Posted on Leave a comment

Irish Folklore: Féar Gortach

The Fear Gorta means Famine Man or Féar Gortach and refers to the Hungry or Famine Grass in Irish folklore.

The Famine or Hungry Man is a skeletal wraith and a harbinger of death. Féar Gortach is a folklore tale of a cursed patch of land where if you tread, you are doomed to die of starvation no matter how much you eat.

From Cork to Kilkenny and Galway to Connemara, tales of people losing their way on short routes across fields and being caught by the Hungry Grass.

A young man walking home on a sunny day, crosses through the field and is found days later, confuse, not knowing where he is and starving. He is taken home but no amount of nursing or food can save him from starving to death. Others are so overwhelmed by the touch of the cursed grass that they die from hunger where they stand. These victims of the Famine are also predatory, seeking others out to drag others onto the grass. The only protection is to carry a crust of bread in your pocket – but even that may not be enough to save you.

The Hungry Grass and the Hungry Man have two origins but the outcome facing either is much the same. Féar Gortach relates to one of the most dreadful eras in Irish history.

The Origins: The Irish Potato Fammine

It has many names: the Irish Great Hunger, The Great Famine and the Irish Potato Famine. The despair, death and devastation suffered in Ireland for almost a decade at the hands of British tyranny. Class discrimination, religious intolerance, enforced labour, deliberate starvation and forced exile were all endured under the dark skies and harsh winter after harsh winter.

British penal laws meant that parliamentary representatives were primarily British nationals and their male descendants were granted landed estates in Ireland. Irish Catholics who had previously had property had it confiscated and were forbidden from owning or leasing land or voting. The penal law was largely repealed before 1830, however Irish Catholics had to settle for leasing land back from the British landowners.

The potato was only introduced into Ireland in the 18th century but it soon became a staple food because of it was hardy enough to survive the Irish weather and it was a cheap product that went far for a family.

Unfortunately, potato crops became infested with an airborne fungus called phytophthora infestans, also known as potato blight. It soon became a countrywide disaster.

British Corn Laws were still in existence and fixed at an artificially high tariff on imports to protect British corn prices and keep them in control of the market. A petition was put forward for Queen Victoria to repeal the high tax – which did happen – but too late. This, combined with a high level of produce being exported out of Ireland by British landowners and merchants resulted in a food shortage of catastrophic proportions brought Ireland to its knees.

Charles Trevelyan and Black ‘47

Attempts at temporary relief measures were mismanaged and local committees would be unruly and incapable of the organisation required to put these measures in place successfully. Just when it was thought that things couldn’t get any worse, it did,

Charles Trevelyan was assigned the relief effort and he would become one of the most hated men in Irish history. Trevelyan was a civil servant with no compassion, empathy or connection to the Irish people he was tasked to assist.

His methods at creating employment, bringing food to the table and restarting the Irish economy were drawn out, complicated and ultimately, failed. Trevelyan and the British government were operating on the principle that the blight would be short lived and that nature would run its course.

The first year of the potato blight and food shortages was dire, but the Irish kept going with their small import of corn, selling off the little livestock they owned and borrowing money from brutal loaners.

The British Prime Minister Robert Peel had supplied Ireland with its corn imports but following his resignation in 1846, Trevelyan took complete control and cut off Ireland from further imports so the Irish weren’t relying on British support. Despite his procedures to develop a working economy in Ireland had failed.

The collapse of social systems and infrastructure and absence of food, Trevelyan sent soldiers to try to install order. One of the most brutal winters hit Ireland and under Trevelyan half a million Irish were out in the blizzards building roads. Men, women, children – barley clothed, starving and freezing – died where they stood.

1847 become known as ‘Black 47’ – the worst year of the Great Hunger. The population was emaciated and desperately trying to work on Trevelyan’s enterprises for almost no wages or food. Children went without any sustenance as their parents needed whatever food they had to work on road-building.

Disease ravished Ireland and most died from typhus, dysentery and the black fever rather than malnutrition. Finally, all of Trevelyan’s projects were closed down and soup kitchens and charity introduced but far too slowly and on too small a scale. In 1847 the third potato harvest failed.

The Rise of Fear Gorta & Féar Gortach

Death was the common and the dead were tossed into carts and tossed into makeshift graves without so much as a blessing and their souls condemned to Purgatory.

All over Ireland hundreds of mass graves were dug, and these Famine Graveyards as they became known were originally un-consecrated, although in later years many became memorialised and recognised as consecrated ground.

Others remained buried in cold, unhallowed ground and over the top of these mass graves the grass grew sparsely and it was cursed. It was hungry. From this situation, the Hungry Grass and the emaciated figure known as the Hungry Man emerged.

Supernatural origins and Lore

The most common lore behind the Féar Gortach is that is occurs as a result of fairy magic. Found in fields and cursed by the fairies of the Unseelie Court who use dark magic.

Whether as a source of famine or fairy folk, to stand on the Hungry Grass equals death. Slowly, starvation begins and the sufferer descends into madness. They eat and eat but no amount of food will ever satiate their hunger. Ultimately, the victim withers away and dies.

The Fear Gorta, or Hungry Man is not a man at all, but a Fae being. He’s associated with famine because his dreadful skeletal appearance, gaunt and haggard. His sallow skin is stretched thinly over an emaciated body. His clothing is made of tatters and rags and he looks like the walking dead. His appearance during times of great hardship and Famine. The Fear Gorta can be malevolent or benevolent, depending on his mood and the welcome he receives. He is known to call house to house begging and if he is treated kindly, he has the ability to bestow good blessings and wealth on those he deems worthy. Those who are unkind will feel his wrath and suffer abject poverty, famine and death.

There are no certain ways to defend yourself against either the Fear Gorta or Féar Gortach, but there are wardings and protections to carry a crust of bread in your pocket which may protect from the starvation effects of stepping on the Hungry Grass. It is believed that bread crumbs spread on the cursed grass will reverse the curse on those recently afflicted. Ultimately, salting and burning the field will bring closure to the cursed.

The Fear Gorta is a different issue. He is a solitary Fae without a master. There is no protection from his power. Decimation and despair will wake him and his withered, skeletal finger will point to his next victim.

Posted on Leave a comment

Sumerian Mythology: Ereshkigal

Ereshkigal in Near Eastern mythology (Babylonian – Assyrian) was the goddess of the underworld, married to the war god Nergal.

Ereshkigal ruled over the Mesopotamian realm of death. She is Inanna’s sister, rival, or alter-ego as descriptions of her and her realm are found in the Sumerian hymn, The Descent of Inanna (available in English translation). This is the descent Inanna makes into Irkalla-Ereshkigal’s realm of death.

Ereshkigal is great and powerful and possesses power over life: has access to the Water of Life and is capable of resurrecting the dead.

She is a tempestuous, volatile and aggressive. She commands and compels the dead with her powers are invoked in necromantic spells from the magical papyri of Alexandria, Egypt.

An Akkadian hymn recounts the union of Ereshkigal and Nergal. Nergal was delegated to deliver food offerings to Ereshkigal and they unexpectedly fell passionately in love and she conceived. When Nergal returned to his home in the court of the spirits, Ereshkigal threatened the supreme authorities with an army of the raised dead to devour the living unless Nergal was sent back to her. Unless her “request” was granted, the dead would outnumber the living. No attempts were made to call her challenge and Nergal was allowed to return.

Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld

Ereshkigal plays a prominent role in the myth known as ‘Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld’ . Inanna is the Queen of Heaven and Ereshkigal’s younger sister. In the myth, Inanna journeyed to the Underworld to observe the funeral rites of Gugalanna, Ereshkigal’s husband. Although Inanna was allowed to pass through the seven gates of the Underworld, Ereshkigal instructed her gatekeeper, Neti, to remove a piece of clothing or jewelry from her sister as each gate was opened. This may be interpreted as the gradual removal of Inanna’s power as she progressed deeper into the realm belonging to her sister. Finally, when Inanna reached Ereshkigal’s throne room, she was completely naked and powerless. After the Annuna of the Dead passed judgment on her, Inanna was killed by Ereshkigal and her corpse hung from a hook on the wall. The gods succeeded in rescuing Inanna and removed her from the Underworld alive.

Origin: Sumerian

Manifestations: Ereshkigal may manifest as a woman but she may also appear with a lioness’ head on a woman’s body.

Attributes: Her scepter is a snake.

Consort: Nergal

Allies: Gestinana and Belit-Seri, Lady of the Desert, serve as Ereshkigal’s personal secretaries, writing down her decrees.

Animals: Snakes, scorpions, lions

Realm: Irkalla, realm of no return; realm of the dead.

Offerings: Made to the dead find their way to Ereshkigal.

Posted on Leave a comment

Skeleton Man

Publisher’s Description

Though he may be retired, Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn hasn’t lost his curiosity or his edge. He’s eager to help Sergeant Jim Chee and his fiancée Bernie Manuelito with their latest case—clearing an innocent kid accused of robbing a trading post.

Billy Tuve claims he received the precious diamond from a strange old man in the canyon. Could it be one of the gems that went missing in an epic plane crash decades earlier? Now that it may have resurfaced, it’s attracted dangerous strangers to the Navajo lands.

Proving Billy’s innocence won’t be easy. Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito must find the remains of a passenger who died in the crash—one of 172 lost souls whose remains were scattered across the magnificent tiered cliffs of the Grand Canyon.

But nature may prove their deadliest adversary. To find the proof they need, the detectives must battle a thunderous monsoon and a killer as they plunge deeper into the dark realm of the Hopi Lord of Death—the guardian of the underworld known as Skeleton Man.


I read Skeleton Man (Leaphorn and Chee, #17) by US author Tony Hilerman.

Skeleton Man follows Sergeant Jim Chee and his fiancée Bernie Manuelito as these Navajo tribal police officers investigate Navajo robbery suspect Billy Tuve when he tries to pawn a large diamond from a decade old plane crash over the Grand Canyon. Tuve claims innocence and he received the diamond from a Skeleton Man in the canyons. Sergeant Chee consults retired Lieutenant Jim Leaphorn and the meaning behind the Skeleton Man – a Hopi legendary guardian of The Underworld. Determining if the Skeleton Man Tuve claims he met with and exchanged a knife for a a diamond is crucial to proving his innocence.

The case soon becomes dangerous when private investigators behave unlawfully and a race to recover the decades old remains of a passenger who travelled with diamonds encased and strapped to his wrist during the plane crash. His daughter – unrecognised by the family or company – may finally have her inheritance recognised if she can recover the remains of her father. As the monsoon storms gather above the Grand Canyon and rains threaten to flood the canyon, the answer lies with the mysterious figure of the Skeleton Man.

Final Thoughts

Skeleton Man is a well-written and fascinating historical mystery that combines crime and both Navajo and Hopi folklore and legends alongside a great sense of respect for the canyon landscape and the indigenous peoples who care and guard the land.


A great combination of mystery, history, crime and Navajo and Hopi folklore. A recommended read!

Posted on Leave a comment

Inuit Folklore: The Amikuk

The Amikuk is a monster from Inuit legend that is as deadly on land as it is in the water. They possess a deep hatred for al humans and actively hunt for kayakers in the open waters off the Alaskan coast.

The Amikuk are often described as extremely long but almost human-like in shape. They are covered in thick, slimy dark skin that has the appearance of old leather and long, wide-set, spindly arms with fingers that taper off into sharp points. They’re often seen with two legs but have – on occasion – been seen to have four.

While in the water, the Amikuk is constantly hunting for passing kayaks. It presses itself up against floating sea ice and waits – perfectly still – until the ideal time to attack. Once a victim paddles close enough to the waiting Amikuk, it pushes off the sea ice and positions itself beneath the kayak. Without warning the monster pushes its long arms and legs out from the water to wrap tightly about the vessel before pulling it under the water. Once beneath the water, the Amikuk tries to drown the human kayaker.

Even though the Amikuk is extremely deadly it doesn’t always kill its victim after pulling them into the water. Sometimes people were able to swim back to the sea ice before the Amikuk disengages it’s spindly limbs from the kayak. Even is they escape the Amikuk’s grasp it possesses the ability to burrow into both earth and ice follow, unresting and unrelenting until the person is finally caught by it.

The Amikuk produces a thumping noise moving through the earth that echoes from the main tunnel and into the surrounding area. The vibrations caused by its movement are said to be strong enough to freeze a fleeing victim in their tracks and allows it enough time to burst through the ground/ice below and kill the human above.

While a majority of the legends about the Amikuk depict it as being nothing more than a deadly monster, other legends talk of it being magical as well.

In one story, the Amikuk is said to create a bird-like nest which it protects with extreme devotion even though it contains no eggs or young but a few scraps of magical fur or animal hide. If a human manages to steal the Amikuk’s nest, the scraps of fur inside are able to repair anything broken. It was also believed the furs were capable of creating great riches from nowhere if the nest remains in the possession of the one who stole it.

Another legend of the Amikuk tells of it being able to shape shift into an almost human form. While in this form, it must pull a sled and can only walk in a straight line. If a human were to see an approaching Amikuk in this form, they can sit directly in its path. Since it must only walk in a straight line, it won’t be able to avoid the sitting person and begins to panic. While in this panicked state, the Amikuk offers a gift in order to get the sitter to move, but the sitter shouldn’t accept it. The refusal of the offering causes the Amikuk to become desperate and it will offer a better gift each time the sitter refuses until the final and most valuable gift is offered. On acceptance of this offer, the sitter will move and be extremely wealthy and the Amikuk can continue on its way.

Posted on Leave a comment

Leprechaun Folklore

The stereotype of the leprechaun is of lucky charms and pots of gold at the end of a rainbow. But leprechauns are members of the Fairy folk, a type of sidhe and are unusual because leprechauns are almost exclusively always male.

The name leprechaun derives from the Gaelic leith brog “one shoemaker.” The leprechaun is a cobbler and while the other sidhe dance and revel, he is always hard at work. He is depicted wearing one shoe rather than a pair – which may also be a shamanic reference. (References to shoes, especially only one shoe are often oblique references to shamanism. Ancient shamanic dances often performed with one shoe on and one shoe off). The leprechaun works on shoes constantly with time off only for an occasional spree. He is fabulously wealthy but buries his treasure in pots underground. He is a skillful but not always pleasant practical joker. The leprechaun may be invoked for financial aid.

Leprechauns are often compared to clurichauns. Because like leprechauns, clurichauns are often exclusively male. The clurichaun could be the nocturnal form of the leprechaun out after a hard day’s work.

Alternatively, some perceive clurichauns to be leprechauns lacking work ethic. Unlike hardworking, wealth-accumulating leprechauns, clurichauns spend all their time drinking. They are often drunk but retain their good manners unlike the surly leprechaun. Clurichauns come out at night to drink, party and play pranks on people (for example, raiding the pantry).

The only occupation for which the clurichaun displays enthusiasm is as a guardian of liquor cellars. The clurichaun will protect your cellar from thieves and prevent wine from spoiling and bottles from breaking or leaking. Simply request his presence and leave him a sample of whatever you have in stock. Leave such offerings on a regular basis lest he decide to begin serving himself.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Lantern Men

Publisher’s Description

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?


I recently read forensic archaeological crime mystery The Lantern Men (Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries, #12) by UK author Elly Griffiths.

The protagonist Dr Ruth Galloway has left the marshes and working at the University of Oxford and living in a townhouse with her new partner. But she is restless and soon requested to work a cold case murders on the marshes of Norfolk. A series of missing women from an artistic retreat and local folklore of lights on the marshes that lead the lost astray are the Lantern Men. But this specific folklore is imbedded the past and present of the retreat – saving the lost on the real and metaphorical marshes and missing women the likely victims of a sinister killer.

Ruth Galloway is the forensic archaeologist that convicted killer Ivor March requests to find two of his victims Detective Nelson is certain he killed. Soon, Ruth is following a trail of history, folklore and tales of the lantern men. But as the psst students and leaders of the retreat become interwoven with legendary and real lantern men, Ruth and Nelson wonder if there’s more than one killer – and more recent missing women on the marshes taken by a very real Lantern Man.

Final Thoughts

I’ve read several Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries by Elly Griffiths and the clever integration of local folklore in The Lantern Men is highly intriguing. The suspense and thriller aspects of a murder mystery were cleverly interwoven with the folklore of the lantern man central to theme and crimes.


A highly recommended mystery – both for it’s history and crime themes. There’s even something for fans folklore and suspense. A great read!

Posted on Leave a comment

Ryujin: Japanese Folklore

In Japanese mythology, thousands of dragons exist. All of them have three common characteristics: three claws on each leg, a mustache and a sacred pearl that is called the “dragon pearl”. The magic of the dragons come from these jewels.

It is from this jewel that the magic of these dragons comes. The greatest of these dragons is Ryujin, the God of the Seas. Curiously, he is also considered a demon or Yokai.

Ryujin resides in a palace and has a love of letters and a keeper of many secrets. His magic is so great that he is worshipped by thousands of Shintoists.

The Imperial Palace of the Sea Dragon King

Ryujin lives in a luxurious palace submerged under the sea called “Ryūgū-jō.” It is made of red and white coral as well as precious stones. This large mansion has a very special power: it changes the perception of time. A century in the earthly world is equivalent to only a day in the Kingdom. The palace has four entrances and each one symbolises the four seasons.

Ryujin’s Magical Powers

The magic pearl that Ryujin holds gives him certain powers. Like all dragons, he is able to breathe fire but his abilities also include transformation into any shape he wants. He can even perfectly adopt a human form. He has total control over the oceans and can unleash dangerous tsunamis or terrible storms if he wishes. All marine species are also under his control with Sea turtles delivering his messages, fish and jellyfish are his faithful servants. Fishermen regularly try to appease him through offerings hoping for calm seas.

Shinto Belief: Faith Of The Dragon God

Within Shintoism, there is a doctrine called Ryūjin shinkō. These believers worship dragons and they name the divine creatures “water kami.” They pray for agricultural success as well as success for the fishermen. The sea was very important for the Japanese people of the Middle Ages and of antiquity and island lifestyles meant the inhabitants survived mainly by fishing. Thus, Ryujin, the great king of the seas is their most important deity.

Many Shinto shrines are dedicated specifically to Ryujin with the most famous in Osaka called the Daikai Jinja.

The Empress Jinga and the Jewels Of Ryujin

Ryujin’s sacred mission is to protect Japan. He uses his powers to help the Japanese imperial family. In the context of war, the Japanese empress had to fight a fierce Korean fleet and so the sea dragon offered his powerful assistance.

When the battle began, all the water disappeared leaving the Korean fleet of boats stuck. They changed tactics and launched the infantry. But at that moment, the water reappeared and caused the death of the Empresses’ enemies with the aid of Ryujin.

Urashima Tarō and the Magic Pearl Of Immortality

A fisherman named Urashima Tarō witnesses children torturing a helpless fish. He comes to its aid and releases it back into the ocean. He lived a quiet life until a huge turtle asked him to climb on its back. The turtle took the fisherman to the great kingdom of the sea dragon where Ryujin intends to reward his good deed.

The fish he had saved was not just a common fish. It was Ryujin’s daughter who had transformed herself into a fish. For seven days, Urashima Tarō was welcome in the sea dragon’s palace.

When it was time for him to leave, Ryujin’s daughter gave him a generous gift – a small box containing a pearl of immortality. It can allow him to fulfill all his wishes but for the pearl to work, the box must never be opened.

The seven days in Ryujin’s palace was 700 years on earth. When Urashima Tarō returned it was to discover that 700 years had passed. He took advantage of the pearl to live in luxury but never let the pearl corrupt his altruistic nature. As soon as he returned to earth, he offered his wealth to all the villagers. But the people forced their way through his door to take the magic box. Once they’d stolen it, they rushed to open it. All the power permanently escaped leaving its owner to succumb to age. In punishment of this cowardly act, Ryujin deprived the villagers of water and everyone in the village perished.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Kishi

The Kishi by TheRafaArts

The Kimbundu people of Angola believe in a fast and agile vampiric demon named the. Kishi. Its true form has two heads appearing as a hyena with large teeth and powerful jaws on one side, a human face on the other .

It can shape-shift into a man and in that guise impregnate a woman. After she gives birth to its child, the kishi kills her and takes the offspring to raise in its home beneath the sea where the child becomes cannibalistic like its father.

The Kishi in human form is a preternaturally handsome man with a deep, piercing stare. The second head grows from the back of his skull which is the snarling face of a hyena.

A Kishi is a lesser form of rakshasa. They are deemed lesser in relative power and magical prowess – not in the ability harm others or inflict harm on communities. A Kishi can’t truly shapeshift with its animalistic features always present in the grotesque hyena face growing from the back of the head.

Kishis are very persuasive which helps entice others into doing evil deeds. Their handsome human face and charming words are boosted by a magical persuasion to weaken the will of a target or simply by looking upon them. Those that refuse to be seduced or corrupted are attacked. The kishi can quickly turn its head 180 degrees and unleash the bestial hyena aspect. If the victim attacked is killed, the corpse is usually left out in the open and partially eaten to spread terror.

Most Kishi live alone but move from village to village so the ruin thru have created doesn’t fall suspect that n them.

Although not compelled to kill, they find pleasure from it and prefer the flesh of humans to those of other creatures. If rare occasions when multiple Kishis cooperate together, they may pose as a gang of thieves, mercenaries or prostitutes or other socially low groups. Each Kishi in such a pack often try to gain leverage over the other in the hope of reincarnating sooner into a more powerful Rakshasa form.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Red String of Fate

The Red Thread of Fate, refers to an ancient Asian myth of love. The Red Thread of Fate also referred to as the Red Thread of Marriage, and other variants, is an East Asian belief originating from a Chinese legend.

In Chinese mythology, the gods tie an invisible red string around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. According to Chinese legend, the deity in charge of ‘the red thread’ is believed to be Yuè Xià Lǎorén (often abbreviated to Yuè Lǎo) the old lunar god of matchmaking whose power is over marriage. The two people connected by the red thread are destined lovers, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. This thread may stretch or tangle, but it won’t ever break.

In Japanese legend, red strings are tied to the pinky finger of one person and the pointer finger of another. This legend is similar to the Western concept of a soulmate or ‘twin flame’.


A boy was walking home one night and startled when he saw an old man leaning up against a fence beneath the moonlight. The old man was standing next to a giant bag and flipping through a book.

‘What are you reading?’ said the boy.

‘This is the book of marriages,’ said the old man, ‘I need only use one of the red strings in this bag to tie two people together and they will become destined to be married.’

The boy didn’t believe it so the old man took him into the village and pointed out the young girl that was destined to be his wife.

The boy became angry as he was really young and did not plan on ever getting married. He picked up a rock and threw it at the girl and then ran away.

Many years later the boy’s parents arranged a marriage for him and on the night of the wedding, he nervously lifted the veil covering his new wife’s face.

He was happy to see that she was one of the most beautiful women in the village. But he also noticed that she wore an unusual decoration on her eyebrow and asked her about it out of curiosity.

Flustered, she removed the decoration to reveal a scar. She explained that when she was very young someone threw a rock at her and it had scarred her face right above the eye.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Banshee

A Banshee is a fairy in Irish legend and her scream is believed to be an omen of death. The scream is also called ‘caoine’ which means ‘keening’ and is a warning that there will be an imminent death in the family. As the Irish families blended over time, it is said that each family has its own specific Banshee.

A Banshee is a disembodied spirit and appears in any of the following forms: a) A beautiful woman wearing a shroud b) A pale woman in a white dress with long red hair c) A woman with a long silver dress and silver hair d) A headless woman who is naked from the waist up and carrying a bowl of blood e) An old woman with long white hair wearing a green dress and frightening red eyes f) An old woman with long grey hair dressed all in black with a veil covering her face.

Historians traced the first banshee stories to the 8th century which were based on a tradition of women singing a sorrowful song to lament someone’s death. These women were known as ‘keeners’ and since they accepted alcohol as payment, they were thought sinners and punished as doomed to become Banshees.

According to the mythology of the Banshee, if she is seen, she vanishes into a cloud of mist with a noise like a bird flapping its wings. Banshees never cause death – they only serve to warn of it.

Not all Banshees are cold and impassive creatures. There are some that had such strong ties to their families they continued to watch over them in death. When they manifest themselves, these Banshees appear as beautiful enchanting women that sing a sorrowful, haunting song full of concern and love for their families. This song is heard a few days before the death of a family member and usually only by the one for will die.

There are angry and vengeful Banshees that during their lives had reasons to hate their families. They manifest as distorted and frightening apparitions filled with hatred. The howls emitted by these Banshees are enough to chill you to the bone and rather than warning a family member of their imminent death, these Banshees are delighting in vengeance via the death of someone they loathed.

In other Irish mythology stories, the Banshee is the ghost of a young girl who suffered a brutal death and her spirit remains to warn of an imminent a violent death to her family members. This Banshee appears as an old woman with rotten teeth and long fingernails wearing rags with blood red eyes. Looking directly into her hate-filled eyes brings about immediate death. Her mouth is always open as the piercing scream torments the living.

According to other tales, some Banshees derive pleasure from taking a life and actively find their victims and wail constantly until the person commits suicide or goes insane. There are even Banshees that tear people to shreds. This violent, bloody banshee features most commonly in modern horror films.

It is important to remember the role of the Banshee isn’t to bring or reliever death but warn a family member so they have time to prepare for the inevitable.