The Goat, a Gwyllion Exception

What is a Gwyllion?

The Gwyllion is a Welsh mountain fairy mainly located in the rocky areas of the Black Mountains. The Welsh pronunciation of this word is quite different from the English pronunciation and sounds something along the lines of gwiss-yan. These fae are very solitary creatures who mainly watch us from the safety of their shadowed crevices in the rocks. While not particularly dangerous so long as you do not cause them offense, they can be incredibly inconvenient when met upon a road in the twilight hours. They can be kind as the mountain goat can attest, but it is their greatest delight to cause a human to become fairy led, losing their way until the spell is broken.

A Gwyllion’s Appearance

The Gwyllion are not often seen. Shifting shadows, the back of an old woman in the distance, but they never seem to solidly stand before you. Mostly, they are heard. The clattering of stones knocked loose as they follow after a passersby may be noticed by those traveling. Most telling is their loud, grating laughter which echoes across the landscape. A sharp cry as if they are standing right next to you will suddenly be heard again from a great distance. It’s a very unsettling experience that most wish to forget.

Gwyllion in the Rocks

There is one Gwyllion in particular who has become most infamous. She is known as the Old Woman. It is claimed, a woman by the name of Jan White was a witch. The justification for this assertion is such that when she passed away, the mountains became actively haunted. The paths at night might ring with her laughter or her favorite Welsh expression of distress, Wwb, or the English version ­— Wow up!

The Old Woman is mostly heard, but she has also been sighted on occasion. When she’s spotted, she will play a game with the unfortunate victim of her mischievous game. She will be seen, but when the individual tries to catch up with her ahead of them on the path, she will show herself to be well out of reach. The faster one might go, the further ahead she appears. This can continue until the poor sot who ran after her realizes they’ve completely lost their direction and will have a time of it to find their way back.

Warding Against Their Fairy Spell

The best way to avoid any unintended wandering through the mountains would be to avoid traveling during the hours of waning light. The twilight hours are an in between time in which many fairies take special delight in, and the Gwyllion are especially true of this fact. As the light fades from the sky, they prowl, watching and waiting for foolish humans wandering into their domain at their time. Nothing is more satisfying to a Gwyllion than causing a human to become unknowingly confused and hopelessly turned around.

If, however, you find yourself inexplicably out in the mountains during the growing darkness, do not despair. You still have hope of breaking their spell and freeing your mind on your own terms. The Welsh fairy are known for their strong dislike of knives. Perhaps it's the metal of the blade, maybe they’ve run afoul of too many blades to risk being in their presence. Whatever the reason, when a blade is drawn from a sheath, the Gwyllion will fade back into the safety of their mountain and you will be released from their attentions.

With this knowledge, I must also warn you, never pull out a knife if a fairy is under your own roof. It does happen on occasion that a Gwyllion will seek refuge from the night inside with you. They will likely invite themselves in and in such a case, it’s imperative that you quickly secure away any knives that might cause harm to the fairy. What will safely drive away a fairy in the open sky will bring down harmful fairy anger under your roof. This is a rule to follow when in the presence of any Welsh fae.

The Gwyllion’s Exception

The Gwyllion temperament is by and large rather disgruntled. They are hard fairies living in harsh conditions, but they do have a soft spot. Among the mountains can be found mountain goats. It is these noble creatures who have won over the hearts of these usually poor tempered fae. Their love for the mountain goat is so deep that if you were to somehow harm or abuse them, the normally passive aggressive Gwyllion may repay you in kind. A young man who had a goat whom he loved very much. One day, the goat tried his patience to the height of his tolerance and without thinking he struck the goat. It fell and became fatally injured. He was overcome with grief, but his sorrow and regret did not save him from fairy wrath. That night, he would be thrown from the top of the hill by the fairies as payment for his wrong doing.