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twig

o n   t h e   s i d h e

by Arethinn
April 2007

Originally posted in my journal.

I am referring to sidhe that are not of Danann kindred here, by the way (or at least, not entirely). And one thing I somehow missed out entirely was a discussion of the concept of sovereignty, which seems important. But here it is anyway:

[...]

When I say "sidhe", I mean something that has the following characteristics:

1. Sidhe are beings of faery nature that are non-solid (i.e., "a spirit") or made of insubstantial matter, much more rarified than what we touch in everyday life *knocks on table*. In our natural forms, we are generally of the tall, thin "body" type, about on par with moderately tall humans (say, 5'10" at shortest, to 6+ feet, though generally not more than 7).

2. Sidhe are ultimately of celestial origin, or have this somewhere in our spiritual ancestry if of mixed heritage. Thus, stars, starlight and "starsong" have a strong resonance for sidhe, and we have an extra, replacement, or redundant (WRT the human body's energetic system - I dunno about non-embodied sidhe) "chakra" which is essentially a star within. (I've picked up the term "core star" from [info]danodea.)

3. "Faery nature", loosely, means that we are from Faery. Since I think the origin of sidhe is ultimately from without rather than within or upon the planet, I might compare this to immigration - we moved to Faery from the celestial realms, and now after many generations are quite naturalized. Or to put it another way, celestial is the "race" or "bloodline" while faery is the "ethnicity" or "family group". (Note that I don't think "Faery" and "Earth's underworld realm" are wholly interchangeable terms. Faery, to me, is a much, much larger place and concept, like "the Dreaming" in Changeling. But locally, part of Earth's underworld is part of Faery. There are many other realms in Faery as well.)

4. Specifically, the parts of Faery that sidhe are from, or associated with, is Under-Hill, a place often characterized in stories as "hollow hills". There seems to be more than one Under-Hill, of different flavours or resonances. The only ones I have even secondhand experience of are associated with nations in the British Isles (specifically English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish Under-hills), but though I don't know specifically of any others (I guess Breton, Cornish and Manx ones would stand to reason), I don't know anything that would prevent it. (Thus, some beings which the word "sidhe" could well describe are not necessarily Irish/Scottish in origin, although that's where we get the word.)

5. Sidhe are not related to Danu in the way that Tuatha De Danann are. There is some kind of relationship, I think, but it is not in the sense of being her direct descendants or descendents of her "family" (although nowadays, due to intermixing, I'm sure there are plenty who have her back there somewhere). I have a kind of reverence for Danu myself, but it is not the same sort of feeling by which I know that my (physical) mother is my mother. I do sometimes have a feeling that there is a sidhe "ancestress" (actually I am not sure that xe is female, come to that), but I don't know who or where xe might be.

6. Sidhe often "hold realms", which is something that distinguishes them from some other types of faery beings. A lot of Faery is naturally chaotic, and doesn't hold much form unless someone tells it to be a certain way. Sidhe impose our wills on a domain and "hold" it. (I have some thoughts about devices called "shining stones" that are part of this.)

7. Sidhe shine. (Like duh.) Elves sometimes glimmer, faery often sparkle, but sidhe outright radiate.

8. Sidhe need glamour like most animals need oxygen. Lacking it is death, or turning into some twisted hollow thing. We are used to being immersed in a magical environment. (By "glamour", here, I mean "the stuff of sidhe/faery magic", that *something* that makes something enchanted, rather than the art of illusion.)

9. Sidhe are beautiful. We consider ourselves manifestations of "the world's beauty" ("world" in a rather broad sense - I sometimes want to say "universe" but usually the word that comes out in my mediations is "world", sometimes used to mean "all of creation".) We might use glamour to change our appearance for fun, but never "to make ourselves prettier" because we think of ourselves as already perfect (although might look strange by human beauty standards).

10. I am undecided on the characteristic of wings. I want to say "sidhe don't have wings" but I seem to have some (etheric ones) in this current body, so I am not sure where they come from. (I have very few specific memory-glimpses in my head on things sidhe and faery, so I don't have enough even to disentangle them, really.) I wrote in one of the things on my website that if they are there, they would be not functional wings but more like an energetic shape-feature, the way that certain crystals are shaped certain ways. This seems reasonable to me but I do not have a definite opinion on it.

11. I am also unclear on the whole social structure. I have some inklings on something that is at least roughly comparable to "king/queen/court" type organization, and other bits that are me, alone, in my solitary "held realm" (albeit a small one - I have heard the term "smallsidhe" in my head occasionally, which I suppose might map to "sidhe bheag / sidhe mhor" as in the tune by O'Carolan, now that I mention it?).

However, in any case, there aren't Seelie and Unseelie courts as we usually think of them. The division or classification I remember has two aspects to it: one aspect more aligned with the four seasons (I think something like this is depicted in Dark Ages: Fae?) or directions, somewhat how the four/five Provinces of Ireland have metaphorical connections, and the other with the three realms, Over, Middle, and Lower, which is closer to the seelie/unseelie terms as those with an "overworld" affinity tend to "bright/good" whereas those with "underworld" are more the "dark/malice" type (though not always). I am not sure whether this had broad social implications, was something referred to only in ceremony (and whether serious or not - there's a difference between Mass, and the ceremonies of a social fraternal organization), or was even considered as trivial as one's zodiac sign. I just have some faint ideas that it was there.

 

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