Many people believe that the origin of the werewolf myth was a result of seeing someone with hypertrichosis, which causes excessive hair growth on humans. The hair often covers the entire body. Another possible source is that villages had been poisoned by Ergot, a mold that grew in food. This drug would cause people to act strangely and hallucinate. However, the werewolf myths were first mentioned by Ovid and have been passed down through several different cultures
Signs of a werewolf
If you have a friend that acts strangely during a full moon watch out for these signs of a werewolf.
1. If you happen to be in the same room as the suspect on the night of a full moon watch what they are doing if they start to pace and prowl about the room as the sun goes down be careful if they start to walk on all fours.
2. Werewolves know they are dangerous and try to get family and friends away if the suspect begs you to leave.
3. In the hours before they change werewolves gain acute hearing, animal strength, and a hightened sense of smell.
4. Look at the fingernails werewolves have reddish almond shaped nails and may have a nail as hard as the claw of a wolf on their left thumb.
5. Werewolves have very broad hands also look at the third finger if it is unusually long watch out!
6. Being a werewolf is exhasting so they are pale and tired looking the day after a full moon
7. Werewolves are also very thirsty after a full moon.
8. Werewolves have long swinging strides like that of a prowling wolf.
9. Finally a not very helpful russian tip- look under the tongue of the suspect to see if it has bristles
Ergot poisoning has been proposed to explain werewolf episodes in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries as both a cause of an individual believing that he or she is a werewolf and of a whole town believing that they had seen a werewolf.
Ergotism was known by a variety of names:
- St. Anthony’s Fire, and – to the physicians of seventeenth-century England – ‘suffocation of the mother’.
- The fungus ergot is sometimes known as Wolf or Wolfszahn (‘Wolf-tooth’).
Among the symptoms of this virulent, and often lethal, condition are: disruption of motor control functions, causing tremors and writhing, wry neck, convulsions, rolling eyes, and speechlessness; dizziness, confusion, hallucinations, panic attacks, and delusions; extreme thirst, uncontrollable appetite; feelings of extreme heat, or even cold, with itching and tingling, swelling and blistering of the skin.
During the period from 1520 to 1630 there were over 30,000 werewolf trials in France alone. Most of the people who were tried as being werewolves were poor, and came from lowlands with elevations less than 500 feet above sea level.
Rye bread was a staple for the poorer people of France, and after cold winters the rye developed the Ergot fungus, a widespread parasite of cereal grains. Dr. Mary Matossian, professor of history at the University of Maryland, derived a theory that the peasants were eating a rye bread that was contaminated by a fungus that acted as a powerful hallucinogenic.
Becoming a Werewolf
There are a variety of ways that legend states you can become a werewolf.
In modern fiction the most common belief is that you must be bitten by a werewolf to become one, thus making the werewolf curse nothing more than a virus/contagion that is spread to the surviving victim. This is rare in legend as most werewolf attacks seldom left any remaining survivors.
In werewolf films it is not always clear whether the werewolf infects the victim with the disease or the person must be under some curse. Some claim that simply having food prepared by a Lycanthrope is enough to transfer the infection.
Old folk tales of a God’s curse mix with the modern disease of rabies. The situation states that a person is bitten by a mad dog or another animal and over time becomes mad and savage thus taking on the characteristics of a mad animal/beast. In the movies, this sort of transference is seen from the bite of a werewolf similar to that of the bite of a mad dog infected with rabies.
Another option is to dress in wolf skins on the night of a full moon. Some people believe that you must make a pact with the devil or eat another human being to turn into a werewolf. The one thing that the legends agree on is that the transformation process is horribly painful.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Werewolves are incredibly strong and can heal very quickly. They age more slowly than humans and many people believe that they are immortal. However, there are weaknesses as well. Werewolves can be killed with silver, either a knife or a bullet. Another weakness is that werewolves lose control of themselves when they change, especially during the full moon.
- Super agility
- Super senses
- Super strength
- Lightning quick
- Razor sharpe claws and teeth
- Can walk during the day and night
- Have no control while in wolf form just an animal.
Werewolves in Various Cultures
Werewolves are predominately found in European cultures and legends. However, shape shifters are found in other cultures as well, but instead of a wolf, the animal the people change into varies. There have been werewolf legends reported within the United States, and in Portugal. The stories of the shape shifters in other cultures are very similar to the werewolf legends, and many consider them a slight variation of the same basis for the story.
The image of werewolves has changed much more than the origin. Some movies have them pinpointed as desperate, ravenous creatures that are only intent on death and blood….
Others infuse comedy into the werewolf legend….
While others offer a more human, compassionate side to these creatures….
Fact or fiction? Pure evil, funny party animals, or emotional guardians? That’s all up for debate.