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Werewolf Wednesday: Loup Garou, Incubus or Sleep Paralysis? (1577/85)

This week’s historical werewolf tidbit comes from the Nomenclator of Hadrianus Junius, the 1585 edition of which can be found online here. A topical dictionary, the book contains the following entry for “Incubus”:

A kinde of disease called the night mare or witch, being a certeine pressing down and strangling of the bodie, hindering both the voice and the breath of free passage.

This is clearly a description of what would now be termed sleep paralysis, but what caught my eye is what accompanies the definition.

First, the book includes excerpts from classical sources in Latin and Greek, citing the thoughts of authors like Dioscorides Pliny on the phenomenon. And then, after the excerpts and just before the definition, the phrase “Le loup garou.”

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Only the Stains Remain by Ross Jeffery (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)

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Even someone familiar with the genre must surely find it remarkable how broad a spectrum extreme horror has successfully covered with spraying viscera. Many stories up for the Splatterpunk Awards have made a point out of staying away from reality: whether this is done through supernatural fantasy or cartoonish absurdity, the effect is to constantly remind us that, no matter how graphic the subject matter may be, it remains far removed from anything going on in the real world.

Then, at the other end of the scale, we find Ross Jeffery’s Only the Stains Remain.

This novella tells the story of Jude, a survivor of child abuse who, as an adult, revisits the area where he and his brother Kyle grew up, including “the campsite where our childhoods were erased by calloused hands and cruel intentions”. As he does so, he begins a series of reminiscences that start with the final days of his terminally-ill mother.

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How I Spent November 2022

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Well, this was the month when my new employment situation finally caught up with me. I was busy, but not with my creative projects. I’m hoping to make up for lost time over the remainder of the year.

Articles published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for December and beyond:

December22

Werewolf Wednesday: Jean Grenier on Trial (1610)

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The seventeenth-century werewolf Jean Grenier has turned up a few times in this series, but always in second-hand accounts. I thought it was time I put the spotlight on a historical text that covers his case: La conférence du droict francois avec le droict remain, published in 1610. Any translation errors in the below summary are mine.

The document describes an incident from May 1603 in which a court hears about a series of gruesome infanticides that a boy named Jean Grenier claims to have committed in the form of a wolf.

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Should the Dragon Awards Introduce a Porno Category?

A recent turn of events persuaded me that the Dragon Awards should introduce a category for Best Pornographic Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror Novel. Before I go on, though, I should probably establish what the Dragon Awards are (they’re an SF/F prize handed out annually at Dragon Con and voted on via a free online poll) and just which events led me to my conclusion…

Until recently the Dragons had seven book categories, ranging from big genres (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, YA/Middle Grade) to rather more niche areas (Alternate History, Media Tie-In, Military Science Fiction and Fantasy). But just this month the Dragons announced a shake-up ready for next year’s awards. A new category, Best Illustrative Book Cover, will be introduced; the game categories have been mashed into one another (so Best Mobile Game and Best PC/Console Game are now conjoined as Best Digital Game and so forth), as have the comic categories; and two book categories — Best Media Tie-In and Best Military Science Fiction/Fantasy — have been dropped altogether.

Not everyone is happy with these changes. Or, more accurately, with that last change.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal on Lycanthropy (1849)

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The below article, entitled “Lycanthropy”, comes from the August 25 1849 edition of Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal. The piece treats werewolves as a western equivalent to the ghouls of the Arabian Nights, and suggests that tales of vampires, werewolves and ghouls stem from a single psychological source. In making this argument, the author discusses the familiar rogues’ gallery of alleged vampire Arnold Paole, alleged werewolf Jean Grenier and probable necrophile François Bertrand, the last of these being the main case study.

The article is an example of how broad the concept of clinical lycanthropy was during the nineteenth century. Today, the term is used in a stricter sense to refer to people who believe that they have the ability to transform into animals. As this article shows, however, the concept was once associated with a broader range of bestial compulsions. Had Bertrand’s corpse-violating crimes taken place today, then he would likely be described as ghoulish; I can also imagine tabloids likening him to a vampire, given his fondness for cemeteries and coffins. But I rather doubt that people would equate him with a werewolf.


WHOEVER has read the ‘Arabian Nights’ Entertainments’ will be acquainted with the words goul and vampyre. A goal was believed to be a being in the human form, who frequented graveyards and cemeteries, where it disinterred, tore to pieces, and devoured the bodies buried there. A vampyre was a dead person, who came out of his grave at night to suck the blood of the living, and whoever was so sucked became a vampyre in his turn when he died.

Both these persuasions have been rejected by the modern scientific world as altogether unworthy of credence or inquiry, although, about a century ago, the exploits of vampyres created such a sensation in Ilungary, that they reached the ears of Louis XV, who directed his minister at Vienna to report upon them. In a newspaper of that period there appeared a paragraph to the effect that Arnold Paul, a native of Madveiga, being crushed to death by a wagon, and buried, had since become a vampyre, and that he had himself been previously bitten by one.

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Sacrament by Steve Stred (2022 Splatterpunk Awards)

Cover of Sacrament by Steve Stred

Sacrament is the third instalment of Steve Stred’s Father of Lies sequence, the first novellas being Ritual and Communion (a fourth story, the short “Eucharist”, was subsequently included in the omnibus edition). The villain of the series is Father, a cult leader who has made communion with demons and transformed into a distorted goat-legged being – “A dark God from the cosmos in the flesh!” His desire is to grasp Abaddon’s Box so that he can open the Black Heavens and obtain immortality alongside his faithful flock. “And to think”, says Father to his acolytes, “some of you doubted me!”

Opposing Father is Professor Bianchi, whose family has been blighted by the evil priest’s machinations. His father Adam, who lost his legs to the cult, is so filled with rage that he refuses to let his son refer to him as “Father”, the word having been tainted by the evil priest. Bianchi’s mother, having been used by the priest as a broodmare, is in an even worse state:

She lay exposed on the bed, naked and weathered. Her one human leg had wasted away, now pushed awkwardly under her animal appendage. The two pronged hoof shifted subtly […] The wrinkles and folds of her abdomen weren’t enough to hide the jagged scar that went from hip to hip, the gloating reminder of the child Father had cut forth from her in one of his failed ritual attempts. Her formerly large breasts were now hanging over her ribs, the deflated fatty sacs of flesh and nipple resting in the crook of her elbows. Her arms bent slightly so that the dried corpse of a fetus was cradled in her hands.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Notes on Lycanthropy (1802)

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The August 1802 edition of The Scots Magazine includes a letter on the topic of lycanthropy. Although the author makes early digressions into the Lazzaroni of Naples (I’m unfamiliar as to this area of werewolf folklore) and Ethiopian were-hyenas, the general focus is on British werewolves.


Sir,

Among the popular superstitions of Scotland, there seems to have been one, the traces of which are now almost obliterated, the origin of which might be a subject of curious and entertaining discussion. Lycanthropy, or the belief of the occasional transformation of magicians, and sometimes of other persons by the power of magicians, seems formerly to have been very extensively diffused.

In Germany, the belief was at one time quite current, and is alluded to by various authors. Among the Lazzaroni of Naples, the manners of whom have too much verisimilitude to the idea, this transformation was very recently believed. [James] Bruce found a similar notion prevalent in Abyssinia; and relates that the inhabitants of Gondar imagined the hyænas that infested their streets by night, and were accustomed to prey on mangled carcasses, were individuals of the Jewish tribes of Samen, transformed into the shape of that ferocious animal.

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