21 December 2020 – The Black Dog in Folklore continued

By | December 23, 2020

The session:

Continued the topic of the black dog in Folklore.

1/.  Black Dogs as Guardians

We looked at many examples across the country.  Guiding people across difficult terrain, protecting from thieves, saving them from cars.  They appear and disappear mysteriously.

2/.  In Classical and Celtic Mythology

Dogs acted as hunting companions to the gods and were also protectors and healers.  Celtic healing shrines have been found with images of dogs.  Dog licks have been associated with healing.

3/.  Black Dog and Bogey Beasts

These are always mischievous, malicious, scary or dangerous.  They have little or no regard for humankind.  They are not always black.

They occurred in forms other than dogs, most often an animal but not always.  They are sighted across the country and are often seen in places which are subject to misty, gloomy conditions.  Again the common themes for these were sightings at bridges, crossroads, graveyards etc. which are mystical crossing points to the otherworld.

The other forms include a cross between rough-coated dog and monkey, a donkey and monkey, a small horse, a headless duck, a bag of soot, white rabbit.

They can be shape shifters.  We looked in more detail at the Pelton Brag County Durham and that was reported to have taken more than one form: like a bushy tailed calf, a white sheet, a naked man without a head, a galloway.  (ref Westwood & Simpson, “The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England’s Legends, Penguin Books, 2006)

Some of the stories start as legends and become folk tales with detailed back stories. One such example is The White Rabbit of Crank from Lancashire.  (ref Terence Whitaker, “Lancashire’s Ghosts and Legends” Robert Hale Ltd ,1980)

It is possible that the references to rabbits may originally been hares, as rabbits were introduced by the Romans.

 

Next time we shall continue with boggarts.