Imagine you’re out camping in the woods at night when a haunting cry echoes through the trees. You consider running, but are frozen in place by an animalistic growl. Emerging from the dark is a creature straight from legend – the werewolf.
What do you do? Run for your life and try to make it to the car – never happen – or pull out your trusted .44 Magnum and offload six wonderful rounds of pure silver into its hairy ass, because unlike other potential victims you had the good sense to prepare a werewolf contingency plan.
Werewolves have been amongst us for centuries. Perhaps they’ve always been here, waiting in the shadows, ready to pounce.
Earliest mentions of the werewolf stem from the Greek legends of the Arcadian king, Lycaon, who was transformed into a wolf-man by the god Zeus after Lycaon tried to serve him human flesh. But to be fair, werewolves didn’t hit their stride until the Middle Ages where superstition and ignorance were the order of the day. In this festering pot of paranoia and indifference the werewolf thrived. Untold hundreds were murdered for lycanthropy or consulting with the devil. It seemed for a while you couldn’t pop down to the local butchers without being attacked by a werewolf or two.
Think of all those deaths that could have been avoided if only they’d put a little planning into their full moon excursions.
1: Know your enemy.
- The ‘classic’ wolf form. No in-between stages with these guys, sorry Hollywood, the classic takes on the form of a wolf only. But even so, in this form they can be savage, feral animals capable of rending you limb from limb. That aside, they do have common distinguishing characteristics. Typically, a werewolf will be bigger than the average wolf; it will be stronger, faster, and more cunning. It will also have human traits, most noticeably human eyes. Its paws may resemble hands, or when it howls to the moon it may contain a certain human quality.
The Hybrid. Otherwise known as the wolf man. This is the one type of werewolf you don’t want to meet in a dark alley. The hybrid has been popularised in film over the last century. Lon Chaney’s notable performance catapulted the wolf man to star status and this type of werewolf continues to be popular to this day. And its easy to see why, as a tool for ramping up fear, the wolf man is visually your guy. There’s no mistaking a hybrid for what it is.
- The Wannabe. Perhaps the most dangerous of all. The wannabe is a man who believes himself to be a werewolf, but is in fact merely human. He suffers under the recognised medical condition of lycanthropy. Looking just like me or you, the lycanthrope can pass in every day society, but come the night of the full moon and he changes. The fur grows on the inside. However, this killer will give clues to what he really is. He may be a bit of a loner, hang around in graveyards, prefer bloody meat, occasionally wear the hide of a wolf and dance to some exotic god or other.
- But don’t forget, werewolves can also be recognised in their human forms. They have bushy eyebrows that meet in the middle. Blood-red fingernails are long and almond shaped. Skin may be overly hairy or patchy with a yellow or green cast.
- Curse: Victim of witchcraft or cursed by spirits.
- Bitten by Werewolf: Passed through the salvia of the bite.
- Putting on Wolf Skin: Seems a bit too simple, but if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
- Worshiping the Devil: Enter into a pact with the devil, usually for a little thing such as
your eternal soul, and you too could become a savage inhuman beast and prey on those people who threw turnips at you in the town square.
- Magic Potions: Rub your elixir across your private and neither-me-dos and hey-presto instant werewolf. Be careful though, the typical ingredients consist of nightshade, belladonna, henbane, Pig fat, turpentine and olive oil, so it may burn . . .
- Rituals: Never let it be said that werewolves don’t know how to party. Typically this involved more of that magic ointment stuff, prayers to the Devil, possible fornication with small, defenceless animals, and once again its savage killer time.
3: Enough already, you’re creeping me out; just tell me how to kill a werewolf?
Silver is the metal of choice when fighting off hoards of ravenous lycanthropes. Silver is supposed to contain magical properties, and perhaps it’s the magic in silver that reacts to the magic of the werewolf curse, or maybe it’s a good plot device to keep the story moving along. Who am I to say? Different metals have often warded off evil in legend. Iron supposedly kills off fairies – good, can’t stand the little buggers, they stick in my teeth.
But if you’re fresh out of silver, then don’t despair, a werewolf can also be killed by removing its brain or heart and is repulsed by wolfsbane – otherwise known as Devil’s helmet.
So when next out camping in the woods take along your wolfsbane and perhaps a silver cane. If the werewolf puts in an appearance throw your wolfsbane at the beast and while it suffers an extreme allergic reaction bash out its brains with your silver stick. Alternatively, when all else fails, pull out your magic potion and get rubbing.
Because if you can’t beat them . . .
For an excellent source of Werewolf fiction try High Moor