Church Grim

alt: Grim, Kyrkogrim

habitat: Crypt, Underworld

origin: English, Norse

Guardian spirit of the church. The guardian of the church often appears as a terrifying version of a black dog, but it may also appear as a cat, ox, or cockerel.

Church Grim Lore

Moonlight seeped through the foggy night sky, barely lighting the path ahead. "Ow much farther we got ta go?" asked the man with the broad face. A dull silver earring pierced one of his ears, making some sort of ill-conceived fashion statement. "Hush now, Reginald. We're almost there. Be patient!" The man leading was taller and thinner than his impatient companion. He was also a good deal smarter – at least he thought so. Once they made away with the church coffer he would see to it that he got more than his fair share. A 100% cut in fact. The tall man grinned slightly to himself as he thought about the all the generous donations he would soon reallocate. "See now, there it is." He gestured up the hill.

Looking ahead the men could see the church now. It was hard to make out details in the fog, but the outline of it was clear. "Alright now remember what we discussed Reginald. I'll take position near the pastor's room to watch for any disturbance. You go in through the kitchen, grab the stash, then come straight back out. Do you remember where it is?" Reginald turned to him with a flat look on his face. His mouth hung open for a second while they passed through the fence into the churchyard. The leader pursed his lips, about to make some choice remarks when suddenly: "Ya Ya Ya. I know where't is. Under the pulpi'. At's roight, under the floor there. Ya've only told me 6 hun'red times ya 'ave." Good, good. The lout did remember. And he obviously wasn't expecting him to be waiting with a special bonus outside the kitchen. A sharp bonus.

They were well into the yard now, close to the church. Just as they were about to split up to carry out the robbery, Reginald froze. He was looking up at something. "Reginald!" whispered the leader sharply. "What in the nine hells are you doing? Get going!" Reginald just pointed. Looking up, the leader saw a large, black cat staring at them. It was perched peculiarly on the point of the roof, just above the main door. It's eyes were bright yellow orbs, unnaturally large, with pitch black vertical slits in the middle. As he stared into those eyes all the light around the cat seemed to grow dimmer. It was as if the moon was waning and the only light came from those eyes.

Shaking is head abruptly, the leader regained his senses. "Reginald, you oaf! That's just the pastor's cat! Get moving." He wasn't really whispering anymore. The two of them started to continue and then froze after a few steps. The cat was on the ground now, squarely between them and their goal. They had never seen it move from the roof. It was if it had teleported. They started to back up slowly without even realizing they were moving. The cat matched their speed, slowly advancing. With each step it seemed to grow larger. "It's just.. a cat. A stupid.. c.. cat. Reg.."

Screams echoed through the night, waking the pastor. He lit his bedside lantern and stepped into his slippers. Outside, the night air was cool and calm. The fog was lifting, but it still hugged the earth around the church. The pastor revered the silence. He strolled across the churchyard in the direction he had heard the screams. As he was passing the main entrance, he stopped, seeing something glinting in the grass. Bending town he picked up the shining object between his fingers and held it up to the sky. A silver earring. The paster slipped it into his pocket and bent back down to get another look at the ground. He noticed footprints. Two pairs of them, depressions in the grass, that had been heading towards the church. They vanished where he had found the tooth. In that same spot were some other marks. Deep ruts in the earth, as if the grass had been torn up by claws. Large claws.

The pastor stood back up and smiled to himself. "Thank you old friend" he said to the night. He turned around and walked back to his room. He slept soundly until morning.

Guardian spirit of the church

A church grim is a spirit that guards a churchyard against threats both physical and spiritual. Grave robbers, thieves, and body snatchers are scared off the moment they enter the area protected by the grim. In some cases, the grim will be even more aggressive, adding to the number of souls bound forever to their church's patch of earth. Physical threats are not the only things a church grim can protect against. A church grim also has the power to turn away vengeful or mischievous spirits.

Sacrificial birth

To create a church grim, a sacrifice must be made. When a new churchyard is opened, an animal is sacrificed in the name of the lord and buried under the ground on the north side. Some cultures bury the animal alive in the church wall. In either case, the animal's spirit becomes bound to that church for eternity and rises again as a grim. It is very commonly a dog because dogs are known for their ferocious guardian spirit. But other animals such as cats, ox, or cockerel can be used. The church grim appears as a terrifying, larger version of the creature that was sacrificed. It possesses the ability to change its size and defy typical limitations of the physical plane. It's claws rend evil flesh and spirit alike.

Stand in for human souls

Some believe that the first human to be buried at a new church will be bound to protect the church from evil for all eternity. The practice of sacrificing an animal to create a grim may have been a method for preventing human souls from being trapped into such service. I often wonder what sort of being a human grim would be? There was once a young orphan who was confined to grow up in a graveyard after his parents were murdered by sinister forces. A dark and silent man named Silas became his guardian. He oversaw all the denizens of that graveyard. Though Silas demonstrated the characteristics of a vampire, it has crossed my mind that his guardianship does bear some resemblance to the grim.

Written by Giles Ravensong.

This creature was printed from

Novus Bestiary is a project by Sword & Source