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Welsh Witches and Wizards

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The widespread belief in witches and wizards in Wales reflects a land steeped in legend and myth since ancient times. The witch’s power to harm people, livestock, and crops was greatly feared; for this reason country people consulted with so-called ‘cunning men’ and ‘wise women’ who had the power to negate their spells with counter-magic. Cunning-folk practitioners were also consulted for love spells, to find lost property or missing persons, exorcise ghosts and banish evil spirits. The figures of both witch and wizard form part of a broader folk-magic continuity in Wales. This popular belief in witchcraft bears little relation to modern neo-pagan Wicca, and there is little evidence of its linkage to a nature religion based on a pre-Christian fertility cult.

This book describes the historically-attested Welsh practitioners of folk magic and witchcraft –the Dark Sisters and the Toadmen, the Druids and Wizards, the Cunning Men and Faery Doctors – and the charms and spells they used. Also examined are surviving pagan beliefs associated with holy wells and the cult of the sacred head, and the mysterious and sometimes sinister ‘creatures of the night’ such as faeries, lake monsters, dragons and Black Dogs.

Written by Michael Howard