A Modern Day Merlin

Who is Merlin?

Merlin is arguably the most famous of magicians. He’s most well-known for being King Arthur’s trusted advisor and friend, but he’s more than simply a character of Camelot. 

In British and Welsh folklore, ‘the Merlin’ was a powerful figure. This person held deep magic, and held prophecy in their poetry and song. Most often depicted as a wise and cunning wanderer, the Merlin was capable of truly great feats. They were a shapeshifter, a watcher, and a guardian of the realm.

The Merlin is associated with the natural world, and holds a deep connection to the landscape and its spirits. While implicitly understanding the spirits of the earth and the elements, the Merlin is closest to the ancient Celtic gods and goddesses, works alongside the fae, and is allegedly the most active around Glastonbury (believed to be the modern site of the mythical Avalon).

They’re a bridge between the human world and the magical realm, a ‘wild man’ archetype. The idea of the ‘wild man’ as a figure is found in many ancient mythologies and folklore traditions. The wild man is a symbol of the untamed. He’s a primal force of nature who embodies the raw energy of the natural and unnatural worlds.

A scene from Julia Margaret Cameron’s photograph, ‘Vivian and Merlin’ c. 1870.

Who is Taliesin?

Taliesin is a figure from Welsh and Celtic mythology who’s been adapted into the pagan English traditions. He’s a legendary poet and bard, known for his wisdom, prophetic abilities, and skill in storytelling. The name Taliesin means ‘shining brow’ or ‘radiant brow,’ referring to his enlightenment. Taliesin and the Merlin are often used interchangeably however they are unique characters, while sharing similarities and story.

In pagan tradition, Taliesin is a god of poetry, creativity, and inspiration. He’s a direct source of divine wisdom, and guides poets, artists, and storytellers. Taliesin also brings the power of transformation and rebirth, as someone who underwent a series of trials and challenges before reaching his fullest potential.

Taliesin’s origin story is steeped in mystery and magic. His mother was the witch Ceridwen, who gave birth to him after swallowing a kernel of grain. This kernel was actually the boy Gwion Bach, who had shapeshifted into the grain after a long chase by Ceridwen, who in turn transformed herself into a hen to finally catch Gwion Bach by eating him.

This makes him a symbol of the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth. His transformation from Gwion Bach to grain to Taliesin represents the journey of the soul through the cycles of incarnation and enlightenment. He reminds us of our inherent growth, and the transformation we can achieve through creativity and story.

Embodying the Merlin

Whether it’s Merlin or Taliesin, both characters show us how to powerfully stand in our truth and power, while remaining connected with nature and magic.

Embrace your inner wisdom and intuition

Trust in your own inner knowing and intuition to guide you on your life path. Use your gut to inform your decision-making.

Cultivate your magical abilities

Explore and develop your own unique talents and skills, whether they be in the realm of art, healing, or spirituality. And don’t forget to share them! Use them to bring positive change.

Be a mentor or guide to others

Offer your wisdom, knowledge, and support to those who seek your guidance. Share your own stories and experiences publicly, just like the bards of old.

Connect with nature and the elements

We say this all the time because it’s SO important! Spending time in nature helps you to attune to the rhythms and cycles of the natural world. This is how you can tap into elemental forces surrounding you.

Embrace transformation and change

Be open to the process of growth and evolution. Like Taliesin and Gwion Bach, allow yourself to adapt and change as needed in order to achieve your goals.

Stand in your power. Speak your truth

Be bold and courageous in expressing your beliefs and values, just as Merlin did in the Arthurian legends. Stand up for what you know to be right or fair.


Leela is the founder of High Priestess, a third-generation psychic, and a life-long student of goddesses and female divinity.