When someone mentions a ghost, most of us think of cemeteries, haunted houses, and human-sized transparent figures draped in sheets.
Likewise, the word “faerie” is usually linked with cute little figures with wings, magick, bright colours and merry mischief.
However, mention a Banshee, and people squirm.
The Banshee, like a ghost, can represent death to many people, but that is not her actual role in folklore, or in our lives.
The Banshee from the Irish bean sí, or bean sidhe (“woman of the síde” or “woman of the fairy mounds”) is a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.
According to legend, one Banshee guards each Milesian Irish family; these are the families whose names start with O’ or Mac, though those prefixes have often been dropped, particularly by American families.
Nonetheless, there is a Banshee for each branch of these families, and the family Banshee can follow the descendants to America, Australia, or wherever the Irish family travels or emigrates.
Her moarnful cry can be heard anywhere.
The Banshee protects the family as best she can, perhaps as a forerunner of the “Guardian Angel” in Christian traditions. However, the time we are most aware of her is before a tragedy that she cannot prevent.
Meaning, that traditionally, the Banshee appears shortly before a death in “her” family.
Despite her grim reputation, seeing or hearing a Banshee is not what actually causes the death.
The Banshee herself is traditionally a very kind woman, as poet and historian W. B. Yeats commented, “You will with the banshee chat, and will find her good at heart.”
Perhaps her appearance and wailing before a death are efforts to protect her family from a death or other tragedy that she foresees.
Here I have depicted her in her guise as the young woman she once was, tho her eyes are red from centuries of weeping and she still cries black tears.
Behind her perched majestically on the clifftop, the ruined medieval Castle of Dunluce sits still, once home to the great irish families.
Forever loyal she guards the ruins, weeping at the loss of the great families.