Posted by: nancycurteman | August 29, 2019

Banshees: Malevolent or Benevolent?

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Banshees: Malevolent or Benevolent? The answer is both. We are well-acquainted with the legend of the bad banshee—the ugly one that is a harbinger of death. We are not so well acquainted with the good banshee. The good banshee is what this post is about.

In order to understand the banshee legend, we need to delve into its origins in the land of the Irish. The word banshee comes from the Irish bean si (pronounced ban-shee) which means woman of the fairy mounds. She is an Irish female spirit.

The origin of the banshee legend can be traced back to the 8thcentury and has its roots in the females who were paid to keen or cry at funerals. These women were paid with alcoholic beverages and many became worn-out drunks and were banned from villages. It is said they lived in wooded areas and wailed their hatred of the humans who had driven them from their homes. They were punshed for their sins by being doomed to become banshees.

Banshees are often depicted as ugly old crones with frightened red eyes and long  straggly hair. They dress in gray, green or white robes. When they wail, they are predicting a death.

Banshees are not dangerous. They do not kill, they only warn of a pending death. Malevolent  banshees relish the deaths of people who have harmed them in some way.

Benevolent banshees are different from the evil ones in many ways. Benevolent banshees are beautiful young women with lovely, long golden hair. They wear snow white shrouds. They come from families in which they were cherished and loved. Often death took them at a young age. Like the malevolent banshee, they wail in the night but unlike their evil counterpart they wail to express sorrow at the pending death of a family member. They even try to warn or protect their loved one from danger.

Not much is written about the benevolent banshee, but they do exist in Irish legend.Read more about banshees in my upcoming novel, “Murder on the Emerald Isle.”

More tips:

Taste a Bit of Ireland in San Francisco Johnny Foley’s Irish House

Waterford, Ireland’s Oldest City

Leprechauns: Are They Lovable?

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