An early Song of Ffraed article from my dragon healing journey with Y Ddraig Ffraed – The Ffraed Project. First published on the subscribers’ blog on 17th July 2016.
It was warm, a tiny breeze, butterflies flitted through the rampant hedges, song birds accompanied the bees’ kazoos and I was picking my way through tangles of prolific brambles and nettles, on my way to rendezvous with Y Ddraig again. I knew where She’d be, at the crossroads of paths where I’d left Her weeks ago. She’d made off across a verdant pasture to the other side of a hump in the land. I’d have liked to have gone with Her but I needed to gain permission from the landholder first.
Instead I had tracked Her remotely to a hawthorn in a fairy hill embankment by an ancient llan. There’d once stood, possibly for thousands of years, a tiny village here; its gorgeous fragrant roses that once decorated walls and gardens, now rambling through the May.
I’d met the farmer and his wife since and they’d kindly given me permission to survey their fields. Such lovely people again.
Ffraed took me south-west across the field along woods bordering an infant river to skirt the hump and then west to loop in a damp area at the bottom of the field and head east. Several yards later She turned south to cross the fence and climb the slope. I’d felt underwater and now we were surfacing. Over the slope wheeled Kria, the buzzard. I knew then that I’d soon be coming upon something extraordinary.
Not far into the field Y Ddraig began to weave tightly. In a straight line of 11 paces, She made 15 curves. After the 15th She moved south-westwards for almost 2 yards and coiled once. Then Ffraed straightened up, like a rifle barrel, no weaving at all (uniquely so, so far), for 62 paces. I looked up, along the line, and there, in the distance, was a hilltop cairn, in the east. From the end of this stretch to the beginning of Her tight woven line, when She entered this field, is 70 paces. Where it was possible to see, each point lined up with hilltops and clefts in both directions. Where Y Ddraig ended her straight run there was, in ancient times, a small rectangular hut. Open at its north end it was made of wattle and daub, and had a wood and rushes roof. It’s purpose was for a star-watchers’ shelter.
Ffraed wove out of what was once the open end and curved sharply to head south and up the steep-ish slope. Weaving for a few yards She then looped noticeably, the breeze picked up and my rods juddered. It felt like more than the wind causing this so I went back 10 yards and retraced the path. Again the rods juddered, this time there was no gust…immediately I sensed it was a grave site….and here began a conversation.
Spectacularly watched over by the Sanctuary, it was the last resting place of a lady called Eirwen, who was a healer and herbalist. She had lived in a cottage close by with her three brothers who had passed away before her. I asked her how to spell her name but she could not read or write, so didn’t know. I asked her what era she lived in, she didn’t know that either. She had heard of the Normans and the Flemmish, but their invasion had been long ago. She knew nothing of Oliver Cromwell or that civil war. I asked her if she was well known in the area. She said she was.¹
Were you, are you, religious? She said no. It didn’t feel like she had any bitterness towards religion it was more like she didn’t care for it, didn’t want anything to do with it. She loved nature and helping people. Eirwen was buried outside the churchyard when she passed away. I asked her if this saddened her. It didn’t. ..just the way things were she said…and she loved being here. Her name means ‘white snow’.
Before I departed she told me that she had been expecting me. I asked her if she knows of the goddess, Ffraed. She does, very well, and she said that Ffraed is very special to her.
I told her that I would return one day soon. She was happy to hear that. Such a beautiful soul.
I said goodbye for now and continued up the hill with Y Ddraig to the field wall, and traced along it till the Dragon slipped through and into the fairy hill. Here I stood and asked for leave to enter. ‘Not at this time’, was the clear response. I respected that.
Already knowing where Y Ddraig exited this place I made my way down the slope and back on to the track. As I was passing the point where I’d left Ffraed crossing the wall into the fairy hill, underneath a hawthorn tree, the figure of a tall, slim, silvery-white haired woman shimmered briefly, manifested quickly, and then vanished. She was dressed in a red cape or shawl and a long yellow dress, that had a pattern on it…and she was waving farewell to me. It was Eirwen.
Walking back to my car after this uplifting spirited meeting with Eirwen I felt ecstatic. Thoughts drifted through my mind, some of them to the Tylwyth Teg, the Welsh fairies that I’ve mentioned before on this site and elsewhere. Her dress, her look, was just as they are often described. Yet, she had lived as a human. Could it be that the Tylwyth Teg are what some humans become when they pass over, or perhaps she was a Tylwyth Teg experiencing being human? I hope to be able to have answers one day soon.
1: Eirwen had passed away naturally.
17th July 2016
Addendum 19th July 2017:
I have just come across, without looking for it, a fascinating and informative work on the Tylwyth Teg. It is basically a collection of witness statements and folklore about them. Much of it is relevant to my meeting with Eirwen and the prior discovery of the straight line:
The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries: Welsh fairies
….and in the same book, how the fairy folk are sometimes re-born as humans:
The Celtic Doctrine of Re-Birth
Addendum 17th November 2017:
Some odd similarities:
An elderly lady, a weaver and a healer of people and animals, was executed for witchcraft. Her name, Gwen, meaning ‘white’ and the daughter of a man named Ellis. Her trial was held in Llansanffraid Church – though in Denbighshire and she was hanged in Denbigh town square. Was it snowing?