Mythical Mondays: Bean-Nighe

 By Caitlin C


        The Bean-Nighe, Scottish Gaelic for washerwoman or laundress, is a female spirit in Scottish folklore, regarded as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld. She is a type of ban-sith that haunts desolate streams and washes the clothing of those about to die. Les Lavandieres is the French word under which these "night washerwomen" are perhaps best known. She is also called “the little washer,” “little washer of the ford,” or “little washer of the sorrow.” I’ve also nicknamed her beanie. 

The bean-nighe, also known as the Washing Woman or Washer at the Ford, is seen in lonely places besides a stream or pool, washing the blood from the linen and grave-clothes of those who are about to die. Her characteristics vary depending on the locality, and differing traditions ascribe to her the powers of imparting knowledge or the granting of wishes if she is approached with caution. It is said that they are the spirits of women who died giving birth and are doomed to perform their tasks until the day their lives would have normally ended. It was also believed that this fate could be avoided if all the clothing left by the deceased woman had been washed. Otherwise, she would have to finish this task after death. If you ever encounter Bean-Nighe make sure you don’t drink hair dye!

I don’t think Bean-Nighe is real because there is no evidence of people actually seeing her and dying. Mostly, they are just stories.