|3.03.02 The Women's Chapter of the Bombay Bicycle Club|
The Women's Chapter of the Bombay Bicycle Club is the oldest women's club in the world. It serves the same causes and maintains the same disciplines as the Men's Chapter.
Many of the artifacts in our museum were supplied by us. But there are more to be added. We have linens and in particular the one used by Veronica to wipe off the sweat from Christ's forehead. The Shroud of Turin, which is in the custody of Turin's Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, was originally in the possession of our Lady Elizabethe la filleroy de Poitiers. She obtained possession of it along with the tunic of the brother of King Louis, of France (known as St. Louis, 1226-1270 A.D.). His brother was the Compte de Poitiers. The tunic is unusual because it contains about fifty arrow holes, all tainted with blood, from St. Louis' crusade at the particular battle of Mansourah, not far from Cairo, Egypt. The battle was in early February 1250 against a mixture of Saracens, Turks, and some Bedouins. According to our tradition, and as reported by the great knight Jean de Joinville, the Bedouins followed Ali, who was Mahomet's (Mohammed's) uncle, and believed that when a man dies for his lord, or in any good cause, his soul goes into another body. They believed that the new body is a better and a happier one. Jean de Joinville (born about 1224) points out in his "Life of St. Louis" that another group like them, followers of the Old Man of the Mountain, who were known as Assasins during those times, not only believed this but they cared little whether they would be killed when carrying out their master's commands. The tradition of the Assasins has carried forward even into our presently troubled days, of people carrying bombs on their person with the intention of assasinating people; and of course the horrible event of September 11, 2001 reflects how far a belief can strike.
What is unusual about the Compte's tunic is the story it tells, how a fully armored knight may receive so many arrows piercing his armored chest that he may look like a pin cushion. The Saracen bows were so powerful the arrows could drive through the armor, through the under garment of chain mail, through a leather shirt and into the linen tunic.
We have jewelry brought back from the crusades, presented to us by our knights in shining armor.
According to our tradition the origin of our association began with the Temple Virgins serving the Luxor Temple in Egypt. This was about 5,000 years ago. The head of the Temple Virgins was Sebekkare Sebeknefru the elder, who was the sister of Wahankh Inyotef II. He was the second pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom (Eleventh Dynasty), serving 2118-2069 B.C. Before this, when the great king Sargon, founder of the Akkadian Empire (2334-2279 B.C., went down into Egypt he took his sister, Arashar, the leader of the Temple Virgins serving the goddess Ishtar (Ishtar was a Mesopotamian mother/fertility goddess, like the Greek Artemis and the Egyptian goddess Isis; from Ishtar came the word, Easter, according to tradition) at Ur, with him. She ended up staying in Thebes, and she left many writings behind her when she passed away. These writings were found by Sebekkare in the location of the Luxor Temple complex which contains a small room where a cenotaph of Alexander the Great is located. They adopted these great teachings which emphasized charity and were what would be called the nurses of those days. Later they became associated with Sinouey the famous Egyptian doctor.
Later (the date is uncertain) a Luxor Temple Virgin went to Ur on a pilgrimage in honor of Arashar and then travelled to the Temple of Artemis at Epheseus (now called Ephes, Turkey). The temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the world. Artemis (Diana to the Romans), the sister of Apollo, was a fertility goddess and also the goddess of the hunt. The Temple Virgins there exchanged vows with the other sisters and thus was formed the first Women's Club in the world. Later queens of many dynasties in Egypt and Mesopotamia and Troy became affiliated with these outstanding women's organizations and supplied funds to them for their causes. The queens, of course, were important influences upon their husbands.
Next the Temple Virgins serving the Temple of Apollo in Greece, at a place called Delphi, who were associated with the oracle, joined in with the teachings. This was about 1,000 B.C. Apollo was known for wisdom, among other attributes, including his knowledge of medicine and his reputation for being a healer. He was also pictured as a good shepherd, carrying a lamb upon his shoulders. The oracle at delphi originally belonged to the Greek mother goddess, Ge (also spelled, Gea), and Apollo returned to his temple and took over the oracle according to tradition. Above the entrance of his temple were written the words, "Know Thyself".
Next, about 970 B.C. a young virgin who was dear to King David, weeping over his death, became associated with our formative organization; and we accepted the teaching that there is one, ineffable God, and that all wisdom comes from God. This is what Wisdom means to us, which is was best described by King Solomon the son of David (reigned from 1015 B.C. to 975 B.C.), who was considered the wisest leader of his time.
Sisters coming from India were also voicing the same stuff, who were of the school of the Brahmans. Once again these teachings emphasized that all wisdom comes from the one, ineffable God.
Later Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Christ, about 45 A.D., came through Epheseus and converted the leaders of our Women's Club to Christianity. She was travelling with Joseph of Arimathaea at the time, and the two together went on to Britain. Not long after that the Temple of Artemis at Epheseus was destroyed, and the only thing left was the circular foundation of the center of the temple. The stones were used to build an enormous church on a hill overlooking the temple. That church was where St. Paul and St. John missioned. It was later destroyed by the Seljuk Turks who, following the teachings of Koran and Hebrew scriptures, objected to icons and thus persecuted the Christians during the time of the Crusades.
According to our tradition, which is recorded in the Arthurian Romances, most of the knights who served King Arthur's round-table at Caer Leon--believed to be Camelot--near the isle of Avilon in Western England were relatives of Joseph of Arimathaea. An aside: the Hebrew prefix, kir, meaning "a fortress", is astonishingly similar to the Celtic prefix for a fortress, caer. There may be a link to Hebrew cultural mixing with the early Britians preserved not only in this word but other Celtic and Irish words--just a theory. In any event Joseph of Arimathaea and Mary Magdalene established a great abby on the isle, the site being called Glastonbury. It is a site also famous for a tower atop a hill overlooking the abby. Glastonbury Tor became ironically the site where Oliver Cromwell (1599 A.D. -1658 A.D.), who reigned terror on the abbys on behalf of King Charles I, executed Glastonbury's Bishop Whiting and two monks 15 November 1539 A.D. The bishop was quartered and his four parts displayed at Wells, Bath, Lichester and Bridgewater. His head was set over the abbey gateway at Glastonbury.
Cromwell, who was given the title, Lord Protector of England, is known for having stopped the civil war in England. He also persecuted the bishops of the land and thus is responsible for the destruction of the British abbys. He is also known in Ireland and Scotland as the beast who destroyed their wonderful castles (1649 A.D.-1651 A.D.). One of the most popular tourist spots in Ireland, Blarney Castle, was one of his many victims. Blarney Castle is known for its famous "Blarney Stone" which is part of the parapet on the top of the wall of the castle. The parapet is an outreach from the wall which provides a gap where soldiers under attack can pour burning oil down upon those climbing up the wall. Anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone (you have to lay down on your back and lean backwards, with someone holding onto your ankles, into the gap to kiss the now blackened stone) is said to obtain an extraordinary gift of speech. Later the word, "blarney", got into our English dictionary as the skill of flattery. The famous poet, Lord Byron, is one who kissed the Blarney Stone.
In any event Cromwell concluded that King Charles I was responsible for the rebellion and civil war in England, so Cromwell contrived to have him beheaded. He laid the foundations of British supremacy and an over-seas empire. But in the end he perhaps got his just deserts from some points of view. In 1661 King Charles II ordered his corpse, which was in Westminister Abby, to be disinterred, hanged and beheaded. We women of the westlands supported that move.
Glastonbury Abby is where King Arthur was knighted, about 635 A.D., and then proclaimed king of all the lands which are known now as England. He was knighted at the magical Joseph's Well. Joseph of Arimathaea, according to our tradition as recorded by Mallory, was the uncle of Jesus Christ. This is what Sir Thomas Mallory said in his work, Le Morte D'Arthur, referring to the lineage of Sir Lancelot from Joseph of Arimathaea:
The spelling of Jesus then did not include an "s". I suppose this is how the "c" became an "s" in our language. They couldn't inscribe a "c" as opposed to an "s". " One curve or two curves," a scribe inquired. "I dunno," said the Bishop. The "s" looked better in an illuminated manuscript. Well there was some controversy and the Book of Kells in Ireland resolved part of the problem by introducing the "k". Thus the confusion over writing English began.
All the sons of Joseph of Arimathaea were later known as Grail Kings. The "Grail" has been misunderstood over the centuries. It has to do with the holy blood-line from David to Jesus. Since Jesus left no heir, Joseph of Arimathaea became the heir of the line of David. He was the brother of the husband of Ann, the mother of Jesus, known as the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary, according to our tradition, served, when a child, as a Temple Virgin in the Temple of Herod on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. She, of course, was a great influence on her son and she is honored in the Koran as the mother of Jesus the Messiah (IMRANS 3.45 ). Here is what it says:
The Koran claims that Jesus was sent forth to confirm the Hebrew Scriptures (Torah). Here is what it says:
Since all things lead to another we recognized long ago that those who honor the Koran are in agreement with us. Because the Koran advocates compliance with the Jewish Scriptures and honors Jesus as the Messiah (Christ), we saw there was no reason how we could disagree with the teachings of the Koran. All the teachings of wisdom advocate the teachings of the ineffable, one God and unity, charity, justice, the respect for human dignity and peace. Of course the Golden Rule covers all things for those who wish to list them.
The several "Marys" in the Gospels also helped set down our faith. There were four of them: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Cleophas, Jesus' uncle, and the Mary who is associated with King Herod and was a disciple of Jesus.
The next great influence on our Women's Club was the Lady of the Lake (about 635 A.D.) who gave Arthur his magical sword. She was, some say, the sister of Merlin, and she was known for her prophetic powers and wisdom. Next, Lady Jeschute, the wife of Duke Orilus de LaLander, gave more vision to our organization. Her story is a sad one to tell, and I will tell it in part. Parzival (the German version calls him Parsifal), who was the last recorded heir of the Grail Kings, was on a Quest. A Quest is something like a pilgrimage to learn how to become a better knight and serve humanity better. They adopted the creed of Lao Tzu: "I do good in order to increase in goodness". We passed this creed on to Lady Jeschute. More of this creed and the wisdom of the sages of the East got incorporated into the Teachings from the mythical city of Tabue. The teachings were formulated through an expedition which ended up in Afghanistan. In any event these teachings influenced our knights who later referred to their version of doing good as Chivalry. They liked to remind us that tipping their helmet to a lady from a horse was the "in thing to do". We went along with it. What can we say?
In any event Lady Jeshute happened to be alone in her tent when Parzival happened to pass by. (story reproduced by permission from Mel West's Romance of Anaïs, la fille du Roi) "...Parzival was overpowered by her beauty, seeing her sleeping there, with parted lips which wore the flame of Love's Hot Desire and the sable coverlet barely drawn below her smoothly carved Trojan hips was too much for him. Her artful form was one no sculpture could--nor dare I say, would? --Improve. Upon her fingers were some rings, one of which the naive lad's mother had told him to acquire as he pursued his errant mission. Being a youth (of beautiful form unequalled himself whose chastity broke many a maiden's heart) and having not yet acquired the gift of prudence, he attempted to take her ring. He lept straight upon her silver brocade couch! Waking, and seeing herself in dishounour, she complained, and then the naughty boy--would not all youths be tempted to such indelicacy at such a sight?--attempted to kiss her, crushing his breast to hers. Then, although he had been taught to always treat ladies in the most delicate way, he spied a blue saphire brooch with a gilt cameo on its reverse. The brooch is believed to have been Alexander the Great's Seal and it contained the image of a unicorn. It was on her right shoulder and he straight away tore it off her shift! With the brooch (whose engraving carried the words, "Faithful and True," came a small piece of the shift. The shift--made of the whitest virgin samite--was the very same shift she wore in the Grail Castle when she was a Grail Maiden!"
Sire Gwain, the Greeen Knight, had an indirect but fruitful influence on our direction, since his experience on his Quest showed us the way of peace. We can't support leaders who are indifferent to suffering. "There must be some reconciliation between suffering and peace," our great Lady Jeschute argued. "And we need to excert a greater mission to our men, in support of this reconciliation.There are too many liars, thieves and cheats out there and we need to get them under control." We know from the tradition that Parzival was not a liar or a cheat, but he stole the lady's brooch. No matter the motive, it was theft.
Then again we have illustrations out of antiquity of martyrs who are ruined because of their faithfulness and truth. In the tale of Antigone, who was faithful and true in all things. She, a princess of Greek fame, daughter of Oedipus, King of Thebes. Her uncle, Creon, blinded Oedipus and sent him into exile. Some say Oedipus scratched his own eyes out. In any event Antigone was betrothed to Haemon, a son of Creon, and she lead her blind father around while he was in exile. Creon, in an attempt to capture Oedipus, kidnapped the fair virgin Antigone, but she was rescued by Theseus, who found her strapped in a chair in the hunting lodge of Creon. Shortly thereafter in the war of the "Seven against Thebes" her brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices killed each other. In that war the banished Polyneices was claiming his right to the throne which his cruel uncle Creon had high-jacked. Creon decreed that no one should bury the bodies of the two heirs of Oedipus, to leave them rotting on the field of battle. Antigone stole out of the castle during the night and buried Polyneices. The vengeful Creon then imprisoned her in a cave where she committed suicide. Haemon, finding her body there, took his life.
A similar and earlier tragedy is recorded in the Egyptian story of Pyramus and Thisbe, two children of different social standing who were forbidden to see each other. There was a knot-hole in the fence too high for them to access until they became teen-agers. They had spoken to each other over the years, became friends, and then saw each other through the knot-hole. They fell in love and decided to meet atop the hill near-by. Thisbe got there first and near an oak tree she began to sit down. But then a lion came upon her and she ran for her life, tearing her shift on a bramble bush. Pyramus shortly thereafter came upon the torn shift which had blood on it, saw the lion tracks, and weeping at the base of the oak tree thrust his dagger into his pounding heart. Thisbe returned to the tree and saw her lover there dead. She took the dagger and plunged it into her trembling heart.
Back to the issue at hand: punishing a person who is faithful and true is not acceptable in our tradition. I know I am mixing periods and issues, but the same issues repeat and have continued all the same ever since women became responsible for caring for the child from their womb. Thank God the barbaric custom of dousing a child in an icy cold stream to determine whether a child will live or die has been abandoned. We got this changed through Priscilla, an influential woman in the Roman Empire. St. Paul speaks of her. Pardon my diversion. Back to the Crusader influence...
Lady Anaïs la fille (pronounced "fee") du Roi, (also called Anaisfille) became the next influence on our association. She was imprisoned in a terrible tower by a hateful, spiteful king of England, known as Rude King George of Quackin-Bush, and his exchequer who was called "Sir Boors". She inherited the once beautiful title of Grail Maiden following Sir Parzival, but that reputation became soiled, like the shift of Lady Jechute. The record which she passed down, through the Lady Elizabeth the filleroy de Potiers, is written in the Romance of Anaïs mentioned above. The story continues from Parzival to the current war in Afghanistan, where in her story the Afghanis are friends of the crusaders.
We believe that all life must be respected. Why nurture a child from the womb only to see the child doused in the trials of icy hands? We want peace in the world. We also want to be defended, our lives, our properties, and our families. In these perillous times there must be ways of defending us without aggression. If the crusaders get off their high horses and drop their grudges. perhaps we can get on with peace. It is an impossible dream, I suppose, since not even the mother of the monster who destroyed the towers of New York City will address this issue.
Some women give birth to monsters. The old Greek mother goddess Ge (Gea) gave birth to monsters, and the myth explains to us why monsters exist. What should we do, destroy the mother so to prevent the monsters from being born? We of the Bombay Bicycle Club Women's Chapter don't believe in destroying our children but rather to convert them to hope on our teachings and do them.
Our belief, in providing for those who cannot provide for themselves, and our attention to protecting the environment and animals comes from the influence of Sir Gwain, the Green Knight, one of the many cousins of King Arthur and Sir Lancelot. He was the son of King Lot of Lothian. This is a portion of his story taken from the book, by permission, by Mel West (copyright © Mel West 1992) called, The Romance of Anaïs la fille du Roi, also known as The True History of Unicorn Powder. The powder had great magic and healing powers and many a king's dining table in the Middle Ages had the powder in a jar on the table or the Unicorn horn hanging over the table. If one were poisoned during the meal taking a sprinkle of the powder, or a scraping from the horn, was said to render the poison ineffective. During those perillous times many people invited to dinner were constantly plotting against each other, and a way of getting rid of an enemy was through poison. This tradition came from the Romans who used it extensively and they picked it up from the Greeks. While ten years ago, when the Romance was written, a story about magical Unicorn powder was innocent, these days the prophetic view of that book seems to be uncanny. Now we fear powder because of the acts of some monsters whom we call terrorists.
This is Sir Gwain's story as it goes, how in his Quest for a magic well he went on to join King Arthur and his troops who were in a jousting tournament in a large field. The incident near the Isle of Avilon was quite unusual and brought us to believe in being more compassionate towards God's creatures. The excerpt is the story of the Ravens.
The Story of the Ravens (From the Romance of Anaïs)
"Sir Gwain's mother had instructed him to find the Magic Fountain of Avilon, which we believe is now called Joseph's Well in Cantebury near the grave of his ancestor, Joseph of Arimathaea. The well was attended by Chief Giant Ysbaddaden who, to ward off Sir Gwain, recreated those same marvellous horsemen conjured by Sir Rhonabwy only years before. It was about 645 A.D. when Sir Gwain pierced the forbidden moors at the edge of the wasteland between Avilon and the sea. He met in succession some beautiful horsemen who challenged his motives for seeking Joseph's Well. First in the succession came a young man with yellow-red hair, but neither beard nor moustache, cutting a noble figure on a great, broad withered horse. From the point of its withers and from its knee-caps down the horse was yellow, while its rider was dressed in red brocade sewn with yellow silk, and yellow fringes on the mantle. The yellow of his vestments and his horse was the color of broom, while the red was the color of the reddest blood one could imagine. This rider overtook Sir Gwain and asked him if he would accompany him to deliver his vermillion mantle to the beautiful and shy Olwen, daughter of Chief Giant Ysbadden. Sir Gwain kindly advised him that he was on a mission of Mercy and could not be detracted and went on his way.
"Having already crossed the plain of Argyngrog, Gwain next saw a marvellous joust and judging the joust was a lad sitting on a shining white mount. He wore a cloak of white brocade with jet black fringes. His mount's kneecaps and legs were pure black, but everywhere else it was pure white, and above his helm upon his up-tilted lance was an ensign which was pure white with a pure black tip. He was approached by several men dressed in pure black, with salt-white fringes on their mantles. The kneecaps and legs of the horses were pure white, but everywhere else they were pure black, and the troops' standards were pure black with a pure white tip. Soon a rider arrived, armed in mail: its rings were as white as the whitest lily, its rivets as red as the reddest blood; the rider was careening through the host towards King Arthur and at another mount whom Sir Gwain knew as Sir Kay le Seneschal, the most handsome knight at Arthur's Round Table.
"Then came Eiryn the Splendid, son of Peibyn, Arthur's servant, who was a rough, ugly, red-haired man with a red moustache and combed hair. He approached on a big red horse that was snorting and pawing the verdant grounds. Over its mane, parted on both sides of its neck, was placed a pack of red leather containing a small black valise. This large red-haired man dismounted before Arthur, drew a gold chair and a ribbed brocade mantle from the pack, spread the mantle--there was a red-gold apple in each corner--and set the chair on it. Gwenn (meaning, "white") was the name of the mantle, and one of its properties was this: a man wrapped in it could see everyone, but no one could see him, nor would it allow any color on it but its own.
"Having read a confidential message presented from the small black valise, King Arthur invited a majestic knight standing nearby, named Sir Owein, who was dressed in a Prussian blue cloak, to play chess with him. The chess men on the board were gold and the board was silver. As they played the red pennant--with a golden dragon embroidered on it--of Utependragon (Arthur's father) wafted above Arthur's sable and silver pavilion.
"Deep into play they were interrupted by another rider coming from a white red-topped pavilion, with the image of a pure black serpent--bright red poisonous eyes in its head and a flame-red tongue--who took off his brazen helm, revealing a young man with curly yellow hair and blue eyes and the beginnings of a beard. He wore a surcoat of yellow brocade, stockings of thin, yellow-greeen cloth on his legs, and on his feet buskins of mottled cordovan with gold buckles fastening them across his insteps; he carried a heavy, gold-hilted triple-grooved sword, and a black cordovan scabbard tipped with pure red gold. He approached the king's table and greeted Sir Owein as he was playing chess with King Arthur. Sir Owein brushed back his blue Prussian cloak, being extremely uncomfortable, and gripped the silver, lapis-lazuli jewel laden hilt of his sword, named Mynyw, but the king soothed him saying, 'Don't worry, he greeted me earlier.' The men continued playing at their game in spite of the fact that the rider had complained about the lads and servants of the king molesting the ravens. Arthur looked at Sir Owein, saying, 'Your move,' and the intruder returned to his red-topped pavilion.
"Towards the middle of another game, a ruddy young man with curly auburn hair, sharp-eyed like a hawk and tall with a trimmed beard, came out of his pavilion of pure yellow with the image of a pure red lion on top. This man wore a tunic of yellow brocade reaching down to the small of his leg and sewn with red silk thread, stockings of thin white buckram and buskins of black cordovan with gold buckles. In his hand he carried a great, heavy three-grooved sword, and a red deerskin scabbard with a gold tip. He also neglected to greet the king and complained that the king's pages were stabbing the ravens! Arthur only answered, 'Your move,' and the youth returned to his pavilion.
"As the prudent King Arthur--no man in all of Britain was wiser than he nor ever sat on a more glorious throne--continued with another game of chess, another man was seen in the doorway of his spotted yellow pavilion, being urged by the youth in the yellow tunic; and he came out onto the grounds and approached Arthur's table. His pavilion is noteworthy because it was the largest anyone had seen, and the image of a gold eagle with a precious stone in its head was emblazoned on the side of the tent. This youth with bright yellow hair, handsome and well-shaped, wore a mantle of green brocade like Sir Gwain's, with a gold brooch at the right shoulder as thick as a warrior's middle finger, stockings of fine linen cloth dyed the same color as Arthur's chess board, and shoes of mottled cordovan with gold buckles. This youth had a noble countenance, a white face with red cheeks and large hawk-keen eyes; and in his hand a stout speckled yellow spear with a freshly sharpened head and a prominent standard of a red lion gris mounting. Violently angry, he galloped towards Arthur and himself greeted Owein and told him how the noblest ravens had been killed and those that were not dead had been molested and wounded so badly there was not one that could lift its wings an inch off the ground. 'If you please, play on,' complained Arthur to his companion at chess. The flabergasted lad returned to his pavilion, and as he approached the wounded ravens many rose up and began attacking the unruly pages, tearing out eyes, and ripping flesh until their vengeance had been satiated. As Arthur and Sir Owein were startled by the ruckus, a rider came forward. His horse was a remarkable color: dapple-grey, with a pure red right leg, and from the top of its legs to its hooves pure yellow; and both horse and rider were clothed in strange, heavy armor. The horse was covered from the pommel up in pure red linen, and from the pommel down in pure yellow linen. The youth wore a great gold-hilted, one-edged sword on his thigh, with a new pure green scabbard and a tip of Spanish brass,. The sword belt was of blackish-green cordovan with gilt crossbeams and a clasp of elephant ivory with a pure black tongue. On his head he wore a gold helmet, set with precious stones of great value--adamants and emeralds were most abundant--and on the crest a yellow-red leopard with two blood-red stones in its head. It was dreadful for any warrior, however stout-hearted, to look at the leopard's face, let alone the rider's. In his hand he carried a long, heavy green-shafted javelin, blood-red from the grip up and the blade was covered with raven's blood and feathers. Tired and angry he greeted the table, pleading that the ravens were mutilating the pages, leaving only a few of Arthur's pages and squires and the sons of many nobles, alive. 'Your move lord,' said Sir Owein.
"They continued into yet another game and in the middle of it another commotion of screaming men and falling armor, to the piercing shrieks of flapping ravens, interrupted them. As they looked up a rider on a handsome black high-headed horse came from the only black pavilon on the grounds which had a crimson pennant dressed with white stripes. The top left leg of his unusual horse was pure red, and from the top of its right leg down to the hoof pure white, and both horse and rider were clothed in spotted yellow armor speckled with Spanish linen of the orange variety. His cloak and that of the horse were in halves, white and pure black with purple-gold fringes. He carried a gleaming gold-hilted three-grooved sword, with a belt of yellow gold-cloth and a clasp from the eyelid of a pure black whale, with a tongue of yellow gold. On his head he wore a helmet of yellow linen with gleaming crystals, and on the crest the image of a griffin with a powerful stone in its head, while in his hand he carried a ridge-shafted ash spear colored with blue lime, the blade covered with fresh blood and riveted with pure silver. This man complained that all was lost, the pages, squires and the sons of the nobles were dead, and the ravens were now feeding on their scattered remains. With this King Arthur told Sir Owein to call the ravens off.
"Sir Gwain had never observed such a colorful show and, as the ravens began to return to their hutches, he clicked to his great steed, Gryngolet (meaning "with the red ears"), and began to ride away. But Arthur heard his signal and stood up. All at the tournament, from the white pavilion with the red top near the bank of red heather at the ford to the north, to the yellow-speckled pavilion in the dusty southern end of the plain, rose to their feet in salute to Sir Gwain, beckoning him to join them. Next to Sir Lancelot, his senior, Sir Gwain was the greatest warrior in the land and commanded the respect of the greatest kings. Thanking them and graciously dipping his lance and horse to all of them he declined, saying, 'I am on a mission of Mercy from which I cannot be distracted.' He then rode off intending to ask in CaerLeon where he might get a pair of the stockings worn by the youth with the green brocade mantle, who came from the spotted yellow pavilion. Little did he know the mantle and he would soon be joined and with the magic ring of Angelica, the daughter of the Lady of the Lake--a prophetess in her own right as well!..from here Sir Gwain went on to drink from Joseph's Well, then to secure the Pearl and rescue, as hoped, the fair Anaïs la fille du roi (also called Anaïsfille), niece of Queen Enide, sister of Bors of Gaunes, a daughter of King Bors. She was a cousin of Sir Lancelot of the Lake through the great line of Gurnemanz down to the young Kardeiz, even that son of Parzival who inherited the thrones of Brobarz, Anjou, Waleis and Norgals. Through her mother's estate of Kaylet of Hoskurast she inherited all the lands of Spain and Castile and Champagne and the lands of the south of France centered in Toulouse. The petite young fille was then not only a Grail Maiden but the direct heir of the Holy Grail. Because of her dignity, and the keys she held to the Grail, though still a small child, she was abducted by a boorish servant of that same headless Green Knight and his malevolent dragon whom Sir Gwain had previousl fought (and beheaded several times I might add!). The Boor, whose lower canines reached above his lower lip when he was confused, kidnapped the fair Grail Maiden and used her to capture a unicorn (she was set in the forest bound to a chair, and the unicorn, seeing the fair virgin, rushed over to her and laid his head in her lap--this is the only way to catch a unicorn). Then he cruelly locked both in that same tower in which Sir Lancelot was imprisoned and had been abandoned many years earlier. It's cob-webbed room had but one window, but far too high to reach by man or beast. This ends the first part of the long tale behind the Unicorn Powder--a magical, healing potion, which has come into the possession of the family of the fair Grail Maiden, Anaïs la fille du roi."
From this event the Women's Club became known for its charity and mercy towards all creatures. I continue with the club's history:
We have had many prominent women who have influenced us over the centuries. The list is so long I doubt you would have the time to read it. One of the women who led the march on Versaille, France which led to the French Revolution was Anne Marie Anouilh, great grand-mother of the famous French playwright Jean Anouilh. She marched, as did the other women, with her children in hand to complain to King Louis XVI about the condition of the poor. As they marched back to Paris, France, a long march, their husbands became embarrased for not having supported their women. The men joined the march and along the way they believed that in confronting the king's forces they would need weapons. Most of the weapons had already been confiscated and the men agreed that they must attack the fort called the Bastille which was an armory and a prison. There were only three or four prisoners in there and they were not happy about being saved. The rest is history, 1789.
The idea of marching on Versaille came from Martha Washington who happened to be a friend of Thomas Paine's wife. And Thomas Paine is known for having convinced the American Colonies to go to war against England. He was an Englishman, being only in the American colonies 14 months, at the time he published his pamphlet, "Common Sense" in the early months of 1776 A.D. He was one of the first people standing on street corners handing out pamphlets arguing for human rights. His wife edited the pamphlets. Later he and his wife went to back to England, where he became controversial, leading King George III's Prime Minister, William Pitt the younger, to charge him in 1792 A.. D. for producing seditious writings. Pitt was on a campaign then to arrest radicals and throw them in prison. Loyalists gathered together and burned an effigy of Paine in the streets. Paine fled to Paris and became active in promoting the revolution there against King Louis XVI. Louis XVI had borrowed a lot of money from the Aristocracy and inflamed them against him by selling titles and the estates which come with them. The Aristocracy was based upon blood inheritance. The king was letting anyone become a lord or barron. The king also funded the American Revolution with the idea of under-mining English authority. The reality that the king was defaulting on the money they loaned him and the selling of estates finally led the Aristocracy to spread rumors that brigands and the homeless from Belgium were about to cross into France and plunder her shops. This caused the shopkeepers to become fearful. There was also an extraordinary population of homeless and much poverty. The French poor began to break into shops where one could purchase weapons, and a storekeeper who had been robbed of the guns in his shop, in a conversation with Paine, noted that the cause of the "Third Estate" needed to be advertised. In those times French society was divided into three classes, called Estates. The First Estate was the Aristocracy, the Second Estate was the Clergy and the Third Estate was made up of shopkeepers, wage-earners, etc., a newly developing Middle Class. Mr. Paine's wife knew a man's wife in Paris who was quite literate and showed him her husband's pamphlets. After that the Third Estate began to rise up causing the march of the Ladies of Paris on Versaille. This is how democracy became rooted in the world.
During the course of events during his term in France Paine alienated Robespierre and Marat, after the Bastile had been taken in 1789 A.D. and the king and his wife thrown into prison. He pleaded that Louis XVI's life be spared and about the same time, in 1793, war broke out between France and England and he became suspect. He was arrested and thrown into prison for ten months., during which time he wrote The Age of Reason, an attack on Christianity, regaling the Bible as myth. Then Robespierre himself was arrested and guillotined and Paine became accepted again and was re-elected to the French Assembly in 1794.
The end of Paine's career is sad. Returning to America in 1802 he was greeted with indifference, no longer the celebrated author of Common Sense. But his godless Age of Reason had inflamed Americans against him. He was then forgotten and ignored, dying in solitude with no family. His burial was in a pasture, and it was attended only by a few neighbors and his housekeeper who later wrote a description of the burial ceremony. She had her son stand at one end of the grave and she at the other. She proclaimed to Mr. Paine's grave that her son stands in testimony of the gratitude of the American people and she a testimony for the gratitude of the French people.
One of Paine's enthusiastic supporters, William Cobbett, thought Paine should be buried in a more honourable setting. He decided to dig up the bones and take them to a new resting-place,, a memorial in England, honoring Paine for his work for American and French liberty. The bones got lost in transit, possibly in London or Liverpool.
There is so much to tell and so little time to tell the entire history of our hopes and those who have influenced us. Our hopes come from people from all ages. I close this short summary on Ahmad ibn-Fadlan's wife. She was with him when he visited Asia (921 A.D.) and recorded the people of the powerful and rich Khazars and others. Part of the expanse of land which they once controlled is Khazistan.
Among one group of people, ibn-Fadlan was astonished when he saw women ungraciously raise their legs so that he could see their uncovered crotch. She rubbed his leg and told him that he needs to understand the people, not just look at them.
Another who influenced us was the wife of Ibn Khaldun, the great Islamic historian during the Middle Ages.
I can say in all truth that this website of the Bombay Bicycle Club was created to teach ways towards peace. Those of you who found the colorful descriptions of the knights interesting might engage your children into drawing and coloring them. It can be a peaceful thing. Also what color were the socks Sir Gwain thought to buy in CaerLeon? This is an unusual piece of fiction, but much of it, the historical stuff, is based on true characters and times. There are some distortions. The Romance of Anaïs which is woven into this site is, of course, fiction, but most of the facts in it are true relative to the sources of the Arthurian Romances and the historical setting in which I put the story. I tried to be so historicaly accurate in the Romance of Anaïs, experts should have trouble identifying any error her lineage. Also much of what you have read above is true. Get the kids to sort out the parts which aren't exactly true.
I shall add more about our great directors and association later. There are sooo many of them.
Suggested reading on the Arthurian Romances:
Gododdin Welsh poem (c. 600)
Entry to the Temple complex at Luxor (called Thebes by the ancients). Beyond the gate, called a Pylon, in the distance, is the avenue of the sphinxes, where tradition holds that Moses and the Children of Israel assembled to leave on their exodus from Egypt about 1492 B.C., under the Pharoah Menkheperre Thutmose III. Some tradion has it that the exodus took place under Usermare Ramesses II (1279 B.C.-1212 B.C.). Ramesses II reigned 46 years after the famous Tutankhamum (popularly known as King Tut) who died in his youth and reigned about 9 years. His tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1921 across the river from Luxor in the Valley of the Kings. The columns of the temple are so huge you can place a horse and chariot atop them.
King Tut (1234 B.C. - 1325 B.C.) He was a son of Pharoah Akhenaten who appeared to have a deformity, probably caused by genetic inbreeding, and may have passed on a defect causing the early death of King Tut.
Reconstructed model of Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury Tor where Bishop Whiting was martyred. It is tradition that the lake of Avilon surronded the hill and site of the Abbey.
The Brooch stolen from Lady Jeshute
Kids, use the space below to draw and color the following colorful knights.