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Ghillie Dhu - part of Scottish folklore and myth
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
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.
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
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 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
ghille-dhu.co.uk - website