Monday, May 27, 2013

Real Mermaid Skeletal Remains

Real Mermaid Skeletal Remains

     Mermaids are from the same cloth as the fairies, dwarfs and pixies and giants. These are some gruesome remains of what appears to be mermaids.  You decide.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fairies and Animals

Fairies and Animals



In the agricultural districts of Wales, the fairies are accredited with a very complete variety of useful animals; and Welsh folk-lore, both modern and medieval, abounds with tales regarding cattle, sheep, horses, poultry, goats, and other features of rural life. Such are the marvellous mare of Teirnyon, which foaled every first of May, but whose colt was always spirited away, no man knew whither; the Ychain Banog, or mighty oxen, which drew the water-monster out of the enchanted lake, and by their lowing split the rocks in twain; the lambs of St. Melangell, which at first were hares, and ran frightened under the fair saint’s robes; the fairy cattle which belong to the Gwraig Annwn; the fairy sheep of Cefn Rhychdir, which rose up out of the earth and vanished into the sky; even fairy swine, which the haymakers of Bedwellty beheld flying through the air. To some of these traditions reference has already been made; others will be mentioned again. Welsh mountain sheep will run like stags, and bound from crag to crag like wild goats; and as for Welsh swine, they are more famed in Cambrian romantic story than almost any other animal that could be named. Therefore the tale told by Rev. Roger Rogers, of the parish of Bedwellty, sounds much less absurd in Wales than it might elsewhere. It relates to a very remarkable and odd sight, seen by Lewis Thomas Jenkin’s two daughters, described as virtuous and good young women, their father a substantial freeholder; and seen not only by them but by the man-servant and the maid-servant, and by two of the neighbours, viz., Elizabeth David, and Edmund Roger. All these six people were on a certain day making hay in a field called Y Weirglodd Fawr Dafolog, when they plainly beheld a company of fairies rise up out of the earth in the shape of a flock of sheep; the same being about a quarter of a mile distant, over a hill, called Cefn Rhychdir; and soon the fairy flock went out of sight, as if they vanished in the air. Later in the day they all saw this company of fairies again, but while to two of the haymakers the fairies appeared as sheep, to others they appeared as greyhounds, and to others as swine, and to others as naked infants. Whereupon the Rev. Roger remarks: ‘The sons of infidelity are very unreasonable not to believe the testimonies of so many witnesses.

Horses and Fairies

Horses and Fairies



The horse plays a very active part in Welsh fairy tales. Not only does his skeleton serve for Mary Lwyd and the like, but his spirit flits. The Welsh fairies seem very fond of going horseback. An old woman in the Vale of Neath told Mrs. Williams, who told Thomas Keightley, that she had seen fairies to the number of hundreds, mounted on little white horses, not bigger than dogs, and riding four abreast. This was about dusk, and the fairy equestrians passed quite close to her, in fact less than a quarter of a mile away. Another old woman asserted that her father had often seen the fairies riding in the air on little white horses; but he never saw them come to the ground. He heard their music sounding in the air as they galloped by. There is a tradition among the Glamorgan peasantry of a fairy battle fought on the mountain between Merthyr and Aberdare, in which the pigmy combatants were on horseback. There appeared to be two armies, one of which was mounted on milk-white steeds, and the other on horses of jet-black. They rode at each other with the utmost fury, and their swords could be seen flashing in the air like so many penknife blades. The army on the white horses won the day, and drove the black-mounted force from the field. The whole scene then disappeared in a light mist.

Fairy Dances and Oak Trees

Fairies and Oak Trees



With regard to the fairy rings, Jones held that the Bible alludes to them, Matt. xii. 43: ‘The fairies dance in circles in dry places; and the Scripture saith that the walk of evil spirits is in dry places.’ They favor the oak-tree, and the female oak especially, partly because of its more wide-spreading branches and deeper shade, partly because of the ‘superstitious use made of it beyond other trees’ in the days of the Druids. Formerly, it was dangerous to cut down a female oak in a fair dry place. ‘Some were said to lose their lives by it, by a strange aching pain which admitted of no remedy, as one of my ancestors did; but now that men have more knowledge and faith, this effect follows not.’ William Jenkins was for a long time the schoolmaster at Trefethin church, in Monmouthshire, and coming home late in the evening, as he usually did, he often saw the fairies under an oak within two or three fields from the church. He saw them more often on Friday evenings than [any other. At one time he went to examine the ground about this oak, and there he found the reddish circle wherein the fairies danced, ‘such as have often been seen under the female oak, called Brenhin-bren.’ They appeared more often to an uneven number of persons, as one, three, five, &c.; and oftener to men than to women. Thomas William Edmund, of Hafodafel, ‘an honest pious man, who often saw them,’ declared that they appeared with one bigger than the rest going before them in the company. They were also heard talking together in a noisy, jabbering way; but no one could distinguish the words. They seemed, however, to be a very disputatious race; insomuch, indeed, that there was a proverb in some parts of Wales to this effect: ‘Ni chytunant hwy mwy na Bendith eu Mamau,’ (They will no more agree than the fairies).

Leaving Food Out For The Fairies.

Leaving Food Out For The Fairies.




    ‘Food, after it has been put out at night for the fairies, is not allowed to be eaten afterwards by man or beast, not even by pigs. Such food is said to have no real substance left in it, and to let anything eat it wouldn’t be thought of. The underlying idea seems to be that the fairies extract the spiritual essence from food offered to them, leaving behind the grosser elements.’

Fairy Rings

Fairy Rings



The circles in the grass of green fields, which are commonly called fairy rings, are numerous in Wales, and it is deemed just as well to keep out of them, even in our day. The peasantry no longer believe that the fairies can be seen dancing there, nor that the cap of invisibility will fall on the head of one who enters the circle; but they do believe that the fairies, in a time not long gone, made these circles with the tread of their tripping feet, and that some misfortune will probably befall any person intruding upon this forbidden ground. An old man at Peterstone-super-Ely told me he well remembered in his childhood being warned by his mother to keep away from the fairy rings. The counsel thus given him made so deep an impression on his mind, that he had never in his life entered one. He remarked further, in answer to a question, that he had never walked under a ladder, because it was unlucky to walk under a ladder. This class of superstitions is a very large one, and is encountered the world over; and the fairy rings seem to fall into this class, so far as present-day belief in Wales is concerned.

Fairies and Sickness

Fairies and Sickness



Fairyland; and the Seeress.—‘Fairies are said to be immortal, and the fairy world is always described as an immaterial place, though I do not think it is the same as the world of the dead. Sick persons, however, are often said to be with the fairies, and when cured, to have come back. A woman who died here about thirty years ago was commonly believed to have been with the fairies during her seven years’ sickness when she was a maiden. She married after coming back, and had children; and she was always able to see the good people and to talk with them, for she had the second-sight. And it is said that she used to travel with the fairies at night. After her marriage she lived in Tuam, and though her people were six or seven miles out from Tuam in the country, she could always tell all that was taking place with them there, and she at her own home at the time.’

Fairies and Music

Fairies and Music


     In those rare cases where it is not dancing which holds the victim of Fairies in its fatal fascination, the seducer is music. There is a class of stories still common in Wales, in which is preserved a wondrously beautiful survival of the primitive mythology. In the vast middle ground between our own commonplace times and the pre-historic ages we encounter more than once the lovely legend of the Birds of Rhiannon, which sang so sweetly that the warrior knights stood listening entranced for eighty years.
     The harp is played by Welsh fairies to an extent unknown in those parts of the world where the harp is less popular among the people. When any instrument is distinctly heard in fairy cymmoedd it is usually the harp. Sometimes it is a fiddle, but then on close examination it will be discovered that it is a captured mortal who is playing it; the Fairies prefer the harp. They play the bugle on specially grand occasions, and there is a case or two on record where the drone of the bagpipes was heard; but it is not doubted that the player was some stray fairy from Scotland or elsewhere over the border. On the top of Craig-y-Ddinas thousands of white fairies dance to the music of many harps. In the dingle called Cwm Pergwm, in the Vale of Neath, the Tylwyth Teg make music behind the waterfall, and when they go off over the mountains the sounds of their harps are heard dying away as they recede. The story which presents the Cambrian equivalent of the 
Magic Flute substitutes a harp for the (to Welshmen) less familiar instrument. As told to me this story runs somewhat thus: A company of fairies which frequented Cader Idris were in the habit of going about from cottage to cottage in that part of Wales, in pursuit of information concerning the degree of benevolence possessed by the cottagers. Those who gave these fairies an ungracious welcome were subject to bad luck during the rest of their lives, but those who were good to the little folk became the recipients of their favour

Ireland's Potato Famine Caused by Fairies

Ireland's Potato Famine Caused by Fairies




Famine of 1846-7 caused by Fairies.—‘During 1846-7 the potato crop in Ireland was a failure, and very much suffering resulted. At the time, the country people in these parts attributed the famine to disturbed conditions in the fairy world. Old Thady Steed once told me about the conditions then prevailing, “Sure, we couldn’t be any other way; and I saw the good people and hundreds besides me saw them fighting in the sky over Knock Ma and on towards Galway.” And I heard others say they saw the fighting also.’

Fairies, Magic, Spells and the Excorcism of a Cow

Fairies, Magic, Spells and the Excorcism of a Cow





The following evidence, by the Rev. Father ——, came out during a discussion concerning spirits and fairies as regarded by Roman Catholic theology, which he and I enjoyed when we met as fellow travellers in Galway Town:—
Of Magic and Place-spirits.—‘Magic, according to Catholic theology, is nothing else than the solicitation of spiritual powers to help us. If evil spirits are evoked by certain irrational practices it is unholy magic, and this is altogether forbidden by our Church. All charms, spells, divination, necromancy, or geomancy are unholy magic. Holy magic is practiced by carrying the Cross in Christ. Now evil magic has been practiced here in Ireland: butter has been taken so that none came from the churning; cows have been made to die of maladies; and fields made unproductive. A cow was bought from an old woman in Connemara, and no butter was ever had from the cow until exorcism with holy water was performed. This is reported to me as a fact.’ And in another relation the Rev. Father —— said what for us is highly significant:—‘My private opinion is that in certain places here in Ireland where pagan sacrifices were practiced, evil spirits through receiving homage gained control, and still hold control, unless driven out by exorcisms.’

A Story of a Woman's Struggle with the Fairies For Her Baby


A Story of a Woman's Fight Agianst the Fairies For Her Baby

The Welsh fairies have several times been detected in the act of carrying off a child; and in these cases, if the mother has been sufficiently energetic in her objections, they have been forced to abandon their purpose. Dazzy Walter, the wife of Abel Walter, of Ebwy Fawr, one night in her husband’s absence awoke in her bed and found her baby was not at her side. In great fright she sought for it, and caught it with her hand upon the boards above the bed, which was as far as the fairies had succeeded in carrying it. And Jennet Francis, of that same valley of Ebwy Fawr, one night in bed felt her infant son being taken from her arms; whereupon she screamed and hung on, and, as she phrased it, ‘God and me were too hard for them.’ This son subsequently grew up and became a famous preacher of the gospel.
Jennet tries to pull her baby away from the fairies holding him
JENNET FRANCIS STRUGGLES WITH THE FAIRIES FOR HER BABY.
There are special exorcisms and preventive measures to interfere with the fairies in their quest of infants. The most significant of these, throughout [Cambria, is a general habit of piety. Any pious exclamation has value as an exorcism; but it will not serve as a preventive. To this end you must put a knife in the child’s cradle when you leave it alone, or you must lay a pair of tongs across the cradle. But the best preventive is baptism; it is usually the unbaptised infant that is stolen. So in Friesland, Germany, it is considered a protection against the fairies who deal in changelings, to lay a Bible under the child’s pillow. In Thuringia it is deemed an infallible preventive to hang the father’s breeches against the wall. Anything [more trivial than this, as a matter for the consideration of grave and scholarly men, one could hardly imagine; but it is in precisely these trivial or seemingly trivial details that the student of comparative folk-lore finds his most extraordinary indices. Such a superstition in isolation would suggest nothing; but it is found again in Scotland,[37] and other countries, including China, where ‘a pair of the trousers of the child’s father are put on the frame of the bedstead in such a way that the waist shall hang downward or be lower than the legs. On the trousers is stuck a piece of red paper, having four words written upon it intimating that all unfavourable influences are to go into the trousers instead of afflicting the babe

Monday, May 20, 2013

Where Fairies Live - Burial Mounds

Fairies Living in Burial Mounds



Where Fairies Live.—When I asked Patsy where the fairies live, he turned half around, and pointing in the direction of Dun Aengus, which was in full view on the sharp sky-line of Aranmore, said that there, in a large burial mound on the hill-side below it, they had one of their favourite abodes. But, he added, ‘The rocks are full of them, and they are small fellows.’ Just across the road from where we were standing, in a spot near Oak Quarter, another place was pointed out where the fairies are often seen dancing. The name of it is Moneen an Damhsa, ‘the Little Bog of the Dance.’ Other sorts of fairies live in the sea; and some of them who live on Aranmore (probably in conjunction with those in the sea) go out over the water and cause storms and wind.

How To Retreive a Baby that was Stolen by the Fairies

How To Retreive a Baby that was Stolen by the Fairies



 A mother whose child had been stolen, and a changeling left in its place, was advised by the Virgin Mary to prepare a meal for ]ten farm-servants in an egg-shell, which would make the changeling speak. This she did, and the changeling asked what she was about. She told him. Whereupon he exclaimed, ‘A meal for ten, dear mother, in one egg-shell?’ Then he uttered the exclamation given above, (‘I have seen the acorn,’ etc.,) and the mother replied, ‘You have seen too many things, my son, you shall have a beating.’ With this she fell to beating him, the child fell to bawling, and the fairy came and took him away, leaving the stolen child sleeping sweetly in the cradle. It awoke and said, ‘Ah, mother, I have been a long time asleep!’

Fairies Steal Babies and Replace With Changelings


Fairies Steal Babies and Replace With Changelings



The Fairies have a fatal admiration for lovely children. Hence the abundant folk-lore concerning infants who have been stolen from their cradles, and a planting-newid (change-child—the equivalent of our changeling) left in its place by the Tylwyth Teg. The plantain-newid has the exact appearance of the stolen infant, at first; but its aspect speedily alters. It grows ugly of face, shrivelled of form, ill-tempered, wailing, and generally frightful. It bites and strikes, and becomes a terror to the poor mother. Sometimes it is idiotic; but again it has a supernatural cunning, not only impossible in a mortal babe, but not even appertaining to the oldest heads, on other than fairy shoulders. The veracious Prophet Jones testifies to a case where he himself saw the plentyn-newid—an idiot left in the stead of a son of Edmund John William, of the Church Valley, Monmouthshire. Says Jones: ‘I saw him myself. There was something diabolical in his aspect,’ but especially in his motions. He ‘made very disagreeable screaming sounds,’ which used to frighten strangers greatly, but otherwise he was harmless. He was of a ‘dark, tawny complexion.’ He lived longer than such children usually lived in Wales in that day, (a not altogether pleasant intimation regarding the hard lot to which such children were subjected by their unwilling parents,) reaching the age of ten or twelve years. But the creed of ignorance everywhere as regards changelings is a very cruel one, and reminds us of the tests of the witchcraft trials. Under the pretence of proving whether the objectionable baby is a changeling or not, it is held on a shovel over the fire, or it is bathed in a solution of the fox-glove, which kills it; a case where this test was applied is said to have actually occurred in Carnarvonshire in 1857. That there is nothing specially Welsh in this, needs not to be pointed out. Apart from the fact that infanticide, like murder, is of no country, similar practices as to changelings have prevailed in most European lands, either to test the child’s uncanny quality, or, that being admitted, to drive it away and thus compel the fairies to restore the missing infant. In Denmark the mother heats the oven, and places the changeling on the peel, pretending to put it in; or whips it severely with a rod; or throws it into the water. In Sweden they employ similar methods. In Ireland the hot shovel is used. With regard to a changeling which Martin Luther tells of in his ‘Colloquia Mensalia,’ the great reformer declared to the Prince of Anhalt, that if he were prince of that country he would ‘venture homicidium thereon, and would throw it into the River Moldaw.’ He admonished the people to pray devoutly to God to take away the devil, which ‘was done accordingly; and the second year after the changeling died.’ It is hardly probable that the child was very well fed during the two years that this pious process was going on. Its starved ravenous appetite indeed is indicated in Luther’s description: It ‘would eat as much as two threshers, would laugh and be joyful when any evil happened in the house, but would cry and be very sad when all went well.’

Fairies and Banshees

Fairies and Banshees



According to our next witness, Steven Ruan, a piper of Galway, with whom I have often talked, there is one class of fairies ‘who are nobody else than the spirits of men and women who once lived on earth’; and the banshee is a dead friend, relative, or an ancestor who appears to give a warning. ‘The fairies’, he says, ‘never care about old folks. They only take babies, and young men and young women. If a young wife dies, she is said to have been taken by them, and ever afterwards to live in Fairyland. The same things are said about a young man or a child who dies. Fairyland is a place of delights, where music, and singing, and dancing, and feasting are continually enjoyed; and its inhabitants are all about us, as numerous as the blades of grass.’

Female fairies, who haunt lonely roads in the Welsh mountains

Female fairies, who haunt lonely roads in the Welsh mountains



The Gwyllion are female fairies of frightful characteristics, who haunt lonely roads in the Welsh mountains, and lead night-wanderers astray. They partake somewhat of the aspect of the Hecate of Greek mythology, who rode on the storm, and was a hag of horrid guise. The Welsh word gwyll is variously used to signify gloom, shade, duskiness, a hag, a witch, a fairy, and a goblin; but its special application is to these mountain fairies of gloomy and harmful habits, as distinct from the Ellyllon of the forest glades and dingles, which are more often beneficent. The Gwyllion take on a more distinct individuality under another name—as the Ellyllon do in mischievous Puck—and the Old Woman of the Mountain typifies all her kind. She is very carefully described by the Prophet Jones,[31] in the guise in which she haunted Llanhiddel Mountain in Monmouthshire. This was the semblance of a poor old woman, with an oblong four-cornered hat, ash-coloured clothes, her apron thrown across her shoulder, with a pot or wooden can in her hand, such as poor people carry to fetch milk with, always going before the spectator, and sometimes crying ‘Wow up!’ This is an English form of a Welsh cry [50]of distress, ‘Wwb!’ or ‘Ww-bwb!’[32] Those who saw this apparition, whether by night or on a misty day, would be sure to lose their way, though they might be perfectly familiar with the road. Sometimes they heard her cry, ‘Wow up!’ when they did not see her. Sometimes when they went out by night, to fetch coal, water, etc., the dwellers near that mountain would hear the cry very close to them, and immediately after they would hear it afar off, as if it were on the opposite mountain, in the parish of Aberystruth. The popular tradition in that district was that the Old Woman of the Mountain was the spirit of one Juan White, who lived time out of mind in those parts, and was thought to be a witch; because the mountains were not haunted in this manner until after Juan White’s death. When people first lost their way, and saw her before them, they used to hurry forward and try to catch her, supposing her to be a flesh-and-blood woman, who could set them right; but they never could overtake her, and she on her part never looked back; so that no man ever saw her face. She has also been seen in the Black Mountain in Breconshire. Robert Williams, of Langattock, Crickhowel, ‘a substantial man and of undoubted veracity,’ tells this tale: As he was travelling one night over part of the Black Mountain, he saw the Old Woman, and at the same time found he had lost his way. Not knowing her to be a spectre he hallooed to her to stay for him, but receiving no answer thought she was deaf. He then hastened]his steps, thinking to overtake her, but the faster he ran the further he found himself behind her, at which he wondered very much, not knowing the reason of it. He presently found himself stumbling in a marsh, at which discovery his vexation increased; and then he heard the Old Woman laughing at him with a weird, uncanny, crackling old laugh. This set him to thinking she might be a gwyll; and when he happened to draw out his knife for some purpose, and the Old Woman vanished, then he was sure of it; for Welsh ghosts and fairies are afraid of a knife.

Mermaids Lure Mortals to heir Doom Beneath the Water


Mermaids Lure Mortals to heir Doom Beneath the Water




As the mermaid superstition is seemingly absent in Wales, so there are no fairy tales of maidens who lure mortals to their doom beneath the water, as the Dracæ did women and children, and as the Nymph of the Lurley did marriageable young men. But it is believed that there are several old Welsh families who are the descendants of the Gwragedd Annwn, as in the case of the Meddygon Myddfai. The familiar Welsh name of Morgan is sometimes thought to signify, ‘Born of the Sea.’ Certainly môr in Welsh [means sea, and gân a birth. It is curious, too, that a mermaid is called in Basse Bretagne ‘Mary Morgan.’ But the class of stories in which a mortal marries a water-maiden is large, and while the local details smack of the soil, the general idea is so like in lands far remote from each other as to indicate a common origin in pre-historic times. In Wales, where the mountain lakes are numerous, gloomy, lonely, and yet lovely; where many of them, too, show traces of having been inhabited in ancient times by a race of lake-dwellers, whose pile-supported villages vanished ages ago; and where bread and cheese are as classic as beer and candles, these particulars are localized in the legend. In the Faro Islands, where the seal is a familiar yet ever-mysterious object, with its human-like eyes, and glossy skin, the wife of supernatural race is a transformed seal. She comes ashore every ninth night, sheds her skin, leaves it on the shore, and dances with her fairy companions. A mortal steals her sealskin dress, and when day breaks, and her companions return to their abode in the sea, compels her to remain and be his wife. Some day he offends her; she recovers her skin and plunges into the sea. In China, the superstition appears in a Lew-chewan legend mentioned by Dr. Dennys  which relates how a fairy in the guise of a beautiful woman is found bathing in a man’s well. He persuades her to marry him, and she remains with him for nine years, at the end of which time, despite the affection she has for their two children, she ‘glides upwards into a cloud’ and disappears.

Water Fairies and Mermaids

Water Fairies and Mermaids



The Gwragedd Annwn (literally, wives of the lower world, or hell) are the elfin dames who dwell under the water. I find no resemblance in the Welsh fairy to our familiar mermaid, beyond the watery abode, and the sometimes winning ways. The Gwragedd Annwn are not fishy of aspect, nor do they dwell in the sea. Their haunt is the lakes and rivers, but especially the wild and lonely lakes upon the mountain heights. These romantic sheets are surrounded with numberless superstitions, which will be further treated of. In the realm of faerie they serve as avenues of communication between this world and the lower one of annwn, the shadowy domain presided over by Gwyn ap Nudd, king of the fairies. This sub-aqueous realm is peopled by those children of mystery termed Plant Annwn, and the belief is current among the inhabitants of the Welsh mountains that the Gwragedd Annwn still occasionally visit this upper world of ours.[23] The only reference to Welsh mermaids I have either read or heard is contained in Drayton’s account of the Battle of Agincourt. There it is mentioned, among the armorial ensigns of the counties of Wales:

Returning From the Fairyland Trance

Returning From Fairyland



Those who Return from Faerie.—‘Persons in a short trance-state of two or three days’ duration are said to be away with the fairies enjoying a festival. The festival may be very material in its nature, or it may be purely spiritual. Sometimes one may thus go to Faerie for an hour or two; or one may remain there for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years. The mind of a person coming out of Fairyland is usually a blank as to what has been seen and done there. Another idea is that the person knows well enough all about Fairyland, but is prevented from communicating the knowledge. A certain woman of whom I knew said she had forgotten all about her experiences in Faerie, but a friend who heard her objected, and said she did remember, and wouldn’t tell. A man may remain awake at night to watch one who has been to Fairyland to see if that one holds communication with the fairies. Others say in such a case that the fairies know you are on the alert, and will not be discovered.’

Fairies in Mines and Mountains

Fairies in Mines and Mountains


The intimate connection between mine fairies and the whole race of dwarfs is constantly met throughout the fairy mythology; and the connection of [30]the dwarfs with the mountains is equally universal. ‘God,’ says the preface to the Heldenbuch, ‘gave the dwarfs being, because the land and the mountains were altogether waste and uncultivated, and there was much store of silver and gold and precious stones and pearls still in the mountains.’ From the most ancient times, and in the oldest countries, down to our own time and the new world of America, the traditions are the same. The old Norse belief which made the dwarfs the current machinery of the northern Sagas is echoed in the Catskill Mountains with the rolling of the thunder among the crags where Hendrik Hudson’s dwarfs are playing ninepins.

Halloween, Fairies and Blackberries




Halloween and Fairies. —‘On November Eve it is not right to gather or eat blackberries or sloes, nor after that time as long as they last. On November Eve the fairies 
pass over all such things and make them unfit to eat. If one dares to eat them afterwards one will have serious illness. We firmly believed this as boys, and I laugh now when I think how we used to gorge ourselves with berries on the last day of October, and then for weeks after pass by bushes full of the most luscious fruit, and with mouths watering for it couldn’t eat it.’

Four Different Classes of Fairies

Four Different Classes of Fairies



Fairies being creatures of the imagination, it is not possible to classify them by fixed and immutable rules. In the exact sciences, there are laws which never vary, or if they vary, their very eccentricity is governed by precise rules. Even in the largest sense, comparative mythology must demean itself modestly in order to be tolerated in the severe company of the sciences. In presenting his subjects, therefore, the writer in this field can only govern himself by the purpose of orderly arrangement. To secure the maximum of system, for the sake of the student who employs the work for reference and comparison, with the minimum of dullness, for the sake of the general reader, is perhaps the limit of a reasonable ambition. Keightley [8] is divided into four classes the Scandinavian elements of popular belief as to fairies, viz.: 1. The Elves; 2. The Dwarfs, or Trolls; 3. The Nisses; and 4. The Necks, Mermen, and Mermaids. How entirely arbitrary this division is, the student of Scandinavian folk-lore at once perceives. Yet it is perhaps as satisfactory as another. The fairies of Wales may be divided into five classes, if analogy be not too sharply insisted on. Thus we have, 1. The Ellyllon, or elves; 2. The Coblynau, or mine fairies; 3. The Bwbachod, or household fairies; 4. The Gwragedd Annwn, or fairies of the lakes and streams; and 5. The Gwyllion, or mountain fairies.

Location of Fairy Lands in Wales

Location of Fairy Lands in Wales

Traditions have located fairyland in the Vale of Neath, in Glamorganshire. Especially does a certain steep and rugged crag there, called Craig y Ddinas, bear a distinctly awful reputation as a stronghold of the fairy tribe

In Arthur’s day and before that, the people of South Wales regarded North Wales as pre-eminently the land of faerie. In the popular imagination, that distant country was the chosen abode of giants, monsters, magicians, and all the creatures of enchantment. Out of it came the fairies, on their visits to the sunny land of the south. The chief philosopher of that enchanted region was a giant who sat on a mountain peak and watched the stars. It had a wizard monarch called Gwydion, who possessed the power of changing himself into the strangest possible forms. The peasant who dwelt on the shores of Dyfed (Demetia) saw in the distance, beyond the blue waves of the ocean, shadowy mountain summits piercing the clouds, and guarding this mystic region in solemn majesty. Thence rolled down upon him the storm-clouds from the home of the tempest; thence streamed up the winter sky the flaming banners of the Northern lights; thence rose through the illimitable darkness on high, the star-strewn pathway of the fairy king. These details are current in the Mabinogion, those brilliant stories of Welsh enchantment, so gracefully done into English by Lady Charlotte Guest,[4] and it is believed that all the Mabinogion in which these details were found were written in Dyfed. This ]was the region on the west, now covered by Pembroke, Carmarthen, and Cardigan shires.
More recently than the time above indicated, special traditions have located fairyland in the Vale of Neath, in Glamorganshire. Especially does a certain steep and rugged crag there, called Craig y Ddinas, bear a distinctly awful reputation as a stronghold of the fairy tribe.[5] Its caves and crevices have been their favourite haunt for many centuries, and upon this rock was held the court of the last fairies who have ever appeared in Wales. Needless to say there are men still living who remember the visits of the fairies to Craig y Ddinas, although they aver the little folk are no longer seen there. It is a common remark that the Methodists drove them away; indeed, there are numberless stories which show the fairies to have been animated, when they were still numerous in Wales, by a cordial antipathy for all dissenting preachers. In this antipathy, it may be here observed, teetotallers were included.

The Fairy Belief in Wales

The Fairy Belief in Wales




Among the vulgar in Wales, the belief in fairies is less nearly extinct than casual observers would be likely to suppose. Even educated people who dwell in Wales, and have dwelt there all their lives, cannot always be classed as other than casual observers in this field. There are some such residents who have paid special attention to the subject, and have ]formed an opinion as to the extent of prevalence of popular credulity herein; but most Welsh people of the educated class, I find, have no opinion, beyond a vague surprise that the question should be raised at all. So lately as the year 1858, a learned writer in the ‘Archæologia Cambrensis’ declared that ‘the traveller may now pass from one end of the Principality to the other, without his being shocked or amused, as the case may be, by any of the fairy legends or popular tales which used to pass current from father to son.’ But in the same periodical, eighteen years later, I find Mr. John Walter Lukis (President of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society), asserting with regard to the cromlechs, tumuli, and ancient camps in Glamorganshire: ‘There are always fairy tales and ghost stories connected with them; some, though fully believed inby the inhabitants of those localities, are often of the most absurd character; in fact, the more ridiculous they are, the more they are believed in.’[2] My own observation leads me to support the testimony of the last-named witness. Educated Europeans generally conceive that this sort of belief is extinct in their own land, or, at least their own immediate section of that land. They accredit such degree of belief as may remain, in this enlightened age, to some remote part—to the south, if they dwell in the north; to the north, if they dwell in the south. But especially they accredit it to a previous age: in Wales, to last century, or the middle ages, or the days of King Arthur. The rector of Merthyr, being an elderly man, accredits it to his youth. ‘I am old enough to remember,’ he wrote me under date of January 30th, 1877, ‘that these tales were thoroughly believed in among country folk forty or fifty years [ago.’ People of superior culture have held this kind of faith concerning fairy-lore, it seems to me, in every age, except the more remote. Chaucer held it, almost five centuries ago, and wrote:[3]
In olde dayes of the Kyng Arthour, ...Al was this lond fulfilled of fayrie; ...I speke of many hundrid yer ago;But now can no man see non elves mo.
Dryden held it, two hundred years later, and said of the fairies:
I speak of ancient times, for now the swainReturning late may pass the woods in vain,And never hope to see the nightly train.
In all later days, other authors have written the same sort of thing; it is not thus now, say they, but it was recently thus. The truth, probably, is that if you will but sink down to the level of common life, of ignorant life, especially in rural neighbourhoods, there you will find the same old beliefs prevailing, in about the same degree to which they have ever prevailed, within the past five hundred years. To sink to this level successfully, one must become a living unit in that life, as I have done in Wales and elsewhere, from time to time. Then one will hear the truth from, or at least the true sentiments of, the class he seeks to know. The practice of every generation in thus relegating fairy belief to a date just previous to its own does not apply, however, to superstitious beliefs in general; for, concerning many such beliefs, their greater or less prevalence at certain dates (as in the history of witchcraft) is matter of well-ascertained fact. I confine the argument, for the present, strictly to the domain of faerie. In this domain, the prevalent belief in Wales may be said to rest with the ignorant, to [5]be strongest in rural and mining districts, to be childlike and poetic, and to relate to anywhere except the spot where the speaker dwells—as to the next parish, to the next county, to the distant mountains, or to the shadow-land of Gwerddonau Llion, the green meadows of the sea.

Fairies Control over Crops

Fairy Control over Crops


Fairy Control over Crops.—‘Fairies are believed to control crops and their ripening. A field of turnips may promise well, and its owner will count on so many tons to the acre, but if when the crop is gathered it is found to be far short of the estimate, the explanation is that the fairies have extracted so much substance from it. The same thing is the case with corn.’

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Legends of Ancient Race of Pygmies in Ethiopia

Legends of Ancient Race of Pygmies in Ethiopia



The Pechinians of Ethiopia, who are represented to have been of very small stature, and to have been accustomed every year to drive away the cranes who flocked to their country in the winter, are portrayed upon ancient gems mounted on cocks and partridges prepared to fight their feathered enemies, or carrying grasshoppers, and leaning on staves in order to support the burden, or in a shell playing with two flutes, or fishing with a line.

Ancient Pygmy Race in Egypt

Ancient Pygmy Race in Egypt



Aristotle did not believe that the accounts of the pygmies were altogether false ; but thought that they were a tribe in Upper Egypt, who lived in holes under the earth, had exceedingly small horses, and came out in the harvest -time with hatchets to cut down the corn as if to fell a forest. They went on goats and lambs of a stature proportional to themselves, to make war against the cranes, which came yearly from Scythia to plunder them. They were originally governed by a princess, who was changed into a crane for boasting that she was fairer than Juno.