The Joy of Research: The Fae… White Ladies

White ladies ~ There are stories of the white ladies all over the world. Some are malevolent, but in many cases if a person shows the right respect a white lady can in fact be very benevolent. They are usually well disposed to humans, and may help travelers find their way, aid women in childbirth, prophecy the future, make cows give milk, show miners rich veins of precious metal, turn pebbles into precious stones, and bestow wonderful gifts on their favorites. White ladies can also manifest near holy wells, streams, borders, or in fact any place that is sacred. Below are just a few examples of white ladies.

1. Banshee/Beansidhe ~ banshees are reported either to be young women of mournful aspect or else to take the form of hags. With eyes red from weeping, she continuously combs her hair with a gold or silver comb. If a banshee hair falls on you it’s a bad omen. She is often shrouded and crotches under a tree or flies past the moonlight. Their main task is to foretell the death of a person. Banshees are attached to Irish and Scottish families of pure Milesian descent, or families gifted with music and song and their cry is only heard when a family member is about to die. A banshee will even follow their family if they immigrate abroad. Some families even know the name of their banshee. In rare instances banshees may even offer advice.

2. Boabhan Sith ~ Scottish Highland fairies who look like beautiful women but are really predators who thirst for human blood. They appear first as crows and ravens, then take the shape of lovely girls wearing white or green dresses with plaid sashes, but with hooves instead of feet. Their wails can be heard from miles around.

3. Dames Blanches ~ In Normandy in Northern France they are the white ladies of ravines, fords, bridges, and other narrow places. They asked passing travelers to dance, and if the travelers are polite all is well. If they are rude the fairies toss the travelers in the ditch were tormented the evil spirits to learn better manners. They are beautiful, blonde haired, and dressed all in white but with snakelike tales or bird feet. They cloak themselves in white fog wash their dresses every night in the streams.

4. Fainen ~ Tyrolean white lady who can only be glimpsed by those born on a Sunday, or if she appears to kiss a child, or by those possessing a special amulet. She takes the form of a lovely girl with long golden hair dressed in gauzy white.

5. Fata/Fatae ~ generic term for Italian white ladies. Some are good and some are bad. They live in caves, rocks, springs, and grottoes and are usually seen at noon when they are their most powerful. The Fatae appear soon after the birth of a child to bless or curse it according to the behavior of the family. They reward people who treat them well when they are encountered in the forest and punish those who treat them ill. They are shape shifters and can appear in human or animal form. Every five years they have to travel to Himalayas to appear the temple of the demogorgan.

6. Shamantin ~ Ashati and Tschwe “White Lady” of West Africa, her name meaning “tall ghost”. She is described as being extremely tall and completely white. Shamantin is the wife of the nature spirit Sasabonsam. Shamantin lives in the forest and sits in the cotton silk trees waiting for travelers to pass beneath her so she may grab them up with her legs. She keeps those she captures for a few months, forcibly teaching her prisoners the lore of the forest.

7. Sibille ~ abruzzo fairies, white ladies who haunt the Italian Linden groves and sacred groves guarding treasure.

8. Weisse Frauen ~ a German white lady who is generally kind of benevolent. She is usually seen in the vicinity of old castles and may give directions travelers. She particularly likes children and will drown anyone who has abused a child. If she should kiss a child it will become invulnerable.

9. Witte Juffern ~ Dutch fairies who like to live in caves close to towns and villages.

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