13 Facts About Werewolves

Things can get pretty hairy when a werewolf is involved. A classic Halloween icon, the werewolf plays well with others most of the time. But when their inner beast emerges, look out! Here are thirteen werewolf facts to inform and entertain you this Halloween.

  1. Werewolf legends exist in most of the world's cultures. Some of the tales date back to the beginning of written history. One of the earliest examples is the story of King Lycaon of Greece.
  2. Lycanthropy is the supernatural condition whereby a human transforms into a wolf. If an afflicted person transforms into another type of animal, the correct term for their condition is therianthropy.
  3. Historically, werewolf legends have been used to explain the acts of serial killers. Rabies, schizophrenia, porphyria, and hypertrichosis (a medical condition that causes excessive hair growth) have also been mistaken for lycanthropy.
  4. Werewolves can be created in a variety of ways. Some say that lycanthropy is a curse or divine punishment. Others say it is the result of deals with dark forces. Still others suggest that werewolves can be born naturally, contract lycanthropy through the bite of another werewolf, or obtain their powers by wearing an enchanted wolf skin or belt. Other theories abound - including drinking water from the footprints of a werewolf!
  5. How can you spot a werewolf? The symptoms vary widely, according to the source. Some interesting signs from folklore and popular film and literature include: uncontrollable rage; insomnia; a hairline that forms a widow's peak; hair or magical marks on the palms of the hands; eyebrows that meet in the middle; an unnatural fear of water; excessive body hair; unusually compelling eyes; longer-than-average third fingers on each hand; and humorously difficulty pronouncing words that start with the letter 'W'.
  6. Clinical Lycanthropy is a real psychological condition in which a person believes their body changes into a wolf or other creature.
  7. Some suggest that mercury, not silver, might be the best choice for dealing with werewolves. Alchemists in ages past could have easily mistaken quicksilver for true silver.
  8. Peter Stubb was known as the Werewolf of Bedburg. In 1573, he was accused of killing several people, including his own son, before he was sentenced to death. Stubb claimed that his powers were granted by the Devil, who presented him with a magical belt which transformed Stubb into a monstrous wolf. Other werewolf killers of the time included Pernette Gandillon and Jean Grenier.
  9. In 1764, the Beast of Gevaudan terrorized a small town in southern France. The Beast killed between 60 and 100 people, but its true identity was never proven. Some believed that the Beast was a ravaging werewolf.
  10. Not all werewolves are bad guys. In 1692, in Jurgenburg, Livonia, a man known only as Thiess testified under oath that werewolves were the Hounds of God . He claimed that werewolves battled against evil forces. The fictional character Remus Lupin, of Harry Potter fame, was also a werewolf - and a decent fellow.
  11. Werewolf movies commonly link lycanthropy with the onset of puberty. Both conditions commonly involve hair growth, mood swings, and strange new impulses.
  12. The first movie to feature lycanthropy was The Werewolf, a twenty minute silent film from 1913. The top grossing domestic werewolf film is 1994's Wolf, starring Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer.
  13. The bands Metallica, Genesis, and Jefferson Airplane have recorded songs about werewolves.

author: Janna Weiss

- Wikipedia Entry, "Werewolf". Wikipedia.Org
- Crime Library, "Werewolf Killers". CrimeLibrary.Com
- Box Office Mojo, "Top Werewolf Films". BoxOfficeMojo.Com
- Fun Trivia, "Songs About Werewolves". FunTrivia.Com

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