Merlin

Merlin was the great “guru” of the Arthurian world.  He had the whole program in his mind.  The world of the Arthurian knights was a world of two great stages or periods.  The first was that of Christianizing – or civilizing, you might say – the wild Iron Age, the barbaric world of Europe.  After that came the age of the individual journey, the individual adventure.  Now Merlin is a purely fictional figure, who’s associated with the Druid mysteries.  He’s a sort of late manifestation of the Druid tradition.  The Druids were the priests and spiritual guardians of the Celts, who came into Europe from Bavaria during the first millennium B.C. in two stages (the Hallstatt culture and the La Tène culture).  TMTT 214

In the medieval tradition Merlin is supposed to have brought the stones to Stonehenge.  TMTT 216

Behind Arhus is this wonderful figure, Merlin.  Geoffrey of Monmouth write another work, a shorter one called the Vita Merlini, The Life of Merlin.  And in that work appears the figure of the Druid, the Celtic magical priest – the counterpart to the Indian Brahmin.  Just as the Brahmin in the Hindu caste system is priest-magician to the ksatriya, or warrior, so, too, is Merlin the magician and mystic master of the warrior princes.  The Life of Merlin is modeled on the image of the Druid priest, but with certain specific characters of Arthur’s time involved, particularly a man named Ambrosius, who seems largely responsible for overthrowing Vortigern, who was the traitor to England, and so forth and so on.  The story of Merlin is, briefly, that of a boy whose mother had conceived him of a devil.  Of course, in good Christian tradition, whenever you have a miracle that’s not a miracle of God, it’s a miracle of a devil, and of course, the devils are simply the earlier deities. 

   So here we have the story of a virgin birth.  Merlin could appear either as a boy or as an old wise man.  As a little boy, he uttered a prophecy to King Vortigern, telling him that his empire was going to collapse, and he described it in the way of an allegory: “You are trying to build a tower,” Merlin tells Vortigern, “but the tower won’t stand firm because in the ground underneath are two contending dragons, a white and a red dragon.”  These are the two races that are contending, and Merlin goes about it later to make sure that Vortigern is defeated. 

   Merlin’s next work was to produce the king who would now govern the happy new world, and this is going to be Arthur.  Now we get the famous tale of the begetting of Arthur: He was to be from the house of a certain queen Igerne, and his father was to be Uther Pendragon, who was not Igerne’s husband.  Merlin arranged that Uther Pendragon should assume the form of Igerne’s husband, and while the husband was away, have intercourse with her, with Igerne thinking it was her husband.  Thus Arthur was begotten in extramarital magic. 

   Next Merlin arranges the whole theme of the sword in the stone; the sword of destiny.  One of the great powers recognized in early times was that of the smith to draw steel from a stone – iron and charcoal combined to create something stronger than either – and this steel of the sword represents the virtue and triumph of whatever people we’re talking about.  So there’s this legend of the stone with the sword in it that could be drawn only by the one for whom it was destined.  Merlin produces Arthur, who draws the sword.  There’s the beginning of a whole context of the imperial story and its development.   (EXCALIBUR).   RG 133