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Welsh Folk Lore - Birds And Beasts.

Music And Bird Singing Heard Before Death
The writer, both in Denbighshire and Carnarvonshire, was to...

Birds And Beasts
Folk-lore respecting animals is common in Wales. It has been...

Birds Singing Before February
Should the feathered songsters sing before February it is a...

Birds Flocking In Early Autumn
When birds gather themselves together and form flocks in th...

Birds' Feathers
Feather beds should be made of domestic birds' feathers, su...

The Cock
Caesar, Bk. v., c.12, tells us that the Celtic nation did n...

Cock-fighting
Cock-fighting was once common in Wales, and it was said tha...

The Goose
Should a goose lay a soft egg, a small egg, or two eggs in ...

The Crow
The crow figures much in Welsh folk-lore. In many ways he ...

Crows' Feathers
In Montgomeryshire it was, at one time, supposed that if a ...

The Cuckoo Y Gog
The cuckoo is a sacred bird. It is safe from the gamekeepe...

A White Cock
A white cock was looked upon as an unlucky bird, thus:-- ...

Crane
The crane is often mistaken for the heron. When the crane ...

Ducks
When ducks sportively chase each other through the water, a...

Eagle
Persons who had eaten eagle's flesh had power to cure erysipe...

The Goat Sucker
A curious notion prevailed respecting this bird, arrived at...

Putting Hens To Sit
Placing the eggs in the nest for hens, geese, and ducks to ...

The Heron
The heron as it flies slowly towards the source of a river ...

The Jackdaw
This bird is considered sacred, because it frequents church...

The Magpie
The magpie was considered a bird of ill-omen. No one liked t...

The Owl
The hooting of an owl about a house was considered a sign o...

Peacock
The peacock's shrill note is a sign of rain. Its call is s...

Pigeon
If the sick asks for a pigeon pie, or the flesh of a pigeon...

The Raven
The raven has ever enjoyed a notoriously bad name as a bird...

Robin Redbreast
Ill luck is thought to follow the killer of dear Robin Redb...

The Sea Gull
It is believed that when sea gulls leave the sea for the mo...

The Swallow
The joy with which the first swallow is welcomed is almost ...

The Swan
The eggs of the swan are hatched by thunder and lightning. ...

The Swift
This bird's motions are looked upon as weather signs. Its ...

Tit Major Or Sawyer
The Rev. E. V. Owen, Vicar of Llwydiarth, Montgomeryshire, ...

The Wren
The Wren's life is sacred, excepting at one time of the yea...

The Wood Pigeon
The thrice repeated notes of five sounds, with an abrupt no...

The Magpie Teaching A Wood Pigeon How To Make A Nest
The wood pigeon makes an untidy nest, consisting of a few b...

Woodpecker
The woodpecker's screech was a sign of rain. This bird is ...

Ass
The stripe over the shoulders of the ass is said to have be...

The Bee
The little busy bee has been from times of old an object of...

Buying A Hive Of Bees
In the central parts of Denbighshire people suppose that a ...

Time Of Bee Swarming
The month in which bees swarm is considered of the greatest...

The Day Of Swarming
Sunday is the favourite day for bee swarming. Country peop...

Luck Comes With A Strange Swarm
It is considered very lucky indeed to find that a strange s...

It Is Considered Unlucky For Bees To Fly Away From Their Owner
As the coming of a strange swarm of bees is indicative of g...

Bees In A Roof
It was thought lucky when bees made their home in the roof,...

Informing Bees Of A Death In A Family
Formerly it was the custom to tell the bees of a death in t...

Putting Bees In Mourning
This is done after a death in a family, and the bees are pu...

Stolen Bees
It was believed that stolen bees would not make honey, and ...

A Swarm Entering A House
Should a swarm enter a house, it was considered unlucky, an...

Cat
The cat was thought to be a capital weather glass. If she ...

Cows
Cows Kneeling on Christmas Morn. In the upland parishe...

Crickets
It is lucky to have crickets in a house, and to kill one is...

Hare
Caesar, bk. v., ch. xii., states that the Celts do not rega...

Haddock
The haddock has a dark spot on each side its gills, and sup...

Hedgehog
It was believed that hedgehogs sucked cows, and so firmly w...

Horse
A white horse figures in the superstition of school childre...

Lady-bird
This pretty spotted little beetle was used formerly in the ...

Mice
A mouse nibbling clothes was a sign of disaster, if not dea...

Moles
Moles are said to have no eyes. If mole hills move there w...

Pigs
Pigs used to be credited with the power of seeing the wind....

The Snake Serpent
The snake was supposed to be able to understand what men sa...

Flying Serpents
The traditional origin of these imaginary creatures was tha...

Snake Rings Or Glain Nadroedd
Mention is made in Camden of snake rings. Omitting certain...

Sheep
It was thought that the devil could assume any animal's for...

Spider
The long-legged spider, or, as it is generally called in Wa...

The Squirrel
Hunting this sprightly little animal became at Christmas th...

The Blind Worm Or Slow Worm
This reptile is a snake, varying from twelve to eighteen in...



Birds And Beasts






Category: BIRDS AND BEASTS.

Folk-lore respecting animals is common in Wales. It has been supposed
that mountainous countries are the cradles of superstitions. But this
is, at least, open to a doubt; for most places perpetuate these strange
fancies, and many of them have reached our days from times of old, and
the exact country whence they came is uncertain. Still, it cannot be
denied that rugged, rocky, sparsely inhabited uplands, moorlands, and
fens, are congenial abodes for wild fancies, that have their foundation
in ignorance, and are perpetuated by the credulity of an imaginative
people that lead isolated and solitary lives.

The bleating of the sheep, as they wander over a large expanse of barren
mountain land, is dismal indeed, and well might become ominous of storms
and disasters. The big fat sheep, which are penned in the lowlands of
England, with a tinkling bell strapped to the neck of the king of the
flock, convey a notion of peace and plenty to the mind of the spectator,
that the shy active mountain sheep, with their angry grunt and stamping
of their feet never convey. Still, these latter are endowed with an
instinct which the English mutton-producer does not exercise. Welsh
sheep become infallible prognosticators of a change of weather; for, by a
never failing instinct, they leave the high and bare mountain ridges for
sheltered nooks, and crowd together when they detect the approach of a
storm. Man does not observe atmospheric changes as quickly as sheep do,
and as sheep evidently possess one instinct which is strongly developed
and exercised, it is not unreasonable to suppose that man in a low state
of civilisation might credit animals with possessing powers which, if
observed, indicate or foretell other events beside storms.

Thus the lowly piping of the solitary curlew, the saucy burr of the
grouse, the screech of the owl, the croaking of the raven, the flight of
the magpie, the slowly flying heron, the noisy cock, the hungry seagull,
the shrill note of the woodpecker, the sportive duck, all become omens.

Bird omens have descended to us from remote antiquity. Rome is credited
with having received its pseudo-science of omens from Etruria, but whence
came it there? This semi-religious faith, like a river that has its
source in a far distant, unexplored mountain region, and meanders through
many countries, and does not exclusively belong to any one of the lands
through which it wanders; so neither does it seem that these credulities
belong to any one people or age; and it is difficult, if not impossible,
to trace to their origin, omens, divination, magic, witchcraft, and other
such cognate matters, which seem to belong to man's nature.

Readers of Livy remember how Romulus and Remus had recourse to bird omens
to determine which of the brothers should build Rome. Remus saw six
vultures, and Romulus twelve; therefore, as his number was the greater,
to him fell the honour of building the famous city.

But this was not the only bird test known to the Romans. Before a battle
those people consulted their game fowl to ascertain whether or not
victory was about to attend their arms. If the birds picked up briskly
the food thrown to them victory was theirs, if they did so sluggishly the
omen was unpropitious, and consequently the battle was delayed.

Plutarch, in his Life of Alexander, gives us many proofs of that great
general's credulity. The historian says:--Upon his (Alexander's)
approach to the walls (of Babylon) he saw a great number of crows
fighting, some of which fell down dead at his feet. This was a bad
sign. But I will not pursue the subject. Enough has been said to prove
how common omens were. I will now confine my remarks to Wales.





Next: Birds Singing Before February

Previous: Music And Bird Singing Heard Before Death



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