Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Banshee Interview #3

An Gra Keira Nightsinger, Banshee

SOBS: Thank you, Keira, for letting us interview you once more.

Nightsinger:  You are most welcome.

SOBS:  When we began the first interview, I addressed you as An Gra Nightsinger.  You have graciously let me call you "Keira."  Let me ask you, though, what does "An Gra" mean?  We use titles such as Mr., Ms. or Dr.  Is it similar to those?

Nightsinger:  An Gra means "Beloved One."  It is not so much a title as it is a term to indicate that you are an accepted member of the community.  It is a custom of the place I come from and has nothing to do with being a banshee.

SOBS:  What a beautiful custom!  Would you tell us a little bit about the land you come from?

Nightsinger:  Yes.  I'm glad that you have asked because many humans think that there is a single place called "Fairyland" where all faeries or so-called enchanted or magical beings live.  There is no such place.  We live all over the world, sometimes near humans, sometimes with them.  Most are unaware of us.  I come from Cu Tailte, which means "The Five Lands."  In four of these lands live beings that humans would call "magical."  There is a fifth land nearby, a human town called Baile Eile.  We refer to ourselves, that is those of us who have what humans would consider magical powers, as the Cinn-gnath.  This means "the normal ones."  We call the humans The Cinn-gann--"those without."

SOBS: Interesting. There is a human folklore belief that if a person sits under an Elder tree on a Midsummer's evening, he or she has a good chance of encountering fairies.  It's said that the chances increase if the person plays music, particularly playing a flute made from an Elder branch, because the fairies love music.  What do you think of this?

Nightsinger:  It's nonsense!  As I said, there is no such place as "fairyland."  If a human wants to encounter magical beings, we are all around.  Humans who want to see us simply need to lower their defenses, let go of disbelief and silly notions and open their eyes.  What I mean by "silly notions" is thinking that all faeries are tiny and have wings and that all banshees are ugly old hags.

SOBS: Speaking of appearances, you do not look at all like the typical Hollywood image of a banshee.  We wanted to put a photo of you on the blog but...

Nightsinger: Yes, I'm sorry, but I don't photograph.

SOBS: So we have an artist's rendering of you.  I'm afraid it doesn't do you justice.

Nightsinger:  That is kind of you to say.

SOBS:  It is true.  You have a light about you that is difficult to describe or portray.  I know that you can't speak with us next week, but we are excited to hear that your sister will be here.  She is not a banshee. Is that correct?

Nightsinger:  No, Keena is a healer and a mythweaver.  She is a keeper of stories and can tell you a great deal about Cu Tailte, if you like.

SOBS: We look forward to meeting her.  Thank you once again, Keira, for clearing up some misconceptions about banshees.

Nightsinger:  Thank you for your graciousness in asking me.  Blessings!

What have you learned about banshees that surprised you?

What would you like to know about Cu Tailte?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Real Emergency

Due to a family emergency, I am unable to write the blog this week.  I'm sorry.  Please check back this weekend for a new post.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Interview With a Banshee Part 2

An Gra Nightsinger is here with us for a second round of interviews.  There are so many questions and so little time for each interview!  We, at SOBS, hope she will be able to come back a few more times.

SOBS: Welcome, Keira.  Thank you again for your willingness to let SOBS interview you.

Nightsinger: You are most welcome.  There are many misconceptions about Banshees and it gives me joy to clear some of them away.  Banshees--well, most of us--love humans and I hope that these interviews will help remove the fear of banshees.

SOBS: Last time, we touched on the question of what exactly a banshee is.  You said that you are a fairy.  I think that would surprise many people who picture banshees as ghosts.

Nightsinger: Well, as I mentioned last time, the word banshee actually means "fairy woman" or "woman of the fairy mound."  It comes from the Irish bean sidhe.  Banshees originate from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, although many now live in other parts of the world because they follow their families wherever they go, even across the ocean.  The Scottish Gaelic name for us is bean sith.  I hesitate to mention that because the word sith has come to mean something particular to those who follow a story called Star Wars.  From what I understand, this story world has a race of beings called The Sith who are evil.  It's important that humans understand that we Banshee are no relation to these fictional Sith characters.

SOBS: No, in fact, The Sith of Star Wars and the Banshee have as much in common as the erstwhile band The Beatles and the insects of a similar name.

Nightsinger: Yes.  Now the ghosts that you mentioned and the Banshee do have some things in common.  For example, both generally appear to humans only at night.  This is not because we're only allowed out in the nighttime.  We are around in the day as well.  Humans tend to see us at night because that is when they relax and let their defenses down. This helps them to see through the thin veil that divides the worlds.  Some sensitive humans are able to do this at any time of day, but they are the exception.  There are some ghosts, as I mentioned last time, who take on the duties of a banshee.  The Banshee serves her family by warning them of the impending death of a member.  Then, when the soul passes on, she keens over the body.

SOBS: Keen?  What does that mean?

Nightsinger: To keen is to grieve, to weep and wail over the one who has died.  Until recently, some families in Ireland who didn't have a banshee of their own, would pay women to come keen at the family's funerals. And perhaps this is why some ghosts started acting as banshees--because their family didn't have one.  Whatever the reason, these are usually the ghosts of young women who have died suddenly.  Some have drowned.  Some have been murdered.  Some have died in childbirth.  It's always an unexpected death, a young life cut short.  Perhaps that's why they stay close to their family.  They are not ready to move on.  And then they begin to perform the functions of a banshee.  I don't know for certain, but I believe that in all cases, these are women from families that do not have a banshee of their own.

SOBS: Oh!  There is so little space for these interviews.  Keira, will you please come back again next week and continue to enlighten us about banshees.

Nightsinger: Certainly--unless my family needs me.  I thank you and your readers for your interest and for your willingness to learn the truth about us.  Have a blessed week!

Until you read this interview, how did you picture banshees?

We haven't described Keira.  What do you imagine she looks like?