IHT290412

Werewolves are Real!

They go by many names. Werewolves, or sometimes just weres. Lycanthropes, Therianthropes, Otherkin. They are people who believe that either biologically or perhaps spiritually they are something other than human, something somewhere between a human and an animal.
Stories of people turning into wolves and other animals have been around for millennia. Perhaps the oldest of these stories is that of the Greek king Lycaon. According to legend Lycaon was turned into a wolf for eating human flesh. Other stories say that he was turned into a wolf after sacrificing a child to Zeus atop Mount Lycaeus. Every year afterward those who would sacrifice to Zeus on Mount Lycaeus would also be turned into such a werewolf.

Throughout Europe stories of werewolves and similar creatures have developed. The Scandinavians, for example, spoke of fighters known as ulfhednar (shapeshifters). During battle they would summon the spirits of animals such as the wolf or bear so they could fight even more ferociously in battle. Other countries where such creatures make an appearance include Germany, Bulgaria, Russia, Romania, Portugal and many more. During the 16th and 17th centuries there were several high profile and documented cases regarding “real werewolves,” primarily in France. One such case was that of Jacques Roulet, who was found hiding in some bushes feasting upon the remains of a mutilated teenage boy. Such examples of cannibalism were often seen as evidence of the person being a werewolf. Such criminal cases of “werewolves” have recently hit the news, such as the story of a man in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, who attacked a woman and informed police afterwards that he was a werewolf.
Lycanthropes, Therianthropes and Otherkin
Those who would call themselves werewolves today have little in common with the cannibals or fierce Viking warriors of the past. Most (though not all) do not believe they are physically part animal, or turn into a wolf or any other animal during certain times of the month, but rather feel that they are spiritually connected to these animals. Oftentimes they believe that they existed as this animal in a former life. Although all these groups are somewhat linked in their beliefs, there are differences. The modern popularity of these groups is said to have begun sometime around 1992, when a group of Usenet users began to describe themselves as part animal. They referred to themselves as Lycanthropes, although this term is not as commonly used by them today. Lycanthrope, Greek for “wolf-man,” refers only to people who are wolves and thus does not properly cover those who believe they are other animals. Therianthrope, (Greek for “wild animal-man”) was chosen as a better descriptor. Otherkin, on the other hand, are not restricted to animals at all. In fact many Otherkin, if not most, believe themselves to be mythological or legendary creatures such as elves or dragons. Another group that links itself to such beliefs and fit the more classic definition of werewolf include the Lycian tradition of Wicca. Lycian Wiccans believe that they are spiritually linked with the wolf and that they turn into wolves and/or can astral project as wolves in their dreams. Just how closely these people resemble our popular conceptions of werewolves is a matter of debate. Some believe they physically transform into other animals, while others merely believe that a certain animal is their “totem animal,” one which aids them in their spiritual life. Whatever their view of themselves, don’t be too surprised if someone one day comes up to you and tells you that they are a werewolf.

IHT290412

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