rational explanations for “paranormal” encounters — and these should also be taken into account when we review and examine someone’s testimony:

No.1

The Frequency of Fear

Below the range of human hearing, infrasound will cause strange sensations in some people. Humans will not naturally hear sound below 20 Hertz, but some people unconsciously respond to these lower frequencies. It has been scientifically proven that feelings of fear or dread can accompany low frequency vibrations

Remedy: Eliminate any sound waves below or around 19 Hertz (fans, heaters, pumps, etc.)

No.2

Unusual Electromagnetic Fields

In many ghost hunting activities electromagnetic field (EMF) meters are played with, but without proper explanation. It ought to be remembered that these gauges are typically used to diagnose electrical problems with domestic wiring etc. According to a reliable neuroscientific study, magnetic stimulation (even weak fields) can produce what some witnesses describe as “an inexplicable presence” in a room. If the Earth’s geomagnetic field needs to be checked, a gauss meter (magnetometer) will be required.

Remedy: rule out all electromagnetic fields, use an EMF meter to check that none are present

No.3

Toxic Hallucination

If it can be convincingly proven that drugs, narcotics, intoxicants, or any other substance had not influenced the witness prior to their encounter, it is still possible that carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and / or pesticides were present. Carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, and also some pesticides, cause symptoms of panic, paranoia and loss of consciousness (also, hallucination)

Remedy: Check the area with a multi-gas meter for flammable gases, CH4 / CO / O2 and H2S, and also use a formaldehyde detector, to establish an absence of toxic gases

haunting

No. 4

Sleep Paralysis

It is well known that sleep paralysis causes subjects to hallucinate (they hear, feel or see things that are not there) — so it must be clearly established that the witness did not fall asleep during their encounter. It is known that previous poor sleep patterns can trigger this condition, and also psychological stress, or abnormal sleep cycles, so we should rule these conditions out before further investigation. The use of commonly obtained antidepressants is also the cause of sleep paralysis.

Remedy: rule out all triggers and ensure the witness uses a device to monitor blood oxygen levels, heart rate, body position, body movements, intensity of snoring (a diagnostic PSG device) in future tests. This will help to detect and track sleep

No. 5.

The Ghost Train Principle

Studies show that participants who “expected” to be thrilled at some kind of event (because they visited a supposedly “haunted” place, for example, or they voluntarily took part in a game where certain results were expected —a séance or a ghost hunt, perhaps) will experience the same sense of excitement and gratification as all the other participants, even though nothing tangible actually “scared” them or even made them nervous.

We see this disposition in common-or-garden fairground attractions: even taking a mediocre and unsatisfying ride on a “Ghost Train” ride will provoke shrieks and squeals in us as well as our friends, even though we are not scared at all! Humans like to be scared, and it’s more more fun to be scared when we’re with other thrill seekers; we enjoy sharing the tingle & excitement of spooky times. This way, people will be exposed to social influence (friends in a group will be delighted with the possibility of something supernatural happening, while the more pragmatic tend to go along with things, maybe because they don’t want to let folks down… in fact they want to please them) — this is when a witness may become susceptible to deception (of self and others). This phenomena is known as: suggestion through positive social influence. After all, what’s worse than a naysayer or spoilsport at a Halloween party? Nobody wants to be dubbed a party pooper or a buzzkiller… right? Even the most ambivalent and sober person will want to “go along” for the ride.

Remedy: rule out positive social influence by limiting the number of witnesses. If there’s a requirement to have more than one witness at an event, each witness must be unknown to any other (all must be strangers) and this fact must be established beforehand, and be beyond any doubt. Witnesses must not come to an event with any pre-conceived notions. For example, they must not think it’s a séance.

Tips, ideas or comments? Tweet me @neilmach

Neil Mach is author of “So You Want to Write Fantasy?” and host of the Myth & Magic fantasy writer’s podcast.

How to give a great podcast interview

Here at Myth & Magic we create a weekly podcast specially developed for fantasy authors and fans of fantasy fiction, and we would like you to join us!

Yes, we welcome writers, artists, poets, bloggers, journalists, illustrators, short story contributors, or any creative person who splashes about in the crazy world of fantasy fiction to join the fun. What’s your story?

Come and do a podcast with us!

No matter if you are a newcomer, an enthusiastic amateur, or a best-selling master novelist, we would like to hear your experiences, anecdotes, ideas, and best practices. Our interviewer is a professional journalist and is eager to take your call and have an pleasant conversation. And this will be a great time to talk about your latest project, reveal your new book, or promote your recent activities.

If this is the first time you have done a a radio-type interview, don’t worry, you are in accomplished and sympathetic hands. Neil is a welcoming and hospitable listener. He will make things very easy for you, so you can deliver a clear and effective message to our many listeners.

Your list of questions will be sent in advance and you will choose the date and time of your conversation, so your podcasting experience will be stress free.

Here are some tips for giving a good podcast interview:

  • find a quiet place in your home and tell everyone you will need silence for 30 minutes
  • turn off noisy machinery, washing machines, electric fans, air conditioning, telephones, alarms
  • have a bottle or mug of water nearby to wash your mouth regularly and keep hydrated
  • your topic is “you” a subject you know well, so smile and be unhurried, this is easy-street
  • you can put oomph and dazzle into a jaded voice by smiling and using hand gestures
  • but if you use hand gestures, try not to hit the table or thump things
  • your answers must be expressed in words, uh-huhs or nods cannot be seen on the show
  • if your day is not going well, ask to postpone or delay the interview till a later time
  • the podcaster will adapt to your needs and solve your concerns, just ask
  • it is normal to be a little nervous, but do not dread it, it is purely a chat
  • the Myth & Magic show host will send questions ahead of time, so you can prepare your answers
  • there will not be any sneaky questions, the podcaster will not try to “catch you out”
  • there will be no unpredictable questions either, it’s just a congenial chat
  • sometimes an answer comes out “wonky” so, if you’d like another run at it, just ask
  • bloopers, gaffs and errors can be edited-out, so if you think you made one, just say so
  • if the podcaster has not asked a question you are eager to discuss, just tell him
  • the podcaster will ask about your new book, so be prepared to plug away!
  • the listeners will want to know where they can get your book, so be prepared to share quick links
  • an interview takes energy, so you will be zapped (albeit in high spirits) right after. We advise you to factor in a little rest-time
  • the interview format is light and easy, to help you relaa-aax
  • prepare for an abrupt start, the podcaster will most likely go “right into it”
  • your first question will be a workaday enquiry — how is the weather? What are you doing?
  • We recommend you use Skype or Duo (or another video link) so you can look the interviewer in the eye and chat happily. Don’t worry, the video image is not shared (only the sound)
  • if you’re new to skyping, don’t worry, the interviewer will be kind and patient
  • Find within yourself answers that might:
    a) expose a little of your inner being
    b) express a creed or philosophy that you appreciate
  • your interview will be produced, so mistakes, bloops and smudges will be engineered out, although your answers will be left intact (unless you asked the interviewer to skip them)
  • If you have questions, misgivings or second thoughts about an answer you gave, contact the podcaster as soon as possible and explain your concerns before the show “goes live”. We will edit any dodgy answers out, if you ask
  • we recommend you share your interview with friends, family, followers on all your social networks

Have a great time! Get involved! Tell your story!

SEND YOUR PITCH HERE: or tweet or DM on Facebook

Come on! Let’s get this done. Contact us today

Check this recent podcast interview on Myth & Magic with Guardians Of The Realm author Amanda Fleet : https://tinyurl.com/y5gfnrlt

About Neil Mach

The busy English novelist Neil Mach writes stories about strong women, independent loners, individualists, and other outsiders whose feats are triggered by loyalties and whose actions are animated by a sense of duty… he lives in Surrey England, with his wife, by the River Thames. He has two grown-up daughters and hosts the Myth & Magic podcast show for fantasy authors

Twenty Things People Hate About Fantasy

I adore fantasy, and let’s be honest, so do you.

Fantasy is the best-selling genre of all time.

But there are people who hate fantasy titles. Yeah, really there are…

So what is it about fantasy that drives people away?

I did a little research into this and I discovered twenty things that fantasy haters don’t like about this most popular of all genres…

What can fantasy authors learn from this list, shared below? Well, maybe they can ration some of the worst stylistic elements and features. Maybe they can listen to the criticisms and make reasonable modifications.

Or, quite the contrary, perhaps they should cram their stories with even more of what those haters hate! After all, they’ll never get it…  but the genuine fans will love those qualities!

Either way, it’s good to know the flip-side of opinion…

20 things people hate about  fantasy

1.      Too little romance or too much romance turns people off. Fantasies seem unable to bring that comforting balance of “just enough” romance
2.      Some think “only children” are instinctively drawn to fantasy worlds, so they have pre-decided that fantasy is “not for adults”
3.      Some people dislike stories that are told without rules or limits
4.      Some find the language (terminology) of fantasy somewhat inaccessible
5.      Some feel fantasy fiction does not focus enough on human experience and individual problems
6.      Some don’t like stories with so many characters to follow
7.      Some dislike prose with so much fussy detail
8.      Some do not have the imagination to immerse themselves in fantastic worlds, it’s just the way their minds are hard-wired
9.      Some do not feel their life requires the escapism that fantasy offers
10.  Some dislike the flowery prose of fantasy

[with thanks to Tom Gaul]

11.  Some dislike the arbitrary power an author extends over character and plot development (i.e. inconsistent rules or ill-conceived magic systems)
12.  Some are unable or unwilling to  “invest” in the span of stories that make up an epic fantasy series… some fantasies tend to go on-and-on
13.  Some  believe fantasy fiction is geared towards the male reader
14.  Skeptics (that’s to say, people who doubt  something is true and useful) say magic is unscientific
15.  The same skeptics say that magic is unrealistic
16.  Worse still, those skeptics say magic is not intellectual or sophisticated enough for them
17.  Recycled tropes are a bore
18.  For some, the sheer size of a single fantasy novel is intimidating (let alone a series of stories)
19.  Fantasy romance is considered unrealistic
20.  Conventional rules of reality can easily be bent or hot-wired by the author; this is seen as short-cutting plot and character development, and so this is “unfair”

Thoughts or comments? Tweet me @neilmach

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Listen to this topic on the Myth & Magic Podcast

Episode 51 on Apple here >>>

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Myth and Magic — Herbarium of Magical Wildflowers

Herbarium of Magical Wildflowers discussed in the weekly Myth and Magic Podcast

Anemone — Episode 28
Belladona — Episode 05
Betony — Episode 26
Blackberry — Episode 08
Bluebell — Episode 29
Bulrush — Episode 09
Chili Pepper — Episode 02
Daffodil — Episode 25
Fat Hen — Episode 04
Henbane — Episode 33
Hops — Episode 11
Horse Chestnut — Episode 10
Mistletoe — Episode 17
Morning Glory — Episode 07
Neeps — Episode 13
Primrose — Episode 27
St John’s Wort — Episode 01
Sunflower — Episode 06
Violet — Episode 30
Wake Robin — Episode 15

ALL Myth & Magic Episodes HERE >>

Myth and Magic EP 16 — Fantasy Writers Kitbag — Episode 16 SHOW-NOTES

Folklore and fantasy themes aimed at creative writers: to start writing stories and challenge your brain with exciting ideas, dip into this kit-bag. Learn how fantasy worlds draw on real world history, mythology, and folklore. And there’s weekly news from the world of fantasy fiction too, plus fabulous creatures, studies on folk tales, nature fables and lots more mythical, magical fun.

CLICK HERE for >>> Episode Sixteen: 25M

This week I visit Dozmary Pool in Cornwall to discover why The Enchantress, Coventina, Vagdavercustis, Ceridwen, Viviane / Nimue and even Saint Brigid of Kildare might all be the same character: Is she the mysterious and ancient being – Lady of the Lake?


My visit to DZAMOR’S POOL in the Duchy of Cornwall. November 2019

Who or what is the LADY OF THE LAKE?

Those of you who enjoyed and have followed the universe portrayed in the story of DC Comics Suicide Squad in particular Amanda Waller’s Squad will be familiar with the complicated character known as ENCHANTRESS. In one account June Moon stumbles across a magical being known as DZAMOR who can be materialized with the word “Enchantress”. But is there such a creature? Is the enchantress based upon any real-world myth and magic?

Earlier last month I traveled to the place where the ENCHANTRESS is said to have lived.
And it’s NOT a castle. It’s a lake.

Yep, she lived in the bottom of a lake! Weird yeah?

Are all these characters one-and-the-same? Lady of the Lake?

Are all these characters one-and-the-same? Lady of the Lake?

First we have to learn about a mystical goddess known as COVENTINA. She’ll help us understand where the enchantress comes from and from there we can attempt to age her.

Coventina was a Romano-British Pagan goddess of wells and springs. She is known from multiple inscriptions at one site in the county of Northumberland, England, an area surrounding a wellspring near Carrawburgh on Hadrian’s Wall.

I have touched upon this area of the UK before because it is a magical region. Nearby is a MITHRAEUM. This is a man-made structure built to resemble a cave and designed to be an “image of the universe” in which a soul descends and exits. The MITHRAEUM was likely used as a place of initiation into the cult of Mithras. So it serves as a temple of the mystery cult to the astrological Roman god Mithras. MITHRA is one of the oldest GODS and is known across religions. In Indo-Iranian culture his name MITRA in Sanskrit means “eye of the light” though it can also mean COVENANT or contract, perhaps alluding to the “contract” that new adherents enter into on initiation into the secret sect.

I’ll go deeper into MITHRAS in another episode but just to say that MITHRAS is an incarnation of Orion, and he is often seen portrayed killing the bull Taurus that is found beside him in the night sky. I might also add that this powerful GOD is often portrayed as a lion-headed man too and may be one of the earliest Hindu deities and very, very ancient indeed. You might be interested to learn, in passing, that MITHRAS was born from the rock on December 25! Curious, huh? It’s only recently been established by a new analysis by scholars that the ancient temple to MITHRAS at this site aligns with the sunrise on December 25 – in other words it aligns with the birth of Christ (the light in the world) on Christmas Day. Without wishing to distress or annoy Christians, it’s worth pointing out that 25th December is the first date following the Winter Solstice (the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun) that the day lengthens (by a minute) and the early Christian church probably co-opted the Mithras and Sol Invictus “Festival of the Rejuvenant Sun” as the birthmark of Christ the Saviour to establish ascendancy over the long-held Pagan beliefs. From an astrological point of view: the Sun is reborn on the 25th December, is then visited by three wandering planets, and becomes surrounded by the 12 constellations of the zodiac As a schoolboy I was taught in Sunday School that the early Christian Church took over the pagan sites, beliefs and important dates to show people that the old gods had no power.

But back to the Northumberland MITHRAEUM. This is probably the only MITHRAEUM where artefacts depicting the Celtic war goddess Vagdavercustis [ VAG DAVER CEWS STIS ] have been found and the only known artefact of Vagdavercustis outside Germany. It was customary for Roman officials in their provinces to honour local gods as a way of maintaining local goodwill… but this seems a stretch, maybe. Because why honour her inside the temple to a mystery cult (where normal folk don’t have access) surely, if they wanted to honour her as part of some diplomatic/political act they’d have done it “out and loud” in a public place? Anyway, not much is known about Vagdavercustis [ VAG DAVER CEWS STIS ] other than she’s associated with trees and forests and is said to be the “protector of war dancers.”

It seems that, at some stage during the Roman Occupation of Britain, a second Mithraeum was built over the earliest part, using materials from the Shrine to the Nymphs. And in around 128-133 AD a new Mithraeum was built, on the remains of the earlier two, dedicated to goddess Coventina. It’s interesting that she shares a place and position with some of the earliest known Gods including a connection with the EYE OF THE LIGHT.

This place of worship became known as Coventina’s Well and CONVENTINA herself is depicted in nymph form – reclining, partially clothed, and associated with water. In the book titled “The Skystone” by Jack Whyte , the author represents Coventina as the LADY OF THE LAKE.

While considering Vagdavercustis at the MITHRAEUM is is also worth touching on the sorceress character mentioned in the Tale of Taliesin, set in Wales, and known as Ceridwen. KER ID WEN was a dawn goddesses and a white fairy, and became a pagan goddess and part of the Celtic [KELTIC] pantheon. She was known to be a shapeshifter (she could turn into a fish or an otter, as well as a bird) and she abided in a castle BENEATH the rather beautifully serene and (perhaps) fathomless Bala Lake, in Wales.

But we know the enchantress known as LADY OF THE LAKE (she has a name, by the way, I’ll come to that in a moment) from the legend associated with King Arthur. This mystical non-human creature plays a pivotal role in many of the Arthurian stories: she gives ARTHUR his sword, she enchants and traps MERLIN and she raises Sir Lancelot. But what do we actually know of her?

The enchantress named Viviane (pronounced VIV-ee-uhn) or Nimue (pronounced neem-OO-ay) also lived in a castle under a lake (like Ceridwen, so might be the same creature). She shares similarities to the dawn goddess and pre-Christain irish Goddess known as Brigid (pronounced BREED or BRIDE) whose birthday “The Day of the Bride” is celebrated as the first day of Spring, 1 February. She is associated with sacred wells and celebrated by modern Pagans along with her male (counterpart) the HORNED GOD. By the way, Saint Brigid of Kildare – the patron saint of ireland and perhaps an abbess or nun – may or may not be the same BRIGID! That’s because the tradition of BRIGID was assimilated and merged by Christians – syncretized into one myth. There is very little historical evidence that a “real” Saint Brigid ever existed (this suggestion is a bit controversial, I know.)

But back to VIVIANE – because she lives and exists in an underwater realm she’s a symbol of mystery and magic. And that’s probably why she inspires poems such as The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott (later an opera by Rossini.) And becomes a main character in The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

But first The Lady of the Lake began to appear in French chivalric romances during the early 13th century. In these romances she aided humans (like a fairy godmother) and helped them fulfill their quests.

Later, in Sir Thomas Malory’s 15th-century definitive Arthurian tales Arthur and Merlin first meet this Lady of the Lake when she holds Excalibur out of the water and offers it to Arthur if he promises to fulfill a request from her later.

There are a number of locations in Great Britain that are traditionally associated with the Lady of the Lake, Bala in Wales (mentioned earlier) being one. The most famous and most recognized is DOZMARY pool. I was lucky enough to visit this place earlier last month. It’s on the remote and wild Bodmin Moor, in the DUCHY of Cornwall, on the South West peninsula of England, and close to JAMAICA INN (a real place and the inspiration for Daphne du Maurier’s 1936 novel and HITCHCOCKS 1939 feature film.)

The POOL is very strange (see the video I took at the top of the page). It’s likely that it hasn’t changed since the last ice-age and is an important ecological site because of this. In legend, it is here that King Arthur rowed out to the Lady of the Lake to receive the sword Excalibur. When King Arthur lay dying after the Battle of Camlan, Sir Bedivere casts the mystical sword back into DOZMARY POOL … to be returned from whence it came.

Llyn Llywenan ( in English: Yew Tree Lake) is a lake in western Anglesey, Wales. Anglesey is an island odd the North West tip of Wales and I’ll probably return to it in another show because it’s home to the druids.

The lake is situated in an area that has been settled since the Stone Age, and right through the Neolithic Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

There are uncommon aquatic plants growing in this silty lake that has a hazy island in the middle. Two neolithic burial mounds sit beside the lake. These probably date from about 3100BC (about the time that the second Scorpion King ruled Upper Egypt and Stonehenge began to be built.)

Finally, I have already mentioned this in an earlier show, but it’s worth repeating: The full French name of the University of Notre Dame, founded in 1842, is Notre Dame du Lac. This is translated as “Our Lady of the Lake.

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CLICK HERE to listen to >>> Episode Sixteen of MYTH & MAGIC 25M

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