Finding Gawain – Act Three, part one
In the sanctuary of the Castle of Camelot, he awakens; wet with sweat and wondering…
Who is this ‘me’, he asks the cold air around him, remembering both the hapless Hunter Gawain and the Guardian of The Hart, the man who now belongs to the mind of the forest with the corporeality of its awakened White Knight.
He wonders how long he has slept in this fever? Days? Even weeks, perhaps? The air is chilled, as though the plunge downward towards the darkest day is near. He has a horrible feeling of being severed from his beloved Court, of now being one who cannot be helped…
But, wherever he has been, he is here, fully present, in Camelot, again. Is there another much like him, roving the stone passageways, like some displaced ghost of Gawain?
He turns to look at the small wooden table by his bed. There, beside a jar of ale and some beef pastry, lies a note. He breaks the wax seal to find that it is from Mordred and Morgause. They wish him a speedy return to health and enclose two magical gifts. He examines the white carved tooth of some large wild animal, and the accompanying preserved oak leaf. They both are mounted on neck chains, so he stands, on shaky legs, to put them on. It would be ungracious for a Knight to refuse a gift from such high-ranking members of the Court. As the hanging tooth brushes against the noble oak leaf, Gawain feels a pain, like the nick of a dagger blade, which fades quickly. He looks down and sees that the tooth has drawn blood from the green oak.
For long minutes, he stares at the wound which does not belong to his body…and yet does. He considers throwing it from the narrow window of his chamber, but decides that such taunts are best met head on. Besides, what the talismans say is true: Gawain is truly wounded and hunted. He resolves that he will tuck them into a fold in his cloak and let them decide when to end their concealment.
Some time later, he emerges from his chambers, bathed and dressed. The strength is returning to his overslept limbs. The water providing healing, as always. He decides he will pray, one last time in Camelot, and enters the small chapel, clutching his beloved crucifix…
When Gawain enters the Court, news of his recovery has spread. But there is no celebration. He can taste the gloom in the mighty chamber, heart of Camelot, even before he enters. He looks around but no-one will look him in the eye. Even beloved Arthur looks at him through eyes that are misty and half-closed, shaking his head slowly to the unasked question.
They have failed, he knows. The outriders crossing and re-crossing the land of Logres have failed to find the key to the riddle given to a different Gawain; a riddle which, in his guise as Guardian of the Hart, Beloved of the Forest, he created.
So why, now, does he not know the answer to the question, ‘What woman most desires?’
In baleful tones, and holding the collected Book of Answers, Arthur confirms that the Knights have found many responses, but that they are all different. Mordred and Morgause cackle with laughter and deride Gawain, pointing to his look of fear at the news. But, deep within, the white being that had its birth in the forest is calm. Gawain looks back at Mordred and Morgause and bows. As he does so, the talismans fall out from his cloak and swing like pendulums in the cold air of the Chamber of the Table Round.
Those of the Court who know the power of such things, gasp – as much at the fact that Gawain has kept them about his person when most would have tossed them into dung trough, or, even better, thrown them into the river where their curses could be washed by water and time. Gawain holds the frozen eyes of his two oppressors and waits until a single drop of blood has dripped from the wounded oak leaf and onto the stone floor of Camelot before turning, once again, to face his King.
Arthur bids him take the Book of Answers on the cover of which is emblazoned Gawain’s own sigil – the eternal knot of the Pentacle. Despite the lack of answers within, the motif blazes with brightness as Gawain sets it, delicately, against the pedestal that holds the wondrously severed head of the Green Knight.
Gawain bows, one final time to his King, then, knowing there are unseen tears all around him, calls for his warrior’s horse, Gringolet and walks, reins in hand, across the drawbridge and out of Camelot.
As Gringolet and his master step onto the damp soil of Logres, the snow begins to fall. Gawain gathers his cloak around him, tightly, and shivers in the face of the wholly unknown.
He must find the Green Chapel; there to offer his neck to the Green Giant who taunted the Halls of Camelot nearly a year ago. He has no idea where the Green Chapel is, nor how he is going to locate it. Regardless, he is honour-bound to seek it. Perhaps he is condemned to die, trying, rather than beneath the fearsome axe of the giant…
The Silent Eye uses a combination of magical ritual and psycho-drama to illustrate its teachings on the journey to the Soul.
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Details of next year’s workshop (April 2017), The Feathered Seer, will shortly be published on our website events page. Everyone is welcome, all you need to bring is your self…