ClĂ­odhna, Queen of Banshees

alt: ClĂ­dna, Clionadh, ClĂ­odna, ClĂ­ona, Cleena

habitat: Ocean, Coast, Islands

origin: Celtic, Irish

Queen of Banshees ClĂ­odhna has long dark hair and skin like pale marble. She is the epitome of feminine beauty.

TRAITS Goddess of love and beauty / Wail of the banshee / Ambivalent goddess / Without a partner
CHALLENGE Develop a plot focused on a love triangle that somehow includes ClĂ­odhna.
  • ClĂ­odhna should remain mysterious and hard to find. Players may hear many poems and stories about her, but she will be very difficult to actually find.
  • ClĂ­odhna is like a diety. Her motivations are hard to understand for mortals. She could be a great friend or great enemy.
  • You can lean on the tropes of sirens and mermaids if you want to play a simplified version of her.
  • The sea has been unusually restless. Those who pay attention notice that the 9th wave is always strongest and sounds like a woman wailing.
  • A local man reknowned for his good looks has gone missing. Some say he spoke of a place called Carrig-Cleena before he went missing.
  • A politician came out of obscurity and rapidly gained influence over the region. Some people are getting worried about how quickly he is gaining trust and influence. They say he has a tongue of pure silver.

ClĂ­odhna, Queen of Banshees Lore

Their years, their gentle deeds, their flags are furled!\ And deeply down, under the stiffened world,\ In oaken chests are kings and princes thrust,\ To crumble, day by day, into the dust\ A mouth might puff at! Nor is left a trace\ Of those who did of grace all that was grace

O Wave of Cliona, cease thy bellowing!\ And let mine ears forget a while to ring\ At thy long, lamentable, misery!\ The great are dead indeed! The great are dead!\ And I, in little time, will stoop my head\ And put it under, and will be forgot\ With them, and be with them, and, thus, be not!

Excerpt from The Wave of Cliona

ClĂ­odhna is the Queen of Banshees, descended from the Tuatha DĂ© Danann. She dwells in her palace off the shore of Mallow, a pile of rocks known as Carrig-Cleena. Once a goddess of love and beauty, she willingly left the otherworldly plane of Tir Tairngire to be with her mortal lover CiabhĂĄn. But one fateful day, when CiabhĂĄn went to hunt, the sea god ManannĂĄn MacLir brought forth a great wave which swept her away.

Since that day, her wailing can be heard throughout Ireland. The tide in Glandore in Cork is now known as Tonn Chlíodhna which means Clíodhna's Wave. Legend has it that every ninth wave in a sequence is the strongest, and must be sent by her – an ongoing reminder of her influence.

Legendary beauty

Not many have laid eyes upon the Queen of Banshees. Those who have claim, without fail, that she possesses unearthly beauty. Her hair is long and dark, her skin as white as marble. She embodies the perfect feminine form, ensuring her ability to attract men like a siren.

Even after the tragedy that tore her away from her mortal lover, ClĂ­odhna (sometimes referred to as Cleena) retains much of the power she was born into as a diety in the Otherworld. She once turned a rival into a white cat, and so possesses the powers of transmutation. She keeps three colourful birds as pets. The birds have eaten the fruit of a magical tree and now their birdsongs can cure all ills. Her domain was love and beauty and she still has great influence over them both.

The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone is famous throughout the world. It is said to give those who kiss it the ability to charm anyone. It is said that ClĂ­odhna was the first to instruct Cormac MacCarthy (who built Blarney Castle) to kiss the stone so that he might win a lawsuit. After kissing the stone he was so eloquent and persuasive that he won the suit handily.

In this story we see an example of ClĂ­odhna favouring a mortal man. Like many goddesses her stance toward us is unpredictable. She would just as soon charm you as suck the life from you, depending on her whim. The motivations of dieties are always hard for mortals to understand.

Unlucky in love

Artists and poets over the centuries have written extensively about ClĂ­odhna.

Some say she had a sister named Aobhill, who has also inspired many tales. They were the daughters of a man named the Red Druid, who was a prince. While ClĂ­odhna had strange powers from birth, her sister did not, and it became a source of jealousy for Aobhill.

One day, ClĂ­odhna fell in love with a man who was also loved by her sister. It pained her to learn that the man had great affection for Aobhill. It is said Cleena used dark magic to pull the happiness right out of her sister. This love triangle, and ClĂ­odhna's cruelty, is said to be the incident that propels Cleena from her mystical home and to our world, where she soon falls for a new man.

In the end, she was not able to be with her mortal lover - the same way she was not able to be with her first love. Was the sea god's interference justified? Or is ClĂ­odhna a victim, cursed with dominion over love and beauty even while continously deprived of her own true partner?

Written by Giles Ravensong.

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