A Spirit Leaving And Re-entering The Body
: Welsh Folk-lore
A man was in love with two young girls, and they were both in love with
him, and they knew that he flirted with them both. It is but natural to
suppose that these young ladies did not, being rivals, love each other.
It can well be believed that they heartily disliked each other. One
evening, according to custom, this young man spent the night with one of
his sweethearts, and to all appearance she fell asleep, or was in a
trance, for she looked very pale. He noticed her face, and was
frightened by its death-like pallor, but he was greatly surprised to see
a bluish flame proceed out of her mouth, and go towards the door. He
followed this light, and saw it take the direction of the house in which
his other love lived, and he observed that from that house, too, a like
light was travelling, as if to meet the light that he was following. Ere
long these lights met each other, and they apparently fought, for they
dashed into each other, and flitted up and down, as if engaged in mortal
combat. The strife continued for some time, and then the lights
separated and departed in the direction of the respective houses where
the two young women lived. The man returned to the house of the young
woman with whom he was spending the night, following close on the light,
which he saw going before him, and which re-entered her body through her
mouth; and then she immediately awoke.
Here, presumedly, these two troubled young ladies met in a disembodied
form to contend for the possession of this young man.
A tale much like the preceding occurs on page 283.
There is something akin to this spectral appearance believed in in
Scotland, where the apparition is called Wraith, which word is defined
in Jameson's Etymological Dictionary, published by Gardner, 1882,
Wraith, etc.: Properly an apparition in the exact likeness of a
person, supposed by the vulgar to be seen before, or soon after, death.
This definition does not correspond exactly to what has been said of the
Welsh spirit appearance, but it teaches the possibility, or shows the
people's faith in the possibility, of the soul's existence apart from the
body. It would seem that in Scotland this spectre is seen before, or
after, death; but the writer has read of a case in which the wraith of
a person appeared to himself and was the means of saving his life, and
that he long survived after his other self had rescued him from extreme
Lately a legend of Lake Ogwen went the round of the papers, but the
writer, who lived many years in the neighbourhood of that lake, never
heard of it until he saw it in the papers in 1887. As it bears on the
subject under consideration, I will in part transcribe the story:--
On one of these occasions a friend who had known something of the Welsh
gipsies repeated to Rossetti an anecdote which had been told him as a
'quite true fack' by a Romani girl--an anecdote touching another Romani
girl whose wraith had been spirited away in the night from the
'camping place' by the incantations of a wicked lover, had been seen
rushing towards Ogwen Lake in the moonlight, 'While all the while that
'ere same chavi wur asleep an' a-sobbin' in her daddy's livin'
waggin.'--Bye-Gones, Ap. 13, 1887.
This tale resembles in many respects the one given on page 291, for there
is in both a lover and a sleeping girl, and the girl does not die, but
there are minor differences in the tales, as might be expected.
In Germany like tales are current. Baring-Gould, in his Myths of the
Middle Ages, pp. 423-4, says:--
The soul in German mythology is supposed to bear some analogy to a
mouse. In Thuringia, at Saalfeld, a servant girl fell asleep whilst
her companions were shelling nuts. They observed a little red mouse
creep out of her mouth and run out of the window. One of the
fellows present shook the sleeper but could not wake her, so he moved
her to another place. Presently the mouse ran back to the former
place and dashed about seeking the girl; not finding her, it
vanished; at the same moment the girl died.
One other tale on this subject I will give, which appeared in the North
Wales Chronicle for April 22, 1883, where it is headed--