#FolkloreThursday, A-Z Blogging Challenge, Celtic folklore, Faerie, folklore, John Keats, Leannan Sìth, Morrigan Aoife, preview of work, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, short story, Steven Harper, Tales of the Onyx Labyrinth, Vampire, W.B. Yeats, Wattpad, Wikipedia, writing
L is for Leannan Sìth.
The Leannan Sìth is a very interesting Faery. Not only is she the muse to artists, but she has inspired stories to be written about her.
As the quotes and links below attest, this little-known Faery creates quite a stir.
“Vampire. The perennial favourite. The modern versions usually owe quite a lot to Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. Stoker himself seems to have combined fairy lore (the blood-sucking leanan sídhe), history (Vlad the Impaler), and ancient vampire lore to create his famous villain.” – Steven Harper, Writing the Paranormal Novel
The leannán sídhe is generally depicted as a beautiful muse who offers inspiration to an artist in exchange for their love and devotion; however, this frequently results in madness for the artist, as well as premature death. W. B. Yeats popularized a slightly different perspective on these spirits with emphasis on their vampiric tendencies:
In Celtic folklore, the Irish leanan sídhe is a beautiful woman of the Aos Sí (or fairy folk) who takes a human lover. Lovers of the leanan sídhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired, lives.
From deep within the old stone well,
The Sidhe came to claim a mate.
For her glamour the poor lad fell,
And unknowingly sealed his fate.
Now he creates great works of art,
While she insures they never part.
This dark Fae inspires her loved one,
But in the end he’ll be undone.
~ Morrigan Aoife
A woman of the Aos Si who takes a human for a lover. The Leanan Sidhe is most often depicted as a beautiful muse. As long as the Leanan Sidhe is pleased with her mortal mate she offers inspiration to the artist in exchange for their love and complete devotion. This frequently results in madness and premature death for the artist. Therefore, lovers of the Leanan Sidhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired lives. However if the Leanan Sidhe is offended or spurned the fairy could take action with unpleasant results.
Leanansidhe (Irish: leannán sí, Scotch Gaelic: leannan sith, Manx: lhiannan shee) is a member of the Aes Sidhe renowned for her startling beauty, red hair, and association with artists. The origin of the name is somewhat in question: The term can mean ‘Barrow-Lover’ or ‘Fairy Lover”.
“Most of the Gaelic poets, down to quite recent times, have had a Leanhaun Shee, for she gives inspiration to her slaves and is indeed the Gaelic muse — this malignant fairy. Her lovers, the Gaelic poets, died young. She grew restless and carried them away to other worlds, for death does not destroy her power.” – W.B. Yeats
The name translates to “fairy, love of my soul”. A vampiric spirit and a dark muse, the love of the Leanan Sidhe is both a gift and a curse. These eerily beautiful Irish spirits drain the sanity and lifeforce of the men they inspire to artistic greatness. Her kiss infuses a man with depth of vision and feeling, otherworldly passion, and a sudden and ineffable understanding of the unending sadness that plagues mankind. Her perfume is a crush of Irish herbs and flowers, Gaelic mists, and nighttime dew
Upon the misty, magical green isle of Ireland, lurking through the small villages and scenic towns that dot the ancient landscape, a legend from elder times still exists today; a myth that haunts the imagination and brings a chill to the hearts of the world in the telling. Someone or something hunts the young, bright and poetic men who inhabit the Celtic countryside, yearning to make those men their belongings without any chance or desire for escape. That something comes in the form of an utterly beautiful, young, perfect flame-haired lass, who wins the heart of her desired lover and then takes hold of his very soul. Sounds like every sad, Irish poem about love, doesn’t it? Maybe, until you discover that the fine, young girl with the curly red tresses is not what she appears to be, not even in the slightest. She is the LEANAN SIDHE (Lan-awn-Shee), the “Fairy Sweetheart,” who seeks to claim the heart, soul and very life of a spry, energetic young man, yearning to drain him dry of all of his powerful essence, his fierce energy, his undying love, and eventually, his very breathing life. https://mrpsmythopedia.wikispaces.com/Leanan+Sidhe
Leanan Sidhe In Culture: William Butler Yeats documented the Leanan Sidhe in his work, Fairy And Folktales Of Ireland; “Most of the Gaelic poets, down to quite recent times, have had a Leanhaun Shee, for she gives inspiration to her slaves and is indeed the Gaelic muse — this malignant fairy. Her lovers, the Gaelic poets, died young. She grew restless and carried them away to other worlds, for death does not destroy her power.” The poem, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, best sums up the dangers of Leanan Sidhe and of the fairy-folk in general.
La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats, 1819.
Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.
Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.
I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful – a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.
I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.
I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.
She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said –
‘I love thee true’.
She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.
And there she lulled me asleep
And there I dreamed – Ah! woe betide! –
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.
I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried – ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!’
I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.
And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.
The Leanan Sidhe is a very beautiful faerie, but is also said to be a vampire faery of sorts. There is said to be only one of her kind…. no other like her… Leanan Sidhe has been sighted or told of from the Isle of Man. It is said that as she is a vampire faerie, she enjoys drinking the blood of her victims. However she doesn’t just bite her victims and suck the blood out like a normal vampire does…she actually drinks her victims blood from a large red cauldron. This cauldron is said in legends to be the source of her power and good looks. The creativity that she inspires in poets and the artists is said to by drinking from this red cauldron of blood… of the life force of the humans she has taken…
Leanan Sidhe, aka Psychic and Pranic “vampires”, are both steeped in folklore and myth, just as the Vampire. The Leanan Sidhe in folklore is called the Sweetheart Faerie and the Dark muse.
Of course, I use this beautiful and deadly Faery in my own writing.
Leannan Sìth [From the page Origin of the Fae]
This Dark Muse has beautiful red hair to go with her strikingly good looks.
There are only female Leannan Sìth.
She offers inspiration to an artist in exchange for his love and complete devotion. Lovers of the Leannan Sìth live brief, though highly inspired, lives. This union always ends in madness, despair and death.
If her advances are spurned, she’ll take action against the human with unpleasant results. (Better to devote oneself to this Faery and die young than go against her and have her cause a fate worse than death for all you know.)
She drains the sanity and life-force from the men she inspires to greatness.
She drains the blood from those she deems unworthy of her love (which is a gift and a curse of itself). She drinks their blood from a huge cauldron in which she gathers their very essence and vitality along with their blood – this is the source of her power and good looks. (This technically makes her a vampire.)
With one kiss from her, a man is her slave even beyond death (she takes possession of his heart and soul).
She only goes after young, handsome men.
I’ve used this Faery as the antagonist in The Dark Muse.
“Brandon’s carefree laughter made Daphne’s head snap up. He sounded a bit insane. The woman’s tinkling laughter joined his.
The laughing couple left the garden.
‘Something’s very wrong,’ an Elf whimpered next to Daphne.
She turned and saw the servant’s terrified eyes.
‘What do you mean?’ she demanded.
‘Leannan Sìth shouldn’t have power over other Fae,’ the Elf said, her phosphorous green eyes big with fear.”
– The Dark Muse, Tales of the Onyx Labyrinth, Ronel Janse van Vuuren
I hope you enjoy reading the third tale in the series. Comments can be left here or on Wattpad – I always appreciate feedback. Have you encountered the Leannan Sìth? Do you write about this vampiric muse?