07 April 2012

Gabriel Hounds

For this year's A-Z challenge, I'm posting juicy tidbits of researchy goodness for your interest and edification. I intend to use these as story prompts for the terrifying writing challenge Story a Day in May. You may use them however you wish.

From Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts by Katharine Briggs:
"In the late Autumn great flocks of wild geese and other birds fly down the wide rivers on their way south, and in the early Spring they come up again to their nesting places in the north, and the quick beat of their wings and the cries they make to each other to keep together sound like the yelping and barking of hounds high up in the air. In old days people used to believe that these noises were made by ghostly hounds with human heads who flew high up in the air, hunting the souls of unrepentant sinners."

Illustration by Yvonne Gilbert

"If they hovered over a house it was thought to be a death token, and people who were out alone at night and heard them pass overhead were terrified. They were called different names in different parts of the country: the Gabriel Hounds, the Gabriel Ratchets, the Devil's Dandy Dogs, the Sky Yelpers and, in Wales, Cwn Annwn. Whatever they were called, people were glad to seek the shelter of a house when they crossed over, but most people now know that they are only birds and wish them good fortune on their perilous journey."

With all due respect to Katharine Briggs, I find that there's a certain condescending tone to some folklore reports. It seems extremely unlikely to me that people from long ago, whose lives depended on the changes of the seasons and access to wild animals for food, would mistake a goose for a spectral hound. Whenever I hear of legends like the Gabriel Hounds, I think that people back then must have had access to a more extensive range of perception than we currently enjoy.

On the other hand, Yvonne Gilbert's illustration there makes me wonder how hilarious it would be to find and raise a Gabriel Hound puppy.

Not a Gabriel Hound, just our Boston at one month.

35 comments:

mooderino said...

You'd think they'd hear the sound during the day and look up at the sky to see what was making it.

Interesting theme you've got going here.

mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino
The Funnily Enough

Amanda Heitler said...

I love the detailed description of them. The red ears seem to crop up fairly regularly. Did you ever read Dogsbody? It's an early Diana Wynne Jones and she uses them to great effect.

Mark K said...

Such oogly beasties! Odd that we both picked a supernatural bent to our G spot (ha! See what I I'd there? Did ya?... Smut puppies!)

Love your puppy photo - sometimes it's a shame they have to grow up. I enjoyed reading your spooky experience. Thanks for dropping by... but bring some biscuits next time, woman!

Bushman said...

Very interesting! I can understand the strangeness of the noise and perhaps it was started to just to tease some little soul into hid bed for the night and grew from there. I'm assuming M Knight Shamalayn (sp) has not heard of this otherwise there would be a movie out!

Traci Kenworth said...

It does make you wonder at the superstitions of people back then--and now.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Well, they do SOUND a like a pack of celestial hound dogs when they all start honking. Maybe the folks back then were in dire need of eyeglasses? Yeah, that's it. They didn't eat enough carrots ...

Your pup is absolutely adorable.

Libby said...

Your Boston is adorable!!!! Just checked out the Story a Day in May. Looks cool.
Fellow A-Zer: http://libbyheily.blogspot.com/

Elizabeth Twist said...

Welcome, Libby! You should do Story a Day if you are at all inclined. It was huge in terms of my evolution as a writer.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I like the idea of a carrot shortage conspiracy. Nice!

I know, the dog is cute like it's his job.

Elizabeth Twist said...

It makes me wonder about what's around us that we don't see.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Ha - I can see it now: The Honkening.

It is a haunting noise, I agree. Still, I think people could probably see geese, unless you follow Susan's argument (below) that people were just lacking eyeglasses and carrots.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Your haunting stories were crazytown, Mark. Seriously, everyone reading this should pop by Mark's and read his G post.

If I ever start a punk band, "Smut Puppies" will be its name.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I have not read Dogsbody, but I should! Sounds awesome. Diana Wynne Jones did all the cool things before they were cool.

Elizabeth Twist said...

You would think so! Thanks for stopping by, moody!

J Andrew Jansen said...

What a fun series of posts! I especially liked the P.T. Barnum one. All of these are pretty awesome though.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting my schizophrenic corner of the inter-webs.

--j--

Ann Best said...

Oh, I love your little Boston! And what an original theme for the A to Z. Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment on my Golden Movies. That way I got to come over here and meet you!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

CLR said...

What an intellectually provoking, interesting idea! I admire your originality and look forward to your continued posts. I also admire your bravery...a story a day in May? Right now, that seems quite daunting...but as I replied on your comment on my blog post, I need to work most on excuses and limiting beliefs! Maybe I will dive into another writing challenge after the A-Z! Who knows?

So glad to have 'met' you and will follow you from now on!
www.hammockinthehoneysuckle.blogspot.com
Carrie

Melissa Sugar said...

Your puppy is so cute. I answered your question in a response to your comment, but I know how little time everyone has with the challenge so I will email it to you so you don't have to look for it. I wish I could just respond to all comments via email, but I can't unless they are signed into Disqus. One of the drawbacks.

Sarah Pearson said...

I can buy spectral hounds, but not geese being mistaken for them.

Love the puppy :-)

Sharkbytes said...

Isn't it amazing how stupid our ancestors were supposed to have been. I suppose some day they will say those 20th century people actually thought storks brought babies.

Sharkbytes said...

PS I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month.

Jan Morrison said...

I love this! Flying hounds - yikes! those crazy olden day people - they really crack me up. OK, now it is time for me to put a wee bowl of cream out for the fairies. What? You don't believe in fairies? Well no wonder your dishwasher broke last week...

Joyce Shor Johnson said...

Those hounds are hideous, but interesting! Your Boston is so, so cute! I like your prompts so I've decide to follow your blog.

thewritejoyce.blogspot.com
A to Z Challenge

Elizabeth Twist said...

Hi, J! It looks like you're having fun over there. I'll be back.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Welcome, Ann! I enjoyed your post. And thanks...he's cute now, but he was over the top adorable then.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Story a Day in May is nuts, but I learned a lot by doing it.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Heya! Your answer was most appreciated. I'll be dropping back in again for more tales of laws and outlaws before too long.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Spectral hounds seem far more likely to me. Glad to know I'm not alone.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Good point! Wow...visiting all the blogs - that is quite a challenge in itself! I feel like I've been doing nothing but dropping in on blogs, and there are so many left to visit.

Thanks for stopping by!

Elizabeth Twist said...

Ha! I try to keep my household fairies happy, Jan. I need all the help I can get! Hope yours are cooperating lately.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Hi Joyce! I hope you can make good use of the prompts. Please feel free to exploit them however you can.

I've had my copy of Briggs's book since I was ten or so, I think. It is really lovely. That picture always bothered me. Something about how grumpy and old-manish the faces are. Now I think it's wonderful.

CLR said...

Hi Elizabeth!
Thanks for the idea of Story a Day in May. Tell me more- do you just write them and not put them here on your blog? Is it literally seven days, or is there a day break like the A-Z? Sounds interesting! I will look into it! I am a in a bit of a 'stuck' mode right now so maybe that would help.

Gina said...

That is the cutest dog ever! My kids are asking for a dog and I think we'll get a basset, but this little puppy surely makes me want him. Thanks for stoping by mu blog.

From Diary of a Writer in Progress

Elizabeth Twist said...

Hi again, Carrie. Because I'm working on publication, I polish the stories and submit them to magazines. Because most magazines do not want to publish things you've published yourself already, I don't put them up here.

The challenge is a story a day, but if you need to adapt it, there is no harm in doing that! It's more about setting a goal and sticking to it to the best of your ability (something I am still working on!).

If it appeals to you, go for it.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Bassets are amazing, and ridiculously cute puppies. Thanks for stopping by, Gina!

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