I'll tell you straight up that research was hard to come up with on this Supernatural phenomenon! We all had a spartan time unearthing the appropriate info! (and there are Storycologists, Librarians and Booksellers in this club!!)
Read: It is still an elusive & mysterious thing.
We did find some consistencies though in what we DID find:
Banshees are an Irish female apparition that "announce the approach of Death" with their high pitched mournful screams. It is said that a Banshee can take the shape shifting form of a beautiful woman OR an ugly hag.
Her screams are said to be heard village wide, and even the DEAF can hear them.
Their wails are said to bring grown men to a cold sweat and to strike fear and terror into all.
Banshees, being most likely "Keening Women" (women who were Hired to come and mourn at funerals so your lost loved one would seem "more popular") who had died but had been cursed to weep and mourn in grief for all eternity for their "false grief" during life. We found it somewhat poetic, that. Don't you?
Also, there are NO MALE BANSHEES. Only female.
We think this is because women were only allowed to show emotion. Not men. Unfortunately.
And other questions arose...
With all this "over the top" weeping and wailing....
isn't it healthier to purge like this...
and to have a grand wake and get drunk, like the Irish did...
rather than "repressing grief" like our society does today?
But more so...
Do you really want to be warned when it's "Your Time" to go?
Does it help?
Does it make you so freaked out to hear the Banshee that you actually have a heart attack & die?
Sort of "self fulfilling prophesy?
Our StoryBook Club members were UNDAUNTED in their interest and in their love of story!
We met together armed with food, folklore and forbearance!
Here's the beautiful table that Stephanie set at her place tonight:
She started with her family's Irish tartan...
then added gauze for the Banshees lovely white dress and hair...
Funeral flower vases.....
There were Goddess cards to protect us...
and her Irish china did abound at her very comely and comfortable cottage!
Food offerings from all of us on this Irish night were:
Irish Guinness Stew with bread and melted cheddar, Irish Soda Bread, Creamed Cabbage, Irish Brownies, Irish Pie, Gift bags of goodies, Jamesons, High Balls (an old favorite of my mother's time: which is basically "whiskey & Ginger" and a favorite of mine as well. YUMMY!)
Mmmmmm!! It was all soooo delicious!!!
For entertainment, we read and discussed all about Irish and Scottish Banshee folklore, we were treated to an original poem from Michael:
The Banshee’s Wail ~ by Michael King
The Banshee wails outside the door,
A sign that hath not come before,
She cries a warning of what’s to be,
To tell them of their destiny.
The eerie sound floats upon the breeze,
And like a spectral dagger slices through the trees,
It stirs up life within the ground,
And gathers energies from all around.
She comes not from a point of sky,
But surrounds the house with a mournful cry,
Then she appears from out of thin air,
To mourn the loss of someone there.
Throughout the ages, she hath wailed her cries,
And with tattered cloak wipes tearless eyes,
A church bell tolls your final hour,
As she turns to summon the Coach de Bower.
(Awesome! Thanks for sharing, Mike!!)
and some song lyrics from an old Celtic song were shared from Stephanie....
and Merlyn brought her guitar and played and sang 2 Banshee songs.
(Would you believe, she actually had 2 Banshee songs in her repertoire? :)
There was appropriate screaming and wailing involved.
And rightly so.
We ended up the evening, with much hilarity and lurid storymaking
(I did say that this was a StoryBook Club but kids weren't invited, right? :)
Swearing, sordid sign language, drinking whiskey and sipping assorted teas and watching a Special episode of "Charmed" called "Who's Barking Now" where Phoebe is turned into a Banshee.
Also, Merlyn was inspired to regale all with a rousing round of "The Good Ship Venus" as long as we were in our cups and reveling. Nothing like a rowdy, bawdy song to really make the evening a "HOWLING" success!
Quite a wild, fun evening to be out on this waxing Gibbous moonlit night!
Next Month's theme (after this month's savage and raw Banshee....)
We decided on something rather more loving...
"Warm & Fuzzy" and for Easter and Springtime for April's Theme:
"The Velveteen Rabbit".
A story about being "Real".Till then~
We are all back safe home in our beds....and the Banshee has stopped her wailing.
As we pull the safe covers over our heads....
We hope you find your "Happily Ever After".