April 9, 2013

Blogging From A to Z April Challenge Day Eight: H is for Hellhound

Hellhounds are a cryptid that is featured in mythologies from around the world. A hellhound is usually black, larger than a normal dog, possesses supernatural strength and often has red or yellow glowing eyes. Some people who claim to have seen a hellhound say the creature smells extremely foul. In some accounts the canines are even able to talk.

One of the most interesting characteristics of hellhounds is that they move like phantoms. They have been known to move through walls and cover great distances in an instant as well as disappear without a trace. Some cultures believe that staring into a hellhound's eyes can be fatal and that its howl signals or even triggers death. In fact, hellhounds are called the Bearer of Death by some people.

The main function of hellhounds is to watch the entrances to the world of the dead to keep the living out and the dead in. This is why hellhound sightings often take place near cemeteries. Sometimes hellhounds are sent from the land of the dead to hunt down lost souls. And sometimes hellhounds are used to guard treasures.

People claim to have seen hellhounds all over the world and even in modern times.Some of the most recent sightings have been in the United States, with some theories stating that the famous Beast of Bray Road is actually a hellhound.

Cerberus from Greek and Roman mythology is perhaps the most famous hellhound. He's been referenced in many modern works, including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and my latest children's book Gracie the Ghost Eater.


Hart Johnson said...

Harry Potter's Grim came to mind for me, too. And the Hellhounds on Supernatural (which the living can't SEE, but they can still attack).

Steven said...

Hart, the Grim in Harry Potter is definitely a reference to the Black Dog or Hellhound legends from Great Britain. One thing I love about JK Rowling was she incorporated so much mythology into her stories in such interesting ways.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I remember a Lovecraft story that had a hellhound with a specific name that would hunt down the living.
And you know T-Ride! You rock.

Steven said...

Alex, I need to read more Lovecraft; people keep telling me I would love his stuff. Like I've said many times, I have diverse music tastes that rock.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

In other words, I don't want to meet one.

I noticed Alex's comment, and they are called the Hounds of Tindalos. You should read some Lovecraft, Steven. He was the true horror master and ten times better than King.

Kimberly Gabriel said...

I didn't even think of them in Harry Potter, but you're right! Great post!

VR Barkowski said...

Fascinating. Harry potter came to my mind, too. Do you know if the legends about wolves are tied to hellhounds?

~VR Barkowski

Julia King said...

I think there was an episode of Supernatural that featured Hellhounds. I could just be going crazy. I definetely would not want to be anywhere near one of those creatures though. Creepy.

Steven said...

Diane, I think I will pick up some Lovecraft soon. King is one of those writers I find to be hit-or-miss.

Kimberly, there's so much in the Harry Potter books. I could literally write a huge tome about the references she makes to other literary works and myths.

VR, there are quite a few legends about wolves, so it's possible there are some connections. There is the obvious fact that they are large like wolves and that they bring death with them -- something wolves often were thought to bring. Great question!

Julia, I have no idea if you're crazy or not since I never watched Supernatural. And yes, hellhounds are supposed to be quite creepy.

Connie Gruning said...

WOOO that's a scary lookin' dude!! I love the cover art to Gracie! Sounds like a great book.
Peanut Butter and Whine

Steven said...

Connie, thank you very much! I think it's a wonderful book with a great message, but I'm a little biased.

Donna Shields said...

Harry Potter came to my mind also.