The Formation of Terms
There are several ways of interpreting the term 'lycanthropy':
The ancient Greek word 'lycanthropos', which in translation means 'forest man'.
But a forest man has very little in common with the mythical figures we want to
deal with here. However, in the word Lycanthropos there are two stems that lead
to a much more interesting interpretation.
The Greek words lycos (wolf) and anthropos (human) are part of lycanthropy. From
this it is possible to derive a term for humans that have animal characteristics
(here that of the wolf) or for wolves that have human characteristics. However, it
is easy to see that the focus here is on being human and therefore the former
variant is gaining in importance. This results in the most diverse manifestos of
lycanthropy, ranging from obsession to shapeshifting to psychokinetic projections.
But more about this below…
In Lycanthropos, however, the word combination Lycos and Anthropos
is followed by the following: Lycaon and Anthropos. This leads to another very interesting
interpretation of the term:
Lycaon was king of Arcadia and was the son of Pelasgos and Meliboier or Kyllene. He had 50 sons, who were distinguished by special cruelty like him. When Zeus visited him, Lycaon presented him with a dismembered boy for a meal. This enraged the god so much that he destroyed Lycaon and his family with a bolt of lightning. Mythology, however, offers a second version of this tradition, in which Lycaon was transformed into a wolf and Zeus sent the Deucalion Flood, which wiped out most of humanity.
What is Lycanthropy?
In general, the term lycanthropy is associated with the belief that humans could turn into
Lykanthrop not only refers to the werewolf (who from Latin vir; man), but according to local traditions the advertising bear (old northern berserk; bearskin), or in the non-European area weretiger, wereleopard etc. The transformation is considered reversible.
The interpretations of the phenomenon range from blatant superstition to purely psychological
interpretations to parapsychologically founded interpretations. This subheading includes dream
images and visions with ASW elements that allow the person experiencing to see himself in animal
form, but also the mental suggestive influencing of animals (magical fascination):
The will of a human being occupies the animal as it were. Such interpretations probably already include PK elements. The also claimed phenomenon would be clearly psychokinetic: certain people would be able to let materialisations of predators act.
A form of ASW would exist if humans could mentally suggestively attack others through animal
A psychokinetic phenomenon of its own kind is the actual transformation (in an attenuated form: the soul excursion in animal form) that only very few researchers consider possible.
The area of lycanthropy also includes the numerous examples of supposed wolves, cats, dogs, etc. known from classical psychiatry.
Austria (1921) reports the case of a Japanese girl who, possessed by a fox, showed the
behaviour of a fox.
The belief in a possible transformation into birds (ravens, swan virgins) is not attributed to
- The idea of the soul-bird (the soul of a deceased person lives on as a bird) is to be set off from this once more. For example, the Lord Godbird (a Hessian popular belief) or the doves as the soul animals of Cinderella's mother.
The Middle Ages took the problem of animal transformation very seriously: Augustine, for example, examined the question of whether the transformation of a man into a donkey described by the Roman writer Apulejus (around 125 AD) could be possible at all.
In the 15th and 16th centuries lycanthropy was treated monographically. It was regarded as a form
of devil possession:
According to the 'Malleus maleficarum', the werewolf is not a real animal, nor a transformed human being, but an illusion of the devil.
Thomas Aquinas saw demon-produced illusions in the werewolves. He considered an actual transformation to be incompatible with the divine laws of nature.
Religious anthropology sees in lycanthropy a decay of the old wolf mythology which is urgent in psychopathological areas.
Parapsychology has the task of investigating which paranormal elements manifest themselves in it.
Last modified at 29.12.2018