9.5" x 4.75" figurative sculpture
stone clay, mixed-media. 2020
Gwenhwyfar is also referred to as the ‘Virginal’ Goddess, though today we often mistake that meaning; ‘virginal’ in this case translates as “complete, in and of herself.” As a queen, Gwenhwyfar is the eternal feminine principle of strength and peace in the universe: She is powerful and influential without requiring a pairing or a partner --in other words, she doesn’t need a man. But he needs her: In the older stories, it was Gwenwhyfar who gave the legendary King of Camelot his right to rule, simply because they were together. Ancient Celtic tradition says that for a man to be King, he must be paired with the Goddess: Her role was to mix the King’s energy with the earth’s energy, in harmony. Arthur pursued her, then, not for love, but because without her he could not be King. In fact, in the Welsh Mabinogion called Culhwch and Olwen (circa 1100) she is listed among the weapons of another world, which Arthur received as a gift, suggesting her divine origin and reinforcing her power and sovereignty.
That’s a far cry from some of the more modern takes on Guinevere, depicted primarily in many of today’s stories as a secondary character --as the wife of a king-- or reduced to a plot device --as the love interest of a knight. Gwenhwyfar isn’t here to play scenery, or serve as anyone’s plot device, and she’s definitely not here to smile for you.
Cactus Gallery, online!