The Goddess Morgne:
This strand, as its name suggests, is inspired by the brief appearance of Morgan le Fay in this tale, one we only learn about in retrospect. Bertilak informs Gawain, after the beheading game is complete, that the old woman in his castle is none other than Gawain's sorceress aunty. Curiously, Bertilak calls her the “goddess” Morgan (or Morgne, as the poet spells it). We learn, moreover, that the entire ordeal (from the arrival of the Green Knight at Arthur’s court onwards) was designed by Morgan, with the ostensible goal being not only to test the virtue of Arthur’s court but also to frighten Gwenevere to death. I have always struggled with that part of Bertilak’s explanation (as have many readers and scholars) because it seems . . . such a grossly inadequate and downright petty reason to go to all this trouble. While we can’t reject it out of hand, since it *is* what Bertilak tells Gawain, I think it’s quite possible to trouble it right back. This is, after all, yet another woman who has a prominent role in the story and yet who we never hear speak a single word. Bertilak and Gawain talk plenty *about* her, but what would she say about herself and her motivations for this ordeal? Is Bertilak telling the truth, even? Or is he telling Gawain the only version of the story that he’d be willing to believe? After all, Gawain does go off on a fairly indecorous “mantrum” upon learning he’s been *had* by all and everyone, blaming women and their inherently wicked nature for his embarrassment and failure. I wonder then, to what extent there’s a deeper explanation that might be sought from Morgan herself her, had she been given the chance to offer it.
Because of her brief but important appearance, I went with a short but dramatic strand (16-18” in length) that pairs perfectly with her in-text companion, The Lady of the High Wilderness. It’s made of the same stones, minus the maw sit sit jade, as I wanted Morgne’s strand to be just a little more understated (another nod to her large nebulous presence in the tale itself.