Merlin's face carved in rock at Alderley Edge
 
In Avalonian magic, the inner realms of Light reveal themselves through specific patterns of symbols which encode a numinous matrix. Through focused visualization these symbols can be configured and activated within the human mind-body to enable us to communicate across the planes.
 

As one of the primordial Guardians of the Land of Logres (the name given to the inner realm of Britain) King Arthur will never die: He is very much alive within that secret country where time does not exist. We have already learned how he was taken to Avalon to be healed by Morgen, where he awaits his time of return.  This belief has been embedded in the Western folk-soul for thousands of years, A Welsh triad lists the graves of other heroes, but concludes ‘Not wise the thought a grave for Arthur!’ In other stories, Arthur is living beneath a mountain where he presides over abundant feasts along with hundreds of his knights, or holds court in a magnificent manor reached by a path under a hill. Arthur, the bringer of Light to Britain, has, like the sun, set below the Earth, awaiting a new dawn.  

In many legends Arthur is still believed to be asleep in a cave, awaiting a summons to arise again and save his country in her hour of greatest need. And in some of these stories, a ‘mysterious stranger’ haunts the cave. This is, of course, Merlin, protecting and guarding his protégé as he did when the King was alive, waiting patiently, endlessly, for that time of awakening to come. The best known of these legends takes place at Alderley Edge in Cheshire, where Merlin's Well runs down a rocky outcrop in the woods to be collected in a small stone trough. On the rock face is carved a male head, along with the rhyme:

‘Drink of this and take thy fill
For the water falls by the Wizard's will.’

The Legend of Alderley Edge tells how one autumn, a farmer rode over the hill on his way to Macclesfield market to sell his white horse. Halfway across, an old man suddenly appeared, ‘tall and strangely clad in a deep, flowing garment.’  He offered the farmer a sum of money for the fine beast, but he was refused.  The old man prophesied that no one would buy his horse that day, and his words came true.  When the disappointed farmer returned that evening, the old man was waiting. He ordered him to follow, ‘by the Seven Firs, the Golden Stone, by Stormy Point, and Saddle Bole.’

They arrived at a rocky cliff face, where the wizard touched a rock with his wand, and a massive pair of iron gates appeared, which flew open with a sound like thunder.  He led the terrified farmer and his horse through a maze of passages where hundreds of men in shining armor

and their milk-white steeds all lay sound asleep. But the horse of one warrior was missing.
‘Your horse is needed to make the number complete,’ said the wizard, who was, of course, Merlin.  ‘Remember my words: There will come a day when these men and these horses will awaken from their enchanted asleep and ride out to save their country in a great battle.  Leave your horse with me and take this for your price.’

He pointed to a cavern heaped high with treasure, and with trembling hands the farmer stuffed his pockets with gold and jewels. Merlin bade him be gone, and the iron gates clanged shut behind him, and were never seen by mortal eye again. Merlin’s job, for now, had been done.

And so Arthur remains hidden within the land until the time of the Great Awakening – but not of the king, but of ourselves – for we are the ones who are  really sleep. And they cannot come alive again until we rouse ourselves from  spiritual torpor, from the somnambulance of our squirrel-cage lives, from the  deadly sleep of our consumer-driven society. This is why, in the legends, a human being must blow the ‘royal horn’ to awaken the Sleepers – for only we can rouse them to wakefulness and action – they can’t do it on their own. Until that time they are like Christ unresurrected, Osiris unfound, and John Barleycorn in perpetual wintertime. Perhaps, lying in the quietness of the cave, they dream of each generation of human souls that tread down the centuries, searching among the downturned faces for the ones who will open their eyes, look up, and see the substance, not the shadow. Perhaps they silently plead with us, in Christopher Fry’s poem, ‘A Sleep of Prisoners,’                                   

It takes a thousand years to wake,
But will you wake for pity’s sake?

           
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