Legend: The Magician Merlin


Having entered threads for the rest of the Majors from 0 to 6, poor Merlin found himself left on the backburner, so he's going off to his cave to sulk. :)

This is quite an unusual card in that Merlin is leaving us behind as he walks into the card. Is he checking to see if someone is spying on him as he nears his retreat - or is he turning back to motion us to follow? I suppose it depends if we are ready for our initiation into his masculine magical arts. Like many of the Legend Majors, Anna-Marie presents us with an ambivalent archetype, neither good nor evil but remarkably human. Merlin is motivated to heal the land, but do his manipulative methods sometimes betray his honour, and even undermine the very principles he is fighting for?

Merlin wears a rich cloak of mystic purple-blue, and feathers as a symbol of his spiritual insights and experiences, the elemental Air of intuitive and creative energy in this deck. The connection to the Air energy of Spears is reinforced by the tough trees which grow at these heights, as Anna-Marie suggests, home to the helpful spirits of the dryads. In addition, Merlin carries a wooden staff in his left hand, a symbol of power guided by his right brained wisdom.

Merlin treads very close to an active mountain brook, his guide through the woodlands to his esoteric heights. This pathway of Water expresses Merlin's compassion and love for the people and the land - this motivation directs his steps. A wolf, perhaps the guardian and co-habitor of Merlin's secluded cave, greets him on the path, perhaps looking beyond the Magician with suspicion towards us, the unknown observers. In this deck, dogs seem to be associated with masculine leadership, such as that of the Court Kings. This is a wild dog, suggested that Merlin's consciousness is natural, balanced, cunning, and untamed.

The rocks before him sweep dramatically down to a small cleft which provides a reasonably draft free entrance to Merlin's inner home. The cave not only connects Merlin to the element of earth, but symbolizes the unconscious from which his psychic powers arise.

Lastly - for every good Magician needs access to all four elements - the foxgloves in the bottom right symbolize both the destructive and restorative characteristics of Fire and the intellectual wisdom of Swords. At my web site I have used foxgloves as a metaphor for the poisonous pain which art transforms into healing passion, a transformational medicine for the heart.

And in considering Anna-Marie's art, I cannot help but think that these paintings have been not only reduced in size so much as to obscure detail, but that they have been severely cropped. She devotes a paragraph to the foxgloves in A Keeper of Words yet the flowers only barely make it into the picture. I would have gladly done without the borders to see more and slightly larger detail.


Wolves normally live in packs, are very loyal and defend their territory. They kill only for food and can survive in almost any climate. I think this is true of Merlin too, he is loyal to king and country and survives the political environment, through diplomatic guidance and control of events. He defends the land the best way that he knows how.

Wolves use both body language and their voices to communicate. I think the wolf fits the Keeper of Words description of "showmanship and originality win respect and inspire others to follow" very well. A dominant wolf will make itself look as large as possible, but putting it's ears and tail up - it is a show of supremicy which very seldom leads to a fight. Merlin's power is undisputed because it has been manifested. In submission, however, the wolf's ears go back and the tail between the legs and cowering as small as possible - Merlin's wolf seems to be relaxed and see him as an equal. Merlin is not a threat to nature, nor is he beneath it, he is unified with it and so understands it and is accepted by it as part of the whole.

Wolves are intelligent and very aware, with keen senses which makes them skillful hunters. Merlin too, has sharp senses, he is aware of what has happened, what is happening and what will happen, and uses his skill and influence for the people on both the natural and supernatural planes. The wolf stares out of the card in our direction, and I get the feeling that Merlin is aware of our presence too as he looks back from that world to this :)

I love the fact that wolves take care of their injured, giving them physical and moral support and I think that this is ultimately Merlin's goal, to heal his land both physically and spiritually, as David has already pointed out in the symbolism of the foxgloves. Even though Merlin needs time to himself, he has the companionship of the wolf and the nature spirits, which in turn guide and influence his decision making.



I've always seen this card as the wolf is leading Merlin, and checking on him to make sure he's keeping up. (Sort of like Lassie, always knowing what is going on and just trying to get the dumb humans to understand)

I don't see it so much as going away as a withdrawal but discovering something hidden in some unexpected place. Following our nature, trusting in our inner guide (which I guess is intuition), but it is more the wilder element within us, our animal nature that leads us to discover hidden talents or something long buried.

merlin, the magician gives us the tools to do something with that, to create something from that.


This card showed up for me yesterday...some of the things that crossed my mind was, looking behind to see who is following me...as in leading someone along. Not in a deceptive way, but I suppose that could be a negative aspect of this card. I was looking more of it as, Come On Catch Up!

What struck me was the rock wall, not really seeming like a wall but an energy flow, like a rent in the fabric of the universe. I've always thought of this as a cave, the dark unknown, the retreat or even where Merlin is sealed, waiting for his time to come to return.

It almost seemed like a vortex or some sort of an energy source emanating all this energy, gray matter...like the brain!!!