My latest story, ‘Collared by Wolves’ is out for pre-orders in the next ten days on www.bookstrand.com/jennifer-denys . In the next couple of weeks I am going to have series of posts on my Monday & Wednesday blogs about writing werewolf stories.
When I told a friend I had written a werewolf story her comment was, “How do you research werewolves?” They are, after all, a mythical/unreal creature. This is a very good question!
It is interesting, though, to research the myths/stories around werewolves and what qualities we associate with werewolves which include greater strength than human or wolf, transformation to take place at full moon, vulnerable to silver bullets, a human can become a werewolf if bitten by one. Now many of these are modern developments invented for works of fiction!!
Historical methods of identifying a werewolf are intriguing: eyebrows meeting over the bridge of the nose, low set ears, swinging gait, curved fingernails, if you cut the flesh of a werewolf in human form you can expose fur, bristles under the tongue (that last is a Russian superstition), while in wolf form no tail (not heard that one before!), retaining human eyes and voice in wolf form, a person who devours recently buried corpses (a trait going back to medieval Europe!)
So how does one become a werewolf other than being bitten by one? Apparently by wearing a belt made of wolfskin, rubbing a magic salve onto your skin, drinking rainwater out of the footprint of a werewolf, being born with epilepsy(!), making a pact with the devil, being targeted by a malicious sorcerer, and – I love this one – in Italy, France or Germany a man or woman could turn into a werewolf by sleeping outside on a Summer night (but only on certain Wednesdays or Fridays) with the light of the full moon shining directly on their face!!!!
Now supposed you have been unlucky enough to become a werewolf, methods to remove the curse include: wolfsbane, exorcism, being struck on the forehead with a knife, piercing your hands with a nail, being addressed it three times by your Christian name.
I finish with a quote going back to 1628 from Richard Verstegan (Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, 1628) (via Wikipedia)
“There 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.”
See Wednesday’s blog where I invite other writers to tell me why they have chosen to write about werewolves.