Huw Llwyd And His Magical Books

: 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.