The Lhiannan Shee is a fairy from the Isle of Man whose name means something like‘fairy love’, ‘fairy sweetheart’ or ‘fairy mistress’. The sole purpose of her existence is to find a human man to love her. Since she is very lovely and seductive, very few men can resist her charms, and as a lover she is very passionate, but her love comes at a terrible price. Her embrace draws both life and breath from the human, while she becomes bright and strong. The Manx fairy sometimes takes blood too and is a true vampire.
Poets, artists and musicians often seek out a fairy sweetheart, since she is a muse who will inspire them to write great verses, paint wonderful pictures or sing remarkable songs. When she is absent, they cannot work, pining away with longing. When she is present, they forget all else and grow pale and thin, forgetting to eat and sleep. The lovers of the Lhiannan Shee may have brilliant careers, but will die young. Sadly, many are soon forgotten.
There have been many such men, and the legend of the Lhiannan Shee has been used to explain why so many writers, artists, and musicians burn out and die young. Sometimes men have used alcohol and drugs to find her, but these only hasten her departure.
© Anna Franklin, The Fairy Ring Oracle, Llewellyn, 2000
Illustration Paul Mason