The Wolf Army
10 Interesting trivia with regards to ancient superstitions about wolves...
Many superstitions about wolves are even today still upheld in certain cultures or communities...I can not vouch for many of these superstitions, but it should be seen in context of the time it originated and the impact such legends/beliefs still have today in vilifying the wolf as a fearsome, cruel and often supernatural creature with only ill intent towards humans...it is one of our biggest challenges to change the general perceptions about wolves and inform people of their true nature....
1. The Vikings wore wolf skins and drank wolf blood to take on the wolf’s spirit in battle. (Referred to as Berserkers)
They also viewed real wolves as battle companions or hrægifr (corpse trolls)
2.The autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus (SLE), or lupus, literally means wolf redness, because in the eighteenth century, physicians believed the disease was caused by a wolf bite.
3.Wolves have historically been associated with sexual predation. For example, Little Red Riding Hood, who wears a red cape that proclaims her sexual maturity, is seduced off the moral path by a wolf. The sex link endures in common clichés, such as describing a predatory man as “a wolf” or a sexy whistle as a “wolf whistle.
4.According to Pliny the Elder, a first-century Greek scholar, wolf teeth could be rubbed on the gums of infants to ease the pain of teething. He also reported that wolf dung could be used to treat both colic and cataracts.
5.The Aztecs used wolf liver as an ingredient for treating melancholy. They also pricked a patient’s breast with a sharpened wolf bone in an attempt to delay death.
6.During the Middle Ages, Europeans used powdered wolf liver to ease the pain of childbirth and would tie a wolf’s right front paw around a sore throat to reduce the swelling. Dried wolf meat was also eaten as a remedy for sore shins.
7.The Greeks believed that if someone ate meat from a wolf-killed lamb, he or she ran a high risk of becoming a vampire.
8.During the reign of Edward the Confessor, which began in 1042, a condemned criminal was forced to wear a wolf-head mask and could be executed on a “wolf’s head tree” or the gallows where a wolf might be hanged next to him.
9.Werewolf (wer “man” + wulf “wolf”) trials (which can be distinguished from witchcraft trials) led to hundreds of executions during the 1600s. Men, women, and children—many of whom were physically and mentally handicapped—were put to death.
10.Sextus Placitus, in his fifth-century B.C. Medicina de quadrupedibus (Medicinals from Animals), claims that sleeping with a wolf’s head under one’s pillow would cure insomnia.
Terminal hypertrichosis or Werewolf Syndrome
Congenital terminal hypertrichosis is characterized by the presence of fully pigmented terminal hair that covers the entire body. This condition is usually accompanied by gingival hyperplasia. This form is most responsible for the term "Werewolf Syndrome" because of the thick dark hair that appears. People with this condition are sometimes performers at circuses because of their unusual appearance.In the early years people suffering from this disease were burned at the stake for being werewolves and also witches.
Although modern cinema produced many versions of man-wolves like the one in the image (left) the werewolf of lore was a being, that could change into a wolf. The transformation was a complete morphosis into that of a wolf. The Half man half wolf creation that attacks people with senseless violence is a relatively modern concept based on sensationalism. This typecasting of wolf nature did much harm to wolves in the eyes of the general public who perceive wolves from this perspective.