Anyone who has ever been interested in either the Arthurian Tradition or Faery Lore should read this book. Not just read it, but ponder the concepts being explored by Wendy Berg's fresh new outlook. A long time esotericist, Wendy speaks from hands-on experience in the trenches of England's esoteric communities. Everything I have read that she has written has caused me to re-think many of the tired old cliches about Faery, and she challenges the reader to think over and perhaps embrace some new ideas (or ideals) that will shed much light into some of the dark crevices of the academic, not to mention anemic, Arthurian legend. You've done England a great favor with this book...whether they know it or not.
Oh dear, why has Gareth Knight, of all people, recommended this exercise in nonsense? I'm sure it all makes sense to the cult of Avalon but for anyone else I'd say don't bother. How on earth did Tolkien's albeit great fiction start getting taken as esoteric? All the symbolism of the book is borrowed from Arthurian tradition but that doesn't make it factual! The Silmarillion is for hobbit nerds but not for learning any spiritual truth. You would be far better off with C S Lewis and Narnia if you're looking down this road. I found it all airy-faery.
An extraordinary and original re-evaluation of the Arthurian legends, including some of the older, more fragmentary texts which have never been translated into English, which throws a completely new light on the British Mysteries. The presence of faery characters intermingling with humans in these ancient legends is nothing new, but Wendy Berg's essential premise is that King Arthur's queen, Gwenevere (whose name means White Shadow) is herself of faery origin. As bold an assertion as this may be, when you look at the legends afresh from this perspective a whole lot of confusing and conflicting elements in the stories suddenly fall into place. Wendy interprets a number of Gwenevere's "abductions" as excursions into faery, and offers a compelling view of the nature and origin of the Grail Hallows. Her discussion of these ideas is detailed, thorough and fascinating; she draws upon a number of other texts for comparative study, from the earliest tales of the Mabinogion, the book of Genesis, and The Lord of the Rings, unearthing a largely forgotten heritage of the British Mystery Tradition connecting up to ancient stellar deities. Although the ideas presented in the book are bold, they are far from credulous - everything is intelligently and sensitively presented. Wendy Berg is a practising ritual magician with many years' experience working with the Arthurian archetypes - and it shows.
Wendy Berg has written a masterwork. Red Tree White Tree not only makes perfect sense but will leave you stunned by what it reveals. My internal dialogue while reading always began with 'Of course!' as Wendy pulls it all together. If you wonder about what we are as humans, how human and faery fit into the scheme of things, our human-faery history and what should be our future - in fact, about Life, the Universe and Everything - this book is essential reading.
I began to write this book after I had been handed a glass of red wine and a voice in my head said: "If you drink that, you'll die."
Such is the opening line of Wendy Berg's seminal new book on the Faery tradition in the Arthurian and Grail legends: the beginning of a trail which led her to a complete re-evaluation of the powers behind the fellowship of the Round Table, and which, as it unfolds, throws a whole new perspective on some of Britain's oldest and most enduring legends.
Red Tree, White Tree is no ordinary Arthurian or Fey commentary but rather a completely comprehensive and enchanting spiralling-back through history to its first annals and beyond. Berg, co-author of Polarity Magic: The Secret History of Western Religion with Mike Harris, works admirably through what have been formerly disparate texts to find new connections and syntheses. Her skilled exegesis includes a webbing of biblical texts (both canonical and apocryphal), the Qabalah, the Mabinogion, the bardic traditions of Taliesin, Chrétien de Troyes, Robert de Boron, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Thomas Malory, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others, to make some extraordinary discoveries. This book will appeal to historians, literary scholars, mythological schemers, grail seekers, and esoteric practitioners alike. As Gareth Knight rightly asserts - "This is the most important and challenging book on Arthurian and Grail tradition for many a long year."