The Faery Lineage and Irish Mythology
Some versions of Irish mythology have the Daoine Sidhe eventually divide into two groups:
the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court.
Though this separation is more commonly seen in Scottish mythology,
Ireland also adopted this division.
The Seelie Court was considered to be the blessed or holy court.
They were often said to be the ‘good’ faeries, but Irish mythology is rarely that clear cut.
Characteristics of the Seelie Court
Sometimes called the ‘Blessed Ones,’
the Seelie were often depicted as a procession of brilliant light riding on the night air.
The Seelie Court, as a group, would often use these excursions to find those in need of help.
However, their form of help was sometimes closer to mischief.
The Seelie Court were considered the true aristocrats of the Daoine Sidhe.
They were judges, dispensing justice to the other faery when it was required,
and served as frequent arbitrators of the many faery quarrels.
The Seelie Court was very political, complete with cliques, factions, gossiping, and rivalry.
Those of the Seelie Court tended towards harmony and happiness.
It was their way to help humans, and to seek help from them in return.
They always gave full warning when someone offended them, and when a human did them a kindness,
they made every effort to return this favor.
The Seelie were more inclined to towards good than evil.
If give the choice between the two, there was never any doubt that they would choose good.
They worked together in constructive ways for the benefit of all.
None of this means that they were entirely benign.
Any of the faery, including the Seelie,
would seek vengeance for an insult, if an insult were perceived.
Though not malicious, they would defend themselves against any threat,
and even go to war if need be.
The Seelie were also prone to a great deal of mischief,
especially when bored.
However, their pranks rarely caused true harm,
for the Seelie were really very fond of humans.
The Code of the Seelie Court
Like many human courts, the Seelie Court had its own code of conduct,
a code which all of the Seelie had to abide by. This code was:
Death Before Dishonor:
A member of the Seelie Court would protect his or her honor to the death.
Honor was the single source of glory for the Seelie, the only way to attain recognition.
A true Seelie would rather have died than live with personal dishonor,
and would never bring dishonor to another of the Seelie.
Love Conquers All:
For the Seelie, love was the perfect expression of the soul.
It transcended all other things.
Though romantic love was considered to be the highest and purest form of love,
platonic love was also encouraged.
Beauty is Life:
Beauty was one of the first tenants of the Seelie Court.
To belong, a faery had to be beautiful, and all beauty was to be protected.
The Seelie were known to go to war to protect beauty,
whether it was a beautiful person, place, or thing.
Never Forget a Debt:
This tenant worked in two ways.
The Seelie were bound by their code of honor to repay any debt owed as soon as was possible.
This included both favors and insults.
The Seelie would repay a favor in a timely fashion.
At the same time, they would exact vengeance almost immediately.
The Seelie Court was said to be a beautiful and benevolent place.
It is no wonder that the people of Ireland and Scotland often appealed to the Seelie for help and advice.
In time, however, the people turned away from the Daoine Sidhe and its Courts,
seeking newer incarnations of the Faery Lineage, such as the Heroic Faery.
The Seelie and Unseelie Courts of the Daoine Sidhe
In some versions of Irish mythology, the Daoine Sidhe eventually divided themselves into the Seelie and Unseelie Courts.
The Seelie (seleighe in old Irish) Court was considered to be blessed or holy,
containing those of the Sidhe who were benevolent and generally considered harmless.
This was not to say that they would not seek vengeance,
but if given the choice between harming and helping, the Seelie would choose to help.
The members of the Seelie Court were said to be fun-loving and mischievous.
They loved their games and pranks, but would never take a joke too far.
They were known to be kind and generous,
and were seen as the champions of the people of Ireland.
The Unseelie Court was just the opposite.
They were malicious and tended to be inclined towards evil.
They were said to assault travelers at night,
often carrying them off into their own world for various purposes.
As the Seelie were not always entirely kind,
the Unseelie were not always entirely evil.
However, if faced with the choice, they would rather cause harm than offer assistance.
The Daoine Sidhe were the last of the Tuatha De Danann
to resemble the gods and goddesses of ancient Ireland.
Though they generally chose to take human form,
they could also appear as much larger or much smaller than the average person.
In time, the Daoine Sidhe would dwindle further away from their origins, eventually becoming the Heroic Faery of the Faery Lineage.
Ellis, Peter Berresford. (2002). Celtic Myths and Legends. Running Press.
Ellis, Peter Berresford. (1992). A Dictionary of Irish Mythology (Oxford Paper Reference Series). Oxford University Press.
Gantz, Jeffrey. (1982). Early Irish Myths and Sagas. Penguin Classics
Heaney, Marie. (1995). Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends. Faber & Faber.
Lady Gregory. (1988). Treasury of Irish Myths, Legend & Folklore: Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry. Gramercy.
love, peace and light