Category Archives: Folklore & Customs

Traditions from around Europe

The River Daughters of Plynlimon

High in the hills of mid-Wales, the sources of the rivers Ystwyth, Wye, and Severn, are found. This folk tale describes how they decided the routes that their journeys would take. Read it in full, here.

 

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May Day Mayhem!

Ah, summertime. The 1st May is celebrated in the British Isles as May Day, with many parts of the holiday traceable back to the Celtic festival of Beltane. This of course gives the green light for all sorts of wacky and dangerous activities up and down the country. Learn about a few of them in this article that I have written for The Spooky Isles.

May-Day

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The Big Grey Man of the Cairngorms

“As I walked on and the eerie crunch, crunch sounded behind me I was seized with terror and took to my heels, staggering blindly among the bounders for four or five miles nearly down to Rothiemurchus Forest. Whatever you make of it I do not know, but there is something very queer about the top of Ben MacDhui and I will not go back there again by myself I know.”

Something terrifying is said to traipse around the lonely peak of Ben MacDhui and the Cairngorms in Scotland. Read about “Am Fear Liath Mòr” (The Big Grey Man) in this article.

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The Changeling Child

It’s “Creepy Kids Week” at The Spooky Isles. I’ve had the pleasure of submitting a folk tale from Herefordshire, England, which tells of a changeling child and the trouble it caused for its chosen mother. You can find it here.

Changeling

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The Norse King’s Sorcerous Daughter

If you enjoy Norse mythology, then you’ve likely heard of their seidkonas and volur using magic to help tip the tide of battle. Featuring in many sagas, these folk skilled in witchcraft, charming, and influencing the threads of fate are fascinating to read about.

What we don’t see very often, is accounts of these sorceresses from the people that were fighting against them. Let alone, the locals using magic of their own against these Norse invaders.

The Norse King’s Sorcerous Daughter is one such story, from Scotland, and tells about how magic was used to fend off viking invaders that were wreaking havoc along the west coast.

norse

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The Witch of Treva

I love Cornwall. The landscape, the culture, the history, and of course, the folklore. It seems that there is no end to the amount of tales that come from this Celtic nation. The story of the Witch of Treva is one of my favourites, and tells of a woman with witchy powers who shows her husband what-for after he complains that his supper isn’t ready.

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Terror runs deep in Welsh Waters

Wales; a land of myth and legend, and stunning natural beauty. But don’t let those crystalline lakes deceive you, foul things lurk beneath the waters. Llyn Tegid in Bala is said to be home to Teggie. Llyn Glasslyn is home to Afanc. Llyn-y-Forwyn is home to the beautiful but deadly, Nelferch. What legendary creatures are these? Find out in Water Monsters of Wales.

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Tracking Herne the Hunter

Herne is often depicted in modern Paganism as being an aspect of the Horned God, Cernunnos. Yet mention of this character only really emerged with William Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor”. Is Herne really a lost god of Britain, or a work of fiction? We look at the accounts of this figure in the hopes that you can decide for yourself.

herne

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Wild Edric – An Anglo-Saxon Legend

The Long Mynd, in Shropshire, is a place of extraordinary beauty. The area is steeped in legend, none so intriguing as that of Child Eadric, otherwise known as Wild Edric. A local Saxon lord, he is said to have married an Elf woman from Clun forest. Broken promises and a Norman invasion scuppered their plans of happiness together, and now Edric leads a wild hunt across the hill. You can read the story in full in this article.mynd

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Llyn-y-Forwyn

Legend tells of a beautiful maid that dwells beneath the waters of the lake known as Llyn-y-Forwyn in Rhondda Cynon Taff, Wales. The name of the lake translates as “The Lake of the Damsel”. If you ever visit, you can see a beautiful wood sculpture of the fair lady of many legends.

She revealed herself to a farmer one day, emerging from the water as he took his pony to the water’s edge for a cool drink. She told the stunned fellow that her name was Nelferch, and that she dwelt in the lake with her father, sisters, and cattle. The farmer fell head over heels in love with her, and it was just as well, for Nelferch was looking for a husband. All Welshmen are blessed with voices of honey, and with his sweet singing, he charmed her. The fair maid agreed to marry him on one condition. If they quarrelled three times, she would return to the lake.

Happily they lived together until that fateful day when she let the fire in the hearth go out. The farmer raised his voice in anger against his fairy wife, and they quarrelled. She reminded him of his promise, and he apologised and all was well for a few months more until again he had cause for anger. His wife spilled a milk churn, and the farmer raised his voice at her carelessness. Sternly she warned him that he had no more chances left. If he quarrelled with her one more time, she would go. Cursing himself, he promised to be more careful and an entire year passed before a fox took some lambs and he quarrelled with his wife, laying blame on her for not locking the young animals safely away in the barn. Before he could apologise, she vanished right before his eyes, taking the cattle with her. The farmer returned to the lake each day and night, begging her to return. He spent the rest of his days pining for the beautiful maiden of the waters and went mad with grief.

Nelferch
Nelferch

Some believe that Nelferch still dwells in the watery realm beneath the lake’s surface, and calls out to young men to join her in the depths of the lake. A sorrowful event from the start of the twentieth century describes how a young local boy drowned in the waters in his attempt to rescue a friend who had fallen in. His family believe that Nelferch took him for her own, his act of unselfish bravery making him a worthy husband. Some say that the singing voices of their children can be heard if you listen carefully.

Another, more sinister tale, describes how the maid of Llyn-y-Forwyn was an unfortunate human girl who met her end due to foul deeds. She was betrothed to a young man who had fallen in love with another, and made wicked plans to be rid of her. On the evening before their wedding, he took his bride-to-be for a walk along the lakeside, and pushed her in. The poor girl was drowned, and denying any knowledge of his missing fiancée, the young man was free to marry his sweetheart. Ever after, the damsel’s spirit haunted the scene of her murder. Some have reported hearing shrieks from the waterside, and the sound of splashing water. A few tell of seeing a half-naked maiden emerging out of the lake with a terrifying scream, her wet hair hanging lankly over her pallid shoulders.

So dear reader, take heed you see a beautiful woman emerging from the waters of Llyn-y-Forwyn, lest you too become a thing of legend.

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