Merlin and His Book of the Land

In reading the book, Merlin: Shaman, Prophet, Magician, by John Matthews, I ran across a great passage underscoring something that I touched on before, with the help of an excerpt by David Abram: the connection between insight, knowledge, and the land. The quote from the book on Merlin runs thus:

Messages from the Land

Physical contact with the earth is another important part of the transmission of the skills of both the seer and the prophet. The land held information like a great book, which could be accessed by those with the skill to see or hear it. The most subtle methods of prophetic tradition in Britain and Ireland seem always to have been available to those who live within the spiritual continuum of the land, and this, we have seen, is very much a central aspect of Merlin’s life in the wilderness.

The ancient gifts of the seer poets were not fueled merely by clairvoyance or poetic sensibility, but by resonance, touch, connection. Their ability to root into any object, place, or person and discover identity, quality, and answers to questions concerning these is part of this symbiotic continuum. Thus Merlin’s shadowy successor, the bard Taliesin, speaks constantly of “becoming” certain objects — a tree, a staff, a stone or a lantern — as well as being able to slip between the cracks of time to predict future events.

The author goes so far as to reweave the connection between poetry and visionary language, something I feel strongly about:

The Spirit of Inspiration

…We see that the role of the poet and the seer were considered as interdisciplinary. Poets were also seers; seers were poets. Merlin, in his earliest incarnation, is both.

In light of this, it is not surprising that the Celtic prophetic tradition, of which Merlin is very much a part, is primarily fueled by the search for poetic inspiration.

Every place a riddle…every riddle a poem…every poem a spirit…every spirit a place….

Written by Willem