Long time no see folks. My poor little blog has suffered the past couple of weeks simply because real life obligations will not leave me alone, but on an upbeat note my muse has returned from Tijuana. The past few days despite feeling under the weather I’ve gotten closer to finishing my next manuscript (yes, helgaleena you will be getting the first in the AP Investigations series–SOON).
I’m working diligently on getting the first draft of Primeval Whispers – Book I of AP Investigations to my editor and it hasn’t been an easy road. Not by a long shot. The intro to the series involves what may or may not be a werewolf that is terrorizing a small Appalachian town in West Virginia. While I was working on the basic premise of the introductory book of what I plan on being a twelve book series I did a great deal of reading not just werewolves, but shape-shifter lore in general.
Most people automatically think wolves when the term shape-shifter is mentioned. Although werewolves are the most well known of these human beast hybrids there are shape-shifters in cultures all over the world and you might be surprised at the variations. I chose the painting to the left because Primeval Whispers also plays with Native American mythology.
Shape-shifting is more common place than one might think. It is an intrinsic part of mythology and even religious ceremonies dating back to ancient man. One of the first stories I recall reading as a child that involved shape-shifting is the fairytale Puss ‘n’ Boots. Okay, I see that look, but we all know how Puss beat the Ogre–don’t we? A dare to change into a mouse and then Puss ate the bastard! 😉
Another example is the the Greek myth about Arachne the young weaver who dared to claim she was a superior weaver to the goddess Athena. For her bragging ways she was transformed into a spider so that she could practice her craft for eternity.
There are a number of reasons one may be a shape-shifter; born, cursed, magic, etc. In the Ogre’s case he was–well an Ogre, a magical being with the ability to shift his appearance. Arachne was cursed by Athena and although she is unable to change back she is a shape-shifter in the strictest sense of the word. Often shape-shifting is used as a means of punishment to exact revenge or teach a lesson whether the one wielding said magic is a Romany gypsy, a Greek Goddess, or a wicked witch that delves in black magics.
Then there are those men who chose to use shape-shifting for a variety of reasons. Berserkers (Norse warriors) for example were believed to take on the abilities of the bears or wolves whose skins they wore into battle. There were tales they even took on the shape of these animals and not just their skills. The Navajo have the yee naaldlooshii more commonly known as the skinwalker humans who had the ability to change into any animal they chose as long as they possessed the skin of that animal. The most common of the forms they chose were coyote, wolf, owl, fox, or crow. Many Native American tribes have variations of the skinwalker in their myths among them the Hopi (in a ceremony known as the Ya-Ya which is now outlawed) and the Lakota (an ability of the medicine man).
In Europe, the shape-shifter or werewolf which was the most common type was thought to be in league with the Devil. The real life fear of wolves combined with old folktales, and the demons of Christianity evolved into what we’ve come to know as the modern day werewolf. There were numerous reasons for the werewolf to exist as well as actual recorded cases of real-life werewolves.
The Beast of Gévaudan is one case that is often sited as possible proof of werewolves. Although, most modern scientists will suggest that the Beasts sited by the witnesses were simply wild dogs or rabid wolves. Others have suggested such explanations as the last remaining members Mesonychid an extinct large-sized carnivorous mammal that bears a slight resemblance to wolves. Whatever the case for 3 years between from 1764 to 1767 the people were terrorized by a creature that had the French government sending the army out to hunt the elusive killer.
Another infamous example was Gilles Garnier also known as The Hermit of St. Bonnot. In this day and age Gilles would more than likely have been committed to a hospital for the criminally insane. In 1573 though when Gilles was finally caught red-handed so to speak, he was convicted of lycanthropy and witchcraft when he confessed making a deal with a man in black . This man in black provided him with an ointment with which he could transform into a wolf so that he could hunt more easily. Gilles confessed to the murder and cannibalization of at least 4 children.
After his confession and conviction, Gilles Garnier was burned at the stake.
As you can see there are numerous tales about shape-shifters and I could probably blog until the cows came home about the subject. For me these tales have inspired me to delve into the world of shape-shifters for the introduction of Valentin Amoretti and his team of paranormal investigators in my upcoming series AP Investigations. What they discover in the Appalachian mountains will terrify and shock the reader. At least that’s what I’m aiming for…
SNEAK PEEK @ PRIMEVAL WHISPERS – BOOK 1 of AP INVESTIGATIONS
Tonight it was cold as a witch’s tit on the mountainside, moon full and ripe like a summer melon hanging low in the night sky, pale blue light highlighting the mountain’s edge. Our daddies will be might proud, Caleb thought with a smirk as they dragged the twelve-point buck down the steep incline on the makeshift sled. Their hounds trotted behind through a good foot of snow as they stumbled towards the dirt road where the truck waited, parked there long before the sun had raised its golden head at dawn.
Halfway down the incline Caleb got that odd feeling, the one his Me-ma insisted was someone walking over your grave. Almost simultaneous, Butch his bloodhound froze, hackles rising just as the hair on Caleb’s arms and at the base of his skull prickled up, goose bumps along his skin. Butch turned towards the jagged line of trees as did Mikey’s hound Noah, eyes focused on one spot. Caleb stopped in his tracks without thought for Mikey who went to pull forward, lost his footing, and fell face first in the snow with a flurry of cussing that would have made the Devil himself blush.
Mikey rolled over, spit snow, and eyed him with annoyance. “What the all fired hell are you doing, Caleb? You done lost your fucking mind?”
He hushed Mikey with a wave of his hand then pointed back up along the incline they’d just descended. There at the edge of the trees was what appeared to be a solid dark mass, darker than the shadows surrounding it, too damn tall for a bobcat and too damn small for a black bear, but then a bear wouldn’t be out here, not in the winter. The two hounds lifted their snouts, sniffing at the wind that swept down the hillside. Both men knew the moment that they caught a scent; snouts crinkling, teeth bared, the two dogs snarled and then lifted their heads higher and began to bay at the moon.
Between the dogs and the sight of the unmoving mass hidden in the trees, Mikey’s eyes widened in surprise, and he snorted. “What the hell?”
Caleb, voice a raspy whisper, frowned, “Not sure, man, but I think we need to get going.”
As if by some unseen cue, Noah and Butch tore off down the hill towards the truck. Their voices filled with warning and fear as they continued to howl.
Helping Mikey to his feet, they grabbed the ropes and began trudging faster, the only sound in the moonlit darkness the crackle of frozen snow beneath their boots and the fading echo of the hounds’ baying. Caleb shifted his rifle over his shoulder, peered behind them and wasn’t too surprised to see the shadow still there except this time he swore he could see eyes gleaming in the darkness. The sight made him move faster and without argument, Mikey sped up as well. They had to get to the truck and maybe if Caleb hadn’t taken so many swigs of corn whiskey to keep his ass from freezing, he would have said fuck the carcass.