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History of Werewolves

The word werewolf means "man-wolf" and is most commonly used to describe a person who can change himself/herself into a wolf or some other animal.

Human characteristics of wolves and possibly werewolves:

1. They can be gentle.

2. They are loyal among themselves for they often mate for life and stay in family groups.

3. They can be both good and bad, gentle and fierce, kind and cruel.

The belief that man came from animals contributed to the werewolf legend. The practice of wearing animal skins for ceremonial dances or hunting contributed to the legend because some people did not understand and would easily think that these dancers and hunters had turned into the animals they were impersonating.

Shapeshifting is a complicated act, accompanied by carefully performed rituals:

1. The werewolf has to strip off his clothes before he can change. It is important, in most werewolf stories, that the werewolf's clothes be nearby when he wants to change back into human shape. If they are not, he has to stay a werewolf.

2. In many parts of the world, it is believed that the werewolf must smear himself with a special ointment after he had taken off his clothes. The ingredients of the ointmnet vary, although most come from plants. After rubbing the ointment on, the werewolf puts on a wolf skin or a belt made of wolf or human skin. There were exact dimensions for making these intricately designed belts. For example, if human skin was used, it usually had to be that of a murderer, and as wide as three fingers held together.

3. After putting on his skin or belt, the werewolf had to chant a spell in order to make his transformation complete. While reciting his spell, the werewolf had to stand in the middle of a magic circle. This was the most risky form of changing for a werewolf to do since it was harder to say the spell when in wolf form in order to change back.

According to other beliefs, it was even easier to become a werewolf. All you had to do was eat roast wolf; or eat or smell certain powerful herbs; or drink water out of a wolf's footprint. Putting on a shirt made of wolf skin could automatically turn one into a wolf from nine days. Rolling around in the dirt naked under a full moon was also a favorite technique.

To change back to human shape, a werewolf usually had to reverse whatever he had done to become a wolf. Some werewolves changed back into humans automatically at sunrise.

Non-werewolves could change werwolves back into human shape, too. When most werewolves are wounded, they turn back into human shape with the same wound pattern. Making the sign of a cross near a werewolf or calling him by his human name was supposed to work, if the name used was the one the werewolf was baptized with, and if it was repeated three times. You could also take three drops of blood or hit his forehead three times with a knife. Most werewolves had to have someone change them back and that was not always possible.

Especially in the Middle Ages, shapeshifting was considered a very real and very serious problem. Some Church authorities said the Devil was responsible for shifting people into animal shapes.


1. Once in wolf form, the werewolf can terrorize and murder people and farm animals.

2. Werewolves simply run through moonlit fields and forests, no longer burdened by human worries.

3. Wolf form enable them to do good deeds.

Good werewolves were far fewer in numbers than evil ones. Most ordinary werewolves were changed against their will. They became wolves by accident or because the Devil or someone else had forced them into it. These wolves were often very religious.


History of Werewolves Pt. 2