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Who is Merlin?

The first thing that the Merlin seeker and enthusiast should understand is that Merlin is a title, not a name. This bit of information will make other story details make sense. The Merlin as in "The Merlin of Britain" is the title of a lineage of spiritual masters, mystics, and healers. The Merlin we are most familiar with, the wizard prophet of King Arthur's time, is the fifth Merlin of this lineage. The story that we are familiar with in modern times is an amalgamation of hundreds of years of ideas and inspirations. Some of these inspired writings are more accurate than others but we will never know the total story truly.

According to the spiritual channeling of Ric Weinmann, the source of the lineage is an avatar called Mehindra. Mehindra is the spiritual guide and guardian to the divine energy that the Merlin of each age would access to do his "magic" and healing. The Merlin lineage began in 753 BCE in England. The Merlin that we are most familiar with from legend was born in 540 CE.

In one the earliest Merlin texts that we have, "The Life of Merlin" by Geoffrey of Monmouth, we learn that the Merlin of Britain is a prophet and cohort of Kings. We also learn of his madness that drove him to live in exile in the Caledonian forest of Scotland.


Merlin by Alan Lee
Merlin who is sometimes called Lailoken, fought in the Battle of Arthuret in 573CE. Through the fog of war, he killed his own niece and nephew, who were the children of his twin sister Languoreth and King Rhydderch. Merlin's own king, Gwenddoleu, also perishes in the battle. After these terrible deaths, Merlin retreats from the society of man into the harsh embrace of nature. Geoffrey writes of this period in Merlin's life:

"Christ, God of heaven, what shall I do? In what part of the world can I stay, since I see nothing here I can live on, neither grass on the ground nor acorns on the trees? Here once there stood nineteen apple trees bearing apples every year; now they are not standing. Who has taken them away from me? Whither have they gone all of a sudden? Now I see them - now I do not! Thus the fates fight against me and for me, since they both permit and forbid me to see. Now I lack the apples and everything else. The trees stand without leaves, without fruit; I am afflicted by both circumstances since I cannot cover myself with the leaves or eat the fruit. Winter and the south wind with its falling rain have taken them all away. If by chance I find some turnips deep in the ground the hungry swine and the voracious boars rush up and snatch them away from me as I dig them up from the turf. You, O wolf, dear companion, accustomed to roam with me through the secluded paths of the woods and meadows, now can scarcely get across fields; hard hunger has weakened both you and me. You lived in these woods before I did and age has whitened your hairs first. You have nothing to put into your mouth and do not know how to get anything, at which I marvel, since the wood abounds in so many goats and other wild beasts that you might catch. Perhaps that detestable old age of yours has taken away your strength and prevented your following the chase. Now, as the only thing left to you, you fill the air with howlings, and stretched out on the ground you extend your wasted limbs."

We can only assume that during these years of madness and isolation is when Merlin started awakening to the call of the guiding spirit Mehindra in his dreams. When Merlin is called back from his isolation, he has been transformed into an enlightened being. He goes on to become the spiritual guide to many kings and also begins to teach students and pass down the “magic” of the lineage that he is a part of. He arranges the birth and king making of Arthur as so many legends have told us. Marrion Zimmer Bradley writes:

“The Merlin is one of the masters, a radiant soul who has refused to ascend beyond this sphere so that he can continue to watch over us. To incarnate again would diminish him. We may pray for his guidance but we must not ask to walk among once more.”

Merlin is one of the most important mythical figures in the western world. He represents the epitome of those who have harmonized, within themselves, the earth’s energies and the forces within their own souls, thus achieving inner freedom and a higher mode of consciousness. Through his power over wild animals and nature, he became identified with the Celtic Horned God. With one foot in both worlds, the world of animals and the world of kings, he is also manifested as the archetype of the trickster.

As trickster and sage, he challenges us to move beyond the warrior archetype and to live in harmony with the earth and with one another. As sage and teacher, he reminds us of the treasure we often neglect to see in our elders. As a guide, The Merlin represents the divine masculine spirit of nature. The spirit of the Merlin lineage is older than any of the ancient texts have been able to tell us, though we get a subtle hint at the grandness and timelessness of the Merlin spirit in this account by Nennius in Historia Brittonum:

“These are the names of the Island of Britain. The first name that was upon this island before it was seized or settled: Myrrdin's (Merlin's) Cloister.”

Merlin, priest of nature, guiding spirit of magical transformation, was the sovereign of the land of Britain before any humans had even arrived!


To view a collection of images of Merlin as he has been represented through the ages, click here.


One of my favorite books on Merlin and one of the most attractive books to look at is called “Merlin: Shaman, Prophet, Magician” by John Matthews. It's a big coffee table book with tons of great photos and a great angle on who and what Merlin is.

If you can find a copy, “The Romance of Merlin” edited by Peter Goodrich, it's a great anthology for translations of all the oldest and most obscure Welsh texts and poetry that reference Merlin or are attributed to Merlin. He includes selections from the most important Merlin stories all the way up to the 20th century making this an invaluable guide and resource.

A few more great books to explore are by RJ Stewart: “The Way of Merlin,” and “Merlin: The Prophetic Vision and The Mystic Life.” RJ Stewart looks at the Merlin tradition through the lens of spirituality instead of just history and legend. He does a great job of deeply exploring and analyzing some of the ancient Merlin texts and infusing them with fresh inspiration. He also contributes a lot of new material and ideas to the path of Merlin.

Finally some of the most important works are the classical texts. From Geoffrey of Monmouth we have “The History of the Kings of Britain” which tells the tales of Merlin and King Arthur. In “Vita Merlini” or “The Life of Merlin,” we have the tale of Merlin's madness, his time in the forest, and the prophecy of his own threefold death.

  © 2020 The Heart of Merlin / Justin K Prim  
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