The glaistig (pronounced|ˈɡlæʃtɨɡ) is a creature from Scottish mythology. It came in two forms, namely, firstly a kind of satyr, a supposed she-hag or hag in the shape of a goat, secondly, a kind of beautiful female fairy, identical with the "bean-nighe", usually attired in a green robe, seldom seen except at the bank of a stream, and engaged in washing, also known as "maighdean uaine" (green maiden). In most stories, the creature is described as a beautiful woman with dusky or gray skin and long blonde hair. Her lower half was that of a goat, usually disguised by a long, flowing green robe or dress.

According to legends, the glaistig could serve in legend as both a malign and benign creature. Some stories have her luring men to her lair via either song or dance, where she would then drink their blood. Other such tales have her casting stones in the path of travellers or throwing them off course.

In other, more benign incarnations, the glaistig is a protector of cattle and herders, and in at least one legend in Scotland, [ [ The Glaistig ] ] the town of Ach-na-Creige had such a spirit protecting the cattle herds. The townsfolk, in gratitude, poured milk from the cows into a hollowed-out stone for her to drink. According to the same legend, her protection was revoked after one local youth poured boiling milk into the stone, burning her. She has also been described in some folklore as watching over children while their mothers milked the cows and fathers watched over the herds.

Another rendition of the glaistig legend is that the glaistig was once a mortal noblewoman, to whom a "fairy" nature had been given [Rev. J. G. Campbell, "Superstitions of the islands and Highlands of Scotland", "Scottish Celtic Review" 4 (1885), pp155, 157, noted in J. G. McKay, "The Deer-Cult and the Deer-Goddess Cult of the Ancient Caledonians" "Folklore" 43.2 (June 1932), pp. 144-174). p. 152.] or who was cursed with the goat's legs and immortality, and since has been known as "The Green Lady". In this incarnation, she seems to be more benign, and watches over houses and also looks after those of weak mind as well. Such Green Lady myths have been associated with a number of locations in Scotland, including Ardnacaillich, Donolly Castle, Loch Fyne, Crathes Castle and in Wales at Caerphilly. A similar tale has also been told of Henniker, New Hampshire. [ [ Where to find a 'Green Lady' ghost ] ]

A third tale synthesizes the two threads. It tells of a mortal woman who lived on an island near the Firth of Clyde and who was smitten by the fairies and was granted her unspoken wish to become one of them. Afterwards, she dedicated herself to watching over the cattle of the island until a farmer offended her greatly through rude treatment and she left, making her way to the mainland by leaping to nearby islets before snagging her hoof in the rigging of a passing ship. She, according to this tale, fell into the ocean and presumably drowned, or at any rate was never seen again. [ [ Fairytales ] ]

The name is evidently cognate with the Manx "glashtin", and is similar to the "sacbaun" of Galloway.


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