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Author of Le ROMAN DE BRUT and Le ROMAN DE ROU. # 562
The Yorkshire name for a wraith or double; in other words, it is a kind of co-walker. It is believed to be a death token and may be seen either by the doomed man or by a friend. William Henderson gives several instances in FOLK LORE OF THE NORTHERN COUNTIES. If a man sees his own waff, he can avert his fate by speaking to it severely. Henderson gives an example of a native of Guisborough who, on going into a shop at Whitby, saw his own waff. He adressed it boldly: 'What's thou doin' here? What's thou doin' here? Thou's after no good, I'll go bail! Get thy ways yom with thee! Get thy ways yom!' The waff slunk off, quite ashamed of itself, and he had no further trouble with it. # 100 - 302
In the traditional Arthurian period this land was a patchwork of minor kingdoms, including Gwynedd, Dyfed and Powys, although some Arthurian tales picture it as a single kingdom. It is variously described as the realm of Valyant, a relation of Lancelot, or of Herzeloyde, Perceval's mother. According to the HISTORIA MERIADOCI (medieval Latin Arthurian romance), Caradoc was its king, then Arthur and Urien placed Meriadoc, Caradoc's son, on the throne, but Meriadoc resigned it to Urien. In the ESTOIRE this was identified with the Waste Land. But according to Rolleston, Arthur in the traditional Arthurian saga is wholly different from the Arthur in Welsh literature. # 156 - 562
According to Layamon's Brut, a relative to Arthur, who was 'slain, and deprived life-day, through a Saxish earl - sorry be his soul!' in the preparing for Arthur's last battle against Mordred at Camlann. # 697
The territory ruled by Gawain whence, according to William of Malmesbury, he was driven by the brother and nephew of Hengist. It may be identical with Galloway. # 156
WANDERING DROLL TELLER, THE
In Bottrell's TRADITIONS AND HEARTHSIDE STORIES OF WEST CORNWALL (VOL.I), there is an account of one of the wandering droll-tellers whom he had known in his youth, which gives us a useful insight into the way in which folk-tales were presented and propagated in Cornwall. Uncle Anthony James of Cury was an entertainer rather than a bard, and there is no indication of the careful accuracy of transmission which was so important to the Irish, Highland and Welsh bards, where every deviation from strict tradition was frowned upon. Here, on the contrary, a spontaneous and happy innovation was apparently welcomed. It yet remains for someone to make an exhaustive study of different methods in which tales were orally transmitted. This story of Uncle Anthony James of Cury was an introduction to the story of Lutely and the Mermaid: From a period more remote than is now remembered, to the present time, some members of the family called Lutely, who for the most part, resided in the parish of Cury, or its vicinity, have been noted conjurors or white witches. They have long been known, all over the west, as the 'Pellar family'. The word Pellar is probably an abridgement of repeller, derived from their reputed power in counteracting the malign influences of sorcery and witchcraft. According to an oft-told story, the wonderful gifts of this family were aquired by a fortunate ancestor, who had the luck to find a mermaid (here by us pronounced meremaid), left high and dry on a rock by the ebbing tide.
Some forty years ago, uncle Anthony James - an old blind man, belonging to the neighbourhood of the gifted family with his dog, and a boy who led him, used to make their yearly tour of the country as regularly as the seasons came round. This venerable wanderer, in his youth, had been a soldier, and had then visited many foreign lands, about which he had much to tell; but his descriptions of outlandish people and places were just as much fashioned after his own imagination, as were the embellishments of the legends he related, and the airs he composed for many old ballads which he and his boy sang to the melody of the old droll-teller's crowd (fiddle). However, in all the farm houses, where this old wanderer rested on his journey, he and his companions received a hearty welcome, for the sake of his music and above all for his stories, the substance of most of which every one knew by heart, yet they liked to hear these old legends again and again, because he, or some of his audience, had always something new to add, by way of fashioning out the droll, or to display their inventive powers. # 84 - 100
WASHER AT THE FORD OR WASHER BY THE FORD
In both Irish and Scottish legend she is the otherworldly woman who represents the dark aspect of the Goddess. The warrior who encounters her washing bloody linen, may rightly suppose that his death on the battle-field is not far off. Morgan as Modron appears in this connection in a sixteenth-century folk-tale. CuChulain saw two maidens washing his bloody garments on his way to his last battle. The Washer is also one of the guises of the Morrigan. # 454 - 548 - 563
According to Celtic tradition, the Waste Land was caused by brutal men who violated the priestesses of the wells and springs, and stole their golden cups. 'As a result the Land became barren; the trees withered and the waters dried up.' The imagery of the Waste Land has been described as a landscape of spiritual death, were myths are rigidly patterned by dogma instead of evolving from the real needs and feelings of the people. 'And this blight of the soul extends today from the cathedral close to the university campus.' Even though the earth may retain her fertility and the waters may continue to flow, something vital is lost when patriarchy becomes dominant and domineering.
The Wasteland is often represented in the Grail cycle in the person of the Loathly Lady, Cundrie or Sovereignty in her hag-aspect - the ravaged face of the land before it shows again its fair face. In the Grail story, it was the land laid waste by the Dolorous Blow at the Grail King. This sapped his generative powers and severed the marriage bond which the king had with the land, represented by Sovereignty. At the end of the Grail quest, when the quester asked the right question, the Wounded King was healed and the Waste Land flowered once again. In the ESTOIRE it is identified with Wales, while in the DIDOT PERCEVAL it comprises the whole of Britain. According to LESTOIRE DE MERLIN, it was ruled by Pellinore. See: GASTE FOREST. # 156 - 451 - 454 - 461 - 701 p 356
Water sources were very important in Celtic religion. In some areas the local Goddess of springs was named Coventina, (She of the Covens), appearing in the typically Celtic trinitarian form of three persons in one. Especially revered in Britain were the waters of the Goddess Sulis at Bath, and the spring and grove of the Goddess Arnemetia at Buxton, which used to be named Aquae Arnemetia, (Waters of the Goddess of the Holy Grove). # 701 p 356 ff
The Manx Water-horse Glashtin or Cobbyl Ushtey can take the form of a real horse, except for its back-to-front hooves; it tempts people to mount it and then careers off to the nearest water to drown its rider. The Gaelic Kelpie is also a shape-shifter horse of the waters. # 161
John Michell who have written several books, including some concerning the Earth energies, gives a note about Alfred Watkins in the latters 1987 edition of THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK, which we here bring in full: Anyone living in Hereford during the early part of this century would have recognized Mr. Alfred Watkins, the distinguished local merchant, amateur archaeologist, inventor, photographer and naturalist, notorious in academic circles as the author of a heretical work, THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK. Alfred Watkins was born in Hereford in 1855. For several generations his family had farmed land in the southern part of the county until about 1820, when his father moved to the city and started up in business as a miller, corn dealer and brewer. On leaving school, Alfred Watkins was employed by his father as outrider or brewer's representative, a position which brought him into close contact with the surrounding coutryside and its inhabitants. In this way he gained an intimate knowledge of local topography and of the legends and customs embedded in a way of life which had undergone little change in the course of centuries. Watkins was an enthusiastic early photographer, the inventor of much apparatus, including the pinhole camera and the Watkins exposure meter, which he manufactured through his own company in Hereford. Examples are preserved in the city's museum, together with a large collection of his photographic plates, illustrating many aspects of the Herefordshire landscape and the social order of the time. There also are kept the records of the Old Straight Track Club, a society, now moribound, founded to promote interest in Watkin's great archaeological discovery, the prehistoric 'ley' system of aligned sites.
In his Preface to THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK, Watkins wrote, "some four years ago there stood revealed the original sighting pegs used by the earliest track makers in marking out their travel ways." The revelation took place when Watkins was 65 years old. Riding across the hills near Bredwardine in his native county, he pulled up his horse to look out over the landscape below. At that moment he became aware of a network of lines, standing out like glowing wires all over the surface of the country, intersecting at the sites of churches, old stones and other spots of traditional sanctity. The vision is not recorded in THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK, but throughout his life Watkins privately maintained that he had perceived the existence of the ley system in a single flash ("Intuition then presents itself in fleeting glimpses or snatches of absolute knowledge and these glimpses are thus the commencement of 'cosmic sight'. Martinus THE THIRD TESTAMENT, LIVETS BOG I, p 199 [edit.note]) and, for all his subsequent study, he added nothing to his conviction, save only the realization of the particular significance of beacon hills as terminal points in the alignments. Since Watkin's day our knowledge of prehistoric life and civilization has expanded to an extent which may be considered revolutionary. The implications of the work of Sir Norman Lockyer and, recently, of Professor Thom, relating to the mathematical and astronomical skill of the builders of Stonehenge and other stone circles, are so fundamental, that our whole concept of society in Britain 4000 years ago should now be altogether different from that which obtained at the time when Watkins announced his discovery of leys. Fifty years ago the possibility of accurately surveyed alignments set out across the landscape was considered utterly remote, far beyond the capacity of the handful of painted savages who peopled the imaginary prehistoric Britain of orthodox archaeology. Today we know that stone and mound alignments were indeed set out over considerable distances, often directed towards mountain peaks, cairns, and notches, just as Watkins described.
The expansion in antiquarian thought, now taking place, is due in no small measure to the insight, scholarship and determination of a provincial visionary, a true gnostic in that he preferred the evidence of his own senses and the voice of his own intuition to the unsopported assertions of authority. The publication in 1922 of Watkin's address to the Woolhope Club of Hereford, EARLY BRITISH TRACKWAYS, followed in 1925 by THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK, provoked a violent controversy, characterised on the part of Watkin's opponents by much ill natured abuse. Yet for many others THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK awoke as it were the memory of a half familiar truth. Watkins invites his readers to prove the ley system for themselves both with map and ruler and through investigation in the field. Few who take him at his word fail to benefit from the experiment. Even those with no particular interest in antiquities and ancient history have enjoyed THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK for the delightful account of a quest, which led Watkins through many curious byways both in his native landscape and in the realm of scholarship. The clear, modest style of THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK has reminded some of Watkin's fellow countryman of the Welsh border, Parson Kilvert, for both invoked the same GENIUS TERRAE BRITANNICAE from the red Herefordshire earth that inspired their mystic predecessors, Traherne and Henry Vaughan. There would be no poetry without heretics. John Michell, London 1970. See also LEY LINES. # 431 - 505 - 506
WAVE OF CLEENA
See: TONN CLIODHNA.
WEE FOLK, THE
One of the Scottish and Irish euphemistic names for the fairies. We find it in Allingham's poem THE FAIRIES: 'Wee folk, good folk, trooping all together'. The Manx equivalent is THE LIL' FELLAS. # 100
Wells throughout the British Isles were formerly sacred to the underground Goddess Hel, and her Celtic counterparts Morgan and Brigit. Today we find their names connected with wells throughout Britain. # 701 p 163
WELL OF KNOWLEDGE
Equivalent is Connla's Well. The goddess Sinend, it was said, daughter of Lodan son of Lir, went to a certain well named Connla's Well, which is under the sea - i.e. in the Land of Youth in Fairyland. 'That is a well,' says the bardic narrative, 'at which are the hazels of wisdom and inspirations, that is, the hazels of the science of poetry, and in the same hour their fruit and their blossom and their foliage break forth, and then fall upon the well in the same shower, which raises upon the water a royal surge of purple.' # 562
WELLS, HOLY (IN WALES)
In every corner of Wales one can find a holy well which according to local belief is said to possess strange powers. Some of them are classed as healing wells, others as cursing wells, and some even combine the powers of cursing and healing. There are also wells that can make the poor rich, the unhappy happy and the unlucky lucky. Parishes dedicated to the Virgin Mary generally have a Ffynnon Fair (well of St Mary), the waters of which are supposed to be purer than those of other wells. It has been suggested that the waters of the Ffynnon Fair wells flow southwards and that this is the secret of their purity. In order to obtain a successful cure at some of these healing wells it was sometimes necessary to follow very elaborate instructions. For example at one particular well, 'the patient must repair to the well after sunset and wash himself in it; then having made an offering into it of fourpence he must walk around it three times and thrice recite the Lord's prayer. If he is of male sex he offers a cock, if a woman, a hen. The bird is conveyed in a basket, first round the well, then round the church, when the rite of repeating the Pater Noster is again performed. It is necessary that the patient should afterwards enter the church, creep under the altar and, making the Bible his pillow and the communion cloth his coverlet, there remain until the break of day. Then having made a further offering of sixpence and leaving the cock or hen as the case may be, he is at liberty to depart. Should the bird die it is supposed that the disease has been transferred to it and the man or woman consequently cured.' A well near Penrhos in North Wales was said to cure cancer by cursing it. The sufferer was washed in the water, uttering curses on the disease and also dropping pins around the well. This particalar well was later drained by an unsympathetic farmer who had become fed up with people trespassing and causing damage to his crops.
Springs and wells in some areas were once believed to be guarded by dragons and serpents, eels and strange fish and the killing or removal of these guardians was followed by dire consequences, frequently taking the form of a mysterious epidemic which swept away whole families.
For the itch, and the stich,
Rheumatic and the gout,
If the devil isn't in you
The Well will take it out!
See: TYLWYTH TEG.
WELSH MYTHOLOGICAL CYCLE
Both Tuatha De Danaan and the Fomoire have their counterparts in 'The Four Branches of the Mabinogi'(# 738), which may be said to constitute a Welsh 'mythological cycle'. These tales are full of marvellous happenings and feats of magic, but such is the storyteller's artistry that what is mysterious and wonderful is accepted as naturally and immediately as the realistic dialogue and the familiar setting. See: MABINOGION. # 548 - 738
WELSH, ORIGIN OF THE
The origin of the Welsh were fugitives from a city named Troy. It began with tribes living in ancient Persia who tamed some giant-birds called 'Rohs' which were very destructive to human beings. Now they trained the wild birds to attack only the kings warriors, so they no more would have to pay tribute. The King of Persia was wroth beyond expression and called his magician for help. The magician laid an enchantment on the 'Rohs', so that they turned into fairies, which were doomed to live in mounds and cages and only surface once a year. Now that the birds was no longer a danger to the Persian army, they made such fearful havoc amongst the tribes, that these decided to leave the country. They travelled and lived by robbery, until they built a city and called it Troy, where they were besieged for a long time. Eventually the town was taken after a great slaughter; but a number escaped with their wives and children, and fled on to the Crimea, whence they were driven by the Russians, so they marched away along the sea to Spain, and bearing up through France, they stopped. Some wanted to go across the sea, and some stayed in the heart of France: they were the Bretoons (Bretons). The others came on over in boats, and landed in England, and they were the first people settled in Great Britain: they were the Welsh. # 170 p 93 ff (P. H. Emerson, Wales)
Certain Irish tribes claimed that their ancestors were wolves, and prayed to wolves as their tribal totems for help and healing. # 701 p 282
According to Lambeth Palace Library MS 84, this was the name of the successor of Arviragus. In his reign Joseph of Arimathea died. # 156
Celtic gods exhibited wheels in their hands. Altars and tomb stones were decorated with wheels. One of the Celtic names for the Goddess, Arianrhod, designated her the Goddess of the Silver Wheel (the stars), whose hub Castle, Caer Sidi, hidden in the underground spiritland Annwn. # 701 p 16
It is said that at a particular time in summer, between ten and eleven in the morning, sunbeams fall into the northern part of the choir of Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire - falling in such a way that those who stand on the western side of the churchyard see, in one of the highest windows, the resemblance of a woman dressed in a shroud. This sun-made spectre is said to be a reappearrance of the Abbess Hilda in her shroud. One local historian, George Franks, confirmed that he had in his possession a photograph taken by a Mr Stonehouse 'of the exterior portion of the east end of the chancel, in which, through the southern lancet of the top tier, the "ghost" is seen'. When the photograph is examined under a lens, this object gives the exact appearance of a human face peering out of the window. # 702
The use of 'White Ladies' for both ghosts and fairies is an indication of close connection between fairies and the dead. Evans Wentz in THE FAIRY FAITH IN CELTIC COUNTRIES, tracing the supernatural elements in the early Arthurian MATTER OF BRITAIN legends, points out that 'Gwenhwyvar' or Guinevere originally meant 'white phantom', which has the same meaning as the Irish 'Bean Fhionn', or White Lady of Lough Gur, who claims a human life every seven years. Douglas Hyde, in his introduction to the Irish section of the same book, speaks in passing of the White Ladies of raths and moats as direct descendants of the Tuatha De Danann. # 100 - 711
White may in blossom was supposed to bring death into the house, and although it was brought round on May Morning it was hung up outside. # 100
White stags feature in a number of Arthurian tales. It was said that whoever hunted one down could kiss the loveliest girl in Arthur's court.
One was chased by Sagremor in RIGOMER, while another was hunted in the Forest of Adventure in EREC. Floriant pursued one which brought him to the castle of his foster-mother, Morgan Le Fay and, in the DIDOT PERCEVAL, Perceval cut off the head of a white stag. The white stag may originally have featured in stories of a pagan, mythical nature and these tales may have some connection with the Celtic stag cult. See: STAG. # 156
WIFE OF BATH'S TALE, THE
Chaucer's THE WIFE OF BATH'S TALE is worthy of comment for two reasons. First, it is an early and excellent example of the complaint of the departure of the fairies after the manner of Corbet's 'Farewell, Rewards and Fairies'. It seems that from the earliest times the fairies have always been leaving us, and yet sometimes they never quite go. # 100 - 164
A son of Gawain by his wife Florie, niece of King Joram. When Wigalois was grown to manhood, he set off to look for his father who had left many years before and had not been able to find his way back to Joram's realm. Wigalois came to Arthur's castle at Cardueil. He was admitted to Arthur's court and sent by Arthur to aid Queen Amene whose country - except for one castle - had been taken over by an evil knight, Roaz. Wigalois accompanied the damsel Nereja, Amene's emissary, and was guided by the spectral King Lar, Amene's murdered husband. Wigalois fought Roaz in a nightlong combat. He then married Larie, daughter of Lar and Amene. # 156 - 746
A general Germanic word meaning 'being' or 'creature', but increasingly applied to either good or bad spirits, until it came to have a supernatural connotation. In late Saxon, 'unsele wiht' is 'uncanny creature', and in THE CANTERBURY TALES Chaucer uses the word for dangerous spirits in 'I crouche thee from elves and fro wightes' in 'The Miller's Tale'. Kirk talks of seeing the fairies crowding in from all quarters 'like furious hardie wights'. It was not a word objected to by the fairies, for in the fairy rhyme given by Chambers we have: Gin ye ca' me seelie wicht I'll be your friend baith day and nicht. Of course, they would not welcome the title of 'wicked wight' by which the evil fairies of the Unseelie Court were designated. # 100 - 149 - 370
This archetypal character appears in the person of Custennin, in the story of CULHWCH AND OLWEN, but he is best seen in THE LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN, where he appears as the guardian of the beasts of the forest. He is a black giant with a club, who beats upon the belly of a stag in order to call the beasts together. Traces of this archetype are perceivable in the earlier texts about Merlin, who is shown in the VITA MERLINI as riding on a stag. His function is the guardian of the totemic forces inhabiting the land; as genius of the primal forest and instructor in wisdom he presents a threatening but enlightening challenge to the questor. # 242-272-439-454-632
There are many Wild Hunts, for instance the Irish Hounds of Hell, the Celtic Annwr, the Dogs of Hell who hunt the souls of the damned, the Dartmoor pack of Hounds and the North of England Wisht Hounds who hunt high in the air on wild nights; they presage death and are said to incarnate the souls of unbaptized children. King Arthur was also said to ride with a pack, and one tradition in England was that a small black dog could be left behind; it covered and whined on a hearth and had to be kept and fed for a year unless exorcized. It was sometimes led by Arthur at midday or on nights when the moon was full. In England, the Wild Hunt was thought to have been seen in Devon and Somerset. But everywhere the concept of the Wild Hunt was a spectral leader and his men, usually accompanied by baying hounds, who ride through the air or over the far hills. In Glamorganshire the hunt is led by Gwynn ap Nudd. In southern England by Herne the hunter. The Aes Sidhe have a similar connotation in Ireland. # 156 - 161 - 441 - 454
The willow was sacred to the Goddess Arianrhod in Celtic tradition and was called the letter S, SAILLE, in the tree alphabet. # 701 p 475
This city was identified with Camelot. This may have been due to the Winchester Round Table. q.v. # 156
WINEFRIDE GWENFREWI, SAINT
Winefride was a niece of Beuno who lived in the sixth century and became his disciple when he visited her family, and set up a church in the area of north-east Wales where she lived. While he was there, a local chieftain, who had long wanted to marry the girl, became so furious at her constant refusal that one June day he slashed at her with his sword and cut off her head as she sought refuge in the church that Beuno had built. In the middle of the twelfth century, Robert of Shrewsbury wrote a life of Winefride in which he tells us that immediately the evil deed was done the ground opened up to swallow her murderer, while from the place where the girl's head fell a stream burst out of the rock. Furthermore, Beuno restored her to life, setting her head back on her shoulders, so that only a tiny scar remained. She lived for a further fifteen years, having entered a nunnery at Gwytherin. She was the abess when she died. # 678
In the Arthurian bas-relief in Modena Cathedral, a woman seated on the battlements with Mardoc. She may be identical with Guinevere. # 156 - 238
Sometimes called Yell Hounds or Yeth Hounds. The spectral, headless hounds of Dartmoor which sometimes meet also in the valley of Dewerstone. They also run into Cornwall, hunting the demon Tregeagle. Their huntsman is presumably the Devil, though the ghost of Sir Francis Drake was sometimes said to drive a hearse into Plymouth, followed by a pack of headless hounds. Hunt also suggests that Cheney's Hounds are Wish Hounds. Hunt, who gives a short account of the Wish Hounds in POPULAR ROMANCES OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND, suggests that they are the same as the Devil's Dandy Dogs, but the Dandy Dogs have horns and fiery saucer eyes, while the Wish Hounds are headless. # 100 - 331
Ireland never experienced the witch hunts that plagued England and the continent, and there was never a witchfinder to equal the status of Matthew Hopkins who carried on his reign of terror through the length and breadth of England during the 1640's. There were however, certain people, mainly clerics or those wise in the ways of the country people and the country lore, who took it upon themselves to seek out those who practised the darker side of witchcraft, and foremost amongst them was the priest men called Father Morand, the Witchfinder. 'But what is witchcraft other than fallen and debased occult methods of what were once great spiritual accomplishments.' John Foster Forbes # 582 Vol. 3 p 167
WITCHES, WIZARDS AND CONJURERS IN WALES
Over the years there have been many characters in Wales who have been accredited with having powers to do strange and amazing things. They could apparently reveal the future, command spirits and compel thieves to restore items they had stolen. Wizards and others who practised magical arts were supposed to be able to summon spirits at will. But it would seem that some of these magicians could not control the demons after summoning them. One old witch at Cilycwm, named Peggy, found it most difficult to control the spirits in her house and she apparently had to go out into a field and stand within a circle of protection with a whip in her hand. Conjurers were generally believed to possess books dealing with the black arts, which they studied most carefully in order to control the spirits they raised. It was considered very dangerous for anyone ignorant of the occult science to open such books as demons or evil spirits could 'pop out of them'. Once they had escaped from the book it was not always easy to get rid of such unearthly beings. Dr. Harries, who lived at Cwrt y Cadno near Pumpsaint, was said to possess a particular book which he kept chained and padlocked. They said that he was even afraid of it himself for he only ventured to open it once every twelve months and always in the presence of another wizard: a schoolmaster from Pencader who occasionally visited him. On a certain day once a year they went out into the woods near Cwrt y Cadno and, after drawing a circle around them, they opened the chained book. Whenever this ceremony was performed it caused thunder and lightning throughout the Vale of Cothi.
Wizards were also believed to have the power to travel through the air. With the aid of his magic book a wizard could summon a demon in the shape of a horse and travel through the sky on its back. In Eastern countries there are similar tales of magicians riding through the air, for example the tale of the enchanted horse in the ARABIAN NIGHTS. Henry Harries, son of the doctor mentioned above, was also a remarkable wizard. He was a medical man and an astrologer to whom people came to seek advice, from all parts of Wales and the English borders, particularly Herefordshire. He had a special way of dealing with lunatics and could cure diseases, charm away pain, protect people from witches and foretell future events. He claimed that if anyone told him the hour that they were born, he could tell them the hour that they would die! He also claimed to have a magic glass into which a man could look and see the woman he was to marry. He could also identify thieves and persons who had an 'evil eye' by causing a horn to grow out of their foreheads! A woman from Cardiganshire, whose daughter was ill and thought to have been bewitched, came to Cwrt y Cadno to consult him. The wise man wrote some mystic words on a piece of paper which he gave to her saying that if her daughter was not better when she arrived home, to come and see him again. The woman went home with the paper and to her amazement and relief she found the girl fully recovered. Harries used to collect debts from his patients by sending them a standard letter which contained the following warning: 'Unless the above amount is paid before the...day of...next, adverse means will be resorted to for the recovery.' In view of his reputation this must have had quite a frightening effect on his debitors! Witches were once believed to have entered into a pact with the Devil in order to obtain the power to do evil. It was thought that they possessed some uncanny knowledge which they used to injure people, especially those whom they hated. It was also believed that they could cause thunder and lightning, travel on broomsticks through the air and even transform themselves and others into animals, especially into horses. A story was once told in Cardiganshire of two old women who sold themselves by giving to Satan the bread of the Communion. They attended morning service at Llanddewi Brefi Church and partook of the Holy Communion, but instead of eating the sacred bread like other communicants they kept it in their mouths and went out. Then they walked round the church nine times and at the ninth circuit, the Devil came out of the church in the form of a frog, to whom they gave the bread from their mouths. By doing this they sold themselves to Satan and became witches. Apparently after this incident they were sometimes seen swimming in the River Teifi in the form of hares! Giraldus Cambrensis in the twelfth century wrote: 'It has also been a frequent complaint from old times as well as in the present that certain hags in Wales as well as in Ireland and Scotland changed themselves into the shape of hares, that sucking teats under this counterfeit form they might stealthily rob other people's milk.'
The superstitious people of those times thought up many ways of protecting themselves from the evil magic of the local witches. Horseshoes nailed to the door were believed to have the desired effect. It was also believed that witches had a fear of mountain ash, so that a person who carried a branch of PEN CERDIN was safe from their spells. In south Pembrokeshire people used to carry a twig of mountain ash when going on a journey late at night. It would be carried in the hand or held over the horse's head to protect both the animal and rider against all evil. # 49
WITEGE WAYLAND WIELAND VOELUND
# 156: Witege may be the name in Layamon of the maker of Arthur's hauberk, Wygar or 'wizard'. If a personal name is intended, however, we may be dealing here with a form of Widia, the son of the legendary smith, Wayland. Wayland, together with his father Wade and his son Widia, was brought to Britain by the Anglo-Saxons. Witege may be mentioned in Geoffrey's VITA MERLINI.
# 454: What Wayland concern we know that he was the god of the smiths and smith of the gods. He was credited with making many of the great magical weapons and armour of the gods, including Excalibur. Like his prototype in Greek and Roman mythology, he was always depicted as a lame man, having been hamstrung by King Nidud, who stole one of his swords. Wayland exacted a terrible revenge on this mortal, luring his children to an island, killing the boy and raping the girl. Little now remains of his story, but he has assumed a role of great importance in British mythology as something of a tutelary spirit - not unlike Herne the hunter, another Anglo-Saxon deity. He is to be found associated with a number of ancient sites, including Way land's Smithy in Wiltshire. # 91 - 156 - 168 - 242 - 272 - 454
All wizards were not neccessarily bad, though they were exposed to the temptations of power and tended rather to make use of it. Merlin is an example of a good wizard, though he was admittedly unscrupulous in the affair of Uther and Igraine, when he disguised Uther as the Duke of Tintagel, so that he begot Arthur on Igraine in the very hour in which the real duke was killed in battle. Merlin might almost count as a supernatural wizard, for he was the child of an Incubus, who lay with a princess, and was therefore described as 'a child without a father'. He studied magic, however, under the famous Magician Blaise of Brittany. Michael Scot, the famous Scottish wizard, owed his introduction to magic, much as Finn had done, to having the first taste of a magical fish of knowledge, in his case a 'White Snake' which he had been set to watch as it cooked. He had burnt his fingers on it, and had put them to his mouth, so having the first potent taste. Many widespread stories are attached to Michael Scot. Some of them are to be found in WAIFS AND STRAYS OF CELTIC TRADITION. Shape shifting, which was a native power to all the more distinguised fairies, could be aquired by wizards, as several stories of boys trained by wizards to transformation show. One is to be found in McKay's MORE WEST HIGHLAND TALES VOL. I, 'The Wizard's Gillie', in which a boy is hired from his father by a wizard and finally acquired as a permanent slave by trickery. His father manages to find him. Every day he transforms himself into a saleable form and is bought by the wizard, but so long as his father retains the strap that led him he can return in his own shape. When the father, elated by the large price paid, forgets to remove it, he is a prisoner. But he manages to make his escape and is pursued. A transformation conflict ensues in which the gillie finally outwits the wizard and destroys him. Powers of indestructibility and of externalizing their souls, making them Separable Souls, can also be acquired by mortal wizards. Thomas the Rhymer is an example of the acquisition of supernatural knowledge by means of the fairies. He was more fortunate than Merlin, for when he left Middle Earth he went into Fairyland, while Merlin was spell-bound under a rock. Some wizards acquired power over fairies, like the 'Master-Man' reported by Katherine Carey at her trial in 1610. But whether this was a magician or a wizard may be left to conjecture, since it was probably an illusion in any case. # 100 - 464 - 691
The chief god of the Anglo-Saxons who invaded Britain in Arthurian times. As Anglo-Saxon dynasties claimed descent from him, it has been suggested he was a leader who was later deified. Most commentators, however, echo J. Grimm in saying that he was always mythical. The Norse called him Odin. See also: ODIN. # 156 - 268
The wolf appears in a generally favourable light in Celtic and Irish myth. An Irish tribe claimed descent from a wolf and Cormac, King of Ireland, was, like Romulus and Remus, suckled by wolves and was always accompanied by them. They frequently appear as helpful animals and have much in common with the dog in Irish legend; both have affinities with Celtic deities, and heroes and deities could manifest as wolves as well as horses, bulls or salmon. In Celtic art Cernunnos, as Lord of Animals, is depicted as accompanied by a wolf, bear and otter. # 161
A Druidic shrine still stands in Pembrokeshire, the Pentre Evan Cromlech, called the finest in Britain. Once it formed a dark chamber where initiates were placed for a number of days before ritual rebirth from 'Cerridwen's Womb.' The holiest symbols of Paleolithic and Neolithic humanity were symbols of the womb, source of life, primary fountainhead of every creative process. The pre-Christian womb-shrine of Glastonbury was formerly called Caer Wydyr. Its sacred well, running red with iron oxides, was thought to be the blood flow from the Goddess' life-giving womb. Christian legend appropriated the Glastonbury temple and called it the home for a while - of the Holy Grail. # 701 p 330
The Wild Man of the Wood, sometimes also called Wooser or Ooser. In medieval times they were thought to inhabit the wild woods which then covered the land. They make frequent appearances in many forms of artwork from medieval times onwards, and were often used in masques to portray rustic or primitive folk. They were naked, clothed only in their hair. See: GREEN KNIGHT, and WILD HERDSMAN, and JACK IN THE GREEN. # 100 - 454
WOODY ISLE, THE
The ancient Ireland was covered with great forests and was called Inis na bhFodhhhuidhe - the Woody Isle. # 582 Vol. 3 p 155
The worms of Great Britain, and particularly the Celtic worms, seem to show some influence from the Scandinavian worms or dragons, though these were sometimes winged and fire-breathing. In general symbolism the worm represents the earth, death, dissolution, cringing, cowardice and misery, but in earlier times the term was also applied to the Serpent 'that great worm' or to Dragons. In England there was the great Lambton Worm of Durham which ravaged the country and could join together if cut in two, but the worms (dragons) abound in British folklore from Scotland down to the South, and from East Anglia to Ireland; many heroes have done battle with them. Kempe Owen rescued his sister from being enchanted into the shape of a dragon. In Scotland the worms are usually of the seas' depths, living in deep lochs and swallowing victims. White Horse Hill in Wiltshire has a companion hill which is called Dragon's Hill - it is a good example of a land feature supposedly caused by the worm's frenzied writhing. # 100 - 161 - 454 - 717
The title sometimes given to the Grail King or Fisher King who received the Dolorous Stroke through both thighs, robbing him of his kingly and generative powers. This tradition stems from early Celtic custom which forbade the rule of a blemished king, since this would reflect itself in the fertility of the land, causing it to become a Waste Land. The king was believed to have a contract with the land and was mystically married to Sovereignty. # 451 - 454 - 461
Druids considered the wren 'supreme among all birds.' It was the sacred bird of the Isle of Man, which used to be a shrine of the dead and the dwelling-place of the Moon Goddess who cared for pagan souls.
It was the Druid King of the Birds and auguries were drawn from its chirping; in Celtic lore the wren is prophetic and the direction from which it calls is highly significant. The bird was sacred to Taliesin. In Scotland it was the Lady of Heaven's Hen and killing it was considered extremely unlucky; but in England and France there was a Hunting of the Wren on St Stephen's Day, 26 December, a ceremony which rose from an ancient pre-Christian rite. Hunters dressed ritually, killed a wren, hung it on a pole and took it in procession, demanding money; they then buried it in the churchyard.
It was associated with the underworld and these hunting rituals were connected with the winter solstice and the death of vegetation. In Ireland it was known as 'Fionn's doctor' and was hunted by the Wren Boys in much the same ritual as in Britain and France on St Stephens Day. The bird was representing the Sleeping Lord who, whether Cronos, Bran or Arthur must cede place, however great his reign. # 161 - 225 - 454 - 701 p 412
Culhwch had to obtain the sword of this giant as one of his tasks to earn the hand of Olwen. Kay procured it by trickery and slew Wrnach. # 156 - 346
In Layamon, the name of Arthur's hauberk (armoured tunic). The poet says that it was made either by a wizard or by someone called Witege. If the latter is the case, Witege may be identical with Widia, son of Wayland Smith in Anglo-Saxon legend. See: WITEGE. # 156 - 697