Friday, April 17, 2020

The Sin Eater's Prince - #vampires #werewolves #wailers

Hero from The Sin Eater's Prince. 
The Sin Eater's Prince is set in Wales. I choose Wales because of the myth and lore that abounds in the country, and has abounded for centuries. Their customs, beliefs and superstitions are vastly different than ours in the West.

During my research I found many fascinating tidbits and sayings. This was found on a tombstone in Wales and I used it for the opening of my book.

Ynghanol ein bywyd, yr ydym yn angau
In the midst of life we are in death.

Myth or Truth about the Werewolves of Denbigh?
Denbigh is a market town in Denbighshire, North Wales, United Kingdom. In 1643, Denbigh became a refuge for a Royalist garrison during the English Civil War. Surrendering in 1646, the castle and town walls eventually fell into ruin. But through the ages descendants have passed down stories about the werewolves that remained when everything else fell. In the 18th century there were reports from local farmers that a wolf, the size of a horse, created mayhem in the region, feeding on livestock, dogs and the flesh of men. In addition, Denbigh was the reported home to a colony of wolfmen. They disturbed graves throughout the local cemeteries releasing dead spirits.

Pembroke Castle (also used as a setting in The Sin Eater's Prince)
Pembroke Castle is one of the largest castles in Wales. It was not a royal castle but the possession of a private lord - his residence and the administrative centre of his territories. The Castle occupies a strong position high on a ridge between two tidal inlets. Its fortifications were extended throughout its history and it displays stonework from many periods. The dominant feature of Pembroke Castle is the massive round Keep, built soon after 1200. Its walls are 19 feet thick at the base and the Keep rises to 75 feet in height.

At one time, one of the occupants of the massive castle insisted a vampire had taken up residence in one of the towers. He discussed the problem with local druids, who told him to stab his adversary through the heart with a "weapon made of yew." This the man did, and the vampire named Abhartach never returned.

The Sin Eater
Once it was determined the 'dead' were really 'dead' they went through all kinds of rituals to make sure they were. They called on The Sin Eater to take the sins of the dead upon himself so the person could go to Heaven. Thus, the main character of my story OWEN RHYS (on the left), the Sin Eater of the village. Sin eaters were considered unclean because of all the sins the took on from the dead, and they were shunned.

In Scotland and Wales people were paid to watch the dead for three days. This was called, of course, “watching the dead”. They watched for signs of consciousness in case the person wasn't really dead.

“Raising the ghost” was another common practice after the passing of a loved one. The watchers would engage in practical jokes and make lots of noise to see if they could raise the dead. They also engaged in black magic and witchcraft to see if they could raise them.

“Wailers” were the people in Wales who were paid to mourn over the dead. They shrieked and beat their chests. They’d also call out the name of the dead three times. Often these people were paid to follow the casket, wailing, beating their chests and calling out the person's name all the way to the burial site.

I hope you enjoyed the Welsh history I stumbled upon when I wrote The Sin Eater's Prince. I have to say this was one of the hardest books to write because the Welsh language is very hard to learn. While I didn't, by any means, master the language, I learned a lot of foreign words and their meanings, and found the myth and lore extremely fascinating. I loved, loved writing The Sin Eater's Prince!

More on The Sin Eater's Prince next week (Paranormal/supernatural Creatures of Wales)

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