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(GH) The Faerie Guide to Surviving Wales

(Originally posted on 15 April 2012)

I’m heading to Wales this week with my friend, Anna, and some locals from the university. It is going to be epic! Conveniently, I have also been reading a ton of Welsh fairytales and mythology in the past several weeks as part of my research for Blessings. So in case you ever find yourself in Wales and don’t fancy getting turned to ash or worse, here’s five things to keep in mind if you want to get there and back again!

5. Don’t bring iron/Do bring iron.

Depending on if you’ve fallen in love with a faerie (not recommended: it very rarely works out) or if you’re trying to ward them off, you should or shouldn’t have iron on your person. Iron is offensive to faeries. According to one story, it’s because iron is a modern invention and faeries stick their noses up at that sort of thing. So if you want to keep a distance between you and them, bring some iron along. But if you’re trying to keep your beloved faerie from getting sent back to the faerie realm, get rid of all your iron.

(A freebie! Other tips for keeping your faerie wife from escaping: Don’t ever tap her on the shoulder (she considers this “hitting” and will count it up against you, and three times means you’re out and she’s free) and don’t throw clay at her. It can be assumed these tips would also work on faerie lords, but I have no stories to back that theory up.)

4. Don’t mess with their dogs or get in the way of the hunt.

White dogs with red collars belong to the faeries. Therefore, if you see a pack of them hunting, just leave them alone. Don’t try to steal their game. This is a bad idea.

3. Do be clever.

Keep your wits about you. If you’re lucky, you can have your cake and eat it, too. You might get whisked off to faerie land to rule for a year. You might save the girl you’ve always dreamed of. You might find wealth and happiness. Faeries generally leave a loophole in their blessings and in their curses. One stupid mistake, and you could end up in a very tight spot. Don’t get greedy, but do be clever.

2. Don’t dance with the faeries.

This should be a no-brainer. If you hear mysterious music, don’t follow it. If you see a ring of faeries, don’t join in. It’s all fun and games until you stumble away from the dance, realize you’ve been gone over forty years, and then turn to ash.

1. Don’t ring the bell.

Should you stumble into a cave where a host of armored men sleep, and should you see at the far end of the cave a king holding a brilliant sword, surrounded by gold, and should you decide to take some of this gold, do yourself a favor and don’t ring the bell by the entrance of the cave. When King Arthur awakes, you can bet he won’t take kindly to those who have been stealing from him. Alternatively: Don’t steal anything.

If you’re a fan of Arthur taking back all of Britain and reasserting Welsh independence, justice, Camelot, etc., ring away. But take heed that they might kill you in their rush to get out.

Either way, make your choice before you leave the cave: You probably won’t find it again.

Follow these tips, and you will probably make it back from Wales, perhaps with a tale or two of your own.

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