Mythical Creatures: Werewolves I

Whenever a full moon appears in the sky, someone somewhere is thinking about a werewolf. This beastly creature has been a favorite of movie makers, monster hunters, and book writers for many years. In this article, you will learn a bit about the history of the werewolf, as well as some of the cultures that believe in this mythical creature.  

What is a Werewolf?

In many cultures, there are forms of the mythical creature known as a werewolf (or lycanthrope). They usually appear as a man during the day, and may turn into a wolf by night when there is a full moon. The werewolf is often described as relentless and with a thirst for blood. The werewolf possesses superhuman strength and senses, which help them locate and attack their prey. For instance, they are equipped with nocturnal eyesight that gives them an advantage at night. They may slaughter livestock in the middle of the night or find an unsuspecting victim who has been out too late. It has a reputation for devouring their victims with no remorse.

Origin of the Werewolf

Werewolves were popular creatures featured in European folk tales and Russian superstitions. There are stories about these shape shifters that have been around for centuries with variations in many different countries, such as China, Iceland, Brazil, and Haiti. Some of the earliest accounts of the hairy beasts come from Romania and Greece. In the publication Metamorphoses, Ovid tells of King Lycaeon who had been turned into a wolf form when the gods learned that a tainted dish of human flesh agreed with his palate. Norsemen spoke of a race of people that wore ‘wolf coats.’ There were tales of a female werewolf from a royal bloodline that dates back to the 1500s.

Powers of a Werewolf

Besides possessing great strength, the werewolf is described as being as strong as 12 average men. Werewolves are believed to forego the aging process and do not suffer from most physical disease since they are able to quickly regenerate their body tissue. Because of this, it is not uncommon to read about werewolves being immortal.

Werewolf Witch Trials

When the far spread about werewolves, the Baltic countries (especially in Estonia) held werewolf witch trials, which combined the condemning of witches and werewolves at the same time. Records show that between 1610 and 1650, Estonia held about 100 witch trials, where 29 women and 26 men were executed for sorcery. By the end of the 13th century, Christianity had already been established, but pagan-related ceremonies were still held in the following centuries. Europeans of the 17th century embraced a growing interest in the occult and the supernatural. Werewolves were still a commonly held belief. During the trails, the public believed the accused were werewolves, while the government saw them as witches.