Since the dawn of humanity, the moonlight has fascinated us and sparked a wonderment of tales told from generation to generation. None so much as the tales surrounding the werewolf. Many of these stories have their origins in ancient times where written accounts of this were mere pictures scribed onto a wall or carved into a stone tablet. Nearly every early culture has a version surrounding this shapeshifting monster, yet it is the combination of all these stories that produce the werewolf we all know and love today.
A Brief History
One of the earliest depictions of a werewolf comes from the Epic of Gilgamesh. In this tale Gilgamesh rejects the flirtatious advances of Ishtar because she had turned a previous suitor into a wolf. The Ancient Egyptians worshiped the god Anubis, who was the god of mummification and lost souls, but who also had the head of a jackal. Yet, one of the most famous stories of the the werewolf comes the Greek story of Zeus and King Lycaon. As the story goes, Zeus was angered by King Lycaon because the king the tried to trick Zeus into eating human flesh. Zeus then turned Lycaon into a wolf, also spawning the origin of the term Lycanthropy.
Other werewolf references include the tale of Nebuchadnezzar. As told in the Christian bible, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” Daniel 4:31–33
Rules of the Monster
All of these stories and more laid the foundation for the werewolf that we know and love today. Sprinkle in some science and poetic license and these stories established the rules of the werewolf. If a writer changes the rules of the werewolf they have to offer an explanation as to why. Simply changing the rules without an explanation does a disservice to the monster and often times cheapens the thrill factor. It leaves holes or gaps to which readers and enthusiasts get trapped in. Ultimately, changing the rules of this beast takes away the great depth that this beast has earned over the many years.
The rules also establish a sense of vulnerability for werewolves and other classic monsters. All great evil has its weakness otherwise the story would not work. If we think about monsters as a great metaphor, then the characters in a story have to grow and adapt in order to overcome the great evil much the same way that we have to grow and adapt to challenges, policies, people or groups of people that engage in horrible things. Knowing that there is always weak spot, an Achilles heal , then good can adapt to the evil to defeat it. Along those same lines it allows a society to address an evil, an injustice, or wrong doing that people would otherwise turn a blind eye to and not address.
What most people don’t want to do is look into the darkness. Turning away from it makes people feel normal, secure...but it doesn’t solve the problem. Establishing the rules of a monster helps us to face down the darkness. It helps us to find the solution to a problem. Change the rules of a monster without an explanation is the same as turning a blind eye toward a problem...it allows it to exist and causes damage. From a literary standpoint, the reader gets trapped trying to figure out why the monster is different or why the rules changed and loses the storyline In other words they get thrown out of the story and the problem does not get solved.
In the Caribbean there lives a monster so terrible it can take on two forms, the first, a tall sickly human like figure or a giant beast that resembles a wolf. These creatures are known as the Jé Rouges (juh rooje), the Red-Eyes. The Je Rouges are shapeshifters, many throughout Haiti, Hispaniola, islands in the Caribbean, parts of Central and South America, believe that these demonic spirits can assume any shape they want to fit their needs.
Like their European counterparts the Je Rouges have incredible strength and endurance, but they are smarter. Anyone bitten by a Je Rouge, instantly becomes a Je Rouge themselves, and the Je Rouges actively seek people to bite. The Je Rouges can speak, and with that comes danger for whomever the creature is ensnarling in their trap.These creatures of the night feed on flesh and prefer their victims young.
Their best trick is to show up in the dead of night to a home and wake up the owner, sleepy people make poor decisions. They appear in the form of a person, traveller, or neighbor needing help, and the owner invites them in, Je Rouge can not enter a dwelling uninvited. Once inside they will lure the owner into a false sense of security with their clever and cunning tongue. They will ask to take the child, and if the sleepy owner is fooled enough to say yes, it's all over for that kid. They are stolen away to a devastating fate.
There are very few ways to kill or destroy a Je Rouge, though some speculation that pure iron will do the trick. The captor must place the Je Rouge in a hoop made of iron, but it must fit tight and this trick does not work when the Je Rouge is in its humanoid form. Once the monster is dead, you must decapitate it and burn the body.
The Demon Hunter’s Compendium: Blog. March, 27, 2017. http://demonhunterscompendium.blogspot.com/2017/03/je-rouges-red-eyed-werewolf.html
- Kayla Hardin and Brian Hershey