Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beltane Eve

One of my favorite books is Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon. It's a retelling of the Arthurian tales from his sister Morgaine's point of view.

If you remember, Arthur's mother was married and had a daughter with another man before she was wisked away by Uther. The daughter later beds Arthur and has his child. She is often portrayed as evil, or seeking to usurp Arthur's power by means of their child.

This version is different. To pull from the Wikipedia article:
"The Mists of Avalon is in stark contrast to other retellings of the Arthurian tales, which consistently paint Morgaine as a distant, one-dimensional evil witch or sorceress; with no real explanation given (or required) for her antipathy. In this case Morgaine is cast as a strong woman in pain who has unique gifts and responsibilities at a time of enormous political and spiritual upheaval; as she is called upon to defend her indigenous matriarchal heritage against impossible odds. The Mists of Avalon stands as a watershed for feminist interpretation of male-centered myth by articulating women's experience at time of great change and shifts in gender-power."

I've always been intrigued by mythology - norse, native american, greek/roman, and celtic - and fantasy stories woven around those myths. I really enjoyed Bradley's take on the tale, and the descriptions she offered of some of the rituals.

Today I found myself on Wikipedia, and that led me to the page about Beltane (which made me think of this book), which signifies the begining of summer. Tomorrow is Beltane/May Day, and tonight Beltane Eve, so if we were pre-christian celts right now, we'd be building big fires and beginning the celebration. Maybe we'll have a little fire on the patio tonight...

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