Befriending the Black Dog: A New Webinar

November 28, 2014

Illustration by Sidney Paget from The Hound of the Baskervilles
Illustration by Sidney Paget from The Hound of the Baskervilles

Several people had seen a creature upon the moor which corresponds with this Baskerville demon, and which could not possibly be any animal known to science. They all agreed that it was a huge creature, luminous, ghastly, and spectral. I have cross-examined these men, one of them a hard-headed countryman, one a farrier, and one a moorland farmer, who all tell the same story of this dreadful apparition, exactly corresponding to the hell-hound of the legend.

—From The Hound of the Baskervilles: Another Adventure of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The creator of Sherlock Holmes had a vivid imagination that his famous protagonist would have sneered at. Conan Doyle’s impressionable mind was piqued by a story he chanced upon in 1901 when driven from the golf course by a storm. His companion regaled him with tales of a phantom dog that haunted the countryside, with bloody eyes and a luminous aura. Throw in a family curse, an evil aristocrat, and a lovely victim, and the legend had all the ingredients of a first rate mystery. The Hound of the Baskervilles is considered Conan Doyle’s most expertly crafted plot and one of the best detective novels ever penned.

But this was not an obscure folktale, at least not the hellhound part of it. Legends of a phantom dog from the death realm, usually huge and black, are found wherever there has been Celtic influence, most notably the British Isles but also France, Germany, and Spain. Black Dog anecdotes have even cropped up in North and South America, all containing elements of the core fable: a black dog inhabiting liminal spaces, strongly connected with death. Conan Doyle probably did not know that the Black Dog is also a storm dweller, making the eminent author’s retreat from the golf course that inclement day appear to have the paw prints of fate.

In this upcoming webinar we will examine the origin of the Black Dog as emissary of the Mother-goddess. We will also discuss myths originating in Mesoamerica and the Philippines that provide clues to the meaning of the strange and persistent tales of the phantom dog.

Befriending the Black Dog
Monday, December 8, 2014
7:00–8:00 pm Eastern Time (US)
Attend live or stream later
Cost $25 $10
Pre-registration required

More information and registration here

Magical History of the Cat

October 17, 2014

Pregnant Lioness. Photo Robin Alasdair and Frederick Hutton.
Pregnant Lioness. Photo Robin Alasdair and Frederick Hutton.

Folk beliefs about the domestic cat have their roots in Egyptian lion worship. The famous cat goddess Bast was originally a lion goddess.

Registration is now open for the November 10 webinar “Magical History of the Cat.” The webinar will be happening at 7:00 pm Eastern Time. If you can’t make it then you can stream the webinar later, but you do have to register ahead of time.

I’ve made a website about the webinar that gives more information.

I will be at Barnes and Noble bookstore in Saratoga, New York on Sunday October 19th from 4:00 to 6:00 signing books.

Note to my regular readers: I have several more posts about postmodernism, but I’m currently backed up with material, so I’ll be posting the next one sometime next month. Posting postmodernism sounds like a postmodern poem, but I won’t be writing it.