Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Leanan Sidhe ; The Muse

*~* Leanan Sidhe the Myth and Lore*~*

The translation of her name hold the first clue to who and what she is. The words are Gaelic and refer to "faery muse". "Leanan" means the love of my soul or inspiration. "Sidhe" is the word for a faery. In Irish poetic tradition, she was the muse who appeared to the bard as the "Aisling" or vision. In his vision he meets her on a hillside and she then inspires music or poetry that has an otherworldly sadness and regret for the glorious past of the Irish. For those who settled the Celtic Countries, this could be a later translation of contact with the women of the Sidhe. The Sidhe are an ancient race who once made their home on the Green Islands long before the coming of the Irish. A race that remains to this day, an unannounced yet vital influence upon the imagination.

Leanan Sidhe is a powerful muse who bestows a gift; the ability to create a work of art, music, or poetry with great depth of feeling. The price of her dark and delicate gift is often a sorrow or heartbreak that is born of obsession. An artist may be spent as furiously as he draws from his source, hence the mythos of the artist who when possessed of the Leanan Sidhe lives a brilliant but brief life. Her true purpose is revealed in the creative works she inspires in poets, painters, and musicians. She is an empath who is compelled to inspire love and despair, longing and desire. She teaches the beauty and power of such emotion and that all such feeling is vital to creation with many dark nights of the soul required to convey the sorrow of her history.
She is intelligence and creativity, art and magic. In this earthly realm, so embraced with fear of the erotic and the sensual, it is no wonder she who is the embodiment of these very qualities, has been considered dangerous and evil, as many woman have been considered evil who revel in their mystery, power and dark exotic beauty.

Leanan Sidhe is often quoted as meaning "the fairy mistress" or the "fairy sweetheart". She is a the famous Celtic muse with such a dark and unearthly beauty that her lover was often distraught with longing and suffering for her absence. In legend, the Leanan Sidhe often takes an artist for a lover, hence the title "the fairy sweetheart". It is said that her lover gives her the vital depth of emotion that she craves and she in turn inspires his genius.
He is the artist, who lost without his inspiration, unable to create his works of art and compositions of song, suffers in a deep depression and sometimes commits suicide or gives up his creative work in despair. Yet an artist who has lost the connection to his muse has failed to honor and nurture the gift he has been given. The role of the artist in the loss of his muse is not often considered or understood. The self destructive nature of many inspired artists probably lent itself to the misconception that she was evil and dangerous. Evil is not darkness, for darkness she is, and she can also be dangerous and destructive. When her gift is honored and nurtured, she shines as a luminous light in the darkness. For those who understand her true nature, who do not idolize or fear her, she is a sliver of moonlight in the blackest night.
The most common and widespread myth attached to Leanan Sidhe is that she is a vampirish spirit who attaches herself to one man. To this man, an artist or poet, she appears irresistibly beautiful, and if he is seduced by her, he is ruined body and soul. This misunderstanding is not in keeping with her original purpose and is only as recent as Medieval Scotland when she was associated with the Christian superstition of the succubi. It was popularized in print by the poet W.B. Yeats who claimed that she was a "blood sucking vampire" This was a dramatic touch, but is more likely a symptom of the Victorian obsession with succubi along with a bit of poetic license. Unfortunately, most research on the subject of Leanan Sidhe goes back no farther than the account Yeats held of her. There is a rich and enduring history and deeper meaning to the name Leanan Sidhe that is much more interesting than the popular vampire fantasies.