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Magic from the Celtic Otherworld

The Mabinogion - the medieval tales of Welsh mythology - are full of mystery, magic, beautiful ladies and daring deeds. These tales are rooted in the land, and several locations across Wales are named and can be identified today. Important characters include Pwyll, prince of Dyfed and his family.

A Ceredigion saying claims:
"Long is the day and long the night, and long is the wait for Arawn, King of the Otherworld."

Magic Otherworld Image

Magic from the Celtic Otherworld

Pwyll travelled to Annwfn, the Celtic otherworld, trading places for a year with its king, Arawn, in recompense for his hounds chasing a stag that Arawn was hunting. The hunt was said to have taken place near the entry to the otherworld at Glyn Cuch, a deep wooded valley which is a tributary of the river Teifi near Cenarth, on the border between the present-day counties of Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. 

Sometime later Pwyll’s son and heir, Pryderi, was given a herd of magical pigs by Arawn. Pwyll held court at Rhuddlan Teifi, which is located in the Teifi Valley between Lampeter and Llandysul. On a visit to Pryderi’s court, the magician Gwydion and warriors from the north steal the pigs, and are chased across Wales until Pryderi finally catches up with them, but is killed in battle.

Look out for place names including the word ‘moch’ (pigs), which according to the legends were the places where they rested on their journey to the north. One of these is Nant y Moch in the Cambrian Mountains.