One of the most popular mythical creatures used in the fantasy genre today is Werewolves, but it also one of the most versatile of them for the sheer variety of lore behind them. Since werewolves are a main part of the universe my stories are set in, I thought some more info on the lore behind the wolf can bring some context. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing some posts on the lore, and misconceptions about werewolves from popular media. I hope you enjoy!
The Shapeshifter Misconception
(AKA The Twilight Theory)
If the first thing you think about when you hear about werewolves is Twilight, then you need to sit down because I have something shocking to tell you. The wolves in Twilight aren’t werewolves. They are actually just shapeshifters who just happen to change into wolves.If you don’t believe me, read through the book again. They are described as a type of shapeshifter that turns into a wolf. Still don’t believe me here is a quote from the Twilight Wikia site.
Shape-shifters, often mistaken as werewolves, are descended from the ancient spirit warriors of the Quileute tribe. Back then, warriors and chiefs could leave their bodies and wander as spirits, communicate with animals, and hear each other’s thoughts. However, a change impacted the tribe members hugely during Taha Aki‘s leadership and permanently changed their powers to shape-shifting into giant wolves. When a member of the current generation comes across the scent of vampires, his physique will build before he phases for the first time. Shape-shifters of the Quileute tribe are also called Quileute werewolves.
Shapeshifters who chose the form of a wolf resembles more to the description the Native American tales of Shamans shifting into animal forms. Altogether, shapeshifters are another creature completely. (And will probably be talked about in a later post.) There is a wide range of possibilities to choose from when it comes to literature that has actual werewolves in it. (An incomplete list but a good place to start.)
A Weakness To Silver?
Another popular idea is that they are harmed by silver. Before the 1930s this was never even heard of because in later recreations of stories the use of silver was introduced. This may stem from the Bible verses Matthew 26:14-16 where Judas gives up Jesus to the priests for 30 pieces of silver.
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Matthew 26:14-16 New International Version
In the folklore of werewolves, no matter where it is from, there is very little or no mention of silver, making this a more modern take than we originally believed.
Anthropomorphism and Wolves
The stereotype of the anthropomorphic werewolf is to be shown with patches of black fur no matter what hair color the werewolf is in human form. I can guess this portrayal is made as a black wolf at night would only be seen as a pair of eyes. Another idea is that this stems from the omen of seeing a black dog or black wolf meaning death soon follows. The deeper meaning would be that the dark color of the fur is a symbol of the lack of humanity within the wolf form. If the latter is the case then you can certainly play a game of find the protagonist based upon the color of the fur. In my opinion, a white wolf with visible blood on their fur is much scarier and can be seen as a sort of corruption of their humanity rather than their lack of it. Especially since the idea of the anthropomorphic werewolf is closely tied to it being a curse.
I do have one question. In movie interpretations of anthropomorphic werewolves, they are also shown as androgynous, having no physical sexual characteristics. Why? You can understand when the werewolf has torn clothing still on, and when in wolf form you aren’t able to see it because of the way they stand. But it still raises the question. When in the wolf form, do they still have physical sexual characteristics?
I think that may be a good stopping point for this week. Next week I’ll talk about Lupo Mannaro (Italian Werewolves.) Don’t forget that if you have any comments or questions about this week’s topics feel free to comment on this post. Also if you have any suggestions, please use the contact page to send me an email! 🙂
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