Tylwyth Teg

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Tylwyth Teg (Middle Welsh for "Fair Family";[1] Welsh pronunciation: [ˈtəlwɨ̞θ teːɡ]) 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 the American/Canadian TV show Supernatural, The episode "Clap your hands if you believe" featured a species of fairy that kidnapped children and drank milk, in a similar fashion to the Tylwyth Teg. However, these fairies do not replace children with changelings, possibly due to the similarity with a previous episode, "The kids aren't alright."
  • In Michael Swanwick's fantasy novel "The Iron Dragon's Daughter" the Tylwyth Teg are the aristocracy of the magical world.


  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]