Episode 61: Workers of Death: Banshee
The folklore of banshee in a nutshell, how I reimagined them for my writing.
Written and narrated by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Copyright 2023 Ronel Janse van Vuuren — All rights reserved.
Learn more about banshee in folklore here.
Get the transcript here.
Music: Secrets by David Fesliyan (FesliyanStudios.com) and Dramatic Heartbeat by FesliyanStudios.com
You’re listening to the Faeries and Folklore podcast by Ronel.
I’m dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. With nearly a decade of digging around in dusty folklore books, researching creatures of imagination that ignited my curiosity, I’m here to share the folklore in a nutshell and how I reimagined it for my writing in an origin of the fae.
This is the Faeries and Folklore podcast.
Hi, I’m your host Ronel Janse van Vuuren. You can just call me Ronel. In today’s episode, we’re continuing our exploration of the fae realm.
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We’re continuing our exploration of the workers of death.
Today’s Faery: Banshee
Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel
The Banshee (fairy woman) is portrayed in Scotland as an ugly crone and in Ireland as a beautiful woman. She appears in three guises: maiden, matronly mother, and wizened hag. The banshee often has burning red eyes and wears a green dress and grey cloak – her hair is either silvery-white or red. But it is said that one more often hears her than sees her. The sound of her voice varies from region to region: a melodious hum to some is described as a screeching night creature by others. These ghostly screams are always heard at night.
She is known by many names, “washer woman” and “keening woman” being among the favourites. She either wails outside the house of someone who is soon to die or washes the blood out of the clothes of someone who will soon meet their end. It is well-established that she is an omen of death.
The origin of the banshee is steeped in myth: she is either a ghost of an Irish woman who died in some horrible fashion, or of faery descent (from the Tuatha Dé Dannan and other concepts about faeries).
As a ghostly banshee, she roams the forests and moors nearly invisible. Each Irish family is said to have their own banshee. She follows them to whatever new home they move. If you hear a piteous moan in the deep of night, beware: it might be your family’s banshee forewarning you of your death or the death of someone close to you (if you have Irish ancestry, of course).
And now for my interpretation of the fae in an Origin of the Fae: Banshee
The Banshee is a wailing wraith usually clad in green. she can have either red or blonde hair which floats around her. she is strikingly beautiful despite her incessant bawling.
Once she is banished (usually by a stronger Faery) her body puffs out to resemble a cloud of smoke and her face becomes truly ghastly and terrifying, still framed by her reddish-blonde hair. she disappears in a puff of smoke.
The Banshee always tries to trick people or Faeries into thinking that they’re dying. She’ll wail until the person she haunts dies. (Running away from her can be dangerous – cliffs, trucks, various sharp objects, etc.)
Though the Banshee is thought to be a harbinger of Death, she usually causes it.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the faeries and folklore podcast and that you’ve learned something new about faeries.
Remember that you can get a transcript of this episode in the description. If you’re new to the podcast, why not go and grab your free copy of Unseen, the second book in the Faery Tales series, on my website ronelthemythmaker.com? Loads of folklore, magic and danger await! Take care!
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