The Foliate Man: A Knight’s Tale


Photo: Copyright Jan Malique

It’s been a week since my return from a workshop in Derbyshire, a deeply profound experience. How dramatic this statement sounds, but there is great truth buried within the dramatics. Humanity is forever pursuing the goals of self-realisation and gnosis; sometimes this goal seems within our reach but is snatched away, much like the Grail was from Sir Lancelot. The Arthurian mythos bears close scrutiny dear reader. Its tales are rich in esoteric truths and symbolism. The deeper you dig, the greater the treasure that is unveiled.

My journey, or quest if you like, took about a year. I am counting from the time I registered for the workshop in 2015 to completion of the “quest” between 22- 24 April 2016. Participants attended from Europe, the USA and UK. It seems we heard the call and made our way to this special location in Derbyshire. The lure of King Arthur and his Court has been a source of fascination for centuries, as has the deeper myth beneath the Christianised version of the stories.   The Goddess, Sovereignty, Green Man, Merlin, Arthur. These archetypes lie deeply buried within our collective psyche. What of my interest in this matter? I am a Seeker after regeneration and reintegration of course.

I was assigned the role of Sir Gareth of Orkney, brother to Sir Gawain and nephew to King Arthur. An illustrious lineage it has to be said! Yet, we must look beyond titles and ancestry to unravel this young man’s nature and purpose. Donning the guise of a simple man he asks for food and lodging at the Court of Arthur and becomes a servant in their household. Known also as Le Bel Inconnu (the fair unknown), this young man is a little puzzling. Yearning to be a knight he undergoes many quests to prove himself worthy of such an undertaking and eventually marries the object of his affections, Lady Liones (Lyoness). Sir Gareth’s journey is in a sense mine, yet I wasn’t truly aware of this until after the weekend. It is an allegorical tale dear reader…


Apart from participation in this workshop there was a parallel journey my Soul was undertaking. As many may be aware, or not, the enactment of sacred dramas isn’t just “play acting” for would be thespians. It has an important function in ritual, as well as being an integral part of the Lesser and Greater Mysteries.   “As Above, So Below”.

I came on this journey to renew my spiritual vows. For the past few years it had felt like I’d been wandering, struggling in a desert which had sapped my strength and enthusiasm for life. The trials and adversities facing me in the spiritual and mundane planes were hard and I’d become undisciplined. The Templar Knights took vows of Poverty, chastity and obedience.   Was this a template to be used for Sir Gareth (and myself) in this instance? Perhaps.

There is also the issue of the older, pre-Christian traditions underlying the Arthurian mysteries. The Foliate Man. Ah, an incredibly powerful and ancient symbol our Green Man. His energies and presence were palpable within the temple space and in the greater temple of the natural world. . .I am still reeling from the results of our work in the workshop, very much under enchantment dear reader. I peered into the pool in the enchanted forest and saw an image of the Green Man stare back. What was he trying to convey? So far I am not permitted to see beyond the curtain of leaves. Anything more I can’t really say as the experience is too fresh and needs to be integrated. Yet still, there came forward animal powers to assist us on our life journeys. The bonding process will take time.

Life is going to be very interesting for the next few months. The elemental dragons have been loosed and the individuation journey has commenced. I have so many questions, which will be answered I suppose when the time is right. Next year’s Silent Eye workshop will be “The Feathered Seer”. The shaman within is stirring in anticipation.

photo credit: <a href=”″>King David laments</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;