Water deities were extremely popular within ancient Celtic culture for they controlled the essential essence of life itself. The spontaneous movement of springs, rivers and lakes clearly showed the supernatural powers of the goddesses who lived within the water. To this day we have a fascination with oceans, rivers, lakes and streams. Many believe that life on earth began in the depths of the oceans and that when we return to the water we are simply returning to that from which we came. This fascination with worshipping the power and majesty of the water still exists today in our rituals and customs of praying for good fortune at wishing wells all over the world.
The Lady of the Lake Viviane who is also known by many other names is a mysterious figure an enchantress associated with Arthurian legend. She plays a pivotal role in many stories, including giving Arthur his magical sword Excalibur, enchanting Merlin who was seduced by her beauty, and raising Lancelot after the death of his father. The Lady of the Lake began appearing in the French chivalric romances by the early 13th century, becoming Lancelot's adoptive mother. She refuses to give Merlin her love until he has taught her all his secrets, after which she uses her power to trap him forever in a glass tower. Though Merlin, through his power of foresight knows beforehand that this will happen, he is unable to counteract Viviane because of the 'truth' this ability of foresight holds. He decides to do nothing for his situation other than to continue to teach her his secrets until she takes the opportunity to entrap him.
It was an enchantment of Viviane's godmother, the goddess Diana given to her father Dyonas, that caused her to be so alluring to Merlin. Diana was the Queen of Sicily that was considered a goddess by her subjects. Diana killed her lover to be with another man, but then she was beheaded by this man as a murderess at that lake, later called the Lake of Diana. This is the place where Lancelot du Lac ("of the Lake") is raised, at first not knowing his real parentage. In some legends, not only is Viviane Lancelot’s mother but some believe she is not just the god daughter of Diana and daughter of Dyonas but actually the daughter of Uther Pendragon which would make her Arthur’s sister. Uther Pendragon is the King whom Merlin once summoned the dragon’s breath on the night that Arthur was conceived. If this is true it would explain why Viviane helps Arthur when he first breaks Excalibur and restores the sword to him and also explain why Viviane is at the time of Arthur’s death is one of the three ladies who later carries Arthur’s body over the water to the Isle of Avalon. Whatever her origins or her motives, Viviane, the Lady of Lake, will remain a mystery to those who try to uncover her many secrets.