The wood so softly singing
In a language strange to hear
And the song it sings will find you
As the twilight draws you near


Welsh Faerie Lore

In the Welsh tradition Gwyn ap Nudd is the King of Annwn and it is possible to enter his faerie realm through certain caves or holes in the ground, often by removing a heavy stone by speaking some special words. Sometimes it is possible to get there through lakes or pools or through underground passages and hidden streams.

There is a particular race of Welsh faeries called Plant Rhys Ddwfn who live on islands off the coast of Cardigan Bay. But they emerge on land through an invisible portal which is protected by certain herbs which grow around the place. This is a small area of land which is located in the same space as that inhabited by humans but which cannot be seen or experienced by them unless they are given the faerie sight.

There is no connection between this land and the land of the dead for its inhabitants are ever-living. It is a land of plenty and many tales of people being taken into it tell of them sleeping in beds of silk only to awake in the morning among rushes and ferns. Time passes differently there, and sometimes it is possible to go there without going through a physical gateway, but by being enchanted, as this story illustrates:

Siôn ap Siencyn was one afternoon walking in the woods when a bird began to sing so sweetly that he was spellbound and he sat down to listen to the song. While the bird sang he was in a state of bliss. Eventually the bird stopped singing and Siôn stood up and noticed that the leafy tree he had sat beneath was now all dry and withered. He went home. But the house looked very different although it was the same house. A man in the doorway asked him what he wanted. "This is where I live", he replied. In conversation it turned out that the man was Siôn's great grandson. There was a family legend that Siôn had been carried off to the Otherworld and would only return, according to a conjuror who had been called in to explain his disappearance, when the last drop of sap had withered from the tree. He entered the house but it was like walking through empty air. To his great-grandson he seemed to crumble to dust before him.

{Adapted from Welsh Folklore and Custom by T. Gwynn Jones}

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