Poor Lallogan – he’s been known by so many names. Llallogan is the diminutive of Llallawg, his original name, but he’s also been called Lailoken and, in later years, Myrddin Wyllt (meaning Myrddin the Wild). Which you may recognize as the Welsh form of Merlin.
Wilder Mann by Paulus Vischer, ca. 1521 A.D. This is how the Wild Man of the Woods is usually portrayed, nearly or completely nude, and terribly hairy. A madman, of course, because who else would live like this?
Sometimes the Wild Man is shown as something of a giant.
The Fight in the Forest, a drawing by Hans Burgkmair, ca 1501 A.D.
The original, however, was the size of an ordinary man. Perhaps a bit taller and more slender than most, Llallogan was a bard in the service of King Gwenddoleu in Strathclyde (yes, that’s in Scotland, not Wales). In 573 A.D., Llallogan was present at the Battle of Arfderydd in which his king was killed. In fact, as he told it to me very nearly a hundred years later, everybody was killed. King Gwenddoleu’s rival was Rhydderch Hael of Strathclyde, who was not a forgiving soul. He had every man jack of the defeated army slaughtered, leaving alive only Llallogan, so that the bard could tell the tale and terrify those who might want to oppose him.
Llallogan was not even particularly hairy, though he did wear furs and sometimes a mask with an animal’s face.
The whole thing was too much for Llallogan. He developed what would be called, today, PTSD. It drove him mad, and he took to the woods in hopes, I believe, of becoming an animal. He no longer desired to be a man, having seen the darkest side of mankind. And while he wandered, it is said that he also developed the gift of prophecy.
And then he met St. Kentigern.
I was not present at the time, so I cannot attest to the truth of the legend arising from that encounter, called Lailoken and St. Kentigern, but the saint apparently tried to help poor Llallogan find peace through prayer and simple comradeship.
Eventually, he succeeded in converting Lllallogan to Christianity, an event commemorated here in a stained glass window at Stobo Kirk.
Baptism did not resolve Llallogan’s madness, however. What St. Kentigern did not know was that Llallogan was a changeling. Born of Faerie and traded for a human child, he did not know it himself, save that he never fit into society and found solace only in music. Being fae, he was horrified far more than most by unnatural death, and murder en masse overwhelmed him.
Thus what he needed was comfort, calm, and training in the use of magic, so that he could attain control of the memories that troubled him so. That was not my doing. I merely transported the creature, for he was one by then, back to Faerie and put him in Oberon’s care.
His fae nature, of course, is what gave birth to the prophecies. One, alas, concerned the man who tried so hard to help him – St. Kentigern. On the very day mad Llallogan came to the saint and asked for the Sacrament of Baptism, he foretold St. Kentigern’s martyrdom, calling it a triple death. This must have set the priest back on his heels a bit, but he carried out the rite. Then, later that same day, he was captured by King Meldred’s men, all pagans. They beat him with clubs and then threw him into the river Tweed where his body was impaled on a stake. This, of course, did nothing for Llallogan’s peace of mind. He blamed himself for the saint’s brutal murder, along with all those committed by Rhydderch Hael.
Much later, when he had somewhat recovered himself, Llallogan returned and settled in Wales and became an archetype well known from Arthurian legends. His like is found nowadays in all manner of foot-thick fantasies and video games and TV shows and movies. He remained what he was at heart, a stranger in a strange land, never quite part of this world.