Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Banshee, the harbinger of death

The Banshee from the  Irish, Bean (woman, pronounced ban) Sidhe (faerie,),  is  an ancient spirit who is said to foretell the death of certain Irish families, the O'Neills, O'Briens, O'Connors, O'Gradys and the Kavanaghs, through intermarriage the list of families has been greatly extended over the centuries. She can take many forms from that of a beautiful woman to a withered old hag and can be seen wearing a cloak or rotted funereal clothing. She is sometimes compared to the Morrigan the Goddess of death and war, as she can sometimes be seen washing the blood from the the armour of those about to die.

Mostly she is not seen but rather heard, her keening warning a family that someone is about to die. This keening takes different forms, from beautiful faerie singing to a piercing mournful wailing that is carried on the wind. In different parts of the country the Banshee can appear in different locations from a bridge or the cover of a wooded area. In my part of Galway I was told that the Banshee appears on a bridge when someone from the village is about to die. Before the death of someone of greatness, it has been writen that several Banshees often gather together.

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