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"Awen yn codi o'r cudd ac yn cydio'r cwbl"
- Waldo Williams
(Awen arising from hiding and everything binding)

The Physicians of Myddfai

Theirs was ancestral knowledge
passed on through generations
of the faery kin, but they knew,
each one, the herbs that grew
in the soil of their land,
their qualities and how to blend
with mortar and pestle, potions,
ointments, salves and aromatics
to lift the spirits of the sick,
bring them back to health again.
Knowledge they had, but then
something deeper: a touch, an intuition
about leaves, seeds, roots and berries,
how to handle and apply them;
a gift from their ancestral mother
who came and went between
our world and beneath the waters
of the lake in the mortar of rock
and the layered peat seething
a philtre to charm the quickening rivers.

The legend of the man who married an otherworld wife from beneath the lake known as Llyn y Fan Fach can be read in the version related by John Rhŷs HERE. Although she returned to her own world she left a heritage of herbal knowledge and medical skill to her children and their descendants who were known as The Physicians of Myddfai.

Llyn y Fan Fach

The lake is surrounded by blanket peat and rocky outcrops. A nearby lake known as Llyn y Fan Fawr is the source of the River Tawe, and many other rivers have their source streams in this area, some of them falling to lower ground in the area above Cwm Nedd known as Waterfall Country.  Also nearby is a stone circle known as Cerrig Duon, a standing stone known as Maen Mawr, and the remnants of an avenue of stones that is presumed to have run between them. The site is described as a ‘ritual complex’ by archaeologists✳︎. The open landscape of this part of the Brecon Beacons has an ageless feel to it. Sitting by the lake watching the glitter of sunlight on its rippling surface it is easy to envisage another world beneath it, something deeper beneath the peat which has been laid down over millennia across these hills.

Maen Mawr



  1. Oddly I haven't felt called to this area before but, since hearing about Y Gwter Las and Gwter Goch running into Llyn y Fan Fach and now the connections between Llyn y Fan Fawr and the Tawe and Cwm Nedd I feel called to explore. Now I have a job and an income maybe... when we get back to 'normal'... we could arrange to visit some of these places together?

    1. I note that the pic I took of the lake is dated 2009, so that was when I was last there and it certainly would be nice to visit again, though it's a bit further than I like to drive these days.

      I'm not sure about Gwter Las signifying 'blue' by the way. I think it's much more likely to mean 'green' and 'glas' can also, more rarely mean 'silvery-grey'. The differentiation of 'gwyrddlas' into separate colours is often difficult where the context doesn't make it clear.


What do you think?