Finding Gawain – Act Three, part three

Gawain's AxeAA

Finding Gawain – Act Three, part three

And then…

And then, there is the sound of laughter rolling in from the hills…that host the hunt…that gives rise to the baying of the hounds…that draws exhausted, dirty, frozen and stinking Gawain from his muddy deathbed and flings him, like a mannequin on parade, to the gates of the Castille Diablo, and, via a startled but strangely foliate drawbridge guard who protests that the assembled court are at meat and that they may not be disturbed, but who catches the names Arthur and Gawain from the rotting Knight on the wrinkled and sodden horse and returns running, minutes later to allow the royal beggar into the inner court that resembled a distorted Camelot and where most are wearing animal masks, except the Lord of Laughter who laughs with such gusto that everyone else, masked or not is laughing too, at the filthy, knightly visitor who arouses their derision, and, in certain quarters, their desire…

And then…

And then the unmasked god of laughter takes seriously the plea of filthy Gawain that he be given, simply, shelter and a place to pray, and a masked woman who reminds him of the Lady of the Veil in Camelot walks him around the castle and shows him where to bathe in steamy waters, and when clean, where to kneel and pray upon his sword, pressed into the stone floor like the swordly cross upon whose crux his life was spared when the laughter began… and for the length of time it takes for the music in his head to play, and the laughter from on high to stop…he prays, kneeling on the stone floor.

And then the string that holds the mannequin is cut, and the laughter that danced him from the edge of frozen, sodden death ceases…

Because there is establishment of more subtle importance to be made… And Sir Gawain of Camelot, is summoned, cleaned and prayed, to the high chamber, again.

Establishment of gentle rules, says the Lord of Castille Diablo, in a voice that is deeper than he is high, yet softer and edged with shining green. Establishment of a…game…a game of the Inner and the Outer worlds; where the outer is to be the Lord’s passion of hunting, and the inner will be the recovery of the starved Gawain, with the finest care the Castille Diablo has to offer… and the care of the ladies of the house, to tend his needs…

And Gawain, now recovering his wits, asks the obvious question: where do the worlds meet?

The Lord, now revealed as Lord Verdant the Unmasked, impressive by any measure and genuine in his magnanimity, smiles as he explains that the worlds meet in Gawain–recovering, cared for Gawain; who will receive, each day, the fruits of the hunt, in their entirety…in exchange for Gawain giving him whatever spoils the day of gentle care has brought forth.

The Lord Verdant smiles when Gawain says that he seems to be getting the better of the bargain…smiles and says, “Perhaps, perhaps… We shall see,” in a way that Gawain would find sinister had he more strength to power the recovering wits.

But the deal is struck…and there is much merriment; and the Lord of Castille Diablo and the Knight of Camelot spend hours together, far into the night, and it would appear that Gawain is, indeed, to be given the freedom of the daytime castle and the tender attentions of the ladies who are not of the hunt…

She enters his bedchamber with the light tread of one with intent. She sits by his bed and gazes on the parts of his naked body visible beneath the great cloak that warms and protects him. Eventually he awakens, and becomes conscious of her regal presence. The Lady Verdant is not a woman to be denied – he knows he must tread carefully, especially in the light of the game of two worlds her husband has proposed; and to which he has pressed his hand.

Pretending to be asleep does no good. She waits patiently for his attentions. He turns and there begins the most beautiful fencing match he has ever played. But the blades are words…and the intent is deadly. She tells him he is her prisoner and she intends the keep him that way. He parries by taking delight in such a game. She praises his mighty skills; he parries with protestations that he does not recognise the man she describes, especially given the beauty and grace she, alone, possesses. They part with smiles, but not before she extracts his permission to receive a kiss.. She pulls him to his feet, his hands clutching the fur cloak tightly, and the kiss is delivered…

After his toilet and the chapel, the day is filled with delightful company, warmth and the finest food fed to him by the ladies of earthly paradise–The Lady Verdant and a mysterious older lady of equal elegance, though not the same level of beauty…

Many times he drifts into sleep, and dreams of the very opposite of the tender feeding fingers. In these vivid dreams he sees the hunting of a great Stag, Lord of the Forest, finally cornered by Lord Verdant, himself, who, hours after the quarry was first sighted, delivers the death blow with his sword.

And then…

And then the hunters become butchers as as an army of sharp knives are produced, and used to carve the carcass in the most exact way, so that each of the supporting cast of the hunt, even the dogs, receives their due portion of the mighty beast, cornered and ritually slain, in the manner of the Castille.

Gawain, the Knight of the Lady, awakens with a start, sitting up to find himself alone for the first time that day. His solitude does not last long, however, for, no sooner has he established that he is not still in a dream, Lord Verdant appears with all his male courtiers, laying out for Gawain the spoils of the kill.

Finest of these is the skin of the mighty Stag, which Lord Verdant drapes over the shoulders of the Knight of the Ladies before asking, “And what of my portion of the day? What did you receive?”

Without posturing, Gawain delivers him the kiss on the cheek; refusing, a second later to divulge the source. The Lord of Castille Diablo bows to this concession and smiles at the progress of the game.

There is much carousing into the night…but the Lord leaves early for the hunt, with all his men.

When the morning breeze from the opened door blows open the inner curtains around his bed, Gawain is already awake and waiting. This time the Lady Verdant taunts him that yesterday’s establishment of her right to a kiss, on entry, was not honoured. He gladly makes amends, whereupon she presses him that he – one so experienced in the arts of love, as well of battle, should take her as his pupil…

They parry awhile, then, feeling her press an advantage that he cannot block, Gawain plays his best card and switches their mood, pulling himself erect from his bed, the cloak tightly around him, and lowering his eyes, commending her to her honourable husband. “My lady, please remember that, beyond these few days of kindness, I am here to die…”

She claims only a second kiss, then retires to leave him to dress.

The hours pass. He is fed and adored. At length, in the soft chaise longue by the table of delights he drifts into a deep sleep and dreams of a mighty boar which is flushed from its den and chased for hours, gouging many of the brave hunters who venture too close to the savage beast. Eventually the boar is cornered and the Lord again delivers the death blow. Mortally wounded, the animal is washed downriver where the dogs seize it and tear into its dying flesh. As the ritual butchery begins, Gawain wakens to the smiling face of Lord Verdant, holding the boar’s skin out to him.

Rising and bowing, Gawain delivers his two kisses. The Lord smiles, again enquiring as to their origin, then accepting that Gawain’s refusal to divulge was, of course, within the rules.

On the third morning, the Lady Verdant does not increase his agony. Instead she insists that the noble Knight of Arthur’s Court take a gift from her to remember her by. She presses a fine ring upon him. He refuses, saying he has nothing to give her of any value, dressed for battle as he is. She presses something lesser, eventually offering something worthless – her green garter. Even this he will not take, until…

Until she tells him that this garter has a magical weave which will protect its bearer from harm. The resolute Gawain falls into this spell, sensing truth in her words and feeling the proximity to the Green Knight’s executing blade. At the Lady’s urging, he conceals the garter about his person, away from the eyes of her returning husband. Three kisses have been given… and one garter.

That afternoon Lord Verdant stands over a waking Gawain who has dreamed the chase and ritual death of a single Fox. The Lord comes forward, presenting the Knight with the skin of the fox, in return for which he takes the three kisses. “Are  you sure that is all you have to give me?” queries the Lord of Castille Diablo. Gawain assures him that it is so, and the Lord, smiling, declares the game over and won…

And then…

And then there is the sound of laughing, again, coming from the walls of the Castille Diablo, and the other Gawain is standing before him, revealed as the Guard of the Drawbridge, holding out the green mask which Gawain must exchange for the Book of Answers which are not answers to the riddles that matter.

And the laughing gets louder and louder… and the green garter does nothing to prevent it’s intense harm within the untouched body of Sir Gawain of Camelot.

————


The journey of Gawain is a personal interpretation of one of the parts in Leaf and Flame, the Silent Eye’s annual workshop held in April 2016 and created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent.

The Silent Eye uses a combination of magical ritual and psycho-drama to illustrate its teachings on the journey to the Soul.

For more details click here.

Details of next year’s workshop (April 2017), The Feathered Seer, can now be found on our website events page. Everyone is welcome, all you need to bring is your self…

 

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