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Sophie-David 
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Legend: The Queen of Swords, Morgause


I must admit that I often find the Queen of Swords one of the most <ahem> attractive in any deck. The combination of feminine beauty and wit is almost irresistable. Last night this was the card for my nightly study just before sleep, and I do remember having a long and pleasant walk with her in my dreams. I just don't remember what we were talking about... funny that . Anyway, in honour of a memorable dream, I present Morgause, Queen of Swords!

In studying the short story of Morgause from A Keeper of Words I enjoyed learning of her independent spirit, "Much like Morgan, Morgause was a law unto herself," and that Arthur "dreaded her visits as they sowed discord amongst the knights, who competed for the beauty's attention". I don't mind reading that Arthur was a bit put out by a woman. But then I was shocked by the ending, that her son "Gaheris slew both lovers as they lay in her bed". Oedipus complex or what! If you can't control female sexuality, then off with her head?

But anyway, like any good archetype, she was very much alive in my dream, just as she looks astutely vivacious in this card. Queen Morgause relaxes on a small wooden loveseat (hmm) with her cat. Dressed in the refined purple of royal authority, she appears to be studying someone, or perhaps pondering some line of reasoning as she looks off to her right. Her hair is in formal curls, somewhat elaborately dressed with purple gauze. The top of her garment is richly decorated with gold embroidery, including what looks to me like an inverted butterfly in the middle - perhaps a symbol of her own transformational growth and experience.

Her right hand pets her cat, a symbol of feminine grace, wisdom, and energy. The cat looks right at the observer. Even though Morgause is not looking at us, perhaps the cat symbolizes her awareness of our presence. Her left hand seems to absently finger a map emblazoned with a red dragon and a land that looks a little like the British Isles. The Queen draws her power from a keen knowledge of the land and its people, the fiery red dragon indicating her feminine passion for the world she lives in, and linking her with the suit's elemental energy.

She has crossed her right leg dramatically over her left in a way which emphasizes her sexual form and allure. Morgause enjoys and asserts her femininity, but will also use her beauty as a distraction if necessary, to further her carefully formed plans.

On the floor to her right a small stack of books and scrolls speak of her careful studies, and the tapestry behind her with its knights on horse reminds us of her suit affiliation in Swords. The window behind her on her left yields a view of a gathering storm over the mountains, representing her perceptive and passionate unconscious. She is a formidable and forthright woman who knows what she wants, with the analytical skills and subtlety to obtain it.



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Last edited by Sophie-David; 27-01-2005 at 15:27.
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Lyones 
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The window behind Morgause makes me think of cool air. She seems sophisticated compared to the other down-to-earth queens.

Both the King and Queen of Swords have the same tapestry behind them on the wall and the stance of the horses on it reminds me of the figures above the bed in the Ace.

Quote:
Originally posted by Sophie-David
Her left hand seems to absently finger a map emblazoned with a red dragon and a land that looks a little like the British Isles. The Queen draws her power from a keen knowledge of the land and its people, the fiery red dragon indicating her feminine passion for the world she lives in, and linking her with the suit's elemental energy.
I thought the "dragon" looked like a crayfish, but it does remind me of the "there be dragons" that map-makers used when pin-pointing unchartered areas. Because I saw it as a crayfish, it reminded me of the Moon card in other decks, relating it back to the world of the mind, the hard shell of protection, not allowing herself to feel or not showing her feelings, the defensive claws - which for me mirrors a certain distancing attitude in the way her legs are crossed and turned away from whomever/whatever she is watching (although the upper part of her body is open and receptive, so she is listening), it makes me think that she is turning away from from something she might find deceptive and needs time to think it over.

She looks slightly suspicious, as if she doesn't take anything at face value, and will question it and come up with her own conclusions.

Quote:
Originally posted by Sophie-David
The top of her garment is richly decorated with gold embroidery, including what looks to me like an inverted butterfly in the middle - perhaps a symbol of her own transformational growth and experience.
Good call David I hadn't noticed this before. The butterfly could also be a symbol of her freedom of thought ... and since she is seen to be the widdow, separated or divorced woman, this allows her freedom in her actions as well. She is 'available' but she knows exactly what she wants and does not settle for less.

The weather outside and the dark colour of her dress remind us that her past has not been happy. She is beautiful, and symbolically has the world at her fingertips (and presumably at her feet) and yet she is wistful and lonely and possibly considering how she will spend her life now - so, I'm sure she enjoyed the chat she had with you last night in your dream David



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WalesWoman 
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Seems like "woman of science" is another interpretation for Morgause, or Queen of Swords, so I guess fire would be the alchemey rather than the intelligence/air thing I "used" to associate with Queen of Swords. LOL, still making my mental adjustments. But this to me is reflected in her stack of books and the map, her desire to learn everything and anything she puts her mind to.

That alchemey, the chemistry of her sexulality is also very evident...I'm not so sure that her sons slayed her for having a lover, or the fact that, if I remember correctly, her lover slew their father and she was instrumental in a lot of betrayal and dirty dealings...she was not a nice woman. Very calculating and power mongering in some accounts and working at purposes counter productive to Arthur. She used her body to get where she wanted, get what she wanted, basically using a man's desire for her beauty against him, for her own purposes.

Wasn't she the sister of Igraine? Morgan le Fay's auntie? Or is that just something from the Mist's of Avalon? So in my imagination the Red Dragon on the map is her intent to defeat the Pendragon, gain the kingdom and claim it as her own. She may look suspicious, but I think it's one of those things that seem to be "projecting", she has suspicious motives so views everything else from that part of herself.

Well one good thing, she isn't a waffler, she knows what she wants, has clear intent (even if it's only to herself) and has the "steel" within to do it. Just don't get in her way...seems like her enemies had accidents as well.



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Sophie-David 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalesWoman
That alchemey, the chemistry of her sexulality is also very evident...I'm not so sure that her sons slayed her for having a lover, or the fact that, if I remember correctly, her lover slew their father and she was instrumental in a lot of betrayal and dirty dealings...she was not a nice woman.
According to A Keeper of Words, she was sleeping with "Lamorak, the young son of Pellinore". It was Pellinore who killed her husband, King Lot, in battle - in Anna-Marie's account it was not Lamorak his son.

I see all the dishonour in this slaying of the lovers as being on Gaheris her son. Since this event evidentally took place before the defeat of Arthur, Pellinore was still very much alive and Gaheris could have called him to account in honourable combat. Killing Pellinore's unarmed son while he lay in bed was odious in its cowardice; murdering his mother in flagrante delicto was Oedipal and psychotic.

I tend to see this story as another repudiation of the more equal sexual customs of the Celtic "dark ages" by the medieval writers - a cautionary tale about a woman who would take lovers at her will, as if she were a man. If Gaheris had bedded King Pellinore's daughter likely nothing of consequence would have happened.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WalesWoman
Wasn't she the sister of Igraine? Morgan le Fay's auntie? Or is that just something from the Mist's of Avalon?
A Keeper of Words suggests:
Quote:
Morgause was the daughter of Igraine and her first husband, Gorlis, the Duke of Cornwall. By her birth, Morgause was full sister of Morgan and half-sister to Arthur.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WalesWoman
Seems like "woman of science" is another interpretation for Morgause, or Queen of Swords, so I guess fire would be the alchemey rather than the intelligence/air thing I "used" to associate with Queen of Swords. LOL, still making my mental adjustments. But this to me is reflected in her stack of books and the map, her desire to learn everything and anything she puts her mind to.
Yes, I think this image is very strong in this picture - I haven't studied all the cards yet, but I suspect that this image of Morgause comes across as being the most literate. Her books are not merely decorative or prestigious, they are close at hand and she is actively using them. In the words for the science of her time, she is a philosopher, a lover of wisdom. Her intense, considered gaze reinforces this image.



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Know that you are - already - the Christ, the Bodhisattva. By your great love the One became Many, as with delight and joy you assumed the cloak of duality. Form is made of but three things: energy, change, and love.
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WalesWoman 
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Thanks for helping me straighten this out, there are so many stories, it's really hard to keep them straight without getting totally confused, especially story lines from various books I've read and then get them all jumbled together in my mind. I am wishing we had a better library, so I could do some re-reading, it's been twenty or more years since I read a lot of these books.

Was just wondering what happed to you David...thought you may have been blown away by the weather of the last week or so.

So if she really was the daughter of Igraine, she had a lot of reason to want the power and every right to the crown as heir if she was the older of the two. It seems to me that she gave her son, some good reasons to want to murder her, not simply because her lover was the son of her husbands killer. I'm sure this would have been an affront to his honor tho, but I don't see how killing her would redeem it. I'll have to do some checking on this. It could be she wouldn't marry anyone because then she would have to share the power and she wasn't about to do that, so it was styming his claim to the throne as well. Royal families are murder!

I suppose the books could also mean she studied her enemies strengths and weaknesses and used everybit of intelligence she could gather to overcome them or use it against them to maintain her position or advance it. She used her wit and cunning to "map" out her strategy and formulate her plans...I guess she let her passion blind her to a few critical things...like her son.



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Sophie-David 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalesWoman
Thanks for helping me straighten this out, there are so many stories, it's really hard to keep them straight without getting totally confused, especially story lines from various books I've read and then get them all jumbled together in my mind. I am wishing we had a better library, so I could do some re-reading, it's been twenty or more years since I read a lot of these books.
I wonder if your library system works like ours - we can go online and order books from anywhere within the system (Vancouver Island) and have them sent to our local branch for free. I speak theoretically of course since I find it hard to keep up with the books that I keep buying, or that my creativity teacher lends me, let alone plunging into the resources of the library!

Quote:
Originally Posted by WalesWoman
Was just wondering what happed to you David...thought you may have been blown away by the weather of the last week or so.
Actually I had to work Christmas and so did both our children. Then the roads were snowed in (not Ucluelet itself of course, because of the marine climate). So the last two days were the first opportunity to visit our two children for Christmas on the other side of Vancouver Island, and exchange Christmas gifts too. The weather has been a bit rainy, but quite warm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WalesWoman
So if she really was the daughter of Igraine, she had a lot of reason to want the power and every right to the crown as heir if she was the older of the two. It seems to me that she gave her son, some good reasons to want to murder her, not simply because her lover was the son of her husbands killer. I'm sure this would have been an affront to his honor tho, but I don't see how killing her would redeem it. I'll have to do some checking on this. It could be she wouldn't marry anyone because then she would have to share the power and she wasn't about to do that, so it was styming his claim to the throne as well. Royal families are murder!
Heh, Heh, and the material of so many Shakespearean plots. I would think that by Morgause not remarrying she would actually be preserving a clearer succession for her sons. Mordred must have been her first son by King Lot. The lines of Morgause and Morgan would have a much clearer right of succession than Arthur who was really the progeny of a reprehensible extra-marital union - of Igraine who received Uther disguised as her husband - knowingly or unknowing, depending on the version. But this dubious act was somewhat mollified when Uther married Igraine after the death of Gorlois.



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Know that you are - already - the Christ, the Bodhisattva. By your great love the One became Many, as with delight and joy you assumed the cloak of duality. Form is made of but three things: energy, change, and love.
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WalesWoman 
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Back to the books, again! Ok, guess I'd better keep re-reading Anna-Marie's version or I just confuse myself even worse. My favorite telling in in the Mists of Avalon...I think. Morgana is the High Priestess and Morguase is virgin priestess (in training) for the Beltane (spring?) rituals, Arthur is picked as the "Stag", so both are masked and don't realize who the other is until later? In others it seems that Morgana is mother of Mordred, Morgause is married off to Lot, but is her aunt, but whichever version, because one of them fell in love with Arthur and couldn't be together, got spiteful and poisoned Mordred against him. In other versions she is avenging her father's death and betrayal. It seems to me she was rather fond of poison when sex didn't work as well as it once had to get her way. Now we know where Shakespear got a lot of his inspiration from.

I wish there was something that could prove one thing or another, so there wouldn't be all these different versions. But oh well, one conjecture is as good as another I guess. So I guess I'll stick with Anne-Marie for this deck.



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Grizabella 
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I'm reading Mists of Avalon right now and it's Morgaine who is the priestess in training, with Morgause as her aunt who is married to Lot. Viviane is the priestess/ Lady of the Lake in the book, and I suppose that Morgaine succeeds her in that position. I haven't gotten that far yet.

Also, from what I can piece together, Morgaine is Morgan le Fay.
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WalesWoman 
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Thanks Lyric, it's been so long since I read them that I kept getting different stories and names confused.



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I like to think of myself as a connaseur (even though I can't spell that word) of Arthurian legends. There ARE a lot of different versions, but if you're lookng for a standard, the best is Le Morte D'Arthur, my Mallory, or the Once and Future King, by T.H. White. Mallory claimed to have done a great deal of research into the original legends, and in Arthurian studies he is generally taken as one of the most prominent writers, and White based his books almost exclusively on Mallory's, only expanding the story to be more creative and less historic.

That being said, my interpretation of Morgause comes mostly from White's books.

I think what has been said about her being intelligent, cunning, and coniving is all true. She is a woman who does not falter, and always plans ahead. She begot Mordred by King Arthur almost before Arthur was king because she knew she would want to have that added connection to the throne, and as she already had Gawain, Gaheris, Agravian, and Gareth she knew well that she could command absolute devotion from any of her children. She is fiery and passionate and cunning. She can be associated with both air and fire through the swords (according to Barbara Moore, swords are connected to both, but I guess that's a matter of personal preference).

But absolute devotion also proved to be her downfall: her son was so enamoured with her, so absolutely hers that the sight of her with another man drove him into a fit in which he killed both her and her lover, Lamorak. I don't think Gaheris (sometimes Agravain) even realized the identity of the lover until after the fact, though it is because it was Lamorak that Gaheris was not executed for his act, merely banished.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophie-David
I see all the dishonour in this slaying of the lovers as being on Gaheris her son. Since this event evidentally took place before the defeat of Arthur, Pellinore was still very much alive and Gaheris could have called him to account in honourable combat. Killing Pellinore's unarmed son while he lay in bed was odious in its cowardice; murdering his mother in flagrante delicto was Oedipal and psychotic.
Actually, Pellinore was already dead in White and Mallory's versions: Gawain and his brothers ambushed him, cut off his head, and carried it through Camelot to penalize him for their father's death. It has been suggested that Lamorak deliberately drew Morgause's attentions to get back at the Orkney clan for this. As for the rest of what you said, definately Oedipal

I think part of what Morgause symbolises is the single-mindedness of absolute ambition, and how it might blind us to the fact that no matter how much we know, how much we prepare or plan for the future, we cannot control everything, especially not the people around us; they are all their own beings, with their own aims and ends in mind, ends that do not always match our own, as in the case of Gaheris, who wanted so much to be the only man in his mother's life that he was jelous of his own brothers, whereas Morgause only thought of him as a spare to the throne of Orkney in case Gawain was killed.

Anyway, I'll leave off with that before I ramble on any further



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To a green thought in a green shade.
-Andrew Marvell

"The future trembled in the silence"
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