An ill fairy wind blows no good. ANN O’REGAN tells us why you should always have a piece of iron in your pocket should you cross the Slua Sidhe in Ireland.
When you think of Irish Fairies or the Sidhe as they are known, your imagination probably conjures up images of helpful winged beings blessing you with good fortune, however, this could be your undoing. Irish people know that the Sidhe can be very mischievous and demand reverence, but at their worst? Well that’s a dark side you don’t want to cross.
It has long been believed that the fairy folk are descendants of the Celtic gods and goddesses and the Slua Sidhe are no exception. Also known as ‘The Fairy Shock Troop’ and ‘Fairy Host’, these beings are to be deeply feared.
For centuries they were believed to be the evil souls of the restless departed, rejected by the Celtic gods for their sins and damned to hover between realms, only to venture abroad when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest. These ethereal malevolent creatures are full of anger and vicious in nature, determined to torment and destroy any human who dares to stand in their way.
Essentially warriors, they are always hostile and ready to do battle with any rival host who they encounter. Obsessed with strength, power and splendour, the shock troop will do whatever it takes to maintain their standards and ensure their survival. In the event one of their own are sickly or impaired, they will abduct a human, usually a gifted child who has great beauty and strength. The sickly fairy known as a Changeling is left in place of the mortal and you can read more about Changelings here.
The Slua Sidhe travel through the air, reaping havoc as they fly. It is believed that many sailors and fishermen have lost their lives as the fury of the host creates a tempest, reducing boats to kindling and casting those on board into the icy seas and rivers.
When roaming over land a whirlwind is created by the Slua Sidhe called the Gaoithe Sidhe (Fairy Wind), which is heralded by an ominous droning that vibrates through to your very soul. Farmers caught in their fields would pray in desperation as they watched it come towards them, helpless to defend themselves or their crops and cattle.
The Gaoithe Sidhe could rip the roof from the strongest homestead, allowing the fairy troop to get inside and carry a soul away. Magic gusting forth from the tornado of devastation would strike musicians daring to play fairy music and leave them silent, destroy crops and damage the sight of animals and humans who were unable to escape its wrath.
If you were unfortunate enough to be caught in the path of the fairy wind, you would be hit with a ‘Poc si’ or fairy stroke that blighted fields and was believed to be responsible for ailments and deformities in all living things. Children in its wake were left unable to grow further and if you pulled a face at the oncoming host, the wind would blow and your features would remain forever crooked.
The only way to be protected from the might of the Slua Sidhe is to throw iron into the oncoming squall. Should you hear a piercing scream you know you have hit your mark and must shout ‘May my misfortune go with you!’ This should shield you as they pass over, however be sure to be far away from their path upon their next visit.
The Host will not forget and have an eternity to exact their revenge. If you hear a crescendo of humming bees and feel a gust of wind at your neck you should run. Don’t look back, as the fairy wind is approaching carrying the ruthless Fairy Shock Troop -and they’re coming for you.