When the nights turn chilly and the decorative gourds hit the doorsteps, it’s time for the alphas of the night to come out and play! Werewolves are the masters of both the full moon and our quickly beating hearts. They dare us to love them, to desire them, and to learn more about the nature of the beast that rides just beneath their skins. Want to find out what makes these predators howl? Read on!
Howling at the Moon – The History of Werewolves
Werewolves have captured our imagination for longer than most people realize. While historians can’t say for sure where the first wolf in human’s clothing cropped up, many scholars believe they go all the way back to the oldest known literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh. That’s 2100 BC!
Werewolves also lift their voices to howl at the moon throughout world mythology. We see their pawprints in the old Norse Saga of the Volsungs, where a father and son discover wolf pelts that turn them into wolves. Greek myths tell us the tragic and shudder-inducing tale of Lycaon, a man whose whole family ended up wolves after planning the world’s worst dinner party for Zeus.
The Nature of the Beast – Werewolf Lore for Lupine Lovers
These days, werewolves have claimed a mythology all their own. Werewolf lore has transformed as much as the lupine lovers themselves, giving us lone wolves and alluring Lunas, ride-or-die packs and fated mates. What makes a modern-day werewolf?
The Pack – What is a werewolf without his pack? Werewolf packs, and the dynamics of werewolf packs, play a huge role in today’s werewolf lore. Packs usually have a leader, or alpha, who is often a very dominant man but can also be a woman in some stories. (Both my Bully Boys series and my Heart of Darkness series feature lady alphas!) Packs often include beta, or lesser wolves, omega or jester-type wolves who defuse tension, and Lunas. A werewolf Luna is the alpha female of the pack, often because she is the alpha wolf’s mate. She occupies her own unique place in most packs.
Fated Mates – While not all werewolves are fortunate enough to have the perfect match waiting, many do. Fated mates are a pair of werewolves destined to be together, bound through kismet and spirit to belong to each other. Don’t expect this means they’ll get along right off the bat. Sometimes, the sparks fly!
Pack Telepathy – Wild wolves howl to communicate with each other. Werewolves can often take that one step further. Many packs have the ability to communicate with each other through their minds, no speech required!
Lone Wolf – An enigmatic beast who hasn’t found, or doesn’t want, a pack to take them in. While some packs may tolerate these in their territory, others find lone wolves dangerous or even offensive. (And then fall in love with them. Just ask Cameron from Stain of Midnight.)
While the care and feeding of werewolves changes from story to story, a few common points crop up across the spectrum of lore:
- Becoming a Werewolf – There’s no one way to wake up furry when the moon turns full. For some werewolves, you are born into the wolf or you remain human forever. Others turn into werewolves after a bite or a scratch. Some might find themselves cursed.
- Full Moon Madness – Wolves have always shared a special relationship with the moon, and the full moon in particular. It is the time of the hunt, and the day when their beasts will not be denied! For a number of werewolves in lore, the full moon brings about an uncontrolled shift into their wolf or half-wolf form.
- Wolf, Half Wolf, Wolf Man – There are as many werewolf forms as there are imaginations to write about them. Some werewolves (mine included!) can not only be wolves and humans, but can also shift their shapes halfway to take a massive wolf-man form that embraces both human and beast.
- Other Shifters – Wolves don’t get to have all the fun. You might find werebears, weretigers, and weredragons, too!
Werewolves are those who embrace their inner beasts in search of growth and transformation. They are also those who seek to push the boundaries that seek to fence them in – sometimes in blush-inducing ways. It’s not hard to see how they evolved into the hot-blooded heroes we want prowling around our hearts beneath the full moon.
by Cassandra Moore
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