Yew What?

 Tis a devil of a thing,
 a death prediction brings. 
 The church, graveyard and mythic tree,
 sound warnings each year on hallowe’en.
Deep within roots of old Llangernwy Yew,
 Angelystor is waiting to call out to you.
 Fortune teller, to spirits of the dying,
 this ‘recording angel’ will be scrying. 
From ancient Druids, she is sent,
 foretelling the date of your life’s end. 
 Whoever hears their name called there, 
 is sure to die within the next year… 
 Victoria Healing ~ 30.10.2020.
Image: Llangernyw Yew Tree 


From Welsh mythology, each year on Halloween the spirit is said to appear in the church and solemnly announces, in Welsh, the names of those parish members who will die within the year.


The Oldest tree in Wales


The Church at Llangernyw is itself centuries old, but the site it stands on was sacred thousands of years before it was built. 


The meaning of Yew is a rebirth, which is quite fitting for the last traditional tree of the Ogham Alphabet. It means the completion of a cycle marking the ending of one phase and the beginning of the next.  


Nos Galan Gaeaf  Hapus 

‘Round about the churchyard go,
Counter clockwise shall we flow,
Thrice around to wake the dead,
By the Devil’s hand we shall be led’
Walking around a churchyard three times on Nos Galan Gaeaf (Halloween) is a custom found throughout Wales.
Many regions seem to have a variation of this peculiar custom.
In my region, it was said that upon walking around the churchyard three times (counter clockwise) you would see a “bwgan” – a ghoul or monstrous creature.
Mhara Starling – The Welsh Witch

Monster Mash

 Monsters, ghosts and magic spells,
 end of summer harvest for celts. 
 Bidding goodbye to their dear departed,
 annual rituals as bonfires were started.
Honouring the eve of Celtic new year,
 counting the farm animals and herds.
 Meals of ‘MASH’ mixed of nine root veg,
 farewelling, both the living and dead. 
Welsh legends tell of all Hallows eve,
 a tailless beast ran ‘round village green.
 Eerie man, under hide of black *sow,
 who scared all the local children home. 
Turnips carved and filled with flame,
 to guide and protect all home again.
 Today, it’s pumpkins, candy and ghosts,
 old ways are spent, for good Celtic folks.
Merry they met, Merry they parted,
 Calan Gaeaf ‘ their new winter started. 
 Victoria Healing ~ 31.10.2020

Happy Hallowe’en! or should I say, Nos Galan Gaeaf hapus!

“For any festival to have survived as long as Halloween, it has to be dynamic and move with the times. In that respect you can see the zombies of today as serving precisely the same purpose of Hwch Ddu in Calan Gaeaf. The prevailing motivation is overcoming death and separation as one community.” 

Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta. The Stocky Black Sow. Tailless black sow. To scare children.

Stwpm naw rowy. Mash. Made from nine root vegetables, milk and butter.

Nos Cal an Gaeaf. Hallows eve. End of summer. Harvest festival. 

Witch, is Which?

 “Quiet back there” Old Magw shouted’
 as each child in class, she counted.
 A scary teacher at the ironworks school,
 her behaviour was said to be most cruel.
The rumours had spread pretty quick;
 that Miss Magw was really an old witch.
 Although it’s doubtful and I do suspect,
 she’d taught her kids to have respect. 
 Victoria Healing ~ 30.10.2020

The most feared Clydach Gorge Witch was said to be that of Old Magw.

They’re Baaack

 There was a brooding quality in the air,
 a watchfulness, despite, no-one being there.
 It happened in the early hours of morning,
 devilish eyes, demonic lips, all scorning.
 There was no getting away from it,
 or was she starting to imagine things?
 As she emerged onto the landing, 
 she saw a ‘thing’ beyond understanding. 
 A black humanoid shape began to levitate, 
 as her cold shivers, shattered into shakes.
 Darting her eyes, nervously all around,
 towards loud crashes of thudding sounds.
 Electric lights all began a flickering, 
 she’d been sure, she’d heard sniggering.
 Who was there, creeping up from behind?
 as into its shadow, she became entwined. 

 It wasn’t just the sounds, it was the feeling,
 a nameless dread, a fiendish fearing.  
 Unseen hands, tugged and pulled at her hair,
 it had all become too horrific for her to bare.
Shrieks and moans, echoed all around,
 gruesome, grim and petrifying sounds. 
 Moments later, she’d felt her bed shake,
 in panic, she’d jolted herself violently awake. 
 Had this only been a nightmare in her head? 
 or The BWGAN, coming back from the dead? 
I’m right here’ the poltergeist had said; 
 ‘You’ll find me, hiding under your bed’ 
 Victoria Healing ~ 29.10.2020

Bwgan ~ pronounced Boogan

Welsh poltergeist ghost similar to Bogeyman

It’s all part of the secret paranormal history of Neath and Port Talbot.

Every Witch Way

 Expect the unexpected,
 on this eve of halloween,
 It’s a once in a blue moon,
 which you'll rarely ever see. 
 Beware a knock at your door,
 according to old Welsh folklore.
 Steeped in fear and mystery,
 are these cunning folk of history.
 In the witching hours of night,
 soothsayers take flight. 
 Is it all a coincidence,
 this Welsh costume influence?
 Black shawls, black pointy hat,
 I’ve often wondered about that.
 Cursed be those who don’t believe,
 of charms to heal or evoke disease. 
Trick or treat?
 what do you believe?
 Witcher, blessings be, 
 all who invite a mage in for a cup of tea. 
Victoria Healing ~ 28.10.2020

*WITCH (Welsh ~ Gwiddonod/Gwrach)the word really meant the local healer, someone who made poultices and medicines. Many viewed witches as being the modern inheritors of old Druid wisdom.

BlUE MOON. Oct. 31, 2020,  will be the first full moon on Halloween in 76 years.

HALLOWEEN Nos Galan Gaeaf is the time when the veil is the thinnest between the living and the dead. 

Image used for entertainment purposes.
Many witch-trials revolved around an elderly woman, and it seems that this rather idiosyncratic style of dress became associated with the stereotypical image of the 'Witch' over time.
(Museum of Witchcraft and Magic)    
Striking similarities. 
There has been much debate on the origins of the top image. The following photo is an original, taken in Aberystwyth, showing Welsh ladies drinking tea. 
(Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce.jpeg)  

She’s Hungry Again


Flapping her giant leathery wings,
woe betide, a death omen she brings. 
Lurking, and watching from shadows,
especially late at night, on eve of hallows.

Beware skies alight, in shine of full moon,
run quickly from old shapeshifter of doom.
If she comes rapping at your window pane,
don’t you dare look, she’s come out again. 

Not many have lived to tell their tale,
they’ve bled to death, drained and pale.
GWYRACH Y RHIBYN, gruesome apparition,
from the legends of old Welsh superstitions. 

Grotesque, evil and ugly fiend that she is,
vampiric goblin, sneaks in murky mists. 
Her long black tongue, dribbles in blood, 
a bag of bones, veiled under black hood.

The Welsh being an otherworldly people,
believe in curses, omens, good and evil. 
Demons, damning and maledictions, 
diabolic tale telling, to spook children.

Even now, she waits for her taste of blood,
she’s hungry again and up to no good. 
In search of her next, bloody meal,
if it’s you, heed the gnawing you’ll feel.

Hideous hag creature, harbinger of death,
take care on Hallows eve; should you be next. 
Victoria Healing ~ 26.10.2020

Gwrach-y-Rhibyn ~ pronounced Goorahch uh Rheebin. 

“Hag of the Mist’

The Gwrach y Rhibyn Is a monstrous Welsh spirit in the shape of a hideously ugly woman..She approaches the window of the person about to die by night and calls their name, or travels invisibly beside them and utters her cry when they approach a stream or crossroads.

Waking the Dead

People had been knocking at the door,
all of the dear people she’d known before. 
“Do come in, I’m glad that you’ve called”
a sorrowful voice, floated down the hall.

“Would you like a slice of *funeral cake, 
a cup of tea, or perhaps a drop of ale”? 
Flowers proffered with words of concern,  
her whole world had now been upturned. 

Windows were opened, curtains closed.
sweet scents filled the air, candles glowed.
The wake (gwyinos) had been held last night, 
eating and drinking, til today, morning light. 

Now laid out in her best Sunday dress,
ready to receive her mournful guests.
Mirrors had been turned towards walls,
it’s pointless to look at herself, after all.

It was 11am when the ‘corpse bell’ rang,
preparations for her next journey began.
Black gloves worn, as respectful of day,
as beloved ones, gently carried her away. 

At Church, prayers and psalms were sang,
a silver coin, given to the gravedigger man. 
Before they covered her body over, in coffin,
sprigs of rosemary, had softly been dropped in. 

Her physical death had not been the end,
eternal life, had now become her best friend. 
In the olde traditional Welsh funeral style, 
this is how ancient burial rites were applied.
Victoria Healing ~ 24.10.2020 

The Wake:

is called Gwylnos and happens the night before the burial takes place.

Funeral Cake

Traditional Recipe

Corpse Bell

In Aberystwyth During the 1800s, if a burial was due to take place, it was customary for a man to walk around the town ringing a Corpse Bell. He would walk along and, every dozen steps he would stop and ring out one solemn stroke on his bell. (In the 21st century, the corpse bells are now known as the funeral toll)

This corpse bell, as it was known, would be carried in front of the body, as it was carried to its final resting place, to protect the soul of the dead person from Satan. 

Dead Ringer


She’d heard the bell, it had tolled before,
sadly the chimes were echoing once more
Hairs prickled at the back of her neck,
‘No’ she’d screamed, ‘I’m not ready yet’

*’The Death Knell’ rang, to give the sign,
to mark the end, of another soul’s life.
Her face was white, her jaw was rigid,
no longer was she, in lands of the living. 

She’d heard the bedroom door open, 
and a rush of louder voices spoken.
The house had become quietly abuzz, 
with family and people, that she loved.  

Dear ones, gently lifting her into casket,
wrapping her in lace shrouding blanket.
A dishful of salt, was placed on her chest,
as neighbours helped, ceremonial requests.

‘The Death Knell’ had given the warning, 
funeral blessings to be held in the morning. 
Victoria Healing ~ 23.10.2020.

When the bell begins to toll,
Lord, have mercy on the soul.’
(The Venerable Bede, 672-735)


*A Death knell is the ringing of a church bell immediately after a death to announce it. Historically it was the second of three bells rung around death, the first being the passing bell to warn of impending death, and the last was the lych bell or corpse bell, which survives today as the funeral toll.

How The Welsh Bury Their Dead:


Welsh Lady Bell

Good Mourning


She liked darkness against candle flame,
as her loved ones mourned her remains;
she’d felt frustrated, powerless and angry,
wondering if she’d lost her mind to insanity. 

In her world now, everyone was deaf,
she wondered what choices she had left.
Some deeds had been good, others bad,
how could she right the wrongs, of past?

Her eyes closed, no longer responsive,
floating, summoning up her subconscious. 
“Don’t burden your spirit” he’d said,
“Hush now, rest your tired, sleepy head” 

For over an hour he’d sat by her side,
listening to her woes and tearful cries. 
Where have I gone wrong? she’d asked,
as her ‘SIN EATER’ was put to great task.

She’d found it kind of weird and strange, 
that he was happy to take all of the blame.
In the simplicity of that small, caring act,
she’d smiled, lay her head down and relaxed. 

They’d paid him sixpence and a loaf of bread;
an expert, who took on the sins of the dead.
as into the arms of the Angels, she was sent.
Victoria Healing ~ 22.10.2020 


When a loved one died in parts of England, Scotland, or Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries, the family grieved, placed bread on the chest of the deceased, and called for a man to sit in front of the body. The family of the deceased watched as this man, the local professional sin eater, absorbed the sins of the departed’s soul. Dying in a state of sin meant the corpse walked after death 

Their origins lie in the beginnings of Christianity.

When a member of a very poor family died, the survivors often couldn’t afford to pay the fee of a sin-eater. In this case, they would sometimes lay a piece of bread on the dead body, say some prayers over it, then carry the bread into the street and give it to a beggar without telling him that it had been on top of a corpse. By using this trick, they could get the sins removed from the body of their loved one for free. 

Hide and Shriek


In the dull, dreary darkness, of early moon,
a flickering fire, danced about her room.
Squinting her eyes, at the curious light,
as it scorched dark shadows, into night. 

As she was drawn into its bright flames,
a mystic phenomena, not so easily explained.
Following the hot apparition, she was led,
taken to a burial place meant for the dead. 

The flame fluttered, among the graves,
where memorial headstones were placed. 
“Would anyone believe this” she sighed.
attracted by this phantom of fiery light. 

As eerie and grim, as any tale to be told,
from Welsh myths and legends of old.
The ‘CORPSE CANDLE’ that she had seen,
trailed to where funeral paths might be. 

Their messages sent to tell her spirit soul,
when you perish, this is where you’ll go.
Hazy, white mists, flitted and swirled;
revealing her resting place into next world.  

Their predictions here, are all clear to see;
if you run into a 'Corpse Candle' hide and shriek.
Victoria Healing ~ 21.10.2020


The Welsh call them Canwyllau Cyrff – Corpse Candles.

They burn in a straight line. And they lead to graveyards.

A series of corpse candles hovering in the air meant that someone, perhaps in a house near the lights, or even the person witnessing them, was going to die. Some said the candles would follow the route that the funeral procession would later take along the corpse road.…/7a238820-7a42-35c4-93b1…