Black Shuck the Demon Dog

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DaRC
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Black Shuck the Demon Dog

Postby DaRC » 20 Oct 2010, 18:12

After a greater break than intended here's the next in the folklore tails.
Demon or Black dogs are found across the land but in Eastern counties; East Anglia, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, they are known as Black Shuck or Old Shuck. The word shuck comes from the old Anglo-Saxon term scucca or demon. Many folklorists linked them to a folk-memory of the Hounds of Annwn but they go by many names across the country. Modern readers will recognise the name Padfoot as one for the Black Dog but also maybe Barguest too.

"And a dreadful thing from the cliff did spring,
And its wild bark thrill'd around,
His eyes had the glow of the fires below,
Twas the form of the Spectre Hound".

In Suffolk on Sunday August 4th, 1577 "a strange and terrible tempest" struck the church, toppled the spire
through the roof and smashed the font. It killed three people and scorched others. It was known this was a visitation from a Devil Dog because his clawmarks were discovered on the door through which he rushed towards Bungay and another parish church.

This is an unusual reporting of the the Shuck - they seem more attached to particular places or straight roads than direct attacks on churches.
Emerging at dusk it's usually described as a shaggy creature the size of a calf, recognisable by his large red or green eyes. Reports usually mention the soft pad of footsteps, the brush of his shaggy coat or his cold breath on the backs of their necks.
In Norfolk a boy was rescued from the sea and reported he was chased and forced to swim further and further out by one. Many folktales have seeing the Shuck as a portent of madness, doom or death. This is shown in the saying "the Black Dog is at his heels" for someone close to death.
After all this sinster fear from the other counties the Essex Shuck seems a more kindly hound, often protecting travellers
on lonely roads, habitually it seems to haunt gallows points and graveyards.

In modern parlance the Black Dog is often more used to describe the downward spiral of depression. It's an expressive term for those that suffer it. Perhaps the folklore representation of the Shuck from sinister beast of doom to helper on the lonely road covers some of peoples feelings towards this condition.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
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Nikki 2
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Re: Black Shuck the Demon Dog

Postby Nikki 2 » 11 Sep 2011, 00:00

I saw the Black Dog 3 times in my childhood. We lived on an Old Coach Road and two of the sightings were at dusk on the road, and once after dark in my bedroom. The dog was large, shaggy, mocking and had large eyes and a red mouth. On my first encounter I was young enough to still be in a pushchair. My Mother couldn’t see the dog but our two pet poodles clearly could and I was afraid and so were they. It wasn’t a pleasant experience and it wasn’t one that I forgot. :-| The dog didn’t “speak” . . . but yet it conveyed a sense of intention which I interpreted as sinister and threatening.
Over the years the topic has come up in conversations and I have tentatively mentioned my black-dog encounters, usually to be told the stories of Black Shuck and Devil Dogs etc.
It wasn’t until very recently that I read something that caught my attention. I discovered “Dormarth” (which literally translates as Death’s door) – he is the canine gate keeper to the after-world. The profile of Dormarth matches my personal experience of the dog far better than any previous explanation that I’ve been given and I wonder if this was possibly who I met? :thinking:
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Re: Black Shuck the Demon Dog

Postby DaRC » 12 Sep 2011, 12:30

It could well be
- can you remember or were you aware of anyone (perhaps a neighbour, relative or pet) passing over at those times?

It must have been scary to see it in your bedroom.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
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Re: Black Shuck the Demon Dog

Postby Nikki 2 » 12 Sep 2011, 15:16

Hi DaRC :hiya:
Hmm . . . I have asked myself the same question and annoyingly I really don't know! I wouldn't have made the connection at the time.
I am intrigued enough that more recently I have wondered if it might be possible to deliberately "meet" him again . . . not sure how safe that would be though . . . . :-| What do you think?
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Re: Black Shuck the Demon Dog

Postby DaRC » 13 Sep 2011, 12:28

Hmmm :thinking: well your memories seem to indicate a sinister or threatening intention & the black dog seems to be some sort of silent guardian.
Perhaps it's better to explore your memories and the connection via meditation rather than seeking some physical encounter.

With these things I've found that the child-mind is much more receptive to these experiences and it's difficult to recreate them with the adult-mind.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
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Re: Black Shuck the Demon Dog

Postby Nikki 2 » 13 Sep 2011, 18:39

Should you be interested, I found this . . . . :D

Once upon a time

Long, long ago When the realms of the worlds roamed with Gods and the supernatural
roamed wild. A mighty hunter trod abroad, the God of battle, by Gwyn ap Nudd was he known, a hunter of men’s souls.

He watched keen, from high vantage atop rugged misty mountains and
none could elude him.

Astride his fiery black steed "Torment of Battle" with Dormarth his faithful dog at his side.
Fleet as the wind he searches, scouring for souls, for then to escort them to the
"Other World" through the elusive door of Annwn.

To those of honor he is an apparition of breathtaking and beauty,
but for the unjust he is terror.

Midst the darkest depths of night should you go to the Vale of Neath, to it’s wild places,

you can hear still his unearthly pack hard put at the chase.

And, there is a brood of devils in Annwn kept quiescent by Gwyn,
lest they destroy the race of man. :)
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Re: Black Shuck the Demon Dog

Postby DaRC » 14 Sep 2011, 12:17

8-) I'm off to the wild places (Afan Forest) in the Vale of Neath next month.

:applause: Thanks for this I always love to see more folklore.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
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Re: Black Shuck the Demon Dog

Postby Nikki 2 » 14 Sep 2011, 15:37

8-) I'm off to the wild places (Afan Forest) in the Vale of Neath next month.
Jealous! :D If you happen to chance upon Dormarth give him my regards. :shake:
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Re: Black Shuck the Demon Dog

Postby DaRC » 20 Sep 2011, 12:25

Thanks Nikki for sending me down this path - Gwyn ap Nudd and Dormarth are an appropriate subject for Alban Elfed / Guldize.

It also means I've revisited this poem from the Black Book of Carmarthen
(this version taken from here - http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/bbc33.html.
It's an old translation so I don't think posting this breaks any copyright rules)

The Dialogue of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir

BULL of conflict was he, active in dispersing an arrayed army,
The ruler of hosts, Indisposed to anger,
Blameless and pure his conduct in protecting life.

Against a hero stout was his advance,
The ruler of hosts, disposer of wrath.
There will be protection for thee since thou askest it.

For thou hast given me protection;
How warmly wert thou welcomed!
The hero of hosts, from what region thou comest?

I come from battle and conflict
With a shield in my hand;
Broken is the helmet by the pushing of spears.

I will address thee, exalted man,
With his shield in distress;
Brave man, what is thy descent?

Hound-hoofed is my horse, the torment of battle,
Whilst I am called Gwyn, the son of Nudd,
The lover of Creudilad, the daughter of Lludd. #

Since it is thou, Gwyn, an upright mau,
From thee there is no concealing;
I also am Gwydneu Garanhir.

He will not leave me in a parley with thee,
By the bridle, as is becoming;
But will hasten away to his home on the Tawy.

It is not the nearest Tawy I speak of to thee,
But the furthest Tawy
Eagle! I will cause the furious sea to ebb.

Polished is my ring, golden my saddle and bright
To my sadness
I saw a conflict before Caer Vandwy.

Before Caer Vandwy a host I saw,
Shields were shattered and ribs broken
Renowned and splendid was he who made the assault.

Gwyn ab Nudd, the hope of armies,
Sooner would legions fall before the hoofs
Of thy horses, than broken rushes to the ground.

handsome my dog and round-bodied,
And truly the best of dogs;
Dormach was he, which belonged to Maelgwn.

Dormach with the ruddy nose! what a gazer
Thou art upon me! because I notice
Thy wanderings on Gwibir Vynyd.

I have been in the place where was killed Gwendoleu,
The son of Ceidaw, the pillar of songs,
When the ravens screamed over blood.

I have been in the place where Bran was killed,
The son of Gweryd, of far-extending fame,
When the ravens of the battle-field screamed.

I have been where Llachau was slain,
The son of Arthur, extolled in songs,
When the ravens screamed over blood.

I have been where Meurig was killed,
The son of Carreian, of hdnourable fame,
When the ravens screamed over flesh.

I have not (?) been where Gwallawg was killed,
The son of Goholeth, the accomplished,
The resister of Lloegir, the son of Lleynawg.

I have been where the soldiers of Prydain were slain,
From the East to the North;
I am alive, they in their graves!

I have been where the soldiers of Prydain were slain,
From the East to the South
I am alive, they in death!


#Note Creiddylad could be his sister as Nudd & Lludd are cognate. Also see Culhwch ac Olwen and Cordelia from King Lear aka Llŷr
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk Image


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