The other night I was reading "The History of Tom Thumb" to my children out of Joseph Jacobs's English Fairy Tales (1890), which begins:
"In the days of the great Prince Arthur, there lived a mighty magician,called Merlin, the most learned and skilful enchanter the world has ever seen.
This famous magician, who could take any form he pleased, was travelling about as a poor beggar, and being very tired, he stopped at the cottage of a ploughman to rest himself, and asked for some food."
The moment I read those words, I was thunderstruck. The realization hit me: Merlin is Odin.
I almost wanted to stop reading just to let this, and its implications sink in, but I didn't, because there are few sins greater than to interrupt a child's fairy tale.
Now, I know I could probably find this notion in any number of dusty tomes by scholars of literature, mythology or folklore. But I don't recall ever having read this. No, I don't even feel like looking it up. In that one moment, the energy of the archetype reached through several levels of being and zapped me right where I sat among my pajama-clad children.
And from that moment forward, I will always be certain: Merlin is Odin.