"RIDERS OF THE SIDHE" by John Duncan
In Irish lore, The Sidhe (pronounced shee), or Aos Sí (shee), were descendants of the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Ireland. They are members of a powerful supernatural race comparable to the fairies or elves of old. They are often called the Kings and Queens of the Fairies. However, they are neither winged nor diminutive, and are in no way like the cute little fairies of our modern-day imagination.
Rather, Aos Sí (as I will refer to them throughout this post) are otherworldly beings who resemble humans in size and appearance. (Many call them The Sídhe, but that is incorrect, sídhe being the Irish word for mounds. Rather, they are Aos Sí, "People of the Mounds".)
Aos Sí are considered to be a distinct race, quite separate from human beings yet who have had much contact with them over the centuries. They are tall, with a noble appearance and silvery sweet speech. They are generally described as stunningly beautiful, though they can also be terrible and hideous. They are sometimes described as transparent beings who walk without making a sound or leaving tracks. They are dressed very finely and their halls are richly decorated places with sumptuous foods and drinks.
The Milesians fought the Tuatha Dé Danann and defeated them. As part of their surrender terms, the Tuatha Dé Danann agreed to retreat and dwell underground in the hollow hills, or sídhe, where it is said they remain to this day as Aos Sí, also called "Daoine Sídhe" (pronounced deena shee).
Each leader of the distinct tribes of the Tuatha Dé Danann was given one mound. Every king or queen has his or her own palace where they feast and play music. They also have regular battles with neighboring tribes.
No matter where they abide, it is in an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans, a different dimension of space and time other than our own. This world is described as a parallel universe in which the Aos Sí walk amongst the living.
"Water Sidhe" by ArwensGrace
Belief in this race of beings who have powers to move quickly through the air and change their shape at will once played a huge part in the lives of people living in rural Ireland and Scotland.
Down through the ages the Aos Sí have been said to be in contact with mortals giving them protection, healing them and even teaching them some of their skills - smithcraft or the working of metals being one such skill. In a just battle, they will fight beside mortals. When they fight, they go armed with lances of blue flame and shields of pure white.
In folk belief and practice, the Aos Sí are often propitiated with offerings, and care is taken to avoid angering or insulting them. Often they are not named directly, but rather spoken of with euphemisms such as "The Good Neighbors," "The Fair Folk," or simply "The Folk", in the hope that if humans describe them as kind, they are more likely to be so. Other names are "The Gentry", "The Lordly Ones" or "The Good People".
"SIDHE OF THE MOOR" by Alexandra Dawe
Aos Sí are generally benign until angered by some foolish action of a mortal. Many trees and mounds are considered under their protection and if a mortal destroys or damages these then a curse is put upon him and his family. In some parts of the countryside people would not build their houses over certain "fairy paths" because of the type of disturbances which would ensue.
However, Aos Sí are notorious for destroying wheat and the goodness of the milk. To propitiate them, the people of Ireland leave them offerings of milk and butter.
Aos Sí are fierce guardians of their abodes - whether that be a fairy hill, a fairy ring, a special tree (often a hawthorn), or perhaps a particular loch or wood. The Gaelic Otherworld is seen as being closer at the times of dusk and dawn, therefore this is seen as a time special to the Aos Sí, as are some of the festivals such as Samhain, Beltane and Midsummer. Whenever a host of the Aos Sí appears there is a strange sound like the humming of thousands of bees and a whirlwind or shee-gaoithe appears.
Whereas the fairy woman is young and beautiful, Caeilte himself is old and withered. When Patrick enquires of this, Caeilte tells him: "She is of the Tuatha De Dananns who are unfading... and I am of the sons of Mil, who are perishable and fade away".
There are guardian Aos Sí of most of the lakes of Ireland and Scotland. Lough Gur in County Limerick is a very magical place where many of The Sidhe kings and queens of Ireland can be found. The lake lies within a circle of low lying hills, but once every seven years it appears as dry land, where an entrance to the Land of Youth may be found. The lake's guardian is known as Toice Bhrean (the lazy one) because she neglected to watch over the well from which the lake sprang forth. It is believed that once every seven years a mortal meets their death by drowning in the lake, taken by the Beann Fhionn, the White Lady.
There are different types of Aos Sí, the most well-known being the Bean Sídhe, or Banshee. The word banshee simply means woman of the sídhe, but has come to specifically indicate the supernatural women of Ireland who announce an oncoming death by their wailing and keening. Her counterpart in Scottish mythology is the Bean Shìth.
The fae creature known as Leannán Sidhe is the "Faery Lover". She seeks out artists and poets, and in return for inspiration, she feeds off their life force. These men in turn fall madly in love with her, and then she leaves them. The enchantment is so extreme and intense that the men feel they can't live without her, and they soon waste away and die.
A distinction is often made between the sidhe who are seen walking on the ground after sunset, and the Sluagh Sídhe, "the fairy host" who travel through the air at night, and are known to take mortals with them on their journeys. These airborne spirits of an unpleasant nature are perhaps the cursed, evil or restless dead.
"LEANNAN SIDHE NA HEIREANN"