The Banshee of Castle Muirn

I've always loved reading about the history of Scotland and Ireland. And it all started with a love of fairy tales. Imagine me pestering my poor mother to tell me more, more, more! So my first novel is set in Scotland in the 17th century and the heroine is a banshee, a nice banshee of course. This except from The Banshee of Loch Muirn gives you an idea of what a banshee does:


The crow had a more important task--to find out if Morag had secured an apprentice. Only one other of Morag's kind lived in the district--Shona, the chief's daughter. Both women had silver-grey eyes, a sure sign.

The crow nibbled seeds spilled on the floor. "Keep your mind on your business, old dear."

 Morag put on a worn linen shift and an earasaid of grey and white, and belted it with a sash of green silk, the emblem of her calling.

"You're dragging your tail feathers." The bird jumped from floor to chair to chest.

"You'd know more about that than I."

"Someone's outside. Stay here. I'll go see." The bird flew out the smoke hole, and found a young man with his arm about a girl by the garden wall.  They thought birds had no power to understand human speech, and they'd ignore her. When they left, she returned to Morag's and landed sideways on the chain holding her old bronze cauldron over the fire.

"Two young lovers. And the men in black cloaks and breeches nearby. Too bad the young ones will be caught up in this. But the death of one of them is the beginning of change in Glen Muirn. I saw it.”

“It can’t be changed."

Morag pinned her garment with a silver brooch so big that the bird could have built a nest on it.  "Let's go," she squawked.

"Hush, rude bird. You'll wake the dead."

"They'll wake with all the people to join them this year."

"Ready."

The crow enabled the old woman to keep her nocturnal walks a secret. Morag skirted the edge of the village---she had to appear from the west if anyone saw her, and the crow flew overhead to make sure no one encountered her while she was working. During all the years the old woman had done her job, the villagers had remained ignorant of who predicted death among them.

The people of the baile knew Morag only for her knowledge of herbs and simples. And so they should. Now the crow had the duty to help her find a replacement. "Only one silver-eyed woman has the copper in her blood. Only one person sickens with iron."

Morag wants Shona Campbell to be her apprentice, but Shona is the chief's daughter and destined for marriage and children to keep Clan Campbell strong. A banshee is weakened by iron and childbearing—in my story at least. Folklore has inspired the story, but I've changed a few details.

© Sheila Currie  2018