Monday, December 14, 2015

Where Wolves Become Werewolves (Wikipedia) by SpookyLady InSanDiego

Chances are you’ve probably heard of werewolves. Whether in European mythology or even the Twilight series, werewolves rank amongst the top movie monsters in popular culture alongside Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster.

When folks are asked about werewolves, several things come to mind: Killing them with silver bullets or knives, using wolfsbane to drive the wolf out of a person or locking them up during full moons so they cannot transform. But what exactly are this cryptid’s origins?
The word werewolf comes from lycanthrope; the Greek words lycos (wolf) and anthropos (man). It can also be traced to the Old English words were (male human) and wulf (wolf). Many cultures around the world believe in the ability for human to shape-shift into animals. These include native American, the ancient Greeks, Norse and Asian cultures. In some of legends a human gains the ability to change into a bird, coyote, dragon or other animal. These transformations sometimes last a few days a year, a few days a month (during a full moon) or sometimes even for years. 
One of the first stories of humans becoming wolves are found the book Histories, written by the “father of history,” the Greek philosopher Herodotus. He wrote that the Scythian people would transform into wolves a few days a year. Lycaon is another figure in Greek mythology, who is said to have turned into a werewolf after eating a human child’s flesh. Other Greek philosophers including Ovid, Pliny the Elder and Virgil wrote of human-wolf transformations.
The legends are varied about how one becomes a werewolf: A person can be born a werewolf from lycanthropic parents or having been born during a full moon. Ancient warriors would often wear wolf skins, fur or even heads during battle, making them look even more fearful and like werewolves to their enemies. Sheep farmers, fearing werewolves would decimate their flocks, hunted wolf packs to the brink of extinction. Many years ago when serial murders took place and couldn’t be explained, sometimes werewolves were to blame. Other times witchcraft was thought to be part of the problem. Even saints were said to turn people into werewolves to serve as a divine punishment.

Some werewolves are depicted as being extremely large wolves while others are humanlike, sometimes even walking upright, but having many features of a wolf (covered in fur, canine-like eyes, ears and muzzle, a tail and claws).

Today werewolves are still frightening, such as the ones in movies like An American Werewolf in London, Underworld and Van Helsing. Then there are less scary ones, such as Jacob Black and his family in the Twilight films, who are sworn to protect their friends and family against vampires. Through their many incarnations, werewolves continue to fascinate and terrorize ancient, modern and popular cultures.

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