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?