In the final post of our Cornwall visit I have reserved the best tale until last. Tintagel was supposed to be simply a passing visit to an historic site, but as usual mystical things began to happen once the dowsing rods had pointed the way.
Tintagel is renowned as a site associated with the legend of King Arthur, although signs dotted around the castle grounds do readily admit that there is little actual evidence for either the existence of Arthur himself, or his relationship with the castle. Yet, this has not stopped the small town of Tintagel from attaching the Arthur and Merlin names to almost every shop, pub, hotel and entertainment venue in sight. I made a reluctant Kal take my picture next to a life-sized plastic Merlin. Oh, the shame on both sides!
The rain that had been tumbling all day had slightly relented, but louring skies heralded more soon. Yet, our enthusiasm was not dampened. I, in particular, was quite excited about the prospect of testing Tintagel Castle for the presence of Arthur and Merlin – whether that be an historical remnant or simply the hint of association. We avoided the Land Rover offering an expensive ride down the steep hill to the castle, and we joyously let our legs find their own speed down the hill, noticing a sign to a church on the way down. We paid our dues and then the rain came down, just as we were about to make the precarious crossing of the wooden bridge between the mainland and the steep cliff-lined island that formed the formidable fortifications of the castle.
As the seas crashed below us and the rain lashed our already damp clothing we climbed the steep slippery steps to stand with the stunning sight of huge caves, high headland and strange islets as we stood looking out over the edge of Cornwall. We stood on a promontory looking at Merlin’s Cave when the thought struck me – was there anything I could do to find out whether this stuff about Merlin and Arthur was actually true? Was there anything I could do – I was supposed to be a dowser! Of course there was something I could do!
The Spirit of Merlin and the Shade of Arthur
I got my dowsing rods at the ready and began to consider what I was going to ask about, but as soon as the mental images of Arthurian characters began to formulate itself into a question there was a nearby flurry of feathers and flaps as a hawk swooped across our vision only feet away to land in the small outcrop of rock just above us. I hate to say it, because in the next few posts this is going to get repeated quite often and is likely to become a little boringly repetitive, but I have come to see the appearance of a hawk as a sign of Merlin, ever since an encounter at Dinas Emrys one evening when I was pursuing an encounter with the spirit of Merlin.
After getting over that ‘sign’ I began the dowsing proper. I began by framing the context of the questions. I would be asking about the concepts of “Merlin” and “Arthur” and until I asked specifically I was not distinguishing between the physically real and the mythological concept of either of those figures. Here are some of the questions I asked:-
- Had Merlin been born at this site? NO
- Had Merlin lived at Tintagel? NO
- Had Merlin visited this place? YES. Interesting.
- Had Arthur been born at this site? NO. Not much information being revealed so far!
- Had Arthur lived at Tintagel? YES. Oh!
- Had Arthur been buried on this site? NO.
Time to move on to the question of whether these characters were real or mythological.
- Was Arthur a real king of England? YES.
- Was Arthur a myth? YES. What?
- Was Arthur both a mythological character AND a real person? YES. Confusing!
- Was Merlin a real magician? NO.
- Was Merlin a myth? YES. But…earlier the dowsing had said that he had visited….
- Did Merlin visit Arthur at Tintagel in some magical way, rather than a physical way? YES.
OK, that was both a little clearer and a little muddier at the same time. I wanted to see now whether there was anything remaining at the site of either of those people (or ideas).
- Was there any of Merlin’s energy remaining at Tintagel? NO.
- Was there any of the Spirit of Arthur’s energy at this site? YES.
- Was there anything of the mortal remains of Arthur at this site? YES. Oh, now that was interesting!
- What was it of Arthur that remained? His bones? NO. His energetic shroud? YES.
So, a real person who had either been named Arthur, or who had adopted the title, had ruled here at Tintagel, and now there was the remains of his energy somewhere on this island. That was quote exciting, so I set about trying to find it with the dowsing rods, letting them lead me to where this ‘shade; might be. I didn’t know yet what I was going to ask when I got there, but the hint was on!
In one of the last scenes from the excellent film “Excalibur” there is a poignant moment where Arthur is laid to rest in his final moments with a view out over the ocean, high up on a cliff-top. Now that I have visited Tintagel that scene makes much more sense to me – of course if Arthur had died anywhere close to Tintagel then that would be where he would want to spend his final moments. Who wouldn’t?
My dowsing rods led me to a place on the island where they indicated that the shade, the energetic shroud, or the remnants of his spirit, could be found. I am not going to say where that was. I wish to respect his peace. If you want to find this place then feel free to make the effort to locate it for yourself. Perhaps he will have moved by the time you get there. Perhaps he is in different places for different people. Whichever is the case, it was a special place. I felt that straight away and soon I stopped dowsing questions about who or what this was, and I sat looking out at the view. I asked if it would be appropriate for me to ask for information spiritually, and got a positive response, so I began to tune in. Soon I was deep into a conversation inside my head with whatever this spirit was.
Conversations with Arthur
Of course, I was curious. If this was Arthur then there were some things I wanted to know. I put myself into the perspective, the viewpoint, of the shade and let it show me what it wanted. Arthur locked my vision onto the land around, making me follow its contours as it moved towards the sea. A voice came softly, “To know me, know that I am The Land.” I understood. What of the relationship with Merlin, I asked? “Lines of electricity flashed like the after-images of a lightening strike as veins of light flowed through the land in front of me. The soft assured voice that sounded like my own echoed in my mind again, “To know Merlin, know that he is the life-blood of the land.” Now I knew the relationship: body and blood, life and land.
Feeling more confident about interacting with this voice now, I began to ask questions. Would it be possible for me to send this connection from Tintagel back to the power centre at my house, creating an energetic bridge that I could open whenever I wished? As soon as I asked the question the response came, “Yes“. I began the process of pushing the energy from this point to my home, and it rocketed there! Once it landed something unusual happened. The image emerged of a dragon’s tail cork-screwing itself into my power centre with amazing strength. I followed the bridge back to where I was to see the image of a dragon’s head, teeth buried into the headland where I sat. It was the most powerful image and feeling and it took me by surprise.
As I recovered from that, I ventured a further and final request. Could I dare to call upon this link that I had made in order to communicate with the spirit of Merlin? I felt an air of gravity ensue…clearly this was a request that had a lot of weight attached. A response formulated itself. “Yes, you can, but in return you must offer to undertake a task.” I suspected that something like this might happen, but I was ready for it. I was energetically strong here, and the place felt comfortable. I was protected within my shell, and no communication this far had given me any cause for concern. I asked what I might be called upon to do. “To connect to Merlin you must be as he was – the life force of the land. You must re-vivify the sacred energy grid of this land.” This was it. This was the quest I had always been looking for in my heart of hearts since I began the druidic path. This was my purpose, my destiny, my ambition. All those feelings over-swept me, and I agreed to a lifetime pact with Arthur and Merlin. I would take this on, and in doing so, I would be guided by the spirit of Merlin, and know something of his powers.
Notice the phrasing was: “...you must be as he was” – past tense. It seems as though the spirit of Merlin is no longer coursing through the veins of this land, these islands. Something is awry with the energetic grid. The presumption is, also, that once there was actually an energetic grid covering the islands. My presumption is that this was a series of sacred sites, linked by pilgrimage, visitation, habitation or veneration.
The Death of Arthur and Merlin
I began to think about the ‘shade’ that I was dealing with. This was the energetic remains of a human named ‘Arthur’, whether that be a title or a name, I didn’t know. Still being in touch with this spirit energy, and this being a rare occasion, I took the opportunity to ask another question. “Why is your shade here?”, I asked. I began to feel surges of emotion, a complex brew of feelings, but within them was discernible the feeling of homecoming, of this being a special place during his lifetime, a place of power that he may have commanded from, a place with a special view. A special view? Well, it was certainly dramatic, but why special? My gaze was sent out over the headland, across the sea, to rest on the first island I saw – “My mortal body lies here.” came a second thought-voice.
My knowledge of Cornish geography isn’t great – I’ve only been there twice before – but in my head the phrase appeared “The Blessed Isle“. What did this mean? Was there an island called The Blessed Isle near here? What was The Blessed Isle? Was it like Avalon? Wasn’t Arthur supposed to have been transported to the Summerlands or the Isle of Avalon, commonly believed to be Glastonbury in Somerset? Was The Blessed Isle associated with Arthur? Had I read that somewhere? How did I know this information? A hundred questions whirled in a tornado of rational incomprehension, but inside it was a stillness of gnostic knowledge. Something had been apprehended, and now I had to work on understanding it.
I disengaged from Arthur, thanking his remainder for its communion. I had a quest that made sense to me on a grand scale now – far grander than I could envisage at that moment. I resolved that, when I returned home, I would begin to learn more about Arthur, and to begin the quest, both of which I have begun to do. In the next section I will deal with some of the academic elements of Tintagel and Arthur, and will propose some new interpretations of existing material in an attempt to throw some more light on the myth and the man that was King Arthur, and of course, on his druid tutor Merlin.