[God Oracle] Myrddin
[Card Description: A middle-aged, bearded man sits beneath a tree on a mountain top in a puddle of mud. He is filthy and there are sticks and leaves in his beard. He is babbling to a sow and his eyes look mad with lunacy. He is accompanied by a young man who is writing everything he says down in a book. The young man is Taliesin the Bard. His face shows concentration on the task at hand and a kind of awe that children get when they see something for the first time. He is dressed like a druid and his staff of office lies beside him. It is night, and they are surrounded by nocturnal animals like owls and mice.]
I have seen it—
The before and the after of all things.
I know it I know it
I see the future emblazoned on my eyes closed tight
A thousand years of wars
I see the past in blood.
You must know it
Know what I see.
Only through madness can you find the truth
The knowledge that does not lie in books
He writes it down.
The rivers of time
Flow forward and back
For those with prophecies.
I shall tell you
I have told you
What lies in store for thee.
Statistics: Culture of Origin: Welsh. Location: Wales and South Britain. Age: Man in old age. Elements: Earth, Air
Mythology: Myrddin was a deified Welsh madman whose prophecies and knowledge propelled him on into the future. Originally driven mad by witnessing horrible war in the 6th century, Myrddin retreated to the wild woods, where he befriended many animals. In his lunacy, he realized that everything he learned from books was useless, but what he had inside him was truth. He babbled his secrets to a friendly pig sow, but was overheard by Taliesin, the great Bard, who wrote down his visionary war prophecies. Myrrdin correctly predicted a united people could defeat the Anglo-Saxons, and later the Normans, back to the sea. He was later melded with a familiar character of Arthurian fame, Merlin. In these legends, he was the wise counselor and friend to a young King Arthur. Merlin was basically Myrddin stripped of all his power of madness. With the gift of magic and foresight, it has been rumored that Merlin was born in the future and aged backwards, which gave him his powers. Perhaps the most interesting prophecy Myrrdin made concerned his own death: he foretold that he would be beaten, stabbed and drown—a combination which seemed impossible. Yet one day, some thugs beat him mercilessly with clubs and kicked him off a cliff. He landed on a spear some men fishing the Tweed River left out, impaling himself. They found him with his head in the water. A triple death! The more we know about Myrddin, the more questions we have about him, although he himself would certainly have all the answers—assuming we could understand his rants.
Meaning in Reading: The problem with knowledge parallels the stories of Myrddin throughout the centuries: just because you know what will happen, doesn’t mean you know how to apply that knowledge. In his aspect as Merlin, Myrddin applies his knowledge to help. No longer the madman in the woods, he uses his knowledge to serve others. Myrddin challenge us to think about what we do with the facts as we understand them. It is about the search for ultimate truth. Knowledge can come from books, plain common sense, and internet websites. But it also can come right from our gut. It comes from the Godforms looking after us, and from our own inner truth. Are you accepting of all kinds of knowledge? Or do you limit the sources of truth to certain methods?
Reversed: Before Myrrdin went to war, he had read all there was to read and even did alchemic experiments in his laboratory. He believed his magic and knowledge could defeat whatever threatened his people. But he didn’t know what he didn’t know. A head might be full of knowledge and empty of common sense. Believing you know everything is an act of hubris. Are you so busy being a know-it-all that you don’t bother to listen to others? Has your quest for information blinded you to the emotional impact of the facts and events? Are you engaged in a battle of wills to prove someone wrong? They do say knowledge is power, and power corrupts…but you knew that, didn’t you?
Connecting Ritual: Myrrdin can help you find the knowledge you seek. Find yourself a rocky stream. Follow the banks and pick up three white rocks and three black rocks. Make sure they are approximately the same size, shape and texture. Clean and consecrate them in ritual, along with a small fabric bag with a drawstring. If you would like, decorate the stones with pictures of wild woodland animals—try using acrylic paint or permanent markers. In your ritual, dedicate them to Myrrdin, and place each stone in the bag one at a time. With each stone, tell Myrrdin what you will do with the knowledge he will give you. Promise him you will use it wisely. Now you have a bag of yes/no stones! To use them, shake the bag and ask Myrrdin to answer your question. Form it so it will have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. When you feel Myrrdin is ready to help, put your hand in the bag (no peeking!) and draw the first stone you can. This is your answer: Black stones mean no, white stones mean yes. Continue in conversation with Myrrdin until you have the knowledge you need to move forward. Don’t forget to thank him!
Interesting Fact: Following the literary evidence, it becomes clear that the 11th century clergyman Geoffrey of Monmouth mixed information about the madman Myrddin and the tales of Uther Pendragon with several other historical and legendary figures. The truth is that the historical person Myrddin existed a few hundred years after the historical King Arthur. But Geoffrey’s stories have taken on a life of their own! He inspired dozens of new tellings and reimaginings of Arthur and his friends, and it has become nearly impossible (and indeed, undesirable!) to pull apart the strands of fiction from fact. Maybe Myrrdin wasn’t worshipped in ancient times as a God, but in true Celtic form he has achieved immortality through these stories, and is as strong and true an archetype as if he had been a God from the very beginning.