If Werewolves, Then…

On the original Alex Jones’ page in the previous incarnation of the site, I mentioned the “If Jesus Then Aliens” trope [External Link] (last mentioned in “The Order Of Play” post). From a world-building point of view, I’m applying the idea as a short hand for “if werewolves exist, what else can be true?”

However, anything I add to the Alex Jones’ world has to fit in. I have rules (also mentioned on the original page and now in the post “The Rules Of The Werewolf Game“). There are no doubt more rules that I haven’t come across / had to apply as yet. But what we can work out from the rules that currently exist are as follows:

  • There is some form of magic
  • Men can use magic to shape-shift into a wolf-like form

Magic

So, under currently known conditions, the magic in Alex Jones’ world is not wide-spread, otherwise it would be common knowledge in the world and it isn’t. This means there is scope for something beyond shape-shifting that may or may not come up. Given that the male shape-shifting magic is present, and it appears to be very basic and blood-thirsty, I suspect that any magic I include will be what many Westerners would term “shamanic” or maybe just dark. In other words, it probably involves (someone else’s) blood, earth, (someone else’s) sweat and (someone else’s) tears.

Werewolves

The magic seen so far is men changing to wolves. The starting point for a werewolf line is some power hungry idiot magic-user who decides they’d rather be some kind of feral half-beast. The magic applies to men only. This is in keeping with some of the oldest traditions about men-who-can-turn-into-animals, as is the use of a skin in order to be able to do it. I chose to do it that way because I wanted to go back to something quite brutal, rather than the more modern, Hollywood influenced version that has almost made werewolves something clean and natural. The latter is good for paranormal romance but not as good for the traditional fear. (Although, if I’m ever faced with a rather large, furry werewolf, I’m not going to be arguing whether his origins are believable or not.)

If you do a little bit of digging (Wikipedia link [External Link]), you’ll see that werewolf traditions have four general origin types:

  1. A man that can shift into a wolf form by choice
  2. A man that is cursed to shift into a wolf form / has no choice
  3. A dead man’s body and / or spirit that is cursed into a wolf form / has no choice
  4. A wolf that shifts into human form

That I’m aware of, the last category doesn’t turn up in Western folklore that much – it would tend to imply that animals are as clever as humans and we don’t generally go for that.

The third option covers the myths and legends that eventually split away into vampires, although it’s worth remembering that the Eastern European traditions for vampires and werewolves are very close to each other.

Most modern versions, including mine, are a mix of the first two, depending on whether a man is the first of his line or whether he has been bitten by another and thus been cursed with the change, monthly or otherwise. (Oh, that’s a tempting target to make sexist jokes. But I won’t.)

Wolves are not the only… fruit?

Wolves are not the only animals shamans have wanted to change into. In fact, the desire to be a wolf doesn’t even make it all the way through the wolves’ territory. Northern and Eastern European heritage seems to be the main thing. The Native Americans have a Skin Walker tradition (which also involves skins to change with) that may or may not have come the Vikings. Mongols think / thought they’re descended from wolves and their shamans changed into wolves to prove their power – but this is actually more type 4 thinking and will come up again later.

The Northern European / Vikings also gave us the Berserker tradition (Wikipedia link [External Link]). This doesn’t seem to be a hugely popular trope at the moment but there’s nothing to say that berserkers can’t exist in Alex Jones’ world if werewolves can and the berserkers follow the same steps, just with a different skin.

Similarly, there are “werecats” where ever cats impress the local prey humans (Wikipedia link [External Link]). The cat-form someone is likely to desire would depend on where their traditions are from but most stories seem to be about lions and tigers and jaguars. The closest Western European tradition is the witches who could turn into domestic cats “or something slightly bigger”, which would probably indicate a Scottish Wild Cat (Wikipedia link [External Link]) or maybe the European Lynx (Wikipedia link [External Link]) at a stretch. So much for equality. However, with respect to Alex Jones’ world, any of the male changes would be viable if, like the berserker change, it followed the same rules as the werewolf change.

The last set of man-to-animal changes I’ve managed to identify – thanks to watching too much Buffy – was the “werehyena” (Wikipedia link [External Link]). I found the bouda bit the most interesting. Magic men can choose to turn into hyenas and magical female hyenas can chose to turn into women. This has some interesting ground for some cross-breeding that’s almost as messed up as Alex Jones herself.

Equality

There aren’t many traditions of women wanting to become animals. Maybe it was some sort of taboo (if you’ll forgive applying a borrowed world to multiple cultures). Maybe it’s just because women don’t chase power in quite the same way, seeing as changing yourself into a blood-thirsty feral animal doesn’t do much for your community standing. Maybe they just weren’t allowed to try it out. The closest thing to this is a bunch of Type 4 style critters that these days tend to get used in literature as if they are humans that shape-shift but started out their folkloric lives as animals that were either as “advanced” as humans (most wererodents) or change into humans, for their own reasons, such as the bouda, the Central Asian dog-men, deer maidens, swan maidens (and the occasional man), selkies, Kitsune and Tanuki. But animals that can change aren’t automatically male or female.

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