Celticsprite’s Blog


Faerie Lore: Fairy Gifts
June 30, 2009, 5:48 pm
Filed under: Faerie Lore, Fairy Gifts
Posted from the book “The Welsh Fairy Book” by W. Jenkyn Thomas (1908) (Obtain this full work and many more backups by clicking here!) Illustration by Willy Pogány New York, F. A. Stokes[1908]

The Fairy Harp

A COMPANY of fairies who lived in the recesses of Cader Idris were in the habit of going about from cottage to cottage in that part of the country to test the dispositions of the cottagers. Those who gave the fairies an ungracious welcome were subject to bad luck during the rest of their lives; but those who were good to the little folk who visited them in disguise received substantial favours from them.
Old Morgan ap Rhys was sitting one night by himself in his own chimney corner, solacing his loneliness with his pipe and some Llangollen ale. The generous liquor made Morgan very light-hearted, and he began to sing–at least he was under the impression that he was singing. His voice, however, was anything but sweet, and a bard whom he had offended–it is a very dangerous thing to fall foul of the bards in Wales, because they often have such bitter tongues–had likened his singing to the lowing of an old cow or the yelping of a blind dog which has lost its way to the cowyard. His singing, however, gave Morgan himself much satisfaction, and this particular evening he was especially pleased with the harmony he was producing. The only thing which marred his sense of contentment was the absence of an audience. Just as he was coming to the climax of his song, he heard a knock at the door. Delighted with the thought that there was someone to listen to him, Morgan sang with all the fervour he was capable of, and his top note was, in his opinion, a thing of beauty and a joy for ever. When he had quite finished, he again heard a knock at the door, and shouted out, “What is the door for but to come in by? Come in, whoever you are.” Morgan’s manners, you will see, were not very polished.
The door opened and in came three travellers, travel-stained and weary-looking. Now these were fairies from Cader Idris disguised in this manner to see how Morgan treated strangers, but he never suspected they were other than they appeared. “Good sir,” said one of the travellers, “we are worn and tired, but all we seek is a bite of food to put in our wallets, and then we will go on our way.”
“Brensiach,” said Morgan, “is that all you want? Welt, there, look you, is the loaf and the cheese, and the knife lies by them, and you cut what you like. Eat your heartiest and fill your wallets, for never shall it be said that Morgan ap Rhys denied bread and cheese to strangers that came into his house.” The travellers proceeded to help themselves, and Morgan, determined not to fail in hospitality, sang to them while they ate, moistening his throat occasionally with Llangollen ale when it became dry.
The fairy travellers, after they had regaled themselves sufficiently, got up to go and said, “Good sir, we thank you for our entertainment. Since you have been so generous we will show that we are grateful. It is in our power to grant you any one wish you may have: tell us what that wish may be.”
“Well, indeed,” said Morgan, “the wish of my heart is to have a harp that will play under my fingers, no matter how ill I strike it: a harp that will play lively tunes, look you–no melancholy music for me. But surely it’s making fun of me you are.”
But that was not the case: he had hardly finished speaking when, to his astonishment, there on the hearth before him stood a splendid harp. He looked round and found his guests had vanished. “That’s the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen in my life,” said Morgan, “they must have been fairies,” and he was so flabbergasted that he felt constrained to drink some more ale. This allayed to some extent his bewilderment, and he proceeded to try the instrument he had been so mysteriously presented with. As soon as his fingers touched the strings, the harp began to play a mad and capering tune. Just then there was a sound of footsteps, and in came his wife with some friends. No sooner did they hear the strains of the harp than they began dancing, and as long as Morgan’s fingers were on the strings, they kept footing it like mad creatures.
The news that Morgan had come into possession of a harp with some mysterious power spread like wildfire over the whole country, and many were the visitors who came to see him and it. Every time he played it everyone felt irresistibly impelled to dance, and could not leave off until Morgan stopped. Even lame people capered away, and a one legged man who visited him danced as merrily as any biped.
One day, among the company who had come to see if the stories about the harp were true, was the bard who had made such unpleasant remarks about Morgan’s singing. Morgan determined to pay him out, and instead of stopping as usual after the dance had been going on for a few minutes, he kept on playing. He played on and on until the dancers were exhausted and shouted to him to stop. But Morgan was finding the scene much too amusing to want to stop. He laughed until his sides ached and the tears rolled down his cheeks at the antics of his visitors, and especially at those of the bard. The longer he played the madder became the dance: the dancers spun round and round, wildly knocking over the furniture, and some of them bounded up against the roof of the cottage till their heads cracked again. Morgan did not stop until the bard had broken his legs and the rest had been jolted almost to pieces. By that time his revenge was satisfied, and his sides and jaws were so tired with laughing that he had to take his fingers away from the strings.
But this was the last time he was to have the chance of venting his spite on his enemies. By next morning the harp had disappeared, and was never seen again. The fairies, evidently displeased with the evil use to which their gift had been put, must have taken it away in the night. And this is a warning to all who abuse the gifts of the fairies.


Faerie Lore: Fairy Gifts
June 30, 2009, 5:48 pm
Filed under: Faerie Lore, Fairy Gifts
Posted from the book “The Welsh Fairy Book” by W. Jenkyn Thomas (1908) (Obtain this full work and many more backups by clicking here!) Illustration by Willy Pogány New York, F. A. Stokes[1908]

The Fairy Harp

A COMPANY of fairies who lived in the recesses of Cader Idris were in the habit of going about from cottage to cottage in that part of the country to test the dispositions of the cottagers. Those who gave the fairies an ungracious welcome were subject to bad luck during the rest of their lives; but those who were good to the little folk who visited them in disguise received substantial favours from them.
Old Morgan ap Rhys was sitting one night by himself in his own chimney corner, solacing his loneliness with his pipe and some Llangollen ale. The generous liquor made Morgan very light-hearted, and he began to sing–at least he was under the impression that he was singing. His voice, however, was anything but sweet, and a bard whom he had offended–it is a very dangerous thing to fall foul of the bards in Wales, because they often have such bitter tongues–had likened his singing to the lowing of an old cow or the yelping of a blind dog which has lost its way to the cowyard. His singing, however, gave Morgan himself much satisfaction, and this particular evening he was especially pleased with the harmony he was producing. The only thing which marred his sense of contentment was the absence of an audience. Just as he was coming to the climax of his song, he heard a knock at the door. Delighted with the thought that there was someone to listen to him, Morgan sang with all the fervour he was capable of, and his top note was, in his opinion, a thing of beauty and a joy for ever. When he had quite finished, he again heard a knock at the door, and shouted out, “What is the door for but to come in by? Come in, whoever you are.” Morgan’s manners, you will see, were not very polished.
The door opened and in came three travellers, travel-stained and weary-looking. Now these were fairies from Cader Idris disguised in this manner to see how Morgan treated strangers, but he never suspected they were other than they appeared. “Good sir,” said one of the travellers, “we are worn and tired, but all we seek is a bite of food to put in our wallets, and then we will go on our way.”
“Brensiach,” said Morgan, “is that all you want? Welt, there, look you, is the loaf and the cheese, and the knife lies by them, and you cut what you like. Eat your heartiest and fill your wallets, for never shall it be said that Morgan ap Rhys denied bread and cheese to strangers that came into his house.” The travellers proceeded to help themselves, and Morgan, determined not to fail in hospitality, sang to them while they ate, moistening his throat occasionally with Llangollen ale when it became dry.
The fairy travellers, after they had regaled themselves sufficiently, got up to go and said, “Good sir, we thank you for our entertainment. Since you have been so generous we will show that we are grateful. It is in our power to grant you any one wish you may have: tell us what that wish may be.”
“Well, indeed,” said Morgan, “the wish of my heart is to have a harp that will play under my fingers, no matter how ill I strike it: a harp that will play lively tunes, look you–no melancholy music for me. But surely it’s making fun of me you are.”
But that was not the case: he had hardly finished speaking when, to his astonishment, there on the hearth before him stood a splendid harp. He looked round and found his guests had vanished. “That’s the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen in my life,” said Morgan, “they must have been fairies,” and he was so flabbergasted that he felt constrained to drink some more ale. This allayed to some extent his bewilderment, and he proceeded to try the instrument he had been so mysteriously presented with. As soon as his fingers touched the strings, the harp began to play a mad and capering tune. Just then there was a sound of footsteps, and in came his wife with some friends. No sooner did they hear the strains of the harp than they began dancing, and as long as Morgan’s fingers were on the strings, they kept footing it like mad creatures.
The news that Morgan had come into possession of a harp with some mysterious power spread like wildfire over the whole country, and many were the visitors who came to see him and it. Every time he played it everyone felt irresistibly impelled to dance, and could not leave off until Morgan stopped. Even lame people capered away, and a one legged man who visited him danced as merrily as any biped.
One day, among the company who had come to see if the stories about the harp were true, was the bard who had made such unpleasant remarks about Morgan’s singing. Morgan determined to pay him out, and instead of stopping as usual after the dance had been going on for a few minutes, he kept on playing. He played on and on until the dancers were exhausted and shouted to him to stop. But Morgan was finding the scene much too amusing to want to stop. He laughed until his sides ached and the tears rolled down his cheeks at the antics of his visitors, and especially at those of the bard. The longer he played the madder became the dance: the dancers spun round and round, wildly knocking over the furniture, and some of them bounded up against the roof of the cottage till their heads cracked again. Morgan did not stop until the bard had broken his legs and the rest had been jolted almost to pieces. By that time his revenge was satisfied, and his sides and jaws were so tired with laughing that he had to take his fingers away from the strings.
But this was the last time he was to have the chance of venting his spite on his enemies. By next morning the harp had disappeared, and was never seen again. The fairies, evidently displeased with the evil use to which their gift had been put, must have taken it away in the night. And this is a warning to all who abuse the gifts of the fairies.


The Harp and it’s presence in Asturias- Part Two- , Spain, by Daniel García de la Cuesta
June 26, 2009, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Reviews, Surviving Folk Instruments


The Harp and it’s presence in Asturies by Daniel García del Cuesta.

The instrument has a long history throughout the world, but it not always had the same shape or number of strings. It is in the Sumerian civilization where we may find the oldest references to instruments similar in type to the harp. In Asturias, Spain, probably the first representation of such an instrument is found in the Romanesque church of Santiago Arllós, Llanera.

Another depiction of a harp, or broken-psalterium, is found in the Romanesque church of San Salvador Huentes, Villaviciosa.
Since th
e 15th century in the Cathedral of Oviedo, we find the figure of a centaur playing the harp. In the Cathedral there are also other representations of harpists.

At the church of Carbayu in Ciañu, 18th century, we see the figure of King David playing a harp.

As for the texts that refer documentations on harpists in Asturias, we have data about the existence of musicians associated with the orchestra of the Holy Cathedral Church of Oviedo. The first data of a Harpist dates from 1654 when Matilla de Arce is admitted. Between the years 1654 and 1734, about 80 years, 18 Harpists had relationship with the orchestra, plus others not listed but which are mentioned and I guess there might have existed a larger number of them.

As I quoted on the preceding post, thanks to the knowledge of the existence of an ancient harp kept in an Asturian convent in Spain, I began to investigate the presence and use of the harp in Asturian territory. All the pieces seem to be original, but little more is known about them. It is suppose to be about 200 years old.
We find more references regarding the XIX Century by the writer Armando Palacio Valdés, who recounts that he gave shelter at his home to a violinist and a Harpist. With these musicians some festivals were held in the winery next to the barrels of cider. This is not the only popular reference about the employment of the harp.
In addition to the field of symphony orchestras, around 1980, the folk harp began to be included by folk based bands like Trasgu and Beleño in Asturias, Spain, as part of the celtic folk revival.
Currently in the folk group LLiberdón, to which I belong.I also play this instrument, like also does the group LLangres.
The Galician Harpist Rodrigo Romany, or the Breton Myrdhin, participated as instructors in various courses to be organized in Gijón, Asturias, in recent years.
We might assure that 2003 was the year of the recovery of the harp in Asturies, as well as other activities. The Galician musician Xabier Gomez began to teach at Gijón in the School of Traditional Music of Quintana, thus which further strengthens the presence of the instrument. We will see ahead the future. If anyone wants to contact me to discuss something on the subject, feel free to write to this e-mail address: dagarcues@yahoo.es



The Harp and it’s presence in Asturias- Part Two- , Spain, by Daniel García de la Cuesta
June 26, 2009, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Reviews, Surviving Folk Instruments


The Harp and it’s presence in Asturies by Daniel García del Cuesta.

The instrument has a long history throughout the world, but it not always had the same shape or number of strings. It is in the Sumerian civilization where we may find the oldest references to instruments similar in type to the harp. In Asturias, Spain, probably the first representation of such an instrument is found in the Romanesque church of Santiago Arllós, Llanera.

Another depiction of a harp, or broken-psalterium, is found in the Romanesque church of San Salvador Huentes, Villaviciosa.
Since th
e 15th century in the Cathedral of Oviedo, we find the figure of a centaur playing the harp. In the Cathedral there are also other representations of harpists.

At the church of Carbayu in Ciañu, 18th century, we see the figure of King David playing a harp.

As for the texts that refer documentations on harpists in Asturias, we have data about the existence of musicians associated with the orchestra of the Holy Cathedral Church of Oviedo. The first data of a Harpist dates from 1654 when Matilla de Arce is admitted. Between the years 1654 and 1734, about 80 years, 18 Harpists had relationship with the orchestra, plus others not listed but which are mentioned and I guess there might have existed a larger number of them.

As I quoted on the preceding post, thanks to the knowledge of the existence of an ancient harp kept in an Asturian convent in Spain, I began to investigate the presence and use of the harp in Asturian territory. All the pieces seem to be original, but little more is known about them. It is suppose to be about 200 years old.
We find more references regarding the XIX Century by the writer Armando Palacio Valdés, who recounts that he gave shelter at his home to a violinist and a Harpist. With these musicians some festivals were held in the winery next to the barrels of cider. This is not the only popular reference about the employment of the harp.
In addition to the field of symphony orchestras, around 1980, the folk harp began to be included by folk based bands like Trasgu and Beleño in Asturias, Spain, as part of the celtic folk revival.
Currently in the folk group LLiberdón, to which I belong.I also play this instrument, like also does the group LLangres.
The Galician Harpist Rodrigo Romany, or the Breton Myrdhin, participated as instructors in various courses to be organized in Gijón, Asturias, in recent years.
We might assure that 2003 was the year of the recovery of the harp in Asturies, as well as other activities. The Galician musician Xabier Gomez began to teach at Gijón in the School of Traditional Music of Quintana, thus which further strengthens the presence of the instrument. We will see ahead the future. If anyone wants to contact me to discuss something on the subject, feel free to write to this e-mail address: dagarcues@yahoo.es



The Harp and it’s presence in Asturias, Spain -Part One – By Daniel García de la Cuesta
June 25, 2009, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Reviews, Surviving Folk Instruments

THE HARP AND ITS PRESENCE IN ASTURIES By Daniel García de la Cuesta

Thanks to the knowledge of the existence of an ancient harp kept in an Asturian convent,in Spain, I began to investigate the presence and use of the harp in Asturian territory.

The development of my research on this ancient harp, led me to a larger work on this type of string instruments, which finally concluded reflecting the found in the publication of a book entitled “The Harp and it’s presence in Asturias”, comprising a lot of documentation about its etymology, history, origin, diffusion, symbologies, etc.

This work was launched with several harp musical shows at several places.

Many people found it strange to find in Asturian and Galician languages the word written with “H”, however, this grammar will lead us to know and understand much of the history of this instrument.

Etymological documentation leads us to recover this script that was abandoned in some languages. The fact is that the
word reaches us from the Germanic word “Harfe” and Greek “Arpe”. In this case, took over ARPE the vocal writing of the initial rough spirit named “c”, thereby the in blown pronunciation.
In Latin and other languages, the spelling retained the H represent the sound and still remains in German: Harfe;
French: Harper; English: harp, Swedish: harpan, Dutch: and Harpen; Portuguese and Catalan: Harpa. However, the Italian or Castilian rejected this grammar.

The word harp welcomed the significance of sickle, hook or claw, and is related with the word “harpy”, which gives a name to be a mythological female famous for its claws.
This word would be developed with different spellings and initials so
we can find words with a common semantic field that refers to objects that serve to grasp and derived actions from their use, such as: Harpar, harpeo, arpaz, rapaz,harpaxofobia, harpagón, harapo, farrapiu, farpón, farpa, farraspiar, zarpa, farpazu, garfa, garfiella, garcía, garbillo, garbín, etc.
Add Image
The representation of the harp, as a female, was maintained and transmitted together the image of the winged Harpies, who were followers of believes of beings in Egyptian deities such as Isis. There are plenty of pictures that show this symbiotic relationship over time.



The Harp and it’s presence in Asturias, Spain -Part One – By Daniel García de la Cuesta
June 25, 2009, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Reviews, Surviving Folk Instruments

THE HARP AND ITS PRESENCE IN ASTURIES By Daniel García de la Cuesta

Thanks to the knowledge of the existence of an ancient harp kept in an Asturian convent,in Spain, I began to investigate the presence and use of the harp in Asturian territory.

The development of my research on this ancient harp, led me to a larger work on this type of string instruments, which finally concluded reflecting the found in the publication of a book entitled “The Harp and it’s presence in Asturias”, comprising a lot of documentation about its etymology, history, origin, diffusion, symbologies, etc.

This work was launched with several harp musical shows at several places.

Many people found it strange to find in Asturian and Galician languages the word written with “H”, however, this grammar will lead us to know and understand much of the history of this instrument.

Etymological documentation leads us to recover this script that was abandoned in some languages. The fact is that the
word reaches us from the Germanic word “Harfe” and Greek “Arpe”. In this case, took over ARPE the vocal writing of the initial rough spirit named “c”, thereby the in blown pronunciation.
In Latin and other languages, the spelling retained the H represent the sound and still remains in German: Harfe;
French: Harper; English: harp, Swedish: harpan, Dutch: and Harpen; Portuguese and Catalan: Harpa. However, the Italian or Castilian rejected this grammar.

The word harp welcomed the significance of sickle, hook or claw, and is related with the word “harpy”, which gives a name to be a mythological female famous for its claws.
This word would be developed with different spellings and initials so
we can find words with a common semantic field that refers to objects that serve to grasp and derived actions from their use, such as: Harpar, harpeo, arpaz, rapaz,harpaxofobia, harpagón, harapo, farrapiu, farpón, farpa, farraspiar, zarpa, farpazu, garfa, garfiella, garcía, garbillo, garbín, etc.
Add Image
The representation of the harp, as a female, was maintained and transmitted together the image of the winged Harpies, who were followers of believes of beings in Egyptian deities such as Isis. There are plenty of pictures that show this symbiotic relationship over time.



Faeirie Lore: Fairy Gifts
June 24, 2009, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Faerie Lore, Fairy Gifts
Posted from the book “Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland” by Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde (1887) (Obtain this full work and many more backups by clicking here!)

* The Three Gifts

A great, noble-looking man called one night at a cottage, and told the woman that she must come away with him then and there on the instant, for his wife wanted a nurse for her baby. And so saying, before she could answer, he swung her up on his great black horse on a pillion behind him. And she sat wondering at his tall, shadowy form, for she could see the moonlight through him.

“Do not fear,” he said, “and no harm will happen to you. Only ask no questions whatever happens, and drink no wine that may be offered to you.”

On reaching the palace she saw the most beautiful ladies going about all covered with jewels, and she was led into a chamber hung with silk and gold, and lace as fine as cobwebs; and there on a bed supported by crystal pillars lay the mother, lovely as an angel, and her little baby beside her. And when the nurse had dressed the baby and handed it to the mother, the lady smiled and offered her wine; “for then,” she said, “you will never leave us, and I would love to have you always near me.”

But the woman refused, though she was sorely tempted by the beautiful bright red wine.

“Well, then,” said the lord and master, “here are three gifts, and you may take them away in safety, for no harm will come to you by them. A purse, never to be opened, but while you have it, you will never want money; a girdle, and whoso wears it will never be slain in battle; and an herb that has power to cure all diseases for seven generations.”

So the woman was put again upon the horse with her three gifts, and reached her home safely. Then, from curiosity, the first thing she did was to open the purse, and behold, there was nothing in it but some wild flowers. On seeing this, she was so angry that she flung away the herb, “for they were only making a fool of me,” she said, “and I don’t believe one word of their stories.” But the husband took the belt and kept it safe, and it went down in the family from father to son; and the last man who wore it was out in all the troubles of ’98, and fought in every one of the battles, but he never got hurt or wound. However, after his death, no one knew what became of the belt; it was never seen more.

* The Three Wishes

A woman was carried off one night to a fairy palace to attend one of the beautiful fairy ladies who lay sick on her golden bed. And as she was going in at the gate a man whispered to her, “Eat no food, and take no money from the fairies; but ask what you like and it will be granted.” So when the fairy lady was well, she bade the nurse ask what she pleased. The woman answered, “I desire three things for my sons and their race–luck in fishing, luck in learning, and luck in gambling,” which things were granted–and to this day the family are the richest, the wisest, and the luckiest in the whole neighbourhood. They win at every game, and at every race, but always by fair play and without cheating; and not the priest himself can beat them at book learning. And every one knows that the power comes to them from the fairy gift, though good luck comes with it and not evil; and all the work of their hands has prospered through every generation since the day of the Three Wishes.