The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

!!!!This is NOT a forum. Comments are to be informative and generally helpful. Clean humor is acceptable, but NOT if it detracts from the entry. This site is to help people find out more about fantastical creatures!!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Banshee

The Banshee, from the Irish bean sí ("woman of the side" or "woman of the fairy mounds") is a female spirit, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld. Her Scottish counterpart is the bean shìth (also spelled bean-shìdh).
The aos sí ("people of the mounds", "people of peace") are variously believed to be the survivals of pre-Christian Gaelic deities, spirits of nature, or the ancestors. Some Theosophists and Celtic Christians have also referred to the aos sí as "fallen


Appearance
Banshees are frequently described as dressed in white or grey, and often having long, fair hair which they brush with a silver comb. This comb detail is also related to the centuries-old traditional romantic Irish story that, if you ever see a comb lying on the ground in Ireland, you must never pick it up, or the banshees, having placed it there to lure unsuspecting humans, will spirit such gullible humans away. Other stories portray banshees as dressed in green, red or black with a grey cloak.

Etymology
The term banshee is an anglicization of the Irish bean sí, or the Scots Gaelic bean shìth, - both meaning "woman of the fairy mounds" or "woman of peace". Both names are derived from the Old Irish ben síde: bean: "woman", and sídhe: "of the mounds". Some consider the bean nighe ("washer-woman") the Scottish counterpart of the Irish banshee. However, bean shìth is the linguistic and mythological equivalent, appearing in a number of different roles and situations in folklore and mythology. The bean nighe is a specific type of bean shìth. In Scottish Gaelic, bean shìth can also be spelled bean-shìdh. Síd in Irish, and Sìth in Scots Gaelic, also mean "peace", and the fairies are also referred to as "the people of peace" - Aos Sí or Daoine-Sìth.

Banshees in history, mythology and folklore
In Irish legend, a banshee wails around a house if someone in the house is about to die. There are particular families who are believed to have Banshees attached to them, and whose cries herald the death of a member of that family. Traditionally, when a citizen of an Irish village died, a woman would sing a lament (in Irish: caoineadh, [ˈkiːnʲə] or [ˈkiːnʲuː], "caoin" meaning "to weep, to wail") at their funeral. These women singers are sometimes referred to as "keeners" and the best keeners would be in much in demand. Legend has it that, for five great Gaelic families: the O'Gradys, the O'Neills, the O'Briens, the O'Connors, and the Kavanaghs, the lament would be sung by a fairy woman; having foresight, she would sing the lament when a family member died, even if the person had died far away and news of their death had not yet come, so that the wailing of the banshee was the first warning the household had of the death.
In later versions the banshee might appear before the death and warn the family by wailing. When several banshees appeared at once, it indicated the death of someone great or holy.The tales sometimes recounted that the woman, though called a fairy, was a ghost, often of a specific murdered woman, or a woman who died in childbirth.

Banshees are common in Irish and Scottish folk stories such and they enjoy the same mythical status in Ireland as fairies and leprechauns.

Special thanks to Wikipedia and to Sarachmet of Deviantart.com for this slightly stolen art!

2 comments:

Leannán Sidhe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ethenielle Teir'elenia said...

Yes, Bean, I had to delete these comments. It's not that your comments were particularly offensive, in fact several were quite funny, but several of those who read them in turn became offensive, and I want this blog to be user friendly.