Archive for January, 2012

So in addition to my goal to read 50+ books this year, I have decided also to challenge myself to read more religious and sacred texts. For me this includes not only texts of the major world religions, but also mythic and esoteric texts that relate to my own religious path. I’ve already begun to read the Q’ran and The Holy Bible, but today I finished the Vita Merlini. Written by Geoffrey of Monmouth in or around AD1150, this text chronicles the life of Myrddhin Wyllt or as he is more commonly known (by Monmouth and the rest of the Anglo world): Merlin. His other names include Merlinus Caledonensis or Merlin Sylvestris. He is the famed seer of Welsh legend.

This text details the internal struggles of Merlin as he nears his final end. Feeling at a loss though surrounded by his wife, sister and brother-in-law (the king), Merlin takes to the woods in a fit of madness. In today’s day and age, this madness might be attributed to malnutrition, malabsorption, mental illness, seasonal effective disorder or several other myriad causes, but in Merlin’s age it was simple madness that one could be persuaded out of. Merlin himself was talked out of the woods or lured out by music several times, but each time he relinquished his family once again to return to his glade. Taliesin, Merlin’s oldest friend and fellow soothsayer, joins Merlin and recounts his own prophecies which mirror and expound on Merlin’s own.

This text was an important one in its prime; Merlin was a vital historic figure and Geoffrey of Monmouth documented his life to the best of his ability. A little hard to read at times, the Vita detailed his predictions to striking effect. This is one of the first “predictive texts” I have read that recount names and hard details rather than allegory or allusion. It was an enjoyable read, if a little verbose.

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