(This version was published in Axis Mundi online magazine Issue 58 in 2014, the original version “Merlin” was published in 2006)
This story emerged from meditations undertaken many, many years ago. It was a strange time, the energies surrounding my life were a little challenging it has to be said! Such are the cycles of life and the Universe. He, I refer to Merlin of course, was a shadowy figure peering out from the depths of my subconscious. I was seeking answers. From the Old Ones, from the land, from ancient totems. I needed healing and the solution was to enter the magical landscape of Snowdonia, seeking the mage in his natural element. I also had in my possession the wonderful “The Druid Animal Oracle” and “The Complete Merlin Tarot.” Potent gateways into the Otherworld.
I was able to weave a fantastical tale from my meditations. The words flowed like a fast flowing stream, carrying me onwards into unknown territory. This story had been waiting a long time to emerge. Ancient Egyptian priestesses, dragons and the great Merlin himself. What more could I ask for? These are symbolic landscapes for those who like to view them as such. For others, well, we know different…
Shall we proceed through the doorway and into the waiting landscape?
Listen well gentle readers, I have a tale to recount which is filled with mystery, danger and rebirth. My people do not commit stories to the written word but transmit them ear to mouth, shielded from the profane. Yet, I am compelled to preserve this strange record of my journeys through the mist-shrouded shores of the ancient northern lands. This modern world serves as home but I cannot forget the lands of my ancestors, they call to me in my dreams and visions. It was such a vision that transported me from this world into one of the gods and spirits. I walk between the worlds, but even ones such as I can fall prey to misfortune. Where to begin? I called to the Oracle and He answered. “Save me” I begged. Such was my pain and sorrow. A hand reached out from the darkness and pulled me through the portals of Time. There is only silence in the passage through these gateways. Silence and fear.
I emerge on the shores of ancient Britain because that is where the call has led me, far from the land of Khem. My gaze turns towards the figure standing in the shadows, words drift from my lips to be carried away on the wings of the winds.
“You have been haunting my mind for weeks Prophet and
I had no choice but to rise from my sleep and ask why.
There is no answer, only an enigmatic silence. The space
between us is heavy with meaning, why? Silence tends
to provoke more questions than if words were uttered.
With infinite patience I waited for the moment that
we would finally meet, now it has happened. Fire mixed
with air, that is what we are. What do you see in the silence?
I beg of you to answer.”
He looks and utters not a word. Then his pronouncements flow freely like my life blood.
“Madness, illness and healing live within that silence.
I have much to teach you Priestess, your time of exile
is over but first we must tend to that wound lest your
life blood flows totally away. The Vernal Equinox has
passed, leaving behind a land pregnant with life on one
hand and giving birth on the other. The natural world
is breathing in and out and you are out of rhythm with it.
The wild places of your heart are calling, do you have
the courage to enter this strange country? Your spirit is
sick and you with it. It seems you cannot keep back the
tide of poisons surging through those veins.”
What he says is indeed true and I need him to heal me. Is that what he wants to hear, is it Merlin? I want to learn his ways so that I may finally return to life, made whole, to my beloved land.
“Only you know what it is to be left abandoned on the
edge of the world Merlin, maddened by pain and loss, no will
to live. That is what it came to. I called out to the Child
of Light but did he come? I cannot tell, the darkness that
was placed around me hid even his Light. I slept, the
seasons passed, time had no meaning even for my mortal self.”
The memories sting like the cut of a knife, scoring deeply into my heart. Heart of my heart, mighty Ptah hear my prayers! The descent into death must be undertaken before salvation can be mine. He offers his hand.
“Good. Life still flows through you. Now come with me
and look at the land that lies before us. Close your eyes
and tell me what you see. Fly as the hawk.”
My form shimmers and transforms into that sacred beast. A river flows in the valley beneath wild granite peaks, I see its serpentine path from high above the clouds. A cave appears with you standing in its mouth, a hand beckons and I respond, only to fall headlong into the abyss. Is this where the transformation is to take place? Broken and disorientated I lie within the branches of the Tree. A cry for help goes up but no one answers. Suddenly a roar rises from the waters beneath me. I look down to see waves rising up and then there is darkness. My spirit wanders in the wasteland for eons. Hail to Atum-Re! May your divine light protect and nourish me during this dark time. Who am I now? My spirit is pulled towards the earth and then I become She.
I hear her voice within my head. Her words are clothed in honey and bitterness.
I have lain a thousand years sleeping within the belly of the land, dreaming the worlds into being, watching over the destruction of many as they journeyed into the Otherworld. The great forests have been ravaged and my people vanquished. Why should I awaken once more and enter this new world? Once I did and my spirit was imprisoned within its strange landscape. Wounded by much, my sacrifice made worthless by the profane, I cannot fly as my wing is torn and my neck severed. This is what they have done to me. You know what it is that I speak of. I shall emerge from my sanctuary as you ask but only for you.
Rising on the wings of your dreams traveller I face a landscape which has changed much, yet, the heartbeat that echoes throughout its majestic peaks is familiar, now lightly clothed in spring garb. Many lives have been spent toiling upon its soils. It remains wild and its ancient voices still speak to those who will care to listen. Shall I speak of that which has remained hidden for so long? Will it heal you who has journeyed to our shores?
Come closer and look into the pool. I can show you much only if you are willing to come to me, without fear, without pride, without greed.
I am fourfold in nature, air, fire, water and earth. Through four gateways shall I lead you, through four worlds shall I carry you and through four forms shall you greet Her. Close your eyes and look with that other sight, gaze upon yourself as I see you.
As Earth Dragon shall you know the value of that which is hidden in you. The ancients spoke of great riches hidden within the belly of the land, you too shall know of them. Turn your gaze inwards and look deeply into your heart – what drives you? Love of the Sun or love of the tears of the Sun? Come, join me on the journey to the centre of the spiral.
As Air Dragon shall you bring the utterings of the Sky God down to earth, take care that his breath does not consume you. Rise from your mountain lair and look to the stars. What do they tell you, spirit that is clothed in flesh?
As Fire Dragon shall you know the power of transmutation. Deep within the mountain of fire will you learn to harness the secrets of the sacred element, may you find courage, leadership and mastery. Take care that you use such knowledge with honesty and integrity.
As Water Dragon shall you dive to the deeps of your innermost self – the waters of birth and death – and retrieve the pearl of wisdom. Are you able to gaze unflinchingly at the secrets buried in that Ocean? Gather up your passion, sorrow and compassion in that sacred cup and drink deeply, for in Her vessel shall you learn to connect with the Otherworld.
A cry escapes from my lips as these elemental beings surround me and I am consumed by the fire in the heart of the Universe. Four forms meet in one and the One becomes Nothing.
Now there is only silence. Finally freedom! Now this story is entrusted to you for safe keeping. I am not at liberty to say whether it be either fiction or fact, believe what you will. I only ask that you keep the memories of those who have gone before alive in your hearts. Time cannot touch that which has been enveloped in Love.
Photographs are author’s own. Taken in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales in September 2015.
The Druid Animal Oracle, Carr-Gomm, Philip and Stephanie, Connections Book Publishing Ltd, London, 1994, illus. Bill Worthington.
The Complete Merlin Tarot, Stewart, R. J., Aquarian Press, 1982, illus. Miranda Gray.
– The Way of Merlin: The Prophet, The Goddess and the Land, Thorsons, 1995