MySpace Graphics

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Werewolves, Myth and Legend

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Like vampires, shape shifter legends appear in many forms and in many societies around the world. In countries where the wolf is not indigenous, these may take the form of were leopards or were tigers, even were cats and were dogs.

In Europe, the werewolf legends greatly parallel the development of the vampire legends during the Middle Ages. The supposed first evidence of a werewolf occurred in 1591 around German towns of Colongne and Bedburg. Villagers, plagued by wolves, hunted them down, when one wolf changed form, becoming a villager called Peter Stubbe. He was accused of killing over sixteen people and brutally executed. Just as with witch hunts and vampire staking, the hysteria over werewolves continued to plague Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance eras. In France alone, between 1520 and 1630, some 30.000 individuals were charged with being werewolves and most suffered death for it.

Some of the same physical explanations are given for people believing they were werewolves and the werewolf hysteria as for witches and vampires. Ergot poisoning, the infected grain which causes hallucinations and is thought to be the cause of the New England witch trials, is one possible cause. Also the diseases of Porphyries, which is often sited as matching the symptoms of vampirism, and rabies, are considered possible causes.

Werewolves are also linked with insanity and madness from early on. In his 1621's work entitled Anatomy of Melancholy Robert Burton, a clergyman and scholar, considered lycanthrope to be a form of madness. Even today Lycanthropy is a recognized mental disorder, where the victim believes they are a wolf and acts accordingly. Some people chose to distinguish between Lycanthropy and werewolves. Werewolves actually change, while lycanthrope only believes they change.

Today our perception, thanks to the movies, is that you become a werewolf only by being bitten by one, just as you become a vampire by being bitten. But in the Middle Ages, werewolves were most often thought to be witches who deliberately turned themselves into wolves by performing a magical ritual that included rubbing their naked bodies with special ointment and wearing of a magical girdle of wolf skin or a wolf pelt

One of the persistent vampire myths is that vampires can turn themselves into wolves or that they controlled the "creatures of the night" as Count Dracula called them. So from the very beginning, werewolves and vampires have been linked together.

For more information:

No comments:

Post a Comment