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Superstitions from around the world . . . what brings good luck . . . what brings bad luck?

SUPERSTITION:  WEREWOLVES AND SHAPECHANGERS (Lycanthropy)


Description: Werewolves are supernatural creatures that look like a man, but can assume the shape of a wolf.

Origin: Ancient, Everywhere

An ancient Greek story tells of Lycaion, who the gods turned into a wolf after he ate human flesh - which means tales of werewolves pre-date vampires by thousands of years. Stories of shape-shifters that transform into other animals are common around the world, notably in Native North American culture - although there is speculation that they may have acquired their werewolf lore from some visiting Vikings.

In Haiti there are stories of a wolf-like shape-shifter known as Je-Rouge, or Red Eyes. But to the Turkik people of central Asia, where the wolf is a totemic ancestral figure, a 'Kurtadam' (Wolfman) was a powerful shaman who could change himself into a wolf after a long and painful ritual.




 

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Lycanthropy

Lycanthropy



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Note: These superstitions were researched and written by Stuart Macfarlane (Website: Stuart Macfarlane )

and Tom Metcalfe (Website: Constructive Resonance

 

The text is covered by copyright law - please do not use without first requesting permission.

 

 

The Werewolf of Klein-Krams - Karl Bartsch


In the vicinity of Klein-Krams near Ludwigslust in former times there were extensive forests that were so rich with game that the dukes often came to this region to hold their great hunts. During these hunts they almost always saw a wolf who -- even though he came within shooting distance -- could never be killed by a huntsman. Indeed, they even had to watch as he took a piece of game before their very eyes and -- something that was most remarkable to them -- ran with it into the village.

Now once it happened that a hussar from Ludwigslust was traveling through the village and just happened to enter the house of a man named Feeg. When he entered the house a flock of children stormed out of the house with a loud cry and hurried out into the yard. When he asked them about their wild behavior, they told him that except for a small boy, no one from the Feeg family was at home, and that he -- as was his custom when no one was at home -- had transformed himself into a werewolf, and that they were running away from him, because otherwise he would bite them.

Soon afterward the feared wolf appeared, but by now he had laid aside his wolf form. The hussar turned to the Feeg child and tried to learn more about the wolf game, but the child would say nothing. However, the stranger would not give up, and he finally succeeded in making the child talk.

The child told him that his grandmother had a strap, and that if he put it on he would instantly become a wolf. The hussar kindly asked the boy to make an appearance as a werewolf. At first the boy refused, but finally he agreed to do it, if the strange man would first climb into the loft, so that he would be safe from him. The hussar agreed to this, and to be sure pulled up the ladder with which he had climbed into the loft.

As soon as this had happened the boy ran into the main room, and soon came out again as a young wolf and chased away all those who standing in the entryway. After the wolf had run back into the main room and come back out as a boy, the hussar climbed down and had the Feeg child show him the magic belt, but he could not discover anything unusual about it.

Afterward the hussar went to a forester in the vicinity of Klein-Krams and told him what he had experienced in the Feeg house. Upon hearing this story, the forester, who had always been present at the great hunts near Klein-Krams, immediately thought about the werewolf who could not be wounded. He now thought that he would be able to kill the werewolf.

At the next hunt he said to his friends, as he rammed a bullet of inherited silver into the barrel of his rifle, "Today the werewolf will not escape from me!" His companions looked at him in amazement, but he said nothing further.

The hunt soon began, and it did not take long before the wolf showed himself once again. Many of the huntsmen shot at him, but he remained unwounded. Finally he approached the forester, who brought him to the ground. Everyone could see that the wolf was wounded, but soon he jumped up again and ran into the village. The huntsmen followed him, but the werewolf outran them and disappeared into the Feeg farmyard.

In their search, the huntsmen came into the house, where they found the wolf in the grandmother's bed. They recognized it from the tail that was sticking out from under the covers.

The werewolf was no one other than Feeg's grandmother. In her pain she had forgotten to take off the strap, and thus she herself revealed the secret.

* Source: Karl Bartsch, Sagen, Märchen und Gebräuche aus Meklenburg (Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller, 1879), v. 1, no. 183, pp. 148-150.

 

 

The Wolf Stone - Alexander Schöppner

In a valley in the Fichtel Mountains a shepherd tended his flock in a green meadow. Several times it happened that after driving his herd home he discovered that one of the animals was missing. All searching was in vain. They were lost and they remained lost.

Watching more carefully, he saw a large wolf creep out of the forest thicket and seize a lamb. Angrily he chased after him, but the enemy was too fleet. Before he could do anything about it, the wolf had disappeared with the lamb. The next time he took an expert marksman with him. The wolf approached, but the marksman's bullets bounced off him. Then it occurred to the hunter to load his weapon with the dried pith from an elder bush. The next day he got off a shot, and the robber ran howling into the woods.

The next morning the shepherd met an old neighbor woman with whom he was not on the best of terms. Noticing that she was limping, he asked her: "Neighbor, what is wrong with your leg? It does not want to go along with you."

"What business is it of yours?" she answered, hurrying away.

The shepherd took note of this. This woman had long been suspected of practicing evil magic. People claimed to have seen her on the Heuberg in Swabia, the Köterberg, and also on the Hui near Halberstadt.

He reported her. She was arrested, interrogated, and flogged with rod of alder wood, with which others suspected of magic, but who had denied the charges, had been punished. She was then locked up in chains. But suddenly the woman disappeared from the prison, and no one knew where she had gone.

Some time later the poor, unsuspecting shepherd saw the hated wolf break out of the forest once again. However, this time it had not come to attack his herd, but the shepherd himself. There was a furious struggle. The shepherd gathered all of his strength together against the teeth and claws of the ferocious beast. It would have been his death if a hunter had not come by in the knick of time. In vain he fired a shot at the wolf, and then struck it down with his knife. The instant that blood began to flow from the wolf's side, the old woman from the village appeared in the field before them, writhing and twisting terribly. They finished killing her and buried her twenty feet beneath the earth.

At the place where they buried the woman they erected a large stone cross, which they named the "Wolf Stone" in memory of these events. It was never peaceful and orderly in the vicinity of the stone. The Malicious Messenger (der Tückebote) or the Burning Man (der brennende Mann), in the language of the people, still goes about his dangerous business here.

* Source: Hans Sponholz, Der verwunschene Rehbock: Sagen aus Bayern um Wald, Wild und Jagd (Hof [Saale]: Oberfränkische Verlagsanstalt und Druckerei GmbH, 1981), pp. 56-57.

 
 
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