Thinking about trying something a little different for my next entry (this whole blogging thing is kind of new and I want to keep it fun)…so while I’m working on some other things, I wanted to discuss a common theme I hear in ghost stories.
WHY IS IT ALWAYS A WOMAN IN A WHITE DRESS?!
Watching my favorite ghost shows or exploring local legends, it seems that there is always a lady in white. The story is always different, but she’s always there. Sometimes she’s a widow waiting for her husband, other times she’s a young girl who’s life was taken too soon…or sometimes she is the murderer herself! So, is it the same spirit who is constantly manifesting all over the world at different times? Doubtful. I’d be willing to say that this legend has carried on over the years and found its way into different cultures, as stories seem to do. Maybe people aren’t really seeing her as much as the stories lead you to believe and it’s more of a “Mary heard it from Mark whose parents are friends with someone who saw the lady in white in the window!” type sighting.
Now, I’ve been doing a little digging to try and figure out where this particular legend may have started but it is nearly impossible to pinpoint. Here are a few examples I could find:
- Frederick I of Prussia’s death was reportedly predicted by the appearance of a lady in white, and that was all the way back in 1713.
- The Hohenzollerns of Germany were said to be haunted by a “lady in white”. Some thought it was Countess Kunigunde von Orlamonde who died in 1382 and had killed her all of her children.
- There is white lady of Haapsalu Castle who went in disguise as a man to be with her lover and was eventually found out and killed. In Estonia there is now even a “White Lady Days” festival!
- The Netherlands have the “white maidens” which are often associated with witches and faeries.
- In the United States there are countless stories of the Lady in the Lake, who seems to always have befallen some sort of tragedy and who is dressed in white.
- These USA stories are much more modern and often involve murder, suicide & betrayal. Maybe that’s why she’s in white? Some sort of symbolism that she is “pure” and innocent and didn’t deserve the events that happened?
Seeing how long legends of the lady in white have been around is truly fascinating. There has to be a grain of truth to these somewhere, doesn’t there? Part of me wonders of some of these stories tie in with the Bean Sídhe (Banshee), a type of faery that brings the omen of death to families when they hear her wailing. As a faery witch I have read a great deal about Banshees, and that was my first thought when browsing through the older legends.
As for many of the more modern “lady in white” stories, I tend to believe they are mostly urban legends. Every town has a haunted bridge, or a school bus crash where the ghosts of children will move your car…and of course the lady in white. These stories are always fun, and get people spooked but I can for sure say as soon as someone tells me “There’s been sightings of a lady in white…..” I usually become a lot more skeptical.
Who knows, maybe someday I’ll run into the lady in white. Maybe she can tell me why she is so sad.