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