Step into the fabled forest of Brocéliande, where tales of enchantment and eerie mystique surround you! Discover what lies deep in the shadows of this haunted forest that is said to be in the real forest of the Paimpont forest in Brittany, France.
Step into the mysterious and legendary forest of Brocéliande, a place steeped in myth and mystery. In this mythological forest lies a cursed as well as magical woodland, where fairies and powerful spirits lurk, and dark secrets await in its depths. Enter if you dare, for many strange tales have been stamped upon this fairytale land.
Background of The Forest of Brocéliande
Brocéliande is a mythical enchanted forest found in the Arthurian legends, primarily in French folklore. Many often think that ARthurian legend only exists in English mythology, but in Brittany in France there is a long tradition of ARthurian folk tales. The very idea of King Arthur is shrouded in mystery in if and where he lived.
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So even the existence of this enchanted forest is both a legend and a myth. Or is it? It is said to be the home of the Lady of The Lake, Viviane, who taught Merlin magic and other secret knowledge of the spirit world.
The forest is also said to hide numerous magical objects like Excalibur, and even contain supernatural or enchanted creatures like werewolves. A wealth of legends and stories include this haunted forest; lending it an unnerving atmosphere that has enticed adventurers through its doors for centuries.
Arthurian Legends of The Forest of Brocéliande
In literature we first heard the name of the forest in the Roman de Rou chronicle by Wace from 1160. He had heard legends about this place and even went to Brittany to see it for himself. He came back disappointed though and wrote:
“I saw the forest and the land and looked for marvels, but found none. I came back as a fool and went as a fool. I went as a fool and came back as a fool. I sought foolishness and considered myself a fool.”
It was in this forest that Merlin, King Arthur’s advisor, was said to have been taught magic by Viviane, The Lady of The Lake and where his tomb is said to be.
Furthermore, both Excalibur and The Holy Grail were supposedly hidden somewhere within the depths of this forest. Today, Brocéliande is also known as ‘The Valley of No Return’, a phrase derived from its mysterious and enchanting stories that keep people coming back time after time to explore what lies in its shadows.
The Real Paimpont Forest
But is this a real forest filled with legends, or is the forest itself just a fairytale? There have been different theories about exactly where it is supposed to be. An though many think of the Brocéliande as a purely mythological place, many points to the Paimpont Forest in Brittany as the one from the fables.
In the 15th century it was known as the Brocélien forest and is located in the northwestern French region of Brittany.
Vale of no Return
One of the more magical sights of the Brocéliande forest that we can actually find in the Paimpont forest is the Vale of no Return or Vale of False Lovers. This is a place where Morgan le Fay from the Arthurian legend felt disappointment in her love for Guimar and as revenge created the Val sans Retour where unfaithful knights would be imprisoned.
It is located in a deep valley and it is said the entrance to the Val is near the town of Tréhorenteuc among the oaks and pines surrounded by a rocky moor.
Vivien the Fairy – The Lady of the Lake
One of the most famous characters from Brocéliande’s fables is Vivien the Fairy Queen. She goes by many names. Nimue is another name that has been attached to him. She is perhaps best known as the Lady of the Lake that gave King Arthur the Excalibur sword.
Legend has it that her magical powers are so great that she was able to imprison Merlin in a tree and keep him there until he died. There is actually a place that are called the Tombeau de Merlin from this story.
Vivien, or the Lady of the Lake was said to have a fierce temper and is not to be trifled with – once, when two men attempted to steal the golden apple from her orchard, she cursed them both to wander the forest forever in pain.
Château de Comper and the Magical Lake
The Paimpont Forest also gives us the location of her magical lake as well in the northern part of the forest close to the Concoret village.
Her lake is said to be the Lake of Diana close to the castle Château de Comper. This is a castle that saw a lot of fighting throughout the years as one of the strongest positions of Upper Brittany as well as riots during the Revolution in 1790.
There it is a large pond where it is said she lived in a crystal palace built by Merlin that was hidden under the waters of the lake.
Fairies and Creatures of the Forest
Brocéliande is home to many creatures, both real and mythical from the Breton myths. Fairies in particular, are believed to be the main inhabitants of this forest like Vivian. There are also these little protectors and child-like creatures of the forest. They are small human-like creatures that live deep in the woods, protectors of its secrets with their mischievous behavior. Meanwhile, fairies cast illusions over travelers who pass through the forest – luring them away from safe paths into an endless spiral of treacherous obstacles and bramble thickets.
But not everything that lurks in the forest is said to be of the child-like manner and innocent. There are also tales about ghosts, revenants and the will of the wisps that will lure you away and can harm you. Were druids gather in ancient holy places and giants are said to be entombed.
The Brocéliande forest, or as we know it as today, the real Paimpont Forest is said to be a place of supernatural power and places, where those brave enough to enter can hear strange murmurs in the night, or catch glimpses of apparitions within its depths.
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