Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Lycanthropy is a phenomenon steeped in mystery and folklore, where humans are believed to undergo a startling metamorphosis into beasts under the cloak of nights, only to return to their human form with the dawn’s light. This transformation spans a spectrum of creatures, from the innocuous rabbit to the fearsome wolf, crocodile, or tiger. Legends from Africa recounts instances where entire tribes are afflicted by lycanthropy, with reports of hyenas adorned with golden earrings shot by intrepid hunters.

Internationally recognized, lycanthropy follows a familiar pattern. An ostensibly ordinary human, unassuming in daylight, undergoes a profound change at sunset, assuming the guise of a wild animal. Under the veil of darkness, these were-beings indulge in a grisly appetite for human flesh or the raw flesh and blood of other creatures. In their bestial form, they pose a dire threat, capable even of preying upon their own kin, including human children.

Exceptions to this macabre pattern exist, notably in cases where lycanthropes transform into vegetarian creatures such as squirrels, rabbits, or hares. Such aberrations may signify the involvement of witches or wizards seeking clandestine means to observe and manipulate unsuspecting victims.

The origins of lycanthropy remain shrouded in obscurity. Some suggest that individuals acquire the requisite magical prowess deliberately, while others fall victim to spells cast by malevolent practitioners. Historical accounts, such as the legend of Saint Patrick of Ireland purportedly transforming King Veretius of Wales into a wolf, underscore the pervasive nature of these beliefs.

Scholars of lycanthropy remain divided on the mechanism of transformation. Some theorize that mere contact with a lycanthrope or the consumption of food prepared by them may transmit the affliction. Debates persist over whether the transformation is involuntary, occuring at nightfall, or facilitated by the application of ointments derived from animal fat.

Occasionally, lycanthropys inadvertently reveal their true nature, such as the Indian were-tigress ensnared in a trap, discovered at sunrise as a naked woman. Hunters may unwittingly wound lycanthropes in their beastly form, only to encounter injured villagers in the light of day.

Detecting lycanthropes amidst a community plagued by nocturnal attacks poses a challenge. Afflicted individuals exhibit a lack of appetite due to their nocturnal feasts, coupled with daytime fatigue and stiffness from their vigorous nocturnal activites. Remedies for lycanthropy vary, with cooperative lycanthropes possibly finding relief through the intervention of skilled practitioners. However, uncooperative cases may necessitate more drastic measures, including the fabled silver bullet.

Derived from the Greek lukos meaning “wolf,” and anthropos meaning “man.”