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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ghostly encounters in the land of Wales

Dressed in black, the bewitching Welsh witch Hywela Lyn snakes between mystical ponds and mountains and vales to the eerie yellow house on the sinister cliff overlooking the rising river. The spirits of black dogs yip, their daunting echo haunting in the howling wind.

Oliver steps out of the shadows and hands Lyn a glass of mead. Graciously accepting it, she recites some of the legendary superstitions.
Good morning Sharon, and thank you Oliver. 
Thank you for inviting me Sharon - it's wonderful to be here in your -er - charming house. Wales is a land full of myths and legends, and has its fair share of ghosts.  Here are just a few tales of hauntings from various parts of the Principality.

There was once a lady who died but could not rest in her grave because of her misdeeds, and she haunted the locals until they could stand it no more.  Somehow they enticed her to shrink and enter into a bottle, after appearing in a good many hideous forms; but when she got into the bottle, it was corked down securely, and the bottle was cast into the pool underneath the Short bridge at Llanidloes, and there the lady was to remain until the ivy that grow up the buttresses should overgrow the sides of the bridge, and reach the parapet.  In the year 1848, the old bridge was blown up, and a new one built instead of it.

 A small river runs close to the secluded village of Llandegla, and in this mountain stream under a huge stone lies a wicked Ghost. This is how he came to be there:
It  not is not known why Ffrith farm was troubled by a ghost, but when the servants were busily engaged in cheese making the Spirit would suddenly throw earth or sand into the milk, and thus spoil the curds. The dairy was also visited by the ghost, and there he played havoc with the milk and dishes. He sent the pans, one after the other, around the room, and dashed them to pieces. The terrible doings of the ghost was a topic of general conversation in those parts.
The farmer offered a reward of five pounds to anyone who would lay the Spirit. One Sunday afternoon,  an aged priest visited the farm yard, and in the presence of a crowd of spectators exorcised the ghost, but without effect.

The farmer then sent for Griffiths, an Independent minister at Llanarmon, who enticed the ghost to the barn. The ghost then changed its appearance to the form of a lion, but  could not touch Griffiths, because he stood in the centre of a circle, over which the lion could not pass. Griffiths tricked the ghost  into appearing in a less formidable shape, and it changed into a mastiff, but Griffiths demanded that it change to something smaller. At last, the ghost appeared as a fly, which was captured by Griffiths and secured in his tobacco box,  This box he buried under a large stone in the river, just below the bridge, near the Llandegla Mills, and there the Spirit is forced to remain until a certain tree, which grows by the bridge, reaches the height of the parapet. When this takes place, the Spirit shall have power to regain his liberty.  To prevent this tree from growing, the school children, even to this day, nip the upper branches to limit its upward growth.

There is a picturesque valley between Corwen and Cerrig-y-Drudion, down which rushes a mountain stream, and over this stream is a bridge, called Pont-y-Glyn.  On the left hand side, a few yards from the bridge, on the Corwen side, is a yawning chasm, through which the river bounds.  Here people who have travelled by night affirm that they have seen ghosts — the ghosts of those who have been murdered in this secluded glen. A man who was a servant at Garth Meilio, said that one night, when he was returning home late from Corwen, he saw before him, seated on a heap of stones, a female dressed in Welsh costume.  He wished her good night, but she returned him no answer.  She, got up and grew to gigantic proportions as she continued down the road which she filled, so great were her increased dimensions. Other Spirits are said to have made their homes in the hills not far from Pont-y-Glyn.

An exciseman, overtaken by night, went to a house called Ty Felin, (Yellow House) in the parish of Llanynys, and asked for lodgings.  Unfortunately the house was a very small one, containing only two bedrooms, and one of these was haunted; consequently no one dared sleep in it.  After a while, however, the stranger induced the master to allow him to sleep in this haunted room. He had not been there long before a ghost entered the room in the shape of a travelling Jew and walked around the room.  The exciseman tried to catch him and gave chase, but he lost sight of the Jew in the yard.  He had scarcely entered the room, a second time, when he again saw the ghost.  He chased him once more and lost sight of him in the same place.  The third time he followed the ghost, he made a mark on the yard where the ghost vanished and went to rest, and was not disturbed again.

The next day, the exciseman got up early and went away, but, before long, he returned to Ty Felin accompanied by a policeman, whom he requested to dig in the place where his mark was.  This was done and underneath a superficial covering, a deep well was discovered, and in it a corpse.

Under interrogation, the tenant of the house, confessed that a travelling Jew, selling jewelry and such items, once lodged with him, and that he had murdered him and cast his body in the well.
In Welsh mythology and folklore, Cŵn Annwn" hounds of Annwn") were the spectral hounds of Annwn, the otherworld of Welsh myth. They were associated with a form of the Wild Hunt, presided over by Gwynn ap Nudd. Christians came to dub these mythical creatures as "The Hounds of Hell" or "Dogs of Hell" and theorised they were therefore owned by Satan. However, the Annwn of medieval Welsh tradition is an otherworldly paradise and not a hell, or abode of dead souls.
They were associated with migrating geese, supposedly because their honking in the night is reminiscent of barking dogs. The Cŵn Annwn also came to be regarded as the escorts of souls on their journey to the Otherworld.

The hounds are sometimes accompanied by a fearsome hag called Mallt-y-Nos, "Matilda of the Night". An alternative name in Welsh folklore is Cŵn Mamau ("Hounds of the Mothers").

Hunting grounds for the Cŵn Annwn are said to include the mountain of  Cadair Idris, where it is believed "the howling of these huge dogs foretold death to anyone who heard them.The locals claim that the mountain is haunted, and that anyone who spends the night on top of Cadair Idris will wake up either a madman or a poet. Different legends surround the mountain and one of the earliest claims that the giant Idris lived there. Three large stones rest at the foot of the mountain, and legend says that Idris got angry once and kicked them, sending them rolling down the mountainside.  

Other Welsh legends state, however, that Arthur made his kingdom there, hence the name Cadair Idris: or the Seat of Idris.

Pwll-y-Wrach, the Witches Pool.
There is a pool hidden from the road among a copse on the top of Flint Mountain, in Flint North Wales. The pool is so small that travellers from Flint to Northop would not give it a second glance. But this was not always so. In days gone by Flint Mountain was a bare and desolate place and the pool was known as Pwll-y-Wrach, the Hag's Pool or the Witches Pool, the place where the ellyllon (as the Welsh call fairies or goblins) would congregate, and thus a place where humans would stay well clear of, especially after dark.

In 1852 John Roberts a farm labourer paid an unexpected visit to Pwll-y-Wrach. It was a cold winter's  morning and John was setting out to work when he found a youth blocking his path. With a harmless gesture he made to pass the youth but all of a sudden a force propelled him through the air. He landed face down above Pwll-y-Wrach, and the force held him there despite John's best efforts to free himself. He struggled for what seemed a lifetime, but in fact was just a few short minutes, until at the sound of a cock crow he was released. The ellyll, still disguised as a youth, stood astride him and warned. " When the cuckoo sings it's first note on Flint Mountain I shall come again to fetch you".

John got to his feet and stumbled back home, shaken but otherwise unhurt.

The following May John Roberts died. He had been repairing a wall at Pen-y-glyn on Flint Mountain when it collapsed and crushed him. A lady who witnessed the accident said a cuckoo had come to land on a nearby tree just as it happened. And when the body of John Roberts was being returned to his home the cuckoo had followed, singing from tree to tree all the way to the front door.

To finish off I thought I'd read you a short excerpt from my Story 'Dancing With Fate' about the Greek muse Terpsichore who is sent to 5th Century Wales and meet up with the mysterious Myrddin.  This is her encounter with the demonic 'Ellylldan' or fiere goblins.

The sparks of light appeared a few hours before dawn. Terpsichore looked across to where she could just make out Myrddin, lying close to the fire, apparently asleep. She stood and wrapped her brat around her shoulders. What unearthly lights were these? In the name of Hades, she had never seen anything like this before. She watched them, swooping and dancing. They seemed to beckon to her. She walked forward a few steps. This was not natural. She sensed evil, but of a kind she had never come across before. 

She tried to turn her head, to look away and move back to the fire. Some force compelled her to keep staring at them, to move forward. Further and further from the campfire she wandered. The air grew chill and she pulled her brat more closely around her. The flickering lights gyrated in a wild dance, inviting her to follow them. Dawn was approaching. In the dim early morning light, she could make out demon faces, with glowing eyes, hands outstretched, and flames at their fingertips. 
She recoiled in horror. Somewhere in her subconscious, she knew she was in deadly danger, but still she moved forward. They summoned her to follow and she could not help but obey. She tried to call to Apollo, and her father, but her mind was numb. She could reach no one on Olympus. "Myrddin!" No sound came from her lips. Still, a strange unearthly power obliged her to walk forward toward those eerie, mesmerising points of light. The ground grew soft beneath her feet. Cold mud oozed between her bare toes. The further she walked, the deeper the mud became; eventually, she realized she was up to her waist in chill, muddy water, and she was powerless to turn back, or even to move any more. 

Zeus, oh, Father, please help me...don't desert me now. For the first time in her eternal life, she knew fear. These creatures of nameless evil had her trapped. They would drag her down to the underworld and she would never see Olympus or her family again. 

Then strong arms encircled her, swung her round. "Cora, look at me."

She gazed into two pools of azure blue, filled with concern, and a pale face set in resolve. Still she had an irresistible urge to look at those weird, flickering lights. She turned her head, and at the same moment, there was a flash likelightning. The ground behind her burst into a wall of blue flame. It blotted out everything, engulfing the demonic lights and the hideous forms that a moment before had lured her onward. 





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Sharon Donovan said...

A warm welcome for my dear friend Hywela Lyn. Lyn has graced us on this most bewitching of seasons with some superstitions from her homeland of Wales. You know how I adore legends, Lyn. Oliver, keep the mead coming. ;LOL

Hywela Lyn said...

Hello Sharon and Oliver

It's wonderful to be here at your Blog once more, Sharon, my friend, and so good to have you back again on the world wide web!

And Oliver you are so sweet to keep my glass filled with good Welsh mead! *hic!*

Maeve said...

My goodness *whew* I loved the spooky stories from Wales. And please tell Oliver that Maeve said Hi. *sigh* He's so cute.

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Maeve,

Glad you liked the ghost tales - and I agree about Oliver - but he has eyes for no-one but his Sharon! (Sob)

Mary Ricksen said...

Whoh! What a great excerpt! Holy Moley! Lyn you can write! The imagery dragged me right into that water. Ugh!!!! Those blue eyes better come through!

Sharon you are soooooo special!

Beth Caudill said...

Hey Lyn, I hope you have a great time at the castle. :)

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Mary sweet friend and Roast sister!

You say such lovely things, I'll be getting too big for my witch's hat! LOL

Hywela Lyn said...

Thank you so much, Beth, thanks for stopping by, really appreciate it!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Maeve, such ghostly tales indeed. Oliver is blowing you a kiss.

Sharon Donovan said...

Mary, how about our soul sister, can she write or what. Lyn, fantastic excerpt from Dancing with Fate. Oliver, this calls for more mead. Welcome to the fortress, Beth, grab a glass for a toast.

katsrus said...

Those were great creepy Welsh Tales. Loved your excerpt and your book cover is pretty.
Sue B

Debra St. John said...

Hi Sharon, Lyn, and Oliver,

Great stories...perfect for Halloween week.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Thanks for the Welsh mead, Oliver! You're a fabulous host.


Love spooky tales! Have you ever seen a ghost?

What an excerpt, too!

M.Flagg said...

Hi Sharon. What would Halloween be without visiting your terrific blog. Well - and then there's Oliver :)

Great tales perfect for the season! Happy Halloween to you and Hywela Lyn. Keep that mead flowing - my son makes his own!! ~ Mickey

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Lyn and Sharon! Lots of great ghost stories!

Loved your excerpt and need to get around to reading it. It's sitting in my reader waiting for me. *blush*

Oh, isn't a poet and a madman nearly the same thing? ;-)

P.L. Parker said...

Omigosh, I imagine you are surrounded by wonderful scary stories over there. Wales to me just seems like a breeding ground for myths and legends.

Sharon Donovan said...

Oliver, more mead for our new guests who have come knocking at our chamber door for a taste of the ghostly. Welcome, Sue, Debra, Karen, LK, Mickey and Patsy. Aren't Lyn's tales bewitching...

Skhye said...

Oooooooooooooooooo wooooo ooooooo!
Great post! I've used the Hell Hounds in a tale. ;) Love this stuff. Thanks for sharing. And eveyone buy Lyn's books! She's got a smooth voice.

I'm also giving away treats through Sunday at my blog if you're interested in swinging by.

glenys said...

Wonderful blog - really enjoyed the stories and the excerpt. Another for my TBR pile! My family is English, Welsh,& Irish and the legends fascinate me. Thanks for sharing.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Lyn, you scared me. LOL And I agree it's wonderful to have Sharon back on the web. So nice of Oliver to fortify her with drink.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hello to Skhye, Glenys and Caroline, welcome. Allow Oliver to fill your goblets with mead. Skhye, I agree that our Lyn has an enchanting and mystical voice.
Glenys, I also have Welsh and Irish blood coursing through my veins, so the legends fascinate me too.
Caroline, thank you for the warm welcome back. You guys are the best medicine.
Lyn, you've been a great guest for the season. HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Sharon Donovan said...

Skhye, Glenys and Caroline, thank you so much for your kind comments, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post.#

And thanks again to dear Sharon for having me on your blog, it's always great to visit you and Oliver!