different types of werewolves, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, preview of work, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, short story, Teen Wolf, The Vampire Diaries, Twilight New Moon, Wattpad, werewolf folklore, werewolves, werewolves and the moon, wolfsbane
A while back I did a post about Werehyenas because, well, they’re awesome. If you don’t know this by now, various were-animals are said to exist around the world. This shape-shifting ability can include foxes, dogs, tigers, snakes, hares, bears, crocodiles, hyenas and wolves. Obviously Werehyenas and werewolves are a lot scarier than say a were-rabbit (Wallace and Gromit: the curse of the were-rabbit was a comedy after all).
I decided to use Werewolves in a story and had to brush up on the facts. Here I’ll share a little of what I’d learned.
We all know that werewolves are inexplicably linked to the moon.
Myth #3: Werewolves come out with a full moon. The folklore story of the werewolf perhaps dates as far back as the ancient Greeks and still exists worldwide today. It supposes that a cursed human shape-shifts into a wolf at the dawning of a full moon.
Why that is, should probably be further investigated. At least we already know all the folklore concerning the moon.
Werewolves only appear/attack during a full moon
|Source: Long-running superstitions about the full moon’s effects on animals and humans. A similar myth depicts werewolf transformation as being triggered by a full moon, or by negative emotions.|
|Fact: Werewolves can appear and attack at any time, although they are much more active at night. Furthermore, the moon has no effect on a werewolf’s transformation process, nor does its mental state.|
How does the Moon influence werewolves?
– What is well known is that the moon and in particular the full moon have a very strong influence on werewolves. Almost all new werewolves and certainly young werewolves experience transformation during the full moon and for 24 hours before and after.
Older and trained werewolves can control their transformations better but even they experience the pull of the full moon in terms of stronger powers and a higher likelihood of transforming on the full moon.
The change is either on purpose or due to being bitten, scratched and thus infected, by a werewolf. In addition the transformation can be initiated by a sorcerer or witch. The full moon is often implicated with the change into a werewolf which, as an aspect of European belief, has spread worldwide. The belief in werewolves is therefore the belief in the human capacity to metamorphose into animal form – in this case a wolf (Fahy, 1988).
Obviously that means that there has to be more than one type of werewolf running around.
Werewolf types and origin
If you’ve watched various movies and TV shows and read widely, you know that werewolves aren’t all the same.
Vicious animal attacks have been reported for centuries, yet during the day no one can find a trace of the creatures responsible. Those who study mythology have long known that few creatures have the power, speed, and mindless slaughtering propensity the way that werewolves do.
Before we delve into the details of these fearsome and powerful creatures, it is important that we first clear up the confusion about what a “werewolf” actually is.
- The Shapeshifter Wolf
Fans of the Twilight series will recognize this type of “werewolf”. Like the character Jacob Black and certain other members of the Quileute tribe, the shapeshifter wolf has the ability to change form at any time. This is believed to have been the original power of the first werewolf before it was taken away. The shapeshifter wolf can transform from human form to wolf form at will, though aggressive energy or anger may increase the likelihood of causing an unintentional transformation. The shapeshifter wolves considered “werewolves” can only change from human to wolf form, though “pure” shapeshifters can transform from human form to any other animal form, including a wolf. It is believed that all shapeshifters are born into this ability, and one cannot be transformed into a shapeshifter by the bite from the creature. The exception to this is the Navajo Skinwalker, which is not a true shapeshifter, but a witch using an animal hide to transform.
- The Wolfman
Many “werewolf” stories, including sightings of the legendary Bray Road Beast, describe a creature that is physically a combination of a wolf and a man. This mutant wolf-man typically has a mostly human-shaped body, stands on two legs, but is covered in wolf hair and has claws and fangs. The Wolfman is often called a “werewolf” because in many legends this creature is believed to share many of the traits of the werewolf “curse”. Depending on the legend, some wolfmen are humans by day and wolf-men by night while others are in their duel human/wolf form at all times. I believe the generally accepted theory is that one begins by transforming from human to wolfman on full moons only, then over time it increases to every night, and eventually the body settles into a pure wolfman form at all times. The degree to which a wolfman can control his mind and emotions also degrades as these transformations become more permanent.
- The True Werewolf
A true “werewolf”, according to most legends, is a human being that uncontrollably transforms into a wolf during a full moon. The original werewolf curse transformed a Shapeshifter Wolf into a Werewolf, effectively taking away the ability to control the shift but also taking away the ability to think as a human while in wolf form. Werewolves, when in wolf form, have uncontrollable rage and hunger. They are driven to kill everyone and everything they encounter, regardless of their relationship as humans. The curse causes these wolves to lose all control of their minds, and when they wake up in human form in the morning, they don’t remember anything (though they may revisit certain memories in dreams). It is this form of werewolf that can transfer their condition through a bite, assuming of course that the human being bitten survives the attack.
Bisclavret (The Werewolf), is a Breton lai, by a medieval female writer and poet known as Marie de France. It is one of twelve narrative poems known as The lais of Marie de France. Many of the lais were derived from Breton folklore and legends with Celtic influences and elements of the supernatural all interwoven together. Read the story and what it could mean here.
I found an interesting article on another WordPress site about wolves around the world in different cultures and times. The article is called: Descended from Wolves.
I decided to show snippets of the most interesting parts (relating to werewolf lore) here.
It is said that when the Holy Patricius (St. Patrick) was preaching Christianity in that land, there was one great race more hostile to him than the other people that were in the land. And these men tried to do him many kinds of injury. And when he preached Christianity to them as other men, and came to meet them when they were holding their assembly, then they took this counsel, to howl at him like wolves. But when he saw that his message would succeed little with these people, then he became very wroth, and prayed God that he might avenge it on them by some judgement, that their descendants might forever remember their disobedience. And great punishment and fit and very wonderful has since befallen their descendants; for it is said that all men who come from that race are always wolves at a certain time, and run into the woods and take food like wolves; and they are worse in this that they have human reason, for all their cunning, and such desire and greed for men as for other creatures. And it is said that some become so every seventh year, and are men during the interval. And some have it so long that they have seven years at once, and are never so afterwards. — Werewolf stories
Out of Germany come many tales of werewolves, particularly in the parts of Germany that are on the Baltic coastal plain that have and border Slavic populations, see Werewolves in Pomerania. Just outside of the town of Wittlich from which the Morbach Monster tale originates, there is a shrine dedicated to the last werewolf that was supposed to have been killed, with a candlelight that must never go out, if the werewolf is never to return. See also the Werewolf Rock
The Werewolf of Alt-marrin and the Fox-hill near Dodow show that foxes and wolves were regarded interchangeable and attributed with the same qualities and magical powers, and there are many stories involving “wolf straps” that are magical in nature and that have certain mysterious powers or indestructible quality, and when a human puts on the strap or belt, he is turned into a wolf. Sometimes, the magical relic is wolf belt (see the Werewolf of Klein Krams), instead of a wolf strap.
The Werewolf in Hindenburg (J. D. H. Temme)
One still believes in werewolves in the Altmark. Even today in the village of Hindenburg they tell about a man who could turn himself into a wolf, and there are people still alive who knew him during their childhood.
He had a strip of leather made from wolf skin which still had its hair. Whenever he tied it around his body, he turned into a wolf. Then he had such extraordinary strength that he could pull an entire load of hay by himself or grab a whole ox in his mouth and carry it away.
In this state he had the nature of a wolf. He strangled cattle and even ate humans. He once pursued one of his neighbors, who narrowly escaped from him. But however furious he became, he did spare his wife. She knew a magic charm that brought him under control, a charm that he himself had taught her. Then she would take off the leather strip, and he would become a reasonable human once again.
Similar to the Germanic legends of werewolves, werewolf tales are also heard and found from France, see Tales of Werewolves where scores of people were accused of being and who admitted to having turned into werewolves through ointments of the Devil, and then burnt at the stake or mobbed to death.
The Chinese also have their werewolves called “langren”, as well as a popular fairy-tale called The Wolf of Zhongshan that originally appeared in the Hǎishuō Gǔjīn as an anonymous text with no known author, although it has generally been attributed to Ma Zhongxi (马中锡) (1446-1512). It is a morality tale about ingratitude begetting its just desserts, that veers away from the others under consideration here, more akin.
In Eastern Europe the idea of the werewolf is related closely to the concept of the vampire, referred to in Serbia as the vukodlak. In Lithuania the werewolf is called vyras.
Slavic – Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian – tradition also deals with werewolves and vampires. Werewolves were people who could turn into wolves and attack people. Vampires had glowing red eyes, one could not see their reflection in a mirror, they cast no shadows. Their victims were mostly women.
– More can be read in the Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend by Mike Dixon-Kennedy.
– More can be read in The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and other Monsters by Rosemary Gulley.
The legend of the werewolf is one of the most ancient and wide spread. Stories of werewolves can be found as far back as history has been written. These shapeshifter myths can be found all over the word from China to Iceland and Brazil to Haiti.
This humanoid creature of myth and folklore had the incredible ability to shapeshift. They are said to shift into the form of a wolf or a human-wolf-hybrid. Some legends have them being able to shift at will and others after being cursed, scratched or bitten.
Earliest Accounts of Werewolves
Some of the first accounts of werewolves come from Ancient Greek literature. Ovid, in the Metamorphoses, told of the Arcadian King, Lycaeon. King Lycaeon was visited by Zeus. Not believing him to be a true all-knowing god he decided to test Zeus by serving him human flesh in one of the many dishes served at a banquet in their honor. And not just any flesh — Lycaeon served up his own sons’ flesh. Yikes! His son Nyctimus was just one of 50, so I guess Lycaeon felt he had plenty more where that came from.
Unsurprisingly, this was not a very smart move… Murder and cannibalism was a major slight indeed. Upon discovering the tainted dish, Zeus changed King Lycaeon into a werewolf — since he obviously liked human flesh, the wolf form would be a more acceptable form to take part in such a vile activity. Zues then brought his son Nyctimus back to life
[Click on image to enlarge and read 😉 ]
Traditionally, there were several ways that a person could become a werewolf. In her book “Giants, Monsters, and Dragons,” folklorist Carol Rose notes that “In ancient Greece it was believed that a person could be transformed by eating the meat of a wolf that had been mixed with that of a human and that the condition was irreversible.” Centuries later other methods were said to create werewolves, including “being cursed, or by being conceived under a new moon, or by having eaten certain herbs, or by sleeping under the full moon on Friday, or by drinking water that has been touched by a wolf.” It was also widely believed that werewolves could dress in a special, protective wolf skin, though they had to remove it at daybreak and hide it. If their magical pelt was found and taken from the werewolf-in-human-form, he or she could be killed.
Clinical lycanthropy is a recognized medical condition in which a person believes himself or herself to be an animal, and indeed there are rare cases where people have claimed to be werewolves. For example in 1589, a German man named Peter Stubbe claimed to own a belt of wolf-skin that allowed him to change into a wolf: His body would bend into a lupine form; his teeth would multiply in his mouth; and he craved human blood.
Stubbe claimed to have killed at least a dozen people over 25 years — though his confession was made under difficult circumstances: After prolonged torture (including chunks of his flesh being ripped out with heated pinchers, and his limbs being crushed with stones) he was decapitated on Halloween 1589, and his headless body burned at the stake. There was no real evidence of his crimes other than his confession, and it seems likely that Stubbe was mentally ill and delusional.
Stubbe was far from alone. In the Middle Ages werewolves were thought to mostly be created by witches, and the two became closely associated. Just as tens of thousands of accused witches were put to death (usually in gruesome and sadistic ways), tens of thousands of accused werewolves were similarly dispatched.
Because lycanthropy was seen as a curse, werewolves were often thought of as victims as much as villains. The transformation from man to wolf was said to be tortuous (recall such scenes in the film “An American Werewolf in London”), and many sought cures for real and imagined symptoms. “Traditionally, there are three principal ways in which a werewolf can be scourged of his demons,” writes Ian Woodward in “The Werewolf Delusion.” “He may be cured medicinally and surgically; he may be exorcised; and, the most drastic, he may be shot with a special bullet” — typically a silver bullet. When the medicinal and surgical cures were attempted, they involved lots of bloodletting, vomiting, and vinegar drinking. In fact, Woodward notes, “So severe, so brutal, were the cures advocated by early medical practitioners that, not surprisingly, a great many werewolfic patients died by the hands of those who promised them salvation.”
Like vampires, werewolves have been around for millennia, and nothing short of a silver bullet is likely to stop it from being around millennia more.
No one can say with certainty at what point in history the myth of the werewolf originated. Historians typically point out that Greek mythology is the source of this myth.2) But Montague Summers, in his 1928’s widely acclaimed book The Werewolf, mentioned that the Greeks might have adopted the idea of lycanthropy from the ancient Phoenician cult. The cult originated in 1200 BC and had existed until 539 BC. With Summer’s claim and the cult’s age, taken together, we find the origin of the werewolf myth traces back a few thousand years. Origins aside, what’s more unique is how every culture has its own take on the werewolf legend. This mythological creature truly is an international historical mystery.
Norse mythology is comprised of sagas. When it comes to werewolfism, the Volsunga Saga from the thirteenth century particularly stands apart. This is because werewolf related stories have a prominent presence in this saga. (Read the most famous werewolf story in the Volsunga Saga of father and son here.)
One of the earliest mentions of the werewolf, predating Greek lycanthropy, was found in the Roman poet Virgil’s Eclogue 8, written in 37 BCE. He wrote that a man named Moeris could change himself into a werewolf using herbs and poisons, and could call ghosts from the graves.
A werewolf (from Old English: wer, “man”), man-wolf, or lycanthrope (Greek: λυκάνθρωπος, lykánthropos: λύκος, lykos, “wolf”, and ἄνθρωπος, anthrōpos, “human”) is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or a therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature, either purposely or after being placed under a curse or affliction (e.g. via a bite or scratch from another werewolf). Early sources for belief in lycanthropy are Petronius (27–66) and Gervase of Tilbury (1150–1228).
The werewolf is a widespread concept in European folklore, existing in many variants, which are related by a common development of a Christian interpretation of underlying European folklore developed during the medieval period. From the early modern period, werewolf beliefs also spread to the New World with colonialism. Belief in werewolves developed in parallel to the belief in witches, in the course of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Like the witchcraft trials as a whole, the trial of supposed werewolves emerged in what is now Switzerland (especially the Valais and Vaud) in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, peaking in the 17th and subsiding by the 18th century. The persecution of werewolves and the associated folklore is an integral part of the “witch-hunt” phenomenon, albeit a marginal one, accusations of werewolfery being involved in only a small fraction of witchcraft trials. During the early period, accusations of lycanthropy (transformation into a wolf) were mixed with accusations of wolf-riding or wolf-charming. The case of Peter Stumpp (1589) led to a significant peak in both interest in and persecution of supposed werewolves, primarily in French-speaking and German-speaking Europe. The phenomenon persisted longest in Bavaria and Austria, with persecution of wolf-charmers recorded until well after 1650, the final cases taking place in the early 18th century in Carinthia and Styria.
After the end of the witch-trials, the werewolf became of interest in folklore studies and in the emerging Gothic horror genre; werewolf fiction as a genre has pre-modern precedents in medieval romances (e.g. Bisclavret and Guillaume de Palerme) and developed in the 18th century out of the “semi-fictional” chap book tradition. The trappings of horror literature in the 20th century became part of the horror and fantasy genre of modern pop culture.
Werewolves cursed to be what they are, is a popular theme in a lot of stories.
In The Vampire Diaries, werewolves are born with the curse (activated when they kill someone). They can only change during the full moon.
Here’s a video clip from YouTube where Tyler Lockwood turns into a werewolf for the first time. Warning: it involves him breaking every bone in his body and is rather gruesome.
In the Twilight saga, the Quileutes are born with the shape-shifting gene. Whenever there are vampires in the area, the curse is activated and they get the ability to change into wolves at will.
Here’s an awesome video clip of two of the tribe turning into wolves.
Being scratched or bitten is also a scary way to be turned into a werewolf.
In Harry Potter, werewolves are created when a person is scratched or bitten by a werewolf. They are then cursed to turn into a mindless monster on the full moon.
Here’s a video clip from YouTube where Lupin turns into a werewolf.
In the TV series Teen Wolf, werewolves are created by being scratched or bitten. Though there are werewolf families that are born that way. They are controlled by the full moon, but they can also change at will.
As you can see from this pic of Derek, the werewolves here don’t fully turn into wolves – they get claws, a furry face and scary teeth.
A sure way to get rid of werewolves is to have wolfsbane at hand.
Wolf’s bane is perennial Alpine woodland wildflower and a member of the deadly aconite family. It grows to about 3 feet tall, spreads out in clumps and produces lovely spikes of ivory, green or bright yellow pitcher-shaped flowers from spring to midsummer. The bright green leaves are palmately shaped and deeply lobed and toothed.
A member of the aconite family, wolfsbane is highly toxic.
History and Folklore
Wolfsbane gets its name from the fact that it was once used to kills wolves. I have seen it reported that it was used to poison arrows when hunting wolves by the ancient Greeks and that it was used to poison meat left out by farmers.
Wolfsbane, aka Monkshood or Devil’s Helmet (aconitum) is one of the more magical and romantic-sounding poisons. It carries connotations of witch’s brews and wizardry. It often appears in fantasy novels and is rumored to turn people into werewolves. But it’s very real. And very nasty. People can be poisoned by simply touching the leaves of the plant, since it can be absorbed through the skin, and strong enough tincture can cause almost instantaneous death.
Pretty and deadly:
So I took what I liked from werewolf-lore and created my own version for my stories.
Werewolves (From the Origin of the Fae Page)
The first kind fully turn into wolves. They hunt and destroy Vampires. Their venom is toxic to the undead. They cannot turn others into wolves – they are born with the gene. Witches cursed several bloodlines to be wolves if they kill any living being. They also instantly get a mortal enemy in Vampires. They turn on the full moon.
The second kind of werewolf can turn at any time. They get claws and furry faces and bright eyes. Emotion triggers the transformation. So does the full moon. They turn others by biting humans. Not all survive the bite. They are constantly fighting other packs over territory.
Both kinds are susceptible to injury by silver.
Type 1 – Vampires.
Type 2 – Hunters from the Council (sees them as evil rats that need to be exterminated)
I then used the first type of werewolf in the story I wrote for a Wattpad competition (I mentioned the type of witches therein last week).
“The wolves came. Their eyes gleamed in the moonlight, their fur radiant in shadows. Surprised at their beauty, she let slip her hold on the spell protecting her as they surrounded the vampires.” – The Tree, Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Just so we all have a proper image of what the three main characters (or power players in this prison world) look like:
Karen – Phoebe Tonkin
Werewolf alpha – Tracy Ifeachor
Anton – Nathaniel Buzolic
I hope you enjoy reading this story. Comments can be left here or on Wattpad – I always appreciate feedback. Any werewolf stories you’d like to share? Did you know that there’s a theory that the Big Bad Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood was actually a werewolf? Which kind of werewolf is your favourite?