Werewolves

Author

Deborah Hyde
Deborah Hydehttp://deborahhyde.com/
Deborah Hyde is a folklorist, cultural anthropologist, fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. She writes about superstition, religion and belief and is the former editor-in-chief of The Skeptic.

More from this author

Spellbound: Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft

Deborah Hyde reports from the Spellbound: Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford.

Do ghosts exist? If not, why do we see them?

  This is the deceptively simple question I ask at the beginning of every episode of the Haunted podcast. The show features ghost stories that...

Naturopath Suing Skeptic Blogger Britt Hermes

Award-winning skeptic blogger Britt Hermes - who turned her back on naturopathic 'medicine' - is the subject of a lawsuit by Arizona naturopath Colleen...

Werewolves

  A werewolf attacks a man Hans Baldung Grien From Die Emeis (1516) Guest Contributor: Deborah Hyde Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg (1445-1510), the ‘Doctor Keisersperg’ of the caption above,...

RIP Hitch

Anthony Burns ruminates on Hitch’s persistent preoccupations, and wonders aloud about that supposed move from left to right “For a lot of people, their first...

 

A werewolf attacks a man
Hans Baldung Grien
From Die Emeis (1516)

Guest Contributor: Deborah Hyde

Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg (1445-1510), the ‘Doctor Keisersperg’ of the caption above, was a Swiss preacher who gave a series of Lenten sermons in 1508 which were transcribed and published as Die Emeis (The Ant Colony). The 1516 edition of this collection benefited from the addition of woodcuts attributed to Hans Baldung Grien, including this one, of a werewolf attacking a man.

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw a peaking of interest in werewolfism in some parts of mainland Europe. Authorities such as Jean Bodin and Henri Boguet teased out the details and logic of the witches’ pact, and whether the devil actually had power to really change men into beasts. Charges of werewolfism at this time, therefore, were associated with witchcraft and heresy.

But this was the era of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, with its attendant paranoia, scapegoating and bloodshed. ‘Werewolves’ tended to be found in more isolated, mountainous areas, where there were likely to be both religious independents and real wolves.

Of the several werewolf trial records that remain today, we can discern a motley parade of political scapegoats, unpopular villagers, torture victims and real psychopaths.

- Advertisement -

Latest articles

‘Mask Mouth’: A real dental phenomenon, or merely a confection?

Dentist Shaun Sellars looks at recent reports of facemasks causing a new dental phenomenon known as 'mask mouth'.

The Ockham Awards 2020: recognising the best in skepticism, and the worst in pseudoscience

Nominations for the 2020 Ockham Awards are now open, with our annual award for Skeptical Activism and our Rusty Razor award for pseudoscience.

Don’t believe what you think!

What follows is a slightly modified and abbreviated version of the introduction to Professor Edzard Ernst's recently published book, Don't Believe What...

Ethics for Skeptics: why compassion and reason go hand in hand

Philosophy lecturer Aaron Rabinowitz outlines the ethical core of skepticism, and explains why a compassionate understanding of morality must underpin the skeptical worldview.

NHS Lincolnshire Reiki-d over the coals for ‘Spiritual Healer’ job ad

NHS Lincoln's ad for a Spiritual Healer rightly deserved criticism, but do these alternative health charities expose a more worrying gap in our care for cancer patients?

More like this