Monday, April 2, 2012

Dryads...there's more than one kind.

I love trees, I think there is nothing lovelier than a grand old tree standing strong in a storm, or a gorgeous small sapling bursting forth from fertile soil... *sigh*

 Therefore I find it completely unsurprising that there are many (and I do mean many) magic myths surrounding trees.

The most commonly known mythological creature related to trees would be the Dryads and Hamadryad. As they are the more commonly known mythological creatures - I'll keep my description of them fairly brief.

[Image (how cool is this?!) courtesy]
Dryads are tree-nymphs from ancient Greek mythology. They are generally carefree female spirits that watch over trees and forests. They protect trees and punish careless humans who may harm their forest. If the dryad lives alongside or (in some cases) inside the tree, then they are referred to as Hamadryads. The Hamadryad's life is so intrinsically linked with its tree that if the tree dies the nymph will die with it. In mythology the Dryad nymphs are often hotly pursued by their lusty counterpart the Satyr.

Moss Folk
[image courtesy:]
I had not heard of these until I began pawing through my new set of mythology books *joy*. The Moss Folk are also known as Moosleute or Holzleute, Eschenfrau in German. Similar creatures also appear in  Scandinavian folklore as Askafroea. They are often considered to be forest dwelling Fae or Fairies. According to myth they sometimes borrow items from people but always repay the favour. In a number of myths they are said to approach human lactating women and ask for their milk in order to feed their young.
 In southern Germany in particular they are considered to be tree spirits referred to as 'wood people' and 'moss maidens'. Their descriptions vary. Sometimes described as being small and gorgeous with faerie wings, and at other times depicted as being old, hairy and covered in moss. There is also some link with the moss people and the "Wild hunt", the moss people apparently targeted in this hunt and therefore hide in the trees. Like the Hamadryad, their lives are often entwined closely with a particular tree and if the tree dies, then so does the fairy.

[image courtesy;]
These are an interesting group of mythological faeries that hail from Irish Folklaw. The Lunantishee are the guardian's of blackthorn bushes, from which traditional Irish walking sticks are made. Apparently the Lunantishee absolutely hate humans for damaging their blackthorn bushes. Legend has it that you are not allowed to cut a blackthorn bush on May 11th or November 11th without some dreadful accident befalling you.

[image courtesy;]
Ghillie Dhu
This is the one I really wanted to look into because in my new mythology books *double joy* there is a truly awesome picture of one. Alas my scanner is not working so I am unable to share that particular image, but I sourced this one from the net to give you an idea. The image I have in my book is of a much more romanticised version, who would potentially make a great hero for a book... if you increased his size...just a tad.
 Anyway. A Ghillie Dhu is from Scottish folklore.
They are said to be solitary Fae creatures, around 7 inches tall with long limbs and pale green skin and wild black hair. They wear clothes of moss and leaves and are said to be protective of certain trees particularly Birch. The Ghillie Dhu were considered very shy and docile, living on berries and nuts. However as their natural habitat in the Scottish forests was destroyed for farming/development they became more accustomed to man and began emigrating out to other countries! Some ended up in Canada and France. Some of course, remained in the remnant Scottish forests. It is said that the Ghillie Dhu were very adaptive and the modern Day Toothfairy is actually one of the roles they have adopted in modern day society. If you want to read more check out this link. I think its a very sweet little myth.

There you have it if you're considering writing about Dryad's be aware there are so many more (I've just shown you the tip of the iceburg!) that you might want to consider a lesser known Fae instead.





  1. Awesome!

    I have not even started planning what I am going to do this year for NaNoWriMo, so maybe I'll take up a little challenge for myself and go with a lesser known Fae or mythological being as a main character. Hmm...the problem is trying to figure out which one I should go with. There are so many cool options out there.

  2. Absolutely Alice. Soooo many. :) good luck!