Let Your Howl Out!
The image of the marauding wolf has long stolen the hearts and minds of people. The great beast of the forest held the imagination of people from one side of the world to the other. The howl of the wolf was the call of the wild. The wolf was mysterious, a lurker in the shadows. From native people to industrial societies, the werewolf was seen in shadow, this version of our darker wilder souls showed us that we had another nature, a nature that was still connected to the forest and the things that go bump in the night.
The werewolf takes its name from the two parts of its lycanthropic nature: lykos = wolf; anthropos=man. This creature in its ancient forms was one of the first shapeshifters. The werewolf was able to move between man and wolf form wither at will or due to a curse. Many of the ancient Greeks tell of people, sometimes whole tribes, like the Neuri, that were changed to wolves. This is the werewolves first mention in historical literature. Like many of the Greek stories, the Roman writers picked up this narrative and worked it into their own stories.
The ancient stories worked their way into the tales and folklore of the rest of the people of Europe. The howl of thee wolf at night would set people to think that a werewolf was about and ready to take their children. It is through this culture that the theory of the werwolf legacy being passed between biter and bitee is developed. The bitee is scratched or bitten and then becomes a werwolf. It is also in this folklore that the connection between the werewolf and the moon is established. When the moon is full, the werewolf comes out to play. Certainly the concept that the full moon makes rational people act stupid and crazy helped this along. And though the idea that silver is the actual silver bullet for a werewolf didn’t come from the folklore, it appears to be an invention of modern popular culture.
With the history of the werewolf, it is no wonder that the werewolf has wormed… clawed its way into pop-culture. From thinking beats in some ROGs to wild and untamed characters in TV and movies, the werewolf is a vital vehicle for character development, conflict and self discovery.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
I am watching through the series so it is no wonder that Oz popped to my mind when I began writing this article. This is an interesting look at the werewolf. The werewolf doesn’t know what happened during the times they were… were – wolf. Oz goes on a quest to learn how to control the wolfy side of his nature but it turns out that women can in fact drive men crazy.
This is the werewolf race in the World of Warcraft. Added in the Cataclysm expansion, the Worgen is seen changing at the beginning of the time you deal with the character but never reverts back to human form once they ware wolfed up. They are a race more so then a creature that shape shifts.
White Wolf RPG
Much like the Worgen, the werewolf in the White Wolf RPG is a race. They can have children, they have a society and they have different parts of their society. The werewolf in the White Wolf game was a bit more then the werewolf in folklore. These werewolves could choose their wolfen form whenever they wanted to.
And of course in Harry Potter, the werewolves were on the wrong side law. Fenrir Greyback was the main, evil werewolf in the series. Dark ,wicked and constantly trying to find a way to bring more people into the fold. In the Potter-Verse, the idea that the werewolf retained some of the wolf traits even in life is carried forward. In the discussion of the Weasley son that is turned into a werewolf, he begins to eat lots of raw meat instead of a regular diet.
There was a terrible snarling noise. Lupin’s head was lengthening. So was his body. His shoulders were hunching. Hair was sprouting visibly on his face and hands, which were curling into clawed paws.