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Spring 1997 Part 2

The next day we awoke to an overcast sky but brightness within our souls after our experience in Merlin’s cave. Today, we were going to explore the mystical valley that contained St. Nectan’s Glen and its magical waterfall. Rumored to be the place where King Arthur’s twelve knights were purified and then took their vows to quest for the Holy Grail.

Twelve is a magical number—the number of constellations and months in a solar year. With the twelve knights symbolizing the twelve constellations, King Arthur as the Sun God and Queen Guinevere as the Moon Goddess, we have presented to us a heavenly cosmology mythologically reflected on the earth.

Many myths have common treads. Arthur fought twelve battles as well as having his twelve knights. This may “recall a mystical system of initiation that was once universal. All the different cultures have memories of this, from Hercules and his twelve labours to Odysseus, Samson and the twelve-part Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh. For each, there are twelve trials of the spirit that mark the progress of the adventurer on his quest. In the Celtic world, this twelvefold system was translated into a central heroic figure surrounded by twelve followers. Charlemagne had his twelve peers, King Lot of Orkney ruled over twelve minor kings, King Conchobar of Ulster was supported by twelve of his best warriors, and King Arthur had his twelve knights.”[i]

Arthur’s “twelve battles have a zodiacal significance: the progress of the candidate on his pilgrimage through life reflects the passage of the Sun through the constellations on its annual cycle from birth to death, and rebirth. The actual nature of the trials or battles may vary in different cultures in accordance with the psychological makeup of their people, but they all seem to refer to the evolution of the individualized human consciousness.”[ii]

Once again, as with Tintagel, we were not disappointed with St. Nectan’s Glen. The secretive glen itself had an Otherworldly feeling and aura to it and the waterfall and its location only added to our feelings of mystical power. It was definitely a place of initiation into the mysteries of life and death. Here, “Nature has contrived to create a most unusual waterfall. The river rushes out from a dark hole and cascades for some forty feet into a rocky basin (or kieve in Cornish) that has been sculpted by the timeless rushing of the waters. Here it forms a foaming cauldron of boiling water, which issues out through another remarkable hole in the rock outcrop, to hiss and splash into a pool below. A vertical rock face is covered with dripping dark-green weeds, and billows of spray spread a glistening dampness over everything. It is an intensely magical place.”[iii]

Standing on a rocky platform to the left of the waterfall and its pool, I turned to my wife and said, “This is awesome….”

“I know,” she replied.

We spent time doing inner work and energetic work becoming one with the elements of this earth and the magic of the Otherworld. This was so powerful of a place that at any time an elf or a faery might appear, laugh at our humanness and then disappear. This was definitely a place of vow-making and it was here that we decided that we would conduct a three year quest for the Holy Grail emphasizing not only the experiential knowledge of the Grail, an inner as well as an outer journey, but the experiential knowledge and places of power connected with the Archangel Michael in his role as warrior, Captain of the Heavenly Hosts, psychpomp and dragon-slayer.

Four weeks later, after a purification and initiatory ceremony, we were standing on the same rocky platform to the left of the waterfall listening to each of our apprentices dedicate themselves to their own personal quest for the Holy Grail. My heart was happy as Sherry and I listened to each one state their vows as we began the first of three adventures questing for knowledge and power—questing for the Holy Grail.

[i] Paul Broadhurst, Tintagel and the Arthurian Myths, pp. 52 – 53

[ii] Ibid, p. 53

[iii] Ibid, p.180


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