MonsterFest 2011 – Banshee


The banshee is also known as the bean sí in Ireland, and the name means ‘woman of the fairy mounds’.

Basic tradition says that the banshee is a female spirit that foretells death by her wailing.  Anyone who hears her lament is being warned of an impending death – either their own or one of their family.  The banshee can appear as a beautiful woman or an old hag.

Banshee’s are actually a bit more complicated than that, though.  The very old traditions and legends hold to the banshee only wailing for families of royal blood.  The banshee could either be the ghost of a deceased woman of the family (often someone who died in childbirth or was murdered), or one of the fairy folk.  If it was a ghost of a family member, then the wailing would come after the death.  The fairy folk had the gift of foresight, and so they would wail before the death would happen, hence the legend of it being a warning.

In either case, what is sometimes not known about the banshee is that it would be a friend or guardian of the family, since it is not wailing to frighten, but rather to mourn.  If many banshees, rather than one, were mourning, it signified the death of someone holy or great.

The banshee is unique to Celtic and Welsh mythology.

In Scotland, the banshee can be seen as a servant woman washing the bloodied clothing or armor of the victim before their death.