But for many and this is as true for those who lived

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of the Lake in death. But for many – and this is as true for those who lived shortly after Arthur’s time as it is for us of the modern era – Arthur does not lie in a grave at Avalon. Instead, he continues to live in a curi- ous limbo, a place composed of equal parts continued literary and artistic invention, enter- tainment and gaming industry exploitation, academic specialization and Celtic/Neo-Pagan Reconstructionism. Under the latter guise, the shift away from an Arthur who is an attestable personage has, iron- ically, paralleled the renewed academic insistence on the non-historicity of this northern chieftain. For while academics now, almost without exception, view Arthur as a purely leg- endary figure derived from folklore and developed through the medium of medieval ro- mance, the Celtic Reconstructionists reinterpret this greatest of British heroes in a multitude of ways. Some still hold to the age-old Messianic view that Arthur is merely being healed of his wounds by Morgan le Fay in a spiritual versus a physical
August Hunt 191 Avalon. They believe that he will, in the time of Britain’s most dire need (or, indeed, in the time of Mankind’s most dire need), come forth to de- feat some monstrous evil. Others seek to trace their bloodlines to Arthur, to his knights, to Ava- lon priestesses or to Grail kings in order to inherit the immense spiritual heritage that re- sides in the Arthurian story. There are even individuals who claim to be Ar- thur or, perhaps, a reincarnation of him. I have personally met a man who makes a very decent living ‘channeling’ the spirit of Merlin, a spirit who with profound and pithy pronouncements advises clients on how to go about conducting their daily lives and business affairs. This ‘New Aging’ of Arthur would seem to be a harmless phenomenon, serving the positive function of bringing many new members into the Arthurian fold and contributing to a heightened level of spiritual awareness, as well as fostering a sense of ‘connectedness’ with ancestors and nature in an uniquely Celtic fashion. But today’s pagans need to be careful not to create alarming amounts of contrived information masquerading as inspired truth or subjective revelation that might feed naive, inwardly-focused belief sys- tems. These last distract us from objectively obtained realities. As a person who himself is not immune to mys- tical experience, let me hasten to add that I am not advocating spiritual matters be excluded from the Arthurian orbit. Cutting off this aspect of our humanity is not only undesirable, but
THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY 192 thoroughly impractical. The human psyche simply does not work this way. What I am plead- ing for is a separation of what is acknowledged as fact or reasonable conjecture from what is in- tuited as having religious significance. Or, to be more precise, what we choose to adhere to as tenets of belief should be based upon or extrapo- lated from what we know on a rational level, rather than the reverse. Be spiritual about things/concepts that actually exist or once ex- isted. Do not give in to the temptation to readily

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