Wolf Man Werewolf ot just the Beast of Bray Road


This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

A werewolf (also lycanthrope or wolfman) in folklore is a person who shapeshifts into a wolf or wolflike creature, 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 fiction writers. In popular culture, a werewolf can be killed if shot by a silver bullet although this was not a feature of the folk legends.

Werewolf, by Lucas Cranach der Ältere, 1512

Werewolf, by Lucas Cranach der Ältere, 1512

Lucas Cranach the Elder (Lucas Cranach der Ältere, 1472 – October 16, 1553) was a German painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving. He was born in southern Germany and studied in Vienna, but then moved to Wittenberg, where he spent most of his career as a court painter to the Saxon electors. His work includes many fine religious examples and several portraits of Martin Luther, although he also painted secular subjects. Besides being one of the greatest German painters of his time, Cranach was also widely known for his woodcuts, some of which illustrated the first German printing of the New Testament.

But he was not exclusively a religious painter. He was equally successful, and often comically naïve, in mythological scenes, as where Cupid, who has stolen a honeycomb, complains to Venus that he has been stung by a bee (Weimar, 1530; Berlin, 1534), or where Hercules sits at the spinning-wheel mocked by Omphale and her maids. Humour and pathos are combined at times with strong effect in pictures such as the "Jealousy" (Augsburg, 1527; Vienna, 1530), where women and children are huddled into telling groups as they watch the strife of men wildly fighting around them. Very realistic must have been a lost canvas of 1545, in which hares were catching and roasting sportsmen. In 1546, possibly under Italian influence, Cranach composed the "Fons Juventutis" ("Fountain of Youth") of the Berlin Gallery, executed by his son, a picture in which hags are seen entering a Renaissance fountain, and are received as they issue from it with all the charms of youth by knights and pages.

Cranach's chief occupation was that of portrait painting, and we are indebted to him chiefly for the preservation of the features of all the German Reformers and their princely adherents.

The name "WEREWOLF" 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 verr, as well as in other Indo-European languages, such as 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.



The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings
By Brad Steiger

The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings


With 250 entries, this filmography and resource is the encyclopedic guide to all things lycanthropic and a fascinating compendium of comparative mythology and folklore. Delving into the 15th century to uncover the origins of the werewolf legend, it is an eye-opening, blood-pounding tour through the ages, landing on the doorstep of creatures like hirsute mass-murderer Charles Manson and canine-directed Son of Sam. A helpful chronology of lycanthropic activities dates back 140,000 years, to the first mixing of human and lupine blood.

From the Back Cover
From movies like An American Werewolf in London to the best-selling game, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, to folklore and case histories, The Werewolf Book is the encyclopedic guide to all things lycanthropic. In this spectacular first edition, Brad Steiger takes you back to the 15th century to uncover the origins of the werewolf legend. From there he leads you on an eye-opening world tour through the ages to the modern-day monstrous duality of creatures like cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Does the wolf live within each of us? Learn how the legends of the werewolf can mirror the animal that exists in each and every one of us. Some have given in to these primal animal urges. Find out why. The answers lie within....

The Werewolf Book, the perfect companion to Visible Ink's best-selling Vampire Book, is the eagerly anticipated work resulting from Mr. Steiger's lifelong studies. It contains nearly 250 entries, a filmography, and a resource guide with web sites. More than 125 photographs (including 16 pages in color), ranging from folk art to movie stills, will have you hair standing on end. Shape-changing topics include:

* Classic werewolf movies
* Slaying the werewolf
* Children raised by wolves
* Serial killers
* Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde
* Incubus
* Lon Chaney, Jr.
* The Moon and Mars
* Eddie Munster and Wolfie
* Marquis de Sade
* Loup-garou and other creatures from around the world
* Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman

The Werewolf Book, Brad Steiger's homage to the beast within, provides a full moon of fact and fiction for the lycanthrophile in all of us.

About the Author
A regular on Art Bell's syndicated radio program and a veteran author of the paranormal and phenomena, Brad Steiger has more than 150 books to his credit, including his classic, Monsters Among Us. Growing up in a small farming town, Steiger saw movies whenever he could. His interst in werewolves was piqued as a boy when he saw Lon Chaney's very human portrayal of The Wolf Man, a good guy seized by evil forces beyond his control. He views werewolves as a metaphor for the vicious side that lurks within all of us--a force we must always guard against.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Basic Ways to Become a Werewolf

There are two basic ways by which one might become a werewolf: voluntary and involuntary.

According to the ancient Greeks, any skilled sorcerer who so chose could become a werewolf. Throughout history, self-professed werewolves have mentioned a "magic girdle" or "magic belt," which they wear about their middles, or a "magic salve" which they apply liberally to their naked bodies. Others tell of inhaling or imbibing certain potions.

Magical texts advise those who wish to become a werewolf to disrobe, rub a magical ointment freely over their flesh, place a girdle made of human or wolf skin around their waist, then cover their entire body with the pelt of a wolf. To accelerate the process, they should drink beer mixed with blood and chant a particular magical formula.

Some werewolves claim to have achieved their shape shifting ability by having drunk water from the paw print of a wolf. Once this had been accomplished, they ate the brains of a wolf and slept in its lair.

One ancient text prescribes a ritual for the magician who is eager to become a shape shifter. He is told to wait until the night of a full moon, then enter the forest at midnight. Then, according to the instructions:

Draw two concentric circles on the ground, one six feet in diameter, the other 14 feet in diameter. Build a fire in the center of the inner circle and place a tripod over the flames. Suspend from the tripod an iron pot full of water. Bring the water to a full boil and throw into the pot a handful each of aloe, hemlock, poppy seed, and nightshade. As the ingredients are being stirred in the iron pot, call aloud to the spirits of the restless dead, the spirits of the foul darkness, the spirits of the hateful, and the spirits of werewolves and satyrs.

Once the summons for the various spirits of darkness have been shouted into the night, the person who aspires to become a werewolf should strip off all of his clothing and smear his body with the fat of a freshly killed animal that has been mixed with anise, camphor, and opium. The next step is to take the wolf skin that he has brought with him, wrap it around his middle like a loincloth, then kneel down at the boundaries of the large circle and remain in that position until the fire dies out. When this happens, the power that the disciple of darkness has summoned should make its presence known to him.

If the magician has done everything correctly, the dark force will announce its presence by loud shrieks and groans. Later, if the would-be werewolf has not been terrified and frightened away by the dark one's awful screams and groans, it will materialize in any one of a number forms, most likely that of a horrible half-human, half-beast monster. Once it has manifested in whatever form it desires, the dark one force will conduct its transaction with the magician and allow him henceforth to assume the shape of a wolf whenever he wears his wolf skin loincloth.

By far the most familiar involuntary manner in which one becomes a werewolf is to be bitten or scratched by such a creature. In the same category would be those men and women who are transformed into werewolves by being cursed for their sins or by being the victim of a sorcerer's incantations.

Another involuntary means of becoming a werewolf, according to some old traditions, is to be born on Christmas Eve. The very process of one's birth on that sacred night, according to certain ecclesiastical scholars, is an act of blasphemy since it detracts from the full attention that should be given to the nativity of Jesus. Thus, those born on that night are condemned to be werewolves unless they prove themselves to be pious beyond reproach in all thoughts, words, and deeds throughout their lifetime.

Sources: Eisler, Robert. Man into Wolf. London: Spring Books, n.d. Spence, Lewis. An Encyclopedia of Occultism. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1960.

Copyright (c) 1999 Visible Ink Press


Many European countries and cultures have stories of werewolves, including France (loup-garou), Greece (lycanthropos), Spain (hombre lobo), Bulgaria (valkolak), Turkey (kurtadam), Czech Republic (vlkodlak), Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia (vukodlak), Russia (vourdalak), Ukraine (vovkulak(a), vurdalak(a), vovkun), Croatia (vukodlak), Poland (wilkolak), Romania (vârcolac), Scotland (werewolf, wulver), England (werewolf), Ireland (faoladh or conriocht), Germany (Werwolf), the Netherlands (weerwolf), Denmark/Sweden/Norway (Varulv), Norway/Iceland (kveld-ulf,varúlfur), Galicia(lobisón), Portugal/Brazil (lobisomem), Lithuania (vilkolakis and vilkatlakis), Latvia (vilkatis and vilkacis), Andorra (home llop), Hungary (Vérfarkas and Farkasember), Estonia (libahunt), Finland (ihmissusi and vironsusi), and Italy (lupo mannaro). In northern Europe, there are also tales about people changing into animals including bears and wolves.


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.

Common Turkic folklore holds a different, reverential light to the werewolf legends in that Turkic Central Asian shamans after performing long and arduous rites would voluntarily be able to transform into the humanoid "Kurtadam" (literally meaning Wolfmen). Since the wolf was the totemic ancestor animal of the Turkic peoples, they would be respectful of any shaman who was in such a form.

The Michigan Dog Man - Mystery animal caught on film - The Gable Film
The first stills that show the creature clearly indicate a canine-headed animal moving through knee-high undergrowth. It has pointed ears on top of its head and shoulders, which ordinary dogs (or bears or other quadrupeds) do not have. It turns and moves to one side, charging through the brush in a way that would be very difficult for a human to do." - Nick Redfern

According to Armenian lore, there are women who in consequence of deadly sins, are condemned to spend seven years in wolfen form.{The Fables of Mkhitar Gosh (New York, 1987), translated with an introduction by R. Bedrosian, edited by Elise Antreassian and illustrated by Anahid Janjigian} In a typical account, a condemned woman is visited by a wolfskin-toting spirit, who orders her to wear the skin, soon after which she acquires frightful cravings for human flesh. With her better nature overcome, the she-wolf devours each of her own children, then her relatives' children in order of relationship, and finally the children of strangers. She wanders only at night, with doors and locks springing open at her approach. When morning arrives, she reverts to human form and removes her wolfskin. The transformation is generally said to be involuntary, but there are alternate versions involving voluntary metamorphosis, where the women can transform at will.


France had a multitude of reports of werewolf attacks -- and consequent court trials -- during the sixteenth century. 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 belief in lycanthropy reached a peak in popularity, it was decided in the case of Jean Grenier at Bordeaux in 1603 that lycanthropy was nothing more than a delusion. The loup-garou eventually ceased to be regarded as a dangerous heretic, and reverted to the pre-Christian notion of a "man-wolf-fiend".

Some werewolf lore in France is based on documented events. The Beast of Gévaudan terrorized the general area of the former province of Gévaudan in south-central France (it is now called Lozère). From the years 1764 to 1767, an unknown entity killed upwards of 80 men, women and children. The creature was described as a giant wolf by the sole survivor of the attacks, which ceased after several wolves were killed in the area.


The lubins or lupins of France were usually female and shy in contrast to the aggressive loup-garous.[citation needed]

In sixteenth century Prussia, Livonia and Lithuania, according to bishops Olaus Magnus and Majolus, the werewolves were 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 as of 1600, but became extinct by 1680. At the beginning of the seventeenth century the punishment of witchcraft was still zealously prosecuted by James I of England, who piously[8] regarded "warwoolfes" as victims of delusion induced by "a natural superabundance of melancholic".

Werewolves in European tradition were often innocent and God-fearing folk suffering from the witchcraft of others, or simply from an unhappy fate, and who as wolves behaved in a truly touching fashion, adoring and protecting their human 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 much gentler than when his wife and her new husband appeared at court, that his hateful attack on the couple was deemed justly motivated, and the truth was revealed. Other tales of this sort include William and the Werewolf (translated from French into English ca.1350), and the German fairy tales Märchen, in which several aristocrats temporarily transform into beasts. 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.



The Rougarou (alternately spelled as Roux-Ga-Roux, Rugaroo, or Rugaru), is a legendary creature in Laurentian French communities linked to European notions of the werewolf.

Louisiana Werewolf Folklore
Rougarou represents a variant pronunciation and spelling of the original French loup-garou. According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana. Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup garou.

The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago.

In the Cajun legend, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and possibly the fields or forests of the regions. The rougarou most often is noted as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend.

Often the story-telling was used for fear. One example is stories were told by elders to persuade Cajun children to behave. Another example relates that the wolf-like beast will hunt down and kill Catholics who do not follow the rules of Lent. This coincides with the French Catholic loup garou stories, where the method for turning into a werewolf was to break Lent seven years in a row.

A common blood sucking legend speculated that the rougarou was under the spell for 101 days. After that time, the curse was transferred from person to person when the rougarou drew another human’s blood. During the day the creature returned to human form. Although acting sickly, the human refrained to tell others of the situation for fear of being killed.

Other stories range from the rougarou as a headless horseman to the rougarou derived from witchcraft. In the latter claim, only a witch could make a rougarou - either by turning themselves into wolves or cursing others with lycanthropy.

The creature, spelled as a Rugaru, has been associated with Native American legends with some dispute. The folklore stories vary from mild bigfoot (sasquatch) creatures to cannibal-like Native American wendigos. Neither connections are confirmed.

As with legends passed by oral tradition, stories often contradict one another. The stories of the wendigo vary by tribe and region, but the most common cause of the change is typically related to cannibalism.

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; St. 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 are supposedly become werewolves when incurring the wrath of the Devil.

is a common theme in mythology and folklore, as well as in science fiction and fantasy. In its broadest sense, it is a change in the physical form or shape of a person or animal. Other terms include metamorphosis, morphing, transformation, or transmogrification.

There is no settled agreement on the terminology. Still, the most common usages are:

shapeshifting indicates changes that are temporary
metamorphosis indicates changes that are lasting
transformation indicates changes that are externally imposed

Shapeshifting is distinguished from natural processes such as aging or metamorphosis (despite shared use of the term), the body contortions of animals such as the Mimic Octopus, and illusory changes. Instead, shapeshifting involves physical changes such as alterations of age, gender, race, or general appearance or changes between human form and that of an animal, plant, or inanimate object.

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 actually werewolves.

A Pricolici (same form in plural) is a werewolf in Romanian mythology. Similar to a vârcolac, although the latter sometimes symbolises a goblin, whereas the pricolici always has wolf-like characteristics.

Pricolici, like strigoi, are undead souls that have risen from the grave to harm living people. While a strigoi possesses anthropomorphic qualities similar to the ones it had before death, a pricolici always resembles a wolf or large dog. Malicious, violent men are often said to become pricolici after death, in order to continue harming other humans.

Even as recently as modern times, many people living in rural areas of Romania have claimed to have been viciously attacked by abnormally large and fierce wolves. Apparently, these wolves attack silently, unexpectedly and only solitary targets. Victims of such attacks often claim that their aggressor wasn't an ordinary wolf, but a pricolici who has come back to life to continue wreaking havoc.


Skin Walkers


Norse folklore, a skin-walker is a person who can travel in the shape of an animal and learn secrets, or take on certain characteristics of an animal. The person is then said to be wearing that animal's hide. The most well-known example of the latter is the warrior who takes on the strength and stamina of a bear, called "bear shirt" or ber sarkur, the origins of the word berserker; similarly, there were wolf-based warriors, called ulfheðnar or "wolf-coats". They were said, aside from the battle-rage the animal spirit granted, to have the ability to send out their soul in the form of their animal, in a practice called hamfarir or "shape-journey".

The use of an animal shape for other purposes was considered unholy, and people accused of having such abilities were frequently cast out or summarily executed. Females so charged got off more lightly.

In Native American and Norse legend, a skin-walker is a person with the supernatural ability to turn into any animal he or she desires. Similar creatures can be found in numerous cultures' lores all over the world, closely related to beliefs in werewolves (also known as or lycanthropes) and other "were" creatures (which can be described as therianthropes). The Mohawk Indian word "limikkin" is sometimes used to describe all skin-walkers. It is also known as the Yenaldooshi.

Possibly the best documented skin-walker beliefs are those relating to the Navajo Yea-Naa-gloo-shee (literally "with it, he goes on all fours" in the Navajo language). A Yea-Naa-gloo-sheeis one of the several varieties of Navajo witch (specifically an ’ánt’iihnii or practitioner of the Witchery Way, as opposed to a user of curse-objects (’adagash) or a practitioner of Frenzy Way (’azhitee). Technically, the term refers to an ’ánt’iihnii who is using his (rarely her) powers to travel in animal form. In some versions men or women who have attained the highest level of priesthood then commit the act of killing an immediate member of their family, and then have thus gained the evil powers that are associated with skin-walkers.

The ’ánt’iihnii are human beings who have gained supernatural power by breaking a cultural taboo. Specifically, a person is said to gain the power to become a Yea-Naa-gloo-sheeupon initiation into the Witchery Way. Both men and women can become ’ánt’iihnii and therefore possibly skinwalkers, but men are far more numerous. It is generally thought that only childless women can become witches.

Ancient Hopi culture there was a ritual ceremony once performed called the Ya Ya Ceremony. In this ceremony members would change themselves into various animals using the hide from the animal they chose, and the members use certain animal attributes like sight, strength,etc. The ceremony was banned after members developed a disease of the eyes.

The Werewolf is a 1913 silent short that is the first werewolf film, directed by Henry MacRae. It is also a lost film, all prints supposedly having been destroyed in a 1924 fire. A Navajo woman becomes a witch after erroneously coming to believe that her husband has abandoned her. She teaches the same skills to her daughter Watuma, who transforms into a wolf in order to carry out vengeance against the invading white settlers. Then, 100 years after Watuma's death, she returns from the dead to kill again. The script is by Ruth Ann Baldwin, based on the short story The Werewolves by Henry Beaugrand.

The Wendigo (also Windigo, Windago, Windiga, Witiko) is a malevolent cannibalistic spirit into which humans could transform, or which could possess humans, appearing in Algonquian mythology. Humans who indulged in cannibalism were at particular risk, and the legend appears to reinforce this practice as taboo.

Windigo Psychosis is a culture-bound disorder which involves an intense craving for human flesh and the fear that one will turn into a cannibal. This once occurred frequently among Algonquian Indian cultures, though has declined with the Native American urbanization.

Recently the Wendigo has also become a horror entity of contemporary literature and film, much like the vampire, werewolf, or zombie, although these fictional depictions often bear little resemblance to the original mythology.

The term therianthropy was used to refer to animal transformation folklore of Asia and Europe as early as 1901.Therianthropy was also used to describe spiritual belief in animal transformation in 1915 and one source raises the possibility the term may have been used in the 16th century in criminal trials of suspected werewolves.

The term was used by members of the Usenet group alt.horror.werewolves (ca. 1992) in discussions of fictional shapeshifters. Some Usenet users began publicly asserting that they were part animal. It turned out that some were only joking, but others were apparently serious about the assertions, which were subject to ongoing discussion. Such people initially called themselves lycanthropes, but since the word more accurately describes wolf-people, the word therianthropes became more popular. There are also many different forms of therianthropy. Though the majority of Therians claim to be tied to the wolf, there are cat, deer, eagle, crow, racoon, bear, etc... therians. Many claim to be a combination


Becoming A Werewolf
Historical legends describe a wide variety of methods for becoming a werewolf, 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).[9] In other cases the body is rubbed with a magic salve. 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. 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. According to Russian lore, a child born on December 24 shall be a werewolf. Folklore and literature also depict that a werewolf can be spawned from two werewolf parents.


Clinical lycanthropy is defined as a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a belief that the affected person is, or has, transformed into an animal. It is named after the mythical condition of lycanthropy, a supernatural affliction in which people are said to physically shapeshift into werewolves. The word zoanthropy is also sometimes used for the delusion that one has turned into an animal in general and not specifically a wolf.

Affected individuals report a delusional belief that they have transformed, or are in the process of transforming into another animal. It has been linked with the altered states of mind that accompany psychosis (the reality-bending mental state that typically involves delusions and hallucinations) with the transformation only seeming to happen in the mind and behaviour of the affected person.

A study on lycanthropy from the McLean Hospital reported on a series of cases and proposed some diagnostic criteria by which lycanthropy could be recognised:

A patient reports in a moment of clarity or looking back he sometimes feels as an animal or has felt like one. A patient behaves in a manner that resembles animal behaviour, for example crying, grumbling or creeping.

According to these criteria, either a delusional belief in current or past transformation, or behaviour that suggests a person thinks of themselves as transformed, is considered evidence of clinical lycanthropy. The authors go on to note that although the condition seems to be an expression of psychosis there is no specific diagnosis of mental or neurological illness associated with its behavioural consequences.

It also seems that lycanthropy is not specific to an experience of human-to-wolf transformation; a wide variety of creatures have been reported as part of the shape-shifting experience. A review of the medical literature from early 2004 lists over thirty published cases of lycanthropy, only the minority of which have wolf or dog themes. Canines are certainly not uncommon, although the experience of being transformed into cats, horses, birds and tigers has been reported on more than one occasion, with frogs, and even bees, being reported in some instances. A 1989 case study described how one individual reported a serial transformation, experiencing a change from human, to dog, to horse, and then finally cat, before returning to the reality of human existence after treatment. There are also reports of people who experienced transformation into an animal only listed as 'unspecified.'

Clinical lycanthropy is a rare condition and is largely considered to be an idiosyncratic expression of a psychotic-episode caused by another condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or clinical depression.

However, there are suggestions that certain neurological and cultural influences may lead to the expression of the human-animal transformation theme that defines the condition.

One important factor may be differences or changes in parts of the brain known to be involved in representing body shape (e.g. see proprioception, body image). A neuroimaging study[5] of two people diagnosed with clinical lycanthropy showed that these areas display unusual activation, suggesting that when people report their bodies are changing shape, they may be genuinely perceiving those feelings. Body image distortions are not unknown in mental and neurological illness, so this may help explain at least part of the process. One further puzzle is why an affected person doesn't simply report that their body "feels like it is changing in odd ways", rather than presenting with a delusional belief that they are changing into a specific animal. There is much evidence that psychosis is more than just odd perceptual experiences so perhaps lycanthropy is the result of these unusual bodily experiences being understood by an already confused mind, perhaps filtered through the lens of cultural traditions and ideas.

Cultural influences are thought to strongly influence the content of psychosis and psychosis-like experiences and we have a large cultural resource when it comes to human-to-animal transformation, as many societies have included this concept into myths, stories, or rituals (see lycanthropy for many such examples). There have also been cases of feral children seemingly raised by animals after losing their parents. Psychiatrist Lucien Malson collected more than fifty alleged cases in his landmark book Wolf Children and the Problem of Human Nature. More cases have been reported since its publication in 1964, suggesting that some beliefs about lycanthropy might stem from observations of unusual maternal relationships between humans and animals.

There is room to argue that the supernatural lycanthropy myths could originate from people relating their experiences of what could be now classified as psychosis. In reality the interaction between human experience and culture is difficult (perhaps impossible) to separate, and lycanthropy is no different. While mainstream psychiatry assumes that someone who believes themselves to be an animal is mentally ill, someone who deliberately tries to accomplish the same with psychoactive potions and ritual is considered a shaman in many societies around the world.

In earlier times the state of the patient was commonly explained as due to possession. Marcellus of Sida reported that in Greece the patients frequented the tombs at night, and that they were recognizable by their yellow complexion, hollow eyes and dry tongue. The Garrows of India are said to tear their hair when they are seized with the complaint, which is put down to the use of a drug applied to the forehead; this recalls the stories of the witch's salve in Europe. In Abyssinia the patient is usually a woman; two forms are distinguished, caused by the hyena and the leopard respectively. A kind of trance ushers in the fit; the fingers are clenched, the eyes glazed and the nostrils distended; the patient, when she comes to herself, laughs hideously and runs on all fours. The exorcist is a blacksmith; as a rule, he applies onion or garlic to her nose and proceeds to question the evil spirit.

Clinical lycanthropy has been sometimes associated with latah behaviour, described by the Malay people. However, modern latah is rarely associated with the sort of animal-transformation experiences and beliefs that are characteristic of the mainstream psychiatric definition of lycanthropy.


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. 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-cabeça". The belief in the curse of the seventh son was so widespread in Northern Argentina (where the werewolf is called the "lobizón"), that seventh sons were frequently abandoned, ceded in adoption or killed. A 1920 law decreed that the President of Argentina is the official godfather of every seventh son. Thus, the State gives a seventh son one gold medal in his baptism and a scholarship until his twenty first year. This effectively ended the abandonments, but there still persists a tradition in which the President godfathers seventh sons.

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.


A notable exception to the association of Lycanthropy and the Devil, comes from a rare and lesser known account of a man named Thiess. In 1692, in Jurgenburg, Livonia, Thiess testified under oath that he, and other Werewolves were the Hounds of God. 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 abundance of the earth 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 Idolacy 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 mischievous 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.

Werewolves have several described weaknesses, the most common being an aversion to wolfsbane (a plant that supposedly sprouted from weeds watered by the drool of Cerberus while he was brought out of Hades by Heracles). Unlike vampires, werewolves are not harmed by religious artifacts such as crucifixes and holy water.

Various methods have existed for removing the werewolf form. The simplest method was the act of the enchanter (operating either on oneself 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 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.


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.

Please Also See: An America Werewolf here now for more on the cursed beast of the full moon.

And: A Case of Lycanthropy - By Paul Dale Roberts


Also: Vampires & Werewolves: Are They Mostly Ghostly or Really Rather Real?


The Beast of Bray Road (or the Bray Road Beast) is an unknown creature first reported in the 1980s on a rural road outside of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. The same label has been applied well beyond the initial location, to any unknown creature from southern Wisconsin or northern Illinois that is described as having similar characteristics to those reported in the initial set of sightings. irst reported: 1936 (sighted later in the 1980s) Last sighted: early 90s (but there was one in Hebron, north of Whitewater, Wisconsin, in February 2002.) United States Region: Elkhorn, Wisconsin Status: Local legend The Beast of Bray Road is described by witnesses in several ways A hairy biped resembling Bigfoot, An unusually large and intelligent wolf apt to walk on its hind legs. Different hybrid forms between the two aforementioned.

Although the Beast of Bray Road has not been seen to transform from a human into a wolf in most of the sightings, it has been labeled a werewolf in newspaper, web sites and assorted articles.

The Beast of Gévaudan (French: La bête du Gévaudan) was a legendary wolf-like creature that terrorised the former province of Gévaudan (modern day Lozère département), in the Margeride Mountains in south-central France from about 1764 to 1767. Many attacks took place - between 60 and 100 people were killed - and debate continues as to the Beast's true identity.

The wulver is a kind of werewolf that is exclusively part of the folklore of the Shetland Islands of Scotland. It's described as a man, covered with short brown hair but with a wolf's head.

Unlike most werewolves, the wulver kept to itself and was not aggressive if left in peace. He spent most of his time sitting on a rock, still known as The Wulver's Stane, fishing, and was reported to have occasionally left fish on the window sills of poor families. The last reported sighting was early in the 20th Century.


Notable Shapeshifters
Berserkers -- Norse warriors who were thought to use their rage to shapeshift into bears and wolves.
Bouda -- a matriarchal African tribe, thought to be capable of changing into were-hyenas. Other were-hyenas, known as Qora, were punished in the old Kingdom of Kaffa, now part of Ethiopia.
Encantados -- according to stories from Brazil, they are "the enchanted ones," creatures from an underwater realm, usually dolphins with the ability to change into humans.
The Frog Princess, a fairy tale of a frog married to a prince, concludes with her transformation into a beautiful princess. In some variants, she was originally a princess.
Japanese Foxes (Kitsune) -- in Japanese myth, foxes would fool unsuspecting humans by assuming other forms, most often beautiful women. Similar fox myths abound from other countries such as China, Korea, Vietnam, and even the United States.
Leszi -- spirits of Slavic mythology, capable of changing into any creature or plant.
The loathly lady is transformed into a hideous shape. Upon her marriage to a knight, the spell is sufficiently broken that she could appear lovely at night, or during the day, and she informs the knight that he has to select which one. When he asks which she prefers, the spell is entirely broken, and she remains lovely day and night.
Loki -- Trickster god of the Norse pantheon.
The Master Maid of the fairy tale of the same name, can transform objects to block the pursuit by her troll masters -- a common trait of women rescued from evil magicians or monsters.
Nahuales -- In Mexican and Mesoamerican lore, shamans that have shapeshifting abilities, usually turning into coyotes, wolves or jaguars.
Nagas -- snake-people of Asian countries, especially India & Nepal; may appear either as transforming between human and snake, or as a cross between the two (such as the upper torso being human and the lower torso being serpentine); some Nagas may also assume the form of dragons.
Odin - War/death god of the Norse pantheon often changes forms becoming men, women, children and other forms.
Proteus -- a Greek sea god who was capable of changing his form to avoid being captured.
Púca and some other Celtic spirits and Síde (fairies) can change their form at will and typically pose as animals or loved ones. Leprechauns turn into hideous creatures to scare you into releasing them when captured.
Runa-uturungu -- werejaguars from Argentina (regional name), also spelled runa-uturuncu.
Selkie -- Seal-maidens and seal-men of Irish/Scottish myth.
Spriggan-- cat-like fae.
Swan Maiden -- shapeshifting birds from worldwide mythology.
Tanuki -- Japanese raccoon dogs have a strong mythological background as shapechangers who are adept at mimicking inanimate objects.
Tengu -- Japanese bird monsters who can shapeshift to human form.
Thunderbirds -- huge birdlike creatures described in the lore of several Native American tribes; some thunderbirds turn into human beings.
Vampires -- corpses who can turn into wolves and/or bats.
Wolfweres -- wolves who can become human or semi-human.
Wendigo -- a shapeshifter from Canadian legend.
Werecats -- feline shapeshifters.
Werewolves -- humans who turn into wolves.
PtesanWi -- a woman of Lakota legend, rumored to have appeared as a white buffalo. There are numerous tales of shapeshifting in Native American mythology, the most notable being prey animals such as buffalo and deer, and predators such as bears and wolves.
Yaguareté-abá -- werejaguars from Argentina and Bolivia (regional name), also uturunco.
Zmei -- Romanian mythological creatures, similar to Ogres.
Zeus -- Head of the Greek pantheon, who routinely transformed into various animal forms and had sexual congress with human women to beget half-god mortals.

Trois Freres. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved on 2006-12-06.
De Groot, J.J.M. (1901). The Religious System of China: Volume IV. Leiden: Brill, 171.
Cohen, D. (1996). Werewolves. New York: Penguin, 104. ISBN 0-525-65207-8.
Steiger, B. (1999). The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink. ISBN 1-57859-078-7.
Eliade, Mircea (1965). Rites and Symbols of Initiation: the mysteries of birth and rebirth. Harper & Row.
Greene, R. (2000). The Magic of Shapeshifting. York Beach, ME: Weiser, 229. ISBN 1-57863-171-8.
De Groot, J.J.M. (1901). The Religious System of China: Volume IV. Leiden: Brill, 184.
Keck PE, Pope HG, Hudson JI, McElroy SL, Kulick AR. (1988) Lycanthropy: alive and well in the twentieth century. Psychological Medicine, 18(1), 113-20.
Garlipp, P; Godecke-Koch T, Dietrich DE, Haltenhof H. (Jan 2004). "Lycanthropy--psychopathological and psychodynamical aspects". Acta Psychiatr Scand 109 (1): 19-22.
Ashley, L.R.N. (2001). The Complete Book of Werewolves. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books. ISBN 1-56980-159-2.
De Groot, J.J.M. (1901). The Religious System of China: Volume IV. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 0-7661-3354-0.
Greene, R. (2000). The Magic of Shapeshifting. York Beach, ME: Weiser. ISBN 1-57863-171-8.
Guiley, R.E. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves & Other Monsters. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-4685-9.
Hamel, F. (1969). Human Animals, Werewolves & Other Transformations. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books. ISBN 0-8216-0092-3.
Pijoan, T. (1992). White Wolf Woman & Other Native American Transformation Myths. Little Rock: August House. ISBN 0-87483-200-4.
Rose, C. (2000). Giants, Monsters & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-32211-4.
White, D.G. (1991). Myths of the Dog-Man. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-89509-2.
The Book of Were-Wolves: Being an Account of a Terrible Superstition. London: Smith, Elder, 1865. ISBN 0-7661-8307-6
Douglas, Adam. The Beast Within: A History of the Werewolf. London: Chapmans, 1992. ISBN 0-380-72264-X
Lecouteux, Claude. Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 2003. ISBN 089281096-3
Prieur, Claude. Dialogue de la Lycanthropie: Ou transformation d'hommes en loups, vulgairement dits loups-garous, et si telle se peut faire. Louvain: J. Maes & P. Zangre, 1596. (By a Franciscan monk, in French)
Rev. Montague Summers, The Werewolf London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1933. (1st edition, reissued 1934 New York: E.P. Dutton, 1966 New Hyde Park, N.Y: University Books, 1973 Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 2003 Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, with new title The Werewolf in Lore and Legend). Written by an individual claiming that werewolves are real, it is understandably filled with a number of bizarre conclusions but has an impressive bibliography. ISBN 0-7661-3210-2
Wolfeshusius, Johannes Fridericus. De Lycanthropia: An vere illi, ut fama est, luporum & aliarum bestiarum formis induantur. Problema philosophicum pro sententia Joan. Bodini ... adversus dissentaneas aliquorum opiniones noviter assertum... Leipzig: Typis Abrahami Lambergi, 1591. (In Latin; microfilm held by the United States National Library of Medicine)



Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

The origin of the folkloric term "Blue Moon" is complicated, because its meaning has changed over time. Modern practice is to name a full moon a blue moon if it is the second of two full moons to occur in the same calendar month. The original meaning of blue moon was the third full moon in a season when there were four Full Moons in that season.

Full Moon Names
Month English Names Native American Names Other Names Used Hindu Names
January Old Moon Wolf Moon Moon After Yule, Ice Moon Paush Purnima
February Wolf Moon Snow Moon Hunger Moon, Storm Moon Magh Purnima
March Lenten Moon Worm Moon Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Chaste Moon Holi
April Egg Moon Pink Moon Sprouting Grass Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, Waking Moon Hanuman Jayanti
May Milk Moon Flower Moon Corn Planting Moon, Corn Moon, Hare's Moon Buddha Purnima
June Flower Moon Strawberry Moon Rose Moon, Hot Moon, Planting Moon Wat Purnima
July Hay Moon Buck Moon Thunder Moon, Mead Moon Guru Purnima
August Grain Moon Sturgeon Moon Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, Lightning Moon, Dog Moon Narali Purnima, Raksha bandhan
September Fruit Moon Harvest Moon Corn Moon, Barley Moon Bhadrapad Pornima
October Harvest Moon Hunter's Moon Travel Moon, Dying Grass Moon, Blood Moon Kojagiri or Sharad Pornima
November Hunter's Moon Beaver Moon Frost Moon, Snow Moon Kartik Pornima
December Oak Moon Cold Moon Frost Moon, Long Night's Moon, Moon Before Yule Margashirsha Pornima


The Wolf Man is a 1941 horror film written by Curt Siodmak and produced and directed by George Waggner, starring Lon Chaney Jr, Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, and Maria Ouspenskaya. It introduced a character that stands alongside Frankenstein and Dracula as one of the most recognized of the Universal Studios monsters and has had a great deal of influence on Hollywood's depictions of the legend of the werewolf.

This quote has been listed in some sources as an authentic Gypsy or Eastern European folk saying. Writer Curt Siodmak admits that he simply made it up. Nonetheless, the rhyme would be recited in every future Universal film appearance of the Wolf Man, and would also be quoted in Van Helsing (2004). (Albeit, slightly modified, "The moon is shining bright." rather than "The autumn moon is bright.")

Full moon is a lunar phase that occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, and when the three celestial bodies are aligned as close as possible to a straight line. At this time, as seen by viewers on Earth, the hemisphere of the Moon that is facing the Earth (the near side) is fully illuminated by the Sun and appears round. Only during a full moon is the opposite hemisphere of the Moon, which is not visible from Earth (the far side), completely unilluminated.

Full Moons are traditionally associated with temporal insomnia, insanity (hence the terms lunacy and lunatic) and various magical phenomena such as lycanthropy. Psychologists, however, have found that there is no strong evidence for effects on human behaviour around the time of a full moon. They find that studies are generally not consistent, with some showing a positive effect and others showing a negative effect. In one instance, the December 23, 2000 issue of the British Medical Journal published two studies on dog bite admission to hospitals in England and Australia. The study of the Bradford Royal Infirmary found that dog bites were twice as common during a full moon, whereas the study conducted by the public hospitals in Australia found that they were less likely. Psychologists point out that there is a difference between correlation and causation. The mere fact that two events happen at the same time doesn't mean that there is a cause and effect relationship between the two.

Many neopagans hold a monthly ritual called an Esbat at each full moon, while some people practicing traditional Chinese religions prepare their ritual offerings to their ancestors and deities on every full and new moon.

The word lunacy derives from the Latin for moon, "luna". History is littered with references of madness being linked to cycles of the Earth's closest celestial neighbour.

Is the Moon responsible for madness?

Several studies have tried to get to the bottom of this age-old belief. A 1976 report compared 34,318 crimes against the lunar cycles. It found offences occurred more frequently during a full moon. However, most research has failed to find any firm link between the cycles of the Moon and irrational behaviour. In the United States, a 1983 survey of 361,580 calls for police assistance showed no relationship to the phase of the Moon.

English law has not always agreed. The link between the Moon and madness was acknowledged in the 1600s by Sir William Hale - who was later to become chief justice. He wrote: "The Moon has great influence in all diseases of the brain, especially dementia." The Lunacy Act of 1842 built on this "logic", and as recently as 1940 a soldier who was charged with murder pleaded "moon madness".

Some notable murder cases have been tied to the lunar phases. Of the eight murders committed by New York's infamous "Son of Sam", David Berkowitz, five were during a full moon. a series of chilling murders by Charles Hyde in the late 1880s - the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - were committed under a full moon.

However, it is not always a full moon that is blamed for murder and mayhem - lunar eclipses can prove more hazardous. In 1974, 16 residents of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, died when soldiers decided a hail of bullets would frighten away the "monkey" eating up the Moon.

Those who advocate a link between madness and the Moon will often cite the "biological tides" theory as the basis of their belief. The theory states that since the Moon's gravity pulls on huge bodies of water, causing ocean tides, then it will have an effect on the human body, which is, after all, 80% water.

However, scientists point out that any biological tide is swamped by the effect of the beating of our hearts and the heaving of our lungs.

Theories about the Moon's influence on animal behaviour are more widely accepted in the scientific world.

Researchers in Bradford correlated 1,621 dog attacks reported between 1997 and 1999 with lunar phases. The results suggested people were twice as likely to be bitten around the time of a full moon.

On a lighter note, many gardeners still work to the phases of the Moon, believing that it is best to sow seeds and transplant seedlings only with a waxing, never a waning moon. The Old Farmer's Almanac says: "Plant flowers and vegetables during the height of the Moon." The theory is said to take advantage of gravity, light and magnetism.

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