FOLK-LORE OF WEST AND MID-WALES
By Jonathan Caredig Davies. Facsimile reprint of 1911 original by Llanerch Publishers, Felinfach, Lampeter, Cardiganshire, SA48 8PJ at £9.95. 348pp. ISBN: 1-897853-00-9
This is one of those folklore source books which has been out of print for decades but which has in the meantime had a significant influence on current current pagan views about our ancestors and their beliefs and superstitions.
Like most folklore books of its era, this one largely comprises a series of chapters filled with almost random reports and accounts of reported events, beliefs and local lore. Each chapter focuses on a loose theme such as omens of death, encounters with ghosts or with fairies and mermaids, folk healing and witches and cunning men, beliefs connected with lakes, caves and fountains and of beliefs and customs relating to love, marriage and death. Much of this material will already be very familiar to the pagan reader - especially the accounts of human dealings with Y Tylwyth Teg, of witches becoming hares and being shot with silver bullets or coins, and of death omens such as corpse candles. Nevertheless this is a valuable source book for those interested both in the folklore itself and in the early history of many of the elements which have since become part of the trappings of "Celtic Wicca", and once you start to browse through it it does become very difficult to put down again as you spot one old chestnut after another and discover where they originally came from.
While packed with reports and accounts of such beliefs and lore, the book is generally short on interpretation and comment, which is both a blessing and otherwise. While the interpretations and theories presented by these early folklorists are now considered to be completely out of date and insupportable in terms of modern scholarship and standards of fieldwork, they do retain an antiquarian interest and charm of their own providing one doesn't take them too seriously. We have rather gone beyond interpreting everything in terms of sun- and penis-worship these days!
Welsh speakers may be interested to note that many of the accounts in the book are provided in Welsh as well as in an English translation. Also lots of interest and material here for the aspiring Welsh Hereditary. Everything your granny should have taught you ....