The Baen Sidhe

“Quit screaming like a banshee!”  Anyone else’s parents ever say that to them?  No?  Just me?  Apparently, I had quite the lungs.  I could holler with the best of the banshees.  But I hope my similarities with the banshee ends there. 

There are actually three different types of Baen Sidhe, as it’s spelled in the Gaelic.  They’re part of the extensive fae family (we’ve talked about the fae—fairies—before.  That post is still in the archives).

The Banshee always wails by water

The Baen Sidhe is the traditional Irish or Scottish spirit who moves around, singing a lament and crying tears of blood, grieving the death of one to come.  A foreshadower of imminent death.  Sometimes she’s old and haggard, other times she’s young, beautiful, but always horribly grieved.

There are several old clans in both Scotland and Ireland that claim to have family members who became part of the Baen Sidhe.  These relatives then come back among the living to herald the coming death of family members—a warning to prepare for the inevitable (www.differenttypes.net).

The second banshee is the Baen-Nighe—a gnarled old woman who sits by the side of a body of water (usually a lake or a river), doing her washing.  But the clothes she’s washing are full of blood.  Of the doomed.  She’s a precursor of death that shows up when somebody is about to die.  She wails as she washes.  What a charming job.  It’s also said that if one can get between a Baen-Nighe and the water before she sees you, she’ll grant you second sight (knowing the future before it happens).

Original Artwork by @_art_enthusiast_ Check out other pieces on Instagram!

The third banshee is the Baen Chaointe.  This banshee remains hidden among the banks of running waters.  There she mourns.  Frequently these banshees are associated with soldiers coming home from war—they mourn the fallen.  It’s also said that Baen Chaointe showed up to warn Clan McDonald before the Massacre of Glen Coe (www.differenttypes.net) in 1692 (www.britanica.com).

It’s said that the common barn owl may be cause for belief in the banshee’s wails.  Perhaps the cry of a Highland cat may be a culprit? Perhaps the scream of a dying animal?  But it does stand to question—where did the links between the wails and the deaths come from?

Highland Wildcat

What do you think?  Pop up to the top of the article, click the grey “Comments” button and tell me—do you think the Baen Sidhe still wails her warnings? 

Book Recommendations

Creepy Hollow Series by Rachel Morgan (the first three are this week’s giveaway!)

There are lots of books on myths and legends of Irish lore, and there are quite a few paranormal featuring the Banshee, I just haven’t read them. ;). If you have a good one to recommend, let me know!

Creative Writing Prompts

There.  The hag sat by the river.  Her hands and her washing red with blood.  I needed the second sight she could grant.  Now was my chance.

I heard the wail of the banshee.  My blood ran cold.  Did she wail for me?

“It’s true.  I heard it last night.  The cries of the Baen Sidhe.”  We looked together down on our dead friend.

Sea Witches

Seaweed tangles as the winds thrash.  Waves decimate the shoreline dragging sand, shells, driftwood—anything its dark fingers can reach, dragging it to the bottom of the ocean, never to see daylight again.  Rain pelts the sea grasses, tearing roots from the earth, pummeling the ground.

Tropical storm?  Maybe.  But it could be the doing of a sea witch.  

There are many stories of sea witches, particularly in old Norse mythology.  They are malevolent spirits of the water, sometimes shown as mermaids or selkies (see the archives for posts on these creatures!) that can control the waves, the tides, and often times, the weather (www.ancient-origins.net).

Original Artwork by DreadD @Drea.D.Art on Instagram

Many legends of sea witches focus on the lunar cycle and the tides.  This is especially true in British mythology.  Many a tale has been brought back by a sea-fairing sailor about dangerous sea witches out in the open water or storms and damage they caused (www.themystica.com).

There’s not a ton of information out there about sea witches in particular.  Their legends often blur with other similar sea myths.  Most frequently, tales of these wicked mystical creatures have their roots in siren lore, oftentimes mistaken for a mermaid (more on sirens on a future post…did you know sirens originally had feathers and wings, not tails and fins?).

Sea witches may have gotten a nasty rep simply because they’re very forgetful (I mean, I forget things all the time, and I don’t have all that water pressure sitting on my brain).  In desiring a hunky sailor, the sea witch may take him down to the depths of her ocean city, but drown him in the process because either they forgot he needed oxygen, or didn’t realize he didn’t have gills (although I’d think a quick scan of the neck for gill activity would suffice?).  What a way to go, poor sailor.  Other tales claim that men jumped overboard to save what they presumed was a drowning woman, only to drown themselves as the mermaids/sirens/sea witches swam away to safety (www.gods-and-monsters.com).

Original Artwork by Julia Ruprecht @julruprecht on Instagram

The story of Thessalonike may be the best go between for the siren/mermaid and sea witch stories. Thessalonike was the sister of Alexander the Great, and as I’m sure any caring older brother would do, when he obtained a jar of water from the Fountain of Immortality, he washed his sister’s hair with it.  Because, isn’t that what we would all do with water from the Fountain of Immortality?  Sign me up for some of that hair care.

Alexander the Great, brother of Thessolonike

At any rate, when Alexander died, Thessalonike was so beset with grief, that she flung herself into the sea, wishing to join him in death.  But because of her immortally-washed tresses, she transformed into a mermaid.  It’s said she roamed the Aegean Sea for ages.  When sailors passed her, she’d ask them if Alexander was still among the living.  If they answered yes, then she let them pass.  But if they told her he was dead she transformed into a hideous monster and drowned the lot of them.

The sea witch seems to have some pretty murky origins, mixed and matched with different mermaid and siren stories from different places in the world.  But as a rather murky dangerous sea creature, I imagine that’s just the way most sea witches would prefer things.

Original Artwork by Rilee Belnap @Bella_ran_art on Instagram

What would you do if you found a flask of water from the Fountain of Immortality?  Pop up to the top of the article, click the grey “Comments” button, and let me know!

Book Recommendations

Fury by Merrie Destefano (read Fathom first—it was recommended on Selkie week!)

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

Of Song and Sea by Chanda Hahn (also this week’s giveaway!!!)

Creative Writing Prompts

I clasped my hands and wailed.  Where was my brother?  Where was Alexander?  The seaweed tangled about my tail, mocking my grief.

Anger burned through my veins.  How dare the humans disobey me.  I’d show them who had the power.  With a twirl of my fingers, I set the clouds to gathering and darkening with my brewing anger.

Oh.  Oh dear.  The man.  The beautiful man.  He wasn’t breathing.  I brushed his skin with my tail, but nothing happened.

Because you can’t talk about sea witches without mentioning the most famous of them all:

Vampires

Vampire.

Sparkly heart throb, demon blood-sucker, or something in between?

Vampires are steeped into historic legends around the world.  And they’re the subject of major world-wide story phenomenon like Dracula and the Twilight series.  Why are we so fascinated with these creatures of the night?  They seem suffused into our collective memories…and our fears.

Vampires are reportedly only active at night, have fangs, drink blood, seduce young women, are shadowless or reflectionless, and sleep in coffins.  Sometimes they sparkle.  

There are a surprisingly large number of stories in folklore around the world featuring bloodsucking ghosties, so pin-pointing the birth of the vampire legends gets a little iffy. 

 

The most prevalent vampiric stories date back to old Europe where common diseases may have contributed to superstitions.  Tuberculosis causes victims to cough blood, porphyria causes extreme sensitivity to light, rabies makes victims practically feral and induces biting (www.britanica.com). 

Also interesting and totally morbid, hundreds of years ago, before the body and modern medicine were properly understood, it wasn’t really uncommon for the dead to be buried alive (good heavens!).  This gave rise to the superstition of the dead roaming the earth.  When they weren’t supposed to.  Nothing like spending a day or two panicing inside a coffin, then clawing yourself out with your bare hands.  I’m pretty sure that’d make a person look like the undead.  And it would scare the wits out of me to see Great Aunt Feefee out and about three days after we’d laid her to rest.   

In fact, accidentally burying the living was so common, that people started tying a string to the finger of the dead and attaching it to a bell above ground.  Someone would stand watch and if a bell rang, they’d come running with a shovel.  Thus, the birth of the grave-yard shift.

May 26, 1897 saw the release of a book that has since rocked the world.  Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  What is less known, is that Stoker actually wrote his masterpiece, not as a fictitious story, but as a factual story to act as a warning to any who read it.  When he submitted it to his publisher, he was met with a flat No.  The publisher was afraid of inciting panic.  Why, you might ask?  Because only a few scant years earlier, Jack the Ripper had laid waste to public peace and safety.  Dracula had too many undercurrents of the devil.  Stoker had to revise much of his book.  The first 102 pages were cut, and many modifications were made as well.  So, what the world read as fiction, the author meant as warning (www.time.com).  Scary.

To conclude, I feel it only best practice to include several reliable methods for killing vampires, should you happen upon one of the unsavory sort.  

  1. The Stake.  Do make sure that it’s solid wood.  My sources say any sort will work, provided it’s solid and very pointy.
  2. Silver.  Silver bullets, silver daggers, silver swords, I suppose a silver coin would do if wielded properly.  I might suggest you start wearing tall boots for the purpose of concealing a silver dirk.  Go ahead.  They’ll look smashing with your summer short shorts.
  3. Holy Water.  Any water blessed by a priest will do.  It’s always best to carry a vial of it on your person.
  4. Beheading.  A good way to use the aforementioned silver sword.  Whack that vampire’s head off.  He’ll fall down dead as a doornail.
  5. Blood.  Mind you, it has to be the blood of a Bigfoot.  Ergo, this is a lesser-known method of vampire termination (www.mysticinvestigations.com).  Largely because Bigfoot blood is very hard to come by.  Even on the black market.  I know.  I checked.

Who is your favorite vampire and/or your favorite method of killing?  Pop up to the top to the grey “comments” section and tell me what you think!

Book Recommendations

The Immortal Descendants series by April White (Sorry Edward, but I think my favorite vampire is in this series!)

The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Creative Writing Prompts

I held the stake in my hand, blood pounding in my chest, surely attracting the beast.

She rose, wilted, weathered, and fanged.  My blood turned to ice as her eyelids cracked under the layers of dirt encrusting them and glowed red under the midnight moon.

Impatiently waiting for the moon to rise, I sat on the couch, longing for my immortal friend to make an appearance. 

The next clip is fascinating, but there are some creepy images–it’s a PG-13 clip.

Skinwalkers

“Yee naaldlooshii.”  “With it, he goes on all fours.”  (www.legendsofamerica.com)

These are the Navajo words used to describe a most feared and dangerous witch.  The Skinwalker (Seriously.  Cue the shudders as I’m typing this).

Skinwalkers are prevalent in Navajo legends as a form of dark witchcraft.  For the Navajo, good and evil powers merely are—it’s the same power, but with two sides.  The way a man harnesses the power depends upon the man.  There are other tribes that have legends of Skinwalkers, and all of them includes a nasty witch capable of taking on the form of an animal (www.legendsofamerica.com).

The permeance of these dreaded creatures runs so deep that many refuse to speak of them today (yes, in 2020!) for fear a Skinwalker may come after them or a loved one.  It is believed that these terrifying beings walk among the tribe during the day but secretly transform into the beast of their choosing once the moon is up and the skin is donned (creepy, much?).

According to Navajo legends, most Skinwalkers were once medicine men who achieved the ultimate level of spiritual power.  And then chose to use those powers for evil (www.navajolegends.org).  A lot like Star Wars, the Jedi, and the Sith.  One power, but two sides:  good and evil (I know I’m not the only Star Wars fan here…).

It’s reported that Navajo men only wear sheepskin or buckskin, and only for special ceremonies.  This is one reason the Navajo have become famous for such intricate textiles (and they are stunning—I own a set of Navajo-made clothes). They believe the Skinwalkers must don the pelt of the animal they wish to transform into—so the wearing of hides is taboo (www.navajolegends.org).

There’s nothing nice that can be said for these creatures of the night.  According to tribal legend, they must kill a sibling or family member to become a Skinwalker.  They wreak havoc.  Make people sick.  Commit murder.  They rob graves and are necrophiliacs (ahem, doing naughty things with dead people).  Even so recently as the mid-70’s, legal proceedings were brought against a nameless witch (reported to be of the spiritual level of the Skinwalkers) by attorney, Michael Stuhff (www.rense.com).  Skinwalkers are very real in the minds of many from the cultures who hold tales of these evil men who twist themselves to evil’s desires.  I’m certain I never want to meet one.

What do you think?  Are Skinwalkers real?  Or are they only legends?  Pop up to the grey Comments button at the top and let me know!

Book Recommendations

Shadow of Time: Dark Dreams  by Jen Minkman (intended for mature readers)

How the Stars Fell Into the Sky: A Navajo Legend  by Jerrie Oughton

Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Code Talkers of WWII by Chester Nez

Creative Writing Prompts

“Shhh!” My mother shushed me with more vehemence than normal.  “Never speak that word.”  Chills tingled down my spine at the fear in her eyes.

The moon rose and with it, the hairs on the back of my neck.

Something moved in the shadows.  Malevolent eyes glittered red.  My blood froze. 

The video clip below contains some mature content. Viewer discretion is advised. It’s creepy and dark, but very interesting.