Uncanny Georgia: Fire Devils

This is the first in what will be at least a twenty-part series of posts on the weird and supernatural aspects of the state of Georgia. When I began research on the fourth book of the Into the Wonder series (working title, The River of Night), I knew I wanted it to be chock-full of as many references to native Georgia monsters and spirit-beings as I could fit. What I’ve found could easily fill several books! I’m sharing my findings here so I won’t feel guilty about all the cool beasties I’m going to have to leave out when I start writing. 🙂

Disclaimer: Some of the creatures to be featured here are cryptids, meaning people claim to have actually seen them though they are undocumented by science. Do not take the fact that I’m featuring them in this series as a statement that I believe they’re real—only that I think they’re cool and that they would make an awfully good story.

flameWe’ll start in Rabun County in the extreme northwest of the state. Here, it is said, live a race of fire-breathing devils that stand guard over sacred caves and strange stone cairns deep in the forest. According to Indian legends (most likely Cherokee; Internet sources are vague), even the bravest warriors would refuse to go into certain deserted regions for fear of these “little demons.”

These creatures are apparently associated with strange sounds coming from the woods that the locals call “the music of the Bald” after nearby Rabun Bald, the highest peak in the county. The first published account of these sounds comes from the Monthly Weather Review in 1897. Ken Rasure summarizes this report as follows:

Two “reliable men” were camping one night on top of Rabun Bald…when they were awakened by “eerie, haunting melodies” coming from the woods. After some time, the melodies were replaced by sounds which reminded them of cannons being discharged in the distance. These noises went on for several minutes and then began getting closer and closer to them. Finally, the sounds seemed to be coming from deep in the ground right beneath their feet! The men later said they weren’t afraid, but they were very deeply perplexed. The sounds traveled on into the distance over the next few minutes and they were able to hear it for most of the night. The men reported this strange phenomena the next day to the sheriff who told them it was probably caused by bears rolling small boulders off the mountainsides while searching for worms and insects to eat. The boulders would sometimes roll downhill or off cliffs which would create the explosive sounds. The men were unconvinced as this explanation didn’t account for the eerie melodies or the way the noises traveled through the woods and it certainly didn’t explain how the sounds came from under the ground beneath their feet.

So, fire-breathing devils who love to play weird music with a hardcore rhythm section. Cool.

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