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Fairy Tricks With Mortals


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

It was formerly believed in Wales that the Fairies, for a little fun,
sportively carried men in mid air from place to place, and, having
conveyed them to a strange neighbourhood, left them to return to their
homes as best they could. Benighted travellers were ever fearful of
encountering a throng of Fairies lest they should by them be seized, and
carried to a strange part of the country.

Allusion is made to this freak of the Fairies in the Cambro-Briton,
vol. i., p. 348:--

And it seems that there was some reason to be apprehensive of
encountering these 'Fair people' in a mist; for, although allowed not to
be maliciously disposed, they had a very inconvenient practice of seizing
an unwary pilgrim, and hurrying him through the air, first giving him the
choice, however, of travelling above wind, mid-wind, or below wind. If
he chose the former, he was borne to an altitude somewhat equal to that
of a balloon; if the latter, he had the full benefit of all the brakes
and briars in his way, his contact with which seldom failed to terminate
in his discomfiture. Experienced travellers, therefore, always kept in
mind the advice of Apollo to Phaeton (In medio tutissimus ibis) and
selected the middle course, which ensured them a pleasant voyage at a
moderate elevation, equally removed from the branches and the clouds.

This description of an aerial voyage of a hapless traveller through Fairy
agency corresponds with the popular faith in every particular, and it
would not have been difficult some sixty, or so, years back, to have
collected many tales in various parts of Wales of persons who had been
subjected to this kind of conveyance.

The first mention that I have been able to find of this Fairy prank is in
a small book of prose poetry called Gweledigaeth Cwrs y Byd, or Y
Bardd Cwsg, which was written by the Revd. Ellis Wynne (born 1670-1,
died 1734), rector of Llanfair, near Harlech. The Visions of the
Sleeping Bard were published in 1703, and in the work appear many
superstitions of the people, some of which shall by and by be mentioned.

In the very commencement of this work, the poet gives a description of a
journey which he had made through the air with the Fairies. Addressing
these beings, he says:--Atolwg, lan gynnulleidfa, yr wyf yn deall mai
rhai o bell ydych, a gymmerwch chwi Fardd i'ch plith sy'n chwennych
trafaelio? which in English is--May it please you, comely assembly, as
I understand that you come from afar, to take into your company a Bard
who wishes to travel?

The poet's request is granted, and then he describes his aerial passage
in these words:--

Codasant fi ar eu hysgwyddau, fel codi Marchog Sir; ac yna ymaith a ni
fel y gwynt, tros dai a thiroedd, dinasoedd a theyrnasoedd, a moroedd a
mynyddoedd, heb allu dal sylw ar ddim, gan gyflymed yr oeddynt yn hedeg.
This translated is:--

They raised me on their shoulders, as they do a Knight of the Shire, and
away we went like the wind, over houses and fields, over cities and
kingdoms, over seas and mountains, but I was unable to notice
particularly anything, because of the rapidity with which they flew.

What the poet writes of his own flight with the Fairies depicts the then
prevailing notions respecting aerial journeys by Fairy agencies, and they
bear a striking resemblance to like stories in oriental fiction. That
the belief in this form of transit survived the days of Bardd Cwsg will
be seen from the following tale related by my friend Mr. E. Hamer in his
Parochial Account of Llanidloes:--

Next: A Man Carried Through The Air By The Fairies

Previous: The Elf Dancers Of Cae Caled

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