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Welcome

Welcome to the Sluagh Sidhe website. The website will detail the many aspects of the fairy folklore in Ireland and Scotland. The term Sluagh Sidhe translates roughly as "Fairy Host." This website will offer informative articles and discussion forums for those who are interested in Irish and Scottish traditions surrounding the Sluagh.

Who Are the Sluagh Sidhe?

In Irish and Scottish folklore, the Sluagh Sidhe, known also as the Fairy Host, are considered to be a manifestation of the Wild Hunt. The Sluagh consist of the unrestful spirits of the dead and are considered by many to be troublesome and destructive. The word Sluagh refers to a "host," or perhaps a more applicable translation would be "army."

Coming from the West, the Sluagh fly in groups like flocks of birds and attempt to enter a house where someone is dying to take the soul away with them. West facing windows are sometimes kept closed to keep them out. In the testimonies of many rural folk a distinction is often made between the sidhe who are seen walking on the ground after sunset, and the Sluagh Sidhe, or Fairy Host, who travel or fly through the air at night and are known to kidnap mortals with them on their journeys. According to W. B. Yeats, the Tuatha de Danann were also referred to as the Sluagh Sidhe (Fairy Host) or Marcra Sidhe (Fairy Cavalcade). The Sluagh are considered to be the most fierce and terrifying of all the fairy peoples. In a report by Evans Wentz, Marian MacLean of Barra distinguished between the fairies and the Host. Generally, the fairies are to be seen after or about sunset, and walk on the ground as we do, whereas the Hosts travel in the air above places inhabited by people. The Hosts used to travel at night and more particularly around the time of midnight.

At the Cave of Cruachan in Connaught stands the Hell Gate of Ireland. At Samhain every year the gate opens and the Wild Hunt rides forth accompanied by a flock of copper red birds who ruin crops and kill animals using their poisonous breath. The Cu Sidhe, or the so-called hell hounds, are said to accompany them. These were the faeries who stole the children to replace them with changelings and such. To travel the nights alone at this time was considered to be extremely dangerous, and one had to be careful to protect against such monstrosities which might try to attack them.

There are several accounts of the Host collected by Evans Wentz from various named informants. A few of them regard the Host as fallen angels and not the dead. But most of their accounts corresponded closely to that given by Alexander Carmichael. The Sluagh are the spirits of mortals who have died. The people have many stories on this subject and according to one informant, "The spirits fly about in great clouds, up and down the face of the world like the starlings, and come back to the scenes of their earthly transgressions. No soul of them is without the clouds of earth, dimming the brightness of the works of earth. In bad nights, the Sluagh shelter themselves behind little russet docken stems and little yellow ragwort stalks. They fight battles in the air as men do on the earth." The Sluagh Sidhe can also sometimes be heard and seen on clear frosty nights, advancing and retreating, retreating and advancing, against one another. After a battle, as was told in Barra, their crimson blood may be seen staining rocks and stones. 'Fuil nan sluagh,' the blood of the hosts, is the beautiful red 'crotal' of the rocks melted by the frost. These spirits are said to kill animals such as cattle, cats, dogs, and sheep with their venomous darts which are more commonly known as fairy darts. It is said that the Sluagh "Commanded men to follow them, and men obeyed, having no alternative. It was these men of earth who slew and maimed at the bidding of their spirit-masters, who in return ill-treated them in a most pitiless manner. They would be rolling and dragging and trouncing them in mud and mire and pools. "

(References: Briggs, K. M. "A Dictionary of Fairies." (London: A. Lane, 1976) * Carmichael, A. "Carmina Gadelica." (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd Edinburgh, 1928) * MacDonald, L. "Celtic Folklore: The People of the Mounds." (Dalriada Magazine, 1993) * W. B. Yeats. "Fairy Folk and Fairy Tales of the Irish Peasantry." (London: Walter Scott, 1888) * Wentz, Evans, W. Y. "The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries." (Buckinghamshire: Colin Smythe, 1988)

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