He will give his angels charge of you,
To guard you in all your ways.
вторник, 27 ноември 2012 г.
A female DEATH OMEN spirit of Ireland and
Scotland that attaches itself to families—especially those
whose surnames begin with “Mac” and “O”—and manifests
to herald an approaching death in the family. There
are variations of the banshee in Irish and Scottish lore.
An Irish variant, written as Bean Si, is said to be beautiful
with long streaming hair, and wearing a gray cloak over
a green dress. She also appears all in white or all in red.
Her eyes are fi ery red from continual crying for the aboutto-
be-departed. To warn a family of a coming death, the
banshee most commonly is heard singing or crying, but is
not seen. When seen, she appears as a woman singing, or
as a shrouded woman wearing a veil, or as a fl ying fi gure
in the moonlight, crying bitterly. The cry reportedly is
so mournful that it is unmistakably the sound of doom.
Contrary to some popular thought, banshees do not wail.
In both Ireland and the Scottish Highlands, the banshee
is also known as Bean-Nighe or Little-Washer-bythe-
Ford; the latter term comes from the lore that she
signals a person’s imminent and violent death by washing
his blood-stained grave-cloths in a stream. The Bean-
Nighe or Little-Washer-by-the-Ford is believed to be the
spirit of a woman who died a premature death in childbirth,
whose spirit must continue washing clothes until it
is the time for her natural destined death. Small and usually
dressed in green, this spirit is not beautiful like the
Bean Si, but is evil, mean and deformed. She has just one
nostril, a large protruding front tooth, red webbed feet
and long pendulous breasts. The person who is courageous
enough to suck a breast is believed to be granted a
wish by the spirit and become her foster child.
Banshee beliefs were taken to America with immigrants,
many of whom settled in the Allegheny and Appalachian
mountains and in the mid-Ohio Valley. A few
stories about them have entered into American folklore.
One example is the coach-a-bower of Mineral Wells and
Elizabeth, West Virginia. The coach-a-bower is known in
Gaelic lore as the coiste bodhar, a black hearse with a coffi
n strapped on top, drawn by two headless white horses.
The hearse is a death omen that precedes the appearance
of the banshee, pulling up to a household where someone
is about to die.
The modern West Virginia version is a black automobile
hearse with velvet curtains that are pulled shut. The vehicle
dates to the 1950s and is seen driving along route 14.
Another example is the banshee of Marrtown, West
Virginia, a town with many Scottish immigrants who
arrived in the early 19th century. The banshee is a
shrouded fi gure who rides a white horse. According to
lore, the banshee fi rst appeared to the founder of the
town, Thomas Marr, a Scottish immigrant who arrived
in 1836, and his West Virginia wife, Mary. The banshee
announced Thomas Marr’s death. The Marrs ran a farm
and, like many people, fell on hard times during the Civil
War. After the war, Thomas got a job as a night watchman
on a bridge near Marrtown.
On several occasions, Marr spotted the shrouded rider
as he traveled to and from work. He could not make out
the gender, though he thought it was a woman. The fi gure
and horse always vanished as he approached them.
Marr told Mary about the mysterious fi gure. On February
5, 1876, he went to work one night and never
returned. While Mary waited for him, the shrouded fi gure
rode up to the farmhouse and announced that Thomas
was dead. The manner of his death is not known.
When Mary died at age 90, the shrieks of a woman
were heard near her house where her corpse was laid out,
and the sounds of rattling chains came from the attic.
Another folktale comes from the American South, set
in Revolutionary War days. According to the tale, a banshee
haunted the muddy Tar River near Tarboro in Edgecombe
County, North Carolina. She arose on misty nights
when there was no moon, and fl itted from shore to shore
crying like a loon, her long yellow hair streaming behind
The Tar River mill was run by a large, rough man
named David Warner, a Whig who hated the British and
aided the revolutionaries by giving them wheat and corn
ground at his mill. One hot August noonday, Warner was
warned that British soldiers were coming and was urged
to fl ee, lest he be killed. He stubbornly refused to leave.
Warner was grinding grain when fi ve British soldiers
arrived. He pretended not to see them and loudly
announced to his assistant, “Try to save every precious
ounce of it, my lad, and we’ll deliver it to General Greene.
I hate to think of those British hogs eating a single mouthful
of gruel made from America’s corn.”
With that, the enraged soldiers seized Warner, beat
him and announced they were going to drown him in the
river. Warner told them to go ahead and do so, but the
banshee would get them in return.
The soldiers hesitated, but one who had evil eyes and
a cruel mouth egged them on. He and two others tied
Warner’s hands behind his back, tied large stones to his
neck and feet, and cast him into the river. As Warner sank
beneath the water, a piercing, agonizing woman’s scream
arose from somewhere along the riverbanks. The frightened
soldiers fl ed back to the mill.
That night, the soldiers’ commander and his offi cers
arrived, and they all bedded down. A new moon rose in
the sky and a rain crow (cuckoo) called out, presaging
rain. Suddenly the air was pierced by the banshee’s cry.The commander and offi cers rushed out of their tent and
saw a cloud of mist over the river take on the shape of
a woman with long, fl owing hair and a veil. She disappeared,
and her cry could be heard farther downstream.
The three soldiers confessed their crime. The commander
sentenced them to remain at the mill, grinding,
for the rest of their lives. Every day, the men ground grain,
and at night they were tormented by the banshee’s cry. One
night, she appeared in the doorway of the mill and drew
aside her veil. She lured two of the men down to the river,
where they fell in and were never seen again. The soldier
with the evil eyes went insane and began wandering through
the woods calling out Warner’s name. He was answered by
the banshee. One day, his body was found fl oating in the
river, at the spot where Warner had been drowned.
On August nights when the moon is new and the rain
crow calls for rain, the banshee is still said to rise up out
of the mist where Warner was drowned, and cry into the