Posts Tagged ‘King Arthur’


Arthur’s Round Table

’The Round Table was constructed, not without great significance, upon the advice of Merlin. By its name the Round Table is meant to signify the round world and the round canopy of the planets and the elements in the firmament, where are to be seen the stars and many other things.’ –La Quest del Saint Graal


Winchester Round Table 

King Arthur’s Round Table, created by Merlin was a gift from Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father to Guenevere’s father King Leodegrance. He in turn gave it as a wedding present to Arthur. As an example of how astrology has been integrated into the Arthurian mythology, there is a legend, which suggests the Round Table was designed as a circle of the zodiac with twelve of his knights, a representative of one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. This becomes tricky because there are so many variations and names of the Round Table fellowship. One of the names associated with the Zodiac is Caer Sidhe. Since Sidhe refers to the Faerie realm, this adds another dimension to the stories, and we could look at the faerie women of the Arthurian stories as members of a Round Table, which operates on another plane.


The circle of the Zodiac is reflected on the land in several areas in Britain. The most famous is the Glastonbury Zodiac, described by Katherine Maltwood in 1935. She called this the Temple of the Stars. Laid out on the landscape which surrounds Glastonbury are the figures of the zodiac, which she traces to Sumerian colonists. Reflected upon the land in this way, the cosmos gives great legitimacy to twelve landed families who might claim to be at the root of history and mythological origins of Britain.   She makes a thorough correspondence between the zodiacal signs and characters in the Arthurian legends, which vary, for the most part from my connections. The Round Table symbolizes the equality of each of Arthur’s knights, just as the Zodiac contains twelve archetypes of equal power, although not of equal size in the sky. Arthur is the still center, the pole star around which Caer Sidhe—The Zodiac rotates.


Gawain, Arthur’s nephew is the first to be knighted for the Round Table, and so might stand in for Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac. When the sun is rising, Gawain gains in power. After the Sun reaches its height at noon, Gawain’s strength diminishes. This would suggest his role as a solar hero. The Sun is in exaltation in this sign which Mars rules.  He is famous for his impatience and temper as well as his courage and loyalty.  He is most fully described in his bargain with ‘the Green Knight,’ a retelling of the ancient battle between the dark and light of the year.

Sir Tor

King Pellinore’s illegitimate son, Tor is my choice for the second seat at the table. Tor (Taurus) has been raised by his step-father Aries, who is a cowherd. He was raised in a family of earthy peasants who lived with cows, very Taurean, yet, perhaps with the help of Venus, the ruler of Taurus, he immediately feels at home in Arthur’s court. Despite his noble blood, he is an illustration of the equality of the Round Table.

Balin & Balan

Gemini is the constellation of twins, and Balin and Balan, seem like good candidates for this position. They are the tragic brothers destined to kill each other in error. Balin takes a sword from a damsel and becomes known as The Knight with Two Swords. He is warned that if he keeps both swords, he will kill the man he loves most in the world and bring about his own destruction. Ignoring this prophecy, he battles his brother who is in disguise and both die. The polarity of Gemini seems fatal in their case.

The Boy's King Arthur

The Lady of the Lake must be honored, perhaps in the position of Cancer, as her role is as Lunar force is as important at the Solar power of Arthur. She and the other Faerie women are a parallel to the Knights of the Round Table. The Moon rules Cancer, a watery cardinal sign. Like the Moon, the Lady appears and disappears, but is central to the story of Arthur. She gives Arthur his magical sword, Excalibur and the scabbard, which prevents fatal injury. When Arthur is mortally wounded she and other magical women take him to the Island of Avalon, memorialized in the sky as Caer Arianrhod. She rules an alternative kingdom with its own strategies and priorities a watery reflection of Camelot.


Leo seems most likely to belong to Lancelot du Lac. Leo is fiery and fixed, ruled by the Sun and connected to the heart, to courage, and to love affairs, all very synonymous with this very important character in the later tales of Arthur. His courage and faithful heart seem to be the embodiment of Leo. Like Leo, Lancelot struggles with the transformation of ego into heart. His love of Guenevere, and his loyalty to Arthur create the theater for this process.


Shall we try Galahad as the embodiment of Virgo? Virgo is a mutable earth sign ruled by Mercury and known for the ability to discern and analyze to a point of perfection. Galahad is the pure and perfect knight who successfully obtains the Grail. He is the son of Lancelot and Elaine, conceived through the trickery of Elaine’s father the Fisher King. In his birth to the virgin Elaine, his purity and solitary wanderings, he personifies the Virgo archetype. Galahad (or in other stories, Percival) is given the seat at the Round Table called the ‘Siege Perilous,’ which has been awaiting his arrival as prophesied by Merlin.


The story of Sir Geraint and Enid is a tale of marriage reflective of Libra, the sign of partnership. The scales represents the equality necessary for a successful partnershiop . Geraint misunderstands his wife and believes her love has moved away from him. He takes her on a long journey in silent rage and battles innumerable enemies. Finally after many tests of his valor and her fidelity and love, he drops his fury and understands her faithfulness as an expression of her character, not his physical superiority.   She meanwhile has found her own strength and voice through this ordeal.


Scorpio belongs to Mordred who brought death and destruction to the fellowship of the Round Table. A fixed water sign ruled by Mars, Scorpio has connection to death and sexuality, the underworld and transformation, and the necessity for truth to surface. Modred’s hatred for Arthur is not without reason. Because of a prophecy that a May baby will destroy him, the king orders all babies born that month to be put into an old ship which sinks. Only Mordred is rescued and returned to Arthur’s sister Morgause and her husband Lot. Mordered is a Scorpionic survivor of infanticide, a vengeful shadow of Arthur and a reminder of the Slaughter of the Innocents in the Christ story. He is both Arthur’s incestuous son and his nephew, an unavoidable nemesis.


Merlin takes his place in Sagittarius, for this is the sign of the priest and the shaman. Merlin, as Druid is the repository of ancient wisdom and knowledge. Like the centaur who represents the sign, Merlin is half and half, with a human mother and a spirit father. Sagittarius, a mutable fire sign ruled by Jupiter, is known to have heavenly knowledge for divination and healing powers.   Merlin is the prime mover behind much of the Arthurian action. He arranges Arthur’s conception, gives him over to his foster family, and his prophetic wisdom indicates his connection to the divine pattern behind the unfolding of the stories.


Capricorn is an earthy, cardinal, sign, ruled by Saturn. King Pellinore fits that description. He is most famous for his endless search for the Questing Beast, an earth dragon creature, but he is pivotal from the very first in Arthur’s rise to power. Hi role is Saturnic: first he breaks Arthur’s sword, drawn from the stone, and opposes his reign. But soon he comes to be a most faithful knight and supporter of the young king. Saturn, the rule of Capricorn is associated with ancestors. Pellinore has an important blood line, tracing his family to Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of Jesus who brought the holy grail from the last supper to Britain. Dindraine, his daughter is the Grail maiden. His son Percival is the first to see the Grail, and Galahad, his grand nephew is finally successful as Grail Knight. He is the father of at least five of the Round Table knights.


Aquarius, also ruled by Saturn, is a fixed air sign with a very different expression of Saturn. This sign embodies new forms and expressions, like Perceval who is the first to set off on the grail quest. Raised by his mother without any contact with other men or weapons, his manhood and knighthood are very original as might be expected of the Aquarian knight. His father is usually said to be Pellinore, the very traditional version of Saturn, while Perceval is the unique and novel expression of new forms and societal impulses associated with Aquarius, the water bearer. Since the Water Bearer is often shown with a vessel for water, it seems only appropriate that he who is successful in the search for the Grail represents Aquarius.



Lord Pelles, the Fisher King resides in the Grail Castle in the role of Pisces. He has an incurable wound in his thigh, and his kingdom has become a wasteland because of this injury.   Percivale visits his castle, but does not ask the important question, which would free Pelles from his injury and would repair the land. Pelles is called the Fisher King because, despite his injury, he can fish, a fitting connection to the sign of Pisces. Pisces is the dissolution of all form, in preparation for the beginning of the new cycle in Aries. It is a watery and mutable sign ruled by Jupiter and with a connection to spirituality, to illusion and to permeability. He is a keeper of the Grail because he too is a relative of Joseph of Arimathea.   Despite his invalid status, he arranges for the birth of Galahad, by tricking Lancelot into the illusion that his daughter, Elaine is Guenevere. She conceives the child who will be the Grail Knight. The power of water and illusion are central to this story and to the sign of Pisces.




The stories of Arthur, of Guenevere and Lancelot and the knights and ladies of the Round Table exist on many levels of consciousness, and like the stars, they are there to be pondered. Their fascination is eternal. They come out of the land, but they belong to no one time or place or nation. Like the stars, who accompany us through the seasons, we must not lose sight of them or permit them to be forgotten, or buried by too much light, or we shall impoverish our children

Sarah Fuhro

Keeping our Ancient Wisdom Alive

The Wisdom Tradition evolved over the centuries to address our deepest human needs. Sarah Fuhro is a practitioner of its many forms; including Astrology, Tarot, Flower Essences and Druidry. In addition to personal consultations, Sarah teaches workshops and private classes, offering both clients and students knowledge powerfully rooted in the past, presented in the language of the present.  To learn more, please visit www.sarahfuhro.com.

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  Arthur, a Bear in the Sky

zodiac arthur (DR)

            ‘Onward the kindred Bears, with footsteps rude,

             Dance round the pole, pursuing and pursued.’ —Erasamus Darwin

Where else shall we look for Arthur in the night sky? When he is on the hunt with Gwyn ap Nydd (King of the Otherworld), we can find him in the winter sky with his sword Excalibur, and his dog Cabal (Orion the Hunter and Sirius) but there are other constellations, which traditionally hold his memory, and connect him to an important transition from dragon, to bear in the sky.

OrionSirius     If Arthur is much older than the medieval tales written about him, we may find clues in the stars about his early existence and genealogy. Because he is ‘Arth’ the Bear, we will look for him among the celestial bears. Polaris, the North Star, our pole star at the present time is part of Ursa Minor (the small bear), the still point around which the Northern heavens turn. Like Arthur this guiding star never sets and does not disappear with the change in season.


One of the many names for Ursa Major, Large Bear, is Arthur’s Wain, his chariot, which he rides round the still point of the pole star in the sky.

‘Arthur’s slow wain his course doth roll,

In utter darkness, round the pole’. –Walter Scott


Due to the tilt of the earth, the role of the pole star passes from one star to another. Since the precession of the equinoxes takes about 25,770 years to complete a cycle, a single star typically holds that place for many centuries. It is estimated that Polaris became the pole star about 3400 BCE. Before this, the still point of the Northern sky was Thuban, a serpent star found in the constellation, Draco, the Dragon.   Arthur’s father was Uther Pendragon, the ‘head’ or ‘chief dragon’ At one time the constellation Draco appeared much larger and the Bears were held within his coils.

‘With vast convolutions Draco holds

Th’ ecliptic axis in his scaly folds.

O’er half the skies his neck enormous rears,

And with immense meanders parts the Bears’ –Erasmus Darwin


Was this switch of polestars a reason for the theme of ‘vanquishing’ the dragon in so many Arthurian stories? As the star in the tail of the Bear become central to the Northern skies, was this reflected in stories of a royal Bear (Arthur) who had replaced a Dragon (Uther Pendragon)? Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon abdicated his central place as the star around which the heavens revolve, but, just as in the Arthurian story, this did not happen all at once. Arthur, who had been raised by a foster family, had to prove his right to kingship.

chariot and zodiac1

Both bear and dragon represent earth energy, but, like Thuban, the Dragon, has become more difficult to access. Arthur was the heir of an ancient tribe, the Dragon clan, and the founder of another tribe, the Bear clan now living under a new pole star.   Merlin foretells all this to Uther, Arthur’s father, from a cosmic event:

‘Thou shalt be king of the whole of Britain!   For yon star doth betoken thee, and the fiery dragon that is under the star! The ray, moreover that stretcheth forth towards the region of Gaul, doth portend that a son shall be born unto thee that shall be of surpassing mighty dominion, whose power shall extend over all that realms that lie beneath the ray.’

Geoffrey of Monmouth

To make this mythology more complex and intriguing, King Arthur, the mythological ancestor, has no legitimate descendant, no heir, unless it is all of the British people. Instead he returns, like the Sun at the winter solstice, sometimes called Alban Arthuan (the light of Arthur).


     Another heavenly bear we might associate with Arthur is Arcturus, the brightest star in the constellation Boötes, the Herdsman. Arthur is connected in two ways. Arcturus was a Medieval spelling of Arthur, and it means ‘Bear Guardian.’ In a medieval variation on the story of his final journey to Avalon, Arthur is transported to Boötes where he lives forever in a crystal palace of Arcturus.

‘Up to the riche sterri briht dongoun-

Astronomeers weel reherse kunne

Callid Arthuris constellacioun…

Wher he sit crowned in the heunly mansioun

   Amyd the paleis of stonis cristallyne nyne.’ 
–John Lydgate


Arcturus is a transitional figure who symbolizes the passage between the nomadic hunter’s way of life to the settled farmer. Nomadic people look to the stars for direction and guidance on their journey, while farmers note the stars for seasonal changes in the growing cycle.   According to Ptolemy, Arcturus has the nature of Jupiter and Mars, a combination of which defines the spiritual warrior. This is the star of a powerful leader. Because Arcturus spans the border between the circumpolar and equatorial stars he is seen as indication of a leader who protects his people as they move toward new ways of life.


Arthur’s story may begin at the transition between a Paleolithic hunter to the Neolithic farmer and herdsman and then reemerge at the time of change from tribal leaders to a more unified model of a kingdom under a single monarch. Arthur’s place among the bears in the sky is an indication of how old this story may be and how deep an imprint it has upon our imagination. He is the Bear of Paleolithic hunters amidst the most Northern stars, and the warrior king of Arcturus, who leads his people to a new concept of national identity.

Arthur’s Court in the Sky


‘Ye intelligent Druids,

Declare to Arthur,

What is there more early

Than I that they sing of.’—Taliesin


            In every generation, poetry and song keep the story of Arthur alive. In light of that, it’s not surprising that Talyn Arthur (Harp of Arthur) was the name used by the Britons for the constellation, Lyra. If we are going to look for the Arthur’s court in the sky we might find Taliesin, the Bard and harpist of Arthur’s Court here in Talyn Arthur. He has his own epic stories, but occasionally is added to Arthur’s retinue as a mark of respect for both of them. The constellation Lyra is associated with Venus and Mercury by Ptolemy for they are the planets of beauty and communication, love and magic. This constellation is associated with a harmonious, poetic nature, skills in science and art, mixed with a bit of thievery, all part of the nature of Taliesin as well as Venus and Mercury.

Talyn Arthur

The most visible star in Talyn Arthur is Vega, one of the brightest stars in the summer sky. Vega was the pole star between 12,000 and 10,000 BCE. The Greeks connected Vega with their musician-magician Orpheus who shared many of the same magical, as well as musical talents of Taliesin. Like its constellation Lyra, it is associated with Venus and Mercury by Ptolemy, good planets for an artist or musician.

Vega is one of three bright stars from three different constellations which form an asterism, the Summer Triangle. The other two stars are Deneb from Cygnus the Swan, and Altair from Aquila the Eagle.   On summer nights when these three stars stand out so brightly, I imagine them as Arthur, Guenevere, and Lancelot. Arthur might be Vega in Talyn Arthur; Deneb shines for Guenevere in Cygnus the Swan; and Lancelot with Altair the bright star of Aquila the Eagle. Their love and friendship creates an evolving equilibrium, a triangle so powerful and eternal that it is reflected in the brightest stars of the summer sky.


Deneb, Guenevere’s star in the Summer Triangle is part of the constellation, Cygnus the Swan, a bird associated with Venus. Deneb, the bright star in the swan’s tail, like Vega is associated with Venus and Mercury. Guenevere, so often abducted and returned unharmed, is much like the planet Venus who appears, then disappears as evening star to reappear at dawn. Guen as a prefix also means white or light and Venus is often called ‘the shining one.’ The older Celtic name for Venus was Windo-seibari, a white phantom, ghost, goddess, who binds through words, verbal magic, an association with Mercury. The constellation Cygnus, where Vega dwells can also be connected to shamanic practices for it was common for the Druid shaman to wear a cloak made of swan feathers.

swans in building

If we link Lancelot with Altair, the brightest star in the constellation, Aquila, the eagle, we get a flavor of Jupiter and Mars. Jupiter and Mars contact in a chart often marks a spiritual warrior. Those who have this combination will take action (Mars) to protect and serve their spiritual ideals (Jupiter). Lancelot is a spiritual warrior with a blend of Jupiter and Mars characteristics. Associated with courtesy and honor, Lancelot is gentle and complex. Altair is associated with daring, but also with relationship and deep caring for others. There is the watery side of Lancelot as well. He is the foster child of the Lady of the Lake, and must battle not only physical danger, but enchantment. As a link between the worlds of fairy and human he moves between the two realities, each with a desire for dominance. Lancelot was asked to choose between these two worlds, choose between the woman he loved and his love and loyalty to Arthur. As the bright star in the constellation Eagle, he flies above these demands.


The Summer Triangle is a symbol of how three bright stars from three adjoining star patterns have come quite recently to be seen as a new star pattern. In the same way, the triangle created by Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot marks an evolutionary way of looking at men and women, at relationship and the mystery that lies behind these stories reflected in the earth and in the sky.

To be continued………

Keeping our Ancient Wisdom Alive
The Wisdom Tradition evolved over the centuries to address our deepest human needs. Sarah Fuhro is a practitioner of its many forms; including Astrology, Tarot, Flower Essences and Druidry. In addition to personal consultations, Sarah teaches workshops and private classes, offering both clients and students knowledge powerfully rooted in the past, presented in the language of the present.  To learn more, please visit www.sarahfuhro.com.

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