It’s October and today marks this month’s Full Moon – in Aries. The “Hunter’s Moon” also known as “Blood Moon”. Can you hear the howling and snarling of the predator? No? Well, you will. (Although mine emits more of a whine.)
Dokken’s “The Hunter” also comes to mind…
While lycanthropy only deals with “wolfery” (the ability to change into a wolf), therianthropy is the ability to morph into any animal by shapeshifting. Almost every culture around the world has some type of transformation myth. So while the Full Moon conjures up images of werewolves, let’s take a Walk on the Wild Side and step into all sorts of animal personas.
“Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter”
The title character, Anita Blake, starts as a human with the power of necromancy. She joins the organization Animators, Inc. as an animator (a person who raises zombies) and a vampire executioner. In later volumes, she acquires some powers that are commonly associated with vampires. She contracts the lycanthropy viruses which makes her associate with were-creatures. She also grows powers as a succubus. [source]
I’ve read most of the Laurell K. Hamilton books in this series, mainly because they started out focusing on vampires. But then they began including various iterations of therianthropy, many of which are FELINES: Wereleopards (including black leopards), werejaguars, werelions, and weretigers of many different colors. There are also wererats, werehyenas, werefox, swanmanes, mer(maids/men), and lamia.
n. (Classical Mythology) one of a class of female monsters
n. female demon; a vampire or sorceress
From Latin lamia, from Greek lamia (female vampire); literally “swallower, lecher” from laimos (throat, gullet).
The Lamiai (Lamiae) were fearsome demons which assumed the forms of beautiful women to lure young men to their beds – where they fed on their flesh and blood. Behind the illusory facade the creatures were truly demonic: the Lamia had the tail of a serpent in place of legs. The Lamiai were the ancient equivalent of succubi. [source]
John Keats published his narrative poem “Lamia” in 1820. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s epic poem “Aurora Leigh” contains numerous references to Lamia. In Whitley Strieber’s novel “The Hunger”, the mother of the main female vampire (Miriam) is described as Lamia, who gave birth to Miriam in the pre-Christian era. “The Lair of the White Worm” is a 1911 book written by Bram Stoker in which the White Worm is a large snake-like creature which feeds on whatever living creature it can find – which sounds pretty close to a Lamia. (The book was made into a 1988 movie of the same name.) The 1982 novel “Lamia” by Tristan Travis sees the mythological monster relocated to 1970s Chicago.
A lamia appears in the movie Drag Me to Hell (2009) as a powerful demon. Michelle Pfeiffer stars as Lamia, a powerful witch(/vampire?) in the 2007 film Stardust which was based on a book by the same name. The sci-fi series Raised by Wolves features a character named Lamia who has the ability to shapeshift.
“The Lamia” from Genesis’ 1974 album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway describes three snake-like creatures with female faces. In the song “Prodigal Son” from the 1981 Iron Maiden album Killers, the singer directly asks Lamia for help since the devil has got hold of his soul. Other bands that have recorded songs based around the lamia include Shadowland and Dragonlord.
Feline therianthropic creatures
1763 engraving of a weretiger.
European folklore usually depicts werecats as people who transform into domestic cats. Some European werecats became giant domestic cats or panthers. African legends describe werelions, werepanthers or wereleopards. In the case of leopards, this is often because the creature is really a leopard deity masquerading as a human. When these gods mate with humans, offspring can be produced, and these children sometimes grow up to be shapeshifters; those who don’t transform may instead have other powers. In reference to werecats who turn into lions, the ability is often associated with royalty. Such a being may have been a king or queen in a former life. Mainland Asian werecats usually become tigers. In India, the weretiger is often a dangerous sorcerer, portrayed as a menace to livestock, who might at any time turn to man-eating. In Thailand a tiger that eats many humans may become a weretiger. In both Indonesia and Malaysia there is another kind of weretiger, known as Harimau jadian. In Malaysia, Bajangs have been described as vampiric or demonic werecats. The foremost were-animal in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures was the were-jaguar. It was associated with the veneration of the jaguar, with priests and shamans among the various peoples who followed this tradition wearing the skins of jaguars to “become” a were-jaguar. Among the Aztecs, an entire class of specialized warriors who dressed in the jaguar skins were called “jaguar warriors” or “jaguar knights”. In the US, urban legends tell of encounters with feline bipeds. [source]
The “Malleus Maleficarum” asserted that witches can turn into cats, but that their transformations are illusions created by demons.
The title character in Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 Gothic novella, “Carmilla”, turns into a large black cat in order to prey upon the heroine while she sleeps. Cheetah is a fictional character appearing in DC Comics publications and related media. In “Dead to the World” one of the characters is turned into were-panther. “Angel: After the Fall” (also known as “Angel: Season 6”) is a comic book containing a cat-changing character named Dez. There are Forvalaka (undead were-leopards) in “The Black Company” series of books, and the “Shifters Series” by Rachel Vincent features werecats who change at will and live in lion-like prides. H. G. Wells’ 1896 novel “The Island of Dr. Moreau” spawned three films, and although the characters weren’t shapeshifters they could be considered similarly hybrid: Leopard-Man, Puma-Woman, and Ocelot-Man.
A woman who turns into a black panther is the protagonist in both the 1942 and 1982 versions of Cat People. Likewise 1944’s The Curse of the Cat People. Curse of The Werecat, is a 2016 supernatural comedy horror film.
In the video “Maneater” by Hall & Oates, the shapshifting into a black panther is implied.
Although “Thriller” is best remembered for the zombies, Michael Jackson is transformed into a gorgeous werecat.
Finally, Monster High’s doll collection includes twin werecat sisters: Meowlody and Purrsephone.
Werewolfery – aka Lycanthropy
Full Moons go hand-in-hand with werewolves, do they not? In literature, film, and music there are far more examples of werewolfery than any other types of therianthropy. The following is by no means an exhaustive compilation, but does include some favorites.
Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night,
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.
– Maleva the Gypsy Woman (Maria Ouspenskaya), 1941’s The Wolf Man
Creepy #4 cover art by Frank Frazetta
Literature: The most renowned werewolf novel of the 20th century was “The Werewolf of Paris” (1933) by American author Guy Endore. (Which I’ve read. It’s excellent and was the basis for the movie Curse of the Werewolf…see below.) Steven King’s “The Cycle of the Werewolf” was also turned into a movie: Silver Bullet. “The Howling” is a 1977 horror novel by Gary Brandner that was the inspiration for a movie by the same name. (Are you seeing a pattern here?) “Cry Wolf” by Patricia Briggs is another I’ve read.
Film: Hammer’s The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) turns Oliver Reed into the most gorgeous werewolf ever to grace the silver screen.
An American Werewolf in London (1981) was groundbreaking at the time due to the special effects by Rick Baker. Silver Bullet (1985) gives me the chills every time I see it. The Company of Wolves (1984) – from a short story of the same name by Angela Carter. Rob Bottin’s werewolves in The Howling (1981) are simply magnifico. Wolf (1994) with Jack Nicholson and James Spader as rival werewolves. Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) is loosely based on a real-life series of killings that took place in France in the 18th century and the famous legend of the Beast of Gévaudan. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009) includes one werewolf in its repertoire. 2002’s Dog Soldiers is one of the best modern-day werewolf films EVER! The Wolfman (2010) is a remake of the 1941 Universal classic starring Lon Chaney Jr: The Wolf Man
I just re-watched Werewolf of London (1935); Henry Hull’s final transformation is second only to Oliver Reed’s.
Belle Bête in Jean Cocteau’s 1946 French fantasy film Beauty and the Beast.
Music/Music Videos: – I picked some of these because of the lyrics, others because of the video, and the rest because the word “wolf” appears in the song’s title.
“Send Me an Angel” by Real Life
“Heads Will Roll” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran
“The Wolf” by Heart
“Cry Wolf” by Warlock
“Run With The Wolf” by Rainbow
“Bark at the Moon” by Ozzy Osbourne
“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Night Wolf” by Krokus
“She Wolf” by Megadeth
“Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon (“I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s” LOL! I love that line!)
“Werewolf, Baby!” by Rob Zombie
“Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs
One last note: Vampires can also be labeled as being “therianthropes” but I chose not to include them here because they are considered to be dead and, well, they deserve a Post all to themselves…
Push Me, Pull Me. Are you ready for the Hunt?
(Post) Countdown to Halloween: My Favorite Films (1960-1969)
Countdown to Halloween: My Favorite Films (1980-1989)
Countdown to Halloween: My Favorite Films (1990-1999)
Countdown to Halloween: My Favorite Films (2000-2009)
Countdown to Halloween: My Favorite Films (2010-2017)
My Life as an Archetype III