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L is for Laidly Lady

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge ( The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Dual Natures in Folktales Around the World – opposites, contradictions & paradoxes.


From Northumbria, medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom

Now known as Northern England and Southeast Scotland, Northumbria existed from 604 to 954 CE. The monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow were revered during the 7th and 8th centuries. When the Danes captured the town of York in 866, the peace in politics shattered. Soon after, the Scandinavians came.

Keep this in mind seeing that the Stepmother has witchcraft. But so does Childe Wynd, the brother. Religion and magic can constantly be in battle with each other – or faith and magic could be considered the same.

For the story of “The Legend of the Laidly Wyrm” is sometimes spelled as “Laidley” or “Worm.” It really needs to be “Wyrm” as that is the proper term for dragon. And a “Worm” – well – that’s a wiggly worm for fish.

What is so fascinating? What dualities have surfaced?

Yes, we already have dual ways to spell “Laidly” and “Wyrm.”

We have a strong bother and sister relationship. Childe Wynd faces off with the dragon, the Laidly Wyrm. When it speaks, he knows he must do as it asks and kiss it three times. Most people would never even attempt such a thing. A fierce creature that has killed so many already? And then three kisses? Yet, compassion in place of death. And it is enough to bring his sister back.

Obviously, we also have the Stepmother who appears to be good and beautiful. Instead, she hides the fact that she is a witch. She is quick to curse Margaret as a dragon. But think about it…who is the true Wyrm?

Now, magic could be good or evil. When the Stepmother used it, Margaret became a dragon. When Childe Wynd used it, the Stepmother became a toad. Margaret as a dragon was destructive. The Stepmother as the toad was harmless.

50-word-or-less summary:

King with Childe Wynd (son) and Margaret (daughter). King remarries. Stepmother jealous of Margaret. Stepmother uses potion. Daughter missing next day. Laidly Wyrm destroys villages. Nothing pierces skin. Childe sails to confront Wyrm. Stepmother causes storm. Persists! Three kisses to Wyrm. Sister returns human. Childe turns Stepmother into toad.

Finding the Story: 

Website about England’s North East that includes this legend – found here

Another version of the legend – found here

Video of telling of this legend – found here

Please share thoughts in the comments. While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings. See quick list of programs here.

As for our past A to Z Challenges…

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has been “dual” in our offerings of our hybrid summit & festival on May 9-12, 2022 – yes, in-person and virtual – and would be honored for you to join us. Explore the schedule and register here:

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