I’ve been chewing on the idea of a Christian Werewolf Romance. I’ve been able to parse the Werewolf Romance fine, but the Christian element is stumping me.
I got on Google and started looking for “a Christian perspective on werewolves”. There are loads of articles about Christians talking about vampires, Twilight, and why such things are bad and evil. There’s articles from non-Christians making fun of Christians for their views.
But I can’t find any Christians tackling the werewolf mythos head on. So I guess that leaves me.
First, werewolf mythos in general. These are some great quotes from The Book of Were-Wolves by S. Baring-Gould.
WHAT is Lycanthropy? The change of manor woman into the form of a wolf, either through
magical means, so as to enable him or her to gratify the taste for human flesh, or through judgment of the gods in punishment for some great offence.
And Herodotus:–” It seems that the Neuri are sorcerers, if one is to believe the Scythians and the Greeks established in Scythia; for each Neurian changes himself, once in the year, into the form of a wolf, and he continues in that form for several days, after which he resumes his former shape.”–( Lib. iv. c. 105.)
But the most remarkable story among the ancients is that related by Ovid in his “Metamorphoses,” of Lycaon, king of Arcadia, who , entertaining Jupiter one day , set before him a hash of human flesh, to prove his omniscience, whereupon the god transferred him into a wolf:
In vain he attempted to speak; from that very instant His jaws were bespluttered with foam, and only he thirsted For blood, as he raged amongst flocks and panted for slaughter. His vesture was changed into hair, his limbs became crooked; A wolf,–he retains yet large trace of his ancient expression, Hoary he is as afore, his countenance rabid, His eyes glitter savagely still, the picture of fury.
Pliny relates from Evanthes, that on the festival of Jupiter Lycæus, one of the family of Antæus was selected by lot, and conducted to the brink of the Arcadian lake. He then hung his clothes on a tree and plunged into the water, whereupon he was transformed into a wolf. Nine years after, if he had not tasted human flesh, he was at liberty to swim back and resume his former shape, which had in the meantime become aged, as though he had worn it for nine years.
And it goes on. Only wicked people turned into were-wolves, and they always roamed around and ate people. Real lycanthropy is a mental illness where a person believes they’re an animal, and I imagine some of the stories come from that.
You know in the Gospels when Jesus casts the demons out of the dude who’d been living in the tombs, and the demons said their name was Legion? Yeah, I imagine that sort of thing contributed, too.
So, bad werewolves are typically the lycanthrope kind, the ones Hollywood uses. Big nasty monsters and all.
But what about the other kind? The Twilight wolves, the modern day ones formed by studies of real wolves living and hunting in a family unit and having a close-knit society?
Werewolf fans refer to these as “shifters”. It’s a person who can shapeshift into a wolf, but it’s not a monster. A lot of times they retain human memories and intelligence, too. This is closer to fairytales and fantasy, where people can turn into an animal of their choice.
There’s no black magic involved–it’s usually genetics, similar to the X-men, who get their powers at a certain age. In Twilight they were all Native Americans who had inherited the ability to change into spirit wolves, and the proximity of vampires was triggering their transformations. (Which is brilliant, if you ask me.)
Which gets us into shapeshifting, period. This shows up a lot in mythology and fairytales, and Wikipedia has an interesting take on it.
An important aspect of shape-shifting, thematically, is whether the transformation is voluntary. Circe transforms intruders to her island into swine, whereas Ged, in A Wizard of Earthsea, becomes a hawk to escape an evil wizard’s stronghold. When a form is taken on involuntarily, the thematic effect is one of confinement and restraint; the person is bound to the new form. In extreme cases, such as petrifaction, the character is entirely disabled.
Voluntary forms, on the other hand, are means of escape and liberation; even when the form is not undertaken to effect a literal escape, the abilities specific to the form, or the disguise afforded by it, allow the character to act in a manner previously impossible.
It goes on to talk about fairytales where people were turned into animals, like the prince who was turned into a bear in Snow White and Rose Red, or the seven brothers who were turned into swans. That’s always a Bad Thing, like an evil spell of some kind.
But a person who can turn themselves into animals is always a freedom issue. Think of Sirius Black in Harry Potter, who escaped prison. Or Animorphs, or any number of stories where being able to turn into something else is a good thing. (Remember the girl who turned into a guinea pig in Sky High?)
Now we’re getting away from the whole “is it Christian” thing and into the realm of imagination and storytelling. The Bible has all kinds of stories that aren’t particularly Christian, like the trees trying to elect a new leader, or Jesus’s parables. Because Jesus told stories about unscrupulous servants and unrighteous judges, does that make his stories bad?
Jesus was making a point.
So if we want to write stories about people who can turn into animals, and yet go to church and see their alternate form as a way to explore and enjoy creation, well, that’d be a fun read. We can make our point, too.
Christians are writing vampire and werewolf books, like Never Ceese, which started out self-published. Lycanthropes are always bad, but it’d be fun to see somebody tackle the shapeshifter idea, too.