The Green Lady is a unique spirit. She’s more often described as a faerie rather than a ghost. I’m not sure that’s the best description. She’s certainly not someone lightly categorized with all brownies or Gruagachs.
Every woman who appears as a ‘Green Lady’ wears a rich green gown that usually reaches the ground.
That’s why we usually refer to her as a “green lady.” Her skin isn’t green; her dress is.
Other than that, it’s difficult to generalize about the appearance of a Green Lady.
DARK TALES OF THE GREEN LADY
In darker legends, the Green Lady is a demon and the gown covers her hairy, goat-like body. In other stories, she is cursed with hooves for feet, and the gown hides them.
In my opinion, those descriptions are about the Green Women, who may be dark, demon-like faeries. (Listen to my podcast, Green Faeries, at FaerieMagick.com.)
The goat’s body tradition relates to another category of Highland spirits: the Glaistig. In fact, the Green Lady can be called a Ghlaistig uaine, ‘the Green Glaistig.’ Glaistigs are spirits who were once women of title, or at least the mistress of a house.
Each of them has been put under an enchantment. They dislike dogs, prefer to be alone, protect houses, and favor fools and people ‘of weak intellect.’
Of course, that’s another area in which the traditions blur between ghosts, spirits, and faeries.
The Green Glaistigs are rarely seen, but there are stories of the Glaistigs of Ardnacaillich (home of the Macquarries), Donolly Castle, Mernaigh, Dunstaffnage, and many other locations.
In most cases, she is simply called the Green Lady.
FAMOUS GREEN LADY GHOSTS
One of the most famous is the Green Lady of Skipness Castle, by Loch Fyne. She has protected her home and the family in it for centuries. Several times, she created a supernatural confusion among enemies who’d planned to attack the castle. After they left Skipness, their wits returned, but as they marched back towards the Castle, they became confused again.
One Green Lady appears today at Crathes Castle, about 15 miles southwest of Aberdeen City in Scotland. This Green Lady is usually called a “ghost,” and she appears by the fireplace to pick up a ghostly infant. Then they vanish together.
Centuries ago when the castle was renovated, her bones, and those of the baby, were found buried beneath this spot in the castle.
Another reliable place to see a Green Lady, is at the ruins of the castle at Caerphilly, just north of Cardiff in Wales.
Like the Green Man of the forest, she hides herself as ivy around this castle. However, if you watch very closely, she will reveal her presence by moving slightly. Once she knows she has been seen, she will emerge as the gracious and lovely woman that she is, extend a hand in welcome if she likes you, and then she vanishes.
MORE GREEN LADY LOCATIONS
There are no formal reports of a Green Lady outside of the British Isles, but there are some similar tales. We suspect that the Green Lady is a category of ghosts, similar to the Banshees (Bean Sidhe) of Ireland.
For example, there is Ocean-Born Mary, an 18th-century spirit who haunts Henniker, New Hampshire. She wears a green gown, and she had Scottish ancestry.
Likewise, 18th-century ghost Judith Thompson Tyng has been seen in a green gown, in the houses she haunts around Nashua, NH. (See my related articles, including The Haunting of John Alford Tyng.)
However, the Green Lady is most frequently found at castles and homes in Scotland. In fact, ghost hunters can plan vacations to encounter at least one Green Lady.
Additional castles that report Green Lady ghosts include Castle of Park, Banff and Fernie Castle, Fife.
Scotland also boasts castles and homes with other “lady” ghosts, including Grey Ladies and White Ladies.
LINKS: WHERE TO ENCOUNTER A GREEN LADY GHOST
- A Green Lady appears at Caerphilly Castle in Wales.
- Another Green Lady protects her baby, and the home, at Crathes Castle.
- Scotland’s Dunstaffnage Castle, is the home of a Glaistig. And read the legend of this Green Lady, by Margaret Campbell.
- Additional Green Ladies are seen at their respective castle homes: Fyvie Castle, near Muchalls Castle (now an hotel), Huntingtower Castle, and probably dozens (hundreds?) of others.
- If you’re planning a trip to Scotland and want to increase your chances of seeing a Green Lady or other spectre, see the list at Travel Scotland’s Haunted Hotels.
- One haunted hotel in Scotland, Tulloch Castle Hotel, even has a painting of the Green Lady who protects it.Thanks to Adam W. for suggesting the subject of The Green Lady for this article. (The hotel’s link – TullochCastle.co.uk – seems not to be working in March 2017. For now, the best source of information may be travel websites, or Wikipedia.)
Also read my article Scottish Ghosts – The ‘Green Lady’