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Werewolf In ancient and medieval European folklore and mythology, a werewolf is a shapeshifter, a human being who is either cursed into transforming into a wolf-like creature or who does so at will.
A werewolf often enjoys the taste of human flesh and hunts for living people at night.
Similar ideas are found on just about every continent. And if the wolf motif is not present, some other threatening animal suffices–for instance, the Chinese and Japanese tiger; the African leopard, lion and crocodile; the Greek and Turkish boar; the North American bear; and the South American jaguar.
In North America the Navaho are said to change into a wolf and practice witchcraft to the detriment of living human beings.
The belief in werewolves was rampant in the 15th and 16th centuries. Stuart Gordon says some 30,000 people are said to have been destroyed in France for this occult offense against man and nature (The Encylopedia of Myths and Legends, London: Headline, 1993, p. 727).
As with Vampire myths, some interpret the werewolf as nothing but a metaphor for a human who displays arrested psychological development, deficient moral judgment, serious lack of self-control and an extremely strong sex drive–i.e. a sexual predator.
A contemporary ‘werewolf’ in the figurative sense of the word could also be a criminal psychopath who calculatingly marries a naive person to advance a career, gain social legitimacy, and so on.
Although we usually hear a lot about male werewolves, female werewolves have been depicted in fiction. A notable contemporary example is found in the Canadian film Ginger Snaps (2000).
Today, fictional werewolves are also depicted as coming into being through some kind of hereditary condition or infectious disease transmitted through the blood, a kind of fusion of modern scientific theory and ancient myth.
- Maria Leach, ed., The Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, New York: Harper & Row, 1984, p. 1170.
» Animus, Lycanthropy, Myth, Reincarnation, Vampires
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The term folklore was coined in 1846 by W. J. Thomas to replace the previous notion of popular antiquities. Difficult to define, folklore is now understood as the knowledge, customs, beliefs, rituals and orally transmitted information of a given culture.
According to professor T. Henighan,1 the Freudian child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim makes a distinction between folklore and fairy tales. Fairy tales are a type of folk tale in which:
- The names of heroes and heroines are absent or ordinary
- Supernatural but not divine beings are mentioned
- Positive outcomes are the norm
- Childhood and adolescence figure prominently
- The actual content (i.e. Oedipal material) is obscured through elaborate symbolism
Some suggest that the definition of folklore must also include the academic study of folkloric data, because by studying folkloric content from of a different set of cultural assumptions (those held by an academic), the original content is necessarily interpreted and altered.
Folklore is often associated with the marginalised or popular dimension of a given culture, in contrast to the written stories of orthodox religious organizations. Some scholars limit folklore to so-called primitive cultures, while others extend the concept to apply to modern social formations—e.g. the destructive folkloric beliefs and practices of the Nazis (i.e. Aryans as the ‘master race’).
The line dividing primitive folklore and contemporary belief is blurred and cannot always be easily discerned. The psychologist C. G. Jung discusses this in connection with the Nazis and their disturbing beliefs and practices. For Jung, this exemplified an entire race engulfed by the destructive power of an archetype, in this case, the Wotan archetype.
- folklore & fantasy (modflowers.wordpress.com)
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- Tom Mould on Folklore and Personal Revelation (bycommonconsent.com)
In folk religion, world myth and urban legend, Lycanthropy is the ability of a human being to change into an animal. Lycanthropy can result from a curse. But when the transformation is undertaken willingly, the animal is usually the most powerful creature in its environment.
In Europe and Northern Asia, the so-called Shamanic ‘power animal‘ usually takes the form of a wolf or bear. In India, the tiger features prominently. Africa‘s most popular power animal is the leopard.
Lycanthropy also refers to a kind of psychological frenzy where one believes or fantasizes about being a wolf or a werewolf.
Psychologically speaking, “the wolf” this could represent anyone who at first appears normal, even admirable. But over time he or she makes little slips (i.e. parapraxes) that reveal some deeply entrenched character flaw or unresolved complex.
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Medieval is a term that usually but not always describes a period of European history. Historical references are sometimes made, for instance, to Medieval India. So this makes the term a bit difficult to define.
The term is also difficult to define because it may be determined by various criteria. Are the dates for the Medieval period set by achievements in art, economics, technology, standard of living, morality, social issues or critical thinking?
Also called the Middle Ages, the Medieval period is generally seen as running from about 1000 CE to 1500 CE, a time when a relative few kings, notables, literati and Church leaders had a firm, exploitative and sometimes ruthless grip on the masses. As for the people who made up the masses, they for the most part were of dramatically lower economic and educational status.
Some say the Middle Ages differ from the Medieval period, with the former beginning about 600 CE. Others use the terms interchangeably, with the Medieval period also beginning in 600 CE or 1000 CE. And yet some see the Medieval period beginning somewhere between the Council of Nicea (313 CE) and the Sack of Rome (410 CE), and extending to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 CE.
The term ‘Middle Ages’ was first used in the 16th century by Renaissance writers describing the period from 600 CE to about 1400 CE because they viewed their own civilization as a reinstatement and elaboration of themes prevalent in ancient Greece and Rome.
Recent views of the Medieval period, whatever it may be, question the idea that it was backward. Several innovations were made, although they were not necessarily as dramatic, technologically speaking, as they were within the periods before and after medieval times. Medieval theologians such as Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and St. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, came up with some of the most amazingly subtle thinking, on a variety of topics, known to mankind. Likewise, Christian polyphonic devotional music underwent dramatic innovations during this time.
Search Think Free » à Kempis (Thomas), Alchemy, Archangel, Aristotle, Astrology, Avatar, E-mail, Epicureanism, Epicurus, Francis of Assisi, (St.), Henry of Ghent, Holy Grail, Homer, Judaism, Lewis (C. S.), Lilith, Marx, (Karl), Mercury, Narcissus and Goldmund, Occam’s razor, Proclus, Quiddity, Scholastics, Tokugawa, Vaisya, Werewolf, Zodiac
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Also known as metempsychosis and transmigration, reincarnation is a manmade theory based on beliefs found in different philosophical systems and religions, including ancient Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Jain, African and New Age perspectives.
Reincarnation usually involves ideas of karma and grace. It’s believed that after the death of the physical body, the soul (or in some schools, temporary personality attributes) returns for another birth.
In most traditions the self is on an evolutionary path from unconsciousness to consciousness–that is, from lower to higher, or gross to subtle forms of consciousness.
In some branches of contemplative Hinduism, the soul is said to begin in the mineral world and then move upward to the vegetable and animal kingdoms. Eventually it takes birth as a human being. After learning about and practicing good ethics from innumerable human incarnations, the soul may reincarnate in astral and heavenly realms before reaching ultimate liberation, awareness and bliss.
But bad ethical choices send the evolutionary process into reverse. If a human being abuses their freedom, they may reincarnate backwards into the animal kingdom or possibly further down into one of various temporary hells.
According to popular wisdom it’s often said that God provides perfect punishments and rewards for one’s deeds. So generally speaking, if one makes good ethical choices in an embodied life, one gains merit and reincarnates into a more auspicious life the next time around.
However, if one makes bad ethical choices, one returns to a less auspicious life. Again, the alleged purpose of reincarnation is to instruct the soul, preparing it for an ultimately perfect, eternal existence. The exact nature of this perfection is described differently among various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Taoism.
Once complete liberation is achieved, the soul (or temporary personality attributes) no longer returns to a body, gross or subtle. This idea is expressed in an old Taoist tale, paraphrased as follows:
A man had led a dissolute life and reincarnates as a horse. After a few years the horse grows weary of being whipped by his masters, refuses to eat and dies. He then returns as a dog. Despising this incarnation the dog bites his master’s leg who has him destroyed. He returns as a snake. By now he’s finally learned his lesson. One must play out the hand one is dealt, patiently seeing it through to learn how to be virtuous. As a reformed soul, the snake avoids doing harm to other animals by eating berries and tries to keep itself out of danger. But one day the snake mistakenly dies under the wheel of a cart. Pleading his case before the King of Purgatory, he finds himself reborn a man—a reward for his good intentions (Raymond Van Over, ed. Taoist Tales, New York: Meridian Classic, 1973, pp. 52-53).
According to this view, suicide is like ‘skipping school’ (in the cosmic sense) and causes regression to a less desirable birth.
But not all believers in reincarnation would take this attitude. Some believe that the very same kind of life situation would arise again, as if the suicide is forced to repeat the same cosmic classroom he or she didn’t pass the first time around.
Meanwhile some New Age thinkers say that every life is consciously chosen prior to birth.
In most Asian religions God’s grace can mitigate or even erase the effects of bad karma, a fact often overlooked in specious critiques of reincarnation.
African pre-colonial tribal beliefs about reincarnation differ from Asian variants. African ancestors are believed to reincarnate into one or several descendents to give a particular family more power. Somewhat similar to the Asian idea, however, the African Ibo believe that one chooses between two bundles before birth – one bundle holds auspicious fortune, the other inauspicious. While the spirit tries its best to choose a favorable incarnation, a formerly evil person undergoes a difficult incarnation as a human or animal.
In contrast to the belief in reincarnation, the Old Testament says that evil actions are repaid with evil, but not through reincarnation. Evil begets evil through one’s offspring:
The Lord…a God merciful and gracious…forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation (Exodus 34:7).
For when they were not yet born, nor had done any good or evil…not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said to her: The elder shall serve the younger.
The Christian New Testament view of the body and its relation to the afterlife is expressed in I Corinthians 15; 51-52; 2 Corinthians 5:1; I Thessalonians 4:14; John 3: 4-7.
Some suggest that the Catholic notion of purgatory was created as a Christian counterpart to the temporary process of punishment and purification as found in non-Christian theories of reincarnation.
» Anatman, Anthroposophy, Avatar, Cayce (Edgar), Chinmoy (Sri), Deva, Fenris, Free-John (Da), Gawain (Shakti), Hell, Hermes Trismegistus, Karma, Meno, Origen, Ram Dass, Parvati, Plato, Ramacharaka (Swami), Republic, Roberts (Jane), Samsara, Skandhas, Theosophy, Transmigration, Werewolf, Pythagoras
Not a few world mythologies and religions suggest that some beings and objects have the ability to change shape.
In ancient Greece, for example, Zeus transforms himself into a Swan to entice Leda. And in ancient Rome, Ovid‘s Metamorphosis is mostly about gods, animals, people and objects that continually change shape.
The idea is also found in Europe, Africa, South America, North America and China. Among these cultures, the wolf, tiger, fox and jaguar figure prominently as shapeshifters.
Traditionally, shapeshifting may involve transformations among people, spirits of the dead, gods or animals. Sometimes it involves a man or woman becoming a beast-man or beast-woman.
Ethically speaking, shapeshifters may be good, evil or something in-between, as with the Native American trickster.
The ancient Chinese distinguish between legal and illegal shapeshifting. Legal shapeshifting results from increased knowledge through the study of ancient classics. Illegal shapeshifting is gained through a form of tantric sex where female power is stolen by the male though the act of coitus reservatus—i.e. copulation without male ejaculation.
Contemporary ET and UFO lore talks about alleged alien shapeshifters from another planet or dimension, living on Earth and masquerading as human beings. Some conspiracy theorists believe that ET shapeshifters are here to dominate and oppress humanity, others take a less alarming approach, saying they’re benevolent creatures trying to guide us to a brighter future.
In science fiction the shapeshifter theme is widespread. Actor René Auberjonois, for instance, plays Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a character who can assume any form he chooses.
» Loki, Odo, Tantra, Werewolf
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Legends about vampires or vampire-like beings have flourished throughout world folklore, to include the regions of India, China and Greece.
The current incarnation of the vampire is usually traced back to Eastern European myths and superstitions that inspired several vampire novels, the most enduring being Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).
In the eighteenth-century, Eastern European reports of vampirism ran high, taking two sometimes related forms of
- Physical vampirism – robbing another person’s vitality by drinking their blood.
- Spiritual vampirism – psychic possession of another person’s free-will and theft of their vitality.
Traditionally, vampires are said to reside in or around graveyards, having a strong aversion to daylight. They rise only at night to freely select their victims.
Repelled by the cross, these agents of darkness are known as the ‘undead.’
In the 1970s and ’80s moviegoers dressed up as characters and recited lines from the film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, perhaps entering into a state of consciousness which anthropologist Lévi-Bruhl called participation mystique.
A more recent newspaper report of alleged vampirism in Toronto tells of a man who forcefully cut and drank the blood of a young woman.
At first the woman was horrified and pressed charges, resulting in the aggressor’s imprisonment. Over time, however, she began to feel united and in love with him, visiting him in prison on a daily basis.
Paranormal researchers and psychics generally explain vampirism in terms of a restless earth-bound spirit or so-called ‘tramp soul’ that gains control of psychologically weak and vulnerable individuals.
By way of contrast, vampire nightclubs seem to be harmless, non-violent and socially acceptable outlets for individuals seeking to experience the numinous aura of the Jungian shadow.
A comparable situation might be the upstanding priest who enjoys horror movies during his off-hours.
But clearly not everyone can keep a mature, adult perspective on vampires. Violent murders have been committed by teens in vampire cults who take the Goth lifestyle to its tragic extreme.
» Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dracula, Lycanthropy, Swedenborg (Emanuel), Transmigration, Werewolf
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Animus In C. G. Jung‘s analytical psychology, the animus is the unconscious contrasexual component of the female self–i.e. the woman’s supposed ‘inner male.’
The animus reveals itself to consciousness by virtue of a series of archetypal images. Usually a primitive, sexual figure first emerges.
As psychological development progresses, the initial symbol is followed by a series of increasingly refined, ‘higher’ images.
Jung says the animus may take either a dark or light form. Like all symbols, it mediates destructive or creative unconscious forces. The negative aspect of the animus has been symbolized by figures like Frankenstein, the Werewolf, Faust and Dr. Jekyll‘s evil counterpart, Mr. Hyde.
It’s perhaps been historically embodied by maniacal types such as Adolf Hitler, Jack the Ripper and Diocletian.
The positive animus is symbolized by the male heroes of world mythology. It is incarnated in wrestling figures like The Rock (lower, more sensual form), the Romantic poet Shelly (higher level of eros), Winston Churchill (societal or cultural hero), and Mahatma Gandhi (spiritual exemplar). » Anima
Critics of this aspect of Jung’s archetypal psychology tend to see his gender theories as too general, sexist and metaphysical.
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