A Knight, A Wizard and A Lady of the Lake: Immortal Monday

When I say Lady of the Lake what do you think of? Maybe it’s Excalibur and King Arthur. Arguably, it’s the most popular story involving the magical Fae. It was an episode of the BBC’s Merlin that got me thinking about her and the various versions adapted by film and print. As it turns out, The Lady isn’t so simple, and #ImmortalMonday is going to take a closer look.

Also known as The Lady of Avalon, whether there is one or more behind the name that makes up the legend depends on the author and story rendition. She’s been known by many names: Nimue, Viviane, Elaine, Niniane, Nyneve, and Evienne to name a few. She’s been called a water Nymph, a magical Fae, Celtic divinity and a woman of strong character. She’s been both ally and villain.

The Lady and Lancelot

Image via Wikipedia

When Lancelot’s father died, it was the Lady, Viviane, that stole Lancelot away to raise as her own in her underwater dwelling, curing him of his madness. He was baptized in a magical pool and trained to be the greatest of all knights. He was known as Lancelot du Lac’s, meaning “of the Lake.”

The Lady and Merlin

Image via Wikipedia

Merlin became enchanted by the Lady Viviane and decided to teach her all of his magic in exchange for her love.  Viviane is strong and Merlin’s vision of the future is clouded. He doesn’t let that stop him and he teachers her until she is more powerful than the old wizard himself and she traps him in a tree, or cave, or something of the like depending on which version of the story you read.

Off With Her Head!

The magical lady of the lake is said to grant the Excalibur sword to those who are worthy, and with it, its scribing power. That is, the power to escape death. It’s possible that she lived comfortably under the water as a water deity, or the water may have simply acted as a portal for her to another world. Luck would run out for her, though, when Sir Balin would bicker with her over an enchanted sword and an existing family feud. Both were blaming the other for close personal losses, in the end, Sir Balin would revert to violence and behead the Lady.

A tragic ending to a romanticized tale. How do you picture The Lady of the Lake? Friend or foe? Green like the lake water? Or the flesh tone of your average person?


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20 thoughts on “A Knight, A Wizard and A Lady of the Lake: Immortal Monday”

  1. Tameri EthertonTameri Etherton

    Ah yes, the Lady of the Lake. I think my favorite telling of her tale is from ‘The Mists of Avalon’. I see her as more of human in form and coloring, but not solid. Fluid, like the water, I guess. Which means, in my mind, she can always come back after the beheading. Poor Balin.

  2. Marcy KennedyMarcy Kennedy

    The Lady of the Lake myth plays a huge role in the book Lisa Hall-WIlson and I co-wrote. We really tried to take some parts of it and flesh it out to make her into a real person.

  3. Emma MeadeEmma Meade

    So that’s where Evian water comes from. I must go and read The Mists of Avalon or at the very least track down the TV series.

  4. Coleen PatrickColeen Patrick

    I think I always thought of the lady of the lake as misunderstood. 🙂 Great post as always, Debra!

  5. Scott L VannatterScott L Vannatter

    I always tend to look at those characters as all-knowing and, mostly, benevolent. Here, I guess, now, I am not so certain.

  6. Diana BeebeDiana Beebe

    I love the Arthurian legends. I’ve enjoyed how the Merlin series has adapted the stories. The Lady of the Lake is one of our favorite characters–too bad she didn’t get much air time. Love the post, Debra!

  7. MelindaMelinda

    This is one myth I knew absolutely nothing about! Great post 🙂

  8. PatriciaPatricia

    It seems to me there was an episode of “Once Upon A Time” that featured a lady of the lake, but I don’t remember what context she was referred to. She was definitely beautiful and magical, that’s about all I remember.

    As usualy, another great installment of Immortal Monday!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  9. Lynn KelleyLynn Kelley

    I had no idea there was this much behind the Lady of the Lake. I didn’t know about her raising Lancelot! One of my fave movies is Excaliber, and that’s how I envision the Lady of the Lake.

    Cool post, Debra!

  10. Karen RoughtKaren Rought

    Have you ever read The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron? And perhaps the followup The Tree of Avalon? I can’t remember which book she’s in – I think it’s the latter – but I liked the twist Barron put on her character.

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