Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Morgan Le Fay [Updated]

Morgan Le Fay

"Morgan le Fay ... alternatively known as Morgan le Faye, Morgane, Morgaine, Morgana and other names, is a powerful sorceress in the Arthurian legend. Early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate her character beyond her role as a fay or magician. She became much more prominent in the later cyclical prose works such as the Lancelot-Grail and the Post-Vulgate Cycle, in which she becomes an antagonist to King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. She is said to be the daughter of Arthur's mother, the Lady Igraine, and her first husband, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, so that Arthur (son of Igraine and Uther Pendragon) is her half-brother." (Source)

On the name "Morgan": "Etymology: Welsh Morcant, possibly from mawr ('great') + cant ('circle, completion')." (Source)

"A great circle, also known as an orthodrome or Riemannian circle, of a sphere is the intersection of the sphere and a plane which passes through the center point of the sphere, as opposed to a general circle of a sphere where the plane is not required to pass through the center. (A small circle is the intersection of the sphere and a plane which does not pass through the center.) ... ." (Source) Relatedly, a "Geodesic...In mathematics, particularly differential geometry, a geodesic... is a generalization of the notion of a "straight line" to 'curved spaces'. ... The geodesics are great circle arcs." (Source) (For NASA connections, see here.)

These notions of "great circles" have been related to Alfred Watkins' notion of "Ley Lines": "Ley lines are alleged alignments of a number of places of geographical and historical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths, natural ridge-tops and water-fords. The phrase was coined in 1921 by the amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins, in his books Early British Trackways and The Old Straight Track. He sought to identify ancient trackways in the British landscape. Watkins later developed theories that these alignments were created for ease of overland trekking by line-of-sight navigation during neolithic times, and had persisted in the landscape over millennia. ... In 1969 the writer John Michell revived the term 'ley lines', associating it with spiritual and mystical theories about alignments of land forms, drawing on the Chinese concept of feng shui." (Source; cf.: Here)
On "fay," "fey," and "fayette" Jim Brandon wrote: "The literal meaning would be something like 'little enchantment' or 'little fairy' (from the Old French root feer, 'to enchant,' plus the feminine diminutive ette). On the other hand, the English fey is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as 'fated to die, doomed to death, accursed, unfortunate, unlucky.' These words would seem to place us on a tightropee between wizardry and death... [F]ay crops up in the Rabelaisian motto selected by Aleister Crowley for his Abbey of Thelema 'magick' center in Sicily: 'Fay que ce voudras' - do what thou wilt" (The Rebirth of Pan, p. 193).  "'Le Fay' is an ancient word for a fairy and to this day, apparently, the Breton name for a water-nymph is a 'Morgan'." (Source)

Wikipedia likewise notes that: "...As her epithet 'le Fay' (from the French la fée, meaning fairy) indicates, the figure of Morgan appears to have been originally a supernatural being. Her main name could be connected to the myths of Morgens, or Morgans or Mari-Morgans, which are Welsh and Breton water spirits. ... While later works make her specifically human, she retains her magical powers. ... The Arthurian tale, Geraint son of Erbin, based on Chretien de Troyes's Erec, mentions King Arthur's 'chief physician', Morgan Tud; it is believed that this character, though considered a male in Gereint, may be derived from Morgan le Fay (though this has been a matter of debate among Arthurian scholars since the 19th century. The epithet Tud may be a Welsh or Breton cognate or borrowing of Old Irish tuath, 'north, left, sinister, wicked', also 'fairy, elf'). ..."

Jim Brandon mentions fairies in various places in The Rebirth of Pan. In one such place (p. 133), Brandon notes that fairies have links with "weather systems" - including rain storms and the like. "Fairy" also relates to Queen Elizabeth I, the so-called "Faery Queen", see here and here. Continuing with Wikipedia, we learn:

"The early accounts of Geoffrey of Monmouth and Gerald of Wales refer to Morgan in conjunction with the Isle of Apples (later Avalon) to which the fatally wounded Arthur was carried. ...  In the Magic Tree House series of books written by Mary Pope Osborne, the lead characters, Jack and Annie, are taken on secret missions throughout history by Morgan Le Fay, travelling through time in Le Fay's magical treehouse." The "Magic Tree House" book series is geared towards children.

On occasion, Hoffman has mentioned the movie, The Wicker Man. There are numerous references to apples.
(The Hidden Hand)

Of course, the Fortean occurrences surrounding the root "fay," its cognates, and phonetic equivalents, has been written about numerous times.

Jim Brandon mentions, for instance, the The Marquis de La Fayette and his importance in the formation of the United States, as well as being the namesake of many different American towns and cities. For an introduction, see Loren Coleman's post Here, Jeff Rense's article Here, The Rebirth of Pan Here, and the Fortean Times article Here.

But the name "Morgan" seems to be of interest as well.
(Triple Goddess: See here and here and here.)
Consider first its occurrence in Morgan Le Fay. "The name 'Morgan Le Fay'[:] In Celtic terms, Morgan (or Morcant) is a man's name. The feminine version is more correctly Morgain (or Morgue or Morgne). Also Morrigan equates with Morrigu of Irish mythology. According to Celtic tradition the Morrigan (a Triple Goddess of Celtic myth, thought of as the Goddess of Death) flew over battles, shrieking like ravens and claiming dead soldiers' heads as trophies. Or the answer may lie in Uriens - in early Welsh literature Modron (a version of Matrona) was the daughter of Avallach, wife of Urien, and mother of Owein. The Welsh and Arthurian story lines were later merged, forming a link between Modron and King Arthur. Further, there was a sixth-century Cumbrian ruler called Urien Rheged who presided over a loose coalition of kings (according to some accounts there was also an Arthur, son of King Aedan of dal Riada). Urien had a loose ally: Morcant Bulc - a man - who eventually plotted to assassinate him, which could have been Sir Thomas Malory's inspiration for the plot in Le Morte d'Arthur where Morgan Le Fay attempts to kill Arthur and Uriens." (Source) The "Triple Goddess" also reminds one - among other things - of Downard's mention of the "Tres Hermanos." The goddess known as "Morrigan" also has interesting features. But I will have to post on those another time.

This combination, in "Morgan Le Fay," of a "man's name" with a root for "fairy" is interesting, given that, in a contemporary context, "fairy" has become a slang word for "a homosexual man." This recalls the alchemical phrase "the gay science" which, following Hoffman, I mentioned elsewhere. Elsewhere we review Jim Brandon's comment that "ette" is a feminine ending. Hence, the Marquis de Lafayette was a "man's man" warrior-type with a double-feminine last name. These juxtapositions of the masculine and feminine are important in Alchemy.

"The possible roots of the Arthurian character Morgan Le Fay therefore run deep into early British mythology and can be traced across several hundred years up to her final act as one of the three women who transported the fatally wounded King Arthur in a barge to the Isle of Avalon to be healed (outcome unrecorded). A speculative summary, based on Welsh and other Arthurian legend, suggest an identification with Modron and also with the river goddess Matrona, possibly derived from the Irish goddess Morrigan. Given the superstitious Christian attitude to supernatural women in the medieval era, the more she is humanised, the more the name Morgan Le Fay descends into an easy literary metaphor for devious, sometimes evil mischief." (Source). The author Malory has an interesting name as well: "Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1405 – 14 March 1471) was an English writer, the author or compiler of Le Morte d'Arthur. ... Sir Thomas Malory. Leiden: E. J. Brill, Old French adjective maleüré (from Latin male auguratus) meaning ill-omened or unfortunate" (Source). "Arthur" is interesting, too (for that matter): "The meaning of this name is unknown. It could be derived from British art 'bear' combined with viros 'man', or it could be related to Irish art 'stone'. Alternatively it could be related to an obscure Roman family name Artorius." (Source; cf. On "stone" lore, see here)
("Chase" can have the sense of a "hunt" or a "pursuit." This project is something of a "Morgan Chase.")

To give just one example of "Morgan" (local to me): In St. Louis, there is a well-known street called "Morgan Ford." May 24th, 2012: "Arson To Blame For Morgan Ford Business Fire" (KTVI-KPLR). January 14, 2010, Leah Thorsen wrote: "'Man shot to death at Morganford and Oleatha, police say'[:] Police have identified a man shot to death Thursday night in the 3400 block of Morganford Road as Alan Sindelar, 43, of the 4600 block of Wilcox. Sindelar was found lying on the sidewalk with gunshots wounds to the chest and underneath his arm..." (Source). Leah Thorsen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote, on December 2, 2009: "'Three men charged with murder for fatal shooting on Morganford'[:] ST. LOUIS - Three men have been charged with murder, robbery, and armed criminal action in connection with the Nov. 25 murder of Mauricio Ruiz, 23, police said. Ruiz was shot to death on a parking pad behind his home in the 4500 block of Morganford Road. He had been shot three times – in his eye, cheek and under his arm."

But the name is instantiated in many interesting people, historically.

Captain William Morgan: "Morgan, it appears, was a Royal Arch Mason; and when the fact became known that he was preparing a work to reveal the secrets of Masonry, many of the Masonic fraternity became much excited, and appeared determined to put an end to his disclosures ... a Royal Arch Chapter was installed at Lewiston ... 20 or 30 persons came to the fort from Lewiston. About midnight, 7 persons, stated to be Royal Arch Masons, held a consultation on the plain near the graveyard, as to the manner in which Morgan should be disposed of. The prevailing opinion among them appeared to be, that Morgan had forfeited his life for a breach of his Masonic obligations, and that they ought to see the penalty executed by drowning him in the river." (John W. Baker, "Historical Collections of the State of New York," 1842, qtd. in David Padfield, "Captain William Morgan," 2011, at: http://www.padfield.com/1993/morgan.html).

"[T]he torture and murder of Captain William Morgan in 1826" spawned "...an anti-Mason political party which challenged Freemason Andrew Jackson for the  presidency (General Jackson was involved with the Bell Witch)..." (James Shelby Downard and Michael A. Hoffman II, "King Kill 33," Independent History and Research: Coeur d'Alene, ID, 1998, p. 1; cf. Hoffman's, Masonic Assassination).

Some additional Morgans of interest, include: "Augustus De Morgan (27 June 1806 – 18 March 1871) was a British mathematician and logician. He formulated De Morgan's laws and introduced the term mathematical induction, making its idea rigorous. ..." (Source)
The "Celtic Cross" is also a name designating a particular Tarot card spread.

"Richard Williams Morgan (bardic name 'Mor Meirion', c.1815-c.1889) was a Welsh clergyman and author. ... Morgan was a leading figure in the Celtic Revival 'Gorsedd of Bards'." (Source) "A gorsedd... is a community or coming together of modern-day bards. The word is of Welsh origin, meaning 'throne'.... Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain was founded in 1792 by Edward Williams, often known as Iolo Morganwg, who also invented much of its ritual, supposedly based on the activities of the ancient Celtic Druidry. ..." (Source)

Celtic druid rites "included baptisms in the sea at midnight, conducted naked..." (Joanne Pearson, Wicca and the Christian Heritage, p. 134, n. 54).

"Celtic Revival covers a variety of movements and trends, mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries, which drew on the traditions of Celtic literature and Celtic art, or in fact more often what art historians call Insular art. Although the revival was complex and multifaceted, occurring across many fields and in various countries in North-West Europe, its best known incarnation is probably the Irish Literary Revival (also called the 'Celtic Twilight'). Here, Irish writers including William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, 'AE' Russell, Edward Martyn and Edward Plunkett (AKA Lord Dunsany) stimulated a new appreciation of traditional Irish literature and Irish poetry in the late 19th and early 20th century...." (Source)

"During 1885, Yeats was involved in the formation of the Dublin Hermetic Order. The society held its first meeting on 16 June, with Yeats acting as its chairman. The same year, the Dublin Theosophical lodge was opened in conjunction with Brahmin Mohini Chatterjee, who travelled from the Theosophical Society in London to lecture. Yeats attended his first séance the following year. He later became heavily involved with the Theosophical Society and with hermeticism, particularly with the eclectic Rosicrucianism of the Golden Dawn. ... He was admitted into the Golden Dawn in March 1890 and took the magical motto Daemon est Deus inversus—translated as Devil is God inverted or A demon is a god reflected" (Source).

"Iolo Morganwg[:] Edward Williams, better known by his bardic name Iolo Morganwg ..., (10 March 1747 – 18 December 1826) was an influential Welsh antiquarian, poet, collector, and literary forger.  ... He was widely considered a leading collector and expert on medieval Welsh literature in his day, but after his death it was revealed that he had forged a large number of his manuscripts. ... Regardless, he had a lasting impact on Welsh culture, seen most notably in his foundation of the Gorsedd, and the philosophy he developed in his forgeries had a huge impact on the early neo-druid movement. ..." (Source).

"Junius Spencer Morgan I (April 14, 1813 – April 8, 1890) was an American banker and financier and the father of J. P. Morgan. He founded J.S. Morgan & Co. ... After some years, he met George Peabody, the well-known London banker. Shortly after the meeting, in 1854, Morgan entered Peabody's prosperous firm, George Peabody & Co. as a partner. Ten years later, in 1864, Morgan succeeded Peabody as head of the firm and changed its name to J. S. Morgan & Co. During the American Civil War the firm was appointed the financial representatives in England of the United States government." (Source)

J. P. Morgan: "John Pierpont Morgan (April 17, 1837 – March 31, 1913) was an American financier, banker, philanthropist and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time." He helped kill off independent invention by facilitating the "merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric." He helped pave the way for the creation of the Federal Reserve through his "direct[ion of] the banking coalition that stopped the Panic of 1907." His tentacles were widely extended. "At the height of Morgan's career during the early 1900s, he and his partners had financial investments in many large corporations and were accused by critics of controlling the nation's high finance." (Source) cf:. The Creature from Jekyll Island, here, and "The Money Masters," here.)

Some other interesting mentions include the ruthless pirate Admiral Sir Henry Morgan and the mirage or optical illusion known as the "Fata Morgana" in which persons believe that they see non-existent "Fairy Castles." 

"A Fata Morgana is an unusual and complex form of superior mirage that is seen in a narrow band right above the horizon. It is an Italian phrase derived from the vulgar Latin for "fairy" and the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay, from a belief that these mirages, often seen in the Strait of Messina, were fairy castles in the air or false land created by her witchcraft to lure sailors to their death." (Source). "Fata Morgana: 1818, lit. 'Fairy Morgana,' mirage especially common in the Strait of Messina, Italy, from Morgana, the 'Morgan le Fay' of Anglo-French poetry, sister of King Arthur, located in Calabria by Norman settlers. Morgan is Welsh, 'sea-dweller.' There is perhaps, too, here an influence of Arabic marjan, lit. 'pearl,' also a fem. proper name, popularly the name of a sorceress." (Source)

"The Morrígan" is an Irish goddess sometimes also referred to as "Fea": The Morrígan ('phantom queen') or Mórrígan ('great queen')... is a figure from Irish mythology who appears to have been considered a goddess...of battle, strife, and sovereignty. She sometimes appears in the form of a crow, flying above the warriors, and in the Ulster cycle she also takes the form of an eel, a wolf and a cow. She is generally considered a war deity comparable with the Germanic Valkyries, although her association with a cow may also suggest a role connected with wealth and the land. [This is reminiscent of the Arthurian Cycle - MJB.] She is often depicted as a trio of goddesses [another "triple goddess" link - MJB], all sisters [like the three witches of MacBeth, as Downard articulated - MJB], although membership of the triad varies; the most common combinations are Badb, Macha and Nemain,...or Badb, Macha and Anand; Anand is also given as an alternate name for Morrigu....Other accounts name Fea, and others. ..." (Source).

"Etymology[:] ...Mor may derive from an Indo-European root connoting terror or monstrousness, cognate with the Old English maere (which survives in the modern English word 'nightmare') and the Scandinavian mara and the Old Russian 'mara' ('nightmare');[I wrote about this in an unpublished monograph on Achilles - MJB] while rígan translates as 'queen'. ...[Is there a connection with Guinevere? - MJB] This can be reconstructed in Proto-Celtic as *Moro-rīganī-s.... Accordingly, Morrígan is often translated as 'Phantom Queen'. This is the derivation generally favoured in current scholarship. ... In the Middle Irish period the name is often spelled Mórrígan with a lengthening diacritic over the 'o', seemingly intended to mean 'Great Queen' (Old Irish mór, 'great';... this would derive from a hypothetical Proto-Celtic *Māra Rīganī-s).... There have also been attempts by modern writers to link the Morrígan with the Welsh literary figure Morgan le Fay from Arthurian romance, in whose name 'mor' may derive from a Welsh word for 'sea'..." (Source)
(Lamia in a Guinevere-esque depiction.)

"In a 9th century manuscript containing the Latin Vulgate translation of the Book of Isaiah, the word Lamia is used to translate the Hebrew Lilith.... A gloss explains this as 'a monster in female form, that is, a morrígan'. ...The 8th century O'Mulconry's Glossary says that Macha is one of the three morrígna. ... The Morrígan is often considered a triple goddess... Sometimes she appears as one of three sisters, the daughters of Ernmas: Morrígan, Badb and Macha. ... Sometimes the trinity consists of Badb, Macha and Anann, collectively known as the Morrígna. Occasionally Nemain or Fea appear in the various combinations. However, the Morrígan can also appear alone,... and her name is sometimes used interchangeably with Badb. The Morrígan is usually interpreted as a 'war goddess' ... However... her association with cattle suggests her role was connected to the earth, fertility and sovereignty... She can be interpreted as providing political or military aid, or protection to the king—acting as a goddess of sovereignty, not necessarily a war goddess." (Source)

"There is a burnt mound site in County Tipperary known as Fulacht na Mór Ríoghna ('cooking pit of the Mórrígan'). ..." (Ibid.) Jim Brandon wrote extensively about (mainly, but not exclusively, American) mound formations in the above-mentioned book, The Rebirth of Pan, as well as in Weird America.

The Dá Chich na Morrigna ('two breasts of the Mórrígan'), a pair of hills in County Meath, suggest to some a role as a tutelary goddess, comparable to Anu, who has her own hills, Dá Chích Anann ('the breasts of Anu') in County Kerry. Other goddesses known to have similar hills are Áine and Grian of County Limerick who, in addition to a tutelary function, also have solar attributes.'" (Ibid.)

Century 16 and the Dawn (Aurora) of Crowleyanity [Notes]

"François Rabelais (French: .... 1494 – 9 April 1553) was a major French Renaissance writer, doctor, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs. His best known work is Gargantua and Pantagruel. ... " (Source)

"Rabelais travelled frequently to Rome with his friend Cardinal Jean du Bellay, and lived for a short time in Turin with du Bellay's brother, Guillaume... Rabelais probably spent some time in hiding, threatened by being labeled a heretic. Only the protection of du Bellay saved Rabelais after the condemnation of his novel by the Sorbonne. du Bellay would again help Rabelais in 1540 by seeking a papal authorization to legitimize two of his children (Auguste François, father of Jacques Rabelais, and Junie)." (Ibid.)

"Despite the popularity of his book, both it and his prequel book on the life of Pantagruel's father Gargantua were condemned by the academics at the Sorbonne for their unorthodox ideas and by the Roman Catholic Church for their derision of certain religious practices. ... Even though most chapters are humorous, wildly fantastic and sometimes absurd, a few relatively serious passages have become famous for descriptions of humanistic ideals of the time. ... It is in the first book where Rabelais writes of the Abbey of Thélème, built by the giant Gargantua. It pokes fun at the monastic institutions, since his abbey has a swimming pool, maid service, and no clocks in sight. ... Rabelais gives us a description of how the Thélemites of the Abbey lived and the rules they lived by: All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when they thought good; they did eat, drink, labour, sleep, when they had a mind to it and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did offer to constrain them to eat, drink, nor to do any other thing; for so had Gargantua established it." (Ibid.)
 (Fais ce que tu voudras)
"In all their rule and strictest tie of their order there was but this one clause to be observed, Do What Thou Wilt; because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in honest companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice, which is called honour. Those same men, when by base subjection and constraint they are brought under and kept down, turn aside from that noble disposition by which they formerly were inclined to virtue, to shake off and break that bond of servitude wherein they are so tyrannously enslaved; for it is agreeable with the nature of man to long after things forbidden and to desire what is denied us. ... George Orwell was not an admirer of Rabelais. Writing in 1940, he called him 'an exceptionally perverse, morbid writer, a case for psychoanalysis'. ..." (Ibid.)

Aleister Crowley took Rabelais seriously, and turned a house into his own debauched Abbey of Thelema in Cefalù, Sicily circa 1920.


"Jakob Böhme (probably April 24, 1575[1] – November 17, 1624) was a German Christian mystic and theologian. He is considered an original thinker within the Lutheran tradition, and his first book, commonly known as Aurora, caused a great scandal." (Source)

"Böhme's writing shows the influence of Neoplatonist and alchemical...writers such as Paracelsus.... He has in turn greatly influenced many anti-authoritarian and mystical movements, such as the Religious Society of Friends, the Philadelphians, the Gichtelians, the Society of the Woman in the Wilderness, the Ephrata Cloister, the Harmony Society, the Zoarite Separatists, Rosicrucianism, Martinism and Christian theosophy. Böhme's disciple and mentor, the Liegnitz physician Balthasar Walther, who had travelled to the Holy Land in search of magical, kabbalistic and alchemical wisdom, also introduced kabbalistic ideas into Böhme's thought.[20] Boehme was also an important source of German Romantic philosophy, influencing Schelling in particular.[21] In Richard Bucke's 1901 treatise Cosmic Consciousness, special attention was given to the profundity of Boehme's spiritual enlightenment, which seemed to reveal to Böhme an ultimate nondifference, or nonduality, between human beings and God. Böhme is also an important influence on the ideas of the English Romantic poet, artist and mystic William Blake. ... (Ibid.)

"Wiccans...tend to favor Aleister Crowley's definition of magick as 'the Science and Art of causing change to occur in conformity with Will' (Crowley, 1973: 131), or Dion Fortune's, 'Magic is the art and the science of changing consciousness according to the Will'. ... Both of these definitions might usefully be compared with Jacob Boehme's vision of magic as 'in itself nothing but a will, and this will is the great mystery of all wonders and secrets. ... In sum: Magic is the activity of the Will-Spirit' ([1620] 1989:5:2 and 24)." (Qtd. in Joanna Pearson, Wicca and the Christian Heritage, p. 102.)