The Giantess of Pwllgwaelod: Part 2

In Part 1 we heard that the spell to contain the Giantess had not worked as well as everyone had hoped and the Magician needed to act quickly to contain her. Now read on...

Image by Amber Avalona from Pixabay

The Giantess who only yesterday had completely disappeared under rock had managed to raise herself up and had thrust her craggy face out of the stone almost entirely. At that very moment she was gazing blankly out to sea.

Oh dear, oh dear! It was without ceremony, possibly in his haste, even without his wizardy hat, that the Magician followed his wife swiftly down to the bay and, true enough, there she was, much as we can see her now this very day, though I have no doubt, because of what is to come next, less sort of stony and craggy than we see her now.

Well it was pretty horrible. A band of local people came out to watch and they had to shove wool into their ears to keep out the awful wailing and crying that the Giantess was making from her cavernous mouth as she continued in her struggle to break completely free.

It was another night of work for the Magician but his tender-hearted wife kept him company all the while appealing to her husband not to bury the poor creature again in her entirety, but to allow her a view of the sky and the sea. When his work was done, the Giantess was well and truly caught in place, but her face was free, high up on the edge of the cliff of her prison.

Of course, even the Magician’s wife had to agree that it would not be kind to the local people to allow the monster to howl into the wind, so he stilled her voice. All that was left to her were her tears.

Perhaps you understand now why the beach at Pwllgwaelod is always wet, whatever the tide?

Work done, the people settled into the rhythm of their lives and the Magician and his wife enjoyed the status and the wealth that their work had brought them.

So, you may be thinking: ‘That, as they say, is that.’ And so it is, but there is a little more for anyone who wishes to hear it.

The Magician’s wife was lonely, you see. She loved her husband but there were no children to tend, and now that they had the gold there was little for her to do. The Magician, thinking it was a kindness to his dear wife, engaged a maid to sweep and clean and bake the bread and put the good cawl upon the table, leaving his wife  with no useful occupation.

She had always loved to wander, collecting wild flowers and herbs from the meadows and odd-shaped stones from the beach. She took to swimming each day and she would sit on the rocks below the great Giantess and sing to her and speak to her of things the hoped would soothe her.

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Over time, a calm grew around them. The Magician’s wife had a little magic herself, but she would never have belittled her husband by revealing her powers. Now she called upon the Crow and asked her to come by with her noisy family to bring news of the wind in the trees and the gossip from the high nests of bundled sticks and feathers. Crow entered into the task with great enthusiasm because crows are clan creatures who will try to lift a fallen companion. They may not sing with melodious grace but if you are counted among them, their hearts are full of feathered love.

Quarrelsome gulls, who used to live upon the cliffs and the sea before they became lazy and took to fighting in the towns over human waste, they came too, in their magnificent, impossible white glory that shimmered in the sun. They love to chatter and were delighted to bring their stories of diving deep into the ocean and rising up with a slithering sparkling fish in their beaks, or to boast of their squabbles and wars.

The kittiwakes came  with their high shrill stories and the cormorants waddled onto the rocks to dry their wings in the sun and to chatter. High above them the red kite, searching for unwary rabbits or careless mice, called down tales of blood and of her children in their nests, waiting to gorge on her findings, or of those that had been her chicks but were now gone into the world but remained also in her heart, every one.

At high tide the fish called wetly to her, their mouths full of salty bubbles, and the crabs scuttled about her leaving memories of the sandy floor of the ocean for her to feel on her hardened skin.

The whole summer long, the Magician’s wife was at her task until the Giantess was subdued and calm and, though she still wept, she was comforted. Then the Magician’s wife began to talk of the people of Wales, of their indomitable spirit and their fierce pride. She told the Giantess tales of magic and mystery, and the Giantess heard it all with an opening heart. It is often hard for humans to comprehend the other and to find compassion and no one had ever appealed to a giant before, but our captive began to have a sense of what passes for neighbourly behaviour and good manners among the human tribes of the earth.

Another summer and another winter came and went and then another and another. The Magician’s wife talked to her husband about the Giantess and how she had begun to understand humankind and now knew that giants and humans cannot occupy the same spaces. She asked him where a giant might live in peace and brought him maps and drew him pictures of places far from human habitation. Slowly but surely, her pleas reached into the most compassionate part of him and he began to consider that it might just be possible to release the Giantess from her prison, if she would agree to go far away from the places of men and women.

I am so sorry to say that the carefully made plans would come to nothing, but you knew that, because that craggy face is still there, facing upward and outward where the rain still falls on her and the descendants of those first kindly first birds still bring her news of the wide, wide world.

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It wasn’t anyone’s fault really. The Giantess was not left captive because of some malicious intent. If that had been the case, one could feel angry maybe or justified in seeing the world as heartless. The truth is much sadder than unkindness. It is a story of neglect, born from heartbreak of a different kind.

You see, it was simply that one day the Magician’s wife became sick and the sickness violated her strong body and robbed her of her vitality. Nothing the Magician tried to do over the weeks that followed helped her. Not even his love could compel health and vigour to return and she wasted away before his very eyes. Her last wish was that he free the Giantess and in his desperate love, he agreed, but… and here we have the truth of the human heart.

Some, in their grief and loss, grow magnanimous. Their heartbreak is subdued with good deeds and sacred acts of kindness. I say subdued because grief is not something that ever leaves us. We just hold it carefully when we can and hunker down when it wakes from time to time and lacerates us like a wild cornered beast.

Others, and the Magician is one of these, become infested with grief. For those poor souls, grief fills the broken places with maggots of agony and the heart quite loses its way. What I am saying is that in his torment, the Magician simply forgot life and the promises he had made, and his poor mind slid into the places where all is pointlessness and meaninglessness .

What happened to him? 

I cannot answer that except to say that  he left the cottage and went out into the world, to live and maybe find some peace, or to die wrapped around his pain like a fist around the last coin from your purse. And the Giantess is where he left her, gently, eternally weeping into the dark sand, but hopefully grateful for the wild things that bring her their bits of news and for the rain and wind upon her craggy old face.

I know it’s unlikely that you who are reading this tale knows magic, but I feel compelled to ask. If you do, if spells boil up in you and magic fizzes from your good soul, will you come down with me and bestow your kindness upon a creature who longs to be free?

I will wait to hear from you.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says " has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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