The Legend of the Werewolf

April 24, 2021
Featured image for “The Legend of the Werewolf”
werewolf on a ledge
A large shaggy dire wolf bares its wicked teeth as it glares at you with deep blue eyes. The ice age predator growls and steps over snow covered rocks by @daniel

Long ago, in past cultures, the inhabitants believed there were humans that could change into a bestial form. This belief was so strong that it brought fear, terror, and disruption throughout the community. In other words, werewolves. The meaning comes from old English, Were(man) plus wolf. Hence the word we use today is a werewolf or the Wolf-man. We can actually trace the legend back to the Graeco-Roman period (332 BC – 295 AD) but some scholars say it can be traced back even further, as seen in The Epic of Gilgamesh (2011 BC). But let’s not squabble over who is right. Let’s talk about the man-beast in question. 

History of the Werewolf

In 425 BC a Greek Scholar, Herodotus, described a nomadic tribe in Scythia, now part of modern-day Russia called the Neuri. These tribesmen were known to change into wolves during certain parts of the year. It might have been the cold weather and placing animal skins on their bodies that may have convinced the intellectual. 

 Roman scribe, Ovid in his tale Metamorphoses (8 AD) tells the tale of  the mythical King Lycaon who killed a protected hostage of Zeus and then mutilated the victim. Zeus’s retribution: he turned Lycaon into a wolf. 

Quote”…He tried to speak, but his voice broke into 
an echoing howl. His ravening soul infected his jaws; 
his murderous longings were turned on the cattle; he still was possessed 
by bloodlust. His garments were changed to a shaggy coat and his arms 
into legs. He was now transformed into a wolf. “ 

The Norse legends speak of Fernir, the son of Loki and some type of wolf-like creature. The tribes proclaimed him to be the father of Wolf-men and wolf packs. In the story, Fernir was prophesied to bring down the Norse gods. So the pantheon got together and tied him up. Fernir in the process bit off the arm of the god Tyr. 

Accounts of the Wolf-Man

In 1589 Germany, a man by the name of Peter Stumpp (or Stube) confessed to being a werewolf. In his confession (extracted while being stretched out and tortured on the rack), he admitted to eating 14 children and 2 pregnant women. With the women, he had ripped the fetuses out of their wombs and ate the hearts, describing them as dainty morsels. He claimed that the devil had given a magic belt that made the transformation complete, yet no belt was found in his possession. As a result of his crimes, He was executed on October 31st, 1589. I will not describe his capital punishment.  

Between 1764-1769 in the rural region of Gevaudan, France, peasants were plagued by wolf-like beasts. 100 people were killed before the French Army was called in. However, dog-wolf hybrids may have been the culprits. 

How to Become a Werewolf

So, how does one become a were-wolf, you may ask. There are several ways to become part of the pack for instance:

  • Be the seventh son of a seventh son. 
  • Make a pact with a demon. 
  • Be murdered under a full moon.  
  • Eat wolf meat or drink water from a paw print. 
  • Being cursed.  
  • Not practicing Catholic sacraments for 10 years. 
  • Having sex with a werewolf. 
  • Being bitten by the creature and surviving.  

Yet, in my personal opinion, I do not condone nor advise those methods because being a werewolf is a curse from Hell.

How to Kill a Werewolf and Prevention

However, should you find yourself in peril, folklore advises the following in order to kill these creatures: 

  • Silver; be it bullets or knives. 
  • Quicksilver also known as Mercury. 
  • Decapitation and burning the brain and heart. 

Also, You can prevent them from attacking you in your home by sprinkling some salt around the house (a method that also works with ghosts, ghouls, and ghasts, so be sure to keep a good supply in your pantry).  Therefore, salt is not just for making your food taste good. 

Theories of Today

Modern psychiatric doctors have diagnosed this as merely a delusion and call it lycanthropy. It is a rare disorder. Patients have reported symptoms of mood swings and the feeling of transforming into an animal. The people were, according to the physicians, howling, running around on all fours, etc. This psychosis has been linked with schizophrenia, clinical depression, and bipolar disorder. 

There is also another rare condition called hypertrichosis which is an extremely rare genetic mutation that affects the follicles in the body. It causes the person afflicted to grow hair all over their body, including the face.  Only fifty cases have been studied so far. Famous people who have had this extraordinary aliment were  Jo-Jo the Dog Face Boy (aka Fedor Jeticheive), Su Kong Tai Djin, and more recently Jesus Aceves. 

In close, the werewolf, like the vampire, is deeply rooted in the mythos of scared villagers and ignorant leaders because they feared the unknown. Thus, the human psyche of believing everything that we do not comprehend in this world is evil. However, if find yourself walking alone under a full moon and hear a wolf-like howl piercing the quiet night sky, be sure you’ve got your vial of quicksilver and your six-gun packed with silver bullets. You just may be stalked by the WEREWOLF!!!