The Sí (sometimes spelt Sídhe) are the hidden people of Irish legend, a magical race said to live underground, out of sight of ordinary folk. Supposedly the remnants of an ancient civilisation, they were said to be extremely tall and very beautiful, very often with long yellow hair, their bejewelled clothes apparently fabulous beyond words.
According to the old stories, the Sí generally kept to themselves in their underground palaces, where they enjoyed music and song and dancing and laughter, but on occasion they could be encountered in the wider world, especially at certain times: Famously at the old autumnal festival of Samhain, now called Halloween, but also most evenings, around or after dusk. Some Sí were said to be more solitary, perhaps meeting occasionally in small groups but never venturing out into the wider world, but all were aware of their shared otherness.
The Sí were not to be underestimated. They could change shape or gender or even completely disappear. They could bestow good fortune, or bad. They could affect fertility. They could use their glamour as an enchantment, and their mischievous natures often led them to play tricks on people.
They were also very adept with words, if one was ever fortunate or unfortunate enough to encounter them. Although they were said to be incapable of telling outright lies, they were so skilled at wordplay and twisting meanings that it was impossible to find out anything that they did not want you to know.
The Sí were said to have a particular dislike of religion, but had their own moral code. It was not without its gaps, however. They had a somewhat cavalier attitude to other people’s property: What was yours, was theirs, and what was theirs was their own. They were also said to be sexually liberal, at least by the standards of the ordinary Irish folk who were awestruck and horrified by them in equal measure.
The Sí of legend, therefore, had much in common with transvestites. And, by a fortuitous coincidence, Sí is pronounced “She”. How could we resist?
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