Not to be confused with the Avalon, the lake, though in Arthurian legend and Celtic mythology this name tends to be synonomous with an island also called the Isle or Island of the Blessed
The Isle of the Blessed is thought to be the centre of the Old Religion and the focus of its power, though the sorcerer Taliesin claimed that magic came into existence in the Crystal Cave. The Isle of the Blessed is a rather small isle in the middle of a lake shrouded by mist. The lake is located near the Great Seas of Meredor. The Isle was once inhabited by the High Priestesses of the Triple Goddess, but it fell into ruin after Uther Pendragon attacked it during the Great Purge.
History[edit | edit source]
In the times of the Old Religion, the High Priestesses of the Old Religon would gather on Samhain Eve on the Isle of the Blessed, where they would sacrifice a living human to tear the Veil between the worlds of the living and the Spirit world (The Darkest Hour).
The High Priestesses lived on the Isle of the Blessed, served and protected by the Blood Guard. They looked after the Cup of Life and the Rowan Staff, a powerful magical instrument carved from the Rowan Tree that grows at the very heart of the Isle of the Blessed. The Rowan Tree was also the symbol of the Blood Guard (The Tears of Uther Pendragon).
After Arthur Pendragon was bitten by a Questing Beast, Merlin went to Kilgharrah who told him that in order to save Arthur’s life, he must travel to the Isle of the Blessed and accept the heavy price that he would have to pay to the High Priestess of the Old Religion he would find there.
On the Isle of the Blessed he encountered Nimueh. He was told that to save Arthur’s life, another life had to be given to the ancient gods. Merlin offered his own life to sacrifice to save Arthur and Nimueh gave him a vial of water from the Cup of Life that would revive Arthur. However, the life that was taken was not Merlin’s, but his mother’s, who became ill with a terrible and fatal disease. Merlin intended to once again visit Nimueh and bargain his own life for his mother’s, but Gaius arrived before him and sacrificed his life in exchange for Hunith's, who later recovered from the illness.
Merlin blamed Nimueh for Gaius’ death and, as Gaius lay dying, attacked her. Nimueh easily overpowered him in a magical battle and, seemingly, killed him. However, as she turned her back to him, Merlin rose up and and summoned a lightning, which struck and killed her. Nimueh’s death was used as payment and Gaius lived (Le Morte d'Arthur).
Merlin thought that the Cup was destroyed when he killed Nimueh, but the Cup remained and fell into the possession of a group of Druids located past the border into Cenred’s kingdom (The Coming of Arthur).
A few years later, Morgause gave Morgana a staff carved from the Rowan Tree, which she used to awaken the dead in the Great Battle for Camelot. However, Merlin destroyed it to break the enchantment and save Camelot (The Tears of Uther Pendragon).
A year after their failed invasion of Camelot, Morgana took the wounded Morgause to the Isle of the Blessed. On the shores of the lake, they met a ferryman, who Morgause paid to taken them to the Isle, which had been infested with Wyverns.
Right after midnight on Samhain Eve, Morgause told Morgana to use her in a blood sacrifice to tear the Veil between this world and the next. After a tearful goodbye, Morgana used her new and terrible powers to open a split in the universe by killing her sister on the sacrificial altar. The Cailleach came forward with the Dorocha.
Arthur decided to go to the Isle of the Blessed to sacrifice himself to heal the broken Veil. He, along with Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table, eventually arrived at the Isle of the Blessed, having paid the same ferryman, and were attacked by wyverns. Merlin used his Dragonlord powers to command the wyverns to leave but more wyverns arrived. Arthur offered his life to heal the Veil but before he could go, Merlin knocked him unconscious with a stunning spell. Merlin offered to sacrifice himself but the Cailleach told him that his time among men was not over. Lancelot walked into the Veil and vanished as it was closed (The Darkest Hour).
Appearances[edit | edit source]
- Series 1
- The Mark of Nimueh
- The Poisoned Chalice
- Le Morte d'Arthur
- Series 3
- The Tears of Uther Pendragon: Part Two (Mentioned only)
- The Crystal Cave (Appears in crystals) (Rowan tree only)
- The Coming of Arthur: Part One (Mentioned only)
- The Coming of Arthur: Part Two (Rowan tree only)
- Series 4
- The Darkest Hour: Part One
- The Darkest Hour: Part Two
- The Secret Sharer (Mentioned only)
- Lancelot du Lac (Mentioned only)
- Series 5
- The Death Song of Uther Pendragon (Mentioned only)
Ancient Mythology[edit | edit source]
- The Isle of the Blessed or a similar concept is a recurring feature in many different religions across the world.
- In Greek Mythology, the "Isles of the Blessed" or "Fortunate Isles" is a group of isles in the Elysian Fields that serve as the dwelling place of people who have been reincarnated three times, and managed to be judged as especially pure enough to gain entrance to the Elysian Fields all three times.
- In Celtic belief, the Island or Isle of the Blessed is synonymous with Avalon, the Celtic Otherworld, which is similar the the Spirit World and appears in many other Arthurian Legends. However, historically, the centre of the “Old Religion”, the seat of the Druids, was the Island of Anglesey. Despite both of the the terms "Avalon" and "the Isle of the Blessed" or "Island of the Blessed" often being used to refer to an island, and the same island, in Celtic mythology as well as Arthurian legend, in the show the terms have been used for separate things. One is the Lake of Avalon, which does appear to have an island in it but not the Isle of the Blessed. The other is an island called the Isle of the Blessed, located in the Great Seas of Meredor, indicating it is in the ocean. Interestingly, the Isle of the Blessed/Avalon was thought to be located in the ocean as well, with Geoffrey of Monmouth writing in Vita Merlini that a sea voyage was needed to reach Avalon.
- The Isle of the Blessed or the Isle of Avalon is known to be situated in Glastonbury. The Glastonbury Tor was also known as the Isle of Glass and the Isle of Apples. It is believed that King Arthur was taken there to be healed by the Monks that lived in the monastery.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- The appearance of the Isle of the Blessed changed a lot from Series 1 to Series 4, mainly becoming bigger. In Series 1 it was a rather small isle, with only a few ruined buildings. In Series 4 it looked like a city or a castle, on different levels and with many buildings and towers.
- It is unknown why in Series 4 the Isle was infested with wyverns, while in Series 1 it wasn’t. A possible explanation could be that while Nimueh was alive, she inhabited the Isle and used her magic to keep them away, but after her death, there was nothing to stop them from infesting the Isle.
- The Isle of the Blessed has much in common with the legend's Avalon, the place that Morgan le Fay reigns and the final resting place of King Arthur.
- It is also unknown why the Ferryman was not in Le Morte d'Arthur.
- Nimueh, High Priestess of the Old Religion, probably lived on the Isle of the Blessed and that was probably where her cave was located. She often travelled to and from there (The Poisoned Chalice, Excalibur), but it seems she did not need the ferryman and his boat to cross the lake.
- It is possible that the Isle of the Blessed appeared in the episodes "The Mark of Nimueh" and "The Poisoned Chalice" since Nimueh's cave may have been there.
- Nimueh, Morgause, and Lancelot all died on the Isle of the Blessed.
Morgause's description[edit | edit source]
In a deleted scene from The Darkest Hour: Part One, when Morgana and Morgause arrived on the Isle of the
Blessed, the High Priestess described to her sister the Isle as it was during her childhood:
"When I was first brought here these hallways were more beautiful than any palace, and they were teaming with women. Women just like you and I,High Priestesses of the Old Religion. And the air was perfumed with magic. You could smell it as you approached across the lake. This whole island was pulsing with possibility and life. And it can be like that again. As the last of our kind, it is up to you to right the wrongs done to us by Uther Pendragon. [moan] Come, Samhain is almost upon us. We must hurry. Soon the Veil between the two worlds will be at its thinnest."