Originally posted by muzzleflash
reply to post by Maxmars
Do you think there may be some sort of connection between the werewolve phenomena and the so called 'dog-headed men' phenomena?
Both seems to share some aspects such as canine heads and bodies 'similar' to man. ....
If you ask me, there must be a connection of some kind.
The way I imagine the development of the concept it has various 'aspects' to it.
Ancient historical documents seem to verify that the idea of transformation was practiced. Most early accounts resolved to a purposeful decision to
undergo a ritual or rite of passage; there were components and protocols to follow that would start the change. I often wonder if these were meant to
convey the allegory of the voyage of exploration outside oneself as a human. In the beginning it would seem it was always a part of an adventure or
magical undertaking that lead the sorcerer or his subject to transform.
Beyond this, we see it as a persistent tale of observed phenomenon, so in essence; stories passed down where people have told of 'man-like'
creatures roaming the forests, jungles, mountains, ans seas. This aspect can be thought of as a story-telling element. But the imagination of man
has led him to visualize the creature - who is like a man - but so much like a particular animal that they cannot be said to be a man. These tales
are replete with violent overtones and often have some connection to combat and conflict - but not all.
Considering the 'second-hand' and anecdotal nature of the tales, we can see much room for liberal skepticism. After all, people in times of
excitement are often the victims of their own fears and the heat of the moment. Facing people in battle who are convincingly garbed and behaving as
animals would leave quite the impression on someone who wasn't expecting or knew little of their enemy's wiles. We know that brigands and bandits
also capitalized on the fear and used such disguises to make their 'efforts' a bit easier. So the practice of 'dressing' up as part of an
intimidation tactic is commonplace.
Early cultures seemed most inclined towards sympathetic magic and it would appear that we might desire to adopt the form of a creature we might
associate with the divine. If we believed the man-like "were" animal to have some divine origin, or representative of a divine power, it stands to
reason that shaman, medicine men (ya'ta'li), or other practicer of metaphysical science would pursue the ability.
These 'dog-headed' men - particularly renowned in Egypt, were reproduced nearly everywhere; but were never associated with the wanton berserker
barbarism we see represented in the northern lands. As cultures mingle and the stories became available for scholars to compare, I have to assume
they influenced each other.
On the other hand we have the 'first-person' accounts of those convinced that this was happening to them. The claims of absolute loss of control
and even recollection was particular tot he 'victim' of the change. Frequently accused of horrible acts, these 'victims' were eager to associate
their malady with something outside their control, like having consumed some substance, applied some ointment, or other accidental exposure to the
At first blush, we might be inclined to think that malefactors, thieves, murderers, and the like would hope to diminish their personal responsibility
for their actions by claiming themselves to be "afflicted." But as soon as the major monotheistic religions began their rise to common acceptance,
that trend waned.
But we still have dog (or animal) headed people in our popular culture.... just watch cartoons, and anything meant to appeal to young children.
Anthropomorphic characters are beloved everywhere and seems the 'benign' manifestation of our cultures' tendency to remember the were-people.