B is for Banshee

Today’s topic for the A to Z Challenge is Banshee, also know as bean-sidhe from Irish mythology. She’s an Irish woman who appears in different guises, typically a beautiful woman or an old hag. She is typically noted to live by a river where she washes the clothes of the person that will die. Her wail has traditionally been tied to foretelling a death of an important person from the established families, typically one from which they’re tied to by magic or duty.

In more recent descriptions, the banshees have taken alternative forms with their wailing. Some describe banshees as taking a more vampiric approach, renewing their lifelike appearances and extending their unlife by sucking the very moisture and life out of the air, and anyone happening to be nearby, leaving behind dried dust of the unfortunate witnesses to her wailing.

Others portray her as a tormented woman who returns after her death to haunt those who caused her passing. In these stories, the maiden appears to be a complete mute, but when she opens her mouth, she kills those nearby through fright, or if they’re lucky, and at an extended distance, her wail ages their appearances by years.

One Depiction of a Banshee.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • There are records of banshees going as far back as 1380 from Seán Mac Craith’s Cathréim Thoirdealbhaigh (Triumphs of Turlough).
  • Banshees can appear in other forms as well such as the hooded crow, stoat, hare, or weasel. Each of those animals are associated with witchcraft in Ireland.
  • In American Folklore, there’s been several stories about banshees from the Tar River in Edgecomb, North Carolina. But those tend to depict her as a ghoul than Irish Folklore.

What are your thoughts on Banshees?

11 Responses to B is for Banshee