The Basics

Part I
The Basics

1) What is alt.horror.werewolves?

Welcome to alt.horror.werewolves! This newsgroup is probably a little different than most groups you've come across in Usenet. If you're reading it based on the name, then chances are you have an interest in werewolves and horror-genre fiction. So do we... but there's more to it than that. We do discuss werewolves in movies, literature, and art... but we also discuss windigos, werebears, wereleopards, weretigers, ravens, werebats, wererats, polymorphs... any shapeshifter at all. We talk about theriomorphs, both physical and spiritual; about methods of changing, about personal philosophies, and about fun. What were all those terms up there? Read on; everything will be explained in time. But be aware that AHWW is more than is seems at first glance!

A little ettiquette before we continue: Whenever entering a new newsgroup, it's a good idea to lurk for a while, and try to fathom from posts by folks who have been there a while what sorts of things are okay to talk about and what topics are forbidden. By reading this FAQ, you've taken a big step in that direction: A FAQ is the group's official declaration of being; it tells everyone who read it what the group is about. Most all usenet newsgroups have a FAQ of some sort; asking for it before you post is considered good manners. Also: Even if you don't agree with a group's purpose, flaming them is generally a very bad idea. Especially a group like AHWW. *toothy grin*

2) A little history....

AHWW was originally grouped November 16, 1992, as a logical extension of the alt.horror heirarchy. As such, it was intended for discussion of horror-genre movies and books dealing with werewolves. It received very little traffic; on the order of 2 or 3 posts a day, if that.

It began to attract folks with an intense interest in werewolves and shapechangers in general. Gradually, the conversations shifted to discuss what werewolves meant to these people personally, and how they entered into their worldview. Some of the original posters resented the change and left... which is unfortunate, because we have had many detailed discussions about werewolf flicks in the past three years.

As the discussions grew more and more philosophical, a concept known as spiritual therianthropy was formed. (more on this later) More and more folks joined in, and soon AHWW was enjoying almost a hundred posts a day. This led to some confusion... especially during the "winter of our discontent" recently, when some nasty words were exchanged and confusion reigned. This revised FAQ is one of the positive things to come from that.

What does the future hold? AHWW, its participants, and its discussions will always stay with me, personally. Who knows what will happen to the Internet, and the alt. groups, as time goes by? But the friendships started here will last, I suspect; even if the "information superhighway" decides it no longer needs us.

3) What is a lycanthrope? A theriomorph?

Lycanthrope \'li-ken-throp\ n (NL lycanthropus, fr. GK lykanthropos werewolf, fr. lykos wolf + anthropos man) 1:a person displaying lycanthropy 2:a werewolf

Lycanthropy \'li-kan(t)-thra-pe\ n 1: a delusion that one has become a wolf. 2: the assumption of the form and characteristics of a wolf held to be possible by witchcraft or magic - lycanthropic adj.

Theriomorphic \'thir-e-o-'mor-fik\ adj (GK theriomorphos, fr. therion beast + morphe form - more at treacle): having an animal form <~gods>

-- Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary

This is lifted verbatim from the encyclopaedia credited below, without authorisation. 'Belief in the werewolf, or "spirit-wolf," probably began with early medieval wolf clans who worshipped their totemic gods in wolf form, as did some people of the Greco-Roman world centuries earlier. Zeus Lycaeus, or Lycaeon, was a Pelasgian wolf-king who reigned in a nine- year cycle as spouse of the Ninefold Goddess, Nonacris. Virgil said the first werewolf was Moires, spouse of the trinitarian Fategoddess (Moera), from whom he learned secrets of magic, including the necromantic knack of calling up the dead from their tombs. Lycanthropy (werewolfism) was named for Apollo Lycaeus, "Wolfish Apollo," who used to be worshipped in the famous Lyceum or "Wolf- temple" where Socrates taught. Apollo was mated to Artemis as a divine Wolf Bitch at Troezen, where she purified Orestes with the blood of nine sacrificial victims. Pausanias said Apollo was originally an Egyptian deity, deriving his name from Up-Uat (Ap-ol), a very ancient name of Anubis. Another Roman version of the wolf god was Dis Pater, Soranus, or Feronius, consort of the Sabine underground Goddess Feronia, "Mother of Wolves." A certain Roman family claimed descent from her Sabine priestesses, and annually demonstrated her power by walking barefoot over glowing coals during the festival of the Feronia. She was also identified with Lupa the She-Wolf, whose spirit purified Palatine towns through the agency of young men in wolf skins, consecrated by participating in the Lupercalia or Festival of the She-Wolf.

The She-Wolf was another aspect of the Triple Goddess, as shown by her triadic motherhood. She gave three souls to her son, the legendary King Erulus or Herulus, so that when he was overthrown by Evander, he had to be killed three times. The Amazons, who worshipped the Triple Goddess, incorporated a tribe called the Neuri, who "turned themselves into wolves" for a few days each year during their main religious festival, presumably by wearing wolf skins and masks. The same story was told of a certain Irish tribe in Ossory, who became wolf-people when attending their yuletide feast, devouring the flesh of cattle as wolves, and afterward regaining their human shape. "Giraldus Cambrensis relates this great wonder in detail, as in operation in his own time, and believed every word of it."

The heathens' devotion to ancestral wolf gods in Teutonic Europe is evinced by the popularity of such names as Wolf, Wulf, Wolfram, Wolfburg, Aethelwulf, Wolfstein, etc. "Beowulf son of Beowulf," hero of the Anglo-Saxon epic, was called Scyld by the Danes, who said he came from the waters in a basket like Romulus and Remus, foster-sons of the She-Wolf.

Irish tribes said their spiritual fathers were wolves, and for that reason they wore wolf skins and used wolves' teeth for healing amulets. Celtic folksongs tell of children or wives transformed into wolves. One whole tribe was said to assume wolf shape (every) seventh year. As Germanic "berserkers" could become bears by donning bearskins, so it was thought that people could become wolves by donning wolf pelts.

In Mercia during the 10th century A.D. there was a revival of pagan learning under two druidic priests, one of whom was named Werwulf. This name of "spirit-wolf" seems to have been applied to opponents of Christianity in general. About 1000 A.D., the wolf "werewolf" was taken to mean an outlaw.

South Slavs used to pass a newborn child through a wolf skin, saying that it was thus born of the She-Wolf. After their conversion to Christianity, the people claimed this ceremony would protect the child from witches. But its real purpose, obviously, was to assimilate the child to the wolf totem via a second birth from the wolf.

Livonians said witches routinely transformed themselves into wolves by passing through a certain magic pool, another instance of baptismal rebirth in animal form. Polish legend said a witch could transform a bride and groom into wolves by laying a girdle of human skin across the threshold at their wedding feast. Later they would receive dresses of fur and would regain their human shape at will. Against such totemic ceremonies the 7th-century Council of Toledo issued severe denunciations of people who put on the heads of beasts or "make themselves into wild animals."

Italian peasants still say a man who sleeps outdoors on Friday under a full moon will be attacked by a werewolf, or will become one himself. Friday was the night of the Goddess, and the warning against her lunar influence probably dated back to the myth of Endymion ("Seduced Moon-Man"), who fell asleep on her holy moon- mountain and became her enchanted bridegroom, never to wake up again, so that the Goddess could shower her kisses on him each night.

Another story traceable to wolf-clan traditions was "Little Red Riding Hood." The giveaway details are the red garment, the offering of food to a "grandmother" in the deep woods - a grandmother who wore a wolf skin - and the cannibalistic motif of devouring and resurrection. In Britain, "a red woven hood" was the distinguishing mark of a prophetess or priestess. The story's original victim would not have been the red-clad Virgin but the hunter, as Lord of the Hunt. Like Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood was part of a Virgin-Mother-Crone trinity, wearing the same red garment that Virgin Kali wore; as the red moon of a lunar eclipse she prophesied catastrophe and inspired much fear. Romanian churchmen declared that the eclipsed moon was reddened by her own blood, shed when her wolves attacked her, to "make men repent and turn from evil."

The Gaulish Diana had numerous wolf-cultists among her votaries, in both ancient and medieval times. Under her totemic name of Lupa she was a mother of wild animals, and certain women seem to have impersonated her in southern France. A Provencal troubadour named Pierre Vidal wrote a love poem to a lady of Carcassonne, whose name was Loba, "She-Wolf":

    "When loup-garou the rabble call me,
    When vagrant shepherds hoot,
    Pursue, and buffet me to boot,
    It doth not for a moment gall me,
    I seek not palaces nor halls,
    Or refuge when the winter falls;
    Exposed to winds and frosts at night,
    My soul is ravaged with delight.
    Me claims my she-wolf so divine;
    And justly she that claim prefers,
    For, by my troth, my life is hers
    More than another's, more than mine."

Lovers of the She-Wolf sometimes found her on a holy mountain, which the gypsies called Monte Lupo, Wolf-Mountain. Young men could learn the secrets of magic by celebrating the sacred marriage: masturbating over the Goddess's statue and ejecting semen on it. She would guide and protect them, provided they never again set foot in a Christian church. Her votaries' shape-shifting followed the phases of the moon, which was another form of the Goddess herself. In the 12th century, Gervais of Tilbury noted: "In England we often see men changed into wolves at the changes of the moon."

Sacharow quoted an old Russian charm, to be spoken by one who wished to invoke the Moon-goddess and become a werewolf:

"On the sea, on the ocean, on the island, on Bujan, on the empty pasture gleams the moon, on an ashstock lying in a green wood, in a gloomy vale. Toward the stock wandereth a shaggy wolf, horned cattle seeking for his sharp white fangs; but the wolf enters not the forest, but the wolf dives not into the shadowy vale. Moon, moon, gold-horned moon, check the flights of bullets, blunt the hunters' knifes, break the shepherds' cudgels, cast wild fear upon all cattle, on men, on all creeping things, that they may not catch the gray wolf, that they may not rend his warm skin! My word is binding, more binding than sleep, more binding than the promise of a hero."

This charm has a ring of peasant magic, suggesting a hungry poacher hoping to steal some fresh meat from the baron's herds, under the protection of a wolf skin. Poaching the overlord's cattle or game was punishable by death, which may account for the cruelty meted out to those accused of lycanthropy. One captured "werewolf" in France was so mauled that, a witness said, "he bore hardly any resemblance to a man, and struck with horror those who looked at him." The inquisitor, Pierre Boguet, explained that terrible injuries were common among werewolves, due to the many lacerations they suffered while running through bramble bushes.

Another werewolf captured by the Inquisition in 1598 was "possessed by a demon" while in prison, which gave him such a thirst that he drank a large tubful of water, so his belly was "distended and hard." He refused to eat or drink any more, and soon died. Translating this official report into its probable reality, one would assume the unlucky werewolf was subjected to the water torture and died of a ruptured stomach.

Another unfortunate werewolf was Peter Stubb of Cologne, tortured until he confessed having transformed himself into a wolf by a magic girdle given him by the devil. The judges couldn't find the girdle where Stubb said he hid it, but they explained this by saying it had "gone to the Devil whence it came, so that it was not to be found." Though his case was unproved, Stubb was nastily executed for the crime of lycanthropy: he was sentenced to have the flesh pulled off his bones in ten places with red-hot pincers, then to have his legs and arms broken with a wooden axe; finally to be beheaded and burned.

Yet another werewolf in 1541 never even lasted long enough to go to prison. His captors hacked off his arms and legs, claiming to be searching for the wolf-hair that he wore on the inside of his skin. The hair was not found, so the victim was declared innocent of lycanthropy - which did him little good, as he was already dead.

An often-repeated story concerned a lone man attacked at night by a lone wolf, which he wounded, usually by cutting off a forepaw. Next day a woman would be found with her hand missing, which identified her as the werewolf. Such an incident was reported as fact by Jean de Nynauld in 1615; the woman in the case was burned alive. The story probably recommended itself to some men as a perfect way to dispose of a woman they had mistreated, such as a rape victim.

On December 14, 1598, a tailor of Chalons was sentenced to death for lycanthropy, having confessed to luring children into his shop, murdering and eating them. Methods by which these confessions were extracted from the man can only be guessed, because the judges ordered the court records burned. In 1521 at Poligny, three men were induced by torture to say they had made themselves wolves with a magic salve given them by the devil, and in wolf shape they had eaten several children, and enjoyed sexual relations with wild she- wolves. Gilles Garnier was a famous "lycanthrope" caught by the Inquisition, tortured and executed for having devoured children. The charge was not murder or cannibalism, but lycanthropy. Whatever was left of the pagan wolf cults, it seems the Christian church molded the material into the enduring legend of the werewolf.'

--- From 'The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets' by Barbara G. Walker - Harper & Row, 1983.

In this context, lycanthrope would appear to include only werewolves. However, it has come to refer to any shapeshifter, whether it be werebear, wolf, bat, panther, raven, fox, what have you. A more accurate term, and one that's being used more and more, is theriomorph; as it doesn't connote any specific animal. Both lycanthrope and theriomorph are used interchangably, though.

4) Do you actually believe you're a werewolf?

You'll find that there is no one answer to any question on AHWW. The concept of lycanthropy is held by some to be just an interesting myth, and to others as a means of explaining their worldview; with many gradations of belief inbetween. I personally have never seen a man transfrom physically into an animal, and cannot do it myself; but I'll never rule that possibility out. When folks here call themselves werewolves, they generally mean that they find the characteristics of lycanthropy intriguing and see examples of such in themselves. What those characteristics are and the extent to which they manifest themselves are, again, very personal and will no doubt vary from individual to individual. The next section will deal with this in more detail... patience!

5) Are you guys for real, or are you just role-playing?

Oh, my, yes; we are very much for real.

Many of us like to role-play. We enjoy D&D, or Whitewolf's Werewolf: The Apocalypse, or live role-playing games. But we do not role-play on AHWW... we reserve that for groups where it's expected and condoned; like on a good MUD or FurryMUCK. We may talk about arcade or RP games that deal with shapeshifters, but we don't bog the group down with the minutae of rules and such: that's best left to groups like and the like. And while many of us are "furries", and enjoy good anthro artwork; and related groups are best for that. (More on furries in a later section)

What we discuss here, fun and games aside (because we DO like to have fun as much as the other were), is very serious and real to us. For some of us (not all; again, it's a very personal thing) it's tantamount to discussing a religion. It's not a role, it's real.

6) Well, then, how does one become a werewolf?

The group has collected a number of ways, outlined in legend and literature, held to effect the Change. There are no guarantees that any of this will work... especially if your heart's not really in it. Some of them are downright bizarre, and a couple possibly dangerous: Swim at your own risk. There are quite a few different legends and theories on how one becomes a werewolf; at least as many as there are different werewolf legends-and almost every country in the world has some sort of shape-changing myth. Most of them, predictably, involve demonic possession or enchantment via witchcraft. A few ways to become a were, from Native American mythology: (Note: This uses wolves as an example. Any other animal may be substituted, however.) * Be called by the wolf spirit. * Transformation by the Gods (also appears in Greek myth of Lycan, hence the term "lycanthrope".) * Have a vision of the wolf spirit on a dream-quest. * Have a Dreaming that one is a wolf or running with wolves. * Have a dream of the wolf spirit. * Perform a ritual taught by one's animal spirit. * Be cursed by a shaman. * Perform a ritual invoking the wolf spirit. (There is a similar ritual in Khaos Magick involving hunting dogs where one mentally becomes a dog)

I posted a long list of the methods from folklore I was aware of along with their various sources a long time ago, but I can't seem to find it anywhere now. Anyway, here are a few I am sure were on it or added to it, but I can't find a source list for them at the moment. Some I am fairly sure are relatively recent fabrications, or regional variations on an older method.

    1.) Get bitten by a werewolf.
    2.) Wear the enchanted skin of a dead wolf or werewolf.
    3.) Drink water from a wolf's footprint.
    4.) Eat dust from a wolf's footprint.
    5.) Drink water from certain springs, especially in the

      Harz Mountains in Germany.
    6.) Drink downstream from wolves.
    7.) Possess and wear a moonstone (supposedly not all would do
      it, perhaps an extra enchantment was required?)
    8.) Eat a wolf's brain.
    9.) Sleep outside on a Friday night when the light of a full
      moon can shine on your face while you sleep. This one seems to have originated in Italy.
    10) The 7th of 7 consecutive daughters was supposed to carry
      the werewolf strain (from Germany).
    11) Pluck and wear a rare white marsh flower (the flower's name
      is supposedly lost, but this method comes from the Balkans so it is probably a species that either grows or grew there).
    12) Children born on the winter solstice or Christmas eve
      supposedly had a good chance of becoming a werewolf when puberty was reached.
    13) Get cursed by a powerful witch or wizard or god (eg Zeus
      doing so to Lycaon).
    14) Have sex with a werewolf and survive. (This is one of
      those methods that I believe is a recent addition, but many werewolves seem to vouch for it as being valid. I wonder why? ;-)
    15) Participate in the rituals of a secret society, such as
      one among the Nootka Sound natives.
    16) In shamanistic ritual, gain the wolf as your totem animal
      (or guardian or familiar or whatever applies to the tradition in question) and from this the ability to assume its form. This method would also proably include those who gain such a spirit through meditation or dreams. This is the source for many "spiritual werewolves".

That is all I can remember right now. I am sure there are a few more, but they were even more obscure than some of these, I think. Not included above is the method of just being born with the genetics, since you can not do much about this one way or the other.

-Snowlock {*}

I found this stuff while browsing our university and couldn't resist sharing it with you, although most of you old wolves already know this trivia. The source is A.Wuttke: "Der Deutsche Volks- und Aberglaube der Ge- genwart", published in 1925, and I'll translate a part dealing with belts rumored to enable their wearers to change. It is, as the rest of the book, a compilation of several German folklore sources.

"People (men, women, even boys) change, mostly just for several hours, into wolves by wearing a wolfbelt on the naked body (sometimes also on clothes).
[this belt is made of] wolf's leather or human skin, especially the skin of a hanged man, often adorned with the zodiac, and with seven tongues on the buckle [which must be put] into the ninth hole; if they want to return to their human form, they open the buckle."

Phew, I don't think I got the translation quite right. But those intent on manufacturing such a belt should have gotten the picture on how it is supposed to look like.

And when you're trying this at home, don't forget: one hit to your belly'd loosen the belt and leave you reverted and stark naked.


There are medical cases of dementia in which the victim believes he or she is a werewolf; and a disease called congenital porphyria whose symptoms are very similar to those ascribed to lycanthropy. Science seems to be catching up with it:

The following appeared in the London "Times" newspaper, Wednesday 31 May 1995.

Scientists hunt down the "wolfman" gene

[by our science correspondent]
"Scientists have pinpointed the gene responsible for "Werewolf" syndrome, an extremely rare genetic condition in which patients are covered in dense hair. A team from Texas, which studied a family of Mexicans suffering from congenital generalised hypertrichosis, say that the precise identification of the gene could provide useful information about the normal distribution of human hair, and could eventually have significant application in the treatment of baldness.

Many of the victims of the condition have spent their lives performing in circuses. Four years ago, two Mexican boys aged 9 and 14 were banned from appearing in a circus in Blackpool after protests from child welfare groups.

There have been only about 50 known cases since the Middle ages. The scientists report in "Nature genetics" that they have isolated the gene responsible to the X chromosome. Members of the Mexican family volunteered to provide tissue samples, from which the rough position of the gene was identified".

In addition, it should probably be noted that among many societies, the werewolf has a very negative connotation. The Navajos, for example, fear werewolves as evil witches, bent on causing harm for no reason other than pure malice. To them, the intent to do evil is enough to make one a Navajo Wolf. Which brings us to:

7) Aren't werewolves bloodthirsty killers?

Wolves in general have had a bad reputation. Seen as evil killers, used to embody the worst traits of men, harassed and eradicated as dangerous menaces. Is it at all surprising, then, that humans who can turn themselves into wolves face the same bad press?

In a lot of cases, that's exactly what it is: Bad press. Hollywood, especially, has done more to distort and villify the werewolf than any church. While a lot of original legends and myths hold the werewolf to be a savage, animalistic killer; there are, in fact, many legends that portray him as a kindly soul... although they generally view lycanthropy as a curse rather than a blessing.

The impetus behind such labeling is probably fear: Fear of the unknown, the unexplainable, the unthinkable. Were I to be faced with a snarling, fur-covered manlike shape, I would be enthralled... but I doubt the general public would. Shoot first, ask questions of the corpse later. When the farmer loses his livestock to predation, better to blame the wolf; and by extension, the were.

So what is it? Are shapeshifters vicious animals? I suppose that depends on the personality of the shifter and how his mind functions while shifted. Listen to Ron the Werebat, while I go refill my drink...

8) What are werewolves like, mentally, while transformed?

This question has been the topic of many discussions here on A.H.W., and although each of us probably has our own answer to this question that we are most comfortable with, we are all able to accept other viewpoints on the myth (although most of us don't like the "ravening beast" idea, I think...)

The major ideas given for the mentality of the werewolf (and werebat, and other lycanthrope) while transformed are presented here. I believe all have been supported or at least posted by members of A.H.W. in the past.

1. "Mind of a Wolf" - when the werewolf transforms (for whatever reason) he loses his human mind and takes on the mentality of a normal wolf. This means that while the werewolf would not go out of its way to commit heinous acts of evil, it might for example attack a small child and eat it if it were hungry enough. Similarly, the noise and confusion of the city might scare a werewolf into a frightened frenzy, where it leaps about ripping out throats... It is more likely that a werewolf in wolf form with this mentality would flee to the woods, however, if any were available. The territorial nature of the wolf might prove interesting here - should transformation occur in the house or apartment of the werewolf's human form, it might (if it retains any of its human memory) stick around and "guard" its "territory." Should the transformation occur while walking through unfamiliar territory, the werewolf might be extremely cautious, as it knows that it may well be on someone else's (read: "another territorial wolf's") land.

Exactly how much of the human form's memory is carried over to the wolf form's memory is debatable. Subsets of "Mind of a wolf" might include "memory wiped" (the wolf form has no memory of the human form, no recognition of familiar places/faces), "vague memory" (enough to give the wolf a sense of security in the human form's house or apartment, a sense of trust and connection with one's spouse and loved ones, etc.), and "complete memory" (albeit interpreted through the mind of a wolf). The movie _Ladyhawke_ portrayed a werewolf (and werehawk) with this mentality.

2. "Mind of a Beast" - Similar to the Stevenson tale "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde," the werewolf (while transformed) loses all inhibitions and goes on a wild ID-spree, expressing as many repressed urges as possible before reverting back to human form. This werewolf could be the "ravening beast" who slaughters her cheating husband, her whining children, and her abusive parents in one fell night, or perhaps the disgruntled lawyer who stalks parks on the nights of the full moon to rape and mutilate attractive young women. As with "Mind of a Wolf," the werewolf may or may not remember his or her actions in wolf form after the change. This is the werewolf of classic Hollywood horror.

All of us generally repress violent and sexual urges throughout the course of our lives, although there might be plenty of other things held back by our Egos (or Superegos? I keep forgetting...) regarding those two. Perhaps the homosexual werewolf, repressing his true nature for years and years due to the pressures from his family or church, finds the change enabling him to break free and express his love interest in a co- worker or close friend. Of course, given the fact that all other barriers are down as well, this poor fellow might find himself raping his love interest... Oh, well. This is not the kind of werewolf mentality any of us on A.H.W. would WANT to have, I think. These lycanthropes are typically violent and destructive, more so than normal humans or animals. Name a Hollywood werewolf film (_An American Werewolf in London_, _Silver Bullet_, etc.) and you can bet it will portray werewolf mentality in this manner.

3. "Super-hero" - this is the lycanthrope who remains completely human in mentality after the change occurs. It could just as easily be labelled "Super-villain," since not all humans would use lycanthropic powers for good... Still, it is probably the least horrific of lycanthrope mentalities (at least for the individual lycanthrope). The White Wolf game _Werewolf - the Apocalypse_ seems to portray werewolf mentality this way, although werewolves are slightly affected by their wolf nature depending on what form they are in and can still frenzy on occasion... a better example of a lycanthrope with this mentality would probably be Kirk Langstrom as Man-bat, after he perfected his formula and could retain his sanity while he changed (before this, Man-bat had possessed a "Mind of the Bat" mentality). It is not one of the more exciting mentalities to talk about, since we already know it in human form - however, even a normal person's psyche may be considerably altered on looking into the mirror and seeing the reflection of a wolf, having to walk on all fours, and recieving a cornucopia of sensory stimulii in the form of new scents and sounds.

These are the three main viewpoints, although I must stress that rarely do we find a lycanthrope that expresses only one of these mindsets. Usually, the lycanthrope is primarily one of the three types, with aspects of one or both of the others apparent from time to time. A "Super-hero" werebat might use his sonar to hunt live pigeons and eat them on the wing (Who? Me? Nah... Well, maybe...). A "Mind of the Wolf (Bear)" werebear might be outside eating berries when he catches his wife making love to another man on a grassy knoll, and fly into a rage (Mind of the Beast), killing them both. You get the picture.

- Ron the Werebat ^*^

Thank you, Ron! *fresh Coke fizz sounds* Well, if that old saw is mostly just legend, what about the others? Like:

9) How does the full moon effect werewolves? (and other legends)

Again, this is going to have MANY different interpretations. The moon didn't always figure into the equation in a lot of myths, and silver is a fairly recent adaptation... The moon has long been held to cause insanity or otherwise effect human thinking. Many of us feel energized on nights of the full moon, and spend long hours gazing at its face. In legend, the effects of the moon range from nil to being the only time a were can change; and often forcing that change. I prefer somewhere in the lower middle: It can facilitate the change, but isn't necessary.

Silver is one of those metals that's held to have mystical properties, for various reasons; not the least of which is its relative scarcity and value. It's generally regarded to hold religious significance, being a "pure" metal; and therefore be able to effect such "satanic" creatures as werewolves. It's appearence in werewolf mythology, not surprisingly, seems to be after the rise of the catholic church. Again, it's influence ranges from zero to being the only thing that can injure or kill a were. If you still want to try it, silver bullets can be made; but casting them is reported to be difficult.

So what about longevity and health? Some hold that werewolves are invulnerable to mortal insults; that it would take some supernatural influence to injure or kill one. Others say that a werewolf is no tougher than a human to kill. I personally like the idea of increased healing ability and slightly lengthened lifespan... Some also hold that werewolves turn into undead (ie, vampires) upon their expiration: the group has decided that this is a fairly rare idea; based on a slavic myth.

Finally, there's some thought that werewolves naturally hate vampires. Again, this is probably mostly Hollywood myth. In real life, however; just as we call ourselves werewolves, there are folks that call themselves vampires... some weres find that the very idea of being a living dead creature is an anathema; werewolves are the very embodiment of energetic vitality. Having met many vampires, both on AHWW and groups like alt.vampire, I can proudly say that some are my friends. There are some vamps, yes, that would get on anybody's nerves; but there's no real reason why a were HAS to dislike a vamp.

Virtually every culture has some sort of mythos regarding shapechanging. Specific animal mythos are covered in the individual mini-FAQ's later on. As I collect different culture's views on therianthropy, I'll add them in. Here's some info on how the Egyptians viewed shapechanging, collected from the group:

I just bought a copy of the Book of the Dead/The Papyrus of ANi, which is a text on the preparation for the afterlife. In it, there are two main gods i have found that have ties to the wolf. The first is ANpu, also known as Anubis. He is depicted as a dog headed man or a dog, the son of Osiris or RA, sometimes by Nephthys or Isis. He was the guard and protector of the dead, the Embalmer, and the messenger of Osiris. The second god is Up-uat. He is depicted in the form of the Wolf. He was the Opener of the Ways, and a member of the Tchatchau, the taskmasters of Osiris in the Underworld.

Of greater interest, however, are chapters in the actual text concerning transformations. In order, the chapters describe the following transformations, into a swallow, a golden Hawk, a divine hawk, the Prince of the Tchatchau Chiefs, the serpent Sata, the Crocodile God Sebak, Ptah,Tem, a Benu bird(?), a heron, and a lotus.

The chapters are for presenting onself to Osiris, and true transformation may not actually work(ihaven't tried yet). The Prince of the Tchatchau Chiefs may be the closest i have found to a wolf. The chapter wasn't very specific as to what chief you become(there are 12). The book of the Dead that i have is properly, The Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead. There are two other Recensions, the Heliopolitan, and the Saite. I have never seen a translation of the latter two. They may have different transformations. The Heliopolitan is believed lost.

As an aside, and relating to ways of becoming a werewolf, here's some information regarding ergot and lycanthropy:

Ergot and Lycanthropy

By MegaDog and his brother (who has a BS in Organic Chemistry)]
How many of you ever thought of your local bakery as a possible source of werewolf beliefs?
Or of hallucinogenic drugs?
In medieval times, it could have been both.
Ergot [Claviceps purpurea] is a parasitic fungus that can be found growing on rye or other cereal grasses. Rye grass is by far the most widespread species parasitized, though wheat and barley are also commonly affected. The 'ergots' appear as a blackish-purple club- shaped growth [sclerotia] on the tops of the rye where the seeds are, and are referred to as "heads of ergot"; from these heads sprout the Claviceps purpurea fungal fruiting bodies. They have long stems with bulbous heads when seen under a strong glass or microscope. See reference [1] for more information.

Ergot naturally produces a wide range of chemical compounds, the ones of relevance here are collectively known as the "Ergot Alkaloids", and include ergotamine, ergosine and beta-ergosine, ergonine, ergovaline, ergostine, ergotine and beta-ergotine, ergocornine, ergocristine, ergocryptine and beta-ergocryptine. These compounds all have some degree of psychoactivity; indeed LSD was first synthesized from ergot compounds. Their other major medical effect is vasoconstriction [narrowing of blood vessels], which, if severe, can lead to gangrene of the extremities.

Ergotamine has medical uses; for example it is frequently prescribed [often in combination with caffeine] as a therapy for migraine headaches.

Ergot was a widespread parasite of cereal grains in europe in the middle-ages, growing particularly well during excessively damp summers. The psychoactive components of ergot are *not* broken down by heat, so it is fair to assume that they would be present in bread baked from flour milled from ergotized grains. There was a significant outbreak of ergot-poisoning in France in the early 1950's; this outbreak gives a good insight into what may have been experienced in medieval times.

Symptoms of ergot poisoning include hallucinations [the 1950's French victims reported 'being chased or attacked by horrible beasts', 'terror of the dark', and 'feeling that my body was not mine'] together with tingling/burning sensations in the extremities & the scalp.

These tingling sensations were known in medieval times as "St. Anthony's Fire", after the saint to whom sufferers prayed for relief.

It is not hard to imagine how an outbreak of ergot-poisoning, or, IMHO, more likely, an ongoing low level of ergotisation, could lead to the development of a werewolf-legend, the 'pursuit by horrible beasts' hallucination being probably the most likely cause, however the 'tingling & loss of sensation in the extremities' effect could possibly have been interpreted as shapeshifting? For those interested in more detail of such things, see references [2] and [3].


If any of you are thinking of experimenting with Ergot at home, I would discourage this most strongly! To back this up, here is an abstract from a medical toxicology file I just happened to have to hand....

Acute effects:

May be fatal if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.

Exposure can cause:
Nausea, dizziness and headache, stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea.

Other symptoms include:
Thirst, changes in blood pressure and heart rate, tingling in the extremities and confusion.

Chronic effects:

An Oxytocic; in pregnant women may result in abortion or fetal harm.

Can cause menstrual dysfunction and sterility.

Other effects include peripheral circulatory disturbances and gangrene. Possible mutagen.


[1] "Collins Guide to Mushrooms and Toadstools" by Morten Lange and F. Bayard Hora. 1978 Description of characteristics of ergot, its distribution & life cycle.

[2] Fuller, John Grant,_The Day of St Anthonys Fire_, NY: Macmillan, 1968. This is a look at outbreaks of hallucinations and other bizarre behavior believed to have been caused by ergot infections.

[3] Matossian, Mary Kilbourne, _Poisons of the Past: Molds, Epidemics & History_, New Haven: Yale Univ Press, 1989. This book covers more ground, from the Middle Ages to witchcraft scares in Europe. She has charts, maps and graphs to illustrate her findings.

10) So, how would I "exorcise" someone who's a werewolf?

Why would you want to? *grin* If, in any case, you still want to, here's some thoughts on the subject...

All this time we have been talking about how one may become a werewolf....I am going to take a walk on the flip side of things for a bit. But before we get going, I must make the following statement:

<<> In NO WAY, shape form or manner shall I claim resposibility for what information follows, especially if you edeavor to persue this interest. The following post covers potentialy disturbing material and can and will cause physical harm. Caveat emptor, Your mileage may vary, and return your seats to their normal upright position....some material has been changed to protect the innocent. You have been warned.

That said and done, let's get to the meat.

Common means for exorcising a werewolf:

A common thread among all exorcisms is that the person is believed to be possesed of some malevolent spirit. So many folks eploy the use of some sort of potion and or prayer, or spinkling of holy water, and calling the person by thier given christian name..... Boring!

Here's one from legend.. "Cast a circle of 9 feet, and a smaller one only 4 feet in diameter. Place a sieries of candles at equal intervals, and place a wooden altar in the south. Within the inner circle, place the werewolf....(you are on your own to figure out how to get a hold of him/her) Build a small fire exactly oposite of the altar, and 1 1/2 foot away from the inner circle. Place a pot over the fire, containing 2 pints of clear water.

    To this add:
    1/2 oz. camphor
    3/4 oz. ammonia
    1/2 oz. hypericum
    2 drachms sulfur
    1/2 oz castorium
    6 drachms opium (!)
    3 drachms asafoetida


Mix thoroughly and then add a protion of mandrake root, 1 live snake, 2 live toads in a linen bag, and a fungus. (Guess any kind will do...mushrooms, that old pizza that needs a shave that has been in the 'fridge for an epoch) Bind togehter with red ribbon a wand of three sprigs, each from ash,white popular, ans birch. (The magickal connotations could easily fill a volume, so I will refrain from explaining) When the toads cry out from being immersed in the now boiling water, the mixture is ready. Take a cupfull of the searing liquid and douse the werewolf, as well as lashing him/her with the wand....exclaiming "Foul spirit release this persons' soul, return to the great unknown!" Repeat 3 times." (Lather, rinse, repeat..;) )

Some forms of expulsion use a boiling mixture of baneful materials, tar, and sulfur. If that does not get rid of a werewolf, it will certainly rid one of thier hide.

That was legend....

Now What follows is mostly theory, and have yet to prove any of it. Look in any dictionary, Look for the word lycanthropy. Most likely you will find the same I have. The Greater Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary has this entry : "A kind of insanity in which the patient supposes himself to be a wolf." Go ahead, take a look, you may have an entry that sounds alot like that too.

Lycanthropy *seems* to fall into several categories... "Infective Lycanthropy": The Hollywood version of the werewolf. This creature goes about, with an insatiatable appetite for human flesh, and those that survive the attack become werewolves themselves. Basically, place your favorite story here. If there is an ifectious vector, it has yet to be discovered.

"Wolfen": Probably the most dangerous phenotype there is. The lycanthropic condition is cause by some demonic expression of a creature through a host body. Outward shapes/manifestations vary, but usualy the creature takes the form of a higly feared creature, and can be an expression of a deeply rooted fear or phobia. It can be placed either by magickal rite or curse...and similarly dispelled. Because of the supernatural nature of the creature, it is quite possible for the creatue to perfom amazing feats of strength and literally be bound by no known physical laws. (ie. changing to mist, and sliping through a crack under the door)

"Inherent Lycanthropy": Most likely the most common form of lycanthropy. In this case the "condition" seems to be hereditary. Passed on from generation to generation, and sometimes skipping one, it manifests itself after the person reaches puberty. Sometimes it is not a full blown case and certain behaviors are the only clues that this person may be an inherent. Most of the time it is the poor soul who gets locked away because he imagines himself to be a wild ravening creature, or wanders aimlessly, imitating the actions of the creature.

"Astral Lycanthropy": Prehaps the most misunderstood form of all. It is not the physical manifestation of a creature, nor is it a mental condition, but rather more akin to the Dream quests that a shaman may take. It is believed that the spirit of a person projects apart from the body, and takes the shape of one's totem animal/spirit. This is the most freeform of all shifters, because it is only limited to the imagination of the individuals mind.

"Magickal Lycanthropy": Like wolfen it entails the use of powers from outside one's self. But in this case the ability to shift forms is brought on by the use of elemental forces, or alowing one to be taken over by an entity... voulentarily. And although different regions tell different stories, they all have a common thread. Like the "rite of exorcism" dipicted above..... Except the wording is different. All involved baneful materials, a clearing of some sort, and a chant.

Some are quite simple, like sleeping under the full moon on a friday night....drinking blood or water from a wolf's footprint....drinking from a river know to be frequented by wolves....

But by far the most interesting....
"The History Of Magick" -By Paul Christian 1870 A.D.
Book II

"....Little can be reliably written on Voodoo, the African magick, and the reader must be referred to the few works that exist. One aspect of it however links with similar phenomena reported elsewhere and is worth note. West Africa has a number of animals said in different disrticts to be were or *wir*, that is to be a demon or human elementary transformations: there are the weretiger, the werejaguar and the werealigator. Now India also has a weretiger, and in Australia amongst certian tribes is the weredingo. In America there is the werecyote, and in Europe the evidence for the werewolf....."

It goes on to say "Ancient Egypt is said to have a werejackal, and nearer home the werecat is reported from Scotland"

A.K.A. Trafalgar of #ahww

11) What are some other names for werewolves?

Here are some terms for werewolves in languages and cultures other than english/american...

Ok now people I think I finally got the full "other Language" List completed that has been post on the news group so far. I you have any more info to add to the list......BY ALL MEANS DO SO!!!!!!! I personally plan to learn em all! *wink*

werewolf- English
werwolf- German
Loup Garou- French
Oberroten- Russian
WeerWolf- Dutch
Varulv- Swedish
Mactire- Irish (pronounced Mactira)
Okami Otoko- Japanese
Shungmanitu Wa Chah- Native American (one who is wolf)

12) Do these thoughts mean I'm crazy?

Aaah, I see you've hit upon another bit of the werewolf mythos... relatively recent, "scientific" mythos. Lycanthropy has long been held to be a sign of insanity; a precursor to psychosis and/or schizophrenia. Indeed, there are documented cases of individuals who claimed to be werewolves who were extremely mentally ill. But was their lycanthropy due to their illness or vice-versa?

With modern psychology and society holding such a view, it's not uncommon for someone who feels they are a werewolf to be uncomfortable with those thoughts, and to think themselves crazy. I don't think it has to be so, however. I'm pretty sure I don't have the corner on sanity... I'm pretty eccentric, if I do say so myself... but insane? No. Certainly not by the legal definition of the word. Read on, you may find section II enlightening; and don't short-change yourself. Judge for yourself if the cyber-pack is insane...

13) What is the "cyberpack"?

I don't know where the term first came from. The cyberpack is basically anyone who reads AHWW and finds a bond with the others there. It's an extended friendship circle, a source of moral (and sometimes physical) support. It's a bunch of people who like each other's company and find common traits amongst themselves. It's the social and emotional side to AHWW.

There is no leader of the pack, no alpha, no heirarchy. There's no need for it. There's also no entrance exam or secret handshake... if you find you get along with the group on AHWW, and feel a kinship with them... well, then, you're a member. Welcome, friend.

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