Perhaps the most shocking aspect of werewolf reports is not the fact that the creatures are half-wolf half-human creatures capable of ripping a human to shreds, but rather how close to civilization they are often reported to operate. The werewolf phenomena, or lycanthropy as it is known, has been documented as far back as the sixteenth century, and possibly even earlier than that. Although many factors of the werewolf phenomena are based on pop culture rather than mythology, sightings of the creatures follow the conventions of both.
One legend of the origins of werewolves can be traced back to St. Patrick and the catholic tradition. St. Patrick, while teaching his ways to the locals of one tribe in Ireland found the people to be animalistic and fierce, and howled at him as he tried to speak with them. As St. Patrick left the tribe, behind him he heard the howls of the men become even more feral and tortured. Soon after reports of the tribe indicated that the tribe had been transformed into half-man creatures who consumed flesh and ran through the forests at night sometimes for seven years at a time. Of course by this time werewolves were already well known in mythology.
Though modern popular culture says to be bitten by a werewolf is to share the lycanthrope’s curse, this is rarely the case in mythology. Werewolves are generally thought to be either magically cursed or born as werewolves. Defenses against werewolves generally were thought to be mistletoe, mountain ash, and wolfsbane. The silver bullet legend came from the slaying of the Gevaudan monster by Jean Chastel in 1767.
Reports of werewolves, however, are not confined to legend as many have seen the creatures spanning several hundred years including as recently as 2006. Werewolves have been spotted on Bray Road leaping in front of cars, running across the road, chasing cars (and keeping up with them) and tearing a deer from the tailgate of one road kill cleanup crew’s truck. The creature apparently looks like a mixture between a wolf and another large hairy bipedal creature, possibly a bear or human.
In the early years of the twentieth century, a farmer spotted a pair of wolves stalking the pathway he was walking down. Terrified, the farmer jumped up into a tree deftly, and apparently was not heard for the wolves stopped nearby and began talking to one another, even sharing a box of snuff between the two of them before continuing on. The farmer clung terrified to the tree until they were completely gone, then descended and gathered up the snuff box and kept it secretly, tracing it to a member of the community. After the wolf-man died of natural causes years later, the farmer checked on the grave stone where reportedly a series of scratch marks were all over it as though a wolf had been clawing or marking it somehow. At least that’s how the legend goes.
Of course one of the earliest is likely the Norse “Berserker” who would don the skins of animals in order to gain their strengths and lose all sense of fear. Of course this is just scratching the surface of the werewolf phenomena, and hundred if not thousands of reports and stories throughout Earth’s history tell of were-creatures.