Episode 62: Workers of Death: Black Shuck
The folklore of Black Shuck in a nutshell, how I reimagined them for my writing, and this black dog translated to Afrikaans.
Written and narrated by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Copyright 2023 Ronel Janse van Vuuren — All rights reserved.
Learn more about Black Shuck in folklore here.
Get the transcript here.
As featured on the Top 50 Folklore Podcasts.
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Music: Secrets by David Fesliyan (FesliyanStudios.com) and Dramatic Heartbeat by FesliyanStudios.com
You’re listening to the Faeries and Folklore podcast by Ronel.
I’m dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. With nearly a decade of digging around in dusty folklore books, researching creatures of imagination that ignited my curiosity, I’m here to share the folklore in a nutshell and how I reimagined it for my writing in an origin of the fae.
This is the Faeries and Folklore podcast.
Hi, I’m your host Ronel Janse van Vuuren. You can just call me Ronel. In today’s episode, we’re continuing our exploration of the fae realm.
This episode is brought to you by my Origin of the Fae book series. You’ve met them on the podcast, now see them in action. Go to ronelthemythmaker.com/originofthefaeseries for more.
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We’re continuing our exploration of the workers of death.
Today’s Faery: Black Shuck
Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel
Seen as a hellhound since the Viking invasions, Black Shuck has been roaming the lonely roads of East Anglia, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. It has been seen in the countryside and coastlines, too. Some believe it is named after Odin’s dog Shukir, while others believe its name is derived from scucca, which means demon in Anglo-Saxon.
Its appearance varies from tale-to-tale, from being a monstrous dog the size of a donkey with fire spitting from its saucer sized eyes, to being a normal sized dog with a single glowing eye (either green or red) – or even a headless dog. Sometimes it has two eyes, at others only one in the centre of its head. A lot of the time sparks shoot from its eyes. At times it is even a shaggy dog, making people assume that its name comes from a dialect pronunciation of “shaggy”.
For the most part, Black Shuck doesn’t do much more than walk around, patrolling certain areas after dark. Some people are scared witless when seeing it. This black dog doesn’t cause harm to people unless someone is foolish enough to challenge it.
In some tales, Black Shuck appears before bad weather and is quite active on stormy nights when the sea is at its most tempestuous. It is said that its cry can be heard over the roaring waves.
Though the tales don’t agree on much, seeing Black Shuck, though, is always an omen of death. In most cases, you’ll die within the year.
And now for my interpretation of the fae in an Origin of the Fae: Black Shuck
There is, of course, more than one dog called Black Shuck: it is more a classification within black dogs than the actual name of the creature. And most all of them prefer looking like a black Dobermann because of its pointy ears and silhouette meant to scare those with evil intent.
Black Shuck is partial to coastland and marshy areas as it is a protector to the portals these places hold to other realms. It always seems to be on patrol, because it is. It keeps the fae in their realm and the mortals in theirs… For the most part.
As a worker of death, it marks those who don’t respect its boundaries for death.
In its spectre form, Black Shuck looks like black smoke in the form of a dog with one fiery red eye in the middle of its head. It can also look like a ball of fire as it moves through realms to do its duty.
Translation of Black Shuck to Afrikaans: Swart Shuck. This is of my own making.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the faeries and folklore podcast and that you’ve learned something new about faeries.
Remember that you can get a transcript of this episode in the description. If you’re new to the podcast, why not go and grab your free copy of Unseen, the second book in the Faery Tales series, on my website ronelthemythmaker.com? Loads of folklore, magic and danger await! Take care!
You can now support my time in producing the podcast (researching, writing and everything else involved) by buying me a coffee. This can be a once-off thing, or you can buy me coffee again in the future at your discretion.
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No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.