Werewolves are mythical creatures; their place is in legends, novels, and Hollywood. However, these tales of men shape-shifting into wolves at the full moon have their origins in reality. And this is what we’re going to discuss in the following. From the folk beliefs in werewolves and how to become a werewolf to the scientific explanation of all of these fantastic tales. So, buckle up!
How to become a werewolf?
You could become a werewolf by removing all of your clothing and putting on a belt made of wolfskin, or by rubbing your whole body with a special ointment. Other methods told in tales consist of drinking the rainwater accumulated in the footprint of a wolf or from magical streams which possessed the special power of metamorphosis.
There is a 16th-century Swedish tale in which we are told that people were turned into werewolves through a ritual that required drinking a special kind of beer and uttering a special incantation. We also have accounts of these sorts of incantations in the Songs of the Russian People. The methods for becoming a werewolf differ from a country to another. In the western European countries, it was said you could become a werewolf if you slept outside, on a certain Wednesday or Friday with a full moon. You would have to sleep in such a position that the moon would shine directly on your face.
Satanic allegiances, witches and magicians of all sorts
In other stories, the transformation is performed as part of a Satanic ritual, by witches who want to go on a killing spree without being recognized, maybe. In other words, lycanthropy and the power of metamorphosis, have been associated with magicians, sorceresses, as well. They could also be able to curse certain people to transforming into werewolves.
The curse of lycanthropy is another important piece in the myth of werewolves. In many stories, gods or other superior beings curse their subject with the divine punishment of lycanthropy. For example, in Greek mythology, we are told of a man called Lycaon. He might actually be the origin of the werewolves tales.
The story of Lycaon and the greek mythology
Lycaon was the king of Arcadia, an ancient country occupying the centre of the Peloponnese. He was married to a naiad nymph called Cyllene. However, in other versions of the story, Cyllene was his mother. However, Lycaon wanted to test Zeus omniscience; he wanted to see if the almighty god could be tricked.
So, he served Zeus the rotted flesh of his own son, Nyctimus (Lycaon’s son). This horrible deed was punished harshly by Zeus. Lycaon and his living sons were turned into wolves and innocent Nyctimus was brought back to life. As with any myth, there are a lot of other versions to this story. However, the core stays the same and the story of Lycaon has permeated the modern tales of werewolves and not only. In the television series Teen Wolf, Lycaon is considered the original werewolf. In the famous A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, we hear the same story, but with a rat, instead of a wolf.
There are also stories in which werewolves are not that bad and not associated with the Devil. A peculiar 80-year-old man testified, in 1692, that he and his other werewolf friends were the Hounds of God, sent to fight against witches and demons. In the late modern movies and novels, werewolves and vampires are neither good nor bad, they also fall in love and have their own inner struggles with their own nature; they’re human at heart and soul.
Probably, the whole werewolf myth started from people’s own insecurities and tribulations and their need to explain some the unexplainable at that time.