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o n   s i d h e

by Arethinn

(June 2005 post on Embracing Mystery)

Disclaimer: For ease of typing out my thoughts I am probably going to use "we" in a lot of places, but I don't think sidhe (or any faery "race") can necessarily be considered as a single thing. I think there are various types of sidhe, so the stuff I am about to say may not apply to others, and stuff that would be true about them may not apply to me. Also, I do not have extensive in-person interaction with other sidhe, and I haven't actually discussed "sidheness" itself very much at all with anyone, so. T(heir)MMV and YMMV.

> The word "Sidhe", as I understand, is used to refer to faeries of Ireland
> and Scotland (yet not native to either region) who were descendants of the
> Tuatha De Dannan (People of the Goddess Danu) who lived in the mounds or
> hills of Ireland after being defeated by the Sons of Mil (Milesians).

As I now understand "sidhe", not exactly. There is definitely a relationship. I think that there were sidhe before there were Tuatha, but after they came there was intermixture, especially after the arrival of the Milesians; thus descendents of this also have come to be called "sidhe" (also since one meaning of the word is "hill", as you mentioned, and this is where the Tuatha are said to have gone to live - the hollow hills, or "Under-hill"). It is possible that sidhe have some other direct or indirect relationship to Danu herself, but I am not sure. I feel that I have a personal connection to her, but I don't know if it's of the nature of descent, or if she is more like an "in-law".

I am also not sure that sidhe ae restricted to Ireland and Scotland, or even the Isles, but I can't really comment on this as I have no specific memories or information about the Continent or elsewhere in the world, and my strong positive reaction to "Irish Underhill" energy at Dancing might indicate that this is where I'm from, so that could make me even less helpful about talking about other places.

> I have heard that "Sidhe" is simply another word for "faerie", or
> "faeries of Ireland".

Eh, well kind of. "Sidhe" can't apply to all faery races, of course. I think of myself as a kind of faery, or a very close relation. But there are many types of faery which are not sidhe. However, I think making a distinction is at least partly a result of having the words side by side in English. There is no word "faery" in Irish; that is an English word which descends from French. Thus I think in its context the word "sidhe" means anything fey, and you could say "it's just another word for faery". As borrowed into English, though, it becomes a little more precise because we are conscious of its linguistic origin, so it's not "just anything" but "something specifically in this place" (so maybe "sidhe" as such are restricted to the Isles, I dunno). "Faery" and "elf" describe the same general class of being, but things have the nature of the land they are rooted in, and are slightly different just as the humans who natively used these words were slightly different from one another.

> I have also heard "Sidhe" being recorded as gentle, peaceful spirits
> (The "Good People", "Lordly Ones" or even "Shining Hosts")... and then
> I have heard that they are/were warriors and very fierce and ugly, at that.


I'd say little of column A, little of column B. You don't want to be on a sidhe's shit-list, that's for sure. I don't think we are "warlike" by nature, not in the aggressive-conquering sense anyway, but one can be "fierce" without being "warlike", if that makes any sense. But it's certainly not accurate to say we are all gentle and peaceful either. "Good People" is euphemistic - sort of like saying "nice doggy" in the hopes that it won't bite you. "Lordly Ones" and "Shining Hosts" work well, but these are neutral. They describe the regalness or awesomeness of sidhe, rather than saying anything about their peacefulness.

I doubt sidhe could be thought of as "ugly" although they might be strange to human standards of beauty.

> What I personally feel in the energy of the word "Sidhe" is a peaceful
> calm nature spirit, something I level with the word "nymph"...

Respectfully, no. We are connected to land, and to "nature", and being less-physical or non-physical in essence can dwell within natural features.. all of these can lead to an impression of being nature spirits, but we are not, any more than humans are "city spirits". (hmm.. an interesting metaphor branch there, heheh.) "Nymph" is way off, at least as I understand "nymph".

"Calm" perhaps, in the same way that... a cat is calm? You know, always being in "I meant to do that" mode?

As for "peaceful", see above. I may be mixing up my own personality with race characteristics here, but I do get a sense we like to do our own thing, are content with what we have, and don't go looking for trouble, or stirring shit up for the hell of it, but look out if you try to take from us what is ours, or attack our kin.

(January 2006 post to KinFrontiers)

> What do you mean by Sidhe (as distinguished from the other forms, if you
> know), and why do you call them "shining ones"?

In my personal spectrum sidhe fall somewhere between elves and "pure" faery. I personally feel elves as "silvery" or "crystalline" which is not shared by sidhe, but neither are sidhe quite as full "warm" or "chaotic" as faery. Sidhe are kind of... I dunno.. more "mature" or "serious" or something. Ugh. This is kind of squiggly and hard to put into words without standing two examples side by side (in person, that is) and saying "ok, first sense exhibit A... now exhibit B... do you perceive the difference?" It's not for nothing the words are often used interchangeably, after all. Some might say my insistence on calling elves, faery, sidhe and Tuatha all different things is splitting hairs.

"Shining ones" because that's what they do - shine. Faery beings are extremely commonly described this way. But not every last one does (for example, "brownie" types, little tree and rock beings, etc) whereas I can't think of any examples of sidhe that don't (although perhaps not all in the same intensity or magnificence).


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