For today’s post, have decided to take a look at how the Muses of Greek Myth can be seen as related to the Irish Celtic Faery Woman, the Leanan Sidhe. Muses are a ninefold sisterhood of being that are associated with creative inspiration. Leanan Sidhe are Faery Women that are sometimes called by the moniker of Faery Lover because they are known to form relationships with mortal men.
Now in the case of the Leanan Sidhe, these relationships are romantic and sexual in nature. This bonds the man to his Faery Lover, meaning that when he is left by her he begins to waste away from longing to be with her again, very much like the plot of John Keats’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci. From how I just described them, it may seem like Muses have nothing in common with Leanan Sidhe. However, one of the main things known about the relationship between a Leanan Sidhe and her mortal lover is that she provides him with creative inspiration. In fact, Leanan Sidhe are believed to be attracted to those who are already artistic and creative, to begin with, and form bonds in order to inspire them to their greatest heights of achievement!
The power of the Leanan Sidhe to inspire her lover to greater creative powers links her very firmly to the Muses of Greek Myth. There is something of a connection between the Faery Lover and the 1960s interpretation of Rock n’ Roll Groupies, who were often sexual lovers to musicians as well as supporting and inspiring their creative pursuits! This similarity to the energy held by the great Groupies of the 1960s further exemplifies the connection between the Leanan Sidhe and the Muses. Groupies were often referred to as Muses to their musician lovers, inspiring many a great Rock song in the process!
The tales of Leanan Sidhe using her Faery magick to empower her human lover in his creative pursuits, be they as a musician, writer, or painter (for example). Their bond is strong and is parasitic in some ways, where the Leanan Sidhe is gaining further magical ability through feeding on her lover’s energy (in my interpretation this is likely done during the act of sex, but it could be just by being near their lover). What the human gains is the ability to create in a way that he could never have imagined prior to his relationship with the Leanan Sidhe! The relationship takes a darker turn when the Faery Lover leaves her lover after growing tired of him, or possibly simply becoming homesick to return to her Otherworldy home of Faery. I do not view the Leanan Sidhe as an evil figure, but more one of an ambiguous morality that is able to do great things for their lovers, but is also very much out to become more fully empowered for herself!
I hope you have enjoyed my brief analysis of the magical Faery Women known as the Leanan Sidhe and their relationship to both their mortal lovers and to the Greek Muses. What are your thoughts on the Leanan Sidhe? Are they evil temptresses, or more layered in ambiguity? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is a lovely artwork depicting the Leanan Sidhe. I found the image on https://changelingthedreaming.fandom.com/wiki/Leanan-Sidhe.
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- The Fairy Bible by Teresa Moorey
- A New Dictionary of Fairies by Morgan Daimler