Merlin and Jesus—The Paradox of Polarity
Merlin and Jesus are two great spiritual beings who have inspired the Western World from antiquity to the present day. Apart from spontaneous personal encounters down through the years, what is known of them stems not from established “fact” but from a multiplicity of stories and interpretations, some of which interweave their personae, life experiences and energy seemingly in an attempt to blend the two figures.
Superficially Merlin and Jesus—one, a wizard and the other a rabbi for whom the practice of magic would be antithetical to Jewish law—would seem to share no common ground. However, with both figures known from stories that are certain to have been cross-referenced as peoples moved across the landscape over at least two millennia, you will find that similarities which were once hidden will become apparent and significant. The Jesus stories are slightly less than two thousand years old; what is known of Merlin derives from literature generally less than a thousand years old and likely to have been influenced during the previous thousand years by the Christian story.
The Merlin you are most familiar with first appears as magician and advisor to King Arthur (himself a myth, too) in a chivalric world that post-dates Arthur’s likely prototype by 400 to 600 years and yet the character of Merlin actually derives from a much earlier Welsh oral tradition. His origins are believed to lie in the earliest shamanic relationships between humans and the more-than-human world. Merlin, then, is the wild man of the woods who becomes the Green Man of country lore—a shape-shifting energy that is now here as this, now there as something quite other. It will not, therefore, overstretch your imagination to consider how this Merlin becomes the archetypal Wizard of the last thousand years, facilitating travel between essence and form, and dissolving forms and pulling them out again in new shapes. As all magic is associated with the Moon, the antithesis to the Sun, the magic-making Wizard straddles polarity—holding both sides, both attitudes, and personifying life and death simultaneously. A mercurial figure (Merlin has also been associated with the Greek God, Mercury), the Wizard can be seen as a messenger between your consciousness and your unconscious. He, therefore, represents the potential wholeness of your psyche.
Some of the narrative similarities that exist between Merlin and Jesus are striking. Both were fathered by supernatural beings—Merlin by the Devil and Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Both have been referred to as bearers of the Light, although Merlin’s Light has tended to be more Lucifer-like than Divine. Both represent the Son of God walking the Earth as a human being who has no physical place to call “home”. Both performed magic (miracles). Both were renowned for their ability to prophesy. Both were lauded as greatly good and reviled as profoundly evil. In spite of the unusualness of their respective conceptions, both had extensive, in-depth experience of being human and both, therefore, were great teachers. Both had wilderness experiences. The masculinity of both was humiliated—Merlin through his seduction and subsequent undoing by the nymph-like sorceress, Nimue, who took away his power and locked him up inside a thorny Hawthorn Tree*, and Jesus whose manhood was mocked by the Roman soldiers who wove a crown of thorns** for him to wear prior to his crucifixion. The most fundamental difference between the two were created by the cultures in which their stories were nurtured and passed down to the present day. Merlin’s stories were kept alive by a pagan stream that respected the practice of magic and the inclusive lore of Earth, whereas Jesus’ stories were nurtured by a generally rigid dualistic religion whose function was increasingly to separate white from black, good from bad, and right from wrong. By virtue of his birth, Merlin shares the liminal position all humanity occupies—“stretched twixt Heaven and Hell”. While Merlin remains , therefore, a whole man with potential for all-experiencing, all-encompassing growth, Jesus (the God who came to Earth to live as a man) remains largely imprisoned in the ever-tightening bonds of impossible purity which is defined by humanity’s fear of the Black Unknown. (Hardly Jesus’ fault, but there you have it!) Merlin’s countless incarnations (he has been called the most ubiquitous wizard figure from mediaeval times to the present) defy documentation, whereas Jesus’ story remains documented and debated within the strict parameters of religious doctrine. Nonetheless, many of Jesus’ teachings have filtered down to the present day in great purity and are particularly relevant to the study of EGGPLANT. Notable among these are—
- Do good to those who hate you and want to treat you badly***, and
- Don’t look for the speck of sawdust (“mote”) in the other person’s eye when you have awhopping great plank of wood (“beam”) in your own eye. §
Accounts of any too obvious shamanic practices in Merlin’s exploits would have had no place in a Christian-based mediaeval literature, but neither would any linking of Merlin (half demon, half human) with Jesus (Christianity’s ultra-pure hero) have been countenanced. However, like Jesus whose presence has overtly persisted down through two millennia and filtered through the cultures of the world, regardless of their religions (or none), the presence of Merlin has permeated the underworld of the Western (at least) human psyche to the present day. (“As above—so below”!)
Because of his freedom of the strictures that have largely imprisoned the stories of Jesus, the Merlin who was once just King Arthur’s resident magician and bonded to the Celtic lands of the Isles and Europe has been permitted to resurrect remarkably during the 21st century, albeit under a different name. There is no doubt that Tolkien’s Gandalf is the result of cunning visitations by Merlin who has made his non-dualistic, non-hierarchical teachings (enabling the weak and ignorant∞ to relinquish evil ways and rise to noble heights) accessible to the peoples of the world. Thus Merlin is available today to whoever wishes, consciously or unconsciously, to learn from him‡. (The Peace Space EGGPLANT Manual has been prepared under Merlin’s guidance.)
Essentially both Jesus and Merlin represent energies—Jesus, the Christ-consciousness and Merlin, the Magician energy that manifests that consciousness into the world. In the past, stories have stored these energies in the characters of Merlin and Jesus, but the time has come for those energies to become embodied once again—no longer by fabricated personae but by those on the path of Ascension who are sufficiently aware (mind), compassionate (heart) and courageous (action) to commit to doing so.
The Peace Space mandala overlay of Masters’ EGGPLANT
* —sometimes believed to be the plant source of Jesus‘ crown of thorns.
** —an ancient Greek symbol of a wife’s submission to her husband.
*** “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (The Gospel according to St Luke 6:27-28 KJV)
§ “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (The Gospel according to St. Matthew 7:3 KJV)
∞ —i.e., the Hobbits of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
‡ So too, of course, is Jesus the Christ, but perhaps via a more circuitous route!