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Mitos y Leyendas: The Werewolf

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  • Genny de Bernardo shares a bit about the origin of the werewolf figure.
  • There are many stories about how this tale originated.
  • In some, it is a punishment, while in others, it is related to wisdom.

Numerous ancient cultures in North America have woven countless legends about individuals transforming into animal creatures, with werewolves standing out among them.

In various indigenous tribes in North America, the belief in marriages between humans and animals was ingrained.

During the nights, it was believed that these beings took on the form of animals, but at dawn, they returned to their human appearance simply by shedding the animal skin.

Some tribes held the idea of being descendants of unions between humans and animals, forming lifelong connections with these creatures and developing special abilities.

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For certain indigenous warriors, the soul resided in the body of an animal, so if the animal was harmed, the warrior perished.

With the arrival of French colonizers in the territory now constituting Canada, they brought along a baggage of legends and ideas about werewolves.

For example, it was said that those who converted to Christianity in Canada turned into werewolves at night, abandoning their human form to stalk true Christians, mostly French immigrants, in the guise of wolves.

Some legends mentioned that wolves visited cemeteries at night to feed on freshly buried bodies.


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Others claimed that werewolves, as penance for their sins, were condemned to wander every night in the darkness of the forests.

Redemption could only be achieved through the blessing of a priest or by being shot with a silver bullet.

On the northwest coast of America, the Nootka annually performed an initiation ceremony called Kulwana for their young warriors, linked to the secret wolf cult.

During this ceremony, tribe elders covered their foreheads with white blankets to create wolf masks, testing the bravery of the aspirants.

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The root of the Kulwana ceremony lies in a homonymous legend that tells the story of four brothers who escaped to Nootka Island after their tribe was defeated by neighboring groups.

Ha-Sass, the youngest, sought the knowledge of wolves, believing they possessed unlimited wisdom.

He disguised himself with a seal’s skin, and when found by the wolves, they led him to their den with the intention of devouring him.

Revealing his true identity, Ha-Sass surprised the wolves, who admired his cunning.


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For four days, the wolves taught him dances and rituals, endowing him with strength comparable to that of the beasts.

They wore masks with human faces during this learning.

On the fourth day, the wolves gave Ha-Sass an enchanted staff and sent him back to the island to share the secrets of wolf power with his brothers and the tribe.

Mitos y Leyendas bids you farewell for now and hopes that these insights into the origin of the werewolf have been to your liking. Until next time!

Mitos y Leyendas
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