Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Unexplained Mysteries of Werewolves

The mythological belief in werewolves has been with us for centuries. Many historians and folklorists have pondered the origins of the belief in lycanthropy, which is really the human ability to change into not only wolves but bears, big cats and other dangerous creatures. Of all of these transformations though, that of man into wolf is the best known. This is largely due to the Old World traditions of wolves being feared as predators by the Europeans. There are many historical accounts of wolves preying on human beings during wars and hard winters, although not all of these accounts can be taken as fact. However, the true accounts were prevalent enough that the French had a word for the wolf that has acquired a taste for human flesh, the “werewolf” or the loup-garou.

As Christianity rose to power, the church condemned such beliefs and soon, the wolf was seen as a symbol of evil. Many debated over whether or not men really turned into wolves or if Satan merely caused witnesses to be deluded into thinking a man had changed into a wolf.

For those who claimed such powers, their delusions were frighteningly real. Many people who believed themselves to be werewolves testified, under torture and otherwise, of murdering both people and animals while in their transformed state. For this reason, many researcher today have associated being a “werewolf” with those we would deem to be murderously mentally ill. Among these were serial killers like Stubbe Peeter, who was tried in Germany in 1589 for a 25 year crime spree. During that time, he murdered adults and children (including his own son), committed cannibalism and incest and attacked animals. Peeter claimed to have made a pact with Satan, who had then given him an animal pelt that would change him into a wolf. In 1598, French authorities arrested Jacques Roulet after he was found hiding in some brush and covered with the blood of a mutilated teenaged boy. Roulet claimed that he had killed the boy while transformed into a werewolf. Was that wolfman ?

With tales such of this, lycanthropy has been deemed as a serious mental disorder. But can we really place all accounts of werewolves into a category of human dysfunction? There are sightings and accounts that do exist, although few of them, that lead researchers to ponder whether or not man-wolves can actually be real. In reality, these creatures should not exist, but so much of our understanding of these creatures comes from anthropologists and folklorists (not to mention the movies) and since these sensible people would never believe that a werewolf could possibly be seen - they natural dismiss any true accounts that might surface.

This is not to say that werewolves are real - I leave such decisions for the reader to judge - but there are some accounts out there that just might have you thinking twice. Remember that werewolves are only slightly less implausible than many other creatures that people claim to see (from Bigfoot to giant winged creatures) but most of us have a lot less trouble believing in the other assorted monsters said to wander the land. The stories that follow do not amount to trying to convince the reader that true werewolves are prowling America, but they are worthy of interest.

As you will soon see, the state of Wisconsin seems to have a number of werewolf sightings. Why this might be is anyone’s guess, but the stories that follow will certainly have you leaving the high beams of your car headlights on while traveling the back roads of the “cheese state” at night! One of the first Wisconsin werewolf sightings occurred in 1936. A man named Mark Schackelman reportedly encountering a talking wolfman just east of Jefferson, Wisconsin on Highway 18. As he was driving along the road one evening, he spotted a figure digging in an old Indian mound. He looked closer and saw that the figure was a strange, hair-covered creature that stood erect and stood more than six feet tall. The face of the creature boasted a muzzle and features of both an ape and a dog. Its hands were oddly formed with a twisted thumb and three fully formed fingers. The beast gave off a putrid smell that was like “decaying meat”.

Schackelman returned to the site the following evening, hoping for another look, and this time, he actually heard the creature speak in what he described as being “neo human”. The beats uttered a “three-syllable growling noise that sounded like gadara with the emphasis on the second syllable.” Schackelman was a religious man and after spotting this obviously “evil” creature, he began to back away from it and to pray. Eventually the creature was lost to sight. 

Read more at http://theunexplainedmysteries.com/werewolves.html

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