"Stop screaming like a Banshee!" my mother declared on frequent childhood occasions, and only recently have I fully understood what was meant. Far from being some sort of demon of the night, as one's younger intelligence imagined; a Banshee is in actual fact a female faery!
Gaelic for faery is Sith (pronounced Shee) and the evidence for an
ancient faery people in parts of Scotland and Ireland is considerable.
Scotland is abundant with faery place names and lore, the most obvious
are Glen Shee - The Faery Valley, and Schiehallion - The Faery Mountain,
there is even a Blar nan Sith - The Battlefield of the Faeries. Literally
hundreds of other places referred to as faery hills, glens, woods,
lochs and waterfalls are strewn throughout the West of Scotland.
poignant of all though, are the living descendants of one of the faery
clans - the MacPhees of Colonsay. The name MacPhee comes from Duffie,
which in turn is a corruption of the Gaelic Dubh Sith (pronounced
Dooshee) which almost unbelievably, means Black Faery! Perhaps a forgotten
Pictish people really did sing and dance on top of their faery mounds,
above the beaches where their canoes drew to rest in the magical islands
of the Scottish Hebrides, in a place where time still meanders slower.
So what have all these faeries got to do with Oor Arthur? - He slaughtered them!
These faeries were the small painted Pictish warriors who haunted the Otherworld - The misty mountain tops and islands on the western fringes of Oor Arthur's domain. They were sailors, probably red haired, with green or blue eyes, and they were Pagan's. They had only just met Saint Columba, the harbinger of Christianity, in a few years time they would meet Oor Arthur, the enforcer of Christianity.
The evidence for such a rash statement lies within the tradition of the Welsh speaking Strathclyde poet Taliesin, Oor Arthur's companion - 'To reach Caer Siddi you travel by the narrow track, and always by the mounds of the Sithean'. Caer is Welsh for fortress, and the 'dd' is sounded as 'th'. Caer Sithi undoubtedly translates as Caer Shee - The Faery Fortress. These directions will help us in future articles where the quest for the origin of the Grail Castle can be achieved.
For now, the last, literal shred of my evidence for ancient faery warriors in Scotland is 'The Faery Battle Flag'; a frail fifteen hundred year old piece of faded silk still treasured by the MacLeods of Dunvegan on the misty mountained Isle of Skye.
The MacLeods, hereditary keepers of the flag, claim that it was given to them by the faeries, and there is a belief that the flag is only to be unfurled in times of the gravest peril and even then, its magic can only be used three times. The unfurling has already been carried out twice and it would appear that the Faery Battle Standard has only one last magical act of protection to perform.
Once you have seen the full extent of Arthur's deeds, it becomes obvious why the mourning wails of the faery widows - "The Screaming Banshees" - are still remembered as being the most tormented.
what about Pixies? The answer is a very simple corruption of Pict
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