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#1 mellilotflower

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 10:19 AM

Yes, yes, I'm bringing them up again. As many of you know these are an obsession of mine, but anyway, I found an article about them in the fourtean times of April 2005. (it's actually the cover article and the only reason I bought the magazine).

Anyway they seem to believe that the most well known, and supposedly first documented encounter of black dogs was made up by the priest who wrote the pamphlet- Abraham Flemming.

They also look at the origin of the lore in general and give documental evidence of Vikings either being called wolves, or wolves acting very like vikings;
"Danish Pirates... fought a battle which they won. As a result they gained control of [Frisia]. Wolves attacked and devoured with complete audacity the inhabitants of the western parts of Gaul. Indeed in some parts of Aquitaine they are said to have gathered together in groups of up to 300, just like army detachments, formed a sort of battle line and marched along the raod, boldly charging en masse all who tried to resist them."
THis ties in with the fact that black dog legends are prevailant on eastern coast lands of the brittish isles which were heavily settled by scandinavian invaders..
In 1014 the Danes, after killing the ruling Angles (not corners but those living in Anglia), installed their own king of the area Guthrum. His nickname was "the Great Black Dog of Langport"
Black Dogs are closely associated with water, usually seen near water or the sea - Vikings generally attacked from water. Black Dogs are often associated with churches (kirk/church grims) and Vikings were known to plunder and attack churches.

Then, of course I believe I will have mentioned before the fact that Thor had a dog named Shukr (some of the main names for black dogs involves Shuck or Shock or varients theire of). And there's the scandinavian tradition of burying a black lamb in grave yards for their kirkogrims. And there's Odin's hounds Geri and Gifr who were greedy for the flesh of the dead and guard the fortress of the dead.

So what do you think? Do the origins of Black Dog tales lie in descriptions of Norse attacks?
This doesn't quite seem to explain Black Dogs that act as Banshees or omens but is more concerned with the active Black Dogs which cause physical damage such as those described by Flemming.

The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.

Sonnet XCIVBut if that flower with base infection meet,The basest weed outbraves his dignity:For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds

#2 IceGoddess

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 11:12 AM

So what do you think? Do the origins of Black Dog tales lie in descriptions of Norse attacks?
This doesn't quite seem to explain Black Dogs that act as Banshees or omens but is more concerned with the active Black Dogs which cause physical damage such as those described by Flemming.

I think it's quite possible that these stories have moved Black Dogs from the physical manifestation to something supernatural. You have to remember that back in the time you are referring to, none of these stories were written down, it was all word of mouth. From one telling to another, good story tellers might've added their own embellishments to the story to make them seem extraordinary.

I have a friend who loves that period of time where the Norse were alive and ruling what would be Europe. I can ask her for more information regarding their beliefs with Black Dogs, if you'd like.

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#3 jamiehall

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 11:26 AM

One book I've noticed recently with some new things (or at least, not quite so usual things) to say about British black dogs is "Three Men Seeking Monsters : Six Weeks in Pursuit of Werewolves, Lake Monsters, Giant Cats, Ghostly Devil Dogs, and Ape-Men" by Nick Redfern. The author's home page can be found at http://www.nickredfern.com/.
Nick tells of a number of the weirder ghostly black dogs, including the shug monkey. A number of the beasts he mentions are half-dog half-ape or half-dog half-cat. Some are even weirder. One of them even had rhinoceros characteristics!
Nick links British black dog folklore to British werewolf legends, British Bigfoot (or wildman) legends, and also to British witches.
His book concludes by putting forth the "Cormon" theory, an idea that all spectral entities are visitors from an energy universe who feed off human emotions, and furthermore that witches are often the ones who bring these energy entities to our universe. Anyway, a very weird book, and some stuff about black dogs that I hadn't seen much of elsewhere.

#4 Vampchick21

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 11:49 AM

The Black Dogs that I am familar with are actually Sidhe, the Wee Folk, the Gentry. :) I'm very sleepy right now else I'd remember the proper name for these fellows.

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#5 mellilotflower

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 12:33 PM

Cu Sith, often green or white. Sometimes thought to be owned by the fairies, and might lead mortals to the fairy world, or else are left to guard the entances to the wee folks realm. They carry messages too and travel ley lines. I think that's what you're refering to anyway and I may have some details wrong, it's just what I remember.

I've not come across Redfern's books before. I've heard of black dogs being able to shape shift- but they aren't usually considered pure black dogs there, but more usually phooka or kobolds. *is away to look into what you've mentioned*

The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.

Sonnet XCIVBut if that flower with base infection meet,The basest weed outbraves his dignity:For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds

#6 Vampchick21

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 12:41 PM

I think it's the phooka that I'm thinking off. Always heard of them as big black dogs with red eyes....or that's what my Grandmother said.

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#7 mellilotflower

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 01:13 PM

The phooka shifts into all sorts of shapes, most commonly Black Dogs and Horses. As a horse it entices riders onto its back and then gallops of with them on a wild ride before dumping them in ponds or streams. As a Dog is generally scares people, there was one story of it half turning into a donkey and standing on its hind legs and laughing... the phooka also acts like a wil-o-the-whisp at times. It's generally mischevous.
The black dogs with the glowing red eyes are generally don't shape shift if they are true black dogs, and tend to be omens of death, or bringers of death.

The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.

Sonnet XCIVBut if that flower with base infection meet,The basest weed outbraves his dignity:For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds

#8 Vampchick21

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 01:16 PM

Yup...THAT's the black dog stuff I'm familar with.

Very interesting theory that you posted initally though.

I'm off now....up since 3:30 am and I'm beat. Going home to bed. :) Play nice!

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#9 IceGoddess

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 05:32 PM

Digging this up again because I found this blurb about Black Dogs on a site about Myths and Folklore in Britain...

Barguest
One name for the phantom black dog. In appearance the Barguest was as large as a calf, with long sharp fangs and claws, fiery eyes and a shaggy black coat.

The Barguest seems to have been a name used relatively widely for a shapeshifting creature, which could also appear in the shape of a bear, indeed the name Barguest may derive from the German for 'bear ghost'.

In common with many supernatural creatures, the Barguest could not cross running water, and as a black dog it was often seen as a death portent.


Church Grim or Kirk Grim
The guardian of old churchyards in the form of a black dog, it protected the dead from the Devil, demons and other nefarious supernatural creatures. The dog was often seen on stormy nights and was regarded as a portent of death.

It has been surmised that the Church Grim is a folk memory of a sacrifice. It was believed in the past that the first burial in a churchyard would have to watch over the rest of the dead. A dog may have been buried first in place of a human.

Phantom black dogs are numerous in Britain, and almost every area has its own variant. Although not all of these are thought to be derived from a folk memory of a sacrifice, the practice was once widespread.


The Lyme Regis Black Dog
This old story gives an explanation for the naming of the Black Dog Inn near Uplyme in Devon. The black dog seems to be a spirit guardian of treasure.

Near to Lyme Regis there was a farmhouse, which once formed part of a large mansion house destroyed during the English Civil War. The chimney, hearth and part of the roof of the farmhouse, were part of the surviving structure of the old mansion.

Some time ago probably in the 18th century, the apparition of a black dog started to appear by the hearth while the occupier was sitting next to the fire. The dog appeared almost every night and in the time the farm owner got used to its presence.

One day after taunts from his neighbours about the phantom, he came home drunk grabbed a poker and chased the dog into the attic.

The dog disappeared through the attic ceiling and he lunged at it with the poker. The poker went straight through the roof, and an old fashioned box fell down from its hiding hole.

Inside the box were a great number of golden coins dating from the reign of Charles the I. The farmer used the coins to purchase a house nearby, which he converted into a pub, naming it the black dog after the phantom.

From that time the dog never appeared in the house but haunted a lane by the farm at midnight now known as Dog Lane. It is said the dog was seen in 1856 and also in the 1950's. There is a warning not to allow dogs to stray around the area as many are supposed to have disappeared in mysterious circumstances.


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#10 IceGoddess

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 06:09 PM

I decided to post this info separately since it's so long...


Phantom Black Dogs
Stories of phantom black dogs abound in Britain, almost every county has its own variant, from the Black Shuck of East Anglia to the Padfoot and Bogey Beast of Yorkshire. Phantom black dogs have been witnessed too frequently in modern times to parcel the phenomena as pure folklore and legend, but then folklore and legend often has origins in real events. There are various theories to explain the phenomena and they seem to have many common traits from sighting to sighting.


In appearance the phantoms vary from region to region, but it is not uncommon for them to be described as calf sized, with saucer eyes and a shaggy coat. Phantom dogs are not always black however, the one that is supposed to haunt the area around Cawthorpe and Haugham in Lincolnshire, is described as white, but still has saucer eyes and is as big as calf. The Cu Sith, the traditional fairy dog of Scotland is dark green in colour, with a shaggy tail up its back. Black dogs are more often than not associated with a specific location such as an old trackway or lane, this is sometimes reflected in the name of the routeway, although not every 'Black Dog Lane' has a tradition of the haunting.

There have been some attempts at classification; the folklorist Theo Brown divided the black dog phenomena into three separate types A, B and C. (A) Being a shape-shifting demon dog; (B ) being a dark black dog calf sized with shaggy fur; and a dog that appears in time with certain ancient festivals in specific areas of the country. Katherine Briggs, the renowned folklorist, splits these further into demon dogs, the ghosts of human beings and the ghosts of dogs in their own right.

In local traditions the black dogs sightings are seen as death portents, especially those seen in ancient churchyards in the form of the Church or Kirk Grim (Kirk being the Scottish word for Church), which is thought to represent a folk memory of a sacrifice. The black dog that used to haunt Peel castle and a nearby graveyard on the Isle of Man, is one such grim, it is said to have scared a sentry to death. Other sightings from the South of England, have been related to coincidental sudden deaths. The next two accounts relate to actual deaths by a black dog over four hundred years ago, although it is likely both events were the result of ball lightning:

A weather vane in Bungay Market in Suffolk depicts a black dog and a flash of lighting, it commemorates an event on Sunday the 4th of August 1577. Between nine and ten in the morning while the parishioners of Bungay were at church, a fearful and violent storm broke out, which caused the sky to darken and the church to quake. Suddenly, in the midst of the storm, a black dog appeared within church. Lit by flashes of fire, it ran about the body of the church causing great fear and panic. It passed between two people kneeling at prayer, killing them instantly, and caused another man to shrivel up, severely burned, although he is said to have survived.

About seven miles away in Blythburgh, at around the same time, another black dog (or the same phenomena) appeared in the parish church preceded by the same thunderstorm. This black dog struck three people dead and left scorch marks on the North church door, which can still be seen today.

These two examples suggest phenomena related to the weather conditions, perhaps some form of little understood ball lighting, substantiated by the fact that one person was burned, and the scorch marks on the church door. It is difficult to make any snap judgements because of the long span of time involved from the recorded events.

Other phantom dogs are more benevolent and stories exist of people being helped from tight spots. For example Augustus Hare in his book 'In My Solitary Life' recounts a common tale he heard about a man called Johnnie Greenwood, of Swancliffe. Johnnie had to ride through a wood in darkness for a mile to get to where he was going. At the entrance of the wood he was joined by a black dog, it pattered beside him until he emerged from the trees, whereupon it disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

On his return journey through the wood, the dog joined him again on the dark woodland path, and disappeared mysteriously when he emerged. Apparently, some years later, two prisoners condemned to death confessed that they had decided to rob and murder Johnny that night in the wood, but the presence of the large black dog had stopped them.

Black dogs often seem to haunt ancient lanes, trackways, crossroads, old churchyards and prehistoric sites. Many of these places were associated with local superstitions and the uncanny, they are liminal places, where the veil between worlds was thought to be thin. The haunts of the black dogs are also features said to denote ley lines, it has been suggested that they represent some form of energy or natural phenomena moulded by the mind into an archetype of the black dog. A great deal of work has been done by earth mystery researchers to suggest that certain geophysical conditions may affect the human mind. These places were recognised by ancient man, and that is why black dogs (as some form of archetype) appear at places of ancient sanctity. This same theory has been applied to other unexplained phenomena.

Gallows sites (often crossroads) were also common black dog haunts, the black dog was often seen as the spirit of the executed criminal, such as the dog said to haunt a gallows site in Tring, Hertfordshire: An old woman was drowned for witchcraft at Tring in the year 1751. A chimney sweep was held responsible in part for the killing, and was hanged and gibbeted near to the place of the crime. A black dog came to haunt the place where the gibbet stood, and was seen by the village schoolmaster. He described it as being shaggy, as big as a Newfoundland, with long ears and a tail, eyes of flaming fire and long teeth. It is interesting to note that at first the black dog appeared as a standing flame. Flames and scorched earth being another aspect associated with sightings.

Black dogs are also seen as guardians of treasure, especially in Scotland. A black dog was said to guard treasure buried under a standing stone near Murthley in Perthshire, here we have an account of a black dog at an ancient site and as a guardian of treasure.

In summery it seems that the phenomena of phantom dogs is a complex mix of folklore, sightings, and local superstition, which has roots reaching far into the past. There are probably a myriad of different explanations for modern sightings, and a phantom black dog is a powerful archetype, incorporated into modern stories such as the 'Hound of the Baskervilles' by Arthur Conan Doyle. We hope to delve into the mystery further in the future, including some of the many folk tales associated with them.

Some names in different counties:
Bogey Beast, Lancashire
Bargheust, Yorkshire and the North
Black Shuck, East Anglia
Capelthwaite, Westmorland (Cumbria)
Cu Sith, Highlands (Dark Green)
Gallytrot, Suffolk
Guytrash
Gurt Dog, Somerset
Hairy Jack, Lincolnshire
Mauthe Dog, (Mauthe Doog) Scotland
Old Shock or Shuck (Black Shuck), Suffolk
Padfoot, Yorkshire
Pooka, Ireland
Skriker, Lancashire, Yorkshire


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#11 Markway

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 01:49 PM

The Black Dog stories have always been favorites of mine, but like most stories of the paanormal, we are left wondering what in the heck they are.

I have two small contributions to make. One comes from the American S.W. and mostly concerns shapeshifting. A cultural anthropologist was interviewing the pueblo indians of the Southwest, and eventually became aware of a shapeshifter, Shaman of some repute. The punchline is that the indians saw this Brujo as a coyote, but when he encountered him one night, he saw a "ball" of incandescent light/fire.

The second contribution comes from my favorite omnibus book of strange mysteries. The book is called "Phenomena" and is written by John Aimee. This book though out of print, is still reasonably priced, and includes titbits not usually found in books of this type. One of his references on this topic I have ordered. It is called "Dog" by Patricia Dale-Green.

You might like to glance at my post The cover of Darkness in personal encounters.
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
This much let me avow---
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream:
Yet if hope has flown away In a night,
Or in a day, In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

#12 mikeb

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 05:27 PM

Hi there!

Going back to mellilotflower's original post - I haven't read the article in that issue of Fortean Times, but they seem to have a few of their facts mixed up.

For example, in the passage "In 1014 the Danes, after killing the ruling Angles (not corners but those living in Anglia), installed their own king of the area Guthrum. His nickname was 'the Great Black Dog of Langport.'"

Wrong century, wrong place! Guthrum invaded Wessex, not Anglia, in 878, not 1014. He was defeated by Alfred in that year, after which Alfred and the now-peaceful (and Christian) Guthrum divided England between them, with Alfred taking the west and Guthrum the east (including East Anglia.) Guthrum was certainly never called anything like 'the Great Black Dog of Langport', and he never killed any 'ruling Angles'.

The whole idea of phantom black dogs being some kind of 'folk-memory' of Viking attacks really doesn't stand up to much scrutiny. There's no evidence in mythology that Thor had a dog named 'Shukr', or any dog at all for that matter. The only animals with which he was ever associated were the magical goats that pulled his chariot! 'Odin's hounds' were Geri and Freki, and they were wolves. Considering how widespread wolves were throughout Britain, it's highly unlikely that anyone would have mistaken a wolf for a dog, and even less likely that a whole category of phantom animal would have arisen in that way. If it were, we should now be investigating phantom black wolves!

Ghostly black dogs appear in Britain in many places that the Vikings never even visited. And I live on the borders of Norfolk and Suffolk, probably the most intensively black dog-haunted areas in the world, but there was hardly anything in the way of a 'Viking raid' here. The Danish army invaded in one big wave and killed the East Anglian king, Edmund in 869, but apart from that, they settled here quite peacefully. There are plenty of place-names here of Scandinavian origin, but hardly any coincide with cases of a black dog haunting.

The book mentioned by Markway, 'Dog' by Patricia Dale-Green, is probably the best book ever written on the folklore and mythology of dogs, and even there the author finds the black dog/Viking theory 'untenable'.

I've been investigating black dogs for about 20 years, and I honestly don't think there's one explanation to cover them all. The image of the Devil in the form of a black dog was obviously around long before Abraham Fleming wrote his 1577 pamphlet about the black dog causing havoc in the churches of Bungay and Blythburgh in Suffolk (both less than 20 miles from me). Other chronicles of the time mention the huge and deadly storm on that day, but Fleming obviously added the dog soon afterwards as a familiar image that would strike religious fear into the hearts of his readers.

The earliest English mention of such a thing I've been able to find is from 1450, when the rebel Jack Cade was accused of having "rered upp the Divell in the semblaunce of a black dogge" at Dartford in Kent. It's not a haunting, but does at least show that the Devil was known in dog-form by that time.

If you're interested in reading more about black dogs in East Anglia, I invite you to visit my website Shuckland, where I've gathered 76 legends and 145 encounters from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, many of which I've gathered myself from the witnesses, and visited many of the sites. I've done my best to analyse the stories to try and find common threads, and to see how the tales have changed over the years. But even after all this time, I don't have any answers!! :weeee:

#13 Markway

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 07:31 PM

:angry: Mike, I am very pleased with your post, and have entered your website into my favorite's collection, and plan on exploring it tomorrow.

I did not mean for the Shapeshifter/American entry to be a change of topic, quite the contrary. I like stories, but I am bigger on explanations. In this I am like the Feared and sometimes hated Skeptics. What are the Black Dogs?

Beyond the Biblical connections with the phenomena, which I largely dismiss, I choose to examine the stories thusly. Canines have the closest relation to man of all non primate species. I suspect that at least part of the Black Dog events can be read togethr with shamanistic shapeshifting, and the whole werewolf arcana.

What is left, I suspect, is in a much more mysterious and terrifying genre with roots in Demonology,fairies, and High Strangeness. (read my Post "Invaders from Dimension X" in Folklore).

After I read this Dog book, when it comes, I'll have more to say to you. Thank-you for the great post.-M
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
This much let me avow---
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream:
Yet if hope has flown away In a night,
Or in a day, In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

#14 Vampchick21

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 09:51 PM

Ooooo!!!!! A history buff! Me like :angry:

And Markaway, from what I grew up learning from the knee of my Irish grandmother, the black dogs were the phookas, one of the Wee Folk. Not the nicest either.

But that's just one of the theories or folklore behind them.

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#15 mellilotflower

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Posted 26 April 2005 - 07:10 AM

I've had chance to read the majority of your post Mike, but I have exams two days off and a lot of real life issues to sort out right now... give me a week and I'll reply in full :)

The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.

Sonnet XCIVBut if that flower with base infection meet,The basest weed outbraves his dignity:For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds




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