Episode 14: Guardian of the Mountain

In this first episode of series two 🎉 I chat with a guest who encounters an Otherworldly creature that we are quite familiar with in folklore. His response to the experience is admirable and most interesting. It’s a great example of how faith, and spiritual connection (of any kind!) can aid us in our most challenging moments.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. Some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

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Black Dog Folklore

Black Dog sightings abound in folklore collections, and sightings continue to be reported, particularly in the UK but all over the world. Many of us are familiar with the image of the Hound of the Baskervilles, but these supernatural beasts appear in a great number of forms and are known by various names in the UK depending on the location: ‘Barguest’, ‘Black Shuck’, ‘Capelthwaite’, ‘Freyburg’, to name but a few.

Folklore author, Mark Norman’s book, Black Dog Folklore is an excellent study of the subject and features a multitude of sightings and traditions in the UK.

Here’s an interesting snippet. A letter from one mid-century Devonshire-based folklorist to another, about a trackway sighting:

“The Black Dog who guards the ancient trackway from West Quantoxhead towards Crowcombe was sighted rushing down the steep sides of the Deer Park one late autumn evening. It was seen by a motor-cyclist who could not make out what animal it was: ‘about the size of a large pig – and what puzzled me was its coat looked like ruffled feathers. It was black and something like a dog, it moved like one but I have never met anything like it before or since.’ This was an unusual extension of the Dog’s known patrol.” (Ruth L. Tongue in personal correspondence to Theo Brown, 19th September 1960) (Norman, 2015, pp. 37).

Simon Young’s ‘Fairy Census’ (2014-2017) also contains a number of references to contemporary black dog sightings. Here’s one from Britain that appears to be connected with a house and another from the US, which preceded the respondent’s own pet dog’s death:

§191) (Wales, Female; 1990s).A friend and I were home one evening relaxing, my dog was out the front garden, it was late autumn, we had candles lit, listening to music, discussing spirituality/religion etc as was our passion at that time. We heard my dog a spaniel scratching the front door to come in, my friend went into the hall leaving the lounge door open to open the front door for the dog. I was sitting in my chair and could clearly see two metres or so out into the hall. I heard a commotion, like an animal’s feet running and looked out into the hall expecting to see Ben my spaniel come running into the room. I saw a man-sized ‘animal like’ creature run past and up the stairs, and heard the heavy sound of it running up on all fours, as it shot up the stairs. It was, I’d say, if standing, five foot five inches maybe more, it was sort of human crossed with an animal, I could see brownish leathery tough skin with coarse black hair sporadically growing out of its body, its head had a large flattened snout, crinkled and wrinkled like someone had forced its nose into its face, and upward protruding teeth. My friend heard it, but curiously did not see it. The dog had not come in and was still out in the garden. Over a period of a few years, I and visitors to the house would see red lights, like eyes, at night up on the landing and stairs and a few occasions hear the running up the stairs, like a very large dog. I am convinced it was a faery, a pooka, or some other thing. The house got renovated in later years and all occurrences stopped.’ ‘A large black dog, crossed with human characteristics and some other beast. Red eyes. Upward big fangs from bottom jaw. Flat large squashed in snout giving the face an ugly quite fierce expression.’ ‘Heard its running up the stairs on many occasions.’ ‘It was an old house, we held seances there, groups of friends into the paranormal would gather here over a few years, it was quite a hotspot of activity until its renovation.’ ‘It seemed like an elemental it seemed connected to the land the area the house. After renovation it stopped, it was definitely connected to the old untouched energy, before modernisation. We tried to use candles and hardly watched TV, preferring soft music at our groups of spiritual exploration there. There were a lot of experiences, by myself and others at that time.’

§273) (US (Illinois). Male; 1990s) ‘I distinctly remember this happening to me during January at 2:06 am when I was fifteen. I was lying in bed with the blinds closed and my bedroom door closed and locked. I had been asleep, but something prompted me to wake up immediately. I looked towards my bedroom door and saw a Black Dog with glowing green eyes and its tongue hanging out running from that side of my bedroom to the other side, near the foot of my bed. As the dog reached the foot of my bed, it disappeared into the shadows and never returned. I stayed awake for a few more minutes to record the time on my alarm clock and think about what happened. Then I went back to sleep. While the Black Dog was running, it made no noise whatsoever, not even the sound of its nails hitting the floor. I think it may have been running on the air rather than the actual floorboards. It didn’t seem to notice me despite my staring directly at it. I’m not sure how I could see its shape or its eyes glow when there were no lights on anywhere. How it got into and left my room is also a mystery. Its body shape was similar to my own dog at the time – labrador retriever with a slightly pointed nose and skinnier legs. To this day I’m not sure if it was a fairy dog or my dog’s doppelganger, since she died a couple months later.’

There are also a number of really great blog posts on the subject here and here

And if you’re into Gothic horror fiction Icy Sedgwick’s book, Black Dog & Other Gothic Tales, comes recommended.

References and recommended further reading/listening:

Howard Hughes’ Unexplained Podcast, Episode 351 Beasts of Britain

McGrath A.M.L. (2017) Beasts of Britain, independently published

Norman, M. (2015) Black Dog Folklore, London: Troy Books

Young, S. (ed) (2018) The Fairy Census 2014-2017. Accessed online at: http://www.fairyist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The-Fairy-Census-2014-2017-1.pdf on 13/06/2021

Blogs:
https://www.davidcastleton.net/black-dog-legends-england-britain-ghosts-hellhounds/

http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/bdogfl.htm

Episode 9: The Tall Folk and The Little People

This episode features the sort of experience that we might visualise from 19th century collections of Irish folklore. The encounter took place in Ireland, but was experienced just a few years ago, by a young Australian man as he toured around in his camper van. It’s a pretty epic story and he feels very lucky to have experienced this first hand. A whole host of apparitions popped up and each brought their own vibe to the events which unfolded.

Some listeners may find parts of the content in this episode frightening.

Warning: These are not fairytales and the content is unsuitable for children. Some episodes may contain details which some may find unsettling or frightening. The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast is designed for listeners 16 years and older.

Please Support Modern Fairy Sightings

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Fairies dancing in circles

Fairy folklore is full of little folk dancing in circles. In most cases, humans are tempted to enter the circle or even to dance and are sometimes lost forever. In other cases, the abductee can re-appear hours or even years later, though they’d swear they’d only been away for a few minutes. They may be bestowed with unusual powers or destined to sicken and die early.

There’s a brilliant article on the subject of, ‘The Fairie Dance’ by Dr Neil Rushton at Dead But Dreaming.

And here’s an excerpt from Dr Simon Young’s Fairy Census 2014-2017 which describes a similar encounter in Ireland:

§151A) Ireland (Co. Limerick). Female, 1940s; 11-20
‘When my mother was a young girl, her father sent her to fetch a bucket of water many fields away from where they lived. On the way back with the water, she stopped at the top of a low lying hill to rest. Looking back down over the fields, she saw a large group of ‘people’ all dancing around in a circle in one of the many local ‘faery forts’. (faery circles) She described their collective dress as comprising of similar colours: red, green and blue. The people were also wearing hats or caps. My mother knew that the area in which she lived at the time of the sighting was sparsely populated, with only a few neighbours close by and those who lived there were not rich or rich enough to have that many people partaking in that type of merriment. Even if they were, it was very early in the day to be doing so and the faery fort was several fields away from the nearest road. It dawned on her that these people were no ordinary people and could sense that she was not supposed to be looking at this ‘dance’. She took off running, back to her father’s house, spilling most of the water on the way and in doing so, upon her return, got a ‘good telling off’! She relayed this story to me many years ago only after listening to a local radio station documentary on Irish folklore and legends. A caller phoned in and told a story, which was very similar to hers: a group of people, dancing around in a circle in a faery fort, wearing similarly coloured clothes. This caller’s story would have taken place in the same decade that my mother had hers. My mother kept this story to herself for many decades! I suppose from a combination of ridicule, growing up in Catholic Ireland and the fact that one was to be careful when speaking about ‘the Little People’! The particular faery fort in question still exists and is located behind ***, ***, Limerick. Though now, it is completely overgrown with trees and undergrowth. It is now mainly used by some of the local people who throw their grass cuttings in over the ditch.’

Orbs

Orb image: Joanne Ehling Harper, Pinterest

There are differing ideas about what orbs are exactly but from my own experience, I believe they are condensed manifestations of energy, be it spirit, thoughts, fae or otherwise. They appear as translucent globes or circles of light. They can be different colours but they’re often white and some people report that they’ve changed in size as they’ve been viewing them.

Here is another great excerpt from The Fairy Census 2014-2017, which describes an encounter with orbs:

§242) US (Carolina). Female; 1990s; 11-20; in woodland.
‘My friend invited me to go out into the woods to look for fairy rings. We took wine from her parents’ pantry as a friendship offering. We left at sunset, having been given permission to go camping. We walked a little way out into the woods, maybe fifty yards, stopping in a clearing among cedar trees. We each took a small sip of wine, toasting the good health of any spirits who happened to be about, left some in a sea shell which we had brought for that purpose, and poured the rest out on the ground. We then lit a small fire from deadwood since it was getting cold. When we got tired, we poured water on the embers and stirred them to make sure it was all out. We then wrapped ourselves in blankets and lay down to wait. What felt like hours past, and then, when the night was very dark, and my friend was talking about the dark spirits I had seen previously in another forest, there was suddenly a wild presence, a sense of something entirely outside the normal, safe, civilized world. And where we had left the wine we saw small, colorful lights hovering in a circle about a foot or two above the ground. They went round for a while as we stared in mute amazement (I don’t think either of us expected anything to actually show up) and then just as abruptly they vanished. We decided it might not be best to spend the whole night there and rushed back to her house, or at least tried to rush since the path which had been clear on the way seemed to lead us in circles and we were forced to cut through deep underbrush before reaching her back door all out of breath. My friend’s mother was at the back door and said she had been calling for us for the last hour, thinking it was too cold to stay out, but we never heard her.’