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Huw Llwyd And His Magical Books


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

The story, as it has reached our days, is as follows:--It is said that
Huw Llwyd had two daughters; one of an inquisitive turn of mind, like
himself, while the other resembled her mother, and cared not for books.
On his death bed he called his learned daughter to his side, and directed
her to take his books on the dark science, and throw them into a pool,
which he named, from the bridge that spanned the river. The girl went to
Llyn Pont Rhyd-ddu with the books, and stood on the bridge, watching the
whirlpool beneath, but she could not persuade herself to throw them over,
and thus destroy her father's precious treasures. So she determined to
tell him a falsehood, and say that she had cast them into the river. On
her return home her father asked her whether she had thrown the books
into the pool, and on receiving an answer in the affirmative, he,
inquiring whether she had seen anything strange when the books reached
the river, was informed that she had seen nothing. Then, said he, you
have not complied with my request. I cannot die until the books are
thrown into the pool. She took the books a second time to the river,
and now, very reluctantly, she hurled them into the pool, and watched
their descent. They had not reached the water before two hands appeared,
stretched upward, out of the pool, and these hands caught the books
before they touched the water and, clutching them carefully, both the
books and the hands disappeared beneath the waters. She went home
immediately, and again appeared before her father, and in answer to his
question, she related what had occurred. Now, said he, I know you
have thrown them in, and I can now die in peace, which he forthwith did.

3. Hereditary conjurors, or charmers, were thought to be beneficial to
society. They were charmers rather than conjurors. In this category is
to be reckoned:--

(a) The seventh son of a family of sons, born the one after the other.

(b) The seventh daughter in a family of daughters, born in succession,
without a brother between. This person could undo spells and curses, but
she could not herself curse others.

(c) The descendants of a person, who had eaten eagles' flesh could, for
nine generations, charm for the shingles, or, as it is called in Welsh,
Swyno'r 'Ryri.

Conjurors were formerly quite common in Wales; when I say common, I mean
that there was no difficulty in obtaining their aid when required, and
they were within easy reach of those who wished to consult them. Some
became more celebrated than others, and consequently their services were
in greater requisition; but it may be said, that each district had its
wise man.

The office of the conjuror was to counteract the machinations of witches,
and to deliver people from their spells. They were looked upon as the
natural enemies of witches. Instances have already been given of this

But conjurors could act on their own account, and if they did not show
the same spiteful nature as witches, they, nevertheless, were credited
with possessing great and dangerous power. They dealt freely in charms
and spells, and obtained large sums of money for their talismanic papers.
They could, it was believed, by their incantations reveal the future, and
oblige light-fingered people to restore the things they had stolen.

Even a fishing rod made by a conjuror was sure to bring luck to the
fisherman. Lovers and haters alike resorted to the wise man to attain
through his aid their object.

There were but few, if any, matters beyond their comprehension, and hence
the almost unbounded confidence placed in these impostors by the
superstitious and credulous.

Strange as it may seem, even in this century there are many who still
consult these deceivers, but more of this by and by.

I will now relate a few tales of the doings of these conjurors, and from
them the reader can infer how baneful their influence was upon the rustic
population of Wales.

Next: The Magician's Glass

Previous: Conjurors

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