Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/482

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440 Reviews,

essaying to discover hidden origins we surely should do, we shall find that five traits are early postulated of Morgain : (i) She lives in the Isle of Avalon ; (2) She is chief of nine queens; (3) She can change her shape and fly through the air ; (4) She possesses a magic ointment which will heal all wounds ; (5) She carries off the wounded Arthur to her home in Avalon. Now one and all of these are traits which are also found connected with the Valkyrie. We know that nine is the number most generally associated with them. We know that as swan-maidens they could change their shape and fly through the air. We know that the dwelling of Brynhild, the most famous of the sisterhood, whether it be in the isle of the Thidrek-saga, the Schild-burg of the Volsunga-saga, or the Glass Mountain of popular tradition, is, like Avalon, a form of the Otherworld. We know that the Valkyrie carried off the slain heroes to the bliss of Valhalla, and, as Mr. Nutt showed long ago, the magic ointment or balsam, which we find the crone in Gerbert using with such effect, is paralleled by Hilde's (the typical Valkyr) ceaseless resuscitation of the dead warriors.

I have long believed that Morgain, in her relation to Arthur, is a loan from Scandinavian tradition, which has affected the Arthurian legend far more than we realise. The sword in the block, by the withdrawal of which Arthur won his kingdom, has long since been recognised as a parallel to the Branstock ; probably the sword of the Grail Quest, which must be soldered afresh by the hero before he can achieve his task, comes from the same source ; while the mysterious smith of the same Grail tradition, who forged but three swords, and then must needs die, " for never could he forge a sharper," recalls Wieland. Even to-day, in the nightmare charm of the Orkneys, Arthur is confused with Siegfried and his victory over the Valkyr. It may even be that the relationship between Arthur and Morgain is a loan from the same inexhaustible store, and depends upon the mutual relations subsisting between Siegmund-Siegfried, the Valkyr, and Wotan.

If this were the root-origin of the character we can easily under- stand how, developing in a Celtic ?niiieu, it would gather to itself Celtic characteristics, and while on the one hand the Valkyr would come into contract with the Irish war-goddess, from whom she might well have borrowed her name, on the other hand, as her true origin became forgotten, certain traits in her story would tend