Flower Brides, May Queens, High Queens: Archetypes in Analysis

For today’s post, I have decided to take a look at Arthurian Faery Queens in the realm of being a Flower Bride who became May Queen when married and eventually turned High Queen.   Guinevere, Isolde, and Blodeuwedd are all Faery women who can be seen through the lens of archetypal Flower Brides.   The archetype of the Flower Bride, as well as her evolution into a High Queen is what I will be examining in this post.

The Flower Bride begins her tale with her being married off into a marriage that she has not chosen for herself.   In the case of Blodeuwedd, this is very extreme, as she is literally made of flowers to be married off to Llew Llaw Gyffes.    Guinevere is chosen as the Flower Bride for Arthur, having been born a princess in her own right, making marriage to a monarch to be something that is expected of her.  Isolde is a princess of Ireland who is contracted into marriage with a King of Cornwall after his best Knight has won an organized battle for her hand.

All three of these young Flower Bride become May Queens (here being used as a term for youthful and innocent Queen) as they marry the monarch.   The Queens begin their marriages in some form of happiness.   Isolde is the one that was not happy in her marriage due to her husband, instead being happy because she and Tristan were still carrying on their affair even after the marriage!   But in all of the stories, the Flower Bride gains more Sovereignty within her story as she rises to become High Queen.   In the story of Blodeuwedd, when Llew begins to pay less attention to her and she subsequently meets Gronw, she begins to realize that she has a choice to make that had been taken away from her.   I believe that this is the time when she begins to truly embody the High Queen energy.    In the story of Guinevere, she begins to embody her High Queen energy most clearly when she begins her affair with Lancelot, finally choosing love for herself as Arthur is beginning to not pay her enough attention.   It must be noted that even in Arthurian tales before Lancelot is introduced (by Chretien de Troyes) Guinevere is still seen to begin an affair with other Knights, for much the same reason.   She falls in love with someone of her choosing when her husband is losing interest in her.    In the story of Isolde, she begins to embody the High Queen energy pretty much as soon as her marriage begins (leaving her very little time as May Queen within the evolution), this is the case because the relationship outside of her marriage that gives her Sovereignty has been entered into before the marriage occurred and did not stop after the marriage.   In this way, Isolde may be seen as the most naturally rebellious of the three, as she never even attempted to be faithful in her marriage, ultimately following her heart more quickly!

The archetype of the Flower Bride who becomes the High Queen, is one of innocence that becomes empowered by following her heart and her innate inner Sovereignty.   The fight for the Flower Bride by the Lords of Winter and Summer is something that has occurred throughout Celtic lore and runs through the Arthurian legends.   It is the fight itself that can help the Flower Bride realize her own Sovereignty, as she realized that she was the most powerful in the situation, it is her love that chooses the Champion, chooses the Ruler for that half of the year!   I believe that we can embrace this archetype to both honor our own inner innocence and our own personal power at the same time.   Because that is the true power of this archetype, the balance of innocence and power, the balance of light and dark, the balance of sweetness and sovereign strength.    Embracing this archetype is a way of feeling into the duality of nature.    It feels like integrating the shadow into the light, which is also the basic premise of much of Shadow work in general.   In many ways, this relates to my concept of the Mystical Femme Fatale Archetype, but these figures seem to embrace more innocence than the average Mystical Femme Fatale.    I can see that this archetype has much cross-over, but it is still a distinct archetype of its own, as figures like Morgan herself would not fit into this one.    The Flower Bride begins as a figure who is determined by her marriage, and that is not the case with Morgan.

I hope you have enjoyed this slightly rambling post about yet another archetype from Celtic and Arthurian lore that can be embraced for inner development.    Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Further Reading

  • Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
  • The Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes
  • Once & Future Queen by Nicole Evelina
  • The Mabinogion translated by Sioned Davies