Please join me in welcoming Nicole Evalina, author of Daughter of Destiny, as she discusses the wardrobes of the Priestesses and the High Priestess. Guinevere and the wardrobe of a priestess of Avalon
The first third of Daughter of Destiny takes place on the mysterious isle of Avalon in Britain in the late 5th century. Guinevere is sent there to learn to control her gift of the Sight and to study with the priestesses.
The priestesses of Avalon wear different colored and cloaks tunics that designate them by rank:
- Acolytes (first degree, early in their training, usually lasts a year or two): white
- Neophytes (second degree, mid training, usually begins at the onset of menstruation and lasts several years): dark green
- Priestesses (third degree, advanced studies, lasts the remainder of their lifetime): blue. All bear a blue tattoo of the waxing crescent moon on their foreheads, right between their eyes, after consecration.
Each has only three outfits, two for daily use and one for rituals.
The Lady of the Lake, the high priestess of Avalon, has a very distinctive wardrobe. “She wore a blue gown similar to Viviane’s but decorated with intricate spiraling patterns. A single glittering crystal bobbed from a silver chain around her neck, and a thin silver circlet rested on her head, just above the mark that signaled her rank as High Priestess—the three visible phases of the moon drawn in blue ink. Her crown mirrored the mark so that the waxing and waning moons peeked out from her hair on either side of an opaline full moon.”
In the second part of the book Guinevere’s dress is mostly the simple tunics and cloaks of the time in various colors and cloths, depending on the occasion. In only one scene does she wear a veil, because her father makes her (in order to cover her priestess tattoo).
Before queenship and Camelot, Guinevere was a priestess of Avalon. She loved another before Arthur, a warrior who would one day betray her.
In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.
Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.
You may think you know the story of Guinevere, but you’ve never heard it like this: in her own words. Listen and you will hear the true story of Camelot and its queen.
Fans of Arthurian legend and the Mists of Avalon will love Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a historical fantasy trilogy that gives Guinevere back her voice and traces her life from an uncertain eleven year old girl to a wise queen in her fifth decade of life.
An aged, stately woman emerged from the dark interior room and took her place on the throne. Her hair was a rich auburn streaked with heavy bands of gray, her face lined and furrowed from many years of living, but her eyes were bright and perceptive, like a hawk’s. She wore a blue gown similar to Viviane’s but decorated with intricate spiraling patterns. A single glittering crystal bobbed from a silver chain around her neck, and a thin silver circlet rested on her head, just above the mark that signaled her rank as High Priestess—the three visible phases of the moon drawn in blue ink. Her crown mirrored the mark so that the waxing and waning moons peeked out from her hair on either side of an opaline full moon.
As I watched, awestruck, every woman in the circle around us, including Viviane, dropped to one knee in unison and touched the thumb of her right hand to her forehead, lips, and heart—the same gesture my mother had made to Viviane when she arrived at Northgallis. As one, they whispered, “May the Goddess grant me wisdom, may the God govern my speech, and may my heart be filled with their love.”
I looked around nervously, unsure if I should do the same, and fumbled a slight curtsy instead.
“Her name is Argante, but always address her as Lady,” Viviane whispered.
The old woman smiled slightly at my attempted reverence but then just as quickly resumed her serious disposition. “Viviane, for what reason have you gathered us here?” Her voice was stern and authoritative.
Viviane stepped forward and nudged me toward the Lady. “Sisters, I have brought with me a new candidate to be counted among our number.” She placed a hand on my shoulder, turning to address the woman on the throne. “Most blessed Lady of the Lake, this is Guinevere of Northgallis, who wishes to be named a servant of the Goddess.”
Viviane had warned me on the journey here that in Avalon, when speaking in general, all the goddesses of our people were collectively referred to as the Goddess, and likewise, all the gods as the God. Avalon welcomed people of many tribes and traditions, each with their preferred deity names and mythologies. This way, they avoided confusion and arguments over exactly which deity was being referenced or whose gods were better. Here, all were equal and, except on feast days sacred to a specific deity, all were worshiped according to individual preference. Personally, I favored the horse goddess Rhiannon, worshiped in my homeland, and the sun god Lugh, patron of my mother’s Votadini tribe.
Argante’s eyes met mine with an all-knowing gaze that pierced my soul and laid the entire contents of my being out on the floor for her examination. As her eyes searched mine, I trembled and said a private prayer to my gods, terrified she would find in me some imperfection, some reason to send me back to my father in shame. Argante reached forward, placed a hand on my brow, and my eyes involuntarily snapped shut. Moments passed in silent darkness, and then wood creaked as she sat back in her chair. When I opened my eyes, she appeared pensive.
The women in the assembled crowd shifted their weight restlessly, and tears began to prick at the back of my eyes. I feared this lengthy pause was a sign of disapproval; surely if I was pleasing to her, the Lady would have made it clear without delay. I searched the air between us for Viviane’s hand, and she gave mine a gentle squeeze before leaving me once again on my own.
“This child is pure of heart,” the Lady said at long last, her voice far-off and intense, as if it was not she who spoke, but someone greater through the medium of her voice. “Her innocence and faith please me greatly. I see in her no duplicity or capacity for betrayal, only a strong desire to love and serve. In her blood the sight runs strong, and she will be for Avalon a great asset.” She paused, and a slight frown played on her lips. “However, she will not ascend to greatness on this isle. Another crown sits on her brow, one that will secure the safety and prosperity of many, but at a great cost, both to herself and to those she holds dear.”
A whisper of concern ran through the circle as I knitted my brows together, trying to puzzle out the meaning of her words.
“But that is the future and its lines are not writ in stone, only hinted at by an uncertain sight interpreted by the human heart.” Argante looked at me lovingly now, seeming much more human, her voice softer. “Do not fear what is to come but embrace it, following the Goddess’s voice—which you shall not fail to hear in your heart—and trusting she will lead you on the right path. Guinevere, you have been chosen by she who created life itself and now you must prove your devotion by stating your intent. Why have you come to the isle of Avalon?”
I shifted my gaze to the floor in embarrassment, unsure how to reply.
“Answer from your heart,” Viviane whispered.
I raised my eyes to meet the Lady’s. “To serve the Goddess, who has protected me since before my first breath.” My voice issued forth strong and clear, as if propelled by a will other than my own. “My mother promised me to this isle in thanksgiving for our safe deliverance from her difficult labor. Now I fulfill the vow she made eleven years ago.”
In truth, this was my fate, but I purposefully neglected to mention my visions in such a public arena. Argante likely knew about them already, and I feared the judgment of the others.
Argante nodded in understanding. “Honorable as that is, it does not compel you to stay. Do you come here free of coercion and choose to remain here of your own will?”
“Look around. The women gathered here are your sisters. Do you promise to treat them as such, harming none and living in love and trust so strong that you give freely of yourself when needed and accept their aid when offered to you? Will you treat each woman as you would treat the Goddess, your own mother, or yourself?”
I looked out over the sea of strange faces. “I will.”
Argante caught my gaze and held it, impressing on me the seriousness of what she was about to say. “Know that the vows you now take are not binding and you may be released from them at any time, should you so desire. They are, nevertheless, a promise, and you will be held to them by value of your word, as it is your source of honor.”
Uncomfortable, I wanted to look away but could not break her gaze.
“Do you vow to serve the Goddess and God with all of your mind, heart, and soul and preserve your maidenhead until such time as you take your final vows or part ways with our community?”
I swallowed, sensing the sacrifice required in assenting to these terms. “I do.”
Argante smiled at me with all the warmth of a doting grandmother and leaned forward to kiss me on the forehead. “Welcome to the sisterhood, Guinevere.”
Buy Link Daughter of Destiny
About the Author:
Nicole Evelina is St. Louis-born historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her first four books are coming out in 2016.
- Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere's life story from her point of view
- Camelot's Queen, March 23, the second book in the trilogy
- Been Searching for You, May 16, an award-winning contemporary romantic comedy
- Madame Presidentess, July 25, historical fiction about 19th century American Presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull, the first American woman to run for President
Nicole is one of only six authors who completed the first week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness in 2014. She’s traveled to England twice for research, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.