Hell Hounds: Guardians of the Dead

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  • Topic: Black dog, Hellhound, Black Shuck
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  • Published : May 7, 2013
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Hell Hounds: Guardians of the Dead

In his absolutely definitive book, “Explore Phantom Black Dogs”, the author and researcher Bob Trubshaw wrote the following: ‘The folklore of phantom black dogs’, is known throughout the British Isles. From the black shuck of East Anglia to the Mauthe Dhoog of the Isle of Man there are tales of huge spectral hounds ‘darker than the night sky’ with eyes ‘glowing red as burning coals.’ Hell Hound myths are known around the world, however, while a number of intriguing theories exist to explain the presence and nature of such spectral-like beasts, certainly the most ominous is that they represent some form of precursor to- or instigator of- doom, tragedy and death. A hellhound is a supernatural dog found in folklore. A wide variety of ominous or hellish supernatural dogs occur in mythologies around the world, similar to the ubiquitous dragon. Features that have been attributed to hellhounds include black fur, glowing red or sometimes glowing yellow eyes, super strength or speed, ghostly or phantom characteristics, foul odor, and sometimes the ability to talk. Legend says that if somebody is to stare into its eyes three or more times, the person will die. In cultures that associate the afterlife with fire, Hellhounds may have fire-based abilities and appearance. They are often assigned to guard the entrances to the world of the dead, such as graveyards and burial grounds, or undertake other duties related to the afterlife or the supernatural, such as hunting lost souls or guarding a supernatural treasure. In European legends, seeing a Hellhound or hearing it howl may be either an omen of death or even a cause of death.

While Sherlock Holmes is the most widely known character in modern fiction, phantom canines are not so easily relegated to mere folklore. Known as Old Shuck, Skriker, and Hairy Jack, the black dog is as enigmatic as it is creepy.

In 1577 a black dog with glowing red eyes appeared inside St Mary’s church in...
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