Baobhan Sith - Fairies

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Baobhan Sith

Pronounced Buhvan shee, Baobhan Sith, literally “Fairy Women,” are spirits of the Scottish Highlands. Their name is cognate with banshee but they have a different nature, more closely resembling Vila. (See Sidhe, Vila, pages 440 and 443.)

Baobhan sith are shape-shifters, usually taking the form of hooded crows or ravens. They also manifest as women typically, but not always, dressed in green; the true giveaway as to their identity is in their feet. Rather than human feet, these ladies sport deer hooves.

Baobhan sith love to dance all night. According to some legends, they seduce men, dance with them and then kill them, draining them of their blood, and so are sometimes described as “Scottish vampires.”

As with all these stories, it’s difficult to tell whether this was always the nature of the baobhan sith, whether these are stories invented post-Christianity to discourage potential devotees from joining in the fairies’ dance or whether, once sufficiently angered, previously neutral or benevolent spirits transform into malevolent ones.

As the baobhan sith’s favorite victims are reputedly young hunters out on the moors, one suspects that like Vila, they may be animals’ guardian spirits who guarantee that only spiritually initiated hunters who’ve performed the correct hunting rituals are permitted to hunt. (Without these rituals, animals are unable to resurrect and return to life.)