There is a consensus among ancient history researchers that the “king for a year and a day” was actually a practice of the Irish, Welsh and Scots during pre-Christian times. However, historians in the main do not have the right lenses to interpret ancient myths, and are blind to metaphor. So they end up weaving this “evidence” into back stories which, in terms of legitimacy, hang by barely a thread, and I’m afraid that most of what we consider to be the history of the human race has been fabricated in this fashion.
Anyway, the story goes that a man would be anointed king, and that he would reign for a whole year and a day during which time he would lap up a world of luxury, and also be given as many fair maidens as he desired. But at the end of that year, he would have to undergo the three-fold death.
There were various grisly means of achieving his demise from drowning in tubs of boiling water, and burial or dismemberment while still alive, and it is those means of assassination that gave me the clue as to the meaning of the mythological king for a year and a day.
Burial for dream incubation in long barrows is a shamanic practice to aid visioning that I’ve experienced myself. I also underwent dismemberment in the early days of my shamanic training; it is a common landmark of the trainee shaman … in trance, I hasten to add, so it doesn’t actually hurt. The spirits take apart the new initiate, purify their bones in a great boiling vat, and then put them back together again. It is an integral stage of the metamorphosis that the shaman trainee undergoes. It is not a make-over; it is root-and-branch transformation from the inside out.
On top of that, kings and queens in tubs was a common alchemical metaphor for the Dissolution stage in medieval times, as shown in the Voynich Manuscript which historians keep failing in their attempts to interpret. If they gave it to an alchemist like Dennis W Hauck, it would be done in a jiffy.
According to Hauck in his excellent The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy, “…the Queen is the primary icon of dissolution…The Queen may be shown sitting with the King together in a bath or relaxing by herself in a tub of water.”
He goes on…
“Personal Dissolution breaks down the corrupted and artificial structures of the personality by deep immersion in the dark waters of the unconscious. This is a forbidden realm with slumbering dragons or other monsters guarding great treasures.”
In conclusion, there is no historical evidence that the “king for a year and a day” was actually a thing while there are plenty of more esoteric pointers towards it being symbolic of a deeper mystery. And so given that I’ve shown in my books how myths are the mystery teachings of our shamanic ancestors, and not historical records, I think the king for a year and a day is a role in a Mystery Play with an allegorical meaning, and is not historical.
It also makes a brilliant metaphor for human life. No matter how much luxury we accrue during our lifespan, we will have to undergo death and leave it all behind at the end.
As I often say, the only difference between history and mythology is that myths are true.
The picture at the top is an illustration from the medieval Voynich Manuscript of queens in a bath. If you look closely, you’ll see they’re wearing crowns.