Kate Belew Kate Belew
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In the countryside of Ireland, a faerie spirit roams the hills. A harbinger of death, Banshees are known for their prophetic songs. A Banshee or “Bean Sidhe” is a female spirit from the folklore of Ireland who appears screaming, wailing, or shrieking through the night to announce the death of a family member, loved one, or prominent community figure. 

Also known as a faerie woman or a woman of the faerie mound, these spirits weave into the tapestry of faerie lore and legend as a type of Sidhe. 

In Ireland, a traditional form of mourning is called keening, a type of wailing song. This song is associated with the Sidhe and was said to travel ahead of the faerie woman to bring the news of the loved one’s soon-to-be departure beyond the veil. 

Although they are oracles of heartbreaking news, in some myths, they are kind and gentle spirits who look after a specific family, and every family has their own watchful Banshee. In other stories, they are malefic beings whose howling could chill one to the bone and who actually encourage death to happen. One legend recounts how when a Banshee disappears after their announcement, they vanish into a cloud with only the sound of a bird flapping its wings. 

They are often depicted combing their long tresses, a trait common among intuitive women and psychopomps from myth and lore. They are also famous for their shrouds, perhaps a symbolic gesture to the their ability to travel across the threshold as a liminal being, a veiled woman. 

The mythical Queen of the Banshees is Clíodhna is a Celtic Faerie Goddess who calls the water home. Known as a Goddess of love, beauty, passion, and fertility, she is often seen with three birds accompanying her. These birds roost in the otherworld, and anyone who hears their songs is healed.

She is less kind in some tales, luring sailors to their deaths in violent waters. However, in other tales, she is associated with every ninth wave, or the most substantial in a set, known as Clíodhna’s wave. 

Messages from the Banshees 

Sing the song only you can sing. In their keening, they encourage expressing the full range of human emotions. Take a page from the Grimoire of the Banshees and sing. Even if you are sad, especially if your voice shakes. 

Practice guardianship. Much like the they does for their family, be a good guardian for your family or chosen family. Grieve with them, celebrate with them, witness them. 

Connect with your grief. Remember to take the time and space to mourn and grieve when the Banshees appear. Grief is an essential part of life here on earth. In this cyclical process of seasonal magick, autumn is the perfect time to ritualize and allow your grief to compost into the soil like fallen leaves. 

Deepen your relationship with death. As the veil thins in autumn, as one cycle completes and another begins, the liminal space, or threshold between worlds, is more available and potent than usual. During this time, connect with the archetype of the Sidhe and deepen your relationship with death. By honoring death, you honor life. Honor the dearly departed by building an ancestral altar or hosting a dumb supper.

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