The legend lives
Merlin is one of the original line of
Mystics in ancient British folklore and has become an icon to
many people interested in the mystical, in arcane magic and
spirituality. The earliest known references to 'Arthur are
associated with ancient Celtic mythology and so it is perhaps
understandable that the name of 'Merlin' was interwoven into
Arthurian legend, and reflected the Celtic mystic beliefs and
Merlin was believed to be based upon
a northern Welsh personage of legend named 'Myrddin'
In this one of many legends it is
believed that he became a prophet after wandering in misery
for fifty years with only the company of a wild piglet as a
Merlin in many different books and
texts is attributed at different times to helping no less than
three Kings of England: Aurelius; Uther Pendragon; and later
Uther's son Arthur.
He became a bard to Arthur and is
believed to have died in AD570. He appears under different
names in many texts over the proceeding centuries.
it is found there is very little
known of Merlin's family background. it is believed his mother
was 'Aldan' and according to different legends Merlin (or the
different people that are said to have been Merlin) had a twin
sister 'Ganieda' (Gwendydd). It is stated that he had a
daughter called 'Inogen'.
Some legends tell that Merlin was
perhaps of an Otherworldly father, some say a daemon and an
In some legends he is the son of
'Aldan' (mother) and 'Cadwellon' (father).
Vivienne, a 'Lady of the Lake' is
described as the woman that is said Merlin truly loved, but
who used him and then trapped him in a thorn bush, some say a
Hawthorn tree, by use of the same magical spells/arcane
knowledge that Merlin had taught her.
Other legends say that Merlin's
death, some say madness, was brought about by Vivienne;
trapped in a 'Tower of Air';
disappeared into thin air only to exist as a shadow;
buried alive under a stone;
sealed in stone vault;
trapped in a glass tower.
These prophets include information on
his death by falling, hanging and drowning This combination is
found in many version, woven together perhaps to explain the
outcome of the descent into madness or his ultimate journey to
the faery realm.
What ever happened to Merlin in these
stories the only place that is mentioned as a possible
location is 'The Forest of Broceliande'
Merlin, the Arche-Mage of Britain, is
reputed to have been Arthur's adviser, prophet, shaman,
magician and guardian and counsellor to Arthur.
As Merlin is reputed to have been the
guardian of Britain, this reference sometimes led to Britain
be referred to as 'Clas Meridin' or 'Merlin's Enclosure'.
Merlin is also believed to have been
the guardian of the 'Thirteen Treasures of Britain' which he
stored in a glass tower on Bardsey Island. .
According to a few of the many
legends thought out history,
Merlin turned his back on what were
referred to as the evil and dark forces to go with the power
of the light and goodness.
Because of this he lost many of the
powers he had inherited from his father and was left with only
two powers, that of prophecy and making miracles, both of
which it is implied he possessed in great power.
Although in books Merlin is only
associated with Uther Pendragon (Arthur's father) and is not
associated with King Arthur directly.
In the eighteenth-century, writers
employed the well-known name under which to make predictions,
particularly under the name 'Merlinus Anglicus'.
His prophecies were said to have been
contained in a collection of Welsh poems, believed by some to
have been written by Merlin and later published in a book
(c.AD1200) called 'Llyfr Du Caerfyddin', The Black Book of
the texts mention a boy called 'Ambrosius'
(who prophesied the defeat of the Britons by the Saxons)
This name causes some confusion as
other texts indicate Uther Pendragon fought along side his
brother who was also named 'Ambrosius
If this is so, does this mean that
Merlin was Uther's brother?
It is argued by most that Merlin was
known as 'Merlin-Ambrosius' because of his patronage with
'Aurelius Ambrosius' (Uther Pengragon's brother), and not
because he was the brother of the High King of Britain.
'Merlin the Magician' we are told
assisted Uther Pendragon.
When Uther wished to deceive 'Igerna
( by disguising himself by use of magic as her husband, the
deal that Merlin had Uther agree to was that his first born
child should be handed to him.
Merlin then, gave him in turn to
'Ector of the Forest Sauvage'
Merlin was said to have been
responsible for transporting the stones of 'Stonehenge' from
Ireland to England. Although in other legends it is Merlin
that tells 'Aurelius, King of Britain' to bring the stones
(referred to as the 'Giant's Dance') to England from Ireland
for two reasons; firstly, to act as a monument to those that
had died during the battles with the Saxons, and secondly
because the stones possessed great powers of healing. It
should though be pointed out that Stonehenge is believed to
have been built 1700-1800BC, later used a ritualistic place of
worship by the Druid's who are known to have been around
during the legendary time of Merlin and Arthur.
in (AD1485) legends describes Merlin
as the adviser and guide to Arthur, who pulled the 'Sword of
Branstock' from a stone when he was aged 15 years, as we are
told that Merlin had the ability to cast the most powerful
spells and enchantments.
The existence of Merlin has always
been debatable by various people, but we can be sure that a
person of this name and by it's many derivations appears
throughout old texts, as either a prophet, bard, prince and/or
Merlin is said to have been a young
boy/man before Vortigern (estimated year AD480) but Merlin
appears as an old man at the Court of Rydderch Hael, approx.
AD570, Another twist to the name then appears, as at this
Court Merlin is known as 'Lalockin, the twin' the twin being
his sister 'Gwenddydd' who describes her brother as 'my
world-famous twin brother'.
Described usually as lean in stature,
tall with a long white beard, the symbolic essence of Merlin's
role in Arthurian legend today appears in some of the most
popular characters of twentieth-century films
He is the archetypal magician/wizard/counsellor,
who is from a noble race yet his heritage is unclear, who
employs arcane knowledge and the mystical powers of the earth
and sky, the two main energies of life, for the victory of
good over evil, light over dark, reincarnation over death.
One of the most enduring Arthurian
romantic legends reveals Merlin's involvement in the ascent of
Arthur to the position of High King of Britain following his
being brought-up by Ector de Sauvage. The following is typical
of how Merlin was seen to have employed arcane knowledge to
unite the land and the people.
Two years after the birth of Arthur
his true father, 'Uther', passed away. Under-kings and Lords
managed and mismanaged the Island of Britain. Each revealed
their desire to be the leader of the Britons. When Arthur
reached the age of fifteen, Merlin is said to have summoned
all leaders to London, to decide who would ultimately be
crowned High King of Britain. Merlin is described as having
caused a stone with a sword, earlier referred to as the Sword
of Branstock, held in its mass to appear in a courtyard of an
ancient chapel. An inscription upon the stone read 'Who so
pulleth this sword from this stone is the rightfully born King
of all England'. All were said to have tried to pull the sword
from the stone but failed. Later they would dispute Arthur's
claim at having released the sword but as yet no-one knew of
Arthur's heritage or person.
Meanwhile 'Ector', 'Kay' and Arthur
arrived in London. The two noblemen argued when Kay revealed
that he had forgotten his sword. Arthur is said to have gone
to find his sword and on his return passed the same chapel
courtyard, which was now quiet and empty. He freed the sword
from the stone and gave this to Kay. Ector desired proof of
Arthur's explanation of how he had come by the sword, and so
they travelled together to the same spot and the sword was
replaced into the stone. Having failed, both Ector and Kay
watched whilst Arthur drew it from the stone with little
'Dragon Legend I'.
Confusion arises about the name as the ninth-century
chronicler Nennius mentions a boy called 'Ambrosius' (aka
Merlin Emrys) who prophesied the defeat of the Britons by the
Saxons. This boy was said to have also refuted the Druids of
Vortigern when they were looking to rebuild Vortigern's Tower
which kept falling down. The Druids believed that the
foundations would only be strong if they were sealed by the
blood of a child with no father, and so enter Merlin, who we
are led to understand in the same legends, was of no earthly
father, being fathered by a devil or even The Devil himself, a
reason given for his arcane knowledge. This Merlin saved his
own life by stating that the tower kept falling down because
it was built on top of two dragons fighting 'one red, one
white' which could be seen as symbolic of the constant
fighting between the Saxons and the Britons.
'Dragon Legend II'.
A similar story, based upon the two dragons and a castle,
appears in a Welsh legend. In this instance it is a
treacherous Welsh King called 'Gwrtheyn' who, running from his
own people, is said to have had problems building a castle
(each night the building materials disappear). Merlin as a
young boy was taken to the castle to spill his blood on the
foundation, and again the story tells of two dragons, one red,
one white. It is believed by many that this is the very legend
that provided Wales with it's emblem. The King moves on to
build a new one 'Nant Gwrtheyn', and it is Merlin who builds
on the original hill which is named 'Dinas Emrys' (Merlin also
being referred to as Emrys). This legend is believed to be
connected to 'Nant Gwynant' (Caenarvon, Wales, UK).