Continuing my trip through belief in werewolves among contemporary religious fundamentalists, I came across a twelve-part essay series by Jon Watkins of ExposingSatanism.org called “Halloween — The Eve of the Devil”, which was published in 2017 (rather oddly, in January of that year). As is so often the case with religious diatribes about Halloween, the series is badly-researched and extremely credulous.
The fourth post in the series is focused on animals associated with Halloween, and includes a section on werewolves. The opening paragraph is typical of Watkins’ garbled writing style:
You can’t have Halloween without a Werewolf coming on the scene. There was a TV series called “Teen Wolf” starring Michael J. Fox in 1985. The pervert filled MTV gang revived the series in 2011 and a new season will start in 2106. Hollywood seems to be obsessed with the Occult!
His claim that “Hollywood seems to be obsessed with the Occult” is backed up with a link that turns out to be broken. Click it, and you’ll be taken to an utterly remarkable 404 page:
Next, Watkins goes retro by quoting the entirety of a Wiccan webpage from 1998. The page in question starts out with a general outline of werewolf folklore, mixing together actual witchcraft beliefs with elements from Hollywood films (namely the full-moon transformation), and reaches this conclusion:
In the dark Middle Ages, the church stigmatized the wolf as the personification of evil and a servant of Satan. Many of our children’s stories reflect this attitude and wolves share the villain’s role with the witch. In 1270, it was considered heretical NOT to believe in werewolves. The church forced confessions from the mentally ill to prove its convictions. Ultimately, they quit charging people of being werewolves in the 17th century, but only for a lack of evidence. The belief in the beasts, however, did not cease in the absence of indictments. Source
The claim that the church declared disbelief in werewolves a heresy in 1270 is something I’ve seen turn up in other places, but I have yet to find a proper citation.
While the Wiccan author frames werewolves as mere superstition, Watkins belives that true-blue lycanthropes may well be out there somewhere — albeit not necessarily in the United States:
I have to say that where there is smoke there is fire. When you find evidence, and testimony of something all over the world, throughout different cultures you have to give credence. There are many things about the realm of the spirit that we still don’t understand. Especially we who live in the United States. We have lived in a “Christian” culture and under the protection of God for so long, we don’t really know much at all about spiritual things. People who live in other countries, especially under developed countries live this stuff every day.
He even promises to provide testimonies about the reality of werewolves:
So as not to frighten or offend anyone, there will be no gory details posted here. Links will be listed at the end of this section, for those brave enough to explore this topic further. Suffice it to say, there is validity to the shamanistic beliefs in shape-shifting. There are testimonies of this type of thing occurring every day.
In an astonishing twist of logic, Watkins implies in his conclusion that the theory of evolution is somehow to blame for a rising tide of werewolves:
With the world headed in the direction that it is currently, we will be seeing and hearing a lot more of this type of activity. Whether people actually change physical shape or merely take on the behaviors and characteristics of animals, doesn’t really matter. Men and women have been taught that they are “just animals” by our education system for so long now that they actually believe it. Some people use that fact to justify their ungodly and even demonic behavior. People are rekindling ancient religions and demonic practices. We are about to enter into a very dark time. Those who know God and are covered in the Blood of our Savior, have no reason to fear. Those who are not covered in the blood… better get there quick!
Finally, we come to the promised estimonies. These are…
- A Tripod page about the alleged werewolf Peter Stubbe, which misleadingly implies that this incident led to the first usage of the term “werewolf”.
- Part of an interview with an “Ex-Illuminati Programmer/Trainer” who claims to have worked alongside people who “took on the form of animals for a period of time, or of hideous looking beings” via demonic powers. The interviewee goes by the name “Svali” and apparently wrote an entire book called Svali Speaks: Breaking the Chain.
- An article on animal spirits by animist author Pia Ravenari. The “shapeshifting” described here is really a form of meditation.
- An article from a now-defunct site called “A Rainbow of Spirituality” that goes over similar ground to the above.
- A blog post about various forms of folk magic in the Americas; this was presumably included because of a brief reference to Navajo skinwalkers.
- And finally, the Wikipedia article on werewolves.
Jon Watkins seems to believe that these posts are, between them, sufficient evidence for the existence of werewolves. Early-modern scholars like Jean Bodin were able to point to the works of Homer, Ovid and Pliny the Elder as proof that humans can become animals; their intellectual heirs make do with Wikipedia.