Ghost Stories from the Archives: Werewolves and Old Superstitions
From the Leeds Intelligencer of 1868 comes the following ...
The loup-garou of France and Western Germany was indeed very different from the man-wolf of Ireland; and neither of these bore much resemblance, except in general features, to the were-wolf of Livonia.
The last-named country was the favourite haunt of these terrible creatures. But so it was also of every species of witchcraft.
Indeed the spirits of darkness made themselves so much at home in that province, that it was a common thing for a family woman to maintain an imp as a domestic servant.
Then about the second week in December the demon went up and down in the shape of a lame boy to summon the fraternity to a general rendezvous. Accordingly they gathered by thousands, including every rank and if any lagged behind under any pretence, they were quickly flogged into their places by a demon armed with a whip made of neatly twisted wire, whose special duty it was to look after the stragglers.
Beginning on Christmas Eve, they amused themselves for 12 or 14 days with worrying flocks, herds, and villagers, and especially with breaking their way into cellars, and gulping up whatever was drinkable therein.
In this quarter — that is east of the Elbe — those who were desirous of figuring as were-wolves obtained the power by quaffing a nauseous draught from the hands of one already initiated.
And for a long time it seems to have been regarded as a pleasant and frolicsome, and even at times as a useful sort of relaxation.
We are informed that on one occasion a party, while crossing a Russian waste, having fallen short of provisions, the servant of a nobleman present very quickly removed the embarrassment by assuming the form of a wolf and catching several sheep.
And on another a gentleman transformed himself in order to remove the doubts which a friend entertained concerning the existence of such a power. But being assailed by some dogs, he lost an eye before he oould resume his proper shape.
A thief, too, who was sentenced to be gibbeted, walked quietly out of his cell in the form of a wolf the moment they opened the door to lead him to the scaffold, and escaped to the woods before the astonished gaolers could make any effort to stop him.
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