Return of the Christ

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Sir Gawain

I have known many names and lived many lives in many different places and many different times, by far the most famous of which, the most historical and legendary being when my name was Sir Gawain and when I lived as the nephew of King Arthur of Albion of Britain, and was a Knight of the Round Table and a Quest Knight for the Holy Grail.

The legends and stories of my life tell of a tale of the Green Knight who came to Camelot one Winter’s Solstice with a challenge. This giant challenged a knight to cut off his head with a single blow and kill him or, in a year’s time at the Green Chapel, to share a similar fate at the Green Knight’s hands. The legends say that I took this challenge, being the strongest of Arthur’s Knights and was successful only to discover the headless Green Knight rising to make me swear to honour the challenge that I had agreed to.

Towards the end of the year, searching for the Green Chapel, the legends say I came upon a King and his Queen and rested with them before venturing to the Chapel, which lay just three days hence from this Lord and Lady’s land. On the first day the Lord made a wager that whatever he caught that day he would share with me if I would do the same; that day, as he hunted, the Queen came to my bed chamber and tried to seduce me, but according to legend true to my chivalry I gave her only a kiss.

That night when the King returned and shared the feast of his catch in the forest I gave him the kiss I had caught, but did not share from whence it had come! The next day the same thing occurred, but this time the cunning Queen extracted two kisses before my protests bade her leave. That night again the King returned and shared his feast and, so says the myth, I shared my two kisses. On the third and final day the Queen gave three kisses and a girdle of green which, said she, would protect me from the blade of the Green Knight’s axe.

When the King returned and gave of his catch I gave my three kisses, but kept the girdle for my own. As the legend unwinds I made my way then to the Green Chapel and there bowed before the Green Knight, who swung his axe three times, the first and the second stopping short of my neck and the third cutting only a gash on my open nape. At this point the Green Knight revealed himself to have been the King and said that the first two blows, which missed, were in exchange for the honesty of the first two days’ kisses and the third blow, which struck, but which did not kill, were for the third day in which the kisses were shared, but the girdle was kept, resulting not in death, but in the failure of this test of honour!

Returning to Camelot shamed and wearing the girdle as proof of it, the legend claims that Arthur, wise and chivalrous made from this point on all Knights of the Round Table wear a girdle of green to remind them of the importance of chivalry and honesty at all times and in all ways.

Now, you may wonder what any of this has to do with the Holy Grail or the power of the Christ or you and your life for that matter! Well, as you know, all legends and myths are based in truth and often allegorical of those secrets which were encoded into their tale and this story is no different. The Green Knight is symbolic of both the powers of nature and the power of the Christ, which, though different, are connected and share similar attributes and powers, namely those of resurrection and regeneration.

The challenge of the Green Knight is of course ultimately revealed to be one of honesty. If in the story I had been wholly honest with the King, the Green Knight, then I would have avoided my shame and my wound, but because I chose in the story to keep the girdle, the promise of safety, I was made to suffer the shame of being exposed as both liar and betrayer. The kisses are symbolic of the temptation of Adam – the seduction of the forbidden in life – and the kisses passed on to the King - that kiss which betrayed the Master Jesus, which was given by Judas. What this indicates is that truth, however difficult to impart and controversial in its nature must be given, shared, passed on in its fullness or it is no truth at all, a half truth shared out of concern for the feelings of the person it is given to, being no more than a lie, the “feelings that are spared” being undoubtedly harmed in the future when the truth is revealed, as all truths are.

This story then is about integrity and truth, chivalry in the sense of honour and faith and trust in the power of the Divine, the following of it, even when it seems to lead to doom and the trusting of it, even when we do not really understand what it is trying to show or teach us. It is then these things, trust and faith and truth and honour, the honouring of the Divine, of nature and of ourselves that are the virtues we need to cultivate and encourage if we are to discover the Holy Grail, if we are to prepare a space for it inside our own hearts that we might receive it and all the blessings that it brings, whether the Holy Grail is the Spirit purged of all shadow, a clear and bright vessel for the Light of the Soul or whether the Holy Grail is the heart waiting to receive the Light of the Christ and the Magdalena Flame.

The Green Knight then is the challenge set before us by ourself, the Soul and by the Divine, the Christ, of being true to our faith and belief in ourself and our actions, our decisions and being true to our trust and belief in the Divine and the divine plan. This faith is tested now, in these dark times and at this dark time of the year when we are all tired and drained.

Be then, as you enter into the darkness of Yule and emerge from it with the promise of the light of spring aware of this tale and remember to have faith, remember to trust firstly yourself and then the Divine. Remember, to honour your promises and not to compromise your virtue and integrity, but rather to carry on and move forwards always in love and trust.

This then is my message to you and this my promise, as the strongest of Arthur’s Knights, call on me when you feel your own strength waning and I will come and fortify ye against the darkness.

This then is my vow, so mote it be, it is so.

(Channelled by Edwin Courtenay)


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