Tylwyth Teg

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Tylwyth Teg (Middle Welsh for "Fair Family";[1] Welsh pronunciation: [ˈtəlwɪθ teːg]) is the most usual term in Wales for the mythological creatures corresponding to the Irish Aos Sí, comparable to the fairy folk of English and continental folklore. Other names for them included Bendith y Mamau ("Blessing of the Mothers"), Gwyllion or Ellyllon.[2]

They are described as fair-haired and covet golden-haired human children whom they kidnap, leaving changelings (or "crimbils") in their place. They dance and make fairy rings and they live underground or under the water. They bestow riches on those they favour but these gifts vanish if they are spoken of, and fairy maidens may become the wives of human men.[1]

As the Bendith y Mamau they are sometimes described as stunted and ugly.[1] They ride horses in fairy rades (processions) and visit houses where bowls of milk are customarily put out for them. A changeling story tells of a woman whose three-year-old son was stolen by the fairies and she was given a threefold instruction by a "cunning man" (magician) on how to get him back. She removed the top from a raw egg and began stirring the contents, and as the changeling watched her do this certain comments he made established his otherworldly identity. She then went to a crossroads at midnight during the full moon and observed a fairy rade in order to confirm that her son was with them. Lastly she obtained a black hen and without plucking it she roasted it over a wood fire until every feather dropped off. The changeling then disappeared and her son was returned to her.[1][3]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain include a race of Fair Folk similar to the Tylwyth Teg (which here is the name given to their underground kingdom).
  • Joan Aiken's 1968 novel The Whispering Mountain explains the Tylwyth Teg as a diminutive Mediterranean race who were imported to Wales as slaves to work in the mines.
  • Jim Butcher's short story "Curses" set in the Harry Dresden universe has the Tylwyth Teg responsible for the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs.
  • Mercedes Lackey's novel Home from the Sea features the Tylwyth Teg as mischievous elemental sprites.
  • C. Robert Cargill's novel Dreams and Shadows features the Tylwyth Teg (referring to it as a Bendith Y Mamau) as a child snatcher.
  • In Michael Swanwick's fantasy novel The Iron Dragon's Daughter the Tylwyth Teg are the aristocracy of the magical world.
  • In Kelley Armstrong's fantasy novel series Cainsville the Tylwyth Teg and Annwn are the main themes, but it is not initially obvious until the later books when the history of such myths are revealed.
  • Seanan McGuire's October Daye series of books features a Tylwyth Teg character as an alchemist.


  1. ^ a b c d Briggs, Katharine (1976). An Encyclopedia of Fairies. Pantheon Books. pp. 21, 419. ISBN 0-394-40918-3. 
  2. ^ Walters, John (1828). An English and Welsh Dictionary. Clwydian-Press. p. 448. 
  3. ^ Rhys, John (1901). Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx. 1. Oxford University Press. pp. 262–9. 

Further reading[edit]