I wondered what it would be like if I interviewed Merlin myself, what would he have to say in answer to this question? How much of my own stance on matters of spirituality would be evident in his answers, I wonder? Well, this is how it panned out …
Tally: Hello Merlin! I’d like to start by thanking you for agreeing to be interviewed for this blog post.
Merlin: You are indeed most welcome, Tally. I like to talk. We bards are rather good at it, as you probably already know. And, by the way, I’d like to compliment you on having such a wonderful name. I know from looking into my own future, which will of course be your past, where Pendragon comes from, but where does Tally come from? Is it, as I’m thinking, a shortened form of my brother in lore, Taliesin, or is there some more obscure origin for it?
Tally: Yes, you’re quite right, it is short for Taliesin. In mythology as it’s come down to us here in the 21st century, you yourself are sometimes confused with Taliesin, other times you’re both found in the same stories, and in yet other stories you seem to have had many different lives in entirely different centuries and parts of Britain and France. It’s often difficult to keep up, and I’m very glad of this opportunity to get you to put the record straight.
Merlin: I always think that the ideas of linear truth and record-keeping are rather static and lifeless. Do you not think so yourself? When a bard tells a story the way it actually happened, they lose thread of the real story; their minds become over-cluttered by these artificial constructs, and the important things in a story are not given their chance to shine through. They lie flat and unseen, like featureless deserts, void of that mantle of lush colour that flows through the oasis they could otherwise have been with just a little of that secret ingredient every good story has: imagination. You’re a historian, are you not.
Tally: Yes, I am.
Merlin: You’re also a writer, though, a lady who no doubt recognises that kernel in every story, how it weaves and entwines itself and becomes the life blood of every really great story, the bit that represents its soul?
Tally: Well, ye–
Merlin: So you also know extremely well that you’ve never found it in the history books. You’ve found it in the fairytales of the peoples you’ve studied, haven’t you? And in the mythologies. Even the lives of the saints you’ve read have their impossible miracles all set out in the accepted formula of their times, and are fascinating to read because of them, yet we all know they did not actually happen in that fashion. And, to use some mythology rather closer to my own self and the tales folk will tell of my exploits and those of the king I will one day create–
Tally: Don’t you mean have created?
Merlin: You are the author of your story, Tally. Surely you know how old you’ve made me! I am only 25 years old! I can see all events, past, present and future, yes, but I too see them from my own present vantage point, which means that I have not yet reached that point in my own story. I see it only as an intellectual exercise that I will one day get to thread through with my own imagination and life blood. It will be a very good story, retold many times by other bards who will tell it in the image of their own times, but here we are only concerned with your story and the elements you are infusing it with. So, I am 25 years old; I am the product of a Christian mother and a Druid father; I am being sent to Rome to train for the priesthood with the Professionals! Ugh! I have to tell you, Tally, I do not like that idea at all. Why can’t we all co-exist and worship how we want to?
Tally: You’re the clever one, Merlin. You tell me!
Merlin: Well then, I will be finding a way to ensure that everyone knows they can worship howsoever they choose; that there is no restriction on how the Universe views peoples’ efforts to Love themselves, each other and it. For Universe you can substitute each and every known deity’s name, but whatever you choose to call it, it will always love you back as long as you love it, yourself and your fellow man, woman and child.
Tally: Ok, so if that’s your aim, how do you mean to go about achieving it, and why have you picked the 21st century in which to do it? And I won’t accept “you’re the writer, you tell me”.
Merlin: From where I belong at this point of life in this incarnation, which is the middle of the 5th century AD, I can look backwards and see the colourful shape and sound of worship, the joy and happiness of nature and natural expression; but I can also see how it has changed in the recent centuries since the Roman Emperor Constantine hijacked the Christian movement, took the Catholic Church over and made its momentum-gaining religious system into a political weapon in order to keep control of his fracturing and changing empire. It’s not so colourful and joyous now, more of a dictatorship than a religion. I can also see forward into an age in which people can openly make the choice of whether to worship or not for themselves; it’s a time of great change, in which religious systems that offer little more than dictated rules are being forsaken, yet there is no real alternative for those who still wish to experience profound spiritual growth. This age is yours, Tally.
Something very deep is about to happen to me, something that changes everything and makes me realise what exactly I must do. And it’s to the souls incarnate in your age that I will be offering the infinite possibilities of true spiritual freedom. I’m going to go back in time to find Christianity’s real roots; then I’m going to go forward in time to watch the out-working of my gambit. A lovely young archaeologist called Vanda will build me a power nexus, and from here we shall generate an awareness that will ensure that no souls are ever again left without real spiritual choice. I can’t tell you exactly how this will be achieved. For one thing, since it is your story to tell, it would be rather rude of me to do so, and for another, you have not written it yet, so your plotting is as good as mine. Does that answer your questions?
Tally: I think so, yes.
Merlin: Then I think we’ll both agree that you had better go and get on with some work, won’t we!