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Introduction ~ Death of Gelert ~ Merlin the Magician 
Merlin: The Magician

Greetings from me, Caradoc, dear visitor. When Ole R. D. asked me to write a few words on my friend Merlin I was filled with trepidation. Such are the many stories buried in folklore about Merlin, that I thought mine would be just another one. However, I can tell you of him with some confidence, for living close to one another as we do in the mountains here in Wales we have been friends for many hundreds of years.

During the recent time that we walked south to Cardiff on a journey of rediscovery of the land of Wales, for I had not be south since the time of Owain Glyndwr. I thought it a good time to ask Merlin of his early life. So it is that my writings are based on the many conversations we have had, and on those we had during that epic journey through Wales.

If I've told you once Arthur Pendragon, I have told you many times, that is the way home to Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen) Greetings from me Caradoc, here! among the mountains of Snowdonia
If I've told you once Arthur Pendragon, I have told you many times, that is the way home to Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen) Greetings from me Caradoc, here! among the mountains of Snowdonia
in north Wales

As we began our journey south out of the mountains I began to think that perhaps it would be difficult for you to understand about the town of Caerfyrddin ( Oops sorry Carmarthen, but being many hundreds of years old I find it is easier for me to use Welsh verse; please forgive me ) and the legend of Merlin's oak tree.

You see Caerfyrddin prior to the arrival of the Roman in Britain, was just a wee Welsh hamlet situated in a clearing on the banks of the tidal water of the river Tywi. It was accessed from both the river and a dangerous way through the forest of trees which were abundant everywhere at that time.

The withered oak

The tree of which I speak is today just a small withered stump residing in a museum in Caerfyrddin. It stood in modern times in the middle of a fork in the road as you approached Caerfyrddin from the village of Glangwilli in the east. In fact it was the very same road that ran from Dinefwr castle to the castle of Caerfyrddin. The sturdy old oak was a favorite tree of Merlin's as he grew up as a boy, sorry did I not tell you, O yes Merlin was born in Caerfyrddin.

In those years when Merlin played among the branches of the oak tree he was know to his friends as Ambrosius, it was only in latter years that he became Merlin the Wizard. Merlin told me that his name came from the Latin name Merdinus; the name of his birthplace Myrddin. The old Oak tree wasn't anything special to anyone except that is to Merlin; he loved it so much that during a row with a playmate in the tree, who said that the tree was going to be cut down, Merlin forecast that :-

When Merlin's Oak shall tumble down, so then shall fall Carmarthen Town

That is why to protect what was left and also the legend, but more likely the possibility of the tree being knocked down by modern day traffic thereby invoking Merlin's prediction, the authorities moved its remains into the Museum for safe keeping late in the last millennium.

I found Merlin to be a very complex person during our walk, however, his loyalty to King Arthur and the knights of the round table could not be questioned. It seems, so he said, that he wandered away from Caerfyrddin at an early age and somehow arrived at the court of Uther Pendragon in Cornwall. There having been trained by monks, he soon became proficient in outwitting magicians, accomplished in feats of engineering and of producing spells. It was a spell that helped to transport the huge stones of Stonhenge from their site on the Cardigan coast. Soon after, it was his ever increasing powers as a magician and prophet that came to the front, in doing so they helped Uther's son Arthur to secure the Wessex crown.

When the crown in England fell vacant there was anarchy among the lords, for each and everyone thought it should be theirs and fought in an attempt to seize it for his own. It was however, in a bid to stop the bitter fighting, Merlin's idea for the sword in the stone. Having got the Archbishop of Canterbury to arrange for the Lords of Wessex to meet at a churchyard one morning, Merlin provided the sword and the stone and declared that whoever could remove the sword would be granted by consent the crown. Naturally he made sure, through sorcery that it was Arthur who succeeded in withdrawing it; thereby forcing the lords to swear fealty to him.

When Arthur decided to build the great castle of Camelot, O yes the castle was built but Merlin would not declare where; even though I tried every guile I knew to get him to do so, he helped him to draw up the plans. Merlin did tell me however, that it was a most magnificent place despite the fact that it was never absolutely completed. The castle had a beautiful marble hall and a great round table, O Merlin did say that the table was his innovation, for he felt that no man was superior to the king and neither was the king to his knights.

Arthur assisted by Merlin, ruled the kingdom with a strength that no man had previously been able to: for Merlin was Court Wizard, Prophet and Principal court advisor to Arthur and his knights of the round table, it may have continued that way for years; had it not been for the love of a man for a woman.

Merlin casting a spell

It was Lancelot of all people, Arthur's favorite knight, who caused the beginning of the end of Camelot. For it was he who fell in love with Guinivere; Arthur's Queen. His doing so began the break up of the court of Arthur Pendragon, for there were many who sat around the table who loathed him for falling in love with her.

Merlin himself was sickened by the whole shabby affair, for he felt that Guinivere should have behaved in such a way as not to have comprised the friendship and the camaraderie that Arthur had with is favorite Lancelot. However, it was not to be, and soon Lancelot and Guinivere were besotted with each other.

The situation became so intolerable that in the dead of night, some months after the affair started, Merlin slipped away from the confines of Camelot. When it was discovered he was missing, his departure caused pandemonium throughout the castle, for everyone believed he had been killed. During the months which followed his disappearance the knights of the round table searched far and wide in vain, in a bid to find his killer/killers and grave.

When the love affair of the queen reached the ears of Arthur, Lancelot was banished from the company of those of the round table. Then the arguments started as each knight tried to replace him in Arthur's favor.. soon there was the threat of war as each knight began to take the side of one or the other. When war broke out the knights fought for those they had sided with. O it was a bloody and senseless war, before the land had been strong bonded by the fellowship of the table and Arthur Pendragon, but all that disappeared. When the final bloody and useless great battle occurred, as you probably already know, Arthur was mortally wounded, so he made his way to "The Lake" whence came his final act; that of throwing his sword into the water and it disappearing below the surface, only to reappear for a short while clasped in the hand of a lady.

So the great Arthur Pendragon was dead, gone too was the fellowship of the knights of the round table. That great institution that had ruled the land with thought, compassion, justice and a feeling of unity. Sorry what was that? what happened to Merlin did you say? well the scribes and those well versed in the art of composing at the time, wrote ream after ream of poems about both, where and how Merlin had died and of his burial place of course.

However as for myself !

It was while I stood outside my home, here in Snowdonia, on a warm early Autumn morning many hundreds of years ago that I saw, as I looked across the beautiful valley in which I live, smoke rising from a place where I had seen none rise at anytime previously. As I began to wonder as to its cause, I saw a shadowy figure appear high on the mountainside above it; then a hand rise in a cheery greeting.
Yes that's right Merlin had come home; but not home to Caerfyrddin in the south, but here to the solace of the mountains of the north; Nevertheless home again to our beloved Wales.

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