Banshees are harbingers of death. Their cries signal the death of a close friend or relative. Although, she may signal your sudden demise as well. Get the scoop on these Irish death omens after the jump.
Banshees Throughout Time
Banshees were first mentioned in Celtic lore in 1380. They mainly inhabit Ireland and parts of Scotland, and also specific families from these regions.
An origin tale suggests that banshees follow the people of Milesian stock. These are the contemporary Irish, who sailed from the Iberian peninsula to Ireland many centuries ago. Other legends state that Irish families of Geraldine origination will have a banshee follow them. In another tale, the Rossmores of Monaghan have these omens following them.
Today, any surname that starts with an O’, Mc or Mac may have the mourning spirit announce their demise.
Varieties of Banshees
Banshees come in 2 varieties, a fairy or the spirit of someone who died before their time.
The Irish describe banshees as fairies, and they have the following characteristics:
- 1 foot-to-4-feet tall
- Scraggly hair
- Wear a black or gray cape with a hood
- Bloodshot eyes from crying so often
A fairy-based banshee tends to weep more than scream or sing.
A Mother Who Died in Childbirth
Another version deals with a mother dying during the birth of her first child. These banshees will sing a lament. We don’t know how this lady’s spirit will become a banshee. Some guess it deals with her inability to let go of her life, so Death makes her walk in a type of limbo.
These banshees will look like themselves in life, wearing a kind of wedding dress in her banshee form. It could be any color and she wears a veil to hide the bloody tears that stream down her face.
The spirit of a young woman tends to be the most common version in the US. She has these characteristics:
- Appears to be 16-to-21 years old
- Wears a green dress
- Has fiery red hair
- Cries bloody tears, but only before she wails
- Has a ghastly complexion
When she’s about to wail, her face fades away to a skull. The young-woman form has the piercing wail known to shatter glass. As you can guess, this version arrives when the death will be sudden.
The Banshee’s Wail
First, banshees don’t kill anyone: They only signal someone will die soon. That could be you, a family member or friend. A banshee may also appear to announce that a far away relative has died, but you haven’t been told yet.
As for that wail, banshees don’t always scream. Screaming only happens if someone’s death will be sudden. In most cases, banshees will sing or sob.
As an omen of death, banshees let you know about fate’s sometimes cruel touch. However, most people know why the banshee has picked their homes. They have a very sick or old relative and it’s their time to pass on.
If you seem young and healthy, then you may have an undiagnosed health condition or you’re about to have an accident. It wasn’t uncommon for young men to get trapped in bogs, a favorite spot for banshees, and sink into a type of quicksand. The banshee would stand at the edge, weeping as the man tries to claw himself out. As he slips below the surface, smothering in the mire, she wipes her eyes and walks away into the foggy night.
What to Do if You Meet a Banshee
Well, I’m not sure there’s much you can do. This is fate at hand. If you’re young, healthy and with a group of friends, it’s probably not your hand being dealt by death. It’s totally going to suck from someone else.
If you’re in a place of death, like hospice or a hospital, you may see or hear a few banshees roaming the halls. Although, you should only notice them if it’s a relative or close friend.
Unless there’s about to be an accident. In that case, get away from everyone and everything around you. But you can only temporarily avoid it.
I mean, accidents happen. These freak events, like a lightning strike, aneurysm, drunk drivers, gas main explosions or bear attacks, can happen to anyone and anytime. It’s like the Final Destination movies. You can only avoid Death for so long.
Jacob Rice began investigating and writing about monsters in 2007. He has published 3 books on ghost hunting, ghost stories and paranormal protection. His podcast, Ghostly Activities, dives into these topics even more. You can also watch his ghost hunts on the Ghostly Activities YouTube channel. He lives in Olympia, Washington.