Werewolves throughout History

In honor of the upcoming release of Trajectories, I thought I’d take a few posts to explore the concept of werewolves and the associated mythology, especially as it is presented in The Kitty Irish Trilogy.

The ability to turn into a wolf is termed lycanthropy. This comes from the Greek words for wolf and human. Similarly, the word werewolf is thought to be a combination of the words for man and wolf. The werewolf is a long-standing horror story, going back as far as Ovid and Greek mythology when Lycaon was turned into a wolf by Zeus.

Fast forward through a number of serial killers in the 1500s who were accused of being in wolf form during their horrendous deeds and even werewolf trials much like the witch trials during the same time period to arrive at the Beast of Gevaudan. In the 1760s, a creature (or creatures) described variously as a wolf, a bear, a hyena, and a panther was accused of killing upwards of 60 women and children in the province of Gevaudan in France. The story was a strong addition to werewolf lore.

Time-honored trappings of the werewolf like the full moon, silver bullets, and the infectious  quality of bites—all of which figure prominently in Kitty’s story—are recent additions to the mythology and typically appear post 1800 or later. It is rumored that the Beast of Gevaudan was killed by a blessed silver bullet although this notion was actually introduced by a novelist 170 years after the fact.

Current sightings include the Beast of Bray Road, a manwolf seen in Wisconsin in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the Dog Man of Michigan. The latter started out as an April Fool’s day prank and grew into more when sightings were reported and parallels to local lore were found.

When it comes to fiction, start with a sighting by a teenage girl, Kitty Irish in the Manistee National Forest of Michigan. Grow the story with the highest rate in the state for unsolved disappearances and deaths. Add in a crusty World War II veteran, Daniel Phinney, and you have Trajectories.

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