In this 12-minute podcast, Fiona Broome talks about the following green faeries and related entities.
The Green Man
This “wild man” of the forest may be a faerie. He — and his fellow Green Men — usually protect the forest and sometimes the animals in it.
The original “Green Man” may be Merlin, who was said to go mad for several years and, during that time, lived in the forested areas around the border between England and Scotland. (His sister lived nearby, with her husband and family.)
The Green Man may be related to these other traditions, as well: the Green Knight, Green George, Jack in the Green, Latzman, the Leaf King, corn babies and corn dolls, the Wicker Man, or even Robin Hood.
There may be benevolent, female counterparts in the woods, but Green Women in folklore are very different.
The Green Women traditions seem to be well-established in the Scottish Highlands. In fact, there is a Glen of Green Women and a related ballad by Sir Walter Scott.
Green Women are usually beautiful women dressed in green. They usually appear at night, and seem in distress. One of them will appeal to a kind-hearted man, and lead him away from his friends. His lifeless body will be found in the morning, drained as if attacked by a vampire or a demonic entity that consumed the victim’s life energy. In some cases, only the bones remain.
The distinctive feature of Green Women is supposed to be their feet. (Some stories also talk about odd hands.) The feet are actually hooves, similar to what you’d see on a deer. Usually, the women go to extremes to cover that strange characteristic, and wear a long gown that reaches the floor.
They may be dark faeries, vampires, or something related to demons. They may also be related to the Baoban Sith legends of Scotland.
The Green Women are usually different from green ladies, though some Green Women have been called Green Ladies.
The Green Lady
Also well-founded in Scotland, the “green lady” (sometimes all lower-case letters) is more likely a ghost than a faerie. Though there are many of them, people usually talk about them in the singular.
The classic green lady ghost appears at Skipness Castle at Loch Fyne.
In most cases, the green lady protects the home or castle where she once lived, and the family in it. Often, the home displays her portrait from centuries ago.
Unlike the Banshee (bean sidhe), the green lady stays with the home she’s protecting. Banshees will move from house to house, protecting “their” family and its descendants.
One notable exception is Judith Thompson Tyng, a green lady ghost who moved from home to home in 18th century Tyngsborough, Massachusetts. For more about her, read Tyngsboro – The Haunting of John Alford Tyng.
The Scottish green ladies may be related to brownies, the Gruagach, and especially the Grogan family.
If you’re interested in the green lady ghosts, you may enjoy Scottish ghosts – Where to find a ‘Green Lady’ ghost.
Green children are definitely faerie children. They have green skin and wear green clothing. They’re usually seen at a distance, in wooded areas. Reports of them date to the 13th century, in the writings of Ralph of Coggeshall, as well as Sir Richard deCaine and William deNewburgh.
Music: The Moods of Man, written & orchestrated by James Underberg