1250. How a family in Wales were taught healing by a fairy woman and passed their skills on for 400 years. The Physicians of Myddfai.
13/07/26 /09:07 Category: Timeline
As well as the Leechbook, the other healing tradition of which we have written record is that of a magical healing family from Wales. The Physicians of Myddfai were a family of healers and physicians from the parish of Myddfai in Carmarthenshire in Wales. They were said to have descended from three sons whose mother was one of the fairy folk to whom their father was married until she returned to her lake.
In 1897, a John Pugh published a translation of a transcript of an interview which took place in 1743 with a John Jones; the last surviving member of this family line. The resulting translation was called The Physicians of Myddvai.
The Fairy Wife.The beginning of the family's story, in brief, has its origins with the sole son of a poor widow, who meets a fairy woman coming out of a lake in the mountains, where he is tending his cattle. With his mother's help, he wins her hand in marriage and they have three sons. The marriage is destined to last only until he has 'struck her three times'. After the third strike, she leaves him and returns to the lake. However, she does come back on occasion to visit her children. Upon the eldest, she bestows her healing skills and knowledge.
Royal Approval.The eldest Son was called Rhiwallon and his sons became Physicians to Rhys Gryg, Lord of Llandovery and Dynevor Castles, who gave them rank, lands, and privileges at Myddvai for their maintenance in the practice of their art and science, and the healing and benefit of those who should seek their help, thus affording to those who could not afford to pay, the best medical advice and treatment, gratuitously. Such a truly Royal Foundation could not fail to produce corresponding effects. So the fame of the Physicians of Myddvai was soon established over the whole country, and continued for centuries among their descendants.
The Welsh Healers.The family practised their fairy-derived healing skills from at least the 13th century until the mid 1700's. The last practising descendent was John Jones, a respected surgeon, who died aged only 44 in 1789. He and his family's gravestones can still be seen in the parish churchyard today. This line of healers represents a distinct and separate and equally ancient healing tradition of these lands. It contains, like the Leechbook, a mixture of herbal cures and deep superstitions as well as strange rituals of cure.
Arum.Arum is mentioned in the recipes of The Physicians of Myddfai. As in the Leechbook it records its use for dissolving growths and blockages in the body by boiling the root in wine and drinking the decoction over three days.
"Take the root of the dragons, cut them small, dry and make into a powder, take nine pennyweights of this powder, boil in wine well and give it to the patient to drink, warm, for three days fasting, and it will cure him; and I warrant him he will never have it again."
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