Merlin’s Cave

Merlin, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae, might well have been the son of a demon who impregnated a mortal woman who was a nun. Yet, Tennyson in his Idylls of the King describes ocean waves bringing the infant Arthur to the shore, where Merlin carries him to safety.

The cave, a very real one, at the base of the cliffs beneath Tintagel Castle fills with water when high tide comes in. Certainly, this is a mysterious dark cavern, nowadays a place where scuba-divers search for shells and fossils. It runs clear through the headland, constantly being eroded by the sea.

In Emily’s Shadow, Merlin’s cave is accessible from the top of the cliffs through a hole that has been boarded due to the danger of falling.  It leads to an opening above the sea, where water trickles onto sharp volcanic rocks protruding from the seabed down below. Perhaps, as surely as Merlin could shape-shift, so too could he conjure dark openings to suit his purposes. Of course, now, the hole at the top of the cliffs is no more, and the trickling stream is a fault line, running down the face of the cliff, pointing to many small caves where witches might hide.

References

http://www.timelessmyths.com/arthurian/merlin.html

Illustration: www.mysticrealms.org.uk

The Birthplace of King Arthur

Tintagel is one of those thin places where a sense of mystery seems to prevail, where one wonders if there is such a thing as a portal to another world. This particular place is in Cornwall, England, an area I love by the seaside, with big craggy rocks and crashing waves. An ancient stone church sits on the bluff, a place where sacred sites have existed in one form or another for centuries. Castle ruins are perched above the sea, the very castle where King Arthur was purported to have been born.

The myth of King Arthur, (perhaps a truth about deep human need for some great leader we can trust to be chivalrous, fair, honest, caring and compassionate), arose from the words of Geoffrey of Monmouth who published History of the Kings of Britain. It was he who made Tintagel the birthplace of Arthur.

Several years ago, I stood watching a crescent moon sink behind the remains of the castle keep, the same castle Geoffrey of Monmouth saw in its heyday when it was a real fort back in the twelfth century. At that time, he changed Arthur from an obscure Welsh chieftain into a medieval King.

My story, Emily’s Shadow took off from the Arthurian legends. I saw the large rectangular area enclosed by rock walls. As I gazed upon this strange place, smelling the sea, hearing gulls cry, listening to waves roar, I imagined a giant sword lying on the ground. It seemed real to me. I knew I must write about this place, but what to write I did not know, so I began to read about Arthur and Merlin and a story began to form.

In Thomas Malory’s, Le Morte D’Arthur, Merlin is tricked by a woman he wants to seduce and finds himself entombed. Vivienne slid a magic ring upon his finger and managed to gain power over him, but in my story Merlin retaliates with a spell upon her, casting her beneath a fisherman’s cottage where she languishes for centuries, until Emily Nobile arrives with her family at the end of WW II. Thus my story continues the myth in a battle between good and evil.

Christina St. Clair: www.christinastclair.com

References

Wilson, Colin. King Arthur Country. Bodmin, Cornwall: Bossiney Books. 1979.

>http://vault.hanover.edu/~battles/arthur/merlin.htm<

Photo: http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Upper_mainland_courtyard_of_Tintagel_Castle,_2007.jpg

Thin Places

Today Melissa Cabrera is featuring me on her website http://www.werevampsromance.org/. She reviewed Emily’s Shadow. I was thrilled that she gave my book five stars. Her interview questions were also mind-provoking.

She got me thinking about what inspired me to write a fantasy novel. So here’s the scoop. It all started when I visited one of those thin places where a sense of mystery seems to hover, where one wonders if there is a portal to another world.  This particular place was in Cornwall, England, an area that I’ve always loved by the seaside, with big craggy rocks and crashing waves.

So here I was in Tintagel where castle ruins perch high upon a cliff, the very place where King Arthur met his knights, where Merlin stirred his potions in the recesses of a cave…

An ancient stone church sits on the bluff on holy ground, a place where sacred sites have existed in one form or another for centuries.

I stood watching a crescent moon sink behind the remains of the castle keep, a large rectangular area enclosed by broken rock walls, and as I gazed upon this strange place, smelling the sea, hearing gulls cry, listening to waves roar, I imagined a giant sword lying on the ground.  It seemed real to me. I knew I must write about this place, but what I did not know, so I began to read about Arthur and Merlin and a story began to form. It went through many changes, and many revisions, with help and support from many people, especially my poet husband, Philip St. Clair, before it ever found a publisher.

The sequel, Blue Caravan, has also taken root in a thin place. Set in Blackheath, a windy grassland in London where red doubledeckers crisscross the treeless plain, this story is challenging Emily in new ways. Here she is working as a bus conductress, struggling with her day-to-day life, yearning to go to Cambridge, and in total denial about her time in Tintagel, her meeting with a sorceress, her encounter with Merlin, but such things cannot remain long-buried, and whether she likes it or not, she is drawn into another supernatural situation…