Every generation, it seems, re-creates King Arthur for its own purposes — and in its own image. This month a new movie is out on the King Arthur legend, a good time to look deeper into the mysterious person who is at the center of so much fascinating lore.
Arthur may or may not have been an actual historical person. But whether he was or not doesn’t lessen the impact he has had on history and culture. We all are familiar with the Arthur story — how he grew up without parents but mentored by the wizard, Merlin; how he pulled a sword from a stone, thus fulfilling a prophesy that whosoever should do it would become king of the realm; and how, once he established himself at Camelot, he instituted the magical and mystical idea of the Round Table, a place where all knights who had taken vows of service to the high ideals of chivalry would be equal.
During the Middle Ages, the Arthur legend too many twists and turns, deepening his character into a personage of tremendous metaphysical weight. The knights he assembled at Camelot also were given their own stories and adventures. One of the most famous was Lancelot, who was involved in a disastrous love triangle (the other angles of which were Queen Guenevere and Arthur himself). The other was Percival, who went off to try to find the elusive Holy Grail, the chalice that Jesus used at the Last Supper.
Creating a Round Table Within
King Arthur’s Round Table is a metaphor for both personal integration (the circle that brings together all the parts of our personality) and planetary consciousness (the awareness that we are one with all of creation).
The circle of the Round Table is the great mandala, the circle of life itself. ‘Mandala’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘whole world’ or ‘sacred circle.’ Often referred to as the Circle of Life, mandalas represent wholeness and are used in many forms, in many cultural and spiritual traditions, as symbols for healing, prayer and meditation. They appear in Native American and Tibetan sand paintings, Hindu yantras, Gothic rose windows, and sacred labyrinths. The mandala is the wheel of time, the face of the clock, astrological chart, the depiction of the earth, an image of the universe ‘out there’ and the universe ‘in here.’ Mandalas can be found everywhere. Look around you. There are many mandalas already in your life.
The mandala is also a pie-chart. Here is an exercise that you might want to do when you have an hour or two to yourself. Create a pie-chart of your life’s priorities. Draw a huge circle to represent your typical week and divide it up into pie slices of time you devote to certain activities. After you’ve done that, draw another circle and divide up the pie again in a way that you would like your life to look like.
There are 168 hours in every week. Your pie can have 168 possible slices. If you sleep eight hours every night, that is a pie slice of 56 hours. So, ‘slice’ that out right away. The rest is for you to play with.