A Banshee is said to be sort of a fairy in Irish & Scottish legend and folklore, thus giving her the nickname Faerie woman. Her scream (“caoine”) or keening is to be an omen of death! Did you know that there are actually good and evil Banshees? Some believe that she acts as an escort to ensure that their loved one passes safely to the other side.
Stories of Banshees are actually common. Irish folklore they are known as Bean Sidh. In Scottish folklore, they are called Bean Nighe. She has at times been described seen combing or brushing her long hair as she keens. The Banshee has also been seen washing bloody clothing which supposedly belongs to the person whose death is near. This gives to her nickname as “Washer Woman”.
When you think of a Banshee, what do you imagine? A floating “ghost-like” woman with long flowing hair that appears quite frightening? Well here’s some information that might change your mind.
A Banshee is actually a disembodied spirit that can appear in many forms, such as:
The Banshee has been traced back to the 8th century. Those stories were based on the tradition of a woman who sang a sorrowful song to lament the death of someone. The women were known as “keeners”. They would accept alcohol as payment and said to be sinners. They were punished by being doomed to become Banshees. The mythology of the Banshee says that if she is spotted, she will vanish into a cloud of mist, which creates a noise similar to that of a bird flapping its wings. The legend says that Banshees do not cause death, they only serve a warning of impending death.
GOOD & EVIL~
Not all Banshees are evil, hate-filled specters. There are some that had strong ties to their families in life, so they continue to watch over them in death. Whenever they manifest themselves, they appear as beautiful and enchanting women that sing sorrowful, haunting songs that are filled with concern and love for their families. The song can be heard up to a few days before the death of a family member. In most of those cases, the song can only be heard by the person for whom the song is intended for.
However, on the flip side, there is the angry and often times scary Banshee. This is the one you usually hear about. These women, during their lives, had hateful relationships with their families. They appear distorted and frightening, filled with hatred. They howl horribly to the point it will chill you to the bone rather than appearing to warn a family member. Those kinds of Banshees are happy with the future demise of someone they hated in life.
THERE ARE OTHER LEGENDS~
In other Irish mythology stories, the Banshee is the ghost of a young girl who suffered a brutal death. Her spirit remains to warn other family members that a violent death is imminent.
She has appeared as an old woman with rotting teeth, long fingernails and blood red eyes filled with hate. She wears rags and when she directs her hate-filled gaze directly at the person, it causes their immediate death. Her mouth is always open as her piercing scream torments the livings souls.
Some tales tell of the evil Banshee that takes thrill in the pleasure of taking a life. They will actively seek out a victim and wail at them to the point that the person either commits suicide or goes insane. There are Banshees that tear people to shreds.
Again not all Banshees are that way. They don’t bring death so much as they warn of death to come. They give the family time to prepare for what is inevitable to come.
Does anyone really know where Banshees get their knowledge of someone’s death from? One of the theories is that each family member has his or her own personal spirit that follows them around to report information back to the Banshee. That theory is a belief that is dying out as the tale of the Banshee has come down to a spooky tale told at bedtime or perhaps around a campfire at night. There are many who have had personal encounters with that theory that may disagree.
Did you know that several centuries ago, in Ireland, the belief in the Banshee was said to be blasphemous? The legend of the Banshee certainly falls into myth and superstition categories.
There are a great many stories of people who have encountered a Banshee or have tales of their loved ones or acquaintances who have encountered one. All you have to do is a search and you can read them.
Have you had an encounter or know someone who has? Please share your story as a comment to this article. We welcome this and would love to hear from you.