Friday, July 27, 2007

"Show you what all that howl is for..."

Hey, hey my playmate
let me lay waste to thee
burned down their hanging trees
it's hot here hot here hot here hot here

Got a curse we cannot lift
shines when the sunset shifts
there's a curse comes with a kiss
the bite that binds the gift that gives
now that we got gone for good
writhing under your riding hood
tell your gra'ma and your mama too it's true
we're howling forever

- Wolf Like Me

(It's a great song. You can listen to it on their myspace page or follow the link below.)

I like werewolves. I enjoy imagining the reasons behind the worldwide folklore. Is it an incarnation of our dark side, our fear of the animal within? Are the werewolf stories a cultural cautionary tale? Perhaps they are the results of mass hallucinations, or maybe shapeshifters really do exist?

The original werewolf tale in Western civilization can be traced to Greek mythology. Lycaon acting with hubris and cruelty, attempted to feed human flesh to Zeus in order to test his divinity. Zeus got pissed off and turned him into a man-wolf. Lycaon's name thus forms the root of the word "lycanthropy" which is the state of transforming into a werewolf (magically or delusionally).

Most cultures seem to have werewolf tales. IN 14th Century France, there were 30,000 werewolf trials. It is believed to be the result of a fungus in the bread of the poor causing mass halluicnations combined with the suggestion of the werewolf fever that was sweeping the nation during that time. Additionally, there are the loup-garou of Louisiana, the Native American skinwalkers, as well as examples all over Europe, Asia and South America. I'm pretty sure there have been at least 50 werewolf movies as well.

Becoming wolfen historically seems to be a punishment of some kind. Earlier werewolves were blamed on cannibalism -- if you stooped to eating human flesh than you would transform into an animal. Later rejecting Christianity would make you a werewolf, which is probably how the full moon affliction was woven into the folklore, as the Indo-European religions associated the moon with the goddess. Christians are rather notorious for not really caring for women, nature or individuals. There is a legend in which those who interrupted Patrick during his sermonizing began howling like wolves and were transformed into wolves for seven years. This is the same Patrick who was said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland. Go figure!

The Werewolf page has all kinds of cool informaation. I got all of these images there, as well as a ton of information. They also have short stories and a nice, early creepy version of Little Red Riding Hood by Briffault. In this version, Red Riding Hood outsmarts the wolf after her grandmother's cat calls her a slut. This draws LRRH's attention to the fact that she is about to eat her own grandmother. (I prefer my fairy tales pathological, with lessons on how to avoid the pitfalls in life and a healthy dose of twisted sexuality. Disney has bleached them all to a flavorless paste, urging us to become good citizens.) Many claim that Little Red Riding Hood is a really metaphor for the awakening of a young woman's sexual awareness-- the red hood or cap representing the hymen or clitoris and the wolf representing the animal appetite of young men. That seems to be possible, especially since the wolf-dressed-as-grandma often seems to be trying to talk LRRH into climbing into bed with him.

You can read a few other versions of the fairy tale here.

And please be careful walking through the woods alone.


JoeC said...

My opinion is that, like most quantum theorists suggest, our minds and the "real" universe are much more of a cooperative effort than we realise. So, reality is a probability field, and what you believe is a big factor in what the probability is. For example, your door may have a probability of 99.9%, and sometimes when you're hunting your car keys they may only have a probability of 50%. Things on the edge...things groups of people marginally believe in...have a less percentage of existing, but do pop in and out of reality...things like the loch ness monster, which clearly can't exist in Loch Ness because the lake couldn't support the creature, but every now and then somebody has a very real experience. Same with Big Foot...there have been some impossible tracks found with dermal ridges going up steep hills where no human could trek with that long a stride, but if it really existed we'd find a the creature may just be on the border of our more-dreamlike-than-we-know reality with a somewhat low probability of existence.

Which all brings me to werewolves, fairies, and vampires. In past centuries, there was probably a larger belief in the population for these things, and thus they probably had a higher probability of popping in and out of our collective reality...

Anyway, that's my just-educated-enough-to-be-dangerous theory.

La Sirena said...

As said in the latest Harry Potter, ""Just because something is in your mind doesn't mean it is not real."

I, too, beleve what you believe comprises and shapes are universe. Although you illustrate it rather well with your percentages. Very nice, thanks.