Black Dogs, Hellhounds and Demonic 'Things' Apr 13, 2014 14:08:02 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Apr 13, 2014 14:08:02 GMT -5
Black Dogs, Hellhounds and Demonic ‘Things’
If you’re a fan of Supernatural, Harry Potter or Sherlock Holmes, chances are you’ve heard at least one story about spectral black dogs. Black dog sightings and the otherworldly meanings assigned to them have their roots in many different cultures, although they are particularly common in the United Kingdom. But while each legend is specific to its region, many of the stories share some common threads. Here are a few of the more well known black dogs.
The Devon Wishthounds. The wishthounds or yeth (heath) hounds of Devon are believed to have been one of the inspirations for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. The black hounds originally accompanied a pagan god in what was called the “wild hunt,” but following the advent of Christianity, the god was transformed into the devil himself, who was said to race across the moors with his demon hounds gathering souls, including those of unbaptized babies. The hounds were identifiable by their horrific wails and were more often heard than seen. These creatures, like most spectral hounds, were believed to be an omen of death.
Hellhound. Hellhound is a general category of black dog that either guards the entrance to the underworld or escorts a newly dead soul to the afterlife. Hellhounds are black and generally described as having glowing red eyes. Owing to their connection to the afterlife, seeing a hellhound three times is often thought to bring death. The Greek three-headed dog Cerberus is a hellhound.
Barghest. The barghest is a Yorkshire-based hellhound whose appearance is often accompanied by the sound of rattling chains. A barghest may predict death by lying across the doorway of the abode of the doomed person, or it can appear after the death of a well-known individual. If it is seen after a death, local dogs are said to follow it, howling, in a procession. Barghests have been associated with York, Whitby, Troller’s Gill and Darlington. Occasionally, barghests take more than one form. The Darlington barghest appears in different forms including that of a headless man or woman, a white cat and a rabbit.
Black Shuck. Another British black dog, “shuck” is said to have evolved from either a term for “demon” or “hairy” – or possibly both. There is some dispute as to whether a black shuck is an apparition or a cryptid (a physical creature, like a yeti), as well as whether it is primarily good or evil. Most commonly found in East Anglia, black shucks are said to walk silently while emitting a chilling howl. Some black shuck sightings have been considered death omens, but others have reported a black shuck coming to the aid of lost travelers and women walking alone at night. (Some believe the black shuck haunting the area of East Anglia near Cromer was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles because the author was staying at the nearby Links Hotel when he decided to write the story.)
Tchico. The tchico, also known as a bête, is a black dog haunting the isle of Guernsey. A tchico drags chains and is often active during the period between Christmas and Easter, which could also be thought of as the period after harvest, but before planting. One legend has it that the tchico is the ghost of a former bailiff who was hanged in the 14th century. Some claim the tchico is a death omen, while others say the creature has the power to scare people to death. The most famous tchico is the Tower Beast that haunts Tower Hill near St. Peter Port.
Black Cat of the Hellfire Club. The Hellfire Club refers to a number of notorious private clubs formed by 18th century aristocracy under the more formal name, Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe. One such club was built on Montpelier Hill near Dublin, Ireland. The remains of the clubhouse are said to be haunted by a number of specters, including the black cat, which is not a cat at all, but rather a demonic beast in the form of a spectral dog that was released when club members sacrificed a black cat during a ritual. The beast is said to attack travelers at both the old clubhouse and a nearby inn.
Campeche Devil Dogs. In the early 1800s, pirate Jean Lafitte established a settlement on Galveston Island, Texas, which he called Campeche. According to legend, a pregnant wolf-dog hybrid gave birth during a hurricane while Lafitte occupied Galveston. Lafitte employed a hoodoo practitioner to perform a ritual so that the 12 pups would obey him alone and no one else. When Lafitte left the island for good in 1821, the dogs remained behind, each tasked with guarding a portion of the pirate’s buried treasure, which is said to be scattered about the island.
The dogs are said to have yellow glowing eyes and the ability to fade into shadow form. They stalk people on the island who are up to no good, breathing on the backs of their necks. But they also have an apparently benevolent side. Those who have been chased home by the Campeche dogs have sometimes expressed the belief that the dogs were driving them home to protect them from worse harm. The dogs were also said to have appeared in the days before the Great Storm of 1900, which killed more than 6,000 people and is still the worst natural disaster in US history.
Black Cadejo. The cadejo are a pair of spectral dogs – one black and one white – from South American folklore. According to one story, a practitioner of black magic two village boys, but they were lazy and stole his food. As a consequence, he placed a curse on them so that if they looked toward home before finishing their work, they would turn into cadejos, which they did in short order.
Cadejos are large, shaggy dogs with red eyes and cloven hooves that appear at night exclusively. The white dog protects travelers from danger, while the black one kills. The black cadejo’s presence is marked by a strong he-goat odor, urine and sulphur, and turning one’s back on the entity can drive a person crazy. In some stories, it is suggested that a strong man can kill the black cadejo, while others claim only a white cadejo possesses this power.
Sources: Walking with the Dead; and Satanic Beasts.