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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 28,392,698  

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Question of the Week: 51 - 7/23/2001

What Did You Think of 'The Mists of Avalon"?

What did you think of the TNT mini-series, 'The Mists of Avalon'? How well did it compare with the book? Were you happy or disappointed with the interpretation? Even if you have not read the book nor seen the movie, what do you think about the Arthurian Legends? Why are they so enduring? Which Arthurian Legend character most speaks to you and why? Do you think that there is a real-life historical basis for the Legends?

 Reponses:   There are 44 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Hi, All!; Mists Of Avalon, Or Aurthurian Legends? Well, Moa Has Not... Jul 22nd. at 11:17:33 pm EDT

Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 59 - Email

Hi, All!; Mists Of Avalon, or Aurthurian Legends? Well, MOA has not reached the level of a cultural classic and icon, yet.

The Aurthurian Sagas seem to hold sway over the mind of the Western World,
because, on a deep level, they speak to the spiritual essence of most people.
Xtrianity is conspicuous by its absence, due to the Authur Saga being a repository for the fading Pagan Lore of the Celts.

It holds secrets which pull on the subconscious and inner levels of being only
intuitively grasped unless studied in depth.

It is the glory of the Pagan Twilight, as MOA just may be a glory of the Pagan re-awakening.

MOA shows Paganism as a life-affirming, kind and humane religion and the xtian
contrast as coarse, and hard. There seems to be some Hell-fire spewing from some xtian quarters about that. However, that always happens when the judgmental shoe is on the other foot, eh?

I Haven't Read The Book, But After Watching This, It's Next On... Jul 23rd. at 1:26:43 am EDT

Mike (Port Orchard, Washington US) Age: 25 - Email

I haven't read the book, but after watching this, it's next on my to read list.

And for someone who has no interest in Arthurian Legend, this really held my interest, whic to me is a big feat to accomplish. I know so much more know, as before, my knowlegds on Arthurian Legend extended only to: The Lady "in" the Lake, Arthur, Merlin, The Kights of the Round Table, Excalibur, Sir Lancelot, and Gwynnivir. I had no idea the legend was so rich.

The only complaint I have with this mini series is that, as a student of Wicca (I've still a lot of basics to learn, ) it relied too much on the Goddess. I only saw one mention of the God. "The King of the Hunt." Whom Arthur represented in the fertility rites.


I HavenÕt Read The Books, Nor Watched The Movie, Nor Do I... Jul 23rd. at 8:06:28 am EDT

John (New Naumkeag) Age: 34 - Email

I havenÕt read the books, nor watched the movie, nor do I plan on doing either; it (King Arthur, etc.) just isnÕt that interesting to me.

(That said, I must confess that I did enjoy the movie ÒExcaliburÓ years ago ...)

As for the Arthurian legends, I donÕt know (IÕm not a medievalist). Personally, it seems to me that they are dimly remembered accounts of the fall of Roman-Celtic Britain to the invading Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons, Jutes) after the Roman government and military left, embellished with Celtic folklore and Ògood olÕÓ national pride. I suppose they are so enduring because, frankly, itÕs a good story and it fits into the archetype of the Tragic Hero.

The Arthurian Legends really donÕt ÒspeakÓ to me beyond that: a good story with good illustrations of heroic archetypes.

To me, if there are any contemporary applications, it would be yet another reminder of (IMO) the central lesson of the Hero story: we are all called to be the ÒHeroÓ . . . not in spite of our flawed humanity but because of it and through it, when our lives are lived in Truth.

Blessed Be.

I Would Not Know About The Book Or The Series If I... Jul 23rd. at 8:37:25 am EDT

Ciarrai (Somewhere in Somerset County, New Jersey US) Age: 34 - Email

I would not know about the book or the series if I didn't read it here! I don't have cable, but my boyfriend does, but his tv is on the "fritz, " and fades out every 30 minutes, so it would be "movie, snow, movie, snow."

I would like to read the book first and plan on doing so. I've always been that way. I haven't made the opportunity for myself to get into Arthurian legends since high school. I remember enjoying all of that "required reading" -- I'm sure I'll enjoy it more now.

Thanks as always for "looping" with us!

I Love It! And Now I Must Read The Book! Only Thing... Jul 23rd. at 10:10:49 am EDT

Ember (Salisbury, Maryland US) Age: 23 - Email

I love it! And now I must read the book! Only thing I didn't like was the costuming on the "Pagan Extras" and the lack of a May Pole at the Beltain festivals.... The "Pagan Extras" looked like they were dressed kinda like half african, half native american and were very savage looking. The whole point of the movie is that Pagans weren't savages, they were educated people. I did realy like the grain Goddess ritual with the milk and honey being poured into the ground, that was awsome! I have no clue why there was no May Pole for Beltain.... Oh well, other than that It was awsome!

I Loved The Movie. I Have Seen It Every Time It Has... Jul 23rd. at 10:22:47 am EDT

Heather (Milton, Florida US) Age: 19

I loved the movie. I have seen it every time it has aired (three times so far) and by the time it ends, I am always smiling. I'm very happy with it. Its so refreshing to see something that reflects our beliefs on tv, out in public for all to see. Hopefully, it will spread the word on what Paganism really is, to another degree. I'm also in the process of reading the book. I found myself doing both at the same time, and getting more understanding from each as a result. The book takes things much deeper than the movie..goes into the thoughts and feelings of the characters. I know that I will love the rest of the book as I loved the movie.

After Watching The Mists Of Avalon, I Couldn't Help But Have Two... Jul 23rd. at 10:28:37 am EDT

Akima (Gorham, Maine US) Age: 30 - Email

After watching The Mists of Avalon, I couldn't help but have two different thoughts.

As a fictional movie about King Arthur, and the events surrounding him, I applaud. It was great! The movie consentrated more on the legend, and less on special effects and Hollywood hoopla. (Some people may rather see the latter)
The acting was great and although it was long enough to make it a two-part mini series, it was not slow moving and dragged out as many mini series are.

As a movie based on a legend, or in some people's beliefs, some facts, I thought it was very thought prevoking. Many things in the movie contradicted other stories or legends, which I found to be refreshing, but at the same time, confused. For exsample, not many of the other King Arthur legends or stories mention the Lady of the Lake, or even Arthur's sister. Or the thought of him being Pagan. Again, although confused, I found it a bit refreshing. Also, in all other stories, Lancelot betrayed Arthur the first time he slept with Gwenyvier. (spelling?) In the movie, not only did Arthur know of it, but he also ENGAGED in it. I found this rendition believeabe due to the amount of orgy or sexual parties that happened in that era.

To sum it up, I thought it was excellent and applaud the author's intention of bringing Avalon and Paganism into the whole King Arthur legend - BRAVO.

I Can't Even Begin To Comment On How Well The Tv Movie... Jul 23rd. at 10:28:48 am EDT

Richard Gant (Erlanger, Kentucky US) Age: 29 - Email

I can't even begin to comment on how well the TV movie captured the book, because I haven't read the book or seen the movie. (Wow, you'd almost think there was no point to me commenting here. ^_^) However, I think that the Arthurian legends stick around because they speak to a view of "the good old days" (although exactly what "the good old days" means depends on the author...). At some point, I think that everybody has wanted to be a knight in shining armor, riding around the countryside righting wrongs and seeking glory and adventure. It just sounds so much better than a 9 - 5 job. (Hmmm... I can't start a new paragraph. Please bear with my problem hee.) If there is any particular Arthurian character that speaks to me, it would probably be Sir Kay. Boistrous, loud, cheerful, and devoted to his friends. He's a minor character, but I like him. (I like Arthur as well, but I have a harder time relating to him.) (Hmmm... I still can't start a new paragraph. Very disconcerting.)Is there a historical basis for the Arthurian legends? Probably. I think that there is a real-life historical basis for *any* legend. The problem (particularly in the case of the Arthurian legends) is determining *which* legends. The Arthurian legends are a mish-mash (myth-mash?) of Celtic mythology, independent stories of Charlemagne and Lancelot, local folktales, and actual history. This has been told, edited and modified and retold over and over again to the point that it's difficult to impossible to extract history from fiction. I have no doubt that there was a historical basis for Arthur, Merlin, Gwenievere, Lancelot, Morgaine, and all the others. In fact, I'm sure that there were several, all blended together. Because of that, I don't think it will ever be possible to say definitively about *any* historical figure: "*This* is Arthur."

Again It Seems That Gushing Praise Is The Only Reponse Pagans Can... Jul 23rd. at 11:02:39 am EDT

Jason Pitzl (Champaign, Illinois US) Age: 28 - Email

Again it seems that gushing praise is the only reponse pagans can come up with when we are thrown a goddess-friendly bone. Never mind the various glaring historical errors, never mind the fact that the Celts didn't worship in this manner and that this will set back several pagans in their efforts to promote a better historical perspective.

The sets were wildly out of place, especially the isle of Avalon, the ancient Celts didn't build structures like that and neither did the Romans. The pagan religious philosophy was fine if you were from California circa 1980.

Alot of the actors and actressess perfomances gave the impression that they were "phoning it in" especially Angelica Huston who seemed uncomfortable with the lines she was given.

It seems now we will have to contend with another round of people who are sure they are reincarnations of priestesses from the "holy isle" and that indeed this must be how it happened.

Mists of Avalon is a wonderful fantasy, but that is all it is, a fantasy. Please lets make sure we keep it there this time around. Let us not walk back into a mess we have just emerged from. It not only cheapens us, but it cheapens the real, interesting, complex history that the Arthurian legends sprang from.

I Haven't Read The Book (yet) But I Thought The Mini-series Was... Jul 23rd. at 11:05:27 am EDT

Damian (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania US) Age: 35

I haven't read the book (yet) but I thought the mini-series was well done. The only complaint I've heard from friends that have read the book was that it was too short and a lot of the story was skipped over (which I find is the case whenever a book is turned into a movie). Too bad TNT didn't take a hint from NBC's "The 10th Kingdom" and done a "maxi-mini series" over the course of six nights.

The Arthurian legends have always held a place in my mind as far back as I can remember, and I have tried to watch anything related to them. My favorites have to be "Excaliber" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (what can I say, I love British humor) the one movie that I haven't seen was "First Knight". There's just something about an aging Sean Conner planing a boy king that just didn't seem right to me.

As to which character most speakes to me and why. That's a tough one since each movie or book cast the character to fit the story they want to tell. I would have to say I relate to the knights that are just in the backgroud, because like me they help with the problemes and people around them and they don't ask for fame and glory in return. I hope that make sense, I'm a support type empathic person. I'm the one at gatherings that will walk up to someone sitting around the fire (or one of the drummers) and start a good neck message or can tell when someone needs a hug or shoulder. I'm always happy to be there for others, and you will probably find me working in the kitchen helping to feed the masses at gatherings.

Okay, Okay. It's Time For Someone Who For Many Years Has Practically... Jul 23rd. at 11:17:33 am EDT

Morgan Ravenwood (Lake Havasu , Arizona US) Age: 40 - Email

Okay, okay. It's time for someone who for many years has practically regarded that book as a Pagan "Bible" of sorts to offer an opinion (though I'm happy to see that the mini-series seems to have sparked a lot of interest in reading the book!)

While I found the first part to be a pretty good capsulization of the book with most of the important stuff left in, the second part, alas, left something to be desired, for much was omitted. Another two hours would have made so much difference---but I can see why that might have made it pretty dull for those who have NOT read the book. How I wish they'd made a "director's cut" version at least an hour longer!

The scenery and sets were fabulous; they really caught the tone of the dark ages. The costumes were perhaps a little TOO fancy, and I didn't care much for the "cornrow" braid hairstyles, but otherwise, everything was great. I taped the movie and have already watched it several times. I seem to find something new every time!

I have done a lot of study on the Arthurian legends since I was a child. As with most legends, I feel that there must be a basis in fact for Arthur's existence. For sure, the legend is one that has been well-known in Britain for centuries. Perhaps the fascination that many people held for Arthur and his knights centered around the fact that the folks from the age of chivalry seemed to represent all that was best in man.

Just a note to the person who picked on the "tribal" look of some of the Pagans in the movie: I believe that the tribe represented were the Picts, who painted themselves blue and indeed lived rather primitively by OUR standards!

Storyline aside, the most important thing about this movie is that it brought the subject of Paganism to prime time. Millions of people got to hear about worshipping the Goddess, and I can't help but think that you just can't buy that kind of exposure! The more that people are made aware of religious diversity, the more this awareness will foster religious tolerance.

I think my favorite scene in the movie was the last one, and it was right out of the book: Morgaine sees the statue of the "Virgin Mary" and realizes that it's the image of the goddess Brighid. The worship of the Goddess goes on!

For anyone who saw the movie and is even remotely curious about the book, I encourage you to read it. Besides being a whopper of a story, it is full of wit and wisdom that are very relevant to Paganism today---

Blessed Be!
Morgan Ravenwood

List owner,

I Feel That The Tv Show Was As Good As We Could... Jul 23rd. at 12:09:02 pm EDT

Arielle (Seattle, Washington US) Age: 43 - Email

I feel that the TV show was as good as we could expect from mainstream media. In all it portrayed the positive aspects of the Pagan religions, I really enjoyed how Morgaine was always so vibrant looking, and Guenivere look pale and insipid. The way there was no real pagan bashing was quite enjoyable. But, as usual, I I took the movie as stand alone from the book. There is never any direct comparison. And in this case, the movie seems to keep the same feel as the book. The only problem I saw, was that my son (who hasn't read it) had some problem following the plot, while my daughter and I (who have read it) did not. And anyone who has not considered the differences and clashes (historically) of christianity and paganism could feel confused.

I have always felt the Arthurian cycle was first the tale of mother goddess worship being overshadowed by father god worship, and then of paganism being overshadowed by christianity - particularly goddess worship being overshadowed. This is one of the reasons I have always preferred Marion Zimmer-Bradly's telling of the tale - it agreed with my own feelings on the matter. It was too bad the time constraints did not allow the showing of the land/kingdom not doing well because Arthur turned his back on paganism and embraced christainity.

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