Monday, 24 August 2015

Why werewolves matter. Our love affair with Hombre Lobo.

I have loved werewolves since I first discovered them as an eight year old reading Daniel Farson's "Beaver Book of Horror", the bible of my childhood years.

There was something so visceral and real about them, the fact that in the right circumstances YOU could inadvertently become one. Ghosts? Well, you had to die to become one of those. Vampires? There was something aloof and arrogant about their kind. But werewolves? They were monstrous, terrible, but pitifully human and flawed too.

They stalked my nightmares, but always in a good way. Thirty years later, I put them into a best selling horror book. I owe them a lot.

The werewolf has a rich and long history. The earliest recorded mention I can find of them is from Herodotus, the 'father of history', in the 5th century BC where he wrote, "Each Neurian changes himself, once in the year, into the form of a wolf, and he continues in that form for several days, after which he resumes his former shape."

Werewolves litter old texts and historical events since the first age of modern man, the transformation of a person into a slavering beast wild with the passion for blood. Ancient Rome bulges like a well fed belly with stories of individuals turning into wolves and running riot. We've long had a close relationship with this most feared and admired of hunter. I suppose we can see so much of ourselves in the wolf's terrible yet lonesome existence, their cunning, team work and rage. After all, what other sound causes us to both shudder with fear and sorrow quite like the howl of a wolf?

Our admiration and respect for the wolf is perhaps why so many stories exist of feral children being raised by wolves. Forget Tarzan, even today, there are stories of children being found in the wilds of Russia, India and Africa with their fellow packs of wolves.

We share much with this most feared of hunters. Perhaps it was seeing too much of ourselves in their bestial ways, the monstrous side of man, that led to rumours of the Catholic church casting down sinners to live forever as werewolves, controlled always by the passing of the moon, during the 15th and 16th centuries, when the inquisition was at its height?

Monsters we are lest monsters we become.

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