In Celtic mythology the Daoine Sidhe beings are those who remained after the Milesians invaded Ireland and defeated the Tuatha de Danann. Chronologically the Tuatha de Danann are the descendants of Danu, and their names means "The Tribe of Danu" or "The People of Danu". When they came to Ireland, they battled the Firbolg and defeated them, usurping power.
Eventually, the Milesians came to Ireland, and waged war with the Daoine Sidhe, defeating them and driving them into the land of Tir na Nog or, The Land of Perpetual Youth. This is also referred to as The Underworld in many Celtic practices. Those who stayed were of lesser power, and not viewed as gods, but as spiritual beings of earthly manner.
The Daoine Sidhe were masters of glamour, and loved nothng more than to entertain themselves with humor at the expense of humans. This does not mean that they harmed humans, but many pranks were based around meddling in human affairs. In fact, there was a large number of beings among the Daoine Sidhe who were very fond of humans, and treated them with welcome. Other though, were malicious, and did not care if humans were harmed.
Because of this separation in ideology, there was a schism among the Daoine Sidhe, and they split into two groups. These groups are known as the Seelie and Unseelie courts.
The Seelie court can be viewed as the court of Summer and Spring, or the court of light. It is also known as "The Blessed Court", which gives insight into how it's members functioned. The Seelie court is composed of beings who revered Beauty and Love above all other things. The only form of gratification that a member of the Seelie court could earn themselves is to be honorable. By keeping their word on ever matter, they were viewed as respected and honored among their people. To break their word was the be outcast and shunned. When traveling, they are depicted as orbs of radiant light darting through the night.
Members of the Seelie court valued beauty to such a degree, they would often go to war in order to protect the pristine beauty of nature or sometimes, the condition of a relationship. The Seelie court were the judges and peacekeepers of the Fae, and when a way of life was threatened within their community, they fought with fervor in order to protect it. Preservation of all that they saw as righteous, beautiful, and honorable was their top priority.
Their tenants are as listed below, to make the explanation of their beliefs more concise:
- Death before Dishonor
- Love conquers all
- Beauty is life
- Never forget a debt
The Seelie court is akin to the elves of Alfheim in Norse mythology, but of course there are differences in some manner. Now for the Unseelie court.
Some say that the Unseelie court were members of the Daoine Sidhe who were not considered 'good' enough to join the ranks of the Seelie court. You could say they are the outcasts, but not necessarily by force, as they adhere to many different tenants.
The Unseelie court, while opposite of the Seelie court, is not specifically related to the seasons Autumn and Winter, which would fall within the bounds of some members of the Seelie court. The Unseelie court is also known as "The Unblessed Court". These beings are generally malicious, not necessarily intent on harming humans, but do not care if a human is harmed by their actions or not.
Embodying decay and change, the members of this court are often seen as grotesque or hideous, though it would ignorant not to assume that some of them may be as beautiful as members of the Seelie court. When traveling, they are seen as dark clouds upon wind of the night sky. The members of this court have no means of reproduction, and are surrounded by myths of abducting humans, in order to change the human into one of them, and increase their ranks.
When seeing depictions of this court, you will often see goblins, ogres, trolls, imps and the sort. However, these beings are completely unrelated to the Daoine Sidhe, and as they Courts are the Daoine Sidhe divided up, they are also unrelated to each of the courts. Members of the Unseelie Court include:
- The slaugh (Hosts of the undead, akin to the Wild Hunt lead by Herne of Celtic mythology, not be confused with the Wild Hunt of Odin in Norse mythology).
- Shellycoat (A spirit that dwells close to the shore, playing malignant tricks on those who are about to travel the sea, or on sailors just setting sail).
- Redcap (An Elf so name for his habit of dying his cap red with the blood of humans, earned through violent tricks that often ended with the maiming of a human).
To sum up the aspects of the Unseelie court, their tenants are as listed below:
- Change is good
- Glamour is free ( Many of the Unseelie court view the act of not using their abilities of glamour close to sinning. To have the gift but deny it is blasphemous in their eyes. Glamour is something all of the Daoine Sidhe are masters of.)
- Honor is a falsehood
- Passion takes priority
And now for an end note on terminology:
-The word Fae has been a generalized term for just about ever mythological creature. In reality, the Fae were originally seen as race seen as parallel, but in some ways superior, to the human race. Through the ages of the Renaissance and Romanticism, it was applied to spirits of every aspect of nature.
-Danu is the mother of all Irish gods. So her descendants were aptly named, Tuatha de Danann.
-Firbolg is the name for the fourth wave of invaders of Ireland. Hailing from Greece, in attempt to escape slavery, they returned to Ireland which their ancestors had inhabited. Upon arrival, they defeated the people known as Fomorians.