Hello and welcome to The Obscuritan. For this month’s series of articles, we take a look at the origins and incarnations of three staples of nightmares worldwide – the Werewolf, the Vampire and the Witch. For our first article, given that most of these accounts come from folk-tales, and are scarcely recorded in books in some cases, let alone illustrated, rather than providing the same tired illustrations of Werewolves (or –heaven forbid– contemporary depictions) we have instead provided a plethora of original quotations and sources for one to follow up oneself. Whether we can maintain this quantity as we proceed along the month remains to be seen.
The story most commonly associated with the “origins” of werewolves is Lycaon of Arcadia in Greece. King of that region, he sought to please the god Zeus by making a sacrifice of one of his sons. However, as in the tale of Tantalus, who invited the gods to a banquet and served the flesh of his son, Lycaon was punished, either for the insult that human flesh would appease the gods or for daring to assume the power to take human life as the gods do, by being turned into a wolf. Thus was founded the Lykaia cult, who sought to replicate the process via wild hedonistic ritual, much like the Bacchanals, and worshipped an aspect of Zeus – Lykaios, or “wolf-Zeus” – although in some versions he is the first priest of this cult. However, it is in the North of Europe where the true roots of the Werewolf as we know it can be found.( Read more... )