As an only child, Ankhie spent a lot of time hanging with the dogs. They kept her company through the dark nights, curled at the foot of the bed – they followed her through the woods and fields behind her house – looking out, looking behind, looking ahead. They played in the snow, swam in the pond, rolled in dead things, poked their noses up skunks’ behinds, hid under the bed when it thundered, and made the world seem more alive.
The dogs, however, were also well-tuned to things not-quite-living. Hackles raised, low growl – whatever was lurking out there in the shadowed yard (too insubstantial to trip the motion lights), or in the seemingly empty room (that for some strange reason, no one lingered in), was something they warned us to avoid.
Dogs are bright life and murky magic.
Hekate, dark goddess of the night, often manifests as a black dog or is seen in the company of hounds. She and her pack walk the liminal space between life and death. Perhaps that is why Ankhie’s pup Fanny (seen above) likes to run off to the cemetery behind her house…
And of course there is the Galleytrot:
Also Known as Black Shuck, or Old Shuck, the Galleytrot is a very large ghostly dog that appears in different parts of southern England as a harbinger of death. The dog’s howls are usually heard before he is seen, and he is mostly seen prowling around graveyards or loping along lonely country roads. It is said that to meet or even catch a glimpse of the Galleytrot means that you or someone close to you will die within the year.
The Galleytrot is also known by such names as the Black Dog, Hellbeast, Churchyard Dog, and similar. In New England, especially in New Hampshire, there is a demon dog known as O’ Doofus. Such “Hounds of the Devil” are also known in other parts of the world, and such a one was supposedly the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tale The Hound of the Baskervilles. Whole packs of such spectral beasts can be found in folklore, such as hounds associated with the Wild Hunt in Norse and Teutonic mythology (Whisht Hounds). – from Raymond Buckland’s The Weiser Field Guide to Ghosts
And this time of year, dogs get a bad rap, often mistakenly associated with the hottest days of summer – the “Dog Days” from July 3rd to August 11th (give or take a few days). As I’m sure you know, the “Dog Days ” are so-called because the heat and humidity of July coincides with the rise of Canis Major – aka Sirius the Dog Star. So don’t blame Fido for your sweaty clothes.
Whenever I have a question about, or thought, or inclination to discuss the ways the magical world works with our, I consult Judika Illes. Here is what she has to say about pups and the paranormal in Pure Magic:
Dogs came to live with us so long ago that the distinctions between dogs and their ancestor, the wolf, are largely based upon their relationships with humans. Some anthropologists believe that when humans began their initial migrations over Earth, they were already accompanied by dogs, who may or may have not been “tame.” We didn’t domesticate dogs as much as they chose us. Even cultures that didn’t domesticate animals, such as those of North America prior to European contact, kept dogs.
Dogs are our most faithful companions and devoted protectors. They are our intrepid psychic guides. Dogs are the creatures who travel with the greatest east between the realms of the living and the dead. In many cultures, it was believed that without a dog as a guide, the human soul would never arrive at the next destination. Sometimes a favorite dog was buried with a person. Perhaps more kindly, in ancient Mexico, clay statues of dogs were placed in the grave instead. Dogs also patrol the border between life and death, determining who gains entry and in the case of shamans, who can leave. Greek myths recount tales of shamans bearing dog treats to guarantee their exit, as three-headed Cerberus was reputed to guard the gates of Hades, the underworld.
We still retain dogs for protection on the physical realm: whether for our families, homes, property or ourselves. Dogs will provide spiritual and psychic protection, too, if you let them. When embarking upon any psychic exploration, whether contacting unknown allies, expanding your magical faculties, practicing astral travel, divination or shamanism, encourage a canine presence to accompany you. This can be your own dog, who might enjoy stretching his magical powers alongside you, or if this isn’t possible or comfortable for you, use canine imagery:
- Envision a companion canine guard. Because this dog will be a spiritual guardian and companion, not responsible for actually guarding your home, whatever breed makes you feel safest and most comfortable is best for you, whether it is a huge mastiff or a teacup poodle.
- Keep photographs, drawings, statues or toy dogs close to you while working magic. Tuck a small photo of a dog into a dream pillow for extra safety while you sleep.
- Roman gravestones utilized images of dogs to symbolize love and fidelity beyond the grave. If you are attempting to contact those no longer among the living, use dog power to facilitate and protect you. Keep a canine image near where you work, whether photograph, drawing or statue. A photograph of a beloved, trusted dog who has also passed over may be most effective.
Over the years, special dog amulets have evolved for the purpose of reaping the benefit of Dog’s protective qualities without actually having a living dog. In some cases, these amulets are believed to maximize the dog’s shamanic and protective power. The most readily available include:
- Traditional Mexican clay figures, based upon ancient Toltec images. Place them near where you practice divination or anywhere in your home that you perceive as spiritually vulnerable.
- Statuettes of Anubis, Egypt’s black jackal-headed guide and guardian of the dead.
- Chinese Fu dogs. Fu means luck, and yes, there actually is such a breed, considered to be the living link between Chinese wolves and other modern Chinese dog breeds, Believed exceptionally auspicious, stone and porcelain images of Fu dogs placed near doors as house amulets provide spiritual protection and good fortune.
Now… where is that Fanny?