|In some stories, the Grim protected|
the innocent, defending children
and guarding travelers!
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread."
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798
With STORM WARNED, the third installment of my Grim Series releasing soon, I thought it was a good time to share this spine-tingling legend once again!
I love a good ghost story and a ghost DOG story is even better! One of my favorite Welsh folktales provided inspiration for my latest series. The gwyllgi or barghest is a legendary canine with many names: The Black Dog, the Dog of Darkness, Black Shuck, Dog of the Twilight, the Black Hound of Destiny and my favorite name of all: THE GRIM. It’s said to resemble a giant mastiff, a noble animal which I greatly admire. A grim is larger than any living dog however, and its eyes are often red and glowing.
The story is an old one, dating all the way back to Celtic times in Wales. The Grim or Black Dog is associated with the Fae, and acts as the herald of Death itself -- those who see the animal are believed to be destined to die very soon! The dog appears without warning, follows and sometimes even chases people – yet vanishes without a trace. Electrical storms are often associated with the dog’s appearance (and yup, there’s a thunderstorm in every book in the Grim Series -- you can probably tell from the titles, STORM WARRIOR, STORM BOUND, STORM WARNED.)
|A Grim is usually a fae herald of death,|
but sometimes it's a hero!
Big black dogs continue to pop up in popular fiction. Remember "the Grim" in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling? TV series such as Supernatural, Reaper and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have all featured monstrous and malevolent hounds. The legend of the black dog is also alive and well in many video games. The Lord of the Rings online computer game features just such an animal.
BLACK DOG SIGHTINGS IN THE USA
Did you know there are sightings of ghostly canines right here in the United States? Black dogs are said to haunt Macon County, Tennessee and foretell death and calamity. US Highway 491 is also said to be haunted by dogs of darkness – which perhaps is not surprising when you find out that the highway was originally named Route 666! Motorists report braking for giant black dogs – only to have them vanish at the moment of impact!
|In some stories, the Grim is an |
instrument of justice
who hunts down the guilty.
Think you’re safe if you stay home at night? Maybe not. There are also many stories out there of seeing the Grim in a nightmare. As if the bad dream wasn’t enough, it’s said to be followed by dire events and even death. People have also reported the giant black dog appearing inside their home, complete with glowing eyes, only to have it vanish when the light was turned on. The apparition was often followed by a death in the family or other catastrophe.
BLACK DOG SYNDROME
Negative associations with dark dogs seem to be part of our collective human consciousness. It’s a frightening archetype throughout myth and legend, from Cerberus, the dark canine that guards the entrance to the Underworld, to the black Hounds of the Norse god, Odin, to the Hellhounds that follow the Faery Hunt. Plus, a common pseudonym for depression is The Black Dog. (Although anyone who’s ever played with a Labrador Retriever might object to that.)
Such long-held negative associations have sadly contributed to what pet shelters call Black Dog Syndrome. Studies have shown that black dogs (and black cats too) are usually LAST to be adopted. I'm currently owned by three dark dogs that were rescues, and all of them are incredibly loving and devoted to their humans.
THE BLACK DOG AS A HERO
In its defense, the Grim hasn’t always been threatening, at least, not to the innocent. In some tales, the animal is an instrument of justice, hunting down escaped murderers. A few stories recount incidents where the great beast protected children or guarded lone travelers. That truly captivated my imagination and made me wonder – what if the spectral creature had a conscience and a sense of compassion? What if the Grim didn’t mindlessly follow its mission?
In that moment, THE GRIM SERIES was conceived!
and the new
and the new