Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Dozmary Pool and the Death of Dragons
This sad and gloomy landscape is Dozmary Pool, on Bodmin Moor. Legend says it is where King Arthur was granted Excalibur and also where Sir Bedivere returned the magical sword as Arthur lay dying after the Battle of Camlann.
I very much wanted to visit the lake when I was in Cornwall last month, but foolishly left finding the site until the very end of my holiday. That turned out to be a day of rain and mists - not a good time to venture out on treacherous and boggy Bodmin Moor; hardly a day to venture outside at all.
It would have been much more sensible to find a cosy pub, enjoy a glass or two of Cornish cider and shelter from the storm. But I was determined to visit the home of the Lady of the Lake, so I donned my walking boots and waterproofs, grabbed my OS Map of Bodmin, and set out on my quest.
I'm not really sure what I expected to find. I guess everyone with a love of Arthurian Tales who visits Dozmary Pool faintly hopes they might spot some rusty old sword lying at the water's edge.
What I saw, apart from the dark waters of the lake, was a huge dragonfly in the long grass on its bank. When the creature didn't fly away as I crept closer to photograph it, I realised it was dead. Rest in peace, Child of the Dragon, I thought, wondering if there was some subtle, magical message here for me after all.
I'm no expert in wild fungi, but it seemed as though a voice whispered in my ear: "What you see is a Destroying Angel. It is deadly. This is a place of death; do not take anything, do not touch anything, do not stay longer than is necessary to pay homage to the dead and to that which has gone."
So I did. I stood in silent contemplation, listening to the sound of the wind and the lapping of water. I thought of the death of King Arthur, and how this place could not have changed much over the centuries. A distant house and a rusty barbed wire were all I could see of the modern world.
As I turned to leave, silently thanking the Lady of the Lake for letting me find this sacred place, it seemed the voice whispered again in my thoughts: "You do not need a sword, your words are your weapons of power. Use them well."
"I will," I thought. "I promise."
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