The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Werewolf

Werewolves, also known as lycanthropes, people with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or wolflike creature, either purposely, by eating Henbane, or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon.

Etymology
The name werewolf most likely derives from Old English wer (or were) and wulf. The first part, wer, translates as "man" (in the sense of male human, not the race of humanity). It has cognates in several Germanic Languages including Gothic wair, Old High German wer, and Old Norse verr, as well as in other Indo-European Languages such as Latin vir, Irish fear, Lithuanian vyras, and Welsh gŵr, which have the same meaning. The second half, wulf, is the ancestor of modern English "wolf"; in some cases it also had the general meaning "beast." An alternative etymology derives the first part from Old English weri (to wear); the full form in this case would be glossed as wearer of wolf skin. Related to this interpretation is Old Norse ulfhednar, which denoted lupine equivalents of the berserker, said to wear a bearskin in battle.
Yet other sources derive the word from warg-wolf, where warg (or later werg and wero) is cognate with Old Norse vargr, meaning "rogue," "outlaw," or, euphemistically, "wolf".
A Vargulf was the kind of wolf that slaughtered many members of a flock or herd but ate little of the kill. This was a serious problem for herders, who had to somehow destroy the rogue wolf before it destroyed the entire flock or herd. Herders would often hang the wolf's hide in the bedroom of a young infant, believing it to give the baby supernatural powers.
The term Warg was used in Old English for this kind of wolf and for what would now be called a serial killer. Possibly related is the fact that, in Norse society, an outlaw (who could be murdered with no legal repercussions and was forbidden to receive aid) was typically called vargr, or "wolf."
It is also speculated that werewolves are under the influence of a god who was once a lycanthrope. He visits them in their dreams before transformation and tells them specifically who to feed upon. Some believe it is the spirit of Lycaon, the first werewolf that does this deed.
The Greek term lycanthropy (a compound of which "lyc-" derives from the Proto-Indo-European root *wlkwo-, meaning "wolf") formally denotes the "wolf - man" transformation. Lycanthropy is but one form of therianthropy, the ability to metamorphose into animals in general. The term "therianthrope" literally means "beast-man," from which the words turnskin and turncoat are derived.
The French name for a werewolf, sometimes used in English, is loup-garou, from the Latin noun lupus meaning wolf. The second element is thought to be from Old French garoul meaning "werewolf." This in turn is most likely from Frankish *wer-wulf meaning "man-wolf."
Classical Literature
*Zeus turning Lycaon into a wolf, engraving by Hendrik Goltzius.
In Greek mythology, the story of Lycaon provides one of the earliest examples of a werewolf legend. According to one version, Lycaon was transformed into a wolf as a result of eating human flesh; one of those who were present at periodical sacrifice on Mount Lycæon was said to suffer a similar fate. Herodotus in his Histories tells us that the Neuri, a tribe he places to the north-east of Scythia, were annually transformed for a few days, and Virgil is familiar with transformation of human beings into wolves.
*The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, quoting Euanthes, says that a man of Anthius' family was selected by lot and brought to a lake in Arcadia, where he hung his clothing on an ash tree and swam across, resulting in his transformation into a wolf, a form in which he wandered for nine years. On the condition that he attacked no human being over the nine year period, he would be free to swim back across the lake to resume human form.
*In the Latin work of prose, the Satyricon, written about 60 C.E. by Gaius Petronius Arbiter, one of the characters, Niceros, tells a story at a banquet about a friend who turned into a wolf. He describes the incident as follows, "When I looked for my friend I saw he'd stripped and piled his clothes by the roadside...He urinated in a circle round his clothes and then, just like that, turned into a wolf!...after he turned into a wolf he started howling and then ran off into the woods."
European cultures
Many European countries and cultures influenced by them have stories of werewolves, including Albania (oik), France (loup-garou), Greece(lycanthropos), Spain, Mexico (hombre lobo and nahual), Bulgaria (varkolak), Turkey (kurtadam), Czech Republic/Slovakia (vlkodlak), Serbia/Montenegro/Bosnia (vukodlak, вукодлак), Russia (vourdalak, оборотень), Ukraine (vovkulak(a), vurdalak(a), vovkun, перевертень), Croatia (vukodlak), Poland (wilkołak), Romania (vârcolac, priculici), Macedonia (vrkolak), Scotland (werewolf, wulver), England (werewolf), Ireland (faoladh or conriocht), Germany (Werwolf), the Netherlands (weerwolf), Denmark/Sweden/Norway (Varulv), Iceland (kveld-ulf, varúlfur), Galicia (lobisón), Portugal (lobisomem), Lithuania (vilkolakis and vilkatlakis), Latvia (vilkatis and vilkacis), Andorra/Catalonia (home llop), Hungary (Vérfarkas and Farkasember), Estonia (libahunt), Finland (ihmissusi and vironsusi), and Italy (lupo mannaro). In northern Europe, there are also tales about people changing into animals including bears, as well as wolves.

Werewolves in European tradition were sometimes innocent and God-fearing folk suffering from the witchcraft of others, or simply from an unhappy fate, and who, as wolves, behaved in a truly touching fashion, adoring and protecting their human benefactors. In Marie De France's poem Bisclavret (c. 1200), the nobleman Bizuneh, for reasons not described in the lai, had to transform into a wolf every week. When his treacherous wife stole his clothing needed to restore his human form, he escaped the king's wolf hunt by imploring the king for mercy and accompanied the king thereafter. His behaviour at court was so much gentler than when his wife and her new husband appeared at court, that his hateful attack on the couple was deemed justly motivated, and the truth was revealed.

The legends of ulfhednar mentioned in Vatnsdœla saga, Haraldskvæði, and the Völsunga saga resemble some werewolf legends. The ulfhednar were fighters similar to the berserkers, who were dressed in bear hides and reputed to channel the spirits of these animals to enhance effectiveness in battle. These warriors were resistant to pain and killed viciously in battle, much like wild animals. Ulfhednar and berserkers are closely associated with the Norse god Odin.
In Latvian folklore, a vilkacis was someone who transformed into a wolf-like monster, which could be benevolent at times. Another collection of stories concern the skin-walkers. The vilkacis and skin-walkers probably have a common origin in Proto-Indo-European society, where a class of young unwed warriors were apparently associated with wolves. According to the first dictionary of modern Serbian language vukodlak / вукодлак (werewolf) and vampir / вампир (vampire) are synonyms, meaning a man who returns from his grave for purposes of fornicating with his widow. The dictionary states this to be a common folk tale.
Common amongst the Kashubs, and the Serbs and Slovenes of what is now northern Poland, was the belief that if a child was born with hair, a birthmark or a caul on their head, they were supposed to possess shape-shifting abilities. Though capable of turning into any animal they wished, it was commonly believed that such people preferred to turn into a wolf.
According to Armenian lore, there are women who, in consequence of deadly sins, are condemned to spend seven years in wolf form. In a typical account, a condemned woman is visited by a wolfskin-toting spirit, who orders her to wear the skin, which causes her to acquire frightful cravings for human flesh soon after. With her better nature overcome, the she-wolf devours each of her own children, then her relatives' children in order of relationship, and finally the children of strangers. She wanders only at night, with doors and locks springing open at her approach. When morning arrives, she reverts to human form and removes her wolfskin. The transformation is generally said to be involuntary, but there are alternate versions involving voluntary metamorphosis, where the women can transform at will.

The 11th Century Russian Prince Vseslav of Polotsk was considered to have been a Werewolf, capable of moving at supehuman speeds, as recounted in The Tale of Igor's Campaign: "Vseslav the prince judged men; as prince, he ruled towns; but at night he prowled in the guise of a wolf. From Kiev, prowling, he reached, before the cocks crew, Tmutorokan. The path of Great Sun, as a wolf, prowling, he crossed. For him in Polotsk they rang for matins early at St. Sophia the bells; but he heard the ringing in Kiev."
There were numerous reports of werewolf attacks—and consequent court trials—in sixteenth century France. The loup-garou eventually ceased to be regarded as a dangerous heretic and reverted to the pre-Christian notion of a "man-wolf-fiend." The lubins or lupins were usually female and shy in contrast to the aggressive loup-garous. Some French werewolf lore is based on documented events caused by the full moon. The Beast of Gevaudan terrorized the general area of the former province of Gevaudan, now called Lozere, in south-central France. From the years 1764 to 1767, an unknown entity killed upwards of 80 men, women, and children. The creature was described as a giant wolf by the sole survivor of the attacks, which ceased after several wolves were killed in the area.
World folklore
Common Turkic folklore holds a different, reverential light to the werewolf legends in that Turkic Central Asian shamans, after performing long and arduous rites, would voluntarily be able to transform into the humanoid Kurtadam (literally meaning "Wolfmen"). Since the wolf was the totemic ancestor animal of the Turkic peoples, they would be respectful of any shaman who was in such a form.
Characteristics

Becoming a werewolf
Historical legends describe a wide variety of methods for becoming a werewolf, one of the simplest being the removal of clothing and putting on a belt made of wolfskin, probably as a substitute for the assumption of an entire animal skin (which also is frequently described). In other cases, the body is rubbed with a magic salve. To drink water out of the footprint of the animal in question or to drink from certain enchanted streams were also considered effectual modes of accomplishing metamorphosis. Olaus Magnus says that the Livonian werewolves were initiated by draining a cup of specially prepared beer and repeating a set formula. Ralston in his Songs of the Russian People gives the form of incantation still familiar in Russia. Folklore and literature also depict that a werewolf can be spawned from two werewolf parents.

In Galician, Portuguese, and Brazilian folklore, it is the seventh of the sons (but sometimes the seventh child, a boy, after a line of six daughters) who becomes a werewolf (Lobisomem). In Portugal, the seventh daughter is supposed to become a witch and the seventh son a werewolf; the seventh son often gets the Christian name "Bento" (Portuguese form of "Benedict", meaning "blessed") as this is believed to prevent him from becoming a werewolf later in life. In Brazil, the seventh daughter become a headless (replaced with fire) horse called "Mula-sem-cabeça" (Headless Mule). The belief in the curse of the seventh son was so widespread in Northern Argentina (where the werewolf is called the lobizon), that seventh sons were frequently abandoned, ceded in adoption, or killed. A 1920 law decreed that the President of Argentina is the official godfather of every seventh son. Thus, the State gives a seventh son one gold medal in his baptism and a scholarship until his twenty first year. This effectively ended the abandonments, but there still persists a tradition in which the President godfathers seventh sons.
In other cases, the transformation was supposedly accomplished by Satanic allegiance for the most loathsome ends, often for the sake of sating a craving for human flesh. "The werewolves", writes Richard Verstegan (Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, 1628), "are certayne sorcerers, who having annoynted their bodies with an ointment which they make by the instinct of the devil, and putting on a certayne inchaunted girdle, does not only unto the view of others seem as wolves, but to their own thinking have both the shape and nature of wolves, so long as they wear the said girdle. And they do dispose themselves as very wolves, in worrying and killing, and most of humane creatures." Such were the views about lycanthropy current throughout the continent of Europe when Verstegan wrote.
The power of transforming others into wild beasts was attributed not only to malignant sorcerers, but to Christian saints as well. Omnes angeli, boni et Mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra ("All angels, good and bad have the power of transmutating our bodies") was the dictum of St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Patrick was said to have transformed the Welsh king Vereticus into a wolf; St. Natalis supposedly cursed an illustrious Irish family whose members were each doomed to be a wolf for seven years. In other tales the divine agency is even more direct, while in Russia, again, men are supposedly become werewolves when incurring the wrath of the Devil.
A notable exception to the association of Lycanthropy and the Devil, comes from a rare and lesser known account of a man named Thiess. In 1692, in Jurgenburg, Livonia, Thiess testified under oath that he and other Werewolves were the Hounds of God. He claimed they were warriors who went down into hell to do battle with witches and demons. Their efforts ensured that the Devil and his minions did not carry off the abundance of the earth down to hell. Thiess was steadfast in his assertions, claiming that Werewolves in Germany and Russia also did battle with the devil's minions in their own versions of hell, and insisted that when werewolves died, their souls were welcomed into heaven as reward for their service. Thiess was ultimately sentenced to ten lashes for Idolacy and superstitious belief.

A distinction is often made between voluntary and involuntary werewolves. The former are generally thought to have made a pact, usually with the Devil, and morph into werewolves at night to indulge in mischievous acts. Involuntary werewolves, on the other hand, are werewolves by an accident of birth or health. In some cultures, individuals born during a new moon or suffering from epilepsy were considered likely to be werewolves.

Vulnerabilities
Werewolves have several described weaknesses, the most common being an aversion to wolfsbane (a plant that supposedly sprouted from weeds watered by the drool of Cerberus while he was brought out of Hades by Heracles). Unlike vampires, werewolves are not harmed by religious artifacts such as crucifixes and holy water.
Various methods have existed for removing the werewolf form. The simplest method was the act of the enchanter (operating either on oneself or on a victim), and another was the removal of the animal belt or skin. To kneel in one spot for a hundred years, to be reproached with being a werewolf, to be struck three blows on the forehead with a knife, or to have at least three drops of blood drawn have also been mentioned as possible cures. Many European folk tales include throwing an iron object over or at the werewolf, to make it reveal its human form, naked in cases from 1859.

Becoming a werewolf simply by being bitten by another werewolf as a form of contagion is common in some areas, but this kind of transmission is rare in legend, along with another form of this being "licked" by a werewolf to turn one's self (in this case the person is continuously a werewolf but has total control over the form, and has no blood lust, but gains increased strength and agility)
In fiction
The process of transmogrification is often portrayed as painful. The resulting wolf is typically cunning but merciless and prone to killing and eating people without compunction, regardless of the moral character of its human counterpart. The form a werewolf assumes is not always that of an ordinary wolf but often anthropomorphic or otherwise larger and more powerful than an ordinary wolf. Many modern werewolves are supposedly immune to damage caused by ordinary weapons, being vulnerable only to silver objects (usually a bullet or blade). This negative reaction to silver is sometimes so strong that the mere touch of the metal on a werewolf's skin will cause burns. Lycanthropy can be either a hereditary condition or being transmitted like an infectious disease by the bite of another werewolf. In a few instances, the power of the werewolf extends to human form, such as invulnerability, super-human speed and strength and falling on their feet from high falls. Also aggressiveness and animalistic urges may be harder to control (hunger, sexual arousal). Usually in these cases the abilities are diminished in human form. The werewolf always kills whom he loves most.
Special Thanks to Wikipedia for the information...and to XimonR of Deviantart.com for this slightly stolen picture...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have researched and found the following about werewolves:

A werewolf, made up of fur covering the body, blue colored skin, long, razor sharp claws, and more muscularly built than a college football player, is a beast among beasts and a pure-blood killer. A werewolf is always looked at as a beast with no control. What defines a werewolf is not its appearance, but rather, its animal nature and the correct term to use that would fully describe a werewolf would be survival expert. Werewolves crave blood just like vampires, except that werewolves kill for blood more than for meat. A werewolf needs about one-half to one gallon of animal blood every day. The meat they eat balances out to about two pounds of raw animal meat a day. Werewolves, though extremely deadly, are nothing but animals trying to survive.

Legend speaks of werewolves running about fields, forests, plains, meadows, and valleys at night, occasionally howling at the moon. Unfortunately, the howling heard at night is made by coyotes. The difference between a coyote and a werewolf is that werewolves travel solely and without a pack and coyotes travel in packs. Nighttime howls are most often made by coyote lone wolves. The sizes between the two animals are vastly different, and seeing the two together would prove the difference. Another thing is that when coyotes kill, they kill for meat and leave only bones occasionally. Werewolves kill for blood and leave most of the meat on their prey. Werewolves also kill much larger game than do coyotes. If the two were to meet, the werewolf would have an advantage because they walk on their hind legs like humans. Even if it was a pack of five to seven coyotes against one werewolf, the werewolf would still win.

Werewolf transformation is astronomical. While it is true that werewolves change at night and when bitten by one, you become one, statistics show that there are different results. When bitten by a werewolf, only male humans transform into the beast, not females. Females develop a disease close to rabies if bitten and die within three to five years. Males transform uncontrollably for the first year, and then they have a choice. If they stay out of the moonlight for two and a half months after a year, they will be able to change whenever needed; however, if after a year the werewolf remains in moonlight for a month, they will be stuck in transformation for all eternity.

Anonymous said...

Werewolves, are actully asome.
They have FULL control over themselves when they change, except when the smell/see/sense/taste blood, makes 'em get a little crazy...
but they actully eat most of the meat, it tastes good... e um, ignore that.
Werewolves can change ANY time they want to, but they mostly do at night. And just to clarify, being a weewolf is not a curse, is a power, you can be born to it, or you can be bitten/scratched. Females CAN change! I know that first hand. no, you do not make a deal with the devil, that romur is really stupid. And (just a little fact, if you want to know) most prefer chicken blood/meat, as to human. I don't know why, thats how it is.

Anonymous said...

What about Whangdoodles? They are pretty fantastic!!