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Note: The title of this essay is inspired by the title of a story in the anthology 'Lonely Vigils' by Manly Wade Wellman.
It might be wise to begin with a few prefatory remarks about such legends as that of King Lycaon, who served Zeus the flesh of his son Nyctimus to see if Zeus was, indeed, all-knowing. Zeus, enraged by this, transformed Lycaon into a "man wolf." Nyctimus was restored to life. Also, there are the tales of the Norse "Ber-serkir," or "Bear-shirts," a class of warrior said to fight in a trance-like state, approximating possession by an animal, often a wolf, after donning the animal's pelt. The images of such Germanic "wolf warriors" is represented on many ancient shields and carvings.
These legends demonstrate that the idea of man transforming into wolf is as ancient as man's terror of this feared and respected predator.
The following article will seek to explore the legends of medieval werewolf transformations, and how modern seekers of the occult may effect such transformations themselves.
In Angers, France, in 1598, A strange, moldy tramp with bugs in his hair was facing trial for the mutilation and murder of a young boy. Discovered by a party of forest rangers, the man had been seen fleeing the scene—with only one small strange detail: he had been seen fleeing in the form of a wolf.
The man, Jacques Roulet, freely confessed to transforming himself into the ravenous beast, to partake in grotesque, predatory anthropophagy, and that, indeed, his hands and feet grew, at such times, increasingly wolf-like.
The court was left with two alternatives in this rather macabre case: either declare the man a legitimate werewolf, assume he became such through a pact with the infernal forces—and thus, condemn him as a sorcerer to burn. OR, declare him a mad man, possessed with a delusion of being a "wolf man," and confine him to a madhouse. Amazingly enough for the time period, they chose to do the latter.
But he was not the only bloodthirsty loup-garou making his way about France in those ancient, medieval days. There were others, as we shall see.
"I pass for the werewolf of these parts." —Marquis de Sade
The Divine Marquis may very well have proudly worn the mantle of being the district "werewolf," but it was to an earlier era, an era of witch burning and torture, witchcraft hysteria and fear of that primeval "thing," that foul revenant or beastly "other," that drove the folkloric faith of superstitious peasants who really believed that the dead rose from their grave to drink the blood of the living—"And the blood is the life!" as F. Marion Crawford reminds us.
Also, they believed that a solemn pact with a demon or the "Defil" could acquire for some penny-ante sorcerer the ability to transform themselves into a slavering, furry beast, like something from an old B movie—but far worse. Peter Stubbe (alternately Stumpfe) is said to have made such a pact, summoning Lucifuge Rofocale from the black, midnight pits of Tartarus, to anoint him with a salve, and give him a furry wolf pelt belt, the buckling of which would render Peter Stubbe something from a bygone creature feature.
Peter, and his wife/daughter "Beel," commenced to murder their way through a succession of unsuspecting travelers of Ye Olden Forest Pathway. This was in Bedburg, Germany, round about the fifteen eighties. I have written one article already about Mr. Stubbe (or Stumpfe, or Stumpp), and it can be accessed here for further details;
Suffice it to say, Mr. Stubbe, upon being apprehended, did NOT fair nearly as well as the somewhat contemporary, Jacques Roulet. His wife and daughters (incestuously, one and the same) were beheaded and burned at the stake; Stubbe himself had his flesh torn off, excruciatingly, with red-hot pincers, while being bled on the wheel. Later, he was drawn and quartered, and beheaded, and his head placed upon a pike with a little sign proclaiming him a werewolf and killer, with a wolf's head illustration to boot.
Happy family hour story, one supposes.
Giles Garnier and Jean Grenier
Earlier, authoritative historians such as Petronius, author of The Satyricon (made famous in modern times by Fellini's film), related tales of servants and soldiers, one of which might confess to stripping off his clothing at moonlight to become a wolf—the full moon, everyone knows, spurring already morally ambiguous men into becoming full-blown inhuman monsters—and then tracking such wolf men to bestial raids on farms. The legend invariably has the wolf wounded, and the servant coming back to his transformed master while he is convalescing—the wound the exact place he had received it when he was in the form of a wolf. Thus, the witchcraft or werewolf transformation was confirmed by evidence, in such cases.
A bit before Peter Stubbe and Jacques Roulet went to their respective trials, two French men, again-the similarly named Giles Garnier and Jean Grenier, were also on trial for being man-beasts; and neither of them for a moment denied it.
The Hermit of St. Bonnett
In 1573, the authorities of Dole, France gave their permission for the roaring populace, all howling for the blood of whatever maniac was slaughtering and partially devouring their children, to gather, old Frankenstein movie-like, with their pitchforks and torches, and come out as a posse on the hunt for the "Werewolf of Dole."
The edict read:
"And since he has attacked and done injury in the country to some horsemen, who kept him off only with great difficulty and danger to their persons, the said court, desiring to prevent any greater danger, has permitted and does permit those who are dwelling in the said places, notwithstanding all edicts concerning the chase, to assemble with pikes, halberds and sticks, to chase and pursue the said werewolf in every place where they may find or seize him; to tie and kill, without incurring any pains or penalties..."
It was the cries of a small girl, badly mauled, and a fleeing suspect that alerted some of the peasantry that Grenier might, in point of fact, be their werewolf. Some thought they recognized him in the fleeing wolf. Shortly thereafter, another child was abducted (Today, we attribute such activities, of course, not to werewolves, but serial child predators).
Apprehended, Garnier readily confessed to two murders off the bat—one, that of a small boy that August; Garnier had been about to use his flesh to enjoy a hearty repast, when he was rather rudely interrupted, he felt, by the search party, causing him to flee. Next, that October, he killed and consumed a young maiden caught unawares, and liked the delectable stuff so much he took some home for his wife to cook.
It was this sort of candidness that saw him burned alive for his crimes, January 18, 1574.
The similarly-named Jean Grenier, rumored to be a young rake hell of a werewolf, was, in all actuality, a little pipsqueak of a fellow who admitted, to the incredulous magistrates, that he had devoured the flesh of fifty children, lurking, in a wolf-like state, in an old field near a pond. Sometimes, he would "hurl himself into a crowd" in his wolf form, if he were hungry enough.
Eagerly confessing to a string of ghastly crimes, he often provoked laughter, complaining that the meat of old women was "too tough," and that children would raise a din that often gave him a headache. Confessing that his friends and his own father were also werewolves, these august personages accused Grenier of being a congenital idiot. Nevertheless, the father and his friends were "put to the question" (tortured), and confessed to kidnapping children to molest, if not actually devour.
Jean confessed that he transformed, wolf-like, due to a salve and pelt given to him by the "Black Man of the Forest."
Shown unaccountable mercy (he was not entirely lying, it would seem, as there were three girls who witnessed against him, and there had been murders), the young Jean was sent by the court, not to the scaffold, but to a monastery, where he lived out the remainder of his life as an "idiot," often giving a blank expression unless ruminating on how many more children he might like to "devour." He died in 1616, a "Good Christian."
Werewolves of St. Claude
1598 seems to have been a particularly good year for French werewolves.
Two children were picking fruit in an orchard. Spying them, greedily, going about on all fours, her piercing eyes gazing about the world in a hungry lust for living flesh, Peronette, a woman suffering from "lycanthropic hysteria," fell upon the little tots, slashing them with a knife... although, of course, if she had been in "wolf form," might she not have simply used her claws? At any rate, the enraged mob tore her to pieces before the legal authorities could have the pleasure of doing it themselves; but the incident exposed Personette's sordid, assorted, assuredly inbred clan, consisting of werewolf sister, demented brother, and his son, who confessed to consorting with a devil that gave him a special werewolf salve for transformation. Peronette's living sister was said to commence sexual congress with an infernal familiar in the form of a goat. Otherwise, we could imagine nights were spent around the telly, playing Scrabble or Wist.
The judge who visited them in jail remarked that the man, Pierre Gandillon, was horribly "scratched and disfigured," and that the whole sordid tribe had confessed to having "lost" the power of their werewolf transformation. No matter. They were all burned alive anyway, and that, as far as the peasantry was concerned, solved the problem. At least temporarily.
The Werewolf of Ansbach
Ansbach, Germany, in 1685, saw a string of vicious and brutal killings that the peasantry laid at the door of a werewolf. The belief in werewolves at the time was endemic; the belief in the human capability of enacting evil outside the intervention of some supernatural agency, not so much.
The Burgomeister of Ansbach, not being a fellow much liked by anyone else, dropped dead suddenly—we must assume to the near universal delight of the common citizenry.
A wave of mutilation then swept the small, insignificant little burg, carrying away livestock, pets, and children on the shoulders of a restless, unforgiving, and mysterious death-dealer. The hatred of the late Burgomeister was quickly forgotten; fear of the ravening monster that came in the night was soon standing in its place.
What to do? What to do?
Certain august personages suggested that it was the damned soul of the damned Burgomeister, returned as a slavering wolf, to terrorize and kill the hated inhabitants of his former home. To that end, the terrified, piss-poor and very uneducated, superstitious rabble formed a posse, finally tracking down the wolf, and sending the so-virulently vile beast careening down the mouth of an old well. It was there that, trapped like a rat in a cage, they shot the thing.
Hauling it up, the reeking medieval mob commenced a sort of macabre victory celebration.
Dressing the dead thing in the Burgomeister's clothing, they paraded their kill through the streets, finally lopping off its snout and replacing it with the death mask of the Burgomeister, complete with false beard. They then hung the carcass in the village square; as a warning, one supposes, against pacts with the Devil, werewolves, burgomeisters of all and sundry stripe.
The only other notable instance of history we can dredge up for Ansbach is that it was the death place of the mysterious, otherworldly KASPER HAUSER.
Coming into more modern times, during the Civil War, a confederate soldier with the rather unlikely name of "Silas Shimmerhorn," was said to have come to Versailles, Indiana to raid Union supplies. Finding himself smack-dab in the middle of the local militia, and realizing that this was going to get him hung if he didn't flee, he ended up finding a nice quiet cave to accommodate him, living by catching small animals to kill with his knife.
Throwing out his grey Confederate uniform, he made friends with a small wolf pack, finally donning animal pelts, and slowly undergoing a bizarre transformation.
Years ago, in a book called Indiana Ghost Folklore, I wrote:
"It was at this time, or so the story goes, that Silas Shimmerhorn underwent an internal transformation as well as an external one. He forgot the normal habits and mannerisms of man, perhaps even forgot the use of language, and let a powerful inner beast come forth from the depths of his spirit, and claim him. He became, in essence, a literal “wolf man,” what the old-time French trappers in Indiana would call a loup-garou, a shape-shifting man that could transform himself into the image of a wolf. The Native Americans believed in them, too (many who still practice the old traditions, we must assume, still give them credence) , and sure enough, Native legends from Indiana abound with stories of the 'shape-shifter'."
Silas Shimmerhorn is said to have so regressed to the form and identity of being a wolf, that local farmers, concerned about the mutilations of their livestock, spotted him howling, baying at the moon, and found his bloody tracks in a confusing mess, along with the tracks of his fellow four-legged wolf cousins. They, of course, convened the de riguer posse, but, alas, to no avail.
Silas was spotted repeatedly over the years, it was claimed, even when he would have been ancient. Or dead.
It is even said today that you can hear his ghostly howl at Versailles State Park. If you believe such rumors.
The Georgia Werewolf Girl
The legend of Emily Isabella Burt, the "Georgia Werewolf Girl," hails from the Victorian days of Talbot County, Georgia. Emily, whose widowed mother bore several children, had them shipped off to boarding school in Europe. Upon returning, though, Emily Isabella was acting rather peculiar, folks noticed.
She began to grow hair in her palms; across her eyebrows and forehead, and her teeth seemed to be growing long and canine-like. She would stare vacantly into space, and she seemed to have developed a strange interest in the supernatural; aided, of course, by the huge library left to her by her late father.
Some say she began to crave meat, the rawer and bloodier, the better. Also, her restless form could be seen stealing, like a sleepwalker, from her bed at night, to roam the countryside. Searching. Like a predator seeking prey.
And then the mutilations started.
Frightened farmers woke to find their sheep ripped to pieces, partially devoured, amid scenes of carnage wherein the surrounding area was covered by what appeared to be wolf-like tracks. Frightened, the farmers began to keep lonely vigil in the night—but the mutilations continued.
Men began to whisper among themselves, and over drinks at the local tavern, about "supernatural agencies."
A solitary, obscure resident, an immigrant from the "Old Country," and thus thought to be knowledgeable about supernatural lore, was consulted. Immediately, he suggested it as a loup-garou, sanguisuga, a man-beast: in short, a werewolf.
He commanded that the farmer's posse melt down their silver and mold the stuff into bullets. Then, they chose a night of the waxing moon to go about their hunt. Coming across a tall, dark, and hideous shape in the forest, finally, the men fired a volley of shots, causing the hairy, loping two-legged revenant to flee.
Mrs. Mildred Burt awoke that night, and, realizing that Emily was again missing from her bed, went out into the woods to look for her. Very quickly, following, in terror, the sounds of the volley of gunshots and the pained scream, she found the bleeding body of her daughter lying unconscious, with a wound in her hand.
A doctor shortly tended the wound, but as to how it was acquired, there was no explanation. The reader or listener to the tale is expected, of course, to draw their own conclusions.
Shortly thereafter, Emily Isabella was packed off to Europe again, and put under the ministrations, it is said, of a mesmeric mastermind, who used hypnosis to cure her of her lycanthropic mania. Whatever the objective truth about that, after she returned, there were no further animal mutilations, and she lived a long, uneventful life, dying in 1911.
Becoming a Werewolf for Fun and Profit
Maverick publisher, the late Adam Parfrey, whose seminal anthology of cultural provocations Apocalypse Culture (1987) is one of the defining books of this author's life, gives us an example of children "raised by wolves" in a forward essay in Culture called "Latter-Day Lycanthropy: Battling for the Soul of Feral Man." It is the story of "Amala" and "Kamala," two Indian children discovered by a Dr. Singh, who apparently rescued the two girls from a wolf den outside of Midnapore.
His medical journal notes that the children walked on all fours, never stood, had sharp, uneven teeth, howled, could smell meat from yards away; and, most eerily, perhaps, had eyes that glowed in the dark.
Their jawbones "parted visibly" while chewing, and their mouths were described as "blood red."
Sadly, these "wolf children" died in captivity. Some say such feral children lose the capacity for human interaction, and begin to feel despair from being separated from their animal brothers and sisters. But, we're certain we don't know.
The book Vampires, Zombies and Monster Men by Daniel Farson (which notably has Colin Wilson and Uri Geller listed as "Editorial Consultants"), lays out a shape-shifting, werewolf ritual, reconstructed in startling photos.
Depicting a modern pagan seated before a bubbling cauldron, the cauldron is said to contain aniseed, opium, and other intoxicating, mind-altering substances. The worshiper's body is smeared with the fat of a newly-killed cat, and around his waist is a wolf pelt.
Invoking the demon, he goes into a trance-like state, and then commands that the possessing spirit enter him, and impart him with the strength and agility and ferociousness of a hairy beast. Some of the incantation is reprinted here:
"Make me a werewolf! Make me a man eater! Make me a werewolf! Make me a woman eater! Make me a werewolf! Make me a child eater! I pine for blood! Human blood! Give it to me! Give it to me tonight! Great Wolf Spirit! Give it to me, and heart, body and soul, I am yours tonight!"
Anton S. LaVey, the famed black magician, Wurlitzer organ player, and author of The Satanic Bible (1969), in his follow-up book The Satanic Witch (1971), likewise laid out his own infernal formula for becoming a werewolf. It proved so nerve-wracking to Avon, the original publisher, that they excised it, claiming, "If you publish this, the streets will be running red with blood!" (Or, something to that effect).
LaVey's formula includes visiting those spots wherein fear is made most manifest in the vulnerable; or, those places that, for some reason, the unwary feel as if they are being "watched" or stalked as prey. He encourages visitants to such haunted locales to experience an overwhelming sense of terror, to send said terror out into the ether, affirming that such spots manifest as magnetic attractions to the dichotomous dance between predator and prey.
He encourages those seeking transformation to visit such spots wearing the appurtenances of the weak, of the victim. Further, the thaumaturgist is encouraged to perhaps revisit again such a locale, as to even heighten and prime the sense of dread and terror.
(Of course, finding such an unnaturally terror-inducing spot may prove difficult, even for advanced occultists. So look thee well, one supposes).
The expelled energy of the spot will accumulate, insists LaVey, and, revisiting it later, the magician will, having donned his werewolf costume (it is written that this should be notably tacky, unrealistic, encompassing the most cartoon-like aspects of the creature as a psychic "second skin" that will be slipped into), will then turn his overwhelming fear of becoming PREY, into an imaginary joy and lust and hunger to become the PREDATOR, imagining the fright of the thing being sought as food.
It is then, LaVey writes, that the transformation will be effected. Energy spent and expelled in fear will manifest as the animal energy of the mind, that will allow a man to, quite literally, become a wolf. Baying at the moon, pissing against a wall, and hungering for raw flesh is only part of it:
At the moment of orgasm, a complete and irrevocable encompassing of the animal within must occur, with whatever abandon to this level may ensue. It is at this time that the change will take place, and if one should be unfortunate (or fortunate?) enough to witness your metamorphosis, you may be assured they will never forget it.
This is an adaptation of the ancient ritualistic games of Halloween and "Hide and Go-Seek," in which the fear of the prey is traded on as the fear of the predator, or that which is monstrous, as one child trades his terror for the fun of being that which causes terror, and roles are reversed.
Shape-Shifting Demons from the Lower Fourth Dimension
New Age guru and controversial conspiracy writer, David Icke, has, for decades, laid out a global plot involving demonic beings (invariably "reptile men") who "shape-shift" into politicians, celebrities, sports announcers, etc. They do this, Icke claims, by drinking blood at ritual sacrifices of children, at Satanic rituals that are merely masks for the ancient Sumerian or Babylonian rites that come down from aliens from the Sirius star system. (I think I have that right).
(As an aside, if you find yourself scoffing at the idea of a conspiracy of elite pedophiles and blood-drinkers, remember that the notorious, monstrous BBC announcer and child sexual predator Jimmy Savile, who is dead, had very, very close "friendship" ties to the British Royal Family. Make of that whatever thou wilt).
Alternately, he has lectured that they could be the fabled "Archons" of Gnostic lore, who manifest "illusions" to torment men, under the guise of demons, Djinn, even modern UFO extraterrestrial "greys." Their "reptilian" form is held through the blood-drinking rituals; but, finally, Icke has stated, that EVERYTHING we experience is part of a "holographic universe"; in other words, all of these things are vast illusions, ONE consciousness experiencing itself at lower, physical states of being, lulled into an illusion (the "Maya" of Buddhism) of physical "reality," of separateness; which, apparently is what the reptilians, or aliens or Archons want, for some reason.
There is a strain of theoretical physics of course, that DOES postulate the universe, our "reality," as an illusion; your body is made of atomic particulates, swirling "pixels" on the television screen of human consciousness. Perception that they are solid is utterly false; those atomic particulates themselves are mostly made up of... empty space.
What holds it all together? The mind of "God"? Vishnu, the "World Sustainer"? Krishna stated, in Bhagavad-gita, that if he ever quit purposeful action, the whole of the world would cease to be. The weird star travelers said to have visited alchemist Fascius Cardan claimed that God created the universe moment to moment, and, if He ever quit, it would cease to be.
What, you may wonder, has this to do with werewolves?
Perhaps the shape-shifting beings of our accursed, ancient nightmares really did, at one point, "walk with earthly feet," as Johnathan Harker claimed in Dracula. Perhaps the werewolf's lust for human flesh was, much as the reptilian blood-drinker's is said to be, a way to hold onto the form in this dimensional plane; to take on the real, living, breathing characteristics of the wolf, the beast within. Does blood hold the key to such a transformation?
In a world in which everything is a shifting illusion, a hologram, might not men grow fur, and fangs, lope about on all fours? Might they not imagine and visualize, and then become the beast, the predator, in search of living prey?
Did these things occur of old?
Are they occurring now?
Baker, Tom. Indiana Ghost Folklore. Atglen, PA: Schiffer,
Barton, Blanche. The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biogaphy of Anton LaVey. Port Townshend, WA: Feral House, 1990.
Farson, Daniel. Vampires, Zombies and Monster Men. London: Aldus, 1975.
Icke, David. The Biggest Secret: The Book That Will Change the World. Wildwood, MO: Bridge of Love, 1998.
Parfrey, Adam. "Latter-Day Lycanthropy: Battling for the Soul of Feral Man." Apocalypse Culture, Ed. Adam Parfrey. LA: Amok Press, 1989.