Shape Shifter…

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright….

Shape Shifter: Perhaps one of the subjects that I have long been fascinated with. Picture this, a seven year old on a Saturday afternoon turns the channel to a film he thinks is about science.  In the film, one of the scientist tries out a serum that transforms him into a primitive cannibalistic human who runs amok, and as the serum wears off, returns to himself.  He eventually becomes hopelessly addicted to the serum, mayhem ensues. Scientist attacks everyone, family, fellow scientist until he is fatally wounded, and is transformed back to a human as he dies and the credits roll. Said seven year old has been unable to tear himself away from the screen. A month of nightmares follows, with all the attending problems this brings. Claws at the windows, monsters under the bed. Night mares sitting on the chest, the whole package. After all these years, though he has come to enjoy some of the genre, prefers his monsters not to first be humans. Much prefers them to come ready made with fur, or scales, thank you, thank you!

Thus began a long fascination with shapeshifting. It has led down many an odd path, from Greek mythology, to legal papers from trial in Europe in the 1700′s. I have studied the cave paintings, and read the legends from around the world, from Indonesia, India, Siberia, across the Americas… it is a common theme to almost all peoples. I have seen people in trance take on the behaviour and outward (no not fur but stance) of various creatures. It is fascinating.

What is going on? Is there a part of us that has been tamped down but still exist? Does that part only come out as nightmare, or aberrant behaviour generally? (You know, eating the neighbors etc…) Films usually portray werewolves as being at odds with their nature, or complicit in the act. It always is portrayed as a curse. I think something happened when we turned to agriculture that buried this part of our psychi and make up.

As I grew older I moved on to Lon Chaney’s works, and various other re-interpretations of the old tale. My favourite of recent years (if you count 30 years as being such) are three films, “An American Werewolf In London, “A Company Of Wolves”. and the French film “The Brotherhood Of The Wolf”. All examine the myth from different angles, and in the mix I fall out to A Company of Wolves as my favourite, though I thoroughly enjoy and find deep meaning in the other two.

What goes on in the dream world? What do we summon up, and then dismiss with the coming of awakening? Where do we really dwell, here, or in our dreams?


On The Menu:
Shape Shifting Quotes
The Company of Wolves-The Wolfgirl
Poetry About Werewolves
The Wolfman – Trailer 1925
Becoming An Animal – Secret Life of Ghosts & Werewolves
Shape Shifting Quotes:

The outward form of things passes away, but the essence remains for ever. How long will you be besotted with the shape of the jug? Cast aside the jug, and seek the water. If you look too closely at the form, you miss the essence. If you are wise, you will always pick out the pearl from the shell.
– Rumi, “Masnavi”

Shape-shifting. We do it for kicks. – Wolfen 1981

♦ David: I’m a werewolf.
♦ Alex: Are you alright?
♦ David: I don’t know, I’ll let you know the next full moon.
An American Werewolf in London

♦ Little girls, this seems to say, never stop upon your way, never trust a stranger friend, no-one knows how it will end! As you’re pretty, so be wise! Wolves may lurk in every guise! Now, as then, it’s simple truth, sweetest tongue has sharpest tooth!
Rosaleen, The Company of Wolves
The Company of Wolves-The Wolfgirl


Poetry About Werewolves..

The Werewolves
– Wilfred Campbell

They hasten, still they hasten,
From the even to the dawn;
And their tired eyes gleam and glisten
Under north skies white and wan.
Each panter in the darkness
Is a demon-haunted soul,
The shadowy, phantom werewolves,
Who circle round the Pole.

Their tongues are crimson flaming,
Their haunted blue eyes gleam,
And they strain them to the utmost
O’er frozen lake and stream;
Their cry one note of agony,
That is neither yelp nor bark,
These panters of the northern waste,
Who hound them to the dark.

You may hear their hurried breathing,
You may see their fleeting forms,
At the pallid polar midnight,
When the north is gathering storms;
When the arctic frosts are flaming,
And the ice-field thunders roll;
These demon-haunted werewolves,
Who circle round the Pole.

They hasten, still they hasten,
Across the northern night,
Filled with a frighted madness,
A horror of the light;
Forever and forever,
Like leaves before the wind,
They leave the wan, white gleaming
Of the dawning far behind.

Their only peace is darkness,
Their rest to hasten on
Into the heart of midnight,
Forever from the dawn.
Across far phantom ice-floes
The eye of night may mark
These horror-haunted werewolves
Who hound them to the dark.

All through this hideous journey
They are the souls of men
Who in the far dark-ages
Made Europe one black fen.
They fled from courts and convents,
And bound their mortal dust
With demon, wolfish girdles
Of human hate and lust.

These, who could have been godlike,
Chose, each a loathsome beast,
Amid the heart’s foul graveyards,
On putrid thoughts to feast;
But the great God who made them
Gave each a human soul,
And so ‘mid night forever
They circle round the Pole.

A-praying for the blackness,
A-longing for the night,
For each is doomed forever
By a horror of the light;
And far in the heart of midnight,
Where their shadowy flight is hurled,
They feel with pain the dawning
That creeps in round the world.

Under the northern midnight,
The white, glint ice upon,
They hasten, still they hasten,
With their horror of the dawn;
Forever and forever,
Into the night away
They hasten, still they hasten
Unto the judgment day.

The Wolfman – Trailer 1925

The Werewolf
by: Anne S. Bushby

‘Twas at the middle hour of night;
And though the moon gave her pale light,
O’er the haunted wood a thick mist hung
And the wind was howling its leaves among.
In a cart along that way so wild
A peasant was driving his wife and child.

“For the fairy folks thou need’st fear not,
They dance ‘neath the moon on yon green spot.
Should the screech-owl cry from yonder marsh
Say a prayer, nor heed its voice so harsh.
Whate’er thou seest, be not afraid,
But clasp the child,” the faither said.

“Forward, old horse! Behind yon tree
Our church’s steeple I can see.
Get on! But hold, a moment stop–
The linch-pin is about to drop;
‘Tis crack’d–I’ll cut a stick, my dear;
Hold fast the child, and have no fear!”

An hour alone she might have sat,
When a noise she heard–”Oh, what is that?”
Lo! a coal-black hound! She sees and knows
The werewolf! while his teeth he shows,
And glares upon her child, she flings
Her apron o’er it as he springs.

His sharp teeth bite it; but she cries
To God for help, away he flies.
Her arms the helpless babe enfold,
She sits like a statue, pale and cold.
But soon her husband’s by her side,
And onwards now they safely ride.

Arrived at home, a light is brought;
She starts, as with some horrid thought:
“What? Husband! husband! can these be
Threads hanging from thy teeth I see?
Thou art thyself a werewolf then!”
“Thy words,” he said, “have set me free again!”

Becoming An Animal – Secret Life of Ghosts & Werewolves


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