Inspirational Muses

Invoking Leanan Sidhe

Dark Faery Muse of the Emerald Isle

By Molly Anderson | Posted 7/14/07 | Updated 3/16/24

Leanan Sidhe calls to me. I enter the forest, and she takes my hand to lead me through the mossy darkness. We come to the edge of a lake, with an oddly-shaped island in the center, shrouded in mist and mystery. My heart longs for those cliffs, those green hills!

She whistles a strange, haunting tune and watches the dark waters with her hands clasped upon her chest. When the song is done, she holds her hands out to me, cupped around something.

I open my hands to receive it. Slowly, slowly, she opens the basket her fingers have woven, and I see a tiny pearl of soft, green light shining there. It rolls slowly into my hands, heavy and warm, alive. I bow my head in thanks. She mimes what she wants me to do, holding her hands close above her heart, and she whistles and sings in her odd, beautiful tongue. I hold her light carefully against my heart. It seems to beat with a slow pulse of its own.

As I begin to whistle, I feel its feverish warmth enter my heart. I feel stronger than a lion, braver than a bear, fierce enough to bite. I smile madly at her, and she returns my grin. Without a word, she stands and dives into the lake. I do not hesitate; I am a strong swimmer, more at home in the water than on land.

Underwater, I see the pale fish of her feet flashing far ahead, in the direction of the island. I swim after her quickly, and when I catch her up she takes my hand, and we are swimming together. The bottom of the lake is far and green, littered with the bones of poets. I worry not that I will meet the same fate. Her light shines within me, and I feel strong and warm, even in this frigid water.

Suddenly, she stops. We haven't reached the island yet — there is no sign of its bulk here underwater. I look into her eyes, questioning. She speaks and as the bubbles from our breath float up to the surface, a stone stairway appears. We climb up, up, up, with Leanna Sidhe leading the way. When we breach the surface, of the lake, we're on the shore of the floating island in the center of the lake. I follow her to a small ring of stones. She crouches down, utters a mysterious something too quick and quiet for me to catch, and a bright blue flame springs from her lips. It bounces playfully down into the ring of stones and begins to grow fat and strong, feeding on air and stone and sand.

"Warm yourself," she says. Her voice is low, seductive. She speaks perfect English, with a lilting Irish accent.

"Many never make it to this shore," she says quietly. "You have passed the first test. I know you are strong of heart."

"I guess Americans are made of sterner stuff than those poets and bards at the bottom of the lake," I say lightly.

Her voice grows cold, and her words hit me like a sharp slap in the face. "American? You are Irish! Your heart is Irish, your hair is Irish. Your bones and skin, your poet's soul, your creative fire, all Irish. Your sad songs and longings for the next life are Irish. Never forget that. If you were just some stupid American, I would have left your bones beneath the water like so many others before you. You may live there, but your heart is here," she whispers fiercely. "That was a stupid thing to say. I only forgive you, because you do not truly believe it yourself. You do not identify with American culture; you do not fit in there. And you know this — you have always known this. Your true heart's home is here. Never be afraid to wear your real face."

I nod. Every word is true. Though my ancestors hail from all over the globe, I have more Irish blood than anything else. In all my family, I most closely identified with my grandfather on my mother's side, who was a pure-blooded Irishman, and a first generation "American" whose parents immigrated from Ireland long years ago.

She nods, looking deeply into my eyes. She reads my thoughts as easily as I read the newspaper. "I met him once, you know," she mused. "Your grandfather. He was young and beautiful then, and a great poet and story-teller. He could make the Devil himself laugh and slap him on the back." She smiled. "He was a brave man, no doubt, but he was afraid of his own heart, of the darkness within him. Afraid of the things he'd done." A moss-green tear escaped her dark eye, and made its slow way down her cheek.

"He never believed in his gifts, his talents. He never truly believed his stories worth telling, and so, he never wrote them down. He began to drink instead of writing, to smoke instead of telling tales by the fire. He brought the fire inside himself, instead of sitting beside it like a good friend. Eventually, this killed him. He was a tough old bastard — he lived longer than anyone could predict, but if he had just once trusted the pen more than the bottle, he would still be with you today." She takes my hand, pulls me closer. "I brought you here to make sure you don't make the same mistakes. Our world needs your poems and paintings, your stories and your dreams. You will not waste this gift, as he did. You must agree to treasure yourself, and your creative fire, to dedicate yourself and your soul to this task, or you will destroy yourself, and a great light will leave the world, and the angels will wail and mourn for you, and I will never forgive it. He broke my heart, your grandfather, the way he chose to live and die. I won't allow you to do the same."

I weep, and promise her everything. The light in my heart burns fiercely, warming me from the inside out like a fever. "I know you have faced your own death many times," she says. "And I know you are courageous, and fear it not. Do not then be afraid to live, for each time you fought death, I fought Her with you. I have protected you time and time again so you might perform this sacred task. You've kept me quite busy, actually," she grins. "Spinal meningitis and a near-drowning before you were four years old. Automobile accidents you walked away from unscathed. Did you think this was a mere coincidence?"

"No," I tell her truthfully. "I always have known that someone was watching out for me, making sure I survived, no matter what danger I was in."

"You can stop your wondering — it was me. I swore to protect you, for you were your grandfather's darling — his jewel. I could not save him, though I tried. So instead, I saved you — more than once. I saved you from the dangers outside, and the dangers within." She gazes at me with calm, dark eyes, and I know she has stayed my hand during those dark nights of the soul, when I coldly considered the blade, the bottle, the gun, to end my own life.

"I was only able to do this because, despite all of your mishaps and self-destructive tendencies, your soul-fire is strong, fiercely vital. No matter how much you may yearn for death, there is a larger part of you that wants to live, to sing, to dream. I will always protect you, but I must ask you now to protect yourself. Rid yourself of those dark thoughts that haunt your thoughts and eat your soul in big greedy bites. Begin to have the courage to be joyful instead of sad. Banish those things that cause you to hurt yourself; banish them forever. Live fully and freely. Step out of your own way, and allow your dreams to come true." She stands up, and begins to walk towards a large, strange and ancient castle. It seems oddly familiar, and I rise to follow her. She grasps my arms ferociously, and makes me stop dead in my tracks.

"Only the dead, and those who cannot die, like myself, may enter there. I brought you to the path, so that you may find me again at need. But it is not yet your time to walk that dark road. Go back, go home and write and paint and love your man. Know this — I will be with you always, and protect you. Remember your vow, and honor it always, for I am a fierce enemy when crossed." She smiles coldly, with sudden sharp teeth, and kisses me gently on the forehead. She places my hand upon her heart, and her hand upon mine, looking deeply into my eyes. They are dark and lovely. I feel myself drowning in their still pools. She steps away, and darkness overwhelms me.

Ages later, I awaken. I am cold, stiff, exhausted. I am on the far shore of the lake again, and the floating island is further away in the mist than before. A blue flame still burns on the shore, to light the way of those brave enough to venture there. I know I will return. Smiling, I walk away to write it all down.

Enter the Darkness: Writing with Leanan Sidhe

Darkness can make a fascinating subject for an artist to explore. First, try a little free-writing about shadowy subjects. Mine the darkness… see what is unveiled in the shades of night. This is a sample of some free-writing I did about the Dark Faery Muse, Leanan Sidhe:

A damp green mossy darkness, eyes aflame, luscious smile luring you in. Shining wetly in the foxfire of a lonely March night.

Colors: Twilight blue ascending, stone-grey, mahogany, emerald green, evergreen, the green-black of a lush peat-field. Bluebell-blue, amethyst, opal, jade, and sapphire. Storm-grey, misty white. Deep indigo midnight blue, moonlight. Frogs and toadstools, fairy-rings. Swamp-fire glowing eerie, eldritch, witchy green and leading men astray. All things half-glimpsed, not quite seen, and all the things you thought you saw that were never really there at all. Starlight, uncertainty, faltering steps in the darkness… losing the path, then finding it again with bald relief in new unexpected places. Lose your way, she beckons you deeper, deeper into the woods, deeper still… to a secret sacred place down by the river.

Now, use some of the images and words from your free-write to create a poem. This is the poem that evolved from my free-writing session, entitled "The Kiss of the Sidhe."

The Kiss of the Sidhe

Opal-strewn, the moonlit path through the wilderness of my heart

And I, so quick to follow!

Step into the faery-wood, and leave your cares behind,

Join the wild unruly dance, just seek, and you shall find.

A pool in the moonlight, cold and still, a silver-blue mirror reflecting starlight, moonlight, and your fortune there. ... for those who dare to look!

O that mad blueberry violet glint in her eyes, she knows secrets un-numbered, untold, un-named. Innumerable.

Her secrets, her mysteries a blue legion, prancing through the owl-struck night on faeries' wings.

Will 'o' the wisp, o wanderer divine…lead me on a wild chase 'til morning, a-hunting over fen and fog… wander through the wood with me.

Lead me down that shadow-path, the hie me safely home!

Reveal your dark secrets, Moon-lady, Divine. Beloved Muse, take me wandering! Call to me, my heart will answer.

Enchant me! Weave your webs to bind me.

Know I will always escape to tell my tales, to weave webs of my own…

Feed me fat upon moonbeams and silver water… make me smile sadly, knowing too much.

Dark wanderer, I need you! You are part of me already, though you may know it not.

Who conjures who?

She needs no wand to cast her spells.

Blue pearls and black-eyed girls

will drive you mad for wanting…

leaving you all hollowed out and alone, forlorn,

o sweetly forsaken one.

Twirl and spin all night, or for eternity

Infinity and beyond, to trackless time beneath the stars.

Paint spirals, knots, and ravens' wings upon your back

Red ochre and blue woad.

No arrow now can pierce your flesh…

Bare faith stands between you and the blade.

Naked courage on display,

Seeking, always seeking a light somewhere

Within that vast darkness outside.

The artist stands her ground.

Copyright ©2006 by Molly Anderson. All rights reserved.


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