The Lady of the Lake is the spirit who gave the magical sword Excalibur to Arthur and then reclaimed it after the Battle of Camlann. (The sword in the stone broke; Excalibur was the replacement.) She is his spiritual matron. Lady of the Lake is a title; her identity is unclear. Among the spirits described as being the Lady of the Lake are Argante, Morgan le Fay, Nimue and Vivian. Her association with swords evokes the Scottish spirit, Scatach.
Compounding the confusion is that in Celtic cosmology, as in so many others, every body of water has an in-dwelling, presiding spirit. There are also water spirits who are not tied to anyone location but may manifest in virtually any source of living water. Thus a very wide variety of now little-known, mysterious Celtic goddesses may fit the description of the Lady of the Lake. The title may also refer to her priestess; hence more than one may be addressed as Lady of the Lake, spirit and mortal.
King Arthur may or may not have died following the Battle of Camlann. Legends describe boats mysteriously appearing to ferry him to the Isle of Avalon, either to heal and recover or because it is an afterlife realm. The Lady of the Lake may or may not be among the gracious women who come to collect Arthur; however the island is described as belonging to her.
The Lady of the Lake is invoked for protection and by those who love precious, magical swords. She may be petitioned for entrance to Avalon. The Lady of the Lake is the guardian of esoteric secrets and may be invoked for wisdom and guidance.
The Lady of the Lake appears as a beautiful, mysterious, dignified woman.
The Lady of the Lake inspires artists; many images are available. Alternatively, substitute a Queen of Swords playing card or the Ace of Swords tarot card, which depicts a disembodied hand, albeit a celestial one, proffering a sword.
The Lady of the Lake rules the Isle of Avalon but also manifests in lakes. When giving or reclaiming Excalibur, a mysterious hand emerges from the center of the lake and then withdraws within.
- Morgan le Fay
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.