by Charles Webb
“Everybody knows that King Arthur had a proper British accent, and that his Knights of the Round Table spent most of their time gallivanting around England in search of the Holy Grail. Everybody except the French. In truth, many of the earliest Arthurian legends took place not in England but in Brittany’s Forest of Broceliande. Despite being much smaller now than in days of yore, this ancient woodland is a virtual paradise for Grail fanatics and would-be Merlins – nowhere else in the world will you find a higher concentration of mystical sites associated with King Arthur, Merlin (his tomb) and the dark sorceress Morgan Le Fay, who is said to still roam the forest and haunt the nearby churchyard of the Church of the Holy Grail on moonlit nights.” – Weird Europe: A Guide to Bizarre, Macabre and Just Plain Weird Sights, Kristen Lawson and Anneli Rufus
“Morgan: No-one knows the real story of the great King Arthur of Camelot. Most of what you think you know about Camelot, Guinevere, Lancelot and the evil sorceress known as Morgan le Fay, is nothing but lies. I should know, for I am Morgan le Fay, priestess of the Isle of Avalon, where the ancient religion of the Mother Goddess was born.” – The Mists of Avalon (2001) TV Mini-series
In the summer of 1978 I was in France preparing to shoot two French/American co-productions at Château du Guilguiffin and the surrounding area in Brittany.
One of the films, Extreme Close-up, was inspired by a novella, The Ebony Tower, by John Fowles, and featured Gloria Leonard as a Helmut Newtonish high fashion photographer and John Holmes as her muse/model and lover.
The other film, La Bete et la Belle, was a re-imagining of Jean Cocteau’s version of Beauty and the Beast, with the roles reversed.
Gloria was cast as the “beast” and John the “beauty”. In the script we added another turn of the screw on the story.
Since we had ancient Celtic locations in Brittany available to us, we loosely based the character of “beauty” on Sir Lancelot and “beast” on Morgan Le Fay from the Arthurian mythology.
Morgan Le Fay, the much maligned and misunderstood half sister to King Arthur…sorceress, malevolent fairy, bad witch, seductress, siren to young knights entering the Val Sans Retour (Valley of No Return), shapeshifter, trickster, Merlin’s muse, and sole personage of Avalon, the Isle of Apples…made a great beast when juxtaposed with the dashing hero, Sir Lancelot, savior of those doomed knights.
Gloria was especially attracted to the Morgan Le Fay role, strangely, almost to the point of obsession during the weeks leading up to the shoot.
She could be looked at as something of a sorceress, shapeshifter and seductress, herself. During her career she was a bond trader, record company executive, star of The Opening of Misty Beethoven (Radley Metzger’s erotic re-imagining of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion), publisher of High Society magazine, 1980s TV personality, president of the Free Speech Coalition and high profile feminist.
The reason for her obsession with Morgan Le Fay would become obvious as events unfolded.
A week or so before shooting was to begin, the cast and crew, part French part from the U.S., headed off for the location near the Brittany coast by train. We had engaged a pilot, Jean Claude, and his single engine four-seater, for some aerial shots and he had asked to come along for the entire shoot.
He invited me, Gloria and John to fly from Paris to the chateau with him and get a good look at the countryside along the way.
His flight plan took us over Rennes, the Broceliande forest and the notorious Valley of No Return of Morgan Le Fay. As we approached this area, Jean Claude began tipping the wings of the plane from side to side.
This was not a stunt, he explained, but an attempt to get the gas flowing from one of the wing tanks into the other. Something was clogged and we were about to run out of gas. He announced that we would have to land.
Jean Claude grew up in this part of France and was familiar with the territory around Broceliande. He headed for a rural landing strip, which could be seen in the distance up ahead.
Two other small planes were parked on the dirt strip itself in front of the small building that served as a rest stop and gas station, so Jean Claude guided the plane toward the adjoining corn field.
The stalks were all flattened against the rows, but we had to steer crosswise to their direction, which made for a very jarring and unnerving landing.
He taxied over to the building and we all got out. Two men emerged from the building, greeted us boisterously and ushered us inside. It turns out that most small landing strips in France serve up not only petrol but also wine, spirits and light food.
The small bar in the well worn “lounge” buzzed with the conversation and laughter of a group of locals….three older men, a strikingly beautiful old woman and a shy teenaged girl.
We were offered wine and cheese…Jean Claude drank heartily, which made me, Gloria and John visibly nervous. The man behind the bar was reassuring that all would be well.
When we went back to the plane an ornate oval shaped object was in my seat. (I am holding it in the accompanying image.) “What’s this?!” I questioned Jean Claude and John, both of whom were pranksters. Neither could explain the object, so we took it back inside to find out who had put it in the plane.
When I held it up and Jean Claude inquired as to its origin, everyone in the room, except for the old woman, gasped. The three men each had a different answer…
Le vagin de Morgan Le Fay !
La chatte de Morgan le Fay !
Le trou du cul de Morgan Le Fay !
The room went silent, then the old woman spoke…Le sceau sacré de Morgan Le Fay…
The first three exclamations referred to Morgan Le Fay’s private parts, front and back.
The old woman identified the artifact as the Sacred Seal of Morgan Le Fay and explained that objects such as this were part of the folklore of the area around Broceliande, and had mysteriously appeared in the pockets or beds of various people in the region for hundreds of years, usually as part of either a good luck spell or a curse.
If the recipient of one of these uncanny artifacts found it placed “right side up”, as a vagina, it meant that Morgan Le Fay was accepting them into herself…into her good graces…and the person should expect her help and good fortune. The artifact in this position could also be a portal into the Otherworld.
If, on the other hand, the object was placed “upside down”, it was meant to be seen as Morgan Le Fay’s…
“Connard!”, yelled one of the men. Then, in thickly accented English, “Mean she gonna sheet ona you!”
The old woman glared at the man and continued her explanation. If the object was placed upside down…like a tarot card reversed…it meant that the recipient had been cursed by Morgan Le Fay and could expect the full force of her well known, hideous wrath.
When asked if the object was “up or down” when I found it, I could not answer. A bad sign, the old woman warned…”sideways maybe?” Better act right towards Morgan Le Fay or all will be lost. Watch out for guiding signs and omens.
We continued our journey toward the Brittany coast. Gloria held the object, turning it over and over in her hands and staring at it until we landed near Château du Guilguiffin.
We shot Extreme Close-up first and all went well. The film enjoyed great success at festivals, at the box office and was nominated for several awards. (I say this not to brag, but as a point of contrast, which will be seen as events unfold.)
I carefully placed the Sacred Seal of Morgan Le Fay right side up in a desk drawer in my room and forgot about it.
The cast and crew took a break for a few days before starting to shoot La Bete et la Belle. Gloria and I drove to Douarnenez, a fishing village not far from Château du Guilguiffin, for lunch.
In the sidewalk café, the beautiful old woman we had met at the landing strip near Broceliande, approached our table and asked if she could speak to us about a matter of utmost importance. Surprisingly, the woman now spoke almost perfect English.
The old woman was frighteningly aware of our doings at the chateau.
She knew that we were shooting two films and that we had finished the first one.
She also knew the story line of La Bete et la Belle, that we were planning to shoot next and said that, unfortunately, it portrayed Morgan Le Fay in the same old way that filmmakers, particularly Hollywood producers, had portrayed her in the past.
She was going to have to insist, since we had a chance to set the record straight, that we change our script to tell the true story of Morgan Le Fay.
Gloria and I were both flabbergasted by what we were experiencing. Had we just stumbled into the Twilight Zone. Here was this old Breton woman sitting before us acting more like a pushy agent than a wise elder.
The old woman sensed our dismay and smiled enigmatically. “Let me tell you about the real Morgan Le Fay…”
This is the short version of the story she told…
The world’s understanding of Morgan Le Fay has been intentionally and appallingly distorted by dark forces seeking to obscure the Truth, as was the story of Mary Magdalene, to whom Morgan is closely connected.
In fact, Tamar, the daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, reincarnated with Joseph of Arimathea in the fifth century as Morgan Le Fay and King Arthur.
Arthur married Morgan, his half sister, making her his queen. Monks from, by this time corrupted, Rome arrived, stating that this incest was a sin against Christ and that he must have the marriage annulled and banish Morgan or they would burn in hell forever.
King Arthur obeyed. The fallen monks arranged for him to marry Guinevere as a reward for saving both his and Morgan’s soul.
This was a fatal mistake on Arthur’s part and led to the destruction of Camelot, culminating in the “years of fire” and the woes of mankind up to the present time.
Morgan’s continued Holy presence in Camelot would have prevented this and changed the history of humankind in this world. Morgan, after all, is carrier of the “Sangreal”, and, as such, is the manifestation of the Holy Grail.
As she finished telling the story, I saw the old woman’s demeanor flash for an instant into a red eyed she-demon, as she commanded us to divulge the True History of Morgan Le Fay. (Or did I imagine this?)
This happened before the Da Vinci Code controversy, of course, and I was not aware of any theories about the connections the old woman was making. I had to tell her that hers was a fascinating story, but that it would have to wait for another movie.
We could not throw our script away and do a re-write according to her specifications at this point. And, by the way, just who was she anyway to be not just suggesting, but now demanding these changes? (Gloria told me later that she thought I should have changed the script…wish I had!)
To my dismay, the old woman reached into my vest pocket, pulled out the Sacred Seal of Morgan Le Fay (I still have no idea how it got there.) and slammed it onto the table in front of me upside down.
A police car roared past the café with its siren blaring. Gloria and I looked around to see what was happening. When we turned back to the table, the old woman was gone. The Sacred Seal of Morgan Le Fay stared up at me from the table.
As you can probably guess, La Bete et la Belle shoot did not go well…at all. I do not have the space here to detail all that went wrong, but we were not able to finish shooting the film before returning to the United States.
The idea was that we would shoot “wrap around” scenes here to make the whole thing work, but even those seemed cursed. The film, unfortunately (because it contained some beautifully surrealistic scenes and performances…and was very expensive to make), has not been released to this day.
I have finally laid this bad choice of which direction to take at a now obvious crossroad to rest.
In all fairness to “rational” explanations from others involved as to what went wrong, and to common sense, I must admit that mundane causes for this scenario could be pointed to rather than magick. But…
I still have Le sceau sacré de Morgan Le Fay.
It occupies its place, right side up, on its own tiny but exquisite altar in a corner of my office. Offerings of Breton apple cider and crepes are laid out on a regular basis…to striking effect.
Someone sent me a passage they found on the internet recently, which advises…
“Morgan Le Fay is truly the essence of the Holy Grail, the Holy Drop of the divine spirit we call God, and to call on her for protection is to invoke blessings and good fortune of the highest order.”
About The Author:
Charles Webb is a San Francisco based filmmaker, practitioner of various of the occult arts and founder of the reality handling method Cinemorphics, (Alchemical Conjuration Technique – A.C.T.). His latest book, “Quick-Knife Hoodoo”, is available at Amazon.
Image Attributions: All images are photomontages composed by the author.
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