Bookshelf | Recommended

Robert J Stewart: The Life and Mysticism of Merlin

April 28, 2009

I have just finished two of the most impressive books on the subject of the Western Mystery Tradition’s greatest and original prophet: Merlin.To most of us, to almost everyone, Merlin has been portrayed as a caricature, a cartoon character, and a convenient symbol of a “wizard” with a Celtic flavour. With the exception of John Boorman’s excellent film “Excalibur” Merlin has been degraded into a mythical similie of mystical power.

For a more level-headed, considered, erudite and focused study I urge you to read Robert J.Stewart’s two books in sequence: “The Prophesies of Merlin” and the even more astounding “The Mystic Life of Merlin“. In the prophesies book, as you might expect, we get a clever deconstruction and interpretation of the meaning of Merlin’s supposed prophetic utterances. The back story is remarkably well explained and decoded, which leads beautifully into the convincing middle section. This is where Merlin’s predictions are considered in the light of historical record, and with startling results. Stewart then goes on to reveal Merlin’s continued stream of consciousness until the end of mankind. We are left with a clear wake-up call to our own consciousness – our consciousness of life, the universe, history and future.

In the partner sequel, “The Mystic Life of Merlin” Stewart delves into a number of interesting areas. He follows Geoffrey of Monmouth’sVita Merlini in terms of exposition, but interweaves elements of the Prophesies where it re-enforces his argument for an extremely early Celtic origin for the story. It derives, he claims with consistent evidence, from a western mystery tradition of training in natural magick – although that is my terminology that I’m employing. Taliesin, the Welsh bard of legend, is also associated closely with helping Merlin understand the world through an ancient catechism in which Taliesin reveals that forces at work in the world and beyond it. Stewart presents a good case for a geometric link between the forces at play in Merlin’s life as it pertains to the stages of psychological development along the path from king to madman, to seer, magician and prophet, and eventually into enlightenment.

We also get a link in with the origins of Tarot Cards, relating the characters of Merlin’s life story with the original Major Arcana depictions. The Rider Waite set also retain many of the personae and events from the story of Merlin’s life in their composition, meaning and detail.

It’s an astounding and revealing interpretation of a system of magickal teachings passed down through first oral, then written tradition. For those who seek to re-discover some of those abilities, these books point the way.


Following in the footsteps of the dragon.

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