Tonight, for our second annual October classic horror series, we’ll read a Swedish fairytale called The Werewolf.
Until the 20th century, wolf attacks on humans were an occasional, but still widespread feature of life in Europe. Some scholars have suggested that it was inevitable that wolves, being the most feared predators in Europe, were projected into the folklore of evil shapeshifters. Areas devoid of wolves typically use different kinds of predator to fill the niche; werehyenas in Africa, weretigers in India, as well as werepumas, and werejaguars in southern South America.
Werewolvery was a common accusation in witch trials throughout their history. A peak of attention to lycanthropy, or the clinical diagnosis of werewolvery, came in the late 16th to early 17th century, as part of the European witch-hunts.