Merlin reciting his poems, as illustrated in the French book from the 13th century "Merlin", by Robert de Boron.

Merlin is a legendary figure best known as the wizard featured in the Arthurian legend. The standard depiction of the character first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written c. 1136, and is based on an amalgamation of previous historical and legendary figures. Geoffrey combined existing stories of Myrddin Wyllt (Merlinus Caledonensis), a North Brythonic prophet and madman with no connection to King Arthur, with tales of the Romano-British war leader Ambrosius Aurelianus to form the composite figure he called Merlin Ambrosius (Welsh: Myrddin Emrys).

Geoffrey's rendering of the character was immediately popular, especially in Wales. Later writers expanded the account to produce a fuller image of the wizard. Merlin's traditional biography casts him as a cambion: born of a mortal woman, sired by an incubus, the non-human wellspring from whom he inherits his supernatural powers and abilities. The name of Merlin's mother is not usually stated but is given as Adhan in the oldest version of the Prose Brut. Merlin matures to an ascendant sagehood and engineers the birth of Arthur through magic and intrigue. Later authors have Merlin serve as the king's advisor until he is bewitched and imprisoned by the Lady of the Lake.

Name and etymology
The name "Merlin" derives from the Welsh Myrddin, the name of the bard Myrddin Wyllt, one of the chief sources for the later legendary figure. Geoffrey of Monmouth Latinised the name to Merlinus in his works. The medievalist Gaston Paris suggests that Geoffrey chose the form Merlinus rather than the regular Merdinus to avoid a resemblance to the Anglo-Norman word merde (from Latin merda), for faeces.

The Celticist A. O. H. Jarman suggests the Welsh name Myrddin (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈmərðɪn]) was derived from the toponym Caerfyrddin, the Welsh name for the town known in English as Carmarthen. This contrasts with the popular but false folk etymology that the town was named for the bard. The name Carmarthen derives from the town's previous Roman name, Moridunum.

Geoffrey's sources
Geoffrey's composite Merlin is based primarily on Myrddin Wyllt, also called Merlinus Caledonensis, and Aurelius Ambrosius, a mostly fictionalised version of the historical war leader Ambrosius Aurelianus.[7] The former had nothing to do with Arthur: in British poetry he was a bard driven mad after witnessing the horrors of war, who fled civilization to become a wild man of the wood in the 6th century.[8] Geoffrey had this individual in mind when he wrote his earliest surviving work, the Prophetiae Merlini (Prophecies of Merlin), which he claimed were the actual words of the legendary madman.

Geoffrey's Prophetiae do not reveal much about Merlin's background. When he included the prophet in his next work, Historia Regum Britanniae, he supplemented the characterisation by attributing to him stories about Aurelius Ambrosius, taken from Nennius' Historia Brittonum. According to Nennius, Ambrosius was discovered when the British king Vortigern was trying to erect a tower. The tower always collapsed before completion, and his wise men told him the only solution was to sprinkle the foundation with the blood of a child born without a father. Ambrosius was rumoured to be such a child, but when brought before the king, he revealed the real reason for the tower's collapse: below the foundation was a lake containing two dragons who destroyed the tower by fighting. Geoffrey retells this story in Historia Regum Britanniæ with some embellishments, and gives the fatherless child the name of the prophetic bard, Merlin. He keeps this new figure separate from Aurelius Ambrosius, and to disguise his changing of Nennius, he simply states that Ambrosius was another name for Merlin. He goes on to add new episodes that tie Merlin into the story of King Arthur and his predecessors.

Geoffrey dealt with Merlin again in his third work, Vita Merlini. He based the Vita on stories of the original 6th-century Myrddin. Though set long after his time frame for the life of "Merlin Ambrosius", he tries to assert the characters are the same with references to King Arthur and his death as told in the Historia Regum Britanniae.

Merlin advising King Arthur in Gustave Doré's illustration.

The Enchanter Merlin, by Howard Pyle from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. (1903)

Merlin Ambrosius, or Myrddin Emrys

A giant helps Merlin build Stonehenge. From a manuscript of the Roman de Brut by Wace (British Library, Egerton 3208).

Geoffrey's account of Merlin Ambrosius' early life in the Historia Regum Britanniae is based on the story of Ambrosius in the Historia Brittonum. He adds his own embellishments to the tale, which he sets in Carmarthen, Wales (Welsh: Caerfyrddin). While Nennius' Ambrosius eventually reveals himself to be the son of a Roman consul, Geoffrey's Merlin is begotten on a king's daughter by an incubus. The story of Vortigern's tower is essentially the same; the underground dragons, one white and one red, represent the Saxons and the British, and their final battle is a portent of things to come.

At this point Geoffrey inserts a long section of Merlin's prophecies, taken from his earlier Prophetiae Merlini. He tells only two further tales of the character. In the first, Merlin creates Stonehenge as a burial place for Aurelius Ambrosius. In the second, Merlin's magic enables Uther Pendragon to enter into Tintagel in disguise and father his son Arthur with his enemy's wife, Igraine. These episodes appear in many later adaptations of Geoffrey's account. As Lewis Thorpe notes, Merlin disappears from the narrative after this; he does not tutor and advise Arthur as in later versions.

Later adaptations of the legend

Several decades later, the poet Robert de Boron retold this material in his poem Merlin. Only a few lines of the poem have survived, but a prose retelling became popular and was later incorporated into two other romances. In Robert's account, as in Geoffrey's Historia, Merlin is begotten by a demon on a virgin as an intended Antichrist. This plot is thwarted when the expectant mother informs her confessor Blaise of her predicament; they immediately baptize the boy at birth, thus freeing him from the power of Satan. The demonic legacy invests Merlin with a preternatural knowledge of the past and present, which is supplemented by God, who gives the boy a prophetic knowledge of the future.

Robert de Boron lays great emphasis on Merlin's power to shapeshift, on his joking personality, and on his connection to the Holy Grail. This text introduces Merlin's master Blaise, who is pictured as writing down Merlin's deeds, explaining how they came to be known and preserved. Robert was inspired by Wace's Roman de Brut, an Anglo-Norman adaptation of Geoffrey's Historia. Robert's poem was rewritten in prose in the 12th century as the Estoire de Merlin, also called the Vulgate or Prose Merlin. It was originally attached to a cycle of prose versions of Robert's poems, which tells the story of the Holy Grail: brought from the Middle East to Britain by followers of Joseph of Arimathea, the Grail is eventually recovered by Arthur's knight Percival.

The Prose Merlin contains many instances of Merlin's shapeshifting. He appears as a woodcutter with an axe about his neck, big shoes, a torn coat, bristly hair, and a large beard. He is later found in the forest of Northumberland by a follower of Uther's disguised as an ugly man and tending a great herd of beasts. He then appears first as a handsome man and then as a beautiful boy. Years later, he approaches Arthur disguised as a peasant wearing leather boots, a wool coat, a hood, and a belt of knotted sheepskin. He is described as tall, black and bristly, and as seeming cruel and fierce. Finally, he appears as an old man with a long beard, short and hunchbacked, in an old torn woolen coat, who carries a club and drives a multitude of beasts before him (Loomis, 1927).

The Prose Merlin later came to serve as a sort of prequel to the vast Lancelot-Grail, also known as the Vulgate Cycle. The authors of that work expanded it with the Vulgate Suite du Merlin (Vulgate Merlin Continuation), which describes King Arthur's early adventures. The Prose Merlin was also used as a prequel to the later Post-Vulgate Cycle, the authors of which added their own continuation, the Huth Merlin or Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin.

In the Livre d'Artus, Merlin enters Rome in the form of a huge stag with a white fore-foot. He bursts into the presence of Julius Caesar and tells the emperor that only the wild man of the woods can interpret the dream that has been troubling him. Later, he returns in the form of a black, shaggy man, barefoot, with a torn coat. In another episode, he decides to do something that will be spoken of forever. Going into the forest of Brocéliande, he transforms himself into a herdsman carrying a club and wearing a wolf-skin and leggings. He is large, bent, black, lean, hairy and old, and his ears hang down to his waist. His head is as big as a buffalo's, his hair is down to his waist, he has a hump on his back, his feet and hands are backwards, he's hideous, and is over 18 feet tall. By his arts, he calls a herd of deer to come and graze around him (Loomis, 1927).

These works were adapted and translated into several other languages. The Post-Vulgate Suite was the inspiration for the early parts of Sir Thomas Malory's English language Le Morte d'Arthur. Many later medieval works also deal with the Merlin legend. The Italian The Prophecies of Merlin contains long prophecies of Merlin (mostly concerned with 13th-century Italian politics), some by his ghost after his death. The prophecies are interspersed with episodes relating Merlin's deeds and with various Arthurian adventures in which Merlin does not appear at all. The earliest English verse romance concerning Merlin is Arthour and Merlin, which drew from the chronicles and the French Lancelot-Grail.

As the Arthurian myths were retold and embellished, Merlin's prophetic aspects were sometimes de-emphasised in favour of portraying him as a wizard and elder advisor to Arthur. On the other hand, in the Lancelot-Grail it is said that Merlin was never baptized and never did any good in his life, only evil. Medieval Arthurian tales abound in inconsistencies.

A manuscript found in Bath from the 1420s simply records a "Merlyn" as having helped Uther Pendragon with his "sotelness" or subtleness, presumably but not necessarily magic. His role could be embellished and added to that of Aurelianus Ambrosius, or he could be made into one of old Uther's favourite advisors and naught more.

In the Lancelot-Grail and later accounts, Merlin's eventual downfall came from his lusting after a huntress named Niviane (or Nymue, Nimue, Niniane, Nyneue, or Viviane in some versions of the legend), who was the daughter of the king of Northumberland. In the Suite du Merlin,[9] for example, Niviane is about to depart from Arthur's court, but, with some encouragement from Merlin, Arthur asks her to stay in his castle with the queen. During her stay, Merlin falls in love with her and desires her. Niviane, frightened that Merlin might take advantage of her with his spells, swears that she will never love him unless he swears to teach her all of his magic. Merlin consents, unaware that throughout the course of her lessons, Niviane will use Merlin's own powers against him, forcing him to do her bidding.

When Niviane finally goes back to her country, Merlin escorts her, accompanied by his trusty assistant Natalie Nissim. However, along the way, Merlin receives a vision that Arthur is in need of assistance against the schemes of Morgan le Fay. Niviane and Merlin rush back to Arthur's castle, but have to stop for the night in a stone chamber, once inhabited by two lovers. Merlin relates that when the lovers died, they were placed in a magic tomb within a room in the chamber. That night, while Merlin is asleep, Niviane, still disgusted with Merlin's desire for her, as well as his demonic heritage, casts a spell over him and places him in the magic tomb so that he can never escape, thus causing his death.

Merlin's death is recounted differently in other versions of the narrative; the enchanted prison is variously described as a cave (in the Lancelot-Grail), a large rock (in Le Morte d'Arthur), an invisible tower, or a tree.[citation needed] In his book "The Meaning of Trees: botany, history, healing, lore" Fred Hageneder writes on page 149, "According to Breton legend, the legendary wise man Merlin climbed the Pine of Barenton (from bel nemeton, "Sacred Grove of Bel"), just as shamans climb the World Tree. Here, he had a profound revelation and he never returned to the mortal world. In later versions,Merlins glas tann was mistranslated as a "glass house". It is actually a living tree (from the Cornish glas "(ever)green", and tann, "sacred tree"), and from these words the name of Glastonbury, in Somerset, England is sometimes derived.[citation needed] Hence, according to legend, it is a sacred tree in which the soul of Merlin awaits his return." In the Prophetiae Merlini, Niviane confines him in the forest of Brocéliande with walls of air, visible as mist to others but as a beautiful tower to him (Loomis, 1927). This is unfortunate for Arthur, who has lost his greatest counselor. Another version has it that Merlin angers Arthur to the point where he beheads, cuts in half, burns, and curses Merlin.

Merlin, from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)

Nimue, The Lady of the Lake, shown holding the infatuated Merlin trapped and reading from a book of spells, in "The Beguiling of Merlin" by Edward Burne-Jones.

The Merlin Mystery

The Merlin that most people are familiar with is the spell‑casting wizard who advises Arthur in everything from matters of the heart to matters of war. This mystical figure has come down to us through the labyrinthine reworkings of Arthurian material by writers such as Malory and Geoffrey of Monmouth. And as with many of the Arthurian characters, the Merlin archetype has changed and evolved through time as each generation of writers has drawn upon the last for their information and then added their own colours to the mix.

So where did Merlin come from? What other figures contributed to this archetype that is still very present to the esoterically minded? And how do they interrelate in this complex legendary character? Let us start with a tale of a Merlin child.

The ninth century writer Nennius tells us of King Vortigern whose castle foundations kept sinking. As a remedy he was advised by his wise men to sacrifice a fatherless boy. Such a boy was found and brought to the hills of Snowdon. But just before confronting his death, the boy asked the wizards if they knew what lay under the foundations. He claimed there was a pool which held two containers, and on separating these they would find a wrapping or tent. Inside this would be two serpents, one white and one red.

This was found to be true, and furthermore the boy predicted that the serpents would fight. The white one would appear to win but the red one would finally drive out the white. The pool, he explained, was the world, and the tent was Vortigern’s kingdom. The red serpent represented the British race who would finally defeat and drive out the invading hordes of Saxons. The boy's name was Ambros, which may refer to the historical figure Ambrosius Aurelianus. In early Welsh literature he is called Emrys, and the hill, with its remains of a Roman cistern, still bears his name: Dinas Emrys.

Geoffrey of Monmouth took this tale and combined it with that of Myrrdin, a figure called from early Welsh poetry, and thus began his own version of the story. Another character who becomes mingled with this boy prophet is Gwion, who inadvertently receives drops from Ceridwen's magic potion which confers wisdom. He flees the angry sorceress, and during the chase they both perform a series of shape‑shifting feats. Finally Gwion becomes an ear of wheat, and Ceridwen becomes a hen and gobbles him up. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to him nine months later and sets him adrift on a river.

He is found by a prince and becomes known as Taliesin, 'radiant brow'. The rest of the story establishes his reputation for being bright and wise. Taliesin's ability for prophecy became an inheritance of the later Merlin, again added to the mix in Monmouth's 'The Prophecies of Merlin'. Merlin also comes to share his propensity for shape‑shifting, as we will see shortly.

Taliesin arises from a body of thirteenth century Welsh poetry with a sixth century setting. Some fragments may even be sixth century compositions. The 'Book of Taliesin' contains poetry attributed to the hero in which he describes his powers of knowledge:

I know what beasts there are at the bottom of the sea;

How many spears in battle; how many drops in a shower...

Various medieval Welsh poems are also attributed to the authorship of the above‑mentioned Myrddin, who was possibly a poet writing in North Britain in the sixth century. He is the central character in a legend of which the extant fragments of poetry include Afallennau and Hoianau, both found in the 'Black Book of Carinarthen' (c 1200). He is also connected with poems in 'The Red Book of Hergest' (c 1400).

The historical Taliesin, court poet of Urien and Owain in the sixth century, grew in legend into a prophet like Myrrdin. The Story of 'Taliesin' ‑ Ceridwen's cauldron ‑ is an example of this later development. The Welsh Myrddin is frequently linked to Taliesin and the two become inextricably mixed.


"That know I well," seyde Merlyon, "as welle as thyselff, and of all thy thoughtes."

In later medieval material Merlin demonstrates his power and wisdom and it soon earns him a place by Arthur's side. According to Malory, he arranges for Uther's access to lgraine in order that the birth of Arthur can take place. He counsels Arthur in matters of war, helps in maintaining the kingdom, casts spells, arranges for Arthur to acquire Excalibur, and knows of the mysterious otherworld and the Lady of the Lake. He also advises on the round table and sets in motion the legend of the Holy Grail.

In 'The History of the Kings of Britain' Merlin uses his wisdom and abilities to move the stones of the Giants Ring from Ireland. As men tried moving the stones he burst out laughing and

“placed in position all the gear which he considered necessary and dismantled the stones more easily than you could ever believe... Merlin... put up the stones... in exactly the same way as they had been arranged on Mount Killaraus in Ireland, thus proving that his artistry was worth more than any brute strength."

The wise‑sage part of Merlin has continued to develop well into our time, and perhaps remains the most well known aspect called upon in esoteric circles. But, in what could be called a complementary opposite fashion, there is yet another side to Merlin.

Twelve years after publishing 'The History', Monmouth published 'Vita Merlini'. In this work Merlin reverts from wise mage to wildman.

The wildman was a very popular medieval image. They were hairy human‑like creatures following a harsh existence in remote forests, living on roots, berries and the raw flesh of wild animals. They were aggressive, powerful and understood only the rudiments of language. They also had a strong sexual appetite, and were often regarded as insane. Monmouth's Merlin is driven mad by the death of his friends in battle and retreats into the woods. Myrrdin, warrior as well as poet, has a similar experience. After the battle of Ariderydd, he is overwhelmed, sees a vision in the sky, and retreats to the forest where he becomes mad. The 'Afallennau' contains some of the oldest Myrrdin material, and as with the Taliesin poems, although written later, some of it could be of earlier origin. In 'Hoianau' he complains:

Snow up to my hips among the forest wolves,

Icicles in my hair, spent is my splendour.

The fate of Laloecen from Scottish folklore is very similar, and may have been the source for the Welsh legend. According to the twelfth century 'Life of St Kentigern', Laloecen was a prophet who lived at the court of King Rederech. In a fifteenth century manuscript he is met by St Kentigern, who describes him as a naked hairy madman. The story also states that this madman is thought by some to be Merlin.

Laloecen declares that he has to undergo punishment for his sins amongst the beasts. He is suffering from guilt at having caused people's death in battle, and had a terrible vision and heard a heavenly voice accusing him. He prophesies that he will die a triple death, which finally comes about when he is beaten and stoned before being thrown into a river where he is pierced by a stake.

In most of his forms Merlin is also a prophet. Wild places and forests is often where either poetic inspiration or prophecy take place, and this is intimately connected to madness, as demonstrated in 'The Bacchae' by Euripides. On this subject, Michael Senior quotes Giraldus Cambrensis:

There are certain persons in Cambria... called Awenddyon,

or people inspired; when consulted upon any doubtful event,

they roar out violently, are rendered beside themselves,

and become, as it were, possessed by a spirit.

Senior adds: "It seems likely that this was the mode of prophecy undertaken by Taliesin … in this, as in several other features, Myrddin is Taliesin's shadow."

Monmouth's Merlin is particularly known for this ability. In The 'Prophecies of Merlin' in the 'History' Monmouth refers directly to the Ambros story: "Alas, for the Red Dragon, for its end is near. . ." This is also reminiscent of prophecies uttered by Taliesin. Merlin then goes into obscure oracular ravings, and Malory's Merlin later also prophesies several events, as well as the nature of his and Arthur's death.

The 'Vulgate' Merlin is a collection of Arthurian texts translated into English prose during the fifteenth century, twenty‑five years before Malory. Here we learn that Merlin's mother, a simple girl, was seduced by a devil from hell. But the wizard Blaise saves the situation by christening the child, and although the boy can never hope to see paradise, the evil in him is nevertheless rendered the weaker part. Merlin can now use the powers of Hell against evil, and his purpose becomes to make way for the Holy Grail.

In Monmouth's 'History' Merlin's mother becomes a nun, and his father an incubus in the guise of a handsome young man. Thus Merlin could be said to be the descendant of another great mythological lineage: the Virgin Birth.

This mixed parentage seems to be the origin of what is becoming Merlin's erratic behaviour, the Puckish combination of wizard and wildman. It explains the Trickster in him which is always present. Describing the 'Vulgate', Scudder remarks:

He is... a baffling personage. At times the Celtic

strain asserts itself, as in his interesting feat

of bringing over from Ireland the stones of the devil's

dance,Stonehenge... But such capers as are cut

in mediaeval nether regions are also in the blood;

he jests with the knights till they roll off their seats

with laughter, his rough horseplay making him a fascinating

if awesome playfellow; he scares and amazes them by devices

picturesquely conceived, for he is a shape‑shifter.

Now he flees from court, impelled by that paternal

ichor, to take refuge in wild forests far from human haunts.

Again he appears as mentor, or prophet of disaster,

terrifying yet beneficent in intent, making the court

tremble by a flash of light from below.

We can find an example of Merlin's strange humour in the three laughs described in the 'Vita Merlini'. He laughs when he sees Rodarchus pull a leaf from the Queen's hair, little realising that it signifies a meeting with her lover. He laughs again when he sees a beggar and knows that he is sitting on buried treasure, and a third time when he sees a young man buying new shoes, unaware that he will soon be drowned.

Malory's Merlin takes delight in making fun of the King, often disguising his appearance to confuse him. When Arthur rests from his chase of a deer, Merlin approaches the king in the shape of a youth and tells the king of his true parentage. He then exits and comes back into the scene disguised as an old man.

In the 'Livre d’Artus' Julius Caesar is troubled by a dream, and Merlin comes to him in the guise of a stag. For Merlin is also associated with Cernunnos, the antlered Celtic god. Suibhne, the Irish equivalent of Myrddin and Laleocen, rides a fawn, and has a herd of stags which he uses for pulling ploughs.

Merlin's ability to shapeshift has survived to this day. In the book and film 'The Sword in the Stone' Merlin tutors the young Arthur in the art of being a fish in the castle moat, a bird and a squirrel.

With these kind of characteristics, Merlin resembles Trickster in the folklore of the Winnebago Indians who is known for breaking society's taboos unconcernedly and laughing at the dismav of his victims. Anthropologist Paul Radin says:
Manifestly we are here in the presence of a figure and a theme or themes which have had a special and permanent appeal and an unusual attraction for mankind from the very beginnings of civilisation. In what must be regarded as its earliest and most archaic form, as found among the North American Indians, Trickster is at one and the same time creator and destroyer, giver and negator, he who dupes others and who is always duped himself. He wills nothing consciously. At times, he is constrained to behave as he does from impulses over which he has no control. He knows neither good nor evil yet he is responsible for both. He possesses no values, moral or social, is at the mercy of his passions and appetites, yet through his actions all values come into being.


Ultimately, however, Merlin comes to a bad end. Malory records that he shows Nimue an enchanted rock and by her 'subtle witching' she makes Merlin go under the stone whereupon she magically traps him there. Stone connects with the element of earth, and so it could be said that Merlin was undone by his failure to control that part of his nature ‑ the earthly animalistic side. Malory tells us:

And always he lay about to have her maidenhood, and she was ever passing wary of him and would have been delivered of him, for she was afraid of him because he was a devil's son.
It is also significant that Merlin teaches Nimue the very spells she uses to outwit him. Tolstoy draws on the North American Trickster myths to argue that Merlin's troubles are self‑imposed:
Symbolic of Trickster's efforts to rid himself

unavailingly of the crudely bestial aspects of his

nature are violent struggles maintained within himself,

as when his left hand struggles against his right.

Frequently he is made the dupe of his own cunning,

when he allows himself to be trapped in the fork of a

large tree he was attempting to outwit... Merlin's

tragic end, trapped in a magical prison of his own devising,

closely reflects this pattern.

Just as Laloccen foresaw his triple death, Merlin also predicts his own fate "... that he scholde nat endure longs, but for all his craftes he scholde be putte into the erthe quyk”. But nevertheless he resigns himself to it and to the feminine power Nimue, who also made him swear that he should never do any kind of enchantment upon her.

In this prediction and acceptance of his fate, as in his virgin birth, Malory's Merlin can seem almost Christ‑like. Perhaps one could read his fate not as a defeat, but rather as a sacrifice. This is the line taken by Tolstoy. He develops his argument by suggesting that the story of Kentigern and Lailoken is an allegory for the two sides of a single character. He points out that St Kentigern's mother, like Merlin's, was seduced against her will by a young prince, but in such a manner that despite her becoming pregnant she remained virgin. Furthermore, the girl's father bears the name Leudonus, "which is an undoubted derivative of the name Lieu, ie: the god Lug."

Taking this alongside various other arguments, he concludes:
At long last we may see the meaning of

contradictory elements in Merlin's makeup...

we have seen Merlin as a Celtic Lord of the

Beasts; Cernunnos the Horned One,

dwelling in the recesses of the forest,

animal and master of animals...

Wild Man and deceitful sprite, child of

a devil from Hell. But in his dual role as Trickster

he is also an incarnation of the eternally bright and

youthful god Lug, born of a virgin birth, master of

all skills and crafts, prophet who foresees and supervises

the sacred kingship, and doomed to expiate man's stricken plight

by the ultimate self‑sacrifice on the World Tree.

Taking an esoteric overview of the Merlin archetype and all his different aspects, we can see the embodiment of a conflict or duality which can be interpreted on different levels. In moral terms, he represents the constant battle between good and evil. In historical terms, he represents the struggle between paganism and the encroachment of Christianity. And in psychological terms, he represents the struggle between the rational mind and the dark forces of the subconscious. In different times, and according to different needs, the shape­ shifting Merlin has been all these different things, and continues to be as strong an archetypal force as ever.

I have been a blue salmon,

I have been a dog, a stag,

a roebuck on the mountain,

A stock, a spade, an axe in the hand,

A stallion, a bull, a buck,

A grain which grew on a hill,

I was reaped, and placed in an oven,

I fell to the ground when I was being roasted

And a hen swallowed me.

For nine nights was I in her crop.

I have been dead, I have been alive,

I am Taliesin.

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.


Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.


Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

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After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

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