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?

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