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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Mythical Creatures in Welsh Folklore



The Adar Llwch Gwin

According to Welsh tradition, the Adar Llwch Gwin were giant birds, similar in kind to the griffin, which were given to a warrior named Drudwas ap Tryffin by his fairy wife. The name derives from the Welsh words llwch ("dust") and gwin ("wine"). These birds were said to understand human speech and to obey whatever command was given to them by their master. However, on one occasion, when Drudwas was about to do battle with the hero Arthur he commanded them to kill the first man to enter the battle. Arthur himself was delayed and the birds immediately turned on Drudwas and tore him to pieces. Later, in medieval Welsh poetry, the phrase Adar Llwch Gwin came to describe all kinds of raptors including hawks, falcons, and, on occasion, brave men




The Afanc is a lake monster from Welsh mythology. Its exact description varies; it is described alternately as resembling a crocodile, beaver or dwarf-like creature, and is sometimes said to be a demon. The lake in which it dwells also varies; it is variously said to live in Llyn Llion, Llyn Barfog, near Brynberian Bridge or in Llyn yr Afanc, a lake near Betws-y-Coed that was named after the creature.

One tale relates that it was rendered helpless by a maiden who let it sleep upon her lap; while it slept, the maiden's fellow villagers bound the creature in chains. The creature was awakened and made furious; its enraged thrashings crushed the maiden, in whose lap it still laid. It was finally dragged away to the lake Cwm Ffynnon, or killed by Peredur.

Some later legends ascribe the creature's death to King Arthur or to Percival (Peredur's name in the later Arthurian legend of the continent and England). Close to Llyn Barfog in Snowdonia is a hoof-print petrosomatoglyph etched deep into the rock "Carn March Arthur", or the "Stone of Arthur's Horse", which was supposedly made by King Arthur's mount, Llamrai, when it was hauling the afanc from the lake.




Ceffyl Dŵr

In Welsh folklore, a Ceffyl dŵr is a water horse similar to the Kelpie.The water horse is known in the traditions of many countries. In Wales he's called the Ceffyl dŵr and although he has no wings he is able to fly. He may be seen above a pool or waterfall or occasionally grazing on the bank. He sometimes allows himself to be caught and mounted, but he is full of pranks and delights in tossing his rider to the ground




Cewri (Giants), such as Ysbaddaden Bencawr from Culhwch and Olwen, and Bendigeidfran from the Four Branches of the Mabinogi


Coblynau

Coblynau are mythical gnome-like creatures that are said to haunt the mines and quarries of Wales. They are said to be half a yard ( 1.5 ft) tall, and very ugly. Like Knockers, they are dressed in miniature mining outfits. They work constantly but never finish their task, and are said to be able to cause rockslides




Cŵn Annwn

In Welsh mythology and folklore, Cŵn 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 (rather than Arawn, king of Annwn in the First Branch of the Mabinogi). 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.

In Wales, they were associated with migrating geese, supposedly because their honking in the night is reminiscent of barking dogs. They are supposed to hunt on specific nights (the eves of St. John, St. Martin, Saint Michael the Archangel, All Saints, Christmas, New Year, Saint Agnes, Saint David, and Good Friday), or just in the autumn and winter. Some say Arawn only hunts from Christmas to Twelfth Night. The Cŵn Annwn also came to be regarded as the escorts of souls on their journey to the Otherworld.




Coraniaid

The Coraniaid are a race of beings from Welsh mythology. They appear in the Middle Welsh prose tale Lludd and Llefelys, which survives in the Mabinogion and inserted into several texts of the Brut y Brenhinedd, a Welsh adaptation of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. The Coraniaid figure in the tale as one of three plagues that affect Britain during the reign of King Lludd. They are characterized by a sense of hearing so acute that they can hear any word the wind touches, making action against them impossible.




Cyhyraeth

The cyhyraeth also spelled as cyheuraeth (probably from the noun cyhyr "muscle, tendon; flesh" + the termination -aeth; meaning "skeleton, a thing of mere flesh and bone"; "spectre", "death-portent", "wraith is a ghostly spirit in Welsh mythology, a disembodied moaning voice that sounds before a person's death.

Legends associate the cyhyraeth with the area around the river Tywi in eastern Dyfed, as well as the coast of Glamorganshire. The noise is said to be "doleful and disagreeable", like the groans and sighs of someone deathly ill, and to sound three times (growing weaker and fainter each time) as a threefold warning before the person expires. Along the Glamorganshire coast, the cyhyraeth is said to be heard before a shipwreck, accompanied by a corpse-light.

Like the Irish banshee and the Scottish Cailleach, to which the cyhyraeth and the Gwrach y Rhibyn are closely related, the cyhyraeth also sounds for Welsh natives living – and dying – far from home.




Y Diawl (The Devil) who was said to have built various bridges in Wales (including Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion), and to appear to sinners in the form of a horned, black-faced shepherd leading a pack of dogs. Sometimes associated with the bobtailed black sow known as Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta.

Gwiddonod (Witches), old women who could cast spells over people and animals, ride broomsticks through the air, tell fortunes, and use charms to heal and cause diseases. They could take the form of a hare, and could only be killed with a silver bullet. Only Y Dyn Hysbys (The Wise Man) could undo the harm the cause

Dreigiau (Dragons), the most famous being Y Ddraig Goch



Y Dyn Hysbys (The Wise Man), or wizard. These could be clerics, men who learned about medicine and black magic from books, and those who claimed to inherit power from their families and thus could foresee the future, particularly on an Ysbrydnos, and give charms to ward off evil.

Gwyllgi, a large black dog that haunts lonely roads



Gwyllion, a kind of spirit



Llamhigyn y Dŵr, a frog-bat-lizard hybrid




Morgens, water spirits



Plentyn Newid, the Welsh take on the Changeling creature.




Pwca, shapeshifting animal spirit




Tylwyth Teg, literally the "the Fair Folk," the common name in Welsh for the fairy folk, inhabitants of the Otherworld

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