Hellhound (race)

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Hellhound, Hell Hound, Barghest, Shuck, Black Dog, Devil-Dog, Fairy Hound, Faerie Hound, and many local variations.

Origin: Celtic, Scandinavian, and especially English folklore, in the form of black faerie or ghost dogs which serve as omens of death, and sometimes wards or guardians.

Description

"But it was not the sight of her body, nor yet was it that of the body of Hugo Baskerville lying near her, which raised the hair upon the heads of these three dare-devil roysterers, but it was that, standing over Hugo, and plucking at his throat, there stood a foul thing, a great, black beast, shaped like a hound, yet larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested upon. And even as they looked the thing tore the throat out of Hugo Baskerville, on which, as it turned its blazing eyes and dripping jaws upon them, the three shrieked with fear and rode for dear life, still screaming, across the moor. One, it is said, died that very night of what he had seen, and the other twain were but broken men for the rest of their days...."
— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Hound of the Baskervilles"

Typically described as large, black hounds, whose appearance or howling typically portends a death in the family of those who hear or see the hounds, or the seer himself. These hounds may have ghostly or faerie origins, or otherwise be described as originating from an underworld or hell, thus being forms of ghosts, faeries, or the devil.

These Black dogs or hounds sometimes instead take on a guardian role, guarding families or territories from thieves or murderers, or other disasters. In this form, they may chase off wrong-doers or cause their deaths, or the hounds might give warning to would-be victims of wrong-doing.

The hounds are most typically described as being supernaturally large, black dogs with glowing red or yellow eyes and sharp, white teeth, but the hounds are sometimes given more exotic descriptions in keeping with their demonic or faerie origins: headless hounds or hounds with human heads are not uncommon, and some hounds may be capable of flight on black wings, or of shape-shifting into human or faerie form.

There are many local variations on the legends of these hounds, often with distinctive local origin stories, which might include the hound being created or summoned as part of a satanic ritual, or being the result of some nameless evil committed by a wicked ancestor (sometimes more explicitly linked to unnatural relations with murder victims, animals, or the devil.) Some black dog legends link the animals to the sacrifice of natural black dogs entombed in the foundations of churches or mansions as sacrifices which bind the animal's spirit to the building, ground, or family attached to the building.


Local Variations

  • Gytrash, a north English version.
  • Shuck (Black Shuck, Old Shuck, Old Shock), an East Anglian variation.
  • Yeth Hound (Yell Hound, Wisht Hound), a Devon version.
  • Gurt Dog, a Somerset version.
  • Bodu, a Guernsey version.
  • Tchico, another Guernsey variation.
  • Hairy Jack, a Lincolnshire version.
  • Dando, a Cornish version.
  • Moddey Dhoo, a Manx version.
  • Padfoot, a Yorkshire version.
  • Skriker, (Shrieker, Trash/Trudge), a Lancashire variation.
  • Barghest, a Northumberland and Durham variation.
  • Gwyllgi (Cwn Annwn), a Welsh variation.
  • Banshee (bean si, ben side, bean-sighe plural mna-síghe), an Irish variation.
  • Cu Sith, a Scottish version.
  • Muckle Black Tyke, another Scottish variation.
  • Wild Hunt (Furious Host, Furies), a Scandinavian, Celtic, or European version which migrated to England.
  • Snarly Yow, an American variation.
  • Rongeur d'Os, a variation from Normandy.
  • Tchen al tchinne, a Belgian variation.
  • Gabriel Hound (Gabriel Retchet, Sky Yelper), a flying variation with a human head.
  • Church Grim, a helpful variation that guards churchyards, often a spirit of an animal bound to the church foundation (see Ward).


Heresies and Controversies


Keeper Notes

Associated Mythos Elements

References