Origins of Well Known Monsters II

It was Celtic folklore that brought the banshee (“woman of the sídhe” or “woman of the fairy mounds”) to life. In literary circles, the banshee is a feminine spirit that serves as an alert for impending death that usually affects someone who is held in high regard in society. Sometimes, she is a messenger of the Otherworld. In this article, you will learn about the banshee, as well as another female monster  – the Gorgon.


While the banshee is usually described as a certain kind of ghost, others have depicted the banshee as a fairy. In the majority of cases, the banshee appears in clothing that is pale and flowing, which gives the look that they are light as air. Other characteristics of this “creature” include long, fair hair. When someone is about to die, the woman starts to wail. She represents the foretelling of death. Scottish mythology sometimes depicts the creature as washing the blood-stained clothes or armor of those who are about to die.

A banshee can come to a person in a number of disguises, but most of the time, she looks like an ugly, frightening hag. If she wishes, she can appear as a striking woman of any age. Other forms that a banshee may materialize as include a weasel, hooded crow or hare ”“ all animals that are linked to witchcraft in Ireland. Depending on the tale, the figure first reveals herself as a banshee, but can later transform into the Irish battle goddess, the Morrigan. You don’t always see the banshee when she gives off her “mourning” call. Most of the calls are heard at night when someone is about to die or usually close to the woods.

The banshee made an appearance in North American literature sometime in the late 18th century. One of the most well known of North American tales hails from Tar River in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, where the banshee is seen as a ghoul instead of one that signifies a bad omen. Residents in the badlands of South Dakota know the banshee to wail upon a hill close to what is called Watch Dog Butte. Banshees in American tales are not connected to alerting people to impending death, but instead, serves the same role as a ghost.

While a banshee is believed an imaginary figure, some have allegedly been sighted as recently as 1948.


One of the most famous Gorgons in literature is Medusa from ancient Greek mythology. This monster was a female that possessed sharp fangs in the mouth and a head full of snakes that served as their hair. Whenever a human laid their eyes upon the gorgon, they would turn to stone. Medusa was the queen of gorgons and only she was thought to be a mortal.

The gaze of the gorgon was powerful and because of this, there are images of the creature found on objects and buildings ”“ for the purpose of protection. A primary portion of the temple of Corfu has the image of a gorgon, which is the oldest in Greece ”“ dating back to around 600 BC.