Friday, August 20, 2010

Werewolves in Irish Folklore.



Werewolves in Irish Folklore:

The werewolf is strong in Irish folklore. There are a number of old tales about strange tribes of wolf-men living in remote areas of County Tipperary, whose assistance was often sought by the ancient kings of Ireland when they made war upon each other. There are also tales of strange beings - half-men, half-wolves - roaming the remote forest and mountain areas of the island. Indeed, one of the oldest written stories that we have about werewolves comes from Ireland. It was written down by a man named Giraldus Cambrensis who wrote down many old Irish tales.

In Ireland in 1182, a priest travelling from Ulster into Meath, and having to pass the night in a wood, was sitting by a fire which he had made, when a wolf accosted him in human speech.

He was, he said, a man of Ossory, on whose race lay an ancient curse, whereby every seven years a man and a woman were changed into wolves; at the end of seven years they recovered their proper form, and two others suffered a like transformation. He and his wife were the present victims of the curse; his wife was at the point of death, and he prayed the priest to come and give her the viaticum (Holy Eucharist given to the dying)

After some hesitation the priest complied; and next morning the wolf took leave of him with words of gratitude. Two years after this event, Giraldus was in the same area, where he was approached by two priests sent by the bishop to ask him his view on this “serious matter.” Giraldus met with the bishop of the town and gave his views in writing. These writings were then sent to the Bishop of Ossory then to Pope Urban III. Showing you just how serious they took this werewolf tale, one of the first ever recorded.

It is said that the people of the Kingdom of Ossory (County Kilkenny and parts of Laois and Offaly) had the power to change themselves into wolves whenever they wanted. During the time that an Ossorian lived as a wolf their human body lay at home as if it were dead. When an Ossorian was about to change into a wolf strict orders were given to friends not to touch or move the human body for if it was moved to a place where the returning spirit could not find it then the person was doomed to remain in wolf form for the rest of their life.

One author (Giraldus Cambrensis) wrote of the Ossorians saying that there were always two of the Ossory people, a man and a woman, living in the shape of wolves for seven year cycles. After living seven years as wolves they returned home and another couple replaced them.

The Irish Werewolf is very different from the excepted version of the werewolf that has become apparent through the spread of Christianity and the inquisition. It is not a crazed man-eater but rather a protector. There are numerous stories in Irish folklore of wolves protecting children, guarding wounded men and guiding lost people to a place of safety.

14 comments:

  1. Do you believe in werewolves and do you know any

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    1. my family comes from a long story of a king and his knights in Ireland being werewolf referring to themselves as the knights of the min-duke or what as we know of as the triskle

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    2. You intrigue me Conner. To which story are you referring? Please elaborate as I find this interesting.

      SilentOwl.

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  2. I believe werewolves serve an important social role in Celtic culture similar but not necessarily the same as exists in other cultures. Young warriors (male and female) live in the wild and operate outside of their traditional families and clans to 'go wolfing'. These 'wolves' are primarily employed as protectors from evil attacks, both spiritual (in the form of ghosts and demons)and physical (invaders and criminals). As they grow older most will return to normal society to settle down never to 'go wolfing' again. But a few will prefer to continue to serve as protectors of their people for the remainder of their lives. I'ts quite difficult to get to know werewolves as they are very reluctant to advertise their natures to others. However they can easily be recognised by their willingness to be labelled as 'outsiders', their untameably wild characters, and their strong instinct to protect others from harm with no desire for material reward.

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  3. What if you think your a werewolf? How could you tell other then changing the form?

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    1. Hi there James,

      Well you could always cast the cards to see what your spirit guide is, it may be a wolf. You could research your totem animal and again this may turn out to be a wolf. If there are family connections to certain clan names such as MacIntyre or O'Connell then you may feel a certain affinity with the wolf. I don't think that shape shifting is something that you need to worry about at this stage but if you find that you are spending a lot more on razor blades at certain times of the Luna cycle then you may want to check it out. Stay away from lamp posts, dog biscuits and wolf whistles and you should be O.K. Joking apart, the Wolf clan has a long and illustrious connection with Irish folklore and if you feel connected in some way then you are part of a proud and glorious tradition. I am sure that somewhere in Ireland there will be like minded people who may have joined together as a group and if you do a little research you may be able to connect with them and explore this a little further. I wish you and yours a blessed Lughnasadh and may you have a brilliant harvest. I know I'm a little early but no harm.

      Keep smiling.

      SilentOwl.

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  4. I believe that some of my family used to live in the town of Littleton in country tipperary.

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  5. Hi Joel,

    Very interesting. Is it possible that is the origin of your family name (Littleton)?

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  6. where do you get the notion of pre-christian folklore considering werewolves to be protectors? so far I have only found the christian stories with monks etc and not been able to find actual stories from before that, just statements without sources.

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    1. There are many accounts written in the old Irish annals concerning wolves and Celtic folklore.

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  7. So I am a 15 year old girl from Ireland, and something really weird is happening to me, and I was hoping you could help. Or I just need to talk about it. I'm not actually sure! So I have always been taken with dogs and I'm always very relaxed around them, even when the others are screaming and running away! My spirit animal is a wolf. Now I know since I'm a teenager I am bound to get angry for no reason, like my parents or brothers, but I started to get very angry at people who hurt my primary school friends (even when my primary school friends don't think of me anymore) or any of my 22 cousins, or anyone I have known for a long time. And some of these times I have become violent. I haven't seriously injured anyone or anything, but when I was younger, I wouldn't hurt a fly, I was the most gentle child. It is completely out of my personality and nature. And a lot of these times it has been around a full moon. I tend to get very wild around those times. And some time in mid November last year, I started thinking about the sixth of December constantly. It kept popping up in my mind, so I looked up what was happening on that day, and it said that it was a full moon. So I kind of freaked out, and I told my cousin about it, and she said to come down to her house for a while. Then when I got home, I sat in my room trying to distract myself. I was shaking and was so scared. I eventually fell asleep at around 11 and slept all night. But I could have sleep-walked or something! I definetly have a lot of characteristics similar to wolves, like always wanting to be with my family. Over the last year or two, I have become very confident with myself. I don't know how I did it, there is no one in my family who is like me in that way. I am able to speak my mind in class and not get embarrassed or nervous about anything. I am friends with all the girls in my year and most of the boys. I suppose you could say I'm brave, probably because I'm not afraid of pain or dying for my country or someone I love. This is gonna sound weird but I have a lot more hair on my body than other girls my age. And I was in school the other day and me and my class were walking down to the PE hall. The temperature was nearly below freezing level. Everyone else was wearing coats and were shivering, but I was wearing a t shirt and a light jumper, but I wasn't cold at all. I felt as if I was still inside the school, and I looked at my hands and they were a purpley-blue colour and were shaking vigorously. People were staring at me with shocked expressions when they all saw my hands, so I panicked and put my head down and ran ahead of them. There is another thing aswell where, I am very unfit and I don't eat very healthily. But I have started getting very muscular and stronger over the last few months, my abs, arms, and legs are more muscular, and I am able to run way faster as my stamina has gone up. I'm not a 'twilight-lover' or anything like that. I don't know what is happening to me and I was hoping you would give me some advice as to what to do. Am I just over-reacting? And I'm really sorry for word vomiting all over your website!

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    1. Hi Sinead,

      Firstly just want to say you have no need to apologise about writing your thoughts on my website so don't worry.

      You sound as if you are growing in confidence and this may have more to do with a belief in yourself and less to do with the lunar cycle. It has been suggested that the pull of the moon has at certain times an affect upon a persons emotional state so what you may feel is not unheard of.

      The way you feel protective towards your friends and family is to be commended and the fact that you feel comfortable around dogs is not really surprising as the relationship between human and canine over thousands of years has resulted in a strong and unbreakable bond. These animals are also known to have an uncanny way of knowing when a person is to be trusted.

      As for your increased stamina and apparent muscular development, this may be due to the fact that you are in a constant state of growth and may also be attributed to diet.

      You also say that at times you have feelings of anger bordering on violence although you haven't hurt anyone. One way I dealt with anger issues when I was younger was through Martial Arts. Attending a dojo/gym and having a good sensei/teacher enabled me to learn discipline and how to direct my anger in a safe environment. I enjoyed the competitive elements and learned how to control my emotions. Please take care of yourself. Eat a proper diet, be aware of what your body is telling you and be happy with yourself. If you feel the need to talk to someone, don't hesitate. Parents, teachers, doctors, or friends that you can trust and if you write on my blog then I will try to answer you the best I can.

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    2. Thank you so much I was really starting to freak out! I was thinking of starting boxing but by myself because we have a boxing bag in the garage so I think I'll definitely start that. I really appreciate the advice and friendliness! :)

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    3. Glad I was able to help. Good luck with the boxing, don't forget to wear a good pair of mits and above all have fun with it.

      Keep smiling,

      :)

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