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Werewolf Lore: The Varulv

April 22nd, 2010 § 21

Werewolves in Sweden and Norway are called the ‘Varulv’. Eastern Europe is particularly rich with werewolf folklore, unlike England, where wolves were hunted almost to extinction. The Varulv almost has its own mythology, though in many ways it is similar to the traditional werewolf lore we’re so used to hearing about. He’s half man, half werewolf, hairy, sharp teeth; you know, the usual. But similarities end there; for one thing, the affliction is not brought on by biting, or violence.

In much of the Varulv lore, the creature become a werewolf voluntarily, with the use of a certain article of clothing, such as a belt, like that described in one of the oldest werewolf stories, ‘Peter Stubbe’s Magical Belt’. In Northern and Central Sweden, live the indigenous Sami people, –called pejoratively ‘Laplanders’, which is the more common, though offensive term. The Sami were generally self-supporting nomads, and, like gypsies, were regarded with much suspicion. Many locals believed that Sami people could turn you into a werewolf, or were werewolves themselves.

There are even modern prejudices regarding the Sami and werewolves; some theories speculate that porphyria can be traced back to the Sami people, and it was them who spread the disease to the rest of the world. The Sami are not Romani, like gypsies, but instead, lived more like the indigenous people of North America.

The Varulv has a variety of methods for transformation, though the belt method is most traditional in Swedish folklore, and many ways for being cured as well. In some instances, one can just say to the varulv “You are a wolf.” There is also a much more grisly method; eating an unborn fetus. Also interesting, that the Swedish believe only “a man of faith” can become a werewolf, –as in, the ‘People’s Faith’, which is describes as the belief in the rules of folklore, belief in a shared world between the corporeal and the incorporeal.

There are several references in Swedish folklore texts, the the native Varulv was a beer drinker; the Swedish werewolves have a difference in their behavior. For example, a werewolf who changes voluntarily is more often the savage beast portrayed in horror. The varulv bitten, or changed against his will, attaches himself to mankind. The reference to beer drinking may be related to these gentle werewolves who tried to live as men, eating only cooked food, and drinking beer, –never murdering or slaying cattle.

Olaus Magnus, a Catholic Archbishop in 1490 claimed that werewolves were able to transform by drinking beer and singing an incantation; this is supported by many examples of werewolf lore from Russia. Russia’s folklore is very similar in some regards to Sweden’s; the two countries are linked by the indigenous Sami people mentioned above. Folklore and cultural beliefs of the Sami could have easily been filtered slowly to the rest of the native population, in both Sweden and Russia, creating the obvious links and shared beliefs we see today in their mythology.

Olaus, who as mentioned above, claimed that werewolves preferred beer and by drinking beer could transform to his wolf shape. In several passages from his book, he talks about the indigenous peoples to the Nordic region; –these were the Sami. Piecing together various legends, folklore, and superstition, Olaus made significant discoveries about the cultural beliefs of the “indigenous people” he refers to. Olaus supports the theory that the varulv is not a creature tied to geography, –instead, it comes from Sami culture. Also, the Sami, often mistaken for gypsies, may be responsible for the popular image of the gypsy appearing to warn people of the varulv.

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21 Responses to Werewolf Lore: The Varulv

  1. Ah, good post. If you couldn’t guess from my last name this subject is near and dear.

  2. Michael says:

    Robert you are so lucky with the last name of Varulfur. My biological father’s last name is Wallen which is Swedish. So I hope and wish that maybe there may be some Sami blood in my veins.

  3. Alice says:

    So what if I told you that we dont need a piece of clothing? Its just one simple task that makes us become what I am today. But of course you bags of meat dont know what im talking about. You just make up stories for peoplle to try to become us, and they end up dying. Well good luck to you and your stories.

    • Chris says:

      Yo ‘Alice’, little more respect here. No need to be insulting other readers. Just because you call yourself a werewolf doesn’t give you carte blanche to be rude.

  4. dracio Manickov says:

    and what alice is your method in become a werewolf being bitten by a wild mutt and you can’t control your turniing for your powers with the moon?

  5. Nelis says:

    im trying to be one, and im going to try the beer with blood method, and i can’t find any clearness. does it has to be normal blood? or wolf blood? or werewolf blood? plz let me know?

  6. Leon says:

    Hey Nelis! Hopefully you did not try it coz that is really stupid and will only leave a bad taste in your mouth, anyway this is just some lore and nothing ells…..and no they don’t really exist anymore..I have been doing studies about all sorts of lore and one thing I concluded is that….I’m only chasing wind… sorry if I sounded rude…

  7. Nicholas says:

    Please do not mind Alice she has a wicked tongue and does not speak for all of us. Young pups are heard to control when they are out on their own, but it seems to be our only way of survival. Man has become to malevolent towards the creatures like us and some of the younger generation seems to think all you need is a push back. I formerly apologize for this one, my friends, she means well. anything you wish to know i will happily explain.

  8. Leon says:

    Nicholas, what can you tell me that I do not already know? There must be something that I’m missing! Well if you someday see this, leave a reply.

    • alphawolfpack says:

      do you know the second word for werewolf or that on a new moon a werewolf loses all his power or that it’s the moon and the bite that turns you that’s why it’s better to get bitten on a full moon

  9. Confused man says:

    Hi, Leon and people.

    I don’t know if werewolves are true, I really doubt they are, but something inside me screams to me that they are, and I (brace yourselves for the stupidity of this) could be one.

    I’m insanely good with animals, almost to the point where I could say I understand them, and other various things. If anyone has anything that could help me or anything, please do.

    Honestly don’t treat this as another joke, i think i sound mental saying this, but it bugs me all the time; and i needed to say it somewhere.

    Thank you for your help.

    • alphawolfpack says:

      i would say follow your gut or in this case your senses i have a strong connection to dogs and i believe i might be a werewolf i just typed this in 10 seconds

  10. Jeff says:

    When I was younger several people commented that I seemed to be as much like an animal as human if not more so. My ears are pointed and I am very hairy, even on the edges of my ears. I was very farsighted. The eye doctor said I saw clearly at 40 feet what others saw at 20 feet. And bright light hurt my eyes. I used to prefer dimly lit rooms and going out at night instead of the day. Then there is my hearing. I have a hearing disorder whose name I could never remember, or pronounce if I knew it. Basically my hearing works on a slightly different range than most people. I can not hear lower pitched sounds most people here but I can here higher pitched sounds not audible to most others. Some of these can even be painful to me while those around me hear nothing. When you ad to this that my diet consists mostly of meat and very few veggies and that I get along better with dogs than I do with most people, it is little wonder that I picked up nicknames like Wolfie and Graywolf. Does this mean I’m a werewolf?

  11. Sean says:

    So with all the posts how does one become a werewolf. With diabetes and horrid double vision figure that if I had a choice on a cure to my body a wolf would be amazing.

  12. jayden Asare-Tootle says:

    so how does this tell you how to become a werewolf.

  13. alphawolfpack says:

    i have a girlfriend but I’m a wimp i.need to become a werewolf or an alpha

  14. alphawolfpack says:

    every time i go up and down stairs i go on all fours and some times my eye color changes and I’m very hairy
    does this mean I’m a werewolf some one please reply

  15. Aron Engberg says:

    Werewolves exist. They live among you and me. var inte rädd. They aren’t what you see in movies. Folklore exists for a reason.

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