The “once and future king,” fifth- or sixth-century King of the Britons and Guru of the mystery school at Camelot, an embodiment of El Morya. He drove the Saxon invaders from Britain, united the kingdom and established the order of the Knights of the Round Table, whose code of chivalry bound them to defend the helpless from the wicked and evildoers and to uphold the ideals of purity, truth, mercy, faithfulness and generosity.
Between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, Arthurian legends attained the height of their popularity. Minstrels and troubadours carried the fame of Arthur all over Europe. Historians told of his valiant deeds in prose, and poets in verse, while artists adorned the halls, tapestries and stained-glass windows of many castles with scenes depicting the adventures of King Arthur and the knights and ladies of the Round Table.
The story of Arthur as presented in Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur is considered a masterpiece. Malory wrote his great work from behind bars during the War of the Roses (1455–86). This single book revived a vivid interest in the life of Arthur, his noble deeds, and those of his knights.
Coincidentally, in the year Malory’s book was published, Henry VII, the new king of England, announced that he himself was a descendant of King Arthur. He stated that his son, whom he named Arthur, was the fulfillment of Merlin’s prophecy—Arthur had returned to rule England.
The next great revival of interest in Arthur and his court of Camelot came as a result of the publication of the Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1842. The work was so popular throughout all the English-speaking world, that by 1890 it was taught in all public schools in the United States.
The historical King Arthur
The historical King Arthur is said to have lived about 500 A.D., and is thought to have been a leader of the Britons in their battles against the invading Anglo-Saxon kings. Malory and Tennyson both record that he fought and defeated twelve kings. Arthur was so wise a leader and performed so many deeds of valor that he became a hero to his countrymen for all time.
Some historical evidence of Arthur’s life comes from Glastonbury Abbey. Some of the priests who served there during the sixth century preserved a record of their receipt of the disinterred bodies of both King Arthur and his queen, Guinevere. The bodies of the royal couple were buried beneath the high altar in the church.
According to an account by Giraldus Cambrensis, who was present when the grave was opened at the command of Henry II about the year 1150, the grave contained the bones and sword of King Arthur. It also contained a leaden cross which contained the following inscription: Here lies buried the famous King Arthur, in the island of Avalon.
According to Arthurian legends, after King Arthur was mortally wounded at Camlann by his bastard son (or nephew), Mordred, he was placed on a barge with three queens which drifted toward Avalon, an “island valley,” where, as Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in Idylls of the King, “falls not hail, or rain, or any snow, nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies deep-meadow’d, happy, fair with orchard lawns and bowery hollows crown’d with summer sea.” Some accounts say that Arthur would be healed of his “grievous wound” at Avalon and would return to rule over his people.
Sir Thomas Malory writes in Le Morte d’Arthur:
Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of Our Lord Jesu [withdrawn] into another place; and men say that he shall come again, and he shall win the holy cross. I will not say that it shall be so, but rather I will say, here in this world he changed his life. But many men say that there is written upon his tomb this verse: Hic iacet Arthurus, rex quondam rexque futurus [Here lies Arthur, the once and future king].
The return of Arthur
Many Englishmen believed that Arthur never died. He was for them a sort of guardian angel, watching over his people from his home on the Isle of Avalon. In times of acute crisis, they believed Arthur would return to lead England to victory.
We also believe that the saint who became Thomas Becket and Thomas More was the reincarnated soul of Arthur, and that he, now ascended, is our own Guru and teacher who shows us the way of the will of God according to the path of Christ.
The Heart of the Inner Retreat is as “Avalon” where chelas of El Morya retreat in summer to be healed of the blows of karmic adversity affecting body, mind and soul. And the master himself takes refuge in this Western Shamballa—Gautama Buddha’s etheric/physical retreat in the West, an extension of his retreat over the Gobi Desert, which is centered over “the Heart” of this island valley.
Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 31, no. 34, July 2, 1988.
Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 28, no. 51, December 22, 1985.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, May 22, 1983.