Monday, October 11, 2010

31 Monsters of October, Day 11: Banshees

Real World Origin:
Folklore (Irish)

In-Universe Description:
In earlier forms of the Irish legend of the Banshee, a fairy woman would sing mourning songs over the deaths of members of the five great families: the Kavanaghs, O'Briens, O'Connors, O'Grady's, or O'Neills. In later tales, the Banshee was a female spirit whose wail would foretell a person's death. The cry of a Banshee ranged from pleasant singing to a shriek that could shatter glass.

Although most commonly described as a hideous old woman dressed in white or gray, a banshee might also appear as young and beautiful. In some variations of the legend the Banshee is the spirit of a murdered woman or one who died in childbirth. In others the Banshee is a human prophet or seer who appears to warn someone of his or her impending death. Banshees may also appear in the form of an animal such as a crow or a weasel.

Welsh legends include a similar being called the Hag of the mist. Like the Banshee, this spirit also wails prior to a person's death. However, the Hag of the Mist is typically invisible unless she is encountered in a mist or at a crossroads.

I know the Banshee is, more often than not, a ghost or spirit rather than a monster. But I wanted to include it in this list since the legend is a good one and is well known.

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