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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Equinox. the Sidhe, the Banshee (the Tuath de Danaan, the Formorians and the FirBolg)

Well, we have sprung forward our daylight saving clocks, restoring the hour of daylight back to evening instead of morning that our light deprived winter needs. Now the Vernal Equinox, the spring time of equal daylight and nighttime hours, has arrived.

The ground is thawing and muddy. Spring bulbs are pushing their way through the earth and spring planting has started for spinach, kale, broccoli and carrots. We all have a little more spring ;) in our steps and the bikes have been broken out. Cabin fever is getting some relief, thank goodness. Snow Drops are starting to peep out of the ground and the hope of Easter is in the air. Green is slowly returning to replace the grey. Old Man Winter is finally releasing his death hold on the Northern Hemisphere. Though unfortunately he isn't packing up to go home yet, but a beginning is made.

Mythological Humanoids # 4 – Sidhe, #5 – Banshee, #6 – Tuath de Danaan, #7 – Fomorianns, #8 - FirBolg
4. the shidhe - My next installment of Mythological Species of Humanoids will cover the Equinox loving Irish fairies the sidhe, shee or sith (Scottish). They were known to have Fairy Rades about this time of the year, sometime between the Equinox and May Day. Fairy folk are known to love in between times, such as dawn, dusk, birth, death and seasonal changes. These times are thin times when the boundry between Fairy and our world is more easily passed through.

A Fairy Rade was a procession of trooping fairies often on horseback parading through the countryside, or even through the air. It was a grand affair when the fairy kings and queens would tour. A Midsummernight's Dream by Shakespeare portrays one of these processions on the stage.

First, who are the sidhe? Sidhe or shee means "hill" in Irish and danoine sidhe (pronounced dinny she) means "people of the hill" according to Alfred Perceval Graves in The Irish Fairy Book. But according to Paul Muldoon in Irish Fairy and Folk Tales it means "fairy people." They are also called the the slooa-shee or sheagh sidhe, "fairy host," and Marcra shee, "fairy cavalcade." They are frequently called the "gentry" or daoine maithe, "good people," to pacify them, because they are both easily offended and dangerous to offend.

I will keep this brief, because the origin of the sidhe is often debated and frequently recounted and so can be found else where. Some say they were an early human people, some the Tuath de Danaan, some the Tuath de Danaan's Gods. All these theories explain that they were driven under ground to live in caves or the burial mounds scattered around Ireland as well as other countries. These hills or shee are their homes or they are the entrances to the other world, fairy land. Whether the sidhe predated the Tuath de Danaan and the two were later conflated they are now linked inseparably. There are still others who say the sidhe are angels cast out of Heaven, for their neutrality in the great conflict, but that they weren't bad enough to merit hell, so they were sent to dwell within the earth and beneath the waters.

There are also differing ideas of whether the shee are immortal of just long lived. Either way the boundary between fairy land and our world has some sort of time distortion, because many folk tales tell of time passing differently when spent among the sidhe than spent in our world. Usually the time with the sidhe feels short, but is long. Sometimes the time feels long, but is short. But most folktales say do not eat their food or you will be trapped forever in their time. Though some folktales mention antidotes to this problem.

Many stories tell of the sidhe becoming invisible and passing among the people of Ireland unknown. There is a magic eye ointment that makes seeing them possible even when they are invisible. But people caught using it may be blinded by the sidhe for the violation of privacy. Perhaps this is because some sidhe use fairy glamour, an illusion, to make themselves appear other than what they really are and the ointment allows the user to see through the glamour to the poverty beneath. But if you need protection from the Sidhe, they can not abide iron.

#5. Banshee – This is literally a "woman shee", though the role they fill is much more specific than the name would imply. Often these women are omens of death, wailing as if already in mourning for the one about to die. They can some times be seen by a river, lake or well washing the blood out of the clothes of the doomed one. They are often dressed in white, but sometimes in black and can be young, old, or skeletal. They can be beautiful or hideous, but in veritably, someone dies when the wail of the banshee is heard.

These others will have longer posts later, but for clarity here's a brief description:

#6. Tuath de Danaan – One of the early mythical invaders of Ireland, mentioned in the Lebor Gabala Erenn, the Book of Invasions. They were either a race of gods, or a race of highly magical and very skilled people. Their chief enemies were the Fomorians, who maybe their counterparts. Famous individuals among them were: Danaan, female ancestor or mother goddess; Dagda, Lugh, actually a highly skilled Formorian, or half-breed according to some sources and others, a sun god.

#7. Formorians - Early mythical pirates that lived off the coast of Ireland on Tory Island, mentioned in the Lebor Gabala Erenn, the Book of Invasions. They were known to be either ugly and misshappen, or of a kind with the Tuath De Danaan, even intermarrying with them, though frequently at war with them anyway.

#8. Fir Bolg - One of the early mythical invaders of Ireland, mentioned in the Lebor Gabala Erenn, the Book of Invasions. They were a shortish human race that were replaced by the Tuath De Danaan.

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