Posted by Shackleton on Sun, 20 Jan 2019
A carved wooden statue of Merlin in Carmarthen town centre. He’s a mysterious Celtic shaman who constantly popped up in British culture and folklore between the 5th and 15th centuries.
There were reports of him in various guises up and down the west coast from Cornwall to Wales to Cumbria to Scotland. Strongest evidence suggests he originated from Carmarthenshire in Wales in the 5th century, where he was probably driven insane by war. Today, we recognise this as post-traumatic stress.
In his ‘madness’, he roamed the woods in rags around the town of
Carmarthen, living off roots and berries, talking to trees and animals, and generally cursing the gods. Eventually, he sorted himself out and became a healer and sage to the local population, and a master chemist who concocted all sorts of medicines and remedies for various ailments.
His legend seems to have grown from there. He was mentioned in various poems, stories and chronicles over the years… and eventually ‘became’ the supernatural magician we all think of him as today. This legend still continues now in the various cinema and TV interpretations of him. Not bad for a poor lad traumatised by war. He’s left a far more significant footprint on the world than any of the despots he was fighting for and against.