Irish Bean Sidhe, Scots Gaelic Ban Sith, (“woman of the fairies”) supernatural being in Irish and other Celtic folklore whose mournful “keening,” or wailing screaming or lamentation, at night was believed to foretell the death of a member of the family of the person who heard the spirit.
The Banshee is a spirit – described as a woman, though not always, dressed in white, with unkempt hair and emitting a pitiful, mournful keen or wail that warns of the death of a family member. In some versions, it has unkempt hair. Many accounts link the spirits to families of the oldest Irish stock and the Milesians.
Sometimes the banshee appears old and frail, other times the embodiment of a young member of the family who died in some tragic circumstance or other. Often, nobody seems to see it at all.
It is said that the Banshee appears as an old woman with rotten teeth and long fingernails. … According to some tales, there are evil Banshees that derive pleasure from taking a life and they actively seek out their victims and wail at them to the point where the person commits suicide or goes insane.
Historians have traced the first stories of the Banshee to the 8th century which were based on a tradition where women sang a sorrowful song to lament someone’s death. These women were known as ‘keeners’ and since they accepted alcohol as payment, they were said to be sinners and punished by being doomed to become Banshees.
According to the mythology of the Banshee, if she is spotted, she will vanish into a cloud of mist and this action creates a noise similar to that of a bird flapping its wings. Legend says that Banshees don’t cause death; they only serve as a warning of it.
In other legend, we have the angry and scary Banshee. During their lives, these women had reasons to hate their families and appear as distorted and frightening apparitions filled with hatred. The howls emitted by these Banshees are enough to chill you to the bone and rather than appearing to warn a family member, these Banshees are celebrating the future demise of someone they loathed!
The banshee roams the countryside and can be heard wailing when she predicts a death.
W.B. Yeats described her in his book Fairy and Folklore of the Irish Peasantry
She is the Gaelic muse, for she gives inspiration to those she persecutes. The Gaelic poets die young, for she is restless, and will not let them remain long on earth – this malignant phantom.
As with all mythological stories and figures, she also appears in Scottish, Welsh, Norse and even American folklore in many different forms and doing many different death related things. Occasionally she is also known as the ‘Bean Chaointe’, or ‘crying woman’.
In medieval times, during funerals a woman would take on the role of ‘keener’. Keeners sang sad songs, called ‘caoineadh’ – the Irish word for ‘crying’ – at the graveside. There was good business to be made as a keener, as families would pay very well for a talented one.
Pictured typically as an old witch, a banshee was considered to be a harbinger of death and doom.
She is known in Ireland by many names: Hag of the Mist, Little Washerwoman and Hag of the Black Head among others.
The name ‘banshee’ is derived from the Old Irish for ‘woman of the fairy mound’. Her name is connected to the various mounds of earth dotted around the Irish countryside known as tumuli. These tumuli traditionally covered a grave or a number of graves and were said to be home to spirits of the dead.
“But Banshees are former witches, and when a witch hears their cry , they turn into a Banshee!” – Charmed 3.
Working Banshee Magick would include……..
A heightened awareness of gossip
Knowing there is evil about
A feeling of someone disloyal
Trust intuition and instinct
Banshees are usually seen in the moonlight, crouching in the dark or sitting in the branches of trees, combing their long hair.
Beware……if one of these hairs should fall on you, it is a very bad omen indeed.
Nov. 1 is the Day Of The Banshees.