Morgan Le Fay is an enchantress that features prominently in the legends of King Arthur. She is also known as Morgana, Morgane, Morgen and a host of other names. She is the daughter of Ygerna (Igraine) and Gorlois, and one of three half-sisters to Arthur. After her father was killed, and her mother remarried, Morgan Le fay was sent to live in a nunnery where she is first introduced to the art of sorcery. The enchantress loathes King Arthur and in many of the stories she does everything in her power to bring about his downfall. Despite Morgana’s hatred of her half-brother, it is believed that Mordred is born through their union. In addition to the king’s demise, the enchantress is often accused of leading other heroes to their death.
Morgan Le Fay uses her extensive knowledge of sorcery, and her sexuality, to manipulate the circumstances around her. Although she is married to King Uriens, she plays the role of a great seductress, and is often portrayed as Merlin’s mistress. Having seduced him, Morgana convinces Merlin to reveal all his secrets to her. One of her unique powers is the ability to shapeshift, and she often appears disguised as a black animal. Likewise, her humanoid forms can take on different forms including that of a fair lady, an old hag, a queen and a mermaid.
The enchantress is given a position as one of Queen Genevieve’s ladies in waiting, through which she learns of the queen’s affair with Sir Lancelot. Morgan Le Fay reveals this secret, setting into motion a series of events that lead to Arthur’s demise. She also falls deeply in love with Lancelot and tries to use her magical knowledge and seduction skills to make him feel the same. This does not work, however, and her love remains unrequited. Although she has captured Lancelot, when he becomes ill she releases the knight, knowing that he would die if forced to remain with her.
Similarities between Celtic myths and the Arthurian legends show where Morgana may also be a powerful sea goddess. She possesses advanced skills as a healer and is often associated with the magical island of Avalon, where it is believed she lived when she got older. Avalon means ‘Magical Trees,’ and is believed to be in the sea that lies west of England. When Arthur is mortally wounded, Morgan Le Fay transports him to the island, keeping him alive during the journey. The legends state that here Arthur will be healed of all his injuries, and will return to England in the time of the country’s greatest need.