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A Short History Of The Banshee

August 2, 2018

 

There are so many classic monster tales and supernatural legends out there - from vampires, werewolves, zombies and ghosts, to Banshees, demons, witches, Ginn, mermaids and other kinds of spirits. Many supernatural legends have their roots firmly planted into old celtic tales, icons of horror, or even just simple nightmare-inducing bedtime stories.

 

To pay homage to these classic legends I decided to do some digging and uncover the legends and the stories behind these mythic monsters and terrifying images that haunt our dreams today. You've seen where Evil Clowns came from, now it's time for a more lessor-known creature of mythology: The Banshee.

 

The Banshee comes from an Old Irish folklore that sees the Banshee as a female spirit who wails, shrieks and screams over the death of her lost love - sometimes before her love has even died yet. Because of this, the Banshee is also known to be the bringer of death for if you hear the wail of the Banshee outside of your window at night crouching beneath the trees crying bitterly, it is often fortold that you will be the next to die, or the next to mourn the love of your life.

 

Historians have traced the mythology of the Banshee back to the 8th century, where women were known to sing a sorrowful song upon someone's death. They were known as "Keeners" and apparently accepted alcohol as payment in return for their mourning song.  Over time the Keeners have evolved to meet the Banshee tale Irish folk spin today which sees the Banshee as usually having long, wild silvery hair, wearing  a classic folklore style dress and cloak, as well as being known to have a ghastly complexion, and long black clawed fingernails. The Banshee is always female, and there is usually one Banshee forworning death to every true Irish family.

 

Despite her harrowing song that forwarns the listener of death, the Banshee herself is not known to be a malevolent or evil spirit. She does not bring death, she simply foresees it, and many Irish folk believe her appearance before death are in efforts to protect her family from a tragedy she has seen. Modern day depicitions often see Banshees as evil creatures who can be killed with a celtic spell or a gold-forged blade. However there is no known noted weakness in Irish folklore  for a Banshee. Sorry to the people who have heard the screams! Maybe take note and be careful in the future.

 

Modern Day Banshee Depictions: Lydia Martin in Teen Wolf, Pheobe in an episode of Charmed, several earlier episodes of Supernatural, and the 2011 horror movie Scream of the Banshee.

 

 

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