Ghillie Dhu - part of Scottish folklore and myth

The beloved Ghillie Dhu
The beloved Ghillie Dhu | Source

Information about Ghillie Dhu

Alternate name: dark-haired lad, Gille Dubh (Irish)

Origins: Scottish mythology

Alignment: Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Good, Neutral Good

Element: Darkness/Shadow, Earth, Plant Time

Species: Humanoid (fay)

Appearance: dark-haired male, clad in moss and foliage

~ from warriorsofmyth.wika.com

Another rendition of Ghillie Dhu
Another rendition of Ghillie Dhu | Source
Another look at Ghilie Dhu
Another look at Ghilie Dhu | Source

Folklore and legends

Every country has its myths, folklore and legends to tell the stories of the people who first inhabited their country. How else to explain their religions, culture, and the unexplainable? Most countries have legends of great men who define their country and people. The English have Beowulf; the Spanish have El Cid, both epic poems of great men that define a peoples and nations

Then there are the faeries, sprites, nymphs and brownies that also define peoples and their nations. English lore has had many races of 'wee people' who magically live in forests and mostly come out at night. Even Shakespeare has written of them in his plays, most notably "A Midsummer Night's Dream." They confound humans by their involvement and interference in the lives of humans. But, they are loved and treasured by children and there have been many tales about them read to children.

Even the U.S., a relatively young nation in the world of nations has its 'Tinkerbell.' Walt Disney knew of the love of faeries and sprites and their tales in the older nations of the world, and so he created for Americans their own little faerie nymph from Barrie's Peter Pan.

One of the older nations of the world, Scotland, too has its own legends and faerie lore, and many stories have been written about them. Faeries feature greatly in Scottish lore.

The Scots believe that all faeries can be contacted in the Other World and some are found in this world too. But, the Scots remind us, always approach a faerie with caution.

Faeries are very sensitive beings and have their feelings hurt easily. The Scottish faeries live in burghs as do Irish faeries. One can hear the Scottish faeries' music come out of the hillhocks at night when one is outside.

In Scotland, the world for faerie is "sith," pronounced "shee." Other Scottish names for these nymphs are Still Folk, People of Peace, The Silent Moving Folk, Pixies, The Wee Folk, and Prowlies.

And, in Scotland, there is no other faerie so famous and beloved as Ghillie Dhu, a solitary Scottish faerie or elf who lives in the forest, particularly in birch trees. He is clothed in woven leaves and moss and he is the guardian spirit of the trees.

He is wild but shy and generally kind to children. But, not so kind to adults who lose their way in the dark Scottish forests at night. He is most active at night and his name translates from the Scottish Gaelic as "dark haired lad." He is similar to the Green Man in England and Wales.

He is a 'wee folk' only three feet tall and he is black haired with hazelnut dark brown eyes. His skin color changes from green to brown to green again with the seasons. He doesn't eat meat and prefers to eat berries and nuts from his beloved trees. His name means 'dark servant' to match his dark hair and eyes and sometimes a dark temperament.

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

Well, beware of Ghillie Dhu if you are an adult. If you venture into the forest at night and offend Ghillie Dhu, he will reach out with thin, long leafy arms and crush you in his angry embrace leaving the adult human to rot into earthly compost or he might kidnap you and drag you into faerie land to be enslaved forever.

Such is the lore about Ghillie Dhu. In the book, Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend, the author Donald Alexander Mackenzie tells the tale of young Jessie Macrae, who upon being lost in the forest, is kindly directed home by Ghillie Dhu.

Ghillie Dhu is also concerned with the health of teeth of Scottish children and so is believed to be the 'tooth faerie' in Scotland.

It is also believed that Ghillie Dhu may have immigrated to forests in north America after following the Scottish fur trappers to French Canada in the late 1700's.

Ghillie Dhu was also a term used in 'code songs' and was used to symbolize the Stuart heir royal line. When future Charles II, son of the executed Charles I, was in exile following the English Civil War, Charles was given the code name Ghille Dhu because of his dark black hair.

The term was later used to mean his younger brother James VII and II after he was exiled following the rebellion that put his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange on the throne.

Ghille suit is a form of camouflage that has it's roots in Scottish folklore.  Scottish swat teams wear this suit when working in the forests in Scotland.
Ghille suit is a form of camouflage that has it's roots in Scottish folklore. Scottish swat teams wear this suit when working in the forests in Scotland. | Source
Another painting of Ghillie Dhu.
Another painting of Ghillie Dhu. | Source

Ghillie Dhu in poetry

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

Tiodhlac:  Gift of the Ghillie Dhu
Tiodhlac: Gift of the Ghillie Dhu | Source
Source

The Gift of the Ghillie Dhu

Wrought from star-dolven iron

Quenched in sap of the Beithe

Was Tiodhlac: Gift of the Ghillie Dhu


Young Duncan took care of the old birch wood,

Kept poachers and oxmen at bay,

Gaining the love of the beithe-bound Ghillie Dhu


When Young Duncan, his-love sworn abducted,

For the jealousy of wicked Black Donald,

Sorrow and pity was the old Ghillie Dhu.


For Poor Young Duncan, No sword to his name

And the might of Black Donald, No earthly man dare

Had need of the dwimmer - crafty, the clever Ghillie Dhu


Ancient Hammer bows thundering in the hoar

Echoing in leafy halls,

Came forth the fae - deadly blade of Ghillie Dhu


Cold black Iron, Heaven-born

Shimmering veins star - silver bright,

Bold was the hilt;


Tiodhlac: Gift of the Ghillie Dhu


Ghillie Dhu Scottish pub and restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Ghillie Dhu Scottish pub and restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland. | Source

Ghillie Dhu Pub & Restaurant

Scotland also offers the Ghillie Dhu Pub & Restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is named for their beloved faerie/elf of Scottish lore. It is a traditional Scottish pub with live entertainment each night. It serves the finest local [produce, ales and premium spirits. It also presents the best local, national and international acts.

It is open from noon to 3 am and is an alternative to the Edinburgh social scene.

It can be found at:


2 Rutland Place

Edinburgh, Scotland

Telephone: 0131-222-9930

ghille-dhu.co.uk - website

More by this Author


Comments 30 comments

ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

Very interesting information, something about which I had no idea before. That's the beauty of HP. You get to learn about different people, different cultures.

The pictures are amazing, especially the Ghillie suit. It took me a while to figure it out.

Well researched and very well done hub! Voted up!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

I love this series, Suzette. I suspect some of my real ancestors are from Scotland, so I'm soaking this series up. Thank you.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hi suzette, this is awesome! lol! just my 'cup of tea' so to speak! I am loving your series on the Brits, wonderful! voted up and shared, nell


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Chitrangada: Isn't that Ghillie suit amazing? Can you imagine British kids going on Trick or Treat at Halloween with that costume on? By the way, do you celebrate Halloween or Day of the Dead or anything like that in India? Anyway, thanks so much for your interest and comments.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Bill: Yes, you could definitely be a Scot. Your personality is very similar and I mean that in a good way. I am so glad you are enjoying this and thanks so much for reading and commenting.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thanks so much Nell. It doesn't surprise me that you like this! When I discovered this little fella I just had to write about him. I love the kid in the Ghillie suit/costume. I can just imagine on Halloween! LOL! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I am enjoying your comments!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Very interesting hub Suzette. I love to learn about the folklore and beliefs of other countries. I had never heard of Ghillie Dhu before and found it an excellent read. Thank you for expanding my knowledge.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Jodah: Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate your interest. Ghillie Dhu is a cute guy and myth.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Great info and love the photos! You can't get better than educational and interesting. ^+


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Jackie: Thanks so much for your kind comments. I so enjoyed writing this as I love the faerie lore in the British Isles. I am so happy you enjoyed reading this. Thanks so much for your interest and visit. Most appreciated.


ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

My Dearest Suzette,

How is it you never fail to write such exceptional hubs that are interesting and informative. Like all of your other hubs, I love this one.

Like Bill, I have some Scottish blood flowing through my veins which makes this even more intriguing. I hope you are doing well. Even though I may not get to the hub as often as I once did nor as often as I would like, I always know that when I catch one your hubs, I am in for a treat. And, maybe it sounds odd, but I feel such a connection with you. I feel that if we were ever able to visit, no matter where we might be, you would make it a fun event. As always, voted up and shared.

Many Blessings,

Kim


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Kim: You are so sweet and kind in your comments. I am so glad you enjoy my hubs. I just go with my interests at the moment - right now I'm on a Celtic kick - and then write hubs around that interest. Don't apologize about getting to hubs - we are all busy and it takes time to get to all the people we want to. I am so glad to hear you have a bit of Scottish in you - I have a drop of Scottish too, and remarkably it comes from the Italian side of the family. How 'bout that? LOL! I am quite a conglomeration.

Kim, I have to tell you, that I have felt a closeness to you from the first hub or yours I read. Your poetry is extraordinary and so well written and expressed. I think we are kindred spirits. I would love to meet you one day - I haven't been to N. Carolina in ages, but when I do get there again, I will certainly let you know and look you up. I don't know what it is about certain people here on HP - I think that we write and know how to express ourselves that we connect and we know which connects are really true and good. You are one of those hubbers, to me Kim. You are such a brave woman - I don't know if I could have been so truthful and open about health issues as you have. I really admire you so much. Well, I will stop now. Have a great week!


ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

Girlfriend,

Just know that if you ever find yourself in the NC's Appalachian Mountains, you have a place to stay.

Kim


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

And if you are ever anywhere in Ohio you have a place to stay with me! Anytime!


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

I was simply blown away when I read this. I began reading it and continued to the end - no interruptions allowed. I loved it! I wonder if my mother ever heard heard anything like this (she was Scottish). I gave it thumbs up and shared it.

Kevin


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Kevin-thank you so much and I'm so happy you enjoyed reading this hub. I had fun writing it. So you are Scottish too. Well, just one of the magic lore from Scotland. Thanks so much for your comments!


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

I guess you could say half, my father's family was from German heritage. I do prefer Scottish/Irish though.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

My dad is German and my mom is Italian with a drop of Scottish. She thought she was full blooded Italian until a few years ago she discovered she was a bit Scottish through her maternal grandmother.


travmaj profile image

travmaj 2 years ago from australia

I read this through with fascination, love the folk lore and myths that endure. The Ghillie Dhu is definitely someone I don't want to meet on a dark night. Perhaps his kindness to children defines him. Great hub.


Tracy Halman profile image

Tracy Halman 2 years ago from Ravenna, Ohio

Awesome story, love it. I found out from my mother that yes we have Celtic blood line. My grandfather's family where from Norway. Norwegian blood line I guess you would say? Can not wait to sit and finish the rest of the story's especially the fairy folklore!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

travmaj: I think Ghillie Dhu is trying to tell us all something from ancient days. Children value and take care of nature and forests. Adults tear them down for timber, burn them, litter them, etc. I love this little guy even if he is not fond of adults. I think his liking children does define him. Thanks so much for your interest and your comments.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Tracy, Yes, the Norwegians had Celts in ancient times also. So you are a true blue Celt! LOL! I am intrigued by the Celts and their culture and time on this earth. Thanks so much for your interest and comments. Most appreciated.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Hi suzette,

Another fascinating read here. I have never heard of Ghillie Dhu and do not believe I would want to meet up with him in a dark forest. However, I found it so interesting about his concern for the teeth of children. It is always interesting to read about the different folk lore and you have covered it so well here.

Looks like you have been publishing away here, so I have much to catch up on reading!

Up and more and away

Blessings always


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Ghillie Dhu likes the children, but not so with adults. We are too dangerous to his beloved forests. So glad you enjoyed reading this Faith. I think he is a cute little forest sprite. I enjoy these folklore stories so much, too. Thanks so much for your interest and your comments. Most appreciated and so good to see you again.


mylindaelliott profile image

mylindaelliott 2 years ago from Louisiana

How interesting, but no I'm not afraid to walk in the forest alone.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Linda: I know, I'm not afraid to walk in the forest alone either, just a joke. Thank your for visiting this and I hope you enjoyed it.


kharismaperkasa profile image

kharismaperkasa 2 years ago from Indonesia

Fascinating ... I think I'm gonna write about some myths and folklore from my native homeland as well. Thank you for the interesting read.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

kharismaperkasa: What an interesting name! At least I think it is a name. Thank you so much for reading this and I hope you enjoyed it. Please do write some hubs about Indonesian myths. I for one, don't know anything about them. I am only familiar with the western world's myths, fairy tales and folk lore. I would love to hear some from 'your neck of the woods.' Thanks so much for reading these and for your visit.


kharismaperkasa profile image

kharismaperkasa 2 years ago from Indonesia

Haha, yes Suzette my name is Kharisma, and I would be happy to write about Indonesian myths and legends as they really are quite interesting. In the mean time however, I think I'm going to check out your other hubs. :)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Kharisma: I get it, it is your first and last name! Duh! LOL! Thank you for checking out my other hubs and I will do the same with you. I would love to hear some Indonesian myths and legends whenever you feel like telling us. Other cultures are so interesting to me.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working