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I am illusion and the world
seen through a glass.

Vivian is one of the many names of the Lady of the Lake in the Arthurian legends. Her various names have led to speculation that "Lady of the Lake" may have been a title that was applied to different women, perhaps in their role as priestesses. Or they may represent memories of a Celtic lake Goddess or fairy, much like the Gwragedd Annwn, or lake maidens of Wales. Some have seen in Her name Nimue a connection with the sacred groves or nimidae, which links Her with Diana.

Like Morgan Le Fay, the Lady of the Lake (under the name Nimue) was a pupil of the great wizard Merlin, and he taught to Her everything he knew. When She had learned all She could from him, She used Her new-learned skills to cast a spell of binding and imprisonment on him. Different versions of the story give different reasons for and descriptions of his prison: some say She imprisoned him in a magical castle in the air, so that only She could love him; or that She shut him beneath a stone or in a tomb, leaving him to slowly die; or that he was imprisoned within a hawthorn tree, forever asleep. The castle version describes his prison as a tower of glass constructed as a spiral, high up in the air. This suggests a connection with Arianrhod's revolving castle which represent the spiralling stars, and connects Her realm with Fate and the land of the dead or Otherworld.

The reasons for Her behavior towards Merlin are various—She imprisons him out of love, or to keep him safe, or from a deceptive nature, or as revenge—and in most legends Her character has an ambiguous nature: though She takes Merlin and his valuable counsel away from King Arthur, at other times She gladly helps the king by providing the magical sword Excalibur, and comes to his aid with magic on occasion. She is also said to be one of the four queens who bore Arthur away to the Isle of Avalon after he was mortally wounded. This probably reflects the ambiguous nature of water itself: necessary for life, it has great beauty but also great danger, and many other water creatures are of this two-fold nature, such as mermaids, rusalky, and undines.

Vivian is said to have lovingly fostered the orphaned boy Lancelot, bringing him up in Her magical home beneath a lake, which earned him the name Lancelot du Lac. When he was of age She presented him to King Arthur who knighted him at Her request. She is also a healer and cured Lancelot of an episode of madness.

This card in a reading indicates healing and magic, and tells of the ability to access realms of deep intuition. Emotional healing is possible now, if you are willing to explore the depths and align yourself with the flow of things.

Alternate spellings or names: Vivienne, Vivien, Eviene, Nimue, Nina, Niniane, Nineve, Nyneve, the Lady of the Lake, la Dame du Lac (c'est très français!). Also called Chwinbian, Hwimleian, or Chwimlean as the companion of Myrddin, the Welsh forerunner of Merlin.

This design is available on prints at ArtPal.


Ch'ang O