As moonlight shimmers through a veil of grey clouds, a man haunted by scratching thoughts runs far into the dark wood. They follow him. They over take him. He slumps against tree and cries out. He can feel something violent and primal festering within him.
And then finally, something within him… Breaks.
His humanity, all but gone.
His teeth elongate.
His eyes narrow and darken.
His nails, clawing at his face…
As I write this, the full moon soon makes an appearance. What better time to write about those most affected by its influence?
The word lunatic, or lunacy, stems from the word lunar, meaning “of the moon”. And nothing connotes lunacy better than a beast hidden deep within being revealed, only to wreak unspeakable havoc.
Werewolves have been feared in every corner of the world, prowling folk stories for ages… Long ago, the dreaded úlfhéðnar from the far north, also known as berserkers, were said to be an unstoppable force once they had partaken of the mystic’s mushroom, amanita muscaria. Wearing naught but the pelts of wolves, they would charge into battle in a fit of blind rage, honouring the god Odin. Their unquenchable and possessed fury would see friend and foe alike fall to their blades.
In the past, many nobles and their lines had once been plagued by this dreaded curse. The Welsh king, Vereticus, said to have been cursed as a wolf by Saint Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland. The Arcadian king, Lycaon and his bloodline, doomed to be ravenous wolves for having tested Zeus’s omniscience…
Werewolves, as we commonly know them today, drew much of their inspiration from the witch trials that spanned from the Late Middle Ages to Early Modern Europe. Superstition of those who turned into wolves grew alongside the fear of practitioners of magic, also known as witches and warlocks.
It is said that a full moon evokes madness, and to some unlucky folk who have been bitten by a werewolf, lycanthropy. Some say a remedy for the afflicted is to work them to exhaustion, or to use the wolfsbane herb medicinally… Though to stave off, or indeed slay a werewolf, one must wield silver, the metal said to be of sun and moon.
Take great care, wandering the woods at night under a full moon… You may just be unlucky enough to join their cursed kin.