top of page

The Wide, Wide World of Werewolves

Hello and happy new year everyone! Welcome to Lukelore! A companion piece to The Ghost Story Guys, where I would normally share folklore surrounding the stories the main episodes tell, but I’m increasingly going off the rails for folklore related rampages and this episode is one of those! If this is a companion piece to any episode, it’s to another Lukelore. Episode 2: The Beast of Gevudan. From nearly a bloody year ago now! Time flied there… I wanted to have a bit of fun at the start of 2020, and I really wanted to do an episode on weird werewolves from around the world. It mostly became a huge pile of morsels surrounding werewolves both mainstream and lesser known, and is very freeform compared to my usual format as I pounce from one idea to the next with insatiable hunger. Yes, those were bad werewolf puns and no, I don’t feel bad about them. All around the world where there’s both people and there’s wolves, there’s stories about wolf people. I’ve tried to find fun ones today but this typically has negative connotations, and there’s one particularly bad one from France. Hungry wolves see humans as a snack, and projecting the hunger of a wolf into another person is often to show they are a predator of other people. What started this topic off was tales of the Wulver from Scotland. A creature that was supposed to have never been a human like a lot of werewolves, but had a body like a man’s with the head of a wolf. The Wulver really stood out to me because they aren’t dangerous at all. They were reknowned for being friendly and helpful with a knack for fishing. Always willing to guide lost travellers back to civilisation, and sharing the fish they catch with poor families that have young children placing the food on empty windowsills when no one was looking so as not to scare anyone within. This feels a little like a fairy creature to me, so should you spot one fishing over near The Wulver Stane of Shetland I wouldn’t push my luck harassing them for a selfie or demanding they give you a fish. In Latvian folklore a vilkacis (veel-car-sis) was someone who could transform into a monster similar to the idea of a traditional werewolf, although they have some stories where they are benevolent too. I suppose that comes down to where you’re standing when the rampage kicks off. If a werewolf eats your sworn enemies while not so much as nibbling on one of your sheep you’re primed to become pro-werewolf. I did look up the pronunciation for vilkacis but sorry to anyone of Latvian decent if I’m garbling it. Hop across to the other side of the world, and skin-walkers or skin-walker like creatures up and down the Tribes of the native Americans could take the forms of wolves. It’s not a direct match though as skin-walkers could usually take on multiple shapes and are outright evil from either curses or malicious intent, often being a closer fit in stories from Europe to that of Satan’s servant black magic witches instead of a wild wolf person. I’ve already dedicated an entire episode to the Beast of Gevudan, so it should be no surprise that France is especially big on werewolves with plenty of accusations of werewolf attacks up to and including court cases brought against the accused. Possibly themost famous example of this being the cannibalistic serial killer Gilles Garnier who would bite and claw children to death in a frenzy with at least four victims between the ages of 9 and 12. In court he claimed that a spectre came to him in the woods and offered him an ointment to help him hunt better, which when used would allow him to become a wolf. The courts were unimpressed with this wolf man child killer and responded by burning him at the stake for crimes of lycanthropy and witchcraft. Chances are if while looking up werewolves you come across a picture of a bedraggled looking man on all fours with a child in his mouth, you’ve come across an old drawing of Gilles Garnier. Yeah… I need another nice werewolf after Garnier. There are more nice werewolves out there! There is Sir Marrok, one of the Arthurian Knights of the Round table who first served Uther Pendragon before King Arthur. They were famous for driving out robbers, witches, warlocks, and wild wolves from Bedgraine were they went on to become Lord. When riding off to serve King Arthur he left the wise woman Irma in charge, but Irma was loyal to Morganne Le Fay and not the King so one time upon Sir Marrok’s return she turned him into a wolf to keep control of Bedgraine. Sir Marrok responds to his new ironic turn as one of the wolves he was known for driving out of Bedgraine by spending seven years as a wolf continuing to drive out robbers, witches, warlocks, and other wolves until he gets a chance to destroy the talisman which kept him transformed. There’s another famous werewolf knight in Bisclavret, a Baron of Brittany. Bisclavret was well loved by the King of Brittany but he had the peculiar quirk of disappearing for three nights every month. He eventually confessed to his wife that he was a werewolf, and one secret of this curse was that he had to return to his clothes or else would be trapped as a wolf. His wife immediately decided she hated the idea of laying down next to a werewolf and conspired with a knight she began an affair with to steal his clothes leaving him trapped as a wolf and easily gotten rid off with no one else knowing the secret. Bisclavret was driven out, being just a wolf to his retainers, and was simply considered missing for a year until the King managed to corner him in his wolf form on a hunt around Biscalvret’s castle. Upon seeing the king, the baron in wolf form immediately began genuflecting and kissing the King’s foot. Amused by the curious behaviour of this wolf the King ordered his hounds restrained and took this strange new creature with him back to his castle to live with him. Biscalvret the wolf was perfectly behaved and a threat to no one until eventually one day the Knight his wife conspired with was invited to the capital and the wolf flew into a rage. Biscalvret the wolf was restrained, the King not understanding why they reacted this way to this one knight alone. Then the wolf spotted his treacherous wife who had travelled with this knight, going wild and breaking free to charge her and rip her nose clean off her face. A wise man speaks up for the wolf, pointing out that these two must have wronged the wolf for this to happen. Upon realising that the attacked woman was the baroness of the missing baron he loved, the King had her tortured until she confessed everything. Biscalvret got his clothes back, returning to human form and now able to reclaim his Barony. The wife who betrayed him and her lover were exiled, going on to have children born with no noses. With all these wolf creatures from folklore around the world there’s some talk that these common stories all point towards a Proto-Indo-European society spreading these stories, and frequent associations with young brutal warriors being wolf like being a part of this common foundational culture. There is another theory that could suggest how these common themes relate without an ancient common tribe passing down these ideas though, in Jungian archetypes. Jungian archetypes at their most common are about how humankind is vaguely wired up the same way on some level, so has common responses to things like death and the dark even with cultural differences. The wolf is something covered by the concept of Jungian archetypes and is something which has been discussed regarding them, that what a wolf represents to people has a universal resonance. Let’s end this with a round up of some of the many ways a werewolf can be made! The most famous is almost certainly that you can become a werewolf after being bitten by one.

Wearing a wolfskin either whole or as a belt, garter, or other piece of clothing is pretty common.

Magical salves and ointments abound, whether dropped off by a spectre in the woods or as a DIY spell. While body crème du wolf is apparently the most popular magical method, there are also stories that only require incantations and not oiling up in substances best not thought about in too much detail.

You can be directly cursed into a werewolf, your family can be cursed resulting in you being born one, and there’s always a pact with the Devil if you want to start up a cursed bloodline of your very own!

Then there’s the weirder ones…

Eating a wolf’s brain can result in lycanthropy, which could be a rabies parable similar to being bitten, or could also be the wolf cursing you from being the grave for being a dick and eating their brains.

Drinking water directly from a wolf’s pawprint is either a bad idea, or a great one, depending on your views on werewolves.

Livonian werewolves apparently swapped out the ointments for a special beer instead. And according to Russian folklore children born on the 24th of December can be werewolves, which should make family dinner around Christmas more interesting. And that is all for the first Lukelore of the year. Sorry if it was a little less focused than usual, but hopefully being packed full of different stories and tidbits of lore make up for that. I would like to give a shoutout to the number one werewolf fan I know, let’s call them “Beowolf” since I haven’t actually checked if they want a shoutout in this. They know who they are though! They gave me a pile of leads to chase up on this one. I was also going to rant about the Big Bad Wolf in this one, but it had gotten quite long so I’ve shelved that for now… I will be back in a month with another topic, followers on Patreon get this early so check out for that and plenty more cool stuff if you want to support us directly, but just listening is plenty of support in and of itself. It always, always is. Any Youtube listeners please give a like and a share! We’re heading to a one year Lukelore anniversary in a few short months and it would be nice to see the reach grow! I hope everyone enjoys my companion show and please feel free to reach out to either the show or myself directly via email or social media if you have any questions, feedback, or requests for Luke Lore the show email is ghoststoryguys@gmail .com, and I am Luke Greensmith on both Twitter and Facebook. There’s a half filled tentative forecast planner for Lukelore across 2020 with plenty of free spot to plug a suggested topic into. Challenge me, listeners! We also have a very active Instagram for all your online humour needs and even some exclusive GSG content at times. Goodbye for now.


bottom of page