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- Black Dog Folklore
The black dog, spectral dog, or “hellhound,” is a malevolent entity whose presence heralds death. The dog is said to appear at twilight, but is most often seen in the dark of night. According to most tales, these dogs can shapeshift, have glowing red eyes, and may be associated with fire.
Encountering the black dog apparition can mean many things. Many believe it means certain death; seeing one can indicate that a person is about to die, or that the person is now marked for death.
These dogs are often reported to pad and pace around cemeteries, haunted forests, and other eerie areas. In some retellings, hellhounds guard humans from other malevolent spirits, supernatural beings, or the underworld; some find this guarding behavior to be benevolent, as the dog could be warning them of danger or death.
Black Dog folklore comes from the British Isles. Whether the folklore originates from indigenous Celtic mythology or was introduced later by Germanic peoples is a current debate. Celtic origin can be inferred from similar descriptions of these dogs throughout Britain, like the Scottish and Irish Cu Sidhe, the Welsh Cwn Annwn, or the black Shuck of East Anglia.
However, modern translations of these tales can still be influenced by Germanic culture. In Germanic culture, the Norse goddess, Hel (daughter of Odin) is said to be guarded by a black dog named Garmr.
Like the Greek dog Cerberus and the black dogs of Mesoamerican mythology, all these mythological dogs appear to be black and symbolize death.
What canine behaviors do you think ancient people observed that warrants such a world-wide mythological or psychological phenomenon?
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