The cyhyraeth (Welsh pronunciation: [kəˈhəreθ]), also spelled as cyheuraeth (probably from the noun cyhyr "muscle, tendon; flesh" + the termination -aeth; meaning "skeleton, a thing of mere flesh and bone"; "spectre", "death-portent", "wraith"), is a ghostly spirit in Welsh mythology, a disembodied moaning voice that sounds before a person's death.
Legends associate the cyhyraeth with the area around the river Tywi in eastern Dyfed, as well as the coast of Glamorganshire. The noise is said to be "doleful and disagreeable", like the groans and sighs of someone deathly ill, and to sound three times (growing weaker and fainter each time) as a threefold warning before the person expires. Along the Glamorganshire coast, the cyhyraeth is said to be heard before a shipwreck, accompanied by a corpse-light.
Like the Irish banshee and the Scottish Cailleach, to which the cyhyraeth and the Gwrach y Rhibyn (see below) are closely related, the cyhyraeth also sounds for Welsh natives living – and dying – far from home.
Gwrach y Rhibyn
The legend of the cyhyraeth is sometimes conflated with tales of the Gwrach y Rhibyn (pronounced [ˈɡurɑːx ə ˈhribɨn]), a monstrous Welsh spirit in the shape of a hideously ugly woman – a Welsh saying, to describe a woman without good looks, goes, "Y mae mor salw â Gwrach y Rhibyn" (she is as ugly as the Gwrach y Rhibyn) – with a harpy-like appearance: unkempt hair and wizened, withered arms with leathery wings, long black teeth and pale corpse-like features. 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, and is sometimes depicted as washing her hands there. Most often the Gwrach y Rhibyn will wail and shriek "Fy ngŵr, fy ngŵr!" (My husband! My husband!) or "Fy mhlentyn, fy mhlentyn bach!" (My child! My little child!), though sometimes she will assume a male's voice and cry "Fy ngwraig! Fy ngwraig!" (My wife! My wife!).
Some speculation has been asserted that this apparition may have once been a water deity, or an aspect of the Welsh goddess Dôn. She is also the wife of Afagddu, the despised son of Ceridwen and Tegid Foel, in some retellings of the Taliesin myth.
- Sikes, Wirt. British Goblins: Welsh Folk-lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions. (2nd edition) London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1880.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Mabon ap Modron — Arthur s court at Celliwig, 1881 Mabon ap Modron is a prominent figure from Welsh literature and mythology, the son of Modron and a member of Arthur s warband. Both he and his mother were likely deities in origin, descending from a divine… … Wikipedia
Magnus Maximus — Maxen redirects here. For other uses, see Maxen (disambiguation). Magnus Maximus Emperor of the Western Roman Empire … Wikipedia
Manawydan — fab Llŷr is a figure of Welsh mythology, the son of Llŷr and the brother of Brân the Blessed and Brânwen. The first element in his name is cognate with the stem of the name of the Irish sea god Manannán mac Lir, and likely originated from the… … Wikipedia
Math fab Mathonwy — In Welsh mythology, Math fab Mathonwy, also called Math ap Mathonwy (Math, son of Mathonwy) was a king of Gwynedd who needed to rest his feet in the lap of a virgin unless he was at war, or he would die. The story of Math is the fourth book of… … Wikipedia
Creiddylad — is a figure from Welsh mythology known from the early medieval Welsh Arthurian tale of Culhwch ac Olwen, one of the tales of the Mabinogion. She is the daughter of Lludd Llaw Eraint. It is over her that Gwythyr ap Greidawl and Gwyn ap Nudd… … Wikipedia
Modron — For the creature from Dungeons Dragons, see Modron (Dungeons Dragons). In Welsh mythology, Modron ( divine mother ) was a daughter of Afallach, derived from the Gaulish goddess Matrona. She may have been the prototype of Morgan le Fay from… … Wikipedia
Nisien — is a figure in Welsh mythology, the son of Penarddun and Euroswydd and twin brother of Efnisien. He appears in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, which names Bran the Blessed, Branwen, and Manawydan as his half siblings. Nisien, also Nissyen, was … Wikipedia
Matholwch — Matholwch, King of Ireland, is a character in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, the tale of Branwen ferch Llŷr. The story opens with Bran, King of Britain, sitting on a rock by the sea at Harlech and seeing the vessels of Matholwch approaching.… … Wikipedia
Ceridwen — by Christopher Williams (1910) In Welsh medieval legend, Ceridwen ( / … Wikipedia
Culhwch — (Welsh pronunciation: [kʉlˈhuːχ], with the final consonant of Scottish loch ), in Welsh mythology, is the son of Cilydd son of Celyddon and Goleuddydd, a cousin of Arthur and the protagonist of the story Culhwch and Olwen (the earliest of… … Wikipedia