Werewolves
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Portrait of a Noblewoman, Probably Isabella of Portugal (13971472) Netherlandish Painter, mid-15th century

Design a ring for the hand

image courtesy of Timberwolf

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Ways of becoming a Werewolf

The medieval churchman Gervase of Tilbury said that stripping naked and rolling in the sand under a full moon was an effective method.

In Italian folklore, being conceived at the time of a new moon or simply sleeping outdoors on a full moon on a Friday was enough to create a werewolf.

St Patrick is said to have cursed an entire clan who displeased him by their lack of faith; every seven years they turned into werewolves.

Some European legends say that drinking from a stream from which a wolf has drunk, being bitten by a rabid wolf or simply eating Wolfbane plant will cause the transformation.

Freeing a human from the curse

Canadian lore advocates an exorcism by speaking the name of Christ or calling the werewolf three times by his true name.

In France it was said that the werewolf could be defeated by taking three drops of blood from the creature during its wolf period.

By far the best known method of freeing a human from the curse of the werewolf is to shoot the creature with a silver bullet, preferably silver, such as a crucifix from a Church.

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Vampires, Burial and Death: Folklore and Reality by Paul Barber

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Big Bad Werewolves

Even he who is pure of heart
And says his prayers at night
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
And the moon is full and bright.

The Shewolf

In the mountains of Auvergne, a story dating back to 1588 was told of a royal female werewolf. In the story the nobleman was gazing out of his window and upon seeing a hunter he knew asked the hunter to check with details of the hunt.

While in the forest, the hunter stumbled upon a wolf. In the ensuing struggle, he severed one of the wolf's paws and placed it in his pouch. Upon returning to the chateau with his gruesome prize, he opened the pouch to show the nobleman evidence of his encounter. What they discovered was not a paw at all, in fact, the pouch contained what looked to be a feminine hand bearing an elegant gold ring.

The nobleman recognised the ring and sent the hunter away. The nobleman then went looking for his wife. When he came upon her in the kitchen, he found her nursing a wounded arm. He removed the bandage only to find that her hand had been cut off. Upon questioning his wife she finally admitted to being the wolf the hunter had encountered in the forest and...

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A Famous Werewolf - The Benandanti Werewolves

This case was tried in 1692 in Jurgenburg, Livonia, situated in an area east of the Baltic Sea, steeped in werewolf folklore. It involved an 80-year-old man named Thiess.

Thiess confessed being a werewolf, saying his nose had been broken by a man named Skeistan, a witch who was dead at the time he had struck Thiess. According to Thiess' testimony Skeistan and other witches were preventing the crops of the area from growing. Their purpose for doing this was to carry the grain into hell. To help the crop to continue to grow, Thiess with a band of other werewolves descended into hell to fight the witches and recover the grain.

The warring of the werewolves and the witches occurred on three nights of the year: Saint Lucia, Pentecost and Saint John (the seasonal changes). If the werewolves were slow in their descent the witches would bar the gates of hell, and the crops, livestock, and even the fish catch would suffer. As weapons the werewolves carried iron bars while the witches used broom handles. Skeistan broke Theiss' nose with a broom handle wrapped in a horse's tail.

he judges were astounded by such testimony, for they had naturally supposed the werewolves were agents of the Devil. But now they were hearing the werewolves were fighting the Devil. When asked what became of the souls of the werewolves, Thiess said they went to heaven. He insisted werewolves were the "hounds of Gods" who helped mankind by preventing the Devil from carrying off the abundance of the earth. If it were not for them all would suffer. He said there were werewolves in Germany and Russia also fighting witches in their own hells.

Thiess was determined in his confession, denying he had ever signed a pact with the Devil. He refused to see the parish priest who was sent for to chastise him, saying that he was a better man than any priest. He claimed he was neither the first nor the last man to become a werewolf in order to fight witches.

Finally the judges, probably out of desperation, sentenced Thiess to ten lashes for acts of idolatry and superstitious beliefs.

Some Case Histories

England's unpopular King John, who reigned from 1199 to 1216 was said to be a werewolf. A Norman chronicle describes how monks, hearing sounds from his grave, dug him up and took his body out of consecrated ground.

Accusing one of being a werewolf in the middle ages became a very convenient way of disposing of the unwanted and undesirable. In 1570 a wolf had killed several children in the area of Lyon, France. A local hermit who lived in a cave - Gilles Granier - was found scavenging a dead body. He was accused of being a werewolf and through intimidation forced to confess to it. He was burned alive on 1573.

A case of self-confession is that of Jean Grenier - a fourteen year-old. He accused his father and a friend of his father of being werewolves. He provided full and gory details of the carnage they brought about on helpless victims and was condemned to death in 1603. Because of his age, he was transfered instead on a plea of clemency to a Franciscan friary in Bordeaux where he spent the remainder of his days pathologically attached to werewolf lore - demanding to eat nothing but raw meat, howling like a wolf by night and running on all-fours on horribly deformed hands.

Then, there's entire families of werewolves - like the Gandillion family in the sixteenth century. The sister - Pernette - is said to have attacked two children and killed one of them. In turn, she was killed by an angry mob. Her two brothers: Pierre and Georges were accused of being witches themselves and were incarcerated. They claimed to be able to transform themselves into wolves through the use of a magic salve. Pierre, George and another sister named Antoinette were subsequently executed.

Some Romanian gypsy villages believe that cemeteries are occupied by white wolves ( keep in mind, werewolves look like real wolves ). These werewolves are natural enemies of vampires and enter these places with the sole purpose of viciously destroying vampires wherever they find them. It's believed that because of these wolves the world of " living men are kept safe from complete takeover of the world by the world of the dead "

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. 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 a 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.

Some more old world stories about Werewolves

The Story of Niceros, the Slave
The Curse of Ossory

More Resources

Girlie Werewolf Project
Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia - Werewolves
Imagery and Werewolf Legends.