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WEREWOLVES

Basic knowledge-

A werewolf or werwolves, is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely, by being bitten or scratched by another werewolf, or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon, as popularly noted by the medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury, and perhaps in earlier times among the ancient Greeks through the writings of Petronius.  Not to be mistakened by its brother-curse: The Lycathrope ( abbreviated Lycan) which is a human with the ability to shape-shift into a wolf and back again.  Either by force or will.

Werewolves might have first been spotted at night by citizens and villagers who then speak of it only appearing on the night of a coincidencial full moon.  Indeed perhaps within the "Werewolf gene" or somewhat biological reaction that creates the tightening of the skin and excessive hair growth would be a reaction to sudden bright rays of light entering the retina, sun rays or moon rays, UV rays or milder rays it is unsure.  But some reation perhaps even by will.  Would enter the chemical compounds inside the body of the person causing a temporary mutation of the body and somewhat the mind.

Werewolves are often attributed super-human strength and senses, far beyond those of both wolves or men. The werewolf is generally held as a European character, although its lore spread through the world in later times. Shape-shifters, similar to werewolves, are common in tales from all over the world, most notably amongst the Native Americans, though most of them involve animal forms other than wolves.

Werewolves are a frequent subject of modern fictional books, although fictional werewolves have been attributed traits distinct from those of original folklore, most notably vulnerability to silver bullets. Werewolves continue to endure in modern culture and fiction, with books, films and television shows cementing the werewolf's stance as a dominant figure in horror.


Etymology-

The word werewolf is thought to derive from Old English wer (or were)— pronounced variously as /'w??r, 'w??r, 'w?r/— and wulf. The first part, wer, translates as "man" (in the specific sense of male human, not the race of humanity generally). It has cognates in several Germanic languages including Gothic wair, Old High German wer, and Old Norse verr, as well as in other Indo-European languages, such as Sanskrit 'vira', Latin vir, Irish fear, Lithuanian vyras, and Welsh gwr, 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 berserker, said to wear a bearskin in battle.

Yet other sources derive the word from warg-wolf, where warg (or later werg and wero) is cognate with Old Norse vargr, meaning "rogue," "outlaw," or, euphemistically, "wolf".[1] A Vargulf was the kind of wolf that slaughtered many members of a flock or herd but ate little of the kill. This was a serious problem for herders, who had to somehow destroy the rogue wolf before it destroyed the entire flock or herd. The term Warg was used in Old English for this kind of wolf. Possibly related is the fact that, in Norse society, an outlaw (who could be murdered with no legal repercussions and was forbidden to receive aid) was typically called vargr, or "wolf."

Description and common attributes-

Werewolves were said to bear tell-tale traits in European folklore. These included the meeting of both eyebrows at the bridge of the nose, curved fingernails, low set ears and a swinging stride. One method of identifying a werewolf in its human form was to cut the flesh of the accused, under the pretense that fur would be seen within the wound. A Russian superstition recalls a werewolf can be recognised by bristles under the tongue.[6] The appearance of a werewolf in its animal form varies from culture to culture, though they are most commonly portrayed as being indistinguishable from ordinary wolves save for the fact that they have no tail (a trait thought characteristic of witches in animal form), and that they retain human eyes and voice. After returning to their human forms, werewolves are usually documented as becoming weak, debilitated and undergoing painful nervous depression.[6] Many historical werewolves were written to have suffered severe melancholia and manic depression, being bitterly conscious of their crimes.[6] One universally reviled trait in medieval Europe was the werewolf's habit of devouring recently buried corpses, a trait which is documented extensively, particularly in the Annales Medico-psychologiques in the 19th century.[6] Fennoscandian werewolves were usually old women who possessed poison coated claws and had the ability to paralyse cattle and children with their gaze.[6] Serbian vulkodlaks traditionally had the habit of congregating annually in the winter months, where they would strip off their wolf skins and hang them from trees. They would then get a hold of another vulkodlaks skin and burn it, releasing the vulkodlak from whom the skin came from its curse.[6] The Haitian jé-rouges typically try to trick mothers into giving away their children voluntarily by waking them at night and asking their permission to take their child, to which the disoriented mother may either reply yes or no.[6]

Vulnerabilities-

Most modern fiction describes werewolves as vulnerable to silver weapons and highly resistant to other attacks. This feature does not appear in stories about werewolves before the 19th century. (The claim that the Beast of Gévaudan, an 18th century wolf or wolf-like creature, was shot by a silver bullet appears to have been introduced by novelists retelling the story from 1935 onwards and not in earlier versions.[10])

Unlike vampires, they are not generally thought to be harmed by religious artifacts such as crucifixes and holy water. In many countries, rye and mistletoe were considered effective safeguards against werewolf attacks.[citation needed] Mountain ash is also considered effective, with one Belgian superstition stating that no house was safe unless under the shade of a mountain ash.[6] In some legends, werewolves have an aversion to wolfsbane

Becoming a werewolf-

Various methods for becoming a werewolf have been reported, one of the simplest being the removal of clothing and putting on a belt made of wolfskin, probably as a substitute for the assumption of an entire animal skin (which also is frequently described).[7] In other cases, the body is rubbed with a magic salve.[7] To drink rainwater out of the footprint of the animal in question or to drink from certain enchanted streams were also considered effectual modes of accomplishing metamorphosis.[8] The 16th century Swedish writer 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.

In Italy, France and Germany, it was said that a man could turn into a werewolf if he, on a certain Wednesday or Friday, slept outside on a summer night with the full moon shining directly on his face.[6]

In other cases, the transformation was supposedly accomplished by Satanic allegiance for the most loathsome ends, often for the sake of sating 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 phenomenon of repercussion, the power of animal metamorphosis, or of sending out a familiar, real or spiritual, as a messenger, and the supernormal powers conferred by association with such a familiar, are also attributed to the magician, male and female, all the world over; and witch superstitions are closely parallel to, if not identical with, lycanthropic beliefs, the occasional involuntary character of lycanthropy being almost the sole distinguishing feature. In another direction the phenomenon of repercussion is asserted to manifest itself in connection with the bush-soul of the West African and the nagual of Central America; but though there is no line of demarcation to be drawn on logical grounds, the assumed power of the magician and the intimate association of the bush-soul or the nagual with a human being are not termed lycanthropy. Nevertheless it will be well to touch on both these beliefs here.

The curse of lycanthropy was also considered by some scholars as being a divine punishment. Werewolf literature shows many examples of God or saints allegedly cursing those who invoked their wrath with werewolfism. Those who were excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church were also said to become werewolves.[6]

The power of transforming others into wild beasts was attributed not only to malignant sorcerers, but to Christian saints as well. 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 was said to have transformed the Welsh king Vereticus into a wolf; Natalis supposedly cursed an illustrious Irish family whose members were each doomed to be a wolf for seven years. In other tales the divine agency is even more direct, while in Russia, again, men supposedly became werewolves when incurring the wrath of the Devil.

A notable exception to the association of Lycanthropy and the Devil, comes from a rare and lesser known account of an 80-year-old man named Thiess. In 1692, in Jurgenburg, Livonia, Thiess testified under oath that he and other werewolves were the Hounds of God.[9] He claimed they were warriors who went down into hell to do battle with witches and demons. Their efforts ensured that the Devil and his minions did not carry off the gran from local failed crops down to hell. Thiess was steadfast in his assertions, claiming that werewolves in Germany and Russia also did battle with the devil's minions in their own versions of hell, and insisted that when werewolves died, their souls were welcomed into heaven as reward for their service. Thiess was ultimately sentenced to ten lashes for Idolatry and superstitious belief.

A distinction is often made between voluntary and involuntary werewolves. The former are generally thought to have made a pact, usually with the Devil, and morph into werewolves at night to indulge in nefarious acts. Involuntary werewolves, on the other hand, are werewolves by an accident of birth or health. In some cultures, individuals born during a new moon or suffering from epilepsy were considered likely to be werewolves.

Becoming a werewolf simply by being bitten by another werewolf as a form of contagion is common in modern horror fiction, but this kind of transmission is rare in legend, unlike the case in vampirism.[6]

Even if the denotation of lycanthropy is limited to the wolf-metamorphosis of living human beings, the beliefs classed together under this head are far from uniform, and the term is somewhat capriciously applied. The transformation may be temporary or permanent; the were-animal may be the man himself metamorphosed; may be his double whose activity leaves the real man to all appearance unchanged; may be his soul, which goes forth seeking whom it may devour, leaving its body in a state of trance; or it may be no more than the messenger of the human being, a real animal or a familiar spirit, whose intimate connection with its owner is shown by the fact that any injury to it is believed, by a phenomenon known as repercussion, to cause a corresponding injury to the human being.

Rituals-

Ritual #1:

 Drawing a circle from seven to nine feet in radius, in the center of which a wood fire is kindled- The wood selected being black poplar, pine or larch never ash. A fumigation in an iron vessel, heated over the fire, is then made out of a mixture of any four or five of the following substances: Note: The substances involved in this ritual have been withheld by The Werewolf Page because of the harm that may caused by obtaining and/or ingesting them. As soon as the vessel is placed over the fire so that it can heat, the person ho would invoke the spirit that can bestow upon him the property of metamorphosing into a wolf kneels within the circle, and prays a preliminary impromptu prayer. He then resorts to an incantation.

"Hail, Hail, Hail, great wolf spirit, Hail! A boon I ask thee, mighty shade. Within this circle I have made. Make me a werewolf strong and bold. The terror alike of young and old. Grant me a figure tall and spare; The speed of the elk, the claws of the bear; The poison of snakes, the wit of the fox; The stealth of the wolf, the strength of the ox; The jaws of the tiger, the teeth of the shark; The eyes of a cat that sees in the dark; Make me climb like a monkey, scent like a dog; Swim like a fish, and eat like a hog. Haste, Haste, Haste, lonely spirit, Haste! Here, wan and drear, magic spell making, Findest thou me - shaking, quaking. Softly fan me as I lie. And thy mystic touch apply. Touch apply, and I swear that when I die, When I die, I will serve thee evermore, Evermore, in grey wolf land, cold and raw."

The incantation concluded, the supplicant then kisses the ground three times, and advances to the fire, takes off the iron vessel, and whirling it smoking round his head, cries out;

"Make me a werewolf! Make me a xxx-eater! Make me a werewolf! Make me a xxxxx-eater! Make me a werewolf! Make me a xxxxx-eater! I pine for blood! xxxxx blood! Give it to me! Give it to me tonight! Great Wolf Spirit! Give it to me, and heart, body, and soul, I am yours!"

The trees begin to rustle, and the wind begins to moan, and out of the sudden darkness that envelops everything glows the tall, cylindrical, pillar-like phantom of the Unknown, seven or eight feet in height. It sometimes develops further, and assumes the form of a tall, thin monstrosity, half human and half animal, grey and nude, with very long legs and arms, and the feet and claws of a wolf, but surrounded with the hair of a women, that falls about its bare shoulders in yellow ringlets. It has wolf’s ears and a wolf’s mouth. Its aquiline nose and pale eyes are fashioned like those of a human being, but animated with an expression too diabolically malignant to proceed from anything but the super-physical. It seldom ever speaks, but either utters some extraordinary noise-a prolonged howl that seems to proceed from the bowels of the earth, a piercing, harrowing whine, or a low laugh of hellish glee, any of which sounds may be taken for its assent to the favour asked. It only remains visible for a minute at the most, and then disappears with startling abruptness. The supplicant is now a werewolf. He undergoes his first metamorphoses into wolf form the following evening at sunset, reassuming his human shape at dawn; and so on, day after day, till his death, when he may once more metamorphose either from man form or wolf form, or vice versa, his corpse retaining which ever form assumed at the moment of death.

Remedies-

Various methods have existed for removing the werewolf form. In antiquity, the Ancient Greeks and Romans believed in the power of exhaustion in curing people of lycanthropy. The victim would be subjected to long periods of physical activity in the hope of being purged of the malady. This practice stemmed from the fact that many alleged werewolves would be left feeling weak and debilitated after committing depredations.[6]

In medieval Europe, traditionally, there are three methods one can use to cure a victim of werewolfism; medicinally, surgically or by exorcism. However, many of the cures advocated by medieval medical practitioners proved fatal to the patients. A Sicilian belief of Arabic origin holds that a werewolf can be cured of its ailment by striking it on the forehead or scalp with a knife. Another belief from the same culture involves the piercing of the werewolf's hands with nails. Sometimes, less extreme methods were used. In the German lowland of Schleswig-Holstein, a werewolf could be cured if one were to simply address it three times by its Christian name, while one Danish belief holds that simply scolding a werewolf will cure it.[6] Conversion to Christianity is also a common method of removing werewolfism in the medieval period. A devotion to St. Hubert has also been cited as both cure for and protection from lycanthropes.

Origins of werewolf beliefs-

Many authors have speculated that werewolf and vampire legends may have been used to explain serial killings in less rational ages. This theory is given credence by the tendency of some modern serial killers to indulge in practices commonly associated with werewolves, such as cannibalism, mutilation, and cyclic attacks. The idea is well explored in Sabine Baring-Gould's work The Book of Werewolves.

Until the 20th century, wolf attacks on humans were an occasional, but widespread feature of life in Europe.[22] Some scholars have suggested that it was inevitable that wolves, being the most feared predators in Europe, were projected into the folklore of evil shapeshifters. This is said to be corroborated by the fact that areas devoid of wolves typically use different kinds of predator to fill the niche; werehyenas in Africa, weretigers in India,[6] as well as werepumas ("runa uturunco")[23][24] and werejaguars ("yaguaraté-abá" or "tigre-capiango")[25][26] of southern South America.

In his Man into Wolf (1948), anthropologist Robert Eisler drew attention to the fact that many Indo-European tribal names and some modern European surnames mean "wolf" or "wolf-men". This is argued by Eisler to indicate that the European transition from fruit gathering to predatory hunting was a conscious process, simultaneously accompanied by an emotional upheaval still remembered in humanity's subconscious, which in turn became reflected in the later medieval superstition of werewolves.[27]

Some modern researchers have tried to explain the reports of werewolf behaviour with recognised medical conditions. Dr Lee Illis of Guy's Hospital in London wrote a paper in 1963 entitled On Porphyria and the Aetiology of Werewolves, in which he argues that historical accounts on werewolves could have in fact been referring to victims of congenital porphyria, stating how the symptoms of photosensitivity, reddish teeth and psychosis could have been grounds for accusing a sufferer of being a werewolf. This is however argued against by Woodward, who points out how mythological werewolves were almost invariably portrayed as resembling true wolves, and that their human forms were rarely physically conspicuous as porphyria victims.[6] Others have pointed out the possibility of historical werewolves having been sufferers of hypertrichosis, a hereditary condition manifesting itself in excessive hair growth. However, Woodward dismissed the possibility, as the rarity of the disease ruled it out from happening on a large scale, as werewolf cases were in medieval Europe.[6] People suffering from Downs Syndrome have been suggested by some scholars to have been possible originators of werewolf myths.[20] Woodward suggested rabies as the origin of werewolf beliefs, claiming remarkable similarities between the symptoms of that disease and some of the legends. Woodward focused on the idea that being bitten by a werewolf could result in the victim turning into one, which suggested the idea of a transmittable disease like rabies.[6] However, the idea that lycanthropy could be transmitted in this way is not part of the original myths and legends and only appears in relatively recent beliefs.

Vampiric connections-

In Medieval Europe, the corpses of some people executed as werewolves were cremated rather than buried in order to prevent them from being resurrected as vampires.[6] Before the end of the 19th century, the Greeks believed that the corpses of werewolves, if not destroyed, would return to life as vampires in the form of wolves or hyenas which prowled battlefields, drinking the blood of dying soldiers. In the same vein, in some rural areas of Germany, Poland and Northern France, it was once believed that people who died in mortal sin came back to life as blood-drinking wolves. This differs from conventional werewolfery, where the creature is a living being rather than an undead apparition. These vampiric werewolves would return to their human corpse form at daylight. They were dealt with by decapitation with a spade and exorcism by the parish priest. The head would then be thrown into a stream, where the weight of its sins were thought to weigh it down. Sometimes, the same methods used to dispose of ordinary vampires would be used.[6] The vampire was also linked to the werewolf in East European countries, particularly Bulgaria, Serbia and Slovakia. In Serbia, the werewolf and vampire are known collectively as one creature; Vulkodlak.[6] In Hungarian and Balkan mythology, many werewolves were said to be vampiric witches who became wolves in order to suck the blood of men born under the full moon in order to preserve their health. In their human form, these werewolves were said to have pale, sunken faces, hollow eyes, swollen lips and flabby arms.[6] The Haitian jé-rouges differ from traditional European werewolves by their habit of actively trying to spread their lycanthropic condition to others, much like vampires.[6]  But these cases are in confliction with some belive that Werewolves and Vampires are born enemies by nature, yet they are so much alike.