A Witch in the form of a Hare Hunted by a Black Greyhound, Witches in Welsh folklore and mythology, a tale from Caernarfon Wales
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Category: Witches
Sub Category: Transformation
Title: A Witch in the form of a Hare Hunted by a Black Greyhound


It was believed in England, as well as in Wales, that witches were often hunted in the shape of hares. "If a hare makes an unexpected escape from the hounds the huntsman curses Moll White (the witch)!" "Nay, (says Sir Roger,) "I have known the master of the pack, upon such an occasion, send one of his servants to see if Moll White had been out that morning."| There is no Welsh location attributed to this next tale. For reasons of placement on our maps I have attributed the town of Caernarfon, although it may not be in the correct area of the county it is in the correct county.| An old woman, credited to be a witch, lived on the confines of the hills in a small hut in the south of Carnarvonshire.  Her grandson, a sharp, intelligent lad, lived with her.  Many gentlemen came to that part with greyhounds for the purpose of coursing and the lad’s services were always in requisition, for he never failed in starting a hare and whenever he did so he was rewarded with a shilling.  But it was noticed that the greyhounds never caught the hare which the lad started.  The sport was always good, the race long and exciting, but the hare never failed to elude her pursuers.  Scores of times this occurred, until at last the sportsmen consulted a wise man, who gave it as his opinion that this was no ordinary hare, but a witch, and, said he, “She can never be caught but by a black greyhound.”  A dog of this colour was sought for far and near and at last found and bought.  Away to the hills the coursers went, believing that now the hare was theirs.  They called at the cottage for the lad to accompany them and start the prey.  He was as ready as ever to lead them to their sport.  The hare was soon started and off the dog was slipped and started after it. The hare bounded away as usual, but it is now seen that her pursuer is a match for her in swiftness and, notwithstanding the twistings and windings, the dog was soon close behind the distressed hare.| The race became more and more exciting, for hound and hare exerted themselves to their very utmost and the chase became hot.  The spectators shouted in their excitement, “Hei! ci du,” (“Hey, black dog,”) for it was seen that he was gaining on his victim.  “Hei! Mam, gu,” (“Hey! Grandmother, dear”) shouted the lad, forgetting in his trouble that his grandmother was in the form of a hare.  His was the only encouraging voice uttered on behalf of the poor hunted hare.  His single voice was hardly heard amidst the shouts of the many.  The pursuit was long and hard and both the dog and hare gave signs of distress, but shouts of encouragement buoyed up the strength of the dog.  The chase was evidently coming to a close and the hare was approaching the spot whence it started.  One single heart was filled with dread and dismay at the failing strength of the hare and from that heart came the words, “Hei! Mam gu” (“Hey! Grandmother, dear.”)  All followed the chase, which was now nearing the old woman’s cottage, the window of which was open.  With a bound the hare jumped through the small casement into the cottage, but the black dog was close behind her and just as she was disappearing through the window, he bit the hare and retained a piece of her skin in his mouth, but he could not follow the hare into the cottage, as the aperture was too small.  The sportsmen lost no time in getting into the cottage, but, after much searching, they failed to discover anything.  They, however, saw the old woman seated by the fire spinning.  They also noticed that there was blood trickling from underneath her seat and this they considered sufficient proof that it was the witch in the form of a hare that had been coursed and had been bitten by the dog just as she bounded into the cottage.


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