Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Old Hag, Gwillion

     In the folk lore of Wales there is a name for a hag-like fairy called Gwillion or Gwyllion.  In some stories she's called the Old Woman of the Mountains. She is sometimes described wearing a cooking pot on her head in ash covered clothes and an apron thrown over her shoulders. She roams the mountains herding and caring for her goats, which has long beards. Wednesday is known for being the Sabbath of the Welsh fairies, it is then she combs their beards. She is also known for taking the form of a goat herself.
     She is part of a race of fairies that have a great dislike for humans known as the Gwithin. They love causing travellers in the mountains to become lost. Many people have found themselves following an old woman ahead of them. She always stays ahead. She never turns her face back so no one has ever seen her face. After some time the follower will find him/herself lost then she disappears with a cackle. Many times the Gwillion or Gwyllion will just bother or frighten someone by sitting on the side of a path or road, just staring at them, her eyes following them as they make their way down the winding path. There are traditions that states she also crys out "Wwb!" ( "wow-up!") or "Wwbwb!" pronounced Wooboob. It's a Welsh cry of distress. Sometimes you would hear her right next to you and the next moment across the valley over to the next mountain.
      One time the Gwithin had the power of flying but lost it. The reason isn't known. Maybe it had something to do with humans. They are seen walking the roads of the mountain during stormy nights but the Gwillion do not like stormy weather and will find shelter in a lonely, single house. In the community of Aberystwyth it is said the inhabitants being terrified of the curse of the Gwithin, allows the Gwillion to find shelter in their homes on stormy nights. The Gwillion are also afraid of anything iron or steel. If you ever corner one with an object, say a knife, made out of iron or steel then you will have a wish granted. Afterwards though the entire race will hate you and you will find trouble traveling in the mountains. In the Lanhyddel Mountains of Monmouthsire, she is said to haunt.

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