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The Bean Nighe

The Bean Nighe is an example of the ominous 'Washerwoman at the Ford' rendered in the Highland tradition. The tradition of 'The Washerwomen at the Ford' seems to have its roots in Celtic legend and myth. She appears in the Irish stories and can be identified as the crone aspect of the triple goddess.

The Bean Nighe: by Daniel ParkinsonThe Bean Nighe: by Daniel ParkinsonThe Bean Nighe could be found at the side of desolate streams and pools washing the bloodstained clothing of those who are about to meet their maker. In appearance she was small in stature, always dressed in green and had webbed feet.

Although the Bean Nighe was often seen as an evil portent she was not always a portent of ones own death as in the Irish version, and if approached in the correct way she would grant wishes. All you had to do was get in between her and the water.

You would then be given the opportunity to ask three wishes and three questions, but three questions would have to be given truthfully in return, in the form of a traditional exchange between humans and supernatural creatures.

The washerwomen at the ford appears in Wales, Scotland and Ireland but there is little reference to a tradition in England, although lonely pools are often haunted by some supernatural creature. This is likely to be related to Celtic survivals in the fore-mentioned countries.

Daniel Parkinson



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