A Few Notes About Sidhe
The volume of your silence is blinding
until radiating light permeates my soul
to race through timeless epochs
in deafening exploitations of innocence.
Lighter than aurora’s dew,
glass walls surround you.
Piercing anguish constricts my breath
To bring ambrosial, gracious death.
Velvet skin and cornsilk hair,
I convinced myself that you’d care.
Screaming whispers through time and space,
I’ve dropped out of the human race.
The pain that seeps into my core,
a laceration of logic and lore.
A golden red halo and bright hazel soul
pulls you toward ecstasy untold.
Searing wavesof boiling fears
call upon King Triton’s tears.
Ripping apart the strongest hull,
Under the sea, the currents pull.
I stand nearby on a desert isle,
and penetrating within begins a smile.
Stone wings beat against kaleidoscopic winds,
straining against the pulsating twilight.
Granite guardians brood and weep,
baring their steel in the dance,
bequeathed the precious boon of one last chance
to reclaim melodious blood drenched innocence.
— Crystal Goudy
A Few Notes About Sidhe
Before beginning these notes, it must be said that there are in fact many different branches of what seems essentially to be the same race. Sidhe (as I will call them for convenience) can be great travellers, and so it is little wonder that you will find them in many different realms. (At one time, Earth was a potential home for sidhe, but the humans living there took exception to this.) I don’t know if there is a «home realm» or not, but the «branch realms» have existed long enough that each has developed its own culture(s).
Now, since I am trying to dispel the most blatant misinformation, I will begin with the very basics.
Physically speaking, sidhe tend to follow basically the same patterns. They are bipedal, like humans, although there is greater latitude for body parts that humans do not have, such as bird-like wings, antennae-like structures, and horns. In general, sidhe tend to be taller and thinner-boned than humans. Ears may or may not come to a point. Eyes tend to be almond shaped and larger than human eyes. Facial features in general tend to be finer than those of humans. Males can and often do wear beards, although these tend to be thin (rather like the beards of oriental human men). Hair and skin tend to be fair. Now please note that there can always be exceptions to the general characteristics I’ve described. Furthermore, it is possible to magickally alter minor physical details such as hair and eye color, shape of the ears, and so forth — so there are no hard and fast rules.
Sidhe are not, as some humans would say, «beings of pure air and light.» To their own perceptions, sidhe are just as physical as humans are. They eat and drink just like humans, they bear children in the same way as humans do, and they bleed, just as humans do. The only real difference is that sidhe are more open and perceptive to the energy that constitutes «matter», and thus have greater control over it. This, I would venture to say, helps to explain the very long lifespan of sidhe. (Yes, it’s true that sidhe can live for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years.) Sidhe are not, however, immortal. Sooner or later, everyone dies.
Sidhe can be prolific if they choose. Multiple births are common, but only usually only the strongest babies of the «litter» survive. Sidhe children are highly instinctual; Relatively few survival skills need to be taught to them.
Now, here’s where cultural differences start coming in. Since most of my experience is with the realm of Tir Nan Oc (at least, I think that’s what common consensus would call it), that is where I’ll concentrate upon. If anyone has information regarding other sidhe realms, please send it to me!
The Sidhe of Tir Nan Oc
Disclaimer: The information presented here is the best I have been able to put together so far from my memories and the memories of others. Bits of it may be hazy or inaccurate. Anyone who takes exception with anything I’ve written here is welcome to discuss it with me. I’m still remembering, too. ^.^
Basic society in the Tir (as I recall) consisted of a «kingdom» divided into several «fiefdoms», each with a «lord» or «lady». I put these terms in quotes because they do not mean quite exactly the same thing that they do when relating to human government. A «fiefdom» isn’t really a bit of land that is rented by a noble from the king. It is more of a semi-communal living situation with one or two people designated as the overseers or caretenders of that particular area of the world. Overseeing all of these «lords» and «ladies» is the «king», who works on a larger scale to keep things flowing smoothly between the «fiefdoms.» The people who make up this branch of the government (such as it is) are responsible for making sure that peace is maintained, threats are dealt with, and that trouble is generally not a happening thing. The «ruler» of a «fiefdom» is very much in tune with the land, so much as to practically be a part of it. They are important because of their responsibilities, but are certainly not accorded the lofty «rights» that human nobility was given. A better description might be «first among equals,» with this discription applying even moreso to the «king.» (One further note — women are held in equal regard to men, so both are eligible to be «rulers.»)
Would it surprise you to know that the sidhe of the Tir also have a High Council? The High Council is the force responsible for deciding general policies that will affect more than one «fiefdom.» The High Council could be considered the other branch of government. Who sits on the High Council? The «king» does, as well as the «lords» and «ladies» and the masters of the guilds.
Guilds? Yes, there are a number of different guilds representing the various professions. These operate in much the same way as human guilds did in the Middle Ages. That is to say, they take in apprentices to teach them a skill, administer any oaths that may be necessary for apprentices to take, and then train the apprentices to fulfill certain roles in society. «Guild» may actually be a bit too tight a word, because I don’t believe the organizations are quite so tightly bound as the word «guild» implies. However, there are levels of organization, and it is those who are considered to be masters of their guilds that sit on the High Council.
Children growing up in the Tir have several choices. They may (but aren’t forced to) pursue studies that they find interesting. (However, children are not usually pushed to learn things that they are unsuited for.) Since sidhe are generally an inquisitive lot, many will choose to do so. While general education such as reading and writing may be handled by general teachers, more specialized education often involves apprenticing to a master.
There are many professions to choose from. Those with more of a bent for nature may apprentice to a ranger and learn to hunt, track, and scout. Those with a strong bent for magick can apprentice to a mage. Those who feel the call may apprentice to a healer. Others may become Bards, in order to preserve history, teach, and spread news. There are many other professions a sidhe may apprentice into, including (but not limited to) warrior, sage, seer, teacher, weaver, swordsmith, and empath (The latter are the sidhe version of psychiatrists. When you are mentally coming unbalanced, empaths can help set you right again.)
One does not have to apprentice into a guild to be taught the most basic skills of that guild. For example, you don’t have to pledge yourself to a master bard to learn the basic skill of playing the harp. It is only when you want the more specialized instruction that can take thirty or forty years to learn that you need to pledge. Spending the extra time can be highly worth it, though. Those folks who have become masters of their crafts are truly frightening in their skills.
This isn’t going to be an all-inclusive description, but here’s what I remember: The ruler of a fiefdom (and their extended family) often lives in a «castle» that is the center of local society. Situated around the castle is a village that houses those who aren’t reasonably closely related to the ruler.
Now: The castle is really more of a manor, although it does have some defensive capability. A particular one I can describe to you is built of a brown, sand-stone type of material. The building incorporates lots of graceful curves. I’d almost describe it as baroque, but without the horror of leaving undecorated space, and therefore not quite as overly-ornate. There are pockets built into the walls for plants, so that there are vines and flowers wreathing along the walls and dripping over bannisters. The manor is a bit spread out, so that there are towers at both ends and a long portico in the rear. There is also a fairly large garden behind the manor, filled with winding paths, shady trees, bright flowers, and even a small waterfall. Surrounding the manor and its grounds is a tall fence or wall.
Buildings in the surrounding village tend to be constructed of wood, with magick being utilized to help maintain them and keep them proof against the elements. There are more varied styles of decoration in the architecture here, since many of the buildings are newer than the manor. (Most of them are, in fact.)
I do not recall any sort of «money» being used. Things tended to work more along the barter system. However, in many cases barter was not even necessary. People generally did things either because they enjoyed it and wanted to, or because it was necessary. Those jobs that were considered undesirable (such as mucking out the horse stalls) were assigned to appropriate apprentices (sometimes as punishment), or else were assigned as punishments to those who merited them.
|Gaeilge (Irish)||English (Bearla)|
|Sinn Fein||SHIN FAYNE|
|BOW (as in the front of a ship or what you do when you meet royalty) RON (as in the name)|
|Tuatha De Danaan||TOOAY DUH DANUN|
|Cead mile failte||KAYD MELAH FAWL SHU|
|Cuchulainn||KOO HUXLAN the X being pronounced like the ch in loch or Bach|
|Bean sidhe||BANSHEE (when people in Ireland talk of fairies et al. they say the Sidhe & Bean means woman)|
Gaelic is the English form of the word Gaeilge which means in Irish = Irish & Irish is the official language of Ireland not Gaelic & Not Irish Gaelic either. It is in Irish -Gaeilge or in English- Irish. And what they speak in Scotland is called Scots Gaelic in English & Albannach or Gaeilge in Scottish (although I’m not sure if albannach is still used) & in Scotland it is pronounced Gallic as in the French descriptive word. The final sound being much harder & much more pronounced than in the Irish. Of course all 3 of the Goidelic languages are called Gaelic in English, but not in their own tongues.
A time long ago, the islands of the painted folks — today known as the British Isles — had not yet been crowded with men. In this time, only the fairie-people (or sidhe, as they called themselves) lived in the land, playing and dancing and feasting in eternal sunlight, and never growing old. These were the Tuatha De Danann (the People of Dana), who worshipped their mother, the Goddess Dana, through constant celebration, lovemaking, and joyous revelries. Without a care in the world they experienced life as a perpetual midsummer’s afternoon.
At this time the world of men was coming into one of their periodic catastrophes, for they had overgrown their limits and abused the fertility of the great lands of the green crescent. Some wise men had foreseen this, and had set out ahead of the impending disaster, to find a land which could be a new home. But even in that day, the Earth had become crowded with the children of men; they wandered from place to place, sometimes across mountain ranges, and other times by building small craft to sail the great, black seas. At length they came to a place where great bluffs rolled down to an endless sea, the place where great Tiamat herself was said to have been lain when she had been defeated by the dominator, Enlil. Here, from the top of the cliffs, they saw a land green and fertile, and bathed in a golden glow of sunlight. The wise among them detected the sidhe — for in these days the sidhe were still visible to men of pure heart — and so one among them was sent across to the land of the sidhe, to beg their mercy in a gift of land.
The sidhe — who were well familiar with the ways of man — met with the petitioner, and saw that his heart was pure and mind noble, and granted the man his wish; an entire valley at the south east side of their island — where now stand the towns of Glastonbury and Salisbury — did the sidhe freely give to the men. Then the sidhe returned to their lives of play and fancy, while the children of men set forth to make of their gift a rich, verdant meadow, where grew every kind of grain and fruit and vegetable imaginable — even the Apples of the Sun which came from the ends of the earth. The children of men prospered, and, as is the way with men, they were fruitful in all endeavors — including increasing their own numbers. The generations of men come thick and fast upon the earth — while the generations of sidhe last and linger like summer before it fades in autumn — and as the first generation of men who had settled this land were laid into the earth, the whole land of the gift was full; for man had taken every acre and turned it to his own purposes. The children of men, unmindful of the promises their fathers had made, moved out from the land of the gift, and began to take other valleys, and turn them to their own ends; cutting the trees, clearing the land, and turning each place into a plowed meadow. On and on this went, year after year, and the children of men had increased until they were almost uncountable, like the grains of sand on the beach.
All this time seemed no more than a single afternoon to the sidhe; and yet, as the afternoon progressed, the Sun itself grew dimmer and dimmer, until finally it was but a pale moon- ghost of itself, and the sidhe grew cold and frightened. Only then did they look out from their land — and in an instant realized that the promises men had made, the children of men had broken. The sidhe were filled with anger — for the children of men had taken the land from which they drew their power and bent it to their own ends, so that the sidhe began to fade. Consumed with anger, some sidhe suggested that they move out and slay all the children of men, but others cautioned that to bring desolation to one’s land is as bringing desolation to one’s self. Instead, the sidhe sought the ancient wisdom of their mother, Dana, who loved them dearly, and saw to it that even their most insignificant needs were met.
Dana heard and was moved; but she loved the children of men — her children as well — as much as her own sidhe. She could not take the lives of the children of men, nor make them move — which would bring them to desolation just as swiftly — but she had to protect those who were her own. And so, from the joy within her heart — the joy of the body of the earth, she welled up and created new lands, between the children of men and her children, the sidhe, so that now a great green forest stretched out like a swath of high grass, laying a wall against the lands of the children of men, presenting a buffer to her children, that they should have no more troubles. This forest was so dense that no man could enter, save that they could lay down some path to find their way out again — and was protected by a sidhe that Dana had lifted up and set apart; this was the Green Knight. He was charged to protect the sidhe from the wiles of men, and as his weapon, Dana gave him a great sword with an emerald blade — for the sidhe may not handle iron, it drains them of their power and for this reason, they fear it above all other substances.
And so it was: the sidhe gained new lands, and the energy thereof, so that their eternal afternoon of light could resume undiminished, and the children of men could remain in the lands they had been given, plus the lands they had taken from the sidhe. But the nature of man is to increase, and so these children of men beget children and they beget children, until the whole of the land they had taken was teeming with man beyond any number. It grew crowded, and there was a great contention for the choice lands where a man could raise food for his family, and it came to much fighting, and, even after the fights had died down, the land, tired from a constant work, became poor and sandy, and it yielded but a tenth of what it had when fresh and young. So a cry rose among the children of men, “Must our children starve and die when there is good, clear land? Must we watch their bodies shrivel and stomachs bloat while the thick of the forest and the game within it lies beyond our reach? We are men! Should we not move out, in force of will, and take that which will feed our children?”
Even so, the children of men knew the forest as bewitched; to enter it meant certain death, because no sooner would you leave the edge — where the forest met the lands of men — than you would be swallowed up in an eternal gloom, wandering until you died from exposure. No man would hear your cries; and if you tried to hunt some game, the Green Knight would come and cut you down with his emerald sword. What could be done against the power of Dana in the Green Knight? This question was put to one of the children of men, a being of dark wisdom, who gave much thought — after naming a price — and came back to his inquisitors and said, “There is a way to capture the forest. But to do this, you must murder the Green Knight.” The children of men were afraid, because they knew of no way to harm him; his energy was of the sidhe, and human weapons do not affect them. “You must use magic against magic!” the dark one replied, and instructed them to find twelve brave men, and forge each of them a long arc of iron, such that when all arcs were placed together, end to end, a circle would be formed from them. “Trap the Green Knight within this circle,” the dark one instructed, “and he will have no power against you.” Then he gave them a black thread, and told them, “Lay this out behind you, and you will know the way back.”
Soon thereafter, twelve men — selected for their courage, strength and skill — set out into the deep of the forest to find the Green Knight and kill him. As they entered the forest, they laid out the thread given them; where it fell to the ground the earth died and turned black, but the thread began to glow, lighting a path out of the forest. When they had gone a certain way, they made camp, and one of them trapped a snake. They made to kill it, but in that moment the Green Knight appeared, with his sword swinging. The children of men were ready for him, and formed a circle round him, each man bearing his arc of iron. As they touched the Green Knight screamed, and his emerald sword turned gray like dust. But his cries were heard by Dana, who spoke to him. “Touch my trees,” she said, “and travel among them, for they all connect in the belly of my earth.” So he made a move to the nearest tree, and immediately was gone.
The twelve men returned to the land of men and told this story to the one of dark wisdom, who seemed unaffected. “More magic against magic,” he replied, and instructed them to gather twelve times twelve men, and give each an arc of iron. “Then set forth to the forest and cut down the trees to make a clearing. Trap the Green Knight there, and he will not escape you.”
So again, twelve times twelve men — of great skill and strength — set forth into the darkened wood, traveling deep into the forest, spinning out the black thread behind them. Once they had set upon a spot to clear — low and flat — they uncovered great axes and cut down the trees, one by one, until at last the earth was barren, and a great gray patch of sky opened above. We are ready, they thought, so one of the men caught a rabbit and they moved to kill it. The Green Knight appeared in the midst of the clearing, and before he had moved much, the men had encircled him with their ring of iron. Once again he called out to Dana, but she could not offer him a tree! So instead she sent word to the sidhe, that they would come and rescue their brother. They came as legion, mounted on fire-steeds, each bearing weapons carved from wood. Each struck out at one of the twelve times twelve — and many fell, breaking the circle — then threw their swords into the air, so that they landed in the clearing. Wherever a sword struck into ground, there a tree sprung up and reached toward the heavens. In less than a moment, the entire clearing was restored and the men — them that lived — once again found themselves in a deep forest. The Green Knight had escaped them again.
The remainder of twelve times twelve men returned to their land, and immediately confronted the one of dark wisdom, saying, “You speak lies. You do not know. We must kill you!” But the one of dark wisdom soothed them, saying, “My magic is greater than the sidhe; with this last you can not fail…” This time twelve times twelve times twelve were to be gathered, and sent, each with an arc of iron. But this time they were to bury the arc beneath the earth, and create an invisible and impenetrable shield, “…which no other magic can be proof against!” “It had best be so, old man,” they replied, “lest we return to slay you.”
Now twelve times twelve times twelve men of great skill set out, laying out the black thread behind them, and marched deep into the wood. When they had gone some way, they struck out picks and dug a great trench in the earth, in a vast circle, and in it laid the arcs of iron, so that each came to each other touch in a giant hoop. Then they struck out with axes and cut down the trees within the circle, so that soon it was clear and open to the gray sky. And finally, one of them caught a bird, and made to slaughter it, but in this moment the Green Knight appeared at the edge of the clearing, and walked toward the man, swinging his great emerald blade above him like a petrified bough of the wood itself. But as the Green Knight entered the circle, his power left him, and his sword turned gray. He cried out to his mother, Dana, who saw the treachery of dark wisdom, and could do nothing for it, but to turn him into a tree, and let him travel the roots of the wood. And so his feet became roots, his legs and body, the trunk, his arms the branches, and his head the crown of a great oak tree. But the men, seeking to secure their opportunity, cut the tree down as soon as it sprung up, and burnt the wood for safety. And, to display their power over this wood, they drove the gray sword of the Green Knight into the stump of the tree. But when they did so, the sword changed into emerald again, and their eyes were filled with longing, that they should possess it. Though many tried, none among them could remove the sword from the tree, though the wood felt soft and the blade sharp. Finally they gave up, content at least that the forest had been won.
Dana realized that the children of men could not help themselves; they would overwhelm her own children sooner or later. So she created the Summer Lands, and bid her children go there, and made it so that no man can travel there, save he never return from it. To the children of men she gave the entire earth, but knew even that would not satisfy them; someday the desolation would return, and there would be no land of refuge.