Friday, August 5, 2011
As the Washer at the Ford, she wanders around deserted streams where she washes blood from the grave clothes of those who are about to die. It is said that mnathan nighe, the plural form of bean-nighe, are the spirits of women who died giving birth and are doomed to do this work until their lives would have normally ended.
A bean sidhe is sometimes described as having one nostril, one protruding tooth, long hanging breasts, webbed feet, and to be dressed all in green. While she usually takes the form of a hag, she can also appear as a beautiful young woman when it suits her.
In the ancient Celtic epic, The Ulster Cycle, the Morrigan is seen playing the role of a bean nighe. When the hero, Cúchulainn, rides out to war, he comes across the Morrigan as a hag washing his bloody armour in a ford. Because of this, he realizes this will be his last battle.