Chaos Reign Acadamy (Studies of Everything) : Forum : Werewolves


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A werewolf (also lycanthrope or wolfman) in folklore and mythology is a person who shapeshifts into a wolf, either purposely, by using magic, or after being placed under a curse. The medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury associated the transformation with the appearance of the full moon, but this concept was rarely associated with the werewolf until the idea was picked up by modern fiction writers. Most modern fiction agrees that a werewolf can be killed if shot by a silver bullet, although this was not a feature of folk legends. Werewolves are sometimes held to become vampires after death.[1]
Origins and variations of the word
The name most likely derives from Old English wer (or were) and wulf. The first part, wer, translates as "man" (in the sense of male human, not the race of humanity). It has cognates in several Germanic languages including Gothic wair, Old High German wer and Old Norse var, as well as in other Indo-European languages, such as Latin vir, Irish fear, Lithuanian vyras and Welsh gŵr, which have the same meaning. The second half, wulf, is the ancestor of modern English "wolf"; in some cases it also had the general meaning "beast". An alternative etymology derives the first part from Old English weri (to wear); the full form in this case would be glossed as wearer of wolf skin. Related to this interpretation is Old Norse ulfhednar, which denoted lupine equivalents of the bearlike berserkr who were said to wear a bear skin into battle.
Yet other sources derive the word from warg-wolf [citation needed], where warg (or later werg and wero) is cognate with Old Norse vargr, meaning "rogue," "outlaw" or, euphemistically, "wolf". A Vargulf was the kind of wolf that slaughtered many members of a flock or herd, but ate only a little of the kill. This was a serious problem for herders, who had to somehow destroy the individual wolf that had run mad before it destroyed their entire flock or herd. They would then often hang the wolf's hide in the bedroom of a young infant, believing it to give the baby supernatural powers. Warg by itself was used in Old English for this specific kind of wolf (see J. R. R. Tolkien's book The Hobbit) and for what would now be called a serial killer. Possibly related is the fact that, in Norse society, outlaws (who could be killed at will with no legal repercussions and were forbidden to receive aid) were often referred to as vargr; that is, wolf.
The Greek term Lycanthropy (a compound of which the first part derives from the same Proto-Indo-European root for "wolf", *wlkwo-, as the English word) is also commonly used for the "wolf - man" transformation. The term for the metamorphosis of people into animals in general, rather than wolves specifically, is therianthropy (therianthrope means beast-man). The term turnskin or turncoat (Latin: versipellis,[2] Russian : oboroten, O. Norse: hamrammr) is sometimes also used. The French name for a werewolf, sometimes used in English, is loup-garou, from the Latin noun lupus meaning wolf.[3] The second element is thought to be from Old French garoul meaning 'werewolf.' This in turn is most likely from Frankish *wer-wulf meaning man-wolf.[4]
History of the werewolf
Many European countries and cultures have stories of werewolves, including France (loup-garou), Greece (lycanthropos), Spain (hombre lobo), Bulgaria (varkolak, vulkodlak), Czech Republic (vlkodlak), Serbia (vukodlak), Russia (oboroten' ), Ukraine (vovkulak(a), vurdalak(a), vovkun, pereverten' ), Croatia (vukodlak), Poland (wilkołak), Romania (v�rcolac), Scotland (werewolf, wulver), England (werewolf), Ireland (faoladh or conriocht), Germany (Werwolf), Holland (weerwolf), Denmark/Sweden/Norway (Varulv), Norway/Iceland (kveld-ulf,var�lfur), Galicia(lobis�n), Portugal/Brazil (lobisomem), Lithuania (vilkolakis and vilkatlakis), Latvia (vilkatis and vilkacis), Andorra (home llop), Estonia (libahunt),Finland ("ihmissusi", "vironsusi"), and Italy (lupo mannaro). In northern Europe, there are also tales about people changing into animals including bears and wolves.
Werewolves and vampires evolved from the same idea: The Bacchi. In Roman mythology, the Bacchi were servants of the god Bacchus. They were beautiful women who drank human blood and could transform into wolves at will. Bacchi were created when young women were bitten by existing Bacchi. Over time, other cultures separated the Bacchi into two aspects: werewolves and vampires.
In Norse mythology, the legends of ulfhednar mentioned in Vatnsd�la saga, Haraldskv��i and the V�lsunga saga may be a source of the werewolf myths. These were vicious fighters analogous to the better known berserker, dressed in bear hides and said to channel the spirits of these animals, enhancing their own power and ferocity in battle; they were immune to pain and killed viciously in battle, like a wild animal. They are both closely associated with Odin.
In Latvian mythology, the Vilkacis was a person changed into a wolf-like monster, though the Vilkacis was occasionally beneficial.[citation needed] A closely related set of myths are the skin-walkers. These myths probably have a common base in Proto-Indo-European society, where the class of young, unwed warriors were apparently associated with wolves.
Shape-shifters similar to werewolves are common in myths from all over the world, though most of them involve animal forms other than wolves. See lycanthropy and therianthropy for more information.
In Greek mythology the story of Lycaon supplies one of the earliest examples of a werewolf legend. According to one form of it Lycaon was transformed into a wolf as a result of eating human flesh; one of those who were present at periodical sacrifice on Mount Lycaon was said to suffer a similar fate. The Roman Pliny the Elder, quoting Euanthes,[5] says that a man of Anthus' family was selected by lot and brought to a lake in Arcadia, where he hung his clothing on an ash tree and swam across. This resulted in his being transformed into a wolf, and he wandered in this shape for nine years. Then, if he had attacked no human being, he was at liberty to swim back and resume his former shape. Probably the two stories are identical, though we hear nothing of participation in the Lycaean sacrifice by the descendant of Antaeus. Herodotus in his Histories[6] tells us that the Neuri, a tribe he places to the north-east of Scythia, were annually transformed for a few days, and Virgil is familiar with transformation of human beings into wolves.[7] In the novel Satyricon, written about year 60 by Gaius Petronius, one of the characters recites a story about a man who turns into a wolf during a full moon.
There are women, so the Armenian belief runs, who in consequence of deadly sins are condemned to pass seven years in the form of a wolf.{The Fables of Mkhitar Gosh (New York, 1987), translated with an introduction by R. Bedrosian, edited by Elise Antreassian and illustrated by Anahid Janjigian} A spirit comes to such a woman and brings her a wolf's skin. He orders her to put it on, and no sooner has she done this than the most frightful wolfish cravings make their appearance and soon get the upper hand. Her better nature conquered, she makes a meal of her own children, one by one, then of her relatives' children according to the degree of relationship, and finally the children of strangers begin to fall as prey to her. She wanders forth only at night, and doors and locks spring open at her approach. When morning draws near she returns to human form and removes her wolf skin. In these cases the transformation was involuntary or virtually so. But side by side with this belief in involuntary metamorphosis, we find the belief that human beings can change themselves into animals at will and then resume their own form.
France in particular seems to have been infested with werewolves during the 16th century, and the consequent trials were very numerous. In some of the cases � e.g. those of the Gandillon family in the Jura, the tailor of Chalons and Roulet in Angers, all occurring in the year 1598 � there was clear evidence against the accused of murder and cannibalism, but none of association with wolves; in other cases, as that of Gilles Garnier in Dole in 1573, there was clear evidence against some wolf, but none against the accused. Yet while this lycanthropy fever, both of suspectors and of suspected, was at its height, it was decided in the case of Jean Grenier at Bordeaux in 1603 that lycanthropy was nothing more than an insane delusion. From this time the loup-garou gradually ceased to be regarded as a dangerous heretic, and fell back into his pre-Christian position of being simply a "man-wolf-fiend".
Some werewolf lore in France is based on documented events. The Beast of G�vaudan was a creature that terrorized the general area of the former province of G�vaudan in south-central France (it is now called Loz�re). From the years 1764 to 1767 some unknown creature (perhaps human) killed upwards of 80 men, women, and children. It was described as a giant wolf by the sole survivor of the attacks. The attacks ceased after several wolves were killed in the area. A film called Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) presented a highly fictionalized account of this story.
The lubins or lupins of France were usually female and shy in contrast to the aggressive loup-garous.[citation needed]
In Prussia, Livonia and Lithuania, according to the bishops Olaus Magnus and Majolus, the werewolves were in the 16th century far more destructive than "true and natural wolves", and their heterodoxy appears from the Catholic bishops' assertion that they formed "an accursed college" of those "desirous of innovations contrary to the divine law".
The wolf was still extant in England in 1600, but had become extinct by 1680. At the beginning of the 17th century the punishment of witchcraft was still zealously prosecuted by James I of England, and that pious monarch[8] regarded "warwoolfes" as victims of delusion induced by "a natural superabundance of melancholic".
Many of the werewolves in European tradition were most innocent and God-fearing persons, who suffered through the witchcraft of others, or simply from an unhappy fate, and who as wolves behaved in a truly touching fashion, fawning upon and protecting their benefactors. In Marie de France's poem Bisclaveret (c. 1200), the nobleman Bisclavret, for reasons not described in the lai, had to transform into a wolf every week. When his treacherous wife stole his clothing, needed to restore his human form, he escaped the king's wolf hunt by imploring the king for mercy, and accompanied the king thereafter. His behaviour at court was so gentle and harmless than when his wife and her new husband appeared at court, his attack on them was taken as evidence of reason to hate them, and the truth was revealed. Others of this sort were the hero of William and the Werewolf (translated from French into English about 1350), and the numerous princes and princesses, knights and ladies, who appear temporarily in beast form in the German fairy tales, or M�rchen. See Snow White and Rose Red, where the tame bear is really a bewitched prince, and The Golden Bird where the talking fox is also a man.
Indeed, the power of transforming others into wild beasts was attributed not only to malignant sorcerers, but also to Christian saints. Omnes angeli, boni et mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra ("All angels, good and bad have the power of transmutating our bodies") was the dictum of St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Patrick transformed Vereticus, a king in Wales, into a wolf; and St. Natalis cursed an illustrious Irish family with the result that each member of it was doomed to be a wolf for seven years. In other tales the divine agency is still more direct, while in Russia, again, men are supposed to become werewolves through incurring the wrath of the devil.
In the late 1990s, a string of man-eating wolf attacks were reported in Uttar Pradesh, India. Frightened people claimed, among other things, that the wolves were werewolves.
Becoming a werewolf
Historical legends describe a wide variety of methods for becoming a werewolf. One of the simplest was the removal of clothing and putting on a belt made of wolf skin, probably a substitute for the assumption of an entire animal skin which also is frequently described.[9] In other cases the body is rubbed with a magic salve.[10] To drink water out of the footprint of the animal in question or to drink from certain enchanted streams were also considered effectual modes of accomplishing metamorphosis.[11] Olaus Magnus says that the Livonian werewolves were initiated by draining a cup of specially prepared beer and repeating a set formula. Ralston in his Songs of the Russian People gives the form of incantation still familiar in Russia. Another theory is to be born on the 24th of December, and the child shall be born a werewolf. It is also said that the seventh son of the seventh son will become a werewolf. Another (and the most common modern belief) is to be directly bitten by a werewolf, where the saliva enters the blood stream.
In Galician, Portuguese and Brazilian folklore, it is the seventh of the sons (but sometimes the seventh child, a boy, after a line of six daughters) who becomes a werewolf.[12] In Portugal, the seventh daughter is supposed to become a witch and the seventh son a werewolf; the seventh son often gets the christian name "Bento" (Portuguese form of "Benedict", meaning "blessed") as this is believed to prevent him from becoming a werewolf later in life. In Brazil, the seventh daughter become a headless (replaced with fire) horse called "Mula-sem-cabe�a". The belief in the curse of the seventh son was so extended in Northern Argentina (where the werewolf is called the "lobiz�n"), that seventh sons were abandoned, ceded in adoption or killed. A law from 1920 decreed that the President of Argentina is the godfather of every seventh son. Thus, the State gives him a gold medal in his baptism and a scholarship until his 21st year. This ended the abandonments, but it is still traditional that the President godfathers seventh sons.
Various methods also existed for removing the beast-shape. The simplest was the act of the enchanter (operating either on himself or on a victim), and another was the removal of the animal belt or skin. To kneel in one spot for a hundred years, to be reproached with being a werewolf, to be saluted with the sign of the cross, or addressed thrice by baptismal name, to be struck three blows on the forehead with a knife, or to have at least three drops of blood drawn have also been mentioned as possible cures. Many European folk tales include throwing an iron object over or at the werewolf, to make it reveal its human form.
In other cases the transformation was supposed to be accomplished by Satanic agency voluntarily submitted to, and that for the most loathsome ends, in particular for the gratification of a craving for human flesh. "The werewolves," writes Richard Verstegan (Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, 1628), "are certayne sorcerers, who having annoynted their bodies with an ointment which they make by the instinct of the devil, and putting on a certayne inchaunted girdle, does not only unto the view of others seem as wolves, but to their own thinking have both the shape and nature of wolves, so long as they wear the said girdle. And they do dispose themselves as very wolves, in worrying and killing, and most of humane creatures." Such were the views about lycanthropy current throughout the continent of Europe when Verstegan wrote. The ointments and salves in question may have contained hallucinogenic agents.
Becoming a werewolf simply by being bitten by another werewolf as a form of contagion is common in modern fiction, but rare in legend, in which werewolf attacks seldom left the victim alive to transform.
Russian shapeshifting spell
According to The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould, a Russian spell to transform into a werewolf ("Oborot" in the text) is as follows:
� He who desires to become an oborot, let him seek in the forest a hewn-down tree; let him stab it with a small copper knife, and walk round the tree, repeating the following incantation: On the sea, on the ocean, on the island, on Bujan,On the empty pasture gleams the moon, on an ashstock lyingIn a green wood, in a gloomy vale.Towards the stock wandereth a shaggy wolf,Horned cattle seeking for his sharp white fangs;But the wolf enters not the forest,But the wolf dives not into the shadowy vale,Moon, moon, gold-horned moon,Check the flight of bullets, blunt the hunters' knives,Break the shepherds' cudgels,Cast wild fear upon all cattle,On men, all creeping things,That they may not catch the grey wolf,That they may not rend his warm skin!My word is binding, more binding than sleep,More binding than the promise of a hero!Then he springs thrice over the tree and runs into the forest, transformed into a wolf. �

Theories of origin
Many authors have put forward the idea that stories of werewolves (and vampires) may have been used to explain serial killings in less enlightened ages. This theory is given credence by the tendency of some modern serial killers to indulge in practices (such as cannibalism, mutilation and cyclic attacks) commonly associated with the attack of a werewolf. The idea (although not the terminology) is well explored in Sabine Baring-Gould's seminal work The Book of Werewolves.
A recent theory has been proposed to explain werewolf episodes in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ergot, which causes a form of foodborne illness, is a fungus that grows in place of rye grains in wet growing seasons after very cold winters. Ergot poisoning usually affects whole towns or at least poor areas of towns and results in hallucinations, mass hysteria and paranoia, as well as convulsions and sometimes death. (LSD can be derived from ergot.) Ergot poisoning has been proposed as both a cause of an individual believing that he or she is a werewolf and of a whole town believing that they had seen a werewolf. However, this theory is controversial and not well accepted.
Some modern researchers have tried to use conditions such as rabies, hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth over the entire body) or porphyria (an enzyme disorder with symptoms including hallucinations and paranoia) as an explanation for werewolf beliefs. Congenital erythropoietic porphyria has clinical features which include photosensitivity (so sufferers only go out at night), hairy hands and face, poorly healing skin, pink urine, and reddish colour to the teeth.
There is also a rare mental disorder called clinical lycanthropy, in which an affected person has a delusional belief that he or she is transforming into another animal, although not always a wolf or werewolf.
Others believe werewolf legends arose as a part of shamanism and totem animals in primitive and nature-based cultures.[citation needed] The term therianthropy has been adopted to describe a spiritual concept in which the individual believes he or she has the spirit or soul, in whole or in part, of a non-human animal.
Werewolves in modern fiction
The process of transmogrification is portrayed in many films and works of literature to be painful. The resulting wolf is typically cunning but merciless, and prone to killing and eating people without compunction regardless of the moral character of the person when human. The form a werewolf takes is not always an ordinary wolf, but is often anthropomorphic or may be otherwise larger and more powerful than an ordinary wolf. Many modern werewolves are also supposedly immune to damage caused by ordinary weapons, being vulnerable only to silver objects (usually a bullet or blade). This negative reaction to silver is sometimes so strong that the mere touch of the metal on a werewolf's skin will cause burns. Current-day werewolf fiction almost exclusively involves lycanthropy being either a hereditary condition or being transmitted like a disease by the bite of another werewolf.
More recently, the portrayal of werewolves has taken an even more sympathetic turn in some circles. With the rise of environmentalism and other back-to-nature ideals, the werewolf has come to be seen by some authors as a representation of humanity allied more closely with nature. Some recent fiction also discards the idea that the wolf form overtakes the human mind, and instead postulates that the wolf form can be "used" at will, with the lycanthrope retaining their human thought processes and intelligence. This is (in some circles) called bimorphic.
As a side note, the general belief that silver can be used to defend yourself against a werewolf comes from the story The Beast of G�vaudan from 1764 to 1767. A magician named Jean Chastel blessed a silver bullet and seriously wounded the werewolf. Even though it did not die it had been shown that silver had become a powerful tool to aid the humans.
Note that an alternative explanation for the "silver" weakness is that it has been a mistranslation of "silvered metal" which actually refers to quicksilver (mercury), an injection of which was thought to be fatal to werewolves (and, of course, to other living beings). However, because silver and wolves (i.e. nocturnal creatures) are both associated with the moon, the silver interpretation is likely to endure.
Examples of werewolves in recent fiction:
� In C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, werewolves are among the creatures present at the slaying of Aslan in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", and a werewolf, along with a hag and the dwarf Nikabrik, unsuccessfully tries to convince Caspian's side to resurrect the White Witch in "Prince Caspian".
� Eddie Quist in Joe Dantes 1980 horror film The Howling.
� Remus Lupin, Fenrir Greyback and others in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
� Scott Howard, who appears in both the 1985 film Teen Wolf (as played by Michael J. Fox), as well as the cartoon series going by the same name.
� Todd Howard, the cousin of the protagonist of the original Teen Wolf; as played by Jason Bateman in the 1987 sequel Teen Wolf Too.
� Jon Talbain is a martial artist in the Darkstalkers video game series. His personal story revolves around his struggle for self-control from his bestial nature, and his search for a permanent solution to his lycanthropy.
� Sergeant Delphine Angua von �berwald, and the rest of the von �berwald family, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
� Lupine, from Reaper Man, also by Terry Pratchett, though in his case, the transformation was from wolf into human, instead of human into wolf.
� Velkan Valerias and Gabriel Van Helsing in the movie Van Helsing.
� Captain Hans G�nsche from the manga Hellsing.
� Vivian and many other characters in Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause.
� Oz in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It should be noted that the "wolf" form was rarely used in episodes, and most action took place off-screen, being alluded to the next day.The original costume was more like a wolf which was only used in the first episode, "Phases", while in the third and fourth seasons, the costume gained the look of an ape rather than a wolf.
� An alien (in human form) in Doctor Who episode Tooth and Claw.
� Kelley Armstrong has written several books that feature Elena, a female werewolf, and her Pack. Although the Pack are the "good guys", non-Pack werewolves are usually the antagonists.
� Billy Borden and the Alphas in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files
� The movie Underworld (2003) and its sequel Underworld: Evolution (2006) portrays a hidden 1,000 year-old conflict between Lycans (werewolves) and Vampires.
� Jacob Black and friends in the novel New Moon by Stephenie Meyer.
� Kern in Charles de Lint's novel Wolf Moon
� Adam and others in Patricia Briggs' Moon Called
� An episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command has people transforming into mechanical monsters known as "wirewolves".
� Online RPG Adventure Quest allows you to become a lycan.
� In Treehouse of Horror X (1999) Ned Flanders turns into a werewolf (non-canon in The Simpsons).
� In 2000, the film Ginger Snaps, about a teen-aged werewolf and her sister was released. It was later followed by a sequel, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (released 2004), and a prequel, Ginger Snaps Back (released 2005).
� In the Nintendo game the The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link, the main protagonist, is a bimorphic werewolf for most of the game. But is similar to a werewolf for he transforms at twilight.
� Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake book series has many cases of werewolves and other shapeshifters
� David Naughton in John Landis' American Werewolf in London
� Tom Everett Scott in An American Werewolf in Paris
� Jack Nicholson plays as Will Randall in the 1994 Thriller "Wolf" where Will is bitten by a strange wolf creature and he himself slowly turns into a werewolf.
� Akira Yamabuki in the manga "Crescent Moon"
� Darren Shan's Demonata series
� White Wolf, Inc.'s retired Role Playing Game Werewolf: the Apocalypse in which the players take on the persona of Werewolves fighting to save their Goddess Gaia from an appending apocalypse. In White Wolf, Inc.'s game the characters are the "good guys" in an honorable society fighting a losing battle.
� White Wolf, Inc.'s recent Role Playing Game Werewolf: the Forsaken in which the players take on werewolves in a world with no black or white.
� In Konami's Castlevania series, the Werewolf is a reacurring enemy who has great physical abilities.