Tuesday, October 12, 2010


In the previous post, there was one attribute I, intentionally, neglected to mention about the berserkir.  Legends tell of some berserkers having the ability to shapeshift into the animal they were invoking.  Accounts have claimed that berserkers have appeared as massive bears, drenching their fur in the blood of their enemies.  The Ulfhednar were said to be able to transform into wolf-like creatures, as is indicative of their name.  This animal form has become known as hamingja - the soul of the berserker.

This, along with hearing Metallica's "Of Wolf and Man" recently reminded me of another being that succumbs to an inhuman rage with gory results...


Legends of men transforming into mountains of fur, fangs, and fury are all over the world, and none are more famous than the legend of lycanthropy: the werewolf.  Numerous movies, games, songs, and comic books (including a certain mutant who shall not be mentioned any further - I told you guys, already, he's overrated) feature the "Wolf Man" in some shape or form.   But where does the werewolf come from.

Well, we already looked at one of the sources, Norse legend, but the Ancient Greeks also mentioned werewolves in their mythology.  In fact, the word "lycanthrope" is Greek in origin and loosely translates to "wolf man," which is the same translation for the Old English term werwulf, by way of Old Norse and other Germanic languages.
"No, I'm not here for the Furry Convention.  Now, go away before
I bite your fucking head off."

While the legends of werewolves may have originated from epic tales of mighty warriors and foolhardy people cursed by their gods, the popularity of werewolves arose when they were whispered as bloodthirsty servants of Satan.  Tales of people being ruthlessly murdered in the woods, their entrails strewn about the forest floor, proliferated certain European countries.  Other continents have been known to share stories of shapechangers, such as many of the North American tribes, who may have borrowed them from Vikings that came across the sea centuries ago.

If medieval Europe turned the werewolf into a feared, abhorred monster, then the modern world turned it into a staple of horror storytelling.  I can't even think of the shitloads of books and movies portraying the change from man to savage beast.  Some are pretty good.  Then there's the Twilight Saga, which sucks ass... zombie donkey ass.

Of all the modern sources of werewolf mythology, probably the most influential is, actually, a role-playing game.  Werewolf: The Apocalypse brought the monsters into a new light - that is, to say, they brought back the old image of the werewolf as a fierce, sometimes noble warrior to the ignorant masses.  Not only did the game change how people saw shapeshifters, but also incorporated legends and myths from numerous cultures, including those I've already mentioned.  Some people say the game is a more violent, furry version of Captain Planet.  Fuck those people.  Sure, the werewolves are trying to save Gaia from the corruption of man and there is some spirituality and mysticism involved, but what epic does not have these things?  It can be said that most recent fiction about werewolves was influenced by the game, that means they're ripping off their ideas.

If you're wondering, "How exactly are werewolves berserkers?"  Have you ever pissed off a werewolf?  If you're alive, then the answer's "no."  Werewolves are the fantasy/horror embodiment of the berserker rage.  During the day, they are mild mannered men and women, sometimes timid, sometimes not.  But, when the full moon emerges, they unleash their bestial carnage upon the world.  They are uncontrollable killers.  That, in my book, is the definition of berserker.

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