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cŵn annwfn


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[W, dogs of annwfn, the Otherworld].

Otherworldly dogs or hell-hounds of Welsh tradition. Usually seen as a pack of small, red-grey or, alternatively, snow-white, red-eared spectral hounds. Near at hand they sound like beagles, but at a distance their sound is filled with wild lamentation. They terrify ordinary dogs and thus a dog howling at night is thought a bad omen. They are thought to come from the Otherworld to hunt the souls of the living through the air; they seek to kidnap mortals and to lead the souls of the damned to infernal regions. Hunters who ride with them include Arthur and the black-faced Gwyn ap Nudd. The dogs may be known by many other names; in Welsh they are cŵn bendith y mamau [fairy dogs]; cŵn cyrff [corpse dogs]; cŵn wybr [sky dogs]; cŵn toili [toili dogs]. In English they may be known as Gabriel hounds, ratchets, or hell hounds. See also ARKAN SONNEY; CÙ SÌTH; DOG; FAIRY DOG. Motif E501. 13.4.

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