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Deity Of The Month - Aos Sí

The Aos Sí are a fascinating part of Celtic folklore. They are believed to inhabit an invisible realm called "The Otherworld", or "Faeryland", that exists alongside our own or underground in fairy forts. Often seen as both helpful and mischievous, they are believed to have magical powers and can be seen in many traditional stories from around the British Isles. They are said to descend from the Tuatha Dé Danann, the deities of Ireland.

They are frequently referred to as "The Good Neighbours", "The Fair Folk", or simply "The Folk" to avoid being named directly. Their name, Aos Sí, means "people of the mounds" and they are described as stunningly beautiful, although they can also be terrible and hideous.

The Aos Sí are not like the popularised depiction of fairies in modern culture with delicate wings and glittering gowns. They are ethereal beings that come in various forms, ranging from tiny creatures to towering entities. Some common types of Aos Sí spirits include Banshees, Pookas, and Leprechauns, each with their unique characteristics and roles in Celtic culture.

One such spirit is the Banshee. Often depicted as a female entity that wails or screams to foretell a death in a family, she appears as an old hag or a beautiful young woman depending on the context of the story. The Banshee is known for her mournful cry, which is said to be both chilling and haunting. Another well-known Aos Sí spirit is the Pooka, a mischievous creature that can shape-shift into various forms. It is often portrayed as a horse, black in colour with fiery eyes. The Pooka is known to be both playful and unpredictable, leading unsuspecting travelers astray or causing mischief in the night. However, it can also be helpful, guiding lost souls to safety or warning of impending danger.

Aos Sí are known as strong protectors of their homes, which can be fairy hills, fairy rings, special trees (often hawthorns), specific lakes or forests. If someone intrudes on these spaces, the Aos Sí will retaliate to drive out the invaders. These stories often contribute to the changeling myth in European folklore, where the Aos Sí punish trespassers by kidnapping them or swapping their children with changelings.

Interacting with Aos Sí spirits was and still is an important aspect of traditional Celtic practices. People would leave offerings or gifts for them, hoping to gain their favour or protection. Rituals and customs associated with the Aos Sí spirits were often conducted during significant events such as harvest festivals or weddings.

Overall, in parts of Ireland, Scotland, and the diaspora, the practice of offering milk and traditional foods to the Aos Sí has continued from the Christian era to present day. Those who still believe in the Aos Sí also take care to preserve their sacred places and prevent damage from construction. Even plans for buildings or motorways have been diverted or built around significant places associated with the Aos Sí so as not to disturb or anger them.

The belief in Aos Sí is well woven into the heritage and culture of Celtic Traditions and has managed to survive to modern times, still playing a large part and influence on modern day Irish and Scottish Peoples.

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