werewolf, werewolves and lycans

The Connection Between Werewolves and Silver

It’s one of those tropes that everyone knows: silver bullets kill werewolves. Only silver bullets. It’s as ubiquitous as the full moon thing. Yet like the belief that werewolves could only transform on nights when the moon is full, the connection between werewolves and silver is of modern vintage. Scouring the folklore of centuries past, one finds a dearth of silver. It is not, however, merely the creation of Hollywood screenwriters. There is a tradition dating back at least to the 1800s in both Germany and England that silver presented a special weakness for werewolves. Here’s a snippet from a German folktale of the period: “A clever lad suggested that they gather all their silver buttons, goblets, belt buckles, and so forth, and melt them down into bullets for their muskets and pistols…[then] they slaughtered the creatures and rid [the area] of the lycanthropes.” Claims that the Beast of Gevaudon was shot by a silver bullet, however, seem to have originated in the early 20th Century, attached to preexisting legend.

But why silver? Perhaps because of an association between silver and the moon. (“By the light…of the silvery moon…”) Only the full moon trope didn’t originate until modern times, specifically with THE WOLFMAN in 1941. Right? Not entirely.

Stay tuned. There’s more digging to be done.

The Evil Cheezman • June 28, 2018

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