Therianthropy (Human Shapeshifters)
Therianthropy is a term referring to the metamorphosis of humans into beasts. One of the most common talked about therianthropy or human shape shifter is the werewolf. Werewolves and other half man, half beast creatures have always been a part of popular mythology. There are several different types of Therianthropy. In many cultures there is talk of people being inhabited by animals’ souls. These creatures are generally thought to keep the outside appearance of human beings but they are controlled by the soul of animals. In Native American mythology there are many references to animal spirits.
As a young man reaches the age of maturity he receives his animal spirit; depending on the tribe these animals were sometimes killed by the man. He would then keep the skin and bones to make his ‘medicine.’ This ‘medicine’ would be kept with him forever. Another kind of Therianthropy is the werewolf of popular culture. There are several movies as well as hundreds of books on the subject, each having their own mythology. In some versions the werewolf is a hybrid creature that transforms physically once a month. These transformations are thought to happen when the moon is full. It is thought that one becomes a werewolf when you have been bitten by another werewolf. In most mythology’s werewolves can only be killed by a silver bullet.
There are others that believe any silver weapon can kill a werewolf. In some versions werewolves are very solitary creatures. In other myths werewolves live in communities called clans. These clans generally are not friendly to one another. The biggest enemy of werewolves in popular culture is vampires. In some myths, there has been a war for centuries of werewolves vs. vampires. Werewolves, whether they are real or not, are a continuing part of our culture. There is no doubt that we will continue to see both films and literature created about werewolves and other therianthropes.