Fairy Tricks With Mortals

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:--

Fairy Treasures Seen By A Man Near Ogwen Lake Fairy Visits To Human Abodes facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail