Michael Byrne as Merlin in The Mists of Avalon
I have recently been inspired by several events (one of them being a blog post by Athena's Armoury) that have brought up one of my very favorite books, "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley. If you have not read this book, I HIGHLY recommend it! I have been a collector of Arthurian items since I was a teenager. I have paintings, statues, shirts, jewelry boxes, and yes- books. I have read about 15 different versions of the Legend of King Arthur. Some of them I have loved, some of them I haven't.
But through all of my reading and exploring, the one character that I have always loved is Merlin. He and Morgaine le Faye are the two that I find myself dreaming about. In every version of the Legend Merlin is always a Druid. He is always wise. He is always surrounded by mystery. In "The Mists of Avalon", Merlin is not a man's name, but his title... The Merlin of Britain. He is the Druid High Priest. In other books I have read Merlin is his first name, or in Welsh "Myrddin". Sometimes he is portrayed as having mystical powers, sometimes he is portrayed as being misunderstood. One version of the Legend that I read had Merlin as an alchemist with knowledge of chemical compositions. In that story, he was experienced with the use of gun powder (among other things), and others believed he was a magical wizard because of this.
I love reading and learning new versions of my favorite story. My eyes glaze over and I stare dreamily at any art that I find on the subject. And always, at the center of the tale, is this amazingly mysterious and wise man they call Merlin.
"Merlin's Mistress" ring by Gypsy Moon Art Studio