Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wail like a banshee.

St. Patrick’s Day is only days away.  So I thought I would write about a particular piece of Irish Folklore; one that has caught my curiosity for years . . . The Banshee.   According to Irish folklore, the Banshee (reported sightings dating back to the 1800’s) is a spirit who visits a household and wails to warn them of impending death.

defines a banshee as:
  “a female spirit in Gaelic folklore whose appearance or wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die (Irish – bean sidhe and Scottish Gaelic – bean sith; meaning woman of fairyland).”

A Banshee, in Irish Mythology, is a female spirit which is usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.
  Although not always seen, her mourning call is heard, usually at night, when someone is about to die.  In Ireland banshees were believed to warn only families of pure Irish descent.  And when several banshees appeared at once, it indicated the death of someone great or Holy.

She appears in one of three forms; as a beautiful young woman, as a stately matron or as a terrifying old hag.
  She is often described as being dressed in white or grey with long pale hair which she brushes with a silver comb.  Sometimes it’s mentioned that if you see a comb lying on the ground in Ireland, you are to never pick it up.  The banshee placed it there to lure unsuspecting humans.

The Banshee myth first started from an Irish tradition of the lament.
  Women would sing a lament for the dead at funerals.  This song would carry through the air and become the first signal that someone had died.  These singers were known as ‘keeners’; and their services were highly respected.  From the natural honoring of the dead, the legend of the Banshee began.  And as time went on the myth and legend became more and more colorful.

There have been several television shows out there that have had episodes regarding the banshee.
  Two that I have watched and enjoyed:

Charmed, "Look Who's Barking", Season 3, Episode 7, air date ~ May 10, 2001.
*     Destination Truth, "Live From Ireland — The Search for the Banshee Ghost," air date ~
       March 17, 2011.

I'll end this blog with a few photographs, from this past November, of my version of a Banshee . . . and my husband portraying the Grim Reaper aka Death. 

Have a safe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO

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