A human with the ability to temporarily or permanently transform into a half-wolf, half-human creature, or a wolf with the intelligence of a man and the strength of a demon. The transformation both to and from wolf to human can be voluntary or involuntary. The ability to transform may be inherited, acquired by sorcery, or bestowed as a curse.
A human body may have the soul of a werewolf, the soul has the ability to leave the body and transform into a corporeal wolf which then runs about seeking to devour human flesh. The human body remains in a trance until the soul returns.
According to early Christian beliefs, conniving with Satan may convince him to grant you the power to become a werewolf.
Trolls, like Satan, also have the ability to turn people into wolves. Unlike Satan, trolls dole out werewolfism as a curse rather than a gift.
In ancient Rome werewolves were known as "skin-changers" or "turn-coats." It was believed that while in human form the werewolf's hair grew inwards, in order to change into a werewolf he would simply turn himself inside out.
In the Holy Bible, evil men wear the skin of a sheep to hide the wolf inside.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15 King James Version).
Other theories on how to transform into a werewolf include putting on the skin of a wolf, wearing a belt made of human skin, or by using a magical ointment created with the help of Satan.
Women who engage in the ritual of crawling through the caul of a colt in order to prevent pain in childbirth will from that day forward only give birth to male werewolves and female nightmares.
Killing a werewolf in its wolf form causes it to change back to its human form.
To cure a person of werewolfism, throw your hat or some other article of clothing at them while they are in their wolf form. If they take a bite out of it and run away, they might return later curse-free.
Recognizing a person while they are in the form of a wolf can cause them to revert to human form.
In Slavic lore, werewolves become vampires when they die.
Lycanthropy is a psychosis in which a person has delusions of being a werewolf but no physical transformation occurs. However, in some cases a mental transformation does occur and these afflicted humans can be very dangerous.
A subculture of humans exist who are neither true lycanthropes nor true werewolves, yet they openly refer to themselves as "real werewolves" and feel that they share many traits with the classic creature of mythology. Most admit that they cannot physically transform but believe that they are able to transform on the astral plane or in dreams. Most of these people embrace their "were nature" and lead otherwise normal lives.
Also known as loup-garou, loupgarov, barwolf, berwolff, skin-changers, and turn-coats.
See Also: Creatures by Type » Shapeshifters
Fiske, John. Myths and Myth-Makers. Boston & New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1872.
Summers, Montague. The Werewolf in Lore and Legend. Originally published 1933, republished by Dover Publications, 2003.
The Holy Bible, King James Version.