Frogs and Toads of Wales
Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories
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Submitted by: Yuri Klitsenko

[Ed. Note: This is another example of how a misinterpretation of the Bible can lead to scapegoating innocent animals, and how fiction becomes accepted as fact.]

Snakes, frogs and toads were sacred to pagans, they represented the Earth Mother in her chthonic form.

I think it is not occasional that Gerald of Wales, Christian missionary, tells horror story about evil toads and another Christian writer informs about ideal Holy Island free of serpents and frogs.

My friend in London, a pious Christian, thinks that the sacred Welsh language expelled toads from his garden.

Frogs free island

From the Life of Elgar of Bardsey I have learned that the isle of Bardsey "is plain and fertile with a sweet flowing fountain and completely free from serpents and frogs".

Indeed Bardsey is the holy place, the paradise, because it is free from serpents and frogs.

You know about the serpent in Eden and about "three unclean spirits like frogs, which are the spirits of devils, working miracles" (Revelation 16:13-14):

13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. NASB

[It's important to remember that snakes and frogs are not demons, but that these particular demons looked something like frogs.]

As I understand, Ireland and Wales have an average temperature that is too cold for reptiles. Hence, there have never been snakes there.

Evil Toads in Wales

"In our own days a young man who lived in this neighbourhood, and who was lying ill in bed, was persecuted by a plague of toads.

It seemed as if the entire local population of toads had made an agreement to go to visit him. Vast numbers were killed by his friends and by those looking after him, but they grew again like the heads of the Hydra. Toads came flocking from all directions, more and more of them, until no one could count them. In the end the young man's friends and the other people who were trying to help were quite worn out. They chose a tall tree, cut off all its branches and removed all its leaves. Then they hoisted him up to the top in a bag.

He was still not safe from his venomous assailants. The toads crawled up the tree looking for him. They killed him and ate him right up, leaving nothing but his skeleton. His name was Seisyll Esgairhir, which means Longshanks.

The judgement of God is never unjust, even if it is sometimes hard to understand" (Gerald of Wales, The Description of Wales, Penguin Classics, 1978, pp.169-170).

My friend wrote:

"We used to have toads in my garden. In those days we of course used to speak English in the house and garden. When my father died in 2000 I moved back to the house with my wife and children who as you know speak Welsh. Since then I have not seen any toads in the garden. Whether this has got anything to do with our use of Welsh I cannot say".

Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow.  He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.

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