#SuperstitionSat Spooky Season Highlights: Black Dogs & Other Creatures Of The Night

Well, good day there! And good thing it’s daytime now, because yesterday evening (15/10/22) you got us cowering in fear of all the Black Dogs & Other Creatures Of The Night you shared us. But we’re all safe and sound now—and, hopefully, ready to look at some of the Highlights of our Session. Let’s get into it!

Our first Highlight ran straight at us from dreary Dartmoor, in South West England. Described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as “a great place, very sad and wild, dotted with the dwellings of prehistoric man, strange monoliths and huts and graves”, Dartmoor served this author well indeed, as it was the inspiration to create the acclaimed horror classic The Hound of the Baskervilles. Such tales of giant ghostly dogs were already present in the region when the writer decided to feature them, and one such example can be found in the currently fenced-off Wistman’s Woods, as shared by LawrenceWrites31. Legend says that in this delicate mossy glen (which is one of the last oak forests to be found on Dartmoor and therefore in need of your protection and care), there once lived a man called Old Dewer. Also known as the “Dark Huntsman”, it is said that Dewer commanded a formidable host of wisht hounds—wisht being a dialect word for ghostly—and that both him and his host of canines once haunted these woods. The word “Wistman” is even said to derive from these pups and their dark master, who was believed to be none other than the Devil himself! To begin to track down this tale, why not read The Hound of the Baskervilles for free here? And if you have academic access, here is an article called The Devil on Dartmoor by folklorist Jeremy Harte—if you don’t, there’s a free related tale waiting to be read at Legendary Dartmoor, here.

Tweet says:

"Auld Dewer's wisht hounds ride by his side on Dartmoor's wild hunt. The fearsome dogs are said to be the souls of those who died before baptism. The hounds are kennelled at eerie Wistman's Wood, whilst notorious Dewerstone is their cruel master's lair."
Tweet by LawrenceWrites31.

Our second Highlight was another spooky literary device, this time concerning the Gytrash: “a spirit appearing as a horse or a dog that haunts lonely roads”, at least according to the Collins Online Dictionary. But it would seem that Charlotte Brontë knew this lore very well, for she featured tales of this nightly creature in her gothic novel Jane Eyre, where she retold it like this:

As this horse approached, and as I watched for it to appear through the dusk, I remembered certain of Bessie’s tales, wherein figured a North-of-England spirit called a Gytrash‘, which, in the form of horse, mule, or large dog, haunted solitary ways, and sometimes came upon belated travellers, as this horse was now coming upon me.”

Considering we are always looking out for “Superstitions in Literature” now, due to our future partnership with Bookworm Saturday (you haven’t forgotten about that, have you?), we couldn’t pass on this second Highlight about the fearsome Gytrash, as quoted by Emily Jane Rothwell. To read more about how Folklore was used by the Brontë family in their writing, there’s an academic article by researcher Jacqueline Simpson, here. But if unfortunately you can’t access that, there’s always Jane Eyre to read for free, here.

Tweet says:

"It was... one form of Bessie's Gytrash—a lion-like creature with long hair and a huge head: it passed me... not staying to look up, with strange pretercanine eyes... Nothing ever rode the Gytrash; it was always alone."
Tweet by Emily Jane Rothwell.

We’ve finally made it to our third Highlight, which was nestled deep in the portentous mountains of Romania, and shared by Patricia Furstenberg. In these parts of Eastern Europe, it is said that on the eve of November 30th, which is the feast of St Andrew, Romania’s patron saint, wolves gain the ability to speak as humans, being capable of saying the most horrible things! And should you happen to hear the ramblings of wolves during tenebrous hours, it is said that you will either die, or as Patricia said: they shall chase you, bite you and turn you into a werewolf! You have been warned, indeed. The tale reminded me of another superstition that animals can speak on Christmas Eve—something which was featured in another book: The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter. But not at all comparable to this spooky Romanian tale, which can be delved further into, for example, by listening to this podcast episode from Bone and Sickle.

Tweet says:

"You should know, and believe, that wolves are able to speak like humans on the night of St Andrew, 30th of November. Saying terrifying things. And if they'll get at you, bite you, you will turn into a werewolf. You have been warned."
Tweet by Patricia Furstenberg.

That was all for today! I hope that you were’t too frightened again by our Highlight selections. We are now halfway through October (at last, phew), which means that we shall be heading into our second-to-last Spooky Season theme next week (22/10/22), with superstitions from


Our photo of a street light barely illuminating the night, casting such a dim brightness that it cannot go beyond the threshold of a door.
Photo by Superstition Sam, featuring a street light perched above a darkened doorway.

As always, whether you’re old, new or just passing through, your presence is very much appreciated, and I was glad to see you stop by for our #SuperstitionSat Session today. I hope that we will see each other again soon! Now, to conclude our journey with all these creatures of the night, we shall use the words of a certain vegetarian vampire from the heart of Transylvania and bid you “goodnight out there, whatever you are”!

– Superstition Sam 🐾