Friday, October 6, 2023

Banshee & Apotropaic ~ WordWayzzz™ October 2023 Boo!

Once You Get Past the Midnight Hour … 

We’re all about Halloween! We love the spookiness, ghosts and goblins that come with All Hallows Eve that somehow mixes faith, beliefs, reverence for the dearly departed, and a lot of fun tinged with evil, to part the veil for a spectacularly scary holiday.

The trick is to get past the midnight hour intact. If you see this gal, however, legend says, chances are slim … meet the …

BANSHEE ['ban-(,)shē; 1771] n. – a female spirit in Gaelic folklore whose appearance or wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die. [WW #334-A]  All banshee public domain image descriptions appear at bottom of article.  

Well yes, banshee is rather pedestrian compared to many words I’ve featured here. Sooooo, howz-about a rare 2-fer to whet your Halloween appetite! If you’ve witnessed a banshee, you might turn to an apotropaic talisman for help. Spoooooky

Decidedly unnerving when experienced, I chose this cry of the banshee, for my final October/Halloween word*, because I have dubbed a real person, Banshee on the 13th Floor.TM

Based in reality, I believe my banshee likely appears when she has suspended her medications, so my reason for calling this tortured soul, banshee, is based on her behavior when she acts out. Truly, I have great sympathy for her, even while I utter expletives as she wails loudly at 3:00a.m.; for she is the ghost of way too many people in our society these days. (Yes, it may one day become a fictionalized, published story.) 

Though most of us are familiar with the word banshee (especially the Irish), you may not have ever wondered how it came to be or researched its history and full meaning. You might be surprised to note that Lady Wilde—mother of Oscar and Willie Wilde and a prolific writer in her own right—is credited for the banshee’s earliest known origins. October is a great month to peruse the ghostly beginnings of banshee or Irish, Ban-Sidhe

        A branch of the ancient race of the O’Gradys had settled in Canada, far removed, apparently, from all the associations, traditions, and mysterious influences of the old land of their forefathers.

But one night a strange and mournful lamentation was heard outside the house. No word was uttered, only a bitter cry, as of one in deepest agony and sorrow, floated through the air.

Inquiry was made, but no one had been seen near the house at the time, though several persons distinctly heard the weird, unearthly cry, and a terror fell upon the household, as if some supernatural influence had overshadowed them.

Next day it so happened that the gentleman and his eldest son went out boating. As they did not return, however, at the usual time for dinner, some alarm was excited, and messengers were sent down to the shore to look for them. But no tidings came until, precisely at the exact hour of the night when the spirit-cry had been heard the previous evening, a crowd of men were seen approaching the house, bearing with them the dead bodies of the father and the son, who had both been drowned by the accidental upsetting of the boat, within sight of land, but not near enough for any help to reach them in time.

Thus the Ban-Sidhe had fulfilled her mission of doom, after which she disappeared, and the cry of the spirit of death was heard no more. 

Which, for those who suffer from the mournful cry of a banshee, brings us to October word #2

APOTROPAIC (,a-pe-tro-‘pa-ik; 1883) adj. – designed to avert evil <an ~ ritual>; apotropaically. [WW #334-B]  

The dictionary suggests an apotropaic ritual, but talismans, amulets and even nutcrackers are used around the world to ward off evil in many forms. A common amulet is the nazar known simply as the “evil eye”—although that is what it is protecting you from. Like one protecting cute little “Tatters” the mummy in the picture. 😊 Too bad he didn’t wear it before becoming a mummy …

Its definition may be short, but an apotropaic item can hold much depth and volumes of meaning. Whether a ritual, amulet, or gemstone, it takes faith and belief to make the magic happen; and the results may be enigmatic at best. So, based on my prosaic instincts, I’ve enlisted my mummy to help me keep the banshee at bay. What’s your Halloween ritual?

October’s Song of Note  
Of course we need a spooky tune for October / Halloween! The best we could do on the charts this month 50 Years Ago, however, is a cover of “In the Midnight Hour” by Cross Country. It made a big splash and did quite well, even though its premise belies the title and is all about looooove (which kinda deflates the creepy factor). Ah well. It’s a great title!

A popular tune for years after Wilson Pickett’s original 1965 release, Midnight Hour enjoyed longevity from cover editions by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the Grateful Dead, among others.

Cross Country managed to squeeze out another good run of it, though, in a ballad version, to make it their own. It’s gaining ground at #12 in October 1973 at KROY/Sacramento, California. Do you remember You're the only girl I know | That really loves me so | In the midnight | In the midnight hour See more tuneful tidbits to manifest your memories or enjoy the ambience of 1973 and keep the Rock Rockin’ from 50 Years Ago this Month! 

Word Challenge: BANSHEE & APOTROPAIC. If you write in spooky genres or simply love to read and watch horror stories, don’t forget to work in banshees and apotropaic rituals, as you focus on your eerie month of fiction and nonfiction writings, and casual conversations.

Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle) 

aka Wicked Witch of the West 
Cheers to learning or creating a new word today!

*WordWayzzzTM is currently created for your literary pleasure every first Wednesday of each month. Thank you for stopping by! However, December 2023’s post will be the final monthly WordWayzzz article. There may be occasional posts after and the site will remain as a viable educational tool. Always remember, learning knows no prejudices or boundaries, and it isn’t harmful to your health! Expanding your mind is a no-cost, simple joy. Do you feel that way too? What’s your inspiration? Share your creative genius and WordWayzzz comments.

[LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books in her Blast from Your Past series (of three) about pioneering R&R Radio DJs. True behind-the-mic tales make GREAT Holiday and anytime Gifts available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon … The Psychedelic Seventies!]

LR Notes: 1) Dictionary definitions are quoted from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary – Eleventh Edition, unless otherwise noted. Yes, we sometimes present them out of “official” context—but that’s half the fun! Think of it as “creative context.” 2) a] Recent dictionary additions to definitions include a date of first use, if known; b] words in small caps indicate “see also.” 3) Neither I (LinDee Rochelle) nor Penchant for Penning are responsible for how you use information found here, that may result in legal action. 
And please note, I do not receive compensation from any company or person for commercial or commodity links I may include in my posts.


Banshee image descriptions:

1. English: Bunworth Banshee, Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland by Thomas Crofton Croker, 1825

2. The Banshee Appears by R. Prowse 1862

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