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The heART of Ritual


Dreaming the Dark: Lilith, The 'Banshee' (Part 2)

An Irish perspective on shadow consciousness & the psychopomp

Art credit: unknown
Art credit: unknown

The energy known as 'Lilith' to so many is also known in old Irish legends as “Banshee”. This is a corruption of the name Bean Sídhe (modern Irish spelling is 'Bean Sí'),- meaning woman of the faerie folk. Note that 'sídhe' is the Irish word referring to the fae folk.

The banshee is a female spirit in Irish mythology who heralds the death of a family member, usually by shrieking or keening. Her name is connected to the mythologically-important tumuli or ‘mounds’ that dot the Irish countryside, which are known as síde (singular síd) in Old Irish. From here grew the associations with graveyards and the dead.

The banshee is often described in Irish and Scottish lore as wearing red or green, usually with long, disheveled hair, usually described as red or orange, and in medieval times described to shimmer like wildfire. Note this too is the physical appearance traditionally associated with 'Lilith'.

The Banshee can appear in a variety of forms and is a shapeshifter. Perhaps most often she is seen as an ugly, frightful hag, but she can also appear as young and beautiful if she chooses. In some tales, the figure who first appears to be a banshee or other cailleach (hag) is later revealed to be the Irish battle goddess, the Morrígan. And Morrígan is a name that I am sure many of you are familiar with also.

The Siren is another version of this same energy, just the water based adaptation. Note how 'Ariel', the cartoon mermaid in popular culture is presented - red hair, green clothes and beautiful.

(Art Credit: unknown)
(Art Credit: unknown)

On the topic of sirens and as a prelude to the psychological observations offered below, I have to share one of my most favorite quotes as it speaks volumes on both this theme and ‘modern society’...

“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”― Anaïs Nin

In regards to the hag aspect of the Banshee: note that it is from this that the portrayal of 'Lilith' as a fearsome shrieking vampire rose through the middle ages. 'Lilith' as a seductress and beautiful vampire was the 'lighter' more palatable and sexualized aspect of this character, albeit still demonized. The light aspect of the shadow side, if you will.

From a psychological aspect, I find it interesting that 'Lilith', the Banshee, and all of these aspects of the same energy and essence, are psychopomps. Even as a vampire, she offers immortality and is the portal through which one attains that. And speaking of vampires, these two took the world by storm just a few years ago - pale skin, red hair, glowing eyes, beautiful yet deadly. Sound like anyone else we know? Note what is written on the image.

(Art credit: unknown)
(Art credit: unknown)

Irrelevant of what name is applied to this energy, be it Kali, Morrígan, Lilith, Baba Yaga, the Banshee (some of the more broadly recognized names), these characters and this energy is one that relates with the dark aspect of the shadow side, characters that destroy, transform, are associated with the 'underworld', and are pretty much, the 'ferry-woman', bone collector, or escort of this journey - a transition which in essence gifts infinite potential and growth once you face your demons, your own shadow aspects and fears.

However this journey, the journey to the 'underworld' and into the darkness (the shadow aspect and subconscious), has too been demonized over the centuries, through negative associations, religious programming, and cultural conditioning. All this, one could say, entraps humanity and/or the Soul into a cycle of shallow living and separation - because if one only ever connects with the light/masculine aspect of the whole, the one is living 100% inside of 50% of their BEing! Consider it for a moment. It goes further and has even infiltrated the business of spirituality, where people now identify as being ‘Lightworkers’ and ‘beings of light’. In the 1980’s, new age spirituality coined the term 'twin flame'. The masses perceive this to be a ‘soul partner’, which ultimately it is, but the great misunderstanding here is that this soul partner is believed to be a person that exists outside of themselves instead of what it actually is - your wild twin, the abandoned or banished aspect of Self! So the search begins for this person (outside of yourSelf), and along with it comes disappointment, pain and suffering...all unnecessary, and all because of mass illusion and mass misunderstanding of a new agey term, which ultimately ended up becoming yet another very powerful spell of separation (within) by distracting the masses away from the real work, the journey within. The reality is that your wild twin/twin flame can only be rediscovered by surrendering, going within, and traveling through the tunnel/portal of the psychopomp into shadow consciousness. As a species, we are continually programmed and distracted away from the inner worlds and unified BEing, conditioned to 'follow the light' and 'be light filled. We really do need to be more mindful of how we limit ourSelves and spell ourselves because again, everything is energy and light is just half of the whole. And so we return full circle to the point raised on spell work, the energy in words, how we are entrapping ourSelves, and separation within.

From a spiritual/philosophical perspective, this journey to the underworld speaks of surrendering, and dying, a dissolution and merging, of yourself...into yourSELF. Accepting yourself fully, unconditionally, lovingly and in non judgement. Traveling through the 'dark night of the soul' and then experiencing the dawning of a new day, a new era. New beginnings and new potential.

'Lilith' is not just the story of a whore, a lover scorned, the bitch, vampire or the original femininst. 'Lilith', and all of these names applied to this energy, speaks of unity and integrating all so that we can BE complete. It speaks of being both ‘Beauty’ and ‘the Beast’! As a shadow aspect of the feminine subconscious, it speaks of introspective examination and healing of the deepest layers of BEing, reclaiming ourSelves. Wandering into the wastelands to discover the bare charred bones of (your) BEing, gathering them up from the ashes of the funeral pyre, returning, and building yourself from this core solid foundation. The triumphant return. It’s the classic arch in storytelling really when you consider it, and it really is as simple as that, on repeat, until we ‘get it’ - the ‘it’ is the need to give loving attention and equal reverence to the altars in both the masculine and feminine aspects within you, so that you may reclaim wholeness and harmony once again. THIS is what the twin flame is about, this is who your soul mate is, it’s reclaiming your wild twin. Yourself. And to think of the amount of time people waste looking outside of themselves for the answers that are much closer to home. Inside!

My parting thought is an observation of the similarity between 'Lilith' and the Lily. The lily does after all, grow upon the surface of the water, yet is rooted in the murky depths, feeding on decomposing sediment of that which has already died. This is just as much Cailleach energy as any of the deities we traditionally apply.

The summary of the above is of course to occupy yourSELF fully and completely, and to be equally at home both in the light and dark.

© 2017 The heART of Ritual. All rights reserved.


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