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Werewolf Facts

Updated on May 22, 2015

Shape-shifters have always been a fascination for horror fans. Since the early middle ages when food for both man and animal were scarce, stories abounded about wolves and human/wolf creatures attacking and killing villagers.

The fan adoration of these tormented beasts has not let up in the least. With new werewolf movies, books and comics surfacing all the time.

They usually appear as a supporting character or enemy of vampires though this seems to be a complete creation of Hollywood story tellers.

A wolf howling in the snow
A wolf howling in the snow | Source

5. The Name "Werewolf"

The name of werewolves is thought to stem from one of three main influences. The first train of thought implies that the modern word werewolf evolved from two old english (Saxon) words wer and wulf. The meaning of wer is man and wulf generally meant beast though was thought to have been translated to more accurately mean wolf.

The second idea dictates that it has evolved from another old english word weri which means to wear. It is thought by some that warriors of the north in Europe would sometimes clothe themselves in wolves skin or bears skin to make themselves more frightening. Hence the term werewolf. Or in terms of bear skin they were referred to as berserkers.

The last widely accept theory of the origin of the name came from the old Norse name werg-wolf. The word werg was said to mean rogue in Norse and was used in old English to describe an animal, a wolf in particular, which would destroy a herd of sheep but eat very little of what was killed.

The term lycanthropy comes from ancient Greek and means wolf (lýkos) human (ánthropos). Werewolves in pop culture are often referred to as lycanthropes.

Image - In Harmony Purchase print

A silver bullet is said to be a sure stop to a werewolf
A silver bullet is said to be a sure stop to a werewolf

4. How To Kill A Lycanthrope

The silver bullet method is arguably the most famous way of dispatching our favorite furry monster but it is a relatively new introduction to the werewolf story line. It is not recorded in any werewolf stories or tales before the 19th century. In fact the first occurrence seems to have been in 1935 by a novelist retelling a famous tale of a werewolf from 1767.

More traditional methods from older tales include destroying the heart by any means necessary. Without it's heart the werewolf's circulatory system would stop. This is also true for it's brain. If you can remove the head of a werewolf it is said to kill it as well. For obvious reasons.

Different methods of killing it's two main organs can be used with success. Things such as hanging or drowning will destroy the werewolf's brain effectively killing it. The heart could be attacked as well using something like electricity or piercing which would kill the werewolf. Incinerating the monster would be doubly effective as it would destroy everything the werewolf needs to function.

Image - Silver Bullet

Werewolves Anyone?

17th oil on canvas painting of a werewolf
17th oil on canvas painting of a werewolf | Source

3. Recognizing A Werewolf

Recognizing a werewolf wouldn't be difficult if it were always in it's wolf form but what about the times when it is in it's human form? Would you know what clues to look for?

Luckily there are a few telltale signs that someone is a werewolf. The signs can be broken into two main categories and are easy to spot.

The first are the physical signs. Things like hairy palms and an arching uni-brow, a long curved thumbnail and an extra long middle finger can all be physical signs that someone is a lycanthrope. Be wary though, they may be trying to hide their identity so they may be shaving or waxing unusual hair growth. Use physical signs and behavioral signs to identify a potential werewolf.

Behavioral signs are things like increased aggression and agitation. Sleeplessness is said to be a symptom accompanied with strange behavior at night, including a preoccupation with being in cemeteries after dark. It is said that werewolves have to sleep with there mouths open to avoid some form of lockjaw while they sleep.

Image - Werewolf returning home Purchase print


Caged werewolf doesn't look happy
Caged werewolf doesn't look happy

More About Werewolves

2. Lycanthropy As A Legal Defense

Peter Stubb- Seems old Peter, after being stretched on the rack, confessed to an astonishing list of crimes back in 1589. After confessing to murder, cannibalism, and an incestuous relationship with a relative he further shocked everyone with the admission that he did so while being a werewolf.

He claimed to have been practicing black magic since the age of twelve and had made a pact with the devil. In return for his allegiance he was offered a magic griddle with which he could assume the form of a wolf.

His execution was no less spectacular being one of the most brutal on record. Click the link for more information from wiki.

Gilles Garnier- Gilles was another cannibal in the late 1500s who claimed the ability to shape shift, unfortunately the skill also involved killing children.

His claims stated that a specter appeared in the woods while he was hunting that claimed to have an anointment that would allow him to change into a wolf. From there it appears he just started hunting everything.

He was tried and Garnier was found guilty of "crimes of lycanthropy and witchcraft" and subsequently burned at the stake.

Beast of Gévaudan- Were said to be wolf-like men that attacked former province of Gévaudan in the Margeride Mountains in south-central France from 1764 to 1767. But wait it gets better.

It was said that the creatures attacked their victims by going for the throat and the estimates on the number of attacks is remarkable. Numbers put the attacks at 210 total with 113 being fatal, 98 of the deaths were consumed or partial consumed by the attackers.

A gigantic man-hunt (wolf-man hunt?) was launched which included the royal army in an effort to stop these creatures with an insatiable lust for blood. The attacks stopped when a local hunter killed a wolf which had human remains in it's stomach. It is said that a writer retelling the story many years later introduced the idea that the hunter had killed the wolf with a bullet he had made himself out of silver, leading to the current belief that silver is harmful to werewolves.

Image - Werewolf in a cage

Lon Chaney Jr as the classic Universal Films Wolfman
Lon Chaney Jr as the classic Universal Films Wolfman | Source

1. Ways of Becoming A Werewolf

The ways to become a werewolf as almost as numerous and fun as a vampires. Interestingly the most common way of becoming a werewolf in modern horror, being bitten by a werewolf, does not appear in any of the ancient werewolf legends or stories. It would seems the "infection" method is an invention of clever hollywood writers.

Some methods of becoming a werewolf include :

  • Wear the skin of a wolf freshly killed.
  • Drinking rainwater out of a fresh wolf footprint, then eating a wolf brain and finally sleeping in it's lair.
  • Sleeping outside during the full moon with moonshine on your face
  • As part of a satanic pact.
  • Being cursed at birth
  • Some witches were said to have achieved shape shifting through using spells and potions
  • Demons and devils were said to be able to inhabit humans and change them into wolves in order to attack others

Image - Lon Chaney as the Wolfman in a Universal movie classic.

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Werewolf References

Sites used as reference while compiling the information for this article.

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    • JeremyCrow profile image

      JeremyCrow 6 years ago

      Cool roundup of info on the werewolf! Thanks for creating this page.

    • surfer1969 lm profile image

      surfer1969 lm 6 years ago

      An interesting len.

    • surfer1969 lm profile image

      surfer1969 lm 6 years ago

      There was a kewl tv show on animal planet call the dark survivor It was a look Into a form of rabies from the first known werewolf.It was kinda like a made up sho0w that they made to give a different point of viewed.But anyway I found the rabies theory to be very neat.You see rabies eats away at the brain more or less and poison the body.But lets say that the virus mutates In a different way to where the person could survived It.But they needed blood to survived.A virus Is always mutating Itself and not all viruses are bad for the person that have them or animal also.I seen to recall a study of an unknown cell that some people seem to have that no one can figured out.Could be a genetic throwback or something.I wished I could remembered know on the virus and those cells,but I can't.I've a unknown cell In my body that no one can figured out too.But I'm stronger and faster then most of the people I know In my family and my click of friends too.I know that I can't donate any blood because of this unknown cell too.They already told me that.

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very interesting stuff. I didn't know there was so much to Werewolves!

    • PopArtGirl profile image

      PopArtGirl 5 years ago

      Love this lens! Great work!

    • Tyla MacAllister profile image

      Tyla MacAllister 5 years ago

      Wow! I thought I was a werewolf buff but I learned a lot from this lens.The silver bullet history was especially interesting. I always thought that was a Hollywood invention. Off to read the rest of your monster facts pages.

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 5 years ago

      Very creative (and informative!) lens. Angel Blessed!

    • sudokunut profile image

      Mark Falco 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Great lens, loved reading it! I think the movie Brotherhood of the Wolf was based on the beast of Gevaudan, at least, the story is pretty similar from what you have written here.

    • HenkWillemse profile image

      HenkWillemse 5 years ago

      Real freaky stuff, great lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i am a werewolf

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 4 years ago

      Some interesting stuff, I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 4 years ago from Texas

      I've always been a fan of werewolves, but didn't know all these facts. Interesting!

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      I really like this lens. So much so that I used it as a featured lens in my own lens about werewolves.

      TonyB

    • profile image

      christineallen 4 years ago

      A lot of really fascinating information here. Great lens

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      This was a fun read.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hey I need to know how a wherewolf can sense another, if they can... i need info pronto where can i learn this?

    • profile image

      boblet4239 3 years ago

      @anonymous: you cant its instinct not something you can learn....trust me

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