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Werewolf: facts and fiction
Sightings and encounters with real werewolves
What is a werewolf? As the name suggests, this is a man (old English were) who can transform into a wolf like creature.
were plus wolf equals werewolf
Werewolves have mytological background and are deeply ingrained in human psychology. There is even a werewolf syndrome known in medicine. It is a rare, but real disease.
What about the werewolves? Are they for real?
Let's take a look at some werewolves and try to see what is true and what is only an imagination! But beware - this lens is not for the faint-hearted...
(All images in this lens are in public domain, for more info click here)
Most famous werewolf
Probably most notorious werewolf of all times was Peter Stubbe, also known as Peter Stumpp, the man who lived near Cologne in Germany in 16 th century.
He was a serial killer and cannibal who was accused of several dosen homicides and was officially found guilty of killing eighteen people, mostly children. They called him Werewolf of Bedburg.
He admitted his crimes after very harsh torturing and was executed in extremely cruel way. His body was put on the wheel, his skin and flesh torn with hot pincers, his hands and legs cut off and finally Peter Stubbe was decapitated.
The last day of Peter Stubbe by Lukas Mayer - Please note: Stubbe was executed on October 31 1589
There are several reasons to believe the execution of Peter Stubbe had a political background. It was done in times of wars between protestants and catholics. Peter Stubbe was a catholic who converted to protestantism. He was tortured and killed in presence of high nobility which was not common in those times.
Some historians think he was just an example to every other catholic in area who will try to switch his religion. But why he was accused of being a werewolf?
In those times it was easier to have a trial against witches and werewolves than thieves or killers. People were poor, really poor. And hungry. They tottaly understood the despair of somebody who had broken the law.
To prevent any kind of revolt it was much safer to accuse somebody of black magic, because folk was superstitious and only lunatics would support a witch or werewolf.
There are many interesting cases related with werewolves documented. It seems in 15 th, 16 th and 17 th century almost any village in Europe suffered from werewolf attacks. In some areas werewolves were only male, but in most they belonged to both genders.
In most cases they were connected to witchcraft. Sometimes they were victims of spells but typical werewolf transformed from a man to a monster because he wanted so!
Why would anybody want to become a werewolf?
Werewolf is a great combination of man's mental and wolf's physical abilities.
It has demonic strength and he is a killing machine.
Actually, one of the origins of werewolves comes from this field: killing.
Not killing for survival, but killing for pleasure.
Who or what is a berserker (berserk)?
Berserk is a name for a Norse warrior in many old sagas. Berserks were known by vigorous, frightless, often uncontrollable militancy. Their fight resembled the fight of desperated and raged animals who can't stop until everybody around is dead. This kind of fight is called Berserker insanity.
Old books only vaguely describe the rituals before starts of berserkers fights. We can't say for sure what motivated berserks but many believe they used some kind of drugs made from herbs.
And we can add a berserker was often wrapped in a bear's or wolf's skin:
ber (bear) + serkr (coat)
Word ber is often interpreted as similar berr (naked, without clothes), although this theory is disputed among historians.
Well, maybe there is some truth in both interpretations. Shall we take a look into simplified recipe for transformation from man into wolf?
How to transform into a werewolf?
You have to take your clothes off and put special belt, made of wolf's skin on.
This belt is soaked in ointment with magical features.
It is not certain what was this ointment composed from, although it seems nightshade (photo on the right) was the main ingredient.
Everybody who put this strap on, transformed into a werewolf and stayed in this form until he put the strap off.
See the similarities?
Transformation of body demands loosing clothes. Physical changes are simply too big.
- barr: without clothes
They need a strap made of animal skin.
- bar: with bear's skin (or skin of another animal).
Myth about Lycaon
Probably first werewolf was Lycaon. He was Arkadian king who dared to put a god to test. There are at least ten versions of this myth, so we'll not go into unnecessary (bloody) details.
Lycaon served human meat to Zeus wondering if god (gods are omniscient, basically meaning they know everything) will notice.
Zeus noticed this 'prank' and cursed him so Lycaon was transformed to wolf. The myth says he had to put his cloths off, swimm across a lake and try to survive nine years without eating human flesh.
Lycanthropy is ability of a human to transform into a wolf. It got its name after Lycaon.
See the similarities?
Lycaon was serving human flesh (some sources say it was his own son, but don't panic, he had 50 sons).
- werewolves are connected with cannibalism
He had to put his clothes off and than transformed into a wolf.
- the same transformation as in already described magical ritual.
Can we blame a drug using for transformations (shapeshifting)?
We can connect many documented trials against werewolves with drugs and nightshade is only one of them. Not all intoxications were volantary. At least one well explored and documented case from France (Pont St. Esprit in 1951) can explain mass halluciantions with visions of being transformed into raging monsters.
The fact is more than one hundred people were poisoned with Claviceps Purpurea (fungus growing on rye - on photo above) which can produce similar effect as LSD. And this kind of poisonings were surely much more often in medieval times.
Another widely used drug in these times was poppy. And I must add nightshade is in our country populary called wolf cherry. I suppose it is not called so because it is suitable only for wolves. It can actually cause people believing they changed into wolves!
Sightings of werewolves are still often in countries where people still compete for place and food with real wolves. There is still a lot of fear from wolves present, so mystical powers are often accompanied to them.
If wolf is extinct species, werewolf is only a fictional character.
It is not a surprise reported cases of werewolves nowadays come from North Europe, Russia, Canada and parts of Asia where wolves are still present in nature.
In Africa, where other predators are living, local population regularly encounter werelions and werecrocodiles.
And we should not forget weretigers (picture on the right) in India.
What about the folklore?
Werewolf is typical guest in horror fiction for adults. In fables and fairy tales for children the role of a smart, cunning and evil predator is reserved for wolves. Some of them are bloodthirsty like wolf in Little Red Cap, some of them are able to transform as wolflike monster in The Beauty and the Beast and some are willing to offer a help like wolf in Golden Bird.
Well, wolf is a helper in Golden Brird only in our (Slovene) version, because wolf still live in our country. Golden Bird in Germany offers a fox as a helper because wolves were almost extinct in this country when brothers Grimm wrote their famous collection. And we can find the same fairy tale with a bear wanting to transfer back into human being in Russia...
Shall I add in all three versions decapitation is the key to the original human shape?
What do you think?
Who's afraid of Morbach monster?
Morbach is a place near Wittlich, a town in Germany. Last werewolf in the country is supposed to be killed right here. They say in Morbach at least one candle should be always on.
Is a Werewolf of Bedburg coming back?
Peter Stubbe was executed near Cologne and something strange is going on near Wittlich...
Not so long ago police patroles noticed the light was off.
And right after that several policemen reported seeing a creature similar to a dog, just much bigger, even bigger than a man, standing on last legs.
When they approached, the creature escaped by jumping across two and a half meter fence. Nobody knows what was that, but it certainly wasn't a man.
And it wasn't a wolf either.
Wittlich is not too far from Cologne, where Peter Stubbe died in extreme pains. Is it possible he came back for more blood? Seeking revenge on descendants of his executioners?
Or he is just another werewolf wanting to get into his human form back, basically asking for help?
Remember? Peter Stubbe died on October 31.
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