Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ghillie Dhu

Though Solitary they would like to stay
They may help those who lose their way
But don't misjudge these dark haired fae
Or you'll be the one that they betray!

Hiding their green skin and hazel eyes
Moss and leaves are their disguise
Entering their forest would be unwise
Offend them and get a big surprise!
                                                                                             ~ Morrigan Aoife

Ghillie Dhu (Scottish) or Gille Dubh (Irish)

Pronounced (Gill-e Doobh)

In Scottish Gaelic, Ghillie Dhu can be translated as dark haired lad or dark servant.

Found in Scottish folklore this faerie, most often depicted as an elf or sprite, is the guardian spirit of the trees. The Ghillie Dhu is a solitary spirit who tasks himself with protecting the woodlands surrounding his home from destruction preformed by man or nature.

The Ghillie Dhu primarily resides in Ross-shire near Gairloch and Loch a Druing. He is typically found in birch groves, his preferred species of tree. Although he is most active at night, he is not spoken of as being nocturnal. When he does sleep he does so upon the ground in a warm round nest created from plant fiber. His diet consisits of berries and nuts.

Tales of the Ghillie Dhu tell of a small,slight, dark haired Fae with light green skin who cleverly disguises himself in clothes (frequently a coat) covered in foliage. His attire may either be brown or green depending on the season and is reportedly woven from grasses, leaves and moss.

The height of these wee Fae seems to be a matter of debate as some sources indicate that their stature is 7" while others say they can grow as tall as 36" (3 feet).

Additionally one account spoke of this creature as having wild hair black as a moonless night and eyes the deepest brown of a hazel nut. This account also states 'Tis said his skin color changes from green to brown with the seasons.

Stories also conflict in regard to the nature of this Fae. Some claim he is a notoriously shy and harmless sprite who prefers to avoid contact with humans. Although contact is not advised, they are occasionally contacted by lost humans whom they comfort and redirect homeward.

Others stories tell of a darker side, in which the Ghillie Dhu dislike human beings. Stories surrounding these tales warn people traveling in the enchanted woods at night that they must be careful not to be grabbed by the long green arms of the Ghillie Dhu for they will drag the travelers off to fairyland where they will be forever enslaved. The Ghillie Dhu is said to be kind to children however, if offended by an adult human the wee man could decide to reach out his thin, long arms and crush the offender in an angry embrace, leaving the human to rot into earthy compost.

Scottish forests were once heavily populated by the Ghillie Dhu but are now becoming rare. Some have chosen to migrate in search of areas with greater isolation, the ones that remained in Scotland are presumed to have either died out or intermarried with other more domestic varieties of faeries, loosing their Ghillie Dhu attributes after a few generations of offspring.

Interestingly enough, some believe that the Ghillie Dhu that chose a path of human contact have evolved into the most well-known and loved fairies, The Tooth Fairy. Thereby by choosing a role that allowed them to exercise their love and wish to care for human children while still maintaining a shy distance. This variation of Ghillie Dhu live in backyards and parks and only visit the children by night in order to collect their teeth which they use to cast protective magic for the child.


  1. I do love myths and legends, so this was really cool. Thanks for sharing.

    Oh, and by the way, did you draw your header? I LOVE the evil peering dragon face!!

  2. Thanks for stopping in. I'm glad you found today's post interesting.

    I created the header image with Adobe Photoshop Elements. I am a certified Web Development Specialist, which basically means I have a small amount of experience with a number different web design elements such as java script, html, graphics, multimedia, programming etc.

    Programs like APE make creating images easier, Especially for someone with little artistic (drawing) talent, like myself.