Monday, May 7, 2012

Ghillie Dhu—Scottish Forest Faeries

By Dawn Marie Hamilton

I previously posted this at Castles & Guns, but thought it worth posting here too.

The Ghillie Dhu or Ghillie Dubh are solitary faeries believed to reside within Scottish forests, especially near Gairloch in Ross-shire, though one account claims many emigrated to forests in Northern America after following Scottish fur trappers to French Canada in the late 1700's.

Imagine a wee man of about three feet tall, dressed in garments made from leaves and moss, with hair black as a moonless night and eyes the deepest brown of a hazel nut. 'Tis said his skin color changes from green to brown to green with the seasons. He lives in trees, preferring birch, and protects the woodland. He seems to be kind to children, with a nature both wild and shy. In Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend Donald Alexander Mackenzie tells the tale of young Jessie Macrae who upon getting lost in the forest is directed home by a Ghillie Dhu.

Some accounts claim him to be a harmless sprite, while others recount a darker side. His name means dark servant to match his dark hair and dark eyes and darker temperament. Be wary of venturing into the forest at night when the Ghillie Dhu are known to be most active, for if offended by an adult human the wee man will reach out with thin, long arms and crush him in his angry embrace, leaving the human to rot into earthy compost. Alternatively, a Ghillie Dhu might kidnap the human and drag him into faerieland to be enslaved.

An excellent depiction of a Ghille Dhu illustrated by Brian Froud can be found in the wonderful book, Faeries.

Are you afraid to walk in the forest alone at night?

Other Scottish Fae Creatures:
The Brùnaidh—Scottish Brownie

12 comments:

Dana Rodgers said...

Thank you Dawn for a great post! I'll be on the look out in the woods near my home. ;-D

Victoria Roberts said...

Thanks, Dawn! The next time I take a walk in the woods, I'll have my eyes WIDE open.

Ann said...

I hadn't heard of Scottish faeries. Thanks for the information.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hi, Dana and Victoria! It's always wise to stay alert while in the forest. One never knows what mischievous wee creature might be afoot. Thanks for dropping in ladies. :)

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ann. Many fae creatures appear in legends from early Scottish times. I'll post about others later in the year.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I love the myths. I'd be in a lot of trouble if I was afraid to walk in the forest at night..I live in the El Dorado Forest of the Sierra Mountains. We don't have fairies that I know of just bears and mountain lions to worry about in daylight or dark. ;)

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Sounds like such a wondeful place, Paisley. Are you sure there are no faeries? :)

Thanks for visiting!

Teri said...

I wouldn't have walked in the forest at night unless I was paid big bucks to do so. Now there's NO WAY I'd do it. :-)

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hi, Teri. Maybe you could find a hunky Highlander to escort you. :)

Sarah Hoss said...

This was very good information. I loved it! Thanks for sharing!

Pat McDermott said...

Some folks think the fairy tales were concocted by parents to keep their kids away from dangerous places, but we know the fairies exist, don't we? I wouldn't walk in the woods alone even in the daytime, especially in Ireland. The Irish fairies are reputed to be even worse that their Scottish kin. Great post, Dawn!

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hi, Sarah and Pat. Thanks for visiting and checking out my dark faerie post.