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ellyll


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[W, fiend, ghost, goblin, elf, other-self].

Tiny, diaphanous creature from the Welsh fairy world, the closest counterpart to the Teutonic elf from the Celtic world. The ellyll is smaller than the tylwyth teg, the better-known Welsh fairies. His usual food is the toadstool or ‘fairy butter’, a fungoid substance found in limestone crevices and under the roots of rotten trees. Queen Mab was the ruler of the ellyllon.

An ellyll could wield magic, as demonstrated in the story of Rowli Pugh collected near Cardiff by Wirt Sikes in the mid-19th century. Rowli Pugh is a poor farmer who feels himself cursed by misfortune. Other farmers flourish while his crops fail, his cattle grow thin. Even his wife Catti is sickly. An ellyll offers to help him, if only he will leave a candle burning in the night and will have his wife sweep the fire clean. They comply, and the ellyllon make good their promise. Each night, as Rowli and Catti go to bed, they hear the ellyllon at their merry work. Each morning all the household is in good order. This continues for three years. Crops burgeon, and cattle grow fat. Rowli and Catti also become healthier and stronger. But one night Catti becomes curious to see the ellyllon at their high-spirited work. She tiptoes downstairs to the kitchen to see the merry bustling. The infectious good humour of the works sets her to laughing, blowing out the candle. The ellyllon depart quickly, never to return. But Rowli and Catti retain their health and prosperity with hard work.

Usually classed as a solitary fairy.

See Wirt Sikes, British Goblins (London, 1880), 13–17.

Subjects: Religion.


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