Hello, SleepyHeads!  This week on Witness Prophecies, we discuss Sleepy Hollow Season 4 Episode 7, entitled Loco Parentis, which originally aired on February 17, 2017.  Molly Thomas begins exploring what it means to be a Witness, with unintended consequences. 

Just before Molly Thomas’s 11th birthday, her father, Mitch Talbot (Bill Heck) returns from overseas military duty, wanting to spend time with his daughter and his former lover, Diana.  SH WP S4E7 Crane Diana Mitch picMeanwhile, Diana is investigating a murder case that seems to involve the supernatural, and enlists Ichabod Crane’s assistance.  They discover that young women are being killed by a barghest (played by Alexander Ward), a demonic dog type creature that can transform into a person that the victim would trust.  Diana realizes that Mitch is still overseas, and that the Barghest is using his face as a disguise to get Molly.  The harshest came to the young new colony via the Mayflower, and attacked the daughter of Captain William Bradford (played by Brent McGee).  According to Crane, the beast was captured and contained in a magical stone – Plymouth Rock.  

In Sleepy Hollow, Jenny Mills finds the damaged lantern containing the demon, Jobe, and quickly puts it in the dungeon surrounded by protection spells.   SH WP S4E7 Jenny Jobe picAfter much verbal sparring between Jenny and the demon, she releases him in exchange for the location of the barghest, so that Diana and Crane can save Molly.  Molly has determined that Mitch is not her father, and escapes into the woods.  Crane and Diana find her, kill the monster, and save the child.  Molly, while traumatized, is able to enjoy her birthday party, and knows that Crane will have her back.  She has much to learn about being a Witness.  But she has Crane.  The episode title, Loco Parentis, is a Latin phrase that means “in the place of a parent,” referring to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent.  It seems that it was Crane who did that – not her father, Mitch Talbot – aka The Barghest!

Jenny learned from Jobe that Malcolm Dreyfuss was likely still alive.  The Philosopher’s Stone was the most powerful artifact of which Jenny was aware, and she believed that the power in that stone could have given Dreyfuss special powers, possibly making him immortal.  Finally, Dreyfuss returns to his company, fires the board of directors, and delights in being immortal.  An annoyed Jobe appears behind him, and Dreyfuss states that he knows he must change the world for the better.  But what exactly does that mean?

History Lesson of the Week – The Barghest

Northern English folklore tells us that the Barghest is a mythical monstrous black dog with large teeth and claws, gleaming red or green eyes with a horrible howl, and appearing only at night.  It was believed that those who saw one clearly would die soon after, while those who caught only a glimpse of the beast would live on, but only for some months.  There are a few citations of the Barghest being benevolent, however most stories are not favorable to this creature.

While this is primarily English folklore, the beast has also been reported in Scotland, Wales, Germany, Belgium, France, Argentina, Mexico, and in Connecticut, in the United States.  The earliest known report was in 856AD, in France, when the dog monster appeared in church even though the doors were shut.  

Black Dogs or barghests sightings have been reported from almost all the counties of England, the exceptions being Middlesex and Rutland.  The streets of Whitby, York and the surrounding moors are have many stories about haunting by this terrifying specter.  

Sightings and folklore in England include:

  • On Dartmoor, the notorious squire Cabell was said to have been a huntsman who sold his soul to the Devil. When he died in 1677, black hounds are said to have appeared around his burial chamber. The ghostly huntsman is said to ride with black dogs; this tale inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write his well-known story The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • In Lancashire, the black hound is called Barguist, Gytrash, Padfoot, The Grim, Shag, Trash, Striker or Skriker.  (All good Potterheads know that Padfoot was the nickname for Sirius Black, who turned into a Grim, so it would seem that this was based on Barghest folklore.)
  • The Gurt Dog (“Great Dog”) of Somerset is an example of a benevolent dog. It was said that mothers would allow their children to play unsupervised on the Quantock Hills because they believed that the Gurt Dog would protect them. It would also accompany lone travellers in the area, acting as a protector and guide.
  • In Norfolk, Suffolk and the northern parts of Essex a black dog, known as Black Shuck or Shug is regarded as malevolent, with stories ranging from terrifying victims to being a portent of illness or death to themselves or a person close to the victim. There are tales that in 1577 it attacked the church in the village of Bungay, killing two people before running to the church in the nearby village of Blythburgh, leaving claw marks which remain today.

The best advice if you are alone on the misty moors of England and see such a black hound approaching you?


Link to Wikipedia article – Barghast

Link to Wikipedia article – Black Dog (ghost)

Link to The Haunted Spots Blog, The Barghest: Black Dog Ghost of Whitby, England

SleepyHeads!  What will Malcolm Dreyfuss and Jobe do next?  Tune in next week to find out!

February 24, 2017 – Season 4 Episode 8 – “Sick Burn”

And SleepyHeads – don’t forget about the book, Sleepy Hollow – Creating Heroes, Demons & Monsters, by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry.  You can order it on Amazon, by using the Golden Spiral Media link.  

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