Because of the association and connection of the Daoine Sidhe with the spirits of the dead, and evil spirits, countless tales are told and retold, with increasing authority and validity. Unexplained occurrences of spirit nature and hauntings are deemed to be the responsibilities of the Good People. No tale produces more of a sense of foreboding and doom, than those of the Bean Sidhe - the Banshee; popularly believed to be the evil foreteller of imminent death.
The Banshee is always seen in the form of a female human. Sometimes assuming the form of some sweet singing virgin who died young, and is believed to have been given the mission by the invisible powers to become the harbinger of coming doom to her mortal family. She may be seen at night as a shrouded woman, crouched beneath the trees, lamenting and wailing with veiled face, or flying past in the moonlight, crying bitterly, a dark shadowy figure. The cry of the Banshee is mournful beyond all other sounds on earth, and foretells of certain death to some member of the family whenever it is heard.
At times she is seen clothed in red, a red shawl over her head shrouding her face; bending over a stream washing a cloth, stained blood red, wailing bitterly as she scrubs. Only certain families of historic lineage, or persons gifted with music and song, are said to be attended by this spirit - for music and poetry are fairy gifts, and the possessors of them show a kinship to the spirit race, therefore, they are watched over by the Spirit of Life - the Leanan-Sidhe - which is prophecy and inspiration; and by the Spirit of Death - the Bean Sidhe - which is the revealer of the secrets of death.
excerpt from THE O'NEILL BANSHEE - http://home.iprimus.com.au/sidhe/oneill.html
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