Mythical Monday: The Benedith Y Mamau by Mae Clair

Mention the word Faerie or Fae and it’s easy to conjure the image of an ethereal creature gifted with exquisite beauty and grace. But not all faeries are blessed with delicate, angelic features – at least not those of half-blood.

bigstock-Water-Goblin-1564516Benedith Y Mamau, prevalent mostly in Southern Wales, are believed to be the offspring of faeries and goblins. They are stunted, vile-looking creatures who resent attractiveness in any form, and delight in stealing human children. When taking a child they will usually leave a changeling in its place, one of their own misshapen offspring known as a Crimbil. While true faeries only steal infants, Benedith will take any small child, even those old enough to walk and talk.

Although grotesque in appearance and spitefully envious of beauty, Benedith nonetheless treat their captives well. The human child is taught music and song. Later, if returned to their family, the child will remember nothing of their time in captivity other than a lingering sense of sweet music.

The name Benedith Y Mamau is translated from Welsh as “the mother’s blessing.” Some believed that by giving these abhorrent faeries a pleasing name, they would be less inclined to wreak havoc. They were prone to steal cattle, kill farm animals, smash tools and generally make life miserable for any human in their vicinity. Clannish, they constructed their homes in underground warrens and took human children in order to improve their stock through the infusion of mortal blood — or so some believed. Mothers took extreme caution with their newborns and children, fearful they would be snatched away and replaced with a Crimbil.

Sometimes, through the use of spells and magic, parents were able to get their child back, but usually at extreme cost to the poor Crimbil abandoned by the Benedith Y Mamau. I can’t help feeling sorry for that malformed, unwanted child. What about you? Don’t you think legends and superstitions are often cruel and dark…or perhaps darkly cruel?

17 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: The Benedith Y Mamau by Mae Clair

  1. I agree Mae! Having two young ones myself at the moment, I find it quite difficult to read and watch things about children. Never bothered me much before I had them – but now, if I see or read anything to do with children who struggle, who are physically or mentally challenged in some way, suffering from sickness – all this – it wrenches at my heart!


    • That’s definitely understandable. Cd, and it seems that children often played a key role in many old tales whether directly of indirectly. Give your little ones a hug for me! 🙂


  2. This one is particular creepy. It’s one of those myths that I wish I could be a fly on the wall while women are churning butter or spinning wool. I wonder what they say about the Benedith, whether the fear was real and gripping or just something to chat about when the gossip isn’t particularly interesting.


  3. Yes indeed, and perhaps a way to explain the birth of a less than perfect child, which is, in itself, sad, dark and cruel… The poor kid was either avoided, feared or picked on… Great post Mae! I so enjoy them!


    • Always happy to hear you enjoy my Mythical Monday posts, Debbie! 😀 I also agree with you about those poor imperfect children. I remember stumbling over a reference to autism when researching a previous post I did on changelings. A lot of references indicated changeling folklore could have sprang from children with autism. As you said…sad, dark and cruel.


  4. Isn’t it funny how as children, faeries/fairies seemed like beautiful, happy folk to us, yet in the movie Labyrinth they’re vicious little things that bite and in True Blood they kidnap their human cousins, and The Mortal Instruments they are deadly tricksters.
    Superstitions and legends are often cruel, very like nursery rhymes in that way.


  5. You know what fascinates me the most about all these legends, Mae? I’m fascinated with the creativity and dark corners of the mind where most of these superstitions were born. I’m amazed that there seems to be a never-ending source. Thanks so much for finding these and sharing.


    • It is astounding when you think about the minds and cultures that created these legends, isn’t it? So glad you continue to enjoy my mythical posts, Stanalei. Thanks for visiting with me 😀


  6. He’s an interesting and vile creature, eh? Reminds me of goblin-blooded Knob in Guardian of the Deep. I love the image of women sitting around shelling peas (well, when I was a child it was shelling peas) and listening to the tales of the crones. Do you remember the scene in The Snow Queen where the old woman writes a message to her sister some distance away on a fish? Love that scene. Your posts are always wonderful.


    • Hi, Flossie. I’m always delighted when you drop by 😀 You’ve got me on that reference to the Snow Queen. I admit that’s a new one on me, but it sounds so cool. I love myth and the idea of women sitting around sharing tales while shelling peas (when I was a kid, it was peeling potatoes, LOL). Circumstances like those just seem to invite sharing tales. I’m glad you’re enjoying mine!


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