THE ORIGIN OF THE WEREWOLF SUPERSTITION.1
The belief that a human being is capable of assuming an animal’s form, most frequently that of a wolf, is an almost worldwide superstition. Such a transformed person is the Germanic werewolf, or man-wolf; that is, a wolf which is really a human being.2 So the werewolf was a man in wolf’s form or wolf’s dress,2 seen mostly at night,3 and believed generally to be harmful to man.4
The origin of this werewolf superstition has not been satisfactorily explained. Adolf Erman5 explains the allusion of Herodotus6 to the transformation of the Neurians (the people of the present Volhynia, in West Russia) into wolves as due merely to their appearance in winter, dressed in their furs. This explanation, however, would not fit similar superstitions in warm climes. Others ascribe the origin of lycanthropy to primitive Totemism, in which the totem is an animal revered by the members of a tribe and supposed to be hostile to their enemies.7 Still another explanation is that of a leader of departed souls as the original werewolf.8
The explanation of the origin of the belief in werewolves must be one which will apply the world over, as the werewolf superstition is found pretty much all over the earth,9 especially to-day10 however in Northwest Germany and Slavic lands; namely, in the lands where the wolf is most common.11 12 According to Mogk13 the superstition prevails to-day especially in the north and east of Germany.14
The werewolf superstition is an old one, a primitive one.15 The point in common everywhere is the transformation of a living human being into an animal, into a wolf in regions where the wolf was common16 into a lion, hyena or leopard in Africa, where these animals are common; into a tiger or serpent in India;17 in other localities into other animals characteristic of the region.18 Among Lapps and Finns occur transformations into the bear, wolf, reindeer, fish or birds; amongst many North Asiatic peoples, as also some American Indians, into the bear; amongst the latter also into the fox, wolf, turkey or owl; in South America, besides into a tiger or jaguar, also into a fish, or serpent. Most universal though it seems was the transformation into wolves or dogs.19
As the superstition is so widespread—Germany, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, America, it either arose at a very early time, when all these peoples were in communication with each other20 or else, in accord with another view of modern science, it arose independently in various continents in process of the natural psychical development of the human race under similar conditions.
The origin of the superstition must have been an old custom of primitive man’s of putting on a wolf’s or other animal’s skin21 or dress, or a robe.22 Thus Leubuscher,23 says: “Es ist der Mythenkreis eines jeden Volkes aus einfachen wahren Begebenheiten hervorgewachsen.”24 25 Likely also the notion of attributing speech to animals originated from such disguising or dressing of men as animals. In the following we shall examine into primitive man’s reasons for putting on such a skin or robe.
Primitive man was face to face with animal foes, and had to conquer them or be destroyed. The werewolf superstition in Europe arose probably while the Greeks, Romans, Kelts and Germanic peoples were still in contact with each other, if not in the original Indo-Germanic home, for they all have the superstition (unless, as above, we prefer to regard the belief as arising in various localities in process of psychical development under similar conditions; namely, when people still lived principally by the chase.26) Probably the primitive Indo-European man before and at the time of the origin of the werewolf superstition, was almost helpless in the presence of inexorable nature. This was before he used metal for weapons. The great business of life was to secure food. Food was furnished from three sources, roots, berries, animals, and the most important of these was animals.27 Without efficient weapons, it was difficult to kill an animal of any size, in fact the assailant was likely himself to be killed. Yet primitive man had to learn to master the brute foe. Soon he no longer crouched in sheltered places and avoided the enemy, but began to watch and study it, to learn its habits, to learn what certain animals would do under certain circumstances, to learn what would frighten them away or what would lure them on. So at least the large animals were to early man a constant cause of fear and source of danger; yet it was necessary to have their flesh for food and their skins for clothing.28
Very soon various ingenious contrivances were devised for trapping them. No doubt one primitive method was the use of decoys to lure animals into a trap. Some could be lured by baits, others more easily by their kind. Occasionally masks were used,29 and similarly, another form of the original decoy was no doubt simply the stuffed skin of a member of the species, whether animal or bird, say for example a wild duck.30 Of course the hunter would soon hit on the plan of himself putting on the animal skin, in the case of larger animals; that is, an individual dressed for example in a wolf’s skin could approach near enough to a solitary wolf to attack it with his club, stone or other weapon, without exciting the wolf’s suspicion of the nearness of a dangerous foe.31 So the animal disguise, entire or partial, was used by early man acting in the capacity of a decoy, firstly, to secure food and clothing. Secondly, he would assume animal disguise, whole or partial, in dancing and singing; and both these accomplishments seem to have arisen from the imitation of the motions and cries of animals,32 at first to lure them, when acting as a decoy. With growth of culture came growth of supernaturalism, and an additional reason for acquiring dance and song was to secure charms against bodily ills,33 and finally enlivenment.34 In both dance and song, when used for a serious purpose, the performers imagined themselves to be the animals they were imitating,35 and in the dance they wore the skins of the animals represented.36
Probably as long as animal form, partial or entire, was assumed merely for decoys and sport (early dancing),37 for peaceful purposes therefore, such people having whole or partial animal shape were not regarded as harmful to man,38 just as wise women began to pass for witches only when with their art they did evil.39 A similar development can be traced in the case of masks.40 It was some time before man could cope with food- and clothing-furnishing animals that were dangerous to life, though these are the ones he first studied;41 and we cannot presuppose that he disguised to represent them until he could cope with them, since the original purpose of the disguise was to secure food and clothing. Thus far then we see whole or partial disguise as animals used to secure food and clothing when acting as decoys to lure animals; and in dancing.42
Fourthly, primitive man would put on an animal’s skin or dress when out as forager (or robber) or spy, for the purpose of avoiding detection by the enemy. The Pawnee Indians for example,43 were called by neighboring tribes wolves, probably not out of contempt, since it may be doubted that an Indian feels contempt for a wolf any more than he does for a fox, a rabbit, or an elk, but because of their adroitness as scouts, warriors and stealers of horses; or, as the Pawnees think, because of their great endurance, their skill in imitating wolves so as to escape detection by the enemy by day or night; or, according to some neighboring tribes, because they prowl like wolves44, “have the endurance of wolves, can travel all day and dance all night, can make long journeys, living on the carcasses they find on their way, or on no food at all.” ... And further, “The Pawnees, when they went on the warpath, were always prepared to simulate wolves.... Wolves on the prairie were too common45 to excite remark, and at night they would approach close to the Indian camps.” ... The Pawnee starting off on the warpath usually carried a robe made of wolf skins, or in later times a white blanket or a white sheet; and, at night, wrapping himself in this, and getting down on his hands and knees, he walked or trotted here and there like a wolf, having thus transformed himself into a common object of the landscape. This disguise was employed by day as well, for reconnoissance.... While the party remained hidden in some ravine or hollow, one Indian would put his robe over him and gallop to the top of the hill on all fours, and would sit there on his haunches looking all over the country, and anyone at a distance who saw him, would take him for a wolf. It was acknowledged on all hands that the Pawnees could imitate wolves best. “An Indian going into an enemy’s country is often called a wolf,46 and the sign for a scout is made up of the signs wolf and look.”47 Should any scout detect danger, as at night when on duty near an encampment, he must give the cry of the coyote.48
The idea of the harmfulness to other men of a man in animal form or dress became deeply seated now, when men in animal disguise began to act not only as decoys for animals dangerous to life, but also as scouts (robbers49—and later as possessors of supernatural power, when growth of culture brought with it growth of supernaturalism50); when people began to associate, for example, the wolf’s form with a lurking enemy.51
All uncivilized tribes of the world are continually on the defensive, like our American Indian; they all no doubt on occasion have sent out scouts who, like our American Indians, to avoid detection, assumed the disguise of the animal most common to the special locality in question, just as to-day they are known to disguise in animal skins for purposes of plunder or revenge.52 53
The kind of animal makes no difference, the underlying principle is the same; namely, the transformation of a living human being into an animal. The origin of the belief in such a transformation, as stated above54 was the simple putting on of an animal skin by early man. The object of putting on animal skins was,
(2) To secure clothing in cold climes by trapping or decoying animals, as in (1) above.
(3) The imitation when decoying, of the motions of animals led to dancing, and in the dances and various ceremonies the faces and bodies of the participants were painted in imitation of the colors of birds and animals, the motions of animals imitated and animal disguises used.58
(4) Scouts disguised themselves as animals when out foraging, as well as for warfare,59 60 therefore for booty, and self-defense. Either they wore the entire skin, or probably later just a part of it as a fetich, like the left hind foot of a rabbit, worn as a charm by many of our colored people to-day.61
(7) Witchcraft.66 It is very easy to see why it was usually
 the so-called medicine-men (more correctly Shamans), who claimed such transformation power, because they received remuneration from their patients.67
We have discussed (1), (2), and (3);70 for an example under (4) we have cited the practices of American Indians.71 It is probable that about now (at the stage indicated in (4) above), what is known as the real werewolf superstition (that of a frenzied, rabid manwolf) began to fully develop. The man in wolf-skin was already a lurking thief or enemy, or a destroyer of human life. To advance from this stage to the werewolf frenzy, our primitive man must have seen about him some exhibition of such a frenzy, and some reason for connecting this frenzy particularly with, say the wolf. He did see insane persons, and the connecting link would be the crazy or mad wolf (or dog, as the transformation was usually into a wolf or dog,72) for persons bitten by it usually went mad too.73 The ensuing frenzy, with the consternation it occasioned, soon appealed to certain primitive minds as a good means of terrorizing others. Of these mad ones some no doubt actually had the malady; others honestly believed they had it and got into a frenzy accordingly; others purposely worked themselves up into a frenzy in order to impose on the uninitiated.74 Later, in the Middle Ages, when the nature of the real disease came to be better understood, the werewolf superstition had become too firmly fixed to be easily uprooted.
We have discussed (5), (6), (7), and (8) in the notes.75 As further examples of the development into fabulous story,76 we may cite any of those stories in which the wild werewolf, or animal-man is represented as roaming the land, howling, robbing, and tearing to pieces men and beasts, until he resumes his human form. Thus an early scout in animal garb would be obliged to live on food he found on his way, and later fabulous report would represent him as himself when in disguise possessing the attributes of the animal he represented, and tearing to pieces man and beast. For such an account see Andree,77 concerning what eyewitnesses reported of the wild reveling over corpses of the hyena-men of Africa. Naturally the uninitiated savage who witnessed such a sight would become insane, or at least would spread abroad such a report as would enhance the influence of the hyena-men far and wide. Some savages, as in Africa,78 came to regard any animal that robbed them of children, goats or other animals, as a witch in animal form;79 just as the American Indians ascribe to evil spirits death, sickness and other misfortunes.
We can see how at first the man in animal disguise or an animal robe would go quietly to work, like the Pawnee scout;80 how though, as soon as the element of magic enters in, he would try to keep up the illusion. At this stage, when the original defensive measure had become tainted with superstition, men would go about in the night time howling and holding their vile revels.81 Andree,82 narrates how a soldier in Northeast Africa shot at a hyena, followed the traces of blood and came to the straw hut of a man who was widely famed as a magician. No hyena was to be seen, only the man himself with a fresh wound. Soon he died, however the soldier did not survive him long. Doubtless one of the magician class was responsible for the death of the soldier, just as we to-day put to death the man who so violates our laws, as to become a menace to our society, or as formerly kings killed those who stood in their way; or as religious sects murder those who dissent from their faith. These magicians, supposed to be men who could assume animal form, as a matter of fact do often form a class, are greatly feared by other natives, often dwell with their disciples in caves and at night come forth to plunder and kill.83 It is to their interest to counterfeit well, for if suspected of being malevolent, they were put to death or outlawed, like criminals to-day.84 Their frenzies were, as said above, in some cases genuine delusions; in other cases they offered, as one may readily imagine, excellent opportunities for personal gain or vengeance.85
Only by instilling in their fellows a firm belief in this superstition and maintaining the sham, could the perpetrators of the outrages hope to escape punishment for their depredations, could they hope to plunder and steal with impunity.86 So they prowled usually under the cloak of night or of the dark of the forest,87 howled and acted like the animals they represented, hid the animal skin or blanket, if they used one,88 in the daytime where they thought no one could find it, whereas the animal skin which was worn for defence, was put on either by day or night,89 and one story recounts the swallowing of a whole goat, the man bellowing fearfully like a tiger while he did it.90 Some of the transformed men claimed they could regain human form only by means of a certain medicine or by rubbing. The imposters were the criminal class of society that is still with us to-day,91 no longer in werewolf form, but after all wolves in human dress, each maintaining his trade by deception and countless artifices, just as did the werewolf of old. Not unlike these shams are those of the American negro, who in church, when “shouting,” that is, when stirred up by religious fervor, inflicts blows on his enemy who happens to be in the church, of course with impunity; for he is supposed to be under some outside control, and when the spell has passed off, like some of the delusionists mentioned,92 claims not to know what he (or generally she) has done. Similar also are the negro voudoo ceremonies, those of the fire-eaters, or any other sham.
The wolf disguise, or transformation into a werewolf was that most often assumed for example in Germanic lands.93 The term wolf became synonymous with robber, and later (when the robber became an outlaw,94) with outlaw, the robber and outlaw alike being called wolf and not some other animal (i. e., only the wolf-man surviving to any extent) firstly, because the wolf was plentiful; and secondly, because as civilization advanced, there came a time when the wolf was practically the only one of the larger undomesticated animals that survived.95 We can notice this in our own United States, for example in eastern Kansas, where at night coyotes and even wolves are sometimes heard howling out on the prairie near woodlands, or in the pastures adjoining farms, where they not infrequently kill smaller animals, and dig up buried ones.96 In Prussia also it is the wolf that survives to-day. American Indians, and other savages however do not restrict the transformations to the wolf,97 because other wild animals, are, or were till recently, abundant amongst them. As civilization advances, one by one the animal myths disappear with the animals that gave rise to them (like that connected with the mastodon);98 or else stories of such domestic animals as the pig, white bull, dog superseded them.99 When this stage was reached, as time went on and means of successfully coping with the brute creation became perfected, the animals were shorn of many of their terrors, and finally such stories as Aesop’s fables would arise.100 This however was psychologically a long step in advance of our were-wolf believing peoples of an earlier period.
Up to this point the illustrations have shown that the werewolf superstition went through various stages of development. The motives for assuming wolf’s dress (or animal skins or robes), at first were purely peaceful, for protection against cold, and to secure food by acting as decoys; then it was used for personal advantage or gain by foragers (or robbers) and spies; then for purposes of vengeance;101 later from a desire for power over others; and finally men (the professional and the superstitious) began to concoct fabulous stories which were handed down as tradition or myth, according to the psychic level of the narrator and hearer.102
The starting point of the whole superstition of the harmful werewolf is the disguising as some common animal by members of savage races when abroad as foragers or scouts, in order to escape detection by the enemy. Like wolves they roamed the land in search of food. As stated above,103 later fabulous report would represent them as possessing in their disguise the attributes of the animal they impersonated,104 and finally even of actually taking on animal form, either wholly or in part,105 for longer or shorter periods of time. Some of the North American Indian transformation stories represent men as having only the head, hands and feet of a wolf.106 The transformation into a werewolf in Germanic lands is caused merely by a shirt or girdle made of wolf-skin.107 This shirt or girdle of wolf-skin of the Germanic werewolf is the survival of the robe or mantle originally disguising the entire body. It would be but a step further to represent a person as rendering himself invisible by putting on any other article of apparel, such as the Tarnkappe.108 The stories especially in Europe were of the were-wolf rather than were-bear or other animal, because the wolf was the commonest of the larger wild animals.109 It was the stories of the commonest animal, the wolf, which crystallized into the household werewolf or transformation tales.110
1 Note.—After the author had written the following article, she gathered most of the material contained in the notes. That the origin and development of the use of masks as given in the Annual Report of the United States Bureau of Ethnology, 1881-82, p. 73 fol. (see note 32) is similar to the origin and development of the werewolf superstition itself, as given in the following pages, was an unexpected coincidence. The author has italicized some words in the quotations.
2 According to Mogk, in Paul’s Grundriss der germanischen Philologie III. 272 wer means “man,” found in Old Saxon, Anglo-Saxon, Old High German, and werewolf a man in wolf’s form. Kögel connects wer with Gothic wasjan “kleiden.” “Darum bedeutet werwolf eigentlich Wolfsgewand úlfshamr; ähnlich bedeutet vielleicht berserkr Bärengewand,” therefore werewolf according to Kögel means a wolf’s dress. See also Schrader, Reallexikon der indogermanischen Altertumskunde.
5 Reise um die erde durch Nordasien, Berlin, 1833, I. 232.
6 Herodotus says of the Neurians, that among Scythians and Greeks settled in Scythia they pass for magicians, because once a year every Neurian becomes a wolf for a few days, and then resumes the human form. See concerning this also Hirt, Die Indogermanen, I. 120.
7 Encyclopaedia Britannica, XXIII. 467 fol.
9 See also Mogk in Paul’s Grundriss, III. 272. Dr. Rud. Leubuscher: Über die Wehrwölfe und Thierverwandlungen im Mittelalter, Berlin, 1850, mentions cases in ancient Arcadia, in Arabia, Abyssinia (hyenas), and the almost epidemic disease in the Middle Ages. Dr. W. Hertz, Der Werwolf, Stuttgart, 1862, ascribes the superstition to Armenia, Egypt, Abyssinia (hyenas), Greece (pages 20-28), but not to India, contrary to Encyc. Brit. below; on p. 133 he says: “Tierverwandlungen sind allgemein menschlich, finden wir überall. Die eigentümliche Entwicklung der Werwolfsagen aber finden wir vorzugsweise bei einer bestimmten Völkergruppe, den arischen Stämmen der Griechen, Römer, Kelten, Germanen und Slaven; bei den südwärts gezogenen Stämmen der Inder und Iranier sind uns gleiche Sagen nicht begegnet [but see below]. Am massenhaftesten treten die Werwölfe bei den Slaven auf, und ihnen gehört die älteste historische Erwähnung der Sage; viel älter aber ist der Lykaon Mythus und arkadische Werwölfe”. According to Andree, Ethnographische Parallelen und Vergleiche, Stuttgart, 1878, ss. 62-80, the superstition is found in every European country (amongst Anglo-Saxons, English, French, Bretons, Poles, Tschechs, Lithuanians, White Russians of Poland, inhabitants of island Oesel, Russians, Italians, Portuguese, Provencal peoples, Greeks, Kelts, in Asia, Africa, America; but not in India nor Persia, contrary to Encyc. Brit. below), especially though in northwestern Germany and in Slavic lands.
As to the American Indians, see Ethnological Report for 1880-81, p. 83, “From their close relations with wild animals Indians’ stories of transformations into beasts and beasts into men are numerous and interesting.... In times of peace, during the long winter evenings, some famous storyteller told of those days in the past when men and animals could transform themselves at will and hold converse with one another.”
Jacob Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, Bell & Sons, 1883, II. 668 says no metamorphosis occurs more frequently in Germanic antiquities than that of men into werewolves. Thus Fenrisûlfr, a son of Loki, makes his appearance in wolf’s shape among the gods.
Encyc. Brit. XV. 89 fol., under the heading Lycanthropy, states:—A belief firmly rooted among all savages is that men are in certain circumstances transformed temporarily or permanently into wolves and other inferior animals. In Europe the transformation into a wolf is by far more prominent and frequent (amongst Greeks, Russians, English, Germans, French, Scandinavians). Belief in metamorphosis into the animal most prominent in any locality itself acquires a special prominence. Thus the were-wolf prevails in Europe, also in England, Wales, Ireland; and in S. France, the Netherlands, Germany, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Servia, Bohemia, Poland, Russia, he can hardly be pronounced extinct now (see note 12). In Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland the bear competes with the wolf for pre-eminence. In Persia the bear is supreme; in Japan the fox; in India the serpent vies with the tiger (contrary to Mogk in Paul’s Grd., III. 272, who says:—“Nur Griechen, Römer, Kelten, Germanen, Slaven unter den indogermanischen Völkern kennen den Werwolf, den Indern und Iraniern ist er unbekannt.” Compare notes 6 and 9, Hertz, p. 133); in Abyssinia and Borneo the hyena with the lion; in E. Africa the lion with the alligator; in W. Africa the leopard is perhaps most frequently the form assumed by man; among the Abipones the tiger, among the Arawaks the jaguar, etc.
In Brockhaus’ Konversations-Lexikon, for the Middle Ages the werewolf belief is ascribed to all Slavic, Keltic, Germanic and Romanic peoples; found to-day especially in Volhynia and White Russia.
Paul, Grundriss, III. 272:—Bei den Angelsachsen lässt sich der Werwolf im 11. Jahrh. nachweisen: Knut befahl den Priestern, ihre Herden vor dem werewulf zu schirmen.... Das älteste Zeugnis auf deutschem Gebiete vom Werwolf ist vom Burchard v. Worms (11 century).
11 Encyc. Brit. XV. 89 fol.:—There can nowhere be a living belief in contemporary metamorphosis into any animal which has ceased to exist in the particular locality. Belief in metamorphosis into the animal most prominent in any locality itself acquires a special prominence. (See note 12.) In none of these cases however is the power of transformation limited exclusively to the prominent and dominant animal.
12 Encyc. Brit. XXIV. 628 fol. under Wolf:—The wolf is found in nearly the whole of Europe and Asia, North America from Greenland to Mexico, the Indian peninsula, but not in Ceylon, Burmah or Siam; and not in South America or Africa, in the two latter jackals instead.
Meyer’s Kleines konversations-lexikon:—Der wolf “ist häufig in Ost- und Nordeuropa, Mittel- und Nordasien, Nordamerika, seltener in Frankreich und Belgien, den Herden gefährlich, besonders in Russland.” Encyc. Brit., XXIV under Wolf:—In northern countries the wolf is generally larger and more powerful than in the southern portion of its range. Its habits are similar everywhere. It has from time immemorial been known to man in all the countries it inhabits as the devastator of his flocks of sheep. It has speed and remarkable endurance. They usually assemble in troops or packs, except in summer, and by their combined and persevering efforts are able to overpower and kill even such great animals as the American bison. Children and even grown people are not infrequently attacked by them when pressed for hunger. The ferocity of the wolf in the wild state is proverbial. Even when tamed, they can rarely be trusted by strangers.
13 Paul, Grundriss, III. 272.
14 Gustav Freytag, Bilder aus neuer zeit, Leipzig, 1904, p. 275 fol., speaking of the Polish borderlands, says: “Noch lebte das Landvolk in ohnmächtigem Kampf mit den Heerden der Wölfe, wenig Dörfer, welchen nicht in jedem Winter Menschen und Thiere decimirt wurden,” and in the same note 2, pp. 275-6:—“Als 1815 die gegenwärtige Provinz Posen an Preussen zurückfiel, waren auch dort die Wölfe eine Landplage. Nach Angaben der Posener Provinzialblätter wurden im Regierungsbezirk Posen vom 1. Sept. 1815 his Ende Februar 1816, 41 Wölfe erlegt, noch im Jahre 1819 im Kreise Wongrowitz 16 Kinder und 3 Erwachsene von Wölfen gefressen.”
15 Thus in note 6 was mentioned Herodotus’ (484-425 B. C.) statement about the Neurians. The oldest werewolf legend, according to Hertz, is that of Lykaon, the son of Pelasgos, the first king of ancient Arcadia. These Arcadians lived as huntsmen and shepherds. According to J. Oppert (Andree, p. 65; and notes 6 and 9) the werewolf superstition existed amongst the Assyrians; and Andree states, the oldest Hellenic werewolf myth is found in Pausanias (died 467 B. C). In the Norse “Edda” we find Odin’s wolves, also Sköll, Hati and Fenrir. In the Völsunga Saga, Sigmund and Sinfjötli become wolves. For other reflections of the fear in which wolves were held, see the 10th century ms. of the “Wiener Hundesegen” against male and female wolves (Braune, Althochdeutsches Lesebuch, 6. aufl. 1907, p. 85). Jacob Grimm,—Geschichte der deutschen sprache s. 233:—“Unsere thierfabel stellt vortrefflich das gebannte raubthier des waldes dar, und lehrt die nähe des wolfs und fuchses.”
C. Lemcke, Aesthetik, 6. aufl. II. 1890, s. 562:—“In die ältesten Zeiten hinauf reicht auch bei Jägervölkern die Tiersage, in ihrer Weise zum Teil die Eigentümlichkeiten der Tiere erklärend, ihr Gebahren erzählend. Die furchtbaren und die listigen Tiere boten sich am besten dar.... Wo die Menschen städtisch beisammen wohnen, bleibt Tier Tier; wo sie einsamer mit Tieren leben, bekommen diese eine höhere Bedeutung. So wird dem Wäldler Bär und Wolf zum ebenbürtigen Räuber und Kämpfer, menschlicher aufgefasst zum Gegner voll Mut, List, Rachsucht, der Gedanken hat wie der Mensch selbst.”
16 Volhynia, Europe, Northern Asia. Formerly, according to Andree, p. 65, the wolf was as common throughout Europe as it is to-day in Russia. Hirt, Die Indogermanen, I. 187, says: “Der Wolf ist überall in Europa verbreitet gewesen, der Bär ist aber ganz sicher ein Waldtier.”
19 Leubuscher, p. 1:—Weil die Verwandlung vorzugsweise in Hunde und Wölfe geschehen sollte, so erhielt die Krankheit den namen Lykanthropie.
20 Or as Mogk in Paul’s Grd., III. 272 expresses it, for example amongst the West Indogermanic peoples when they still formed a whole, as shepherds, by whom the wolf as robber of herds was especially feared. Leubuscher, p. 55 writes: “Die meisten Lykanthropen waren Hirten, die im Freien lebten, mit Tieren viel verkehrten, und der Wolf schwebte ihrer Einbildungskraft am öftersten vor, weil sie am meisten damit zu kämpfen hatten. Wenn das Gespenst des Wehrwolfes sich in Einzelnen als Krankheit erhob, war die Gegend wahrscheinlich von Wölfen besonders beunruhigt worden, und wahrscheinlich manche Mordthat nur von Wölfen begangen.” Ethn. Rep. 1888-89, p. 282:—“The Dakotas have long believed in the appearance from time to time of a monstrous animal that swallows human beings. The superstition was perhaps suggested by the bones of mastodons, often found in the territory of those Indians.”
21 Ethn. Rep. 1893-94, p. 267:—In celebrations it is possible that the foxskin so universally worn by the animistic personifications is a survival comparable with the skin of the animal in which formerly the whole body was clothed.
22 Hertz, p. 17, gives the origin as follows: “In der ältesten Naturreligion ist die Gottheit des Todes und der winterlichen Erde als Wolf gedacht. Ihre Priester trugen wohl in der Vorzeit Wolfsfelle und hatten nach dem Volksglauben die Gabe, sich in das Tier der Gottheit zu verwandeln. Der Wolf, als das schnelle, kampfgewandte Tier, war zum raschen Zurücklegen weiter Wege und zur Erlegung von Feinden besonders geeignet. Darum nahmen die Götter und die zauberbegabten Menschen zu solchen Zwecken Wolfsgestalt. Der Wolf ist von Natur gefährlich und wurde darum als diabolisch gedacht, und beim Werwolfe auch ist Drang nach Mord und Zerstörung die Hauptsache. Die Ursprünge des Werwolfglaubens waren also 1. religiöse Vorstellungen, 2. Rechtsvorstellung (der friedlose Mörder ist ein Wolf bei Griechen und Germanen); 3. die Geisteskrankheit der Lykanthropie.” Page 51. “Die Verwandlung in Wölfe geschieht vorzugsweise durch Wolfshemden.” Page 57: “Dass die von allem menschlichen Verkehr abgeschnittenen Waldflüchtigen sich in Tierfelle kleideten, ist nahe liegend.”
24 Similarly Dilthey, Erlebnis und Dichtung, 1906, p. 153 fol.;—“Ist so die Einbildungskraft in Mythos und Götterglauben, zunächst gebunden an das Bedürfnis des Lebens, so sondert sie sich doch allmählich im Verlauf der Kultur von den religiösen Zweckbeziehungen und erhebt jene zweite Welt zu einer unabhängigen Bedeutsamkeit”—like Homer, Dante, etc. See note 20, close, and Encyc. Brit., Lycanthropy:—“Insane delusions must reflect the usages and beliefs of contemporaneous society.”
27 Grinnell, Story of the indian, p. 54, says:—Traces of the fear in which buffalo “were held may still be discovered in the traditional stories of certain tribes, which set forth how, in those days,” [i. e. in the stone age] “before men were provided with arms, the buffalo used to chase, kill, and eat the people. Such tales show very clearly how greatly the buffalo were dreaded in ancient times, and such fear could hardly have arisen save as the result of actual experience of their power to inflict injury and death.” Pliny informs us how the Romans kept the wolf out of their fields, see Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, III. 1241. Whether the Indians lived on the steppes, in the woods, on the coast, or in the mountains, the animals were their whole study. They moved with the animals, followed them for food.
29 Ethn. Rep. 1881-82, p. 122, note:—It seems that masks were occasionally used as decoys.... Next to the otter the most valuable animal in the estimation of the Kadiak men, is the species of seal or sea-dog called by the Russians nerpa. The easiest manner of taking it is to entice it toward the shore. A fisherman, concealing the lower part of his body among the rocks, puts on his head a wooden cap or rather casque resembling the head of a seal and makes a noise like that animal. The unsuspicious seal, imagining that he is about to meet a partner of his own species, hastens to the spot and is instantly killed. Compare note 57.
30 Ethn. Rep. 1896-97, I. 132:—Bering Strait Eskimo stuff rudely the skin of the bird called ptarmigan, and mount it upon a stick which holds the head outstretched, then imitate the call of the bird, which is trapped in the net attached to the decoy. Other decoys are made by molding soft snow into the form of a bird; for the ptarmigan, brown moss is put around the neck for plumage. The call then brought the real birds.
31 Thus G. B. Grinnell, Story of the Indian, p. 61, in his description of the primitive Indians’ method of trapping buffalo, says: “Some men went forth naked, others carried a dress made of the entire skin of a buffalo, the head and horns arranged like a buffalo head, while the rest of the skin hung down over the wearer’s back,” etc. This “caller” went near to a herd of buffalo, got them in pursuit of him, then led them into the trap, a chute, or to a precipice, the fall from which often proved fatal to the entire herd. Again, in Ethn. Rep. 1884-85, p. 484, about Central Eskimo seal hunting, is stated: If a hunter is close to an animal he imitates its movements. Some utter sounds similar to those of a blowing seal. “The sealskin clothing makes man and seal look so extremely alike that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other at some distance.” And on p. 508, about deer hunting: In a plain the Central Eskimos carry guns on their shoulders, two men going together, so as to resemble the antlers of a deer. The men imitate their grunting. If they lie on the ground at some distance they greatly resemble the animals themselves. According to Ross the “inhabitants of Boothia imitate the appearance of the deer, the foremost of two men stalking a herd bearing a deer’s head upon his own.” Ethn. Rep. 1888-89, p. 534:—“The old manner of hunting antelope and deer: the hunter would disguise himself by covering his head with the head and skin of an antelope, and so be enabled to approach the game near enough to use his bow and arrow. In a similar manner the Hidatsa would mask themselves with a wolfskin to enable them to approach buffalo.” Ethn. Rep. 1901-02, p. 439;—Two of the party of hunters (Zuñi) out after deer “wear cotton shirts with sleeves to the elbow, the front and back of the shirt being painted to represent as nearly as possible the body of the deer; the hands and the arms to the elbow and also the sleeves are colored to represent the deer’s forelegs. Each wears the skin of a deer’s head over his head.... In this dress the two huntsmen imitate as closely as possible, even to the browsing, the game they would catch.”
32 Ethn. Rep. 1897-98, I. 352:—“Tradition says the Iroquois derived the music and action of the Buffalo dance while on an expedition against the Cherokee, from the bellowing and the movements of a herd of buffalo which they heard for the first time ‘singing their favorite songs,’ i. e. bellowing and snorting.” Also note 33.
33 Ethn. Rep. 1897-98, I. 266, gives a song to prevent frostbite. The wolf’s, deer’s, fox’s, opossum’s feet it is held never become frostbitten. After each verse of the song, the singer imitates the cry and the action of the animal. The words used are archaic in form and may be rendered “I become a real wolf, etc.” The song runs:
1. Tsûñ´ wa´ ‘ya-ya´ (repeated four times), wa+a! (prolonged howl). The singer imitates a wolf pawing the ground with his feet.
2. Tsûñ´-ka´ wi-ye´ (four times), sauh! sauh! sauh! sauh! (imitating the call and jumping of a deer).
3. Tsûñ´-tsu´ ‘la-ya´ (four times), gaih! gaih! gaih! gaih! (imitates barking and scratching of a fox).
4. Tsûñ´-sĭ´-kwa-ya´ (four times), kĭ+(imitates cry of the opossum when cornered, and throws his head back as that animal does when feigning death).
34 Ethn. Rep. 1881-82, p. 323, about the Omaha Coyote dance performed by warriors whenever it was thought necessary to keep up their spirits, in which each had his robe about him and imitated the actions of the coyote, trotting, glancing around, etc. Page 348 describes the Omaha Buffalo dance, in which each of four men used to put the skin of a buffalo over his head, the horns standing up, and the hair of the buffalo head hanging down below the chest of the wearer. The various movements of the buffalo were imitated by the dancers. Pages 348-349, the Omaha wolf dance, by the society of those who have supernatural communication with wolves. The dancers wear wolfskins, and dance in imitation of the actions of wolves. Similarly they performed the grizzly bear dance, horse dance, etc.
37 Similarly in the use of masks (see note 57). See Wundt, Völkerpsychologie II. i. 412 fol., and in regard to this Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie, XXXVIII. 1906, ss. 558-568:—“Der maskierte mensch ist der ekstatische Mensch. Mit dem anlegen der maske versetzt er sich in ekstase, fühlt er sich in fremde lebensvorgänge ein, eignet er sich das wesen an, mit dem er sich durch die maske identificiert.” Für den naiven menschen, wie für das kind, ist die maske durchaus nicht blosser schein, sondern wirkender charakter. Der augenblickstanz wurde zum zaubertanz. Die naturvölker verwenden ihre masken nur bei den feierlich-ernsten zaubertänzen, nicht zu ihrer burlesken mimik; die tänzer sind in Tiermasken, etc.
38 Amongst American Indians for example a man transformed into a bear and vice versa is usually regarded as benevolent (Ethn. Rep. 1880-81, p. 83). See, also, Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, III. 1097:—In Norse accounts also we find transformation into a bear, for the bear was regarded as rational and was esteemed.
42 The important consideration in the mind of primitive man was whether certain things were harmful or useful. See Behaghel, Die deutsche Sprache, p. 98:—“Die grossen Tiere und die mächtigen Bäume, die Tiere und Pflanzen, die für die Ernährung and Bekleidung des Menschen von Bedeutung sind, die Tiere, die sein Leben bedrohen, sie haben viel früher sprachliche Bezeichnung gefunden, als der unscheinbare Käfer im Sande, als die kleine Blume des Waldes. So kommt es, dass die Namen der grösseren Tiere, der grossen Waldbäume, der wichtigsten Getreidearten allen germanischer Stämmen gemeinsam sind, einzelne sogar, wie Wolf, Kuh, Ochse, Birke, Buche, Erle, Gerste mit den Benennungen anderer indogermanischer Völker übereinstimmen.” Doubtless animals occupied their attention sooner than plants. See Wundt, Völkerpsychologie, II. 412 fol., about the maskentanz: “Überhaupt haben die Tiermotive weit früher Berücksichtigung erfahren als die Pflanzenmotive.” See note 95.
43 G. B. Grinnell, Pawnee hero stories and folk-tales, N. Y., Scribners, 1893, p. 245, fol.
44 Jacob Grimm, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, s. 233: Ein sabinischer stamm hiesz Hirpi (lat. hirpus bedeutet wolf in sabinischer oskischer Mundart), weil den einwandernden ein wolf führer geworden war, oder nach andrer sage sie wölfe gejagt hatten und gleich wölfen raubten, d. h. im sinn des deutschen ausdrucks friedlos waren.
45 The werewolf story could arise only where the animal, wolf, tiger or lion, etc., was common; and likewise the werewolf tales gradually died out when the animals became rare or extinct. See note 11.
46 Grinnell, p. 245.
47 The Watusi of East Africa distinctly describe all wild beasts save their own totem-animals as enemy-scouts (Encyc. Brit. under Lycanthropy).
48 Ethn. Rep. 1881-82, p. 323. See also Grinnell, Story of the indian, p. 208: The wolf was believed, in the animals’ council, to be able to give the Indian the power to creep right into the midst of the enemy’s camp without being seen.
51 So originally the germanic god Logi was not an evil god. Logi meant the natural force of fire; Loki meant the same, but the burly giant has been made a sly, seducing villain (Grimm, Teut. Myth. I. 241). A son of Loki, Fenrisûlfr, appears in wolf’s shape among the gods. Perhaps association with the wolf is in part responsible for the transformation of Logi (Loki) from a good to an evil god.
52 Encyc. Brit. under Lycanthropy:—In modern savage life we find beastform of chiefs or spirits, medicine men, some hunt in beast form for the community; others are said to assume beast form in order to avenge themselves justly on enemies; others for love of bloodshed and cannibalism. See also note 58.
53 No doubt some of these men disguised as wolves won considerable fame through their skill and bravery, as we should judge from such proper names as Rudolf, which means really Ruhmwolf, Ruhm related to Gothic hropeigs “victorious,” Sanskrit kir “to praise”; or Adolf from Adalolf, which means Edelwolf, originally, therefore, Edelräuber, for wolf meant originally about the same as robber (Kluge). So robber or wolf was originally a highly respectable appellation, at a time when men lived from robbery and the chase, either as searobbers, or mountain robbers, etc. (about this early profession see Hirt, Die Indogermanen, 1905, p. 268 fol.), and the profession was not looked on as a disgrace (see appellation “wolves” applied to Pawnees, p. 12.). Later we find such names as Wulfila “little wolf.” Many Indian names are those of animals, such as Good Fox, Good Bear, Walking Bear, Conquering Bear, Rushing Bear, Stumbling Bear, Brave Bear, Bear Rib, Smoking Bear, Biting Bear, Bear-Looks-Back, Cloud Bear, Mad Bear, Mad Wolf, Lone Wolf, Lean Wolf, Wolf-Ear, Wolf-Robe, etc. See Ethn. Rep. 1882-83, p. 169: The names of Indians very often refer to some animal, predicating some attribute or position of that animal. For discussion of names, see note 111.
57 See note 4 and also Ethn. Rep. 1881-82, p. 73 fol. (see note 37):—The use of masks is worldwide. The origin and development of the use of masks is very much the same as the origin and development of the werewolf as given in the preceding pages. The wolfrobe and the mask, both originally useful devices, degenerated in unscrupulous hands into instruments for personal aggrandizement and gain. The use of the mask is described in the above report as follows:
a). It was used as a shield or protection for the face, for defense against physical violence, human or otherwise. It was therefore first used merely as a mechanical resistance to the opposing force; then secondly, still in the lowest grade of culture, it was used to inspire terror, to gain a moral influence over the opposing agent by hideousness or by symbolizing superhuman agencies. Now individual variations arose—devices for example derived or conventionalized from some predatory, shrewd or mysterious animal.
b). With growth of culture came growth of supernaturalism, and the mask came to be used in religious performances, as a part of the religious paraphernalia, like the shirts or girdles of the shamans. Ethn. Rep. 1896-97, I. 395:—“When worn in any ceremonial, ... the wearer is believed to become mysteriously and unconsciously imbued with the spirit of the being which his mask represents.”
c). Finally the element of humor enters in, and the mask is used for public amusements and games; by secret societies; as protection against recognition on festive occasions, etc., like the animal skins worn in dances.
60 Ethn. Rep. 1888-89, p. 503:—Account of “a cloak or mantle made from the skin of a deer, and covered with various mystic paintings. It was made and used by the Apaches as a mantle of invisibility, that is, a charmed covering for spies which would enable them to pass with impunity through the country, and even through the camp of their enemies. In this instance the fetichistic power depends upon the devices drawn.” The Apache have a similar fetich or charm. The symbols drawn were the raincloud, serpent lightning, raindrops and the cross of the winds of the four cardinal points. Ethn. Rep. 1889-90, p. 515:—Among the Hidatsa (Sioux) fetiches are especially the skins of the wolf. “When they go to war, they always wear the stripe off the back of a wolf skin, with the tail hanging down the shoulders. They make a slit in the skin through which the warrior puts his head, so that the skin of the wolf’s head hangs down upon his breast.” Finally the magic robes or shirts and girdles came to be a part of the regular paraphernalia of the shamans, or practisers of magic. In the folklore of all countries we find numerous notices of holy girdles.
Ethn. Rep. 1897-98, I. (Cherokee) 393: “Some warriors had medicine to change their shape as they pleased, so that they could escape from their enemies.” Page 501: Such stories might be paralleled in any tribe.
63 As an example of the motive of vengeance, or pure brutality, we cite from Andree, p. 69:—People in the interior of Africa who understand magic, transform themselves into lions and go about killing people. See also below, note 65, where the wolf-man of Abyssinia kills his enemy and sucks his blood, and also kills other wolf-men it meets, the question being one of the survival of the fittest, that is the strongest. All this takes place at night, which reminds us of our Pawnee Indian starting out at night in his wolf’s robe, and trotting up to the hostile village to ascertain where his enemies’ horses are tied, so as to steal them when all are asleep (Grinnell’s Pawnee hero stories and folk-tales, p. 246, and pp. 70-73). Ethn. Rep. 1887-88, p. 461:—“To recover stolen or lost property, especially ponies, is one of the principal tasks imposed upon the so-called medicine-men” (shamans).
64 As superstition waxed strong, no doubt the wolf robe was put on not merely to make the wearer look just like a common object of the landscape, but also because the wearer of the disguise was supposed to take on the characteristics of the animal he represented (swiftness, boldness, etc.), as in the case of masks (see note 57), and finally the wearer of such a robe was believed to actually become transformed, like the wearers of the werewolf shirt, for example in Germany. Wolves were regarded as good hunters who never fail, Ethn. Rep. 1897-98, I. 280, also p. 264:—The wolf is revered by the Cherokee as hunter and watchdog of Kanáti; therefore we can understand how the wolf disguise, as conferring the quality of unerring huntsmanship, might be in especial favor amongst those who gained their food from the chase. Similarly the singing of songs imitating the cries of certain animals was supposed to confer a characteristic of the animal in question (see note 33).
Ethn. Rep. 1901-02, p. 394:—To gain animal characteristics a wizard attached crow and owl plumes to his head that he might have the eyes of the crow to see quickly the approach of man, and the eyes of the owl to travel by night. He flapped his arms, ... A Zuñi man hearing a cry like an owl, yet human, looked about him and found a man whom he recognized as a Zuñi. “Aha!” said he, “why have you those plumes upon your head? Aha, you are a sorcerer,” etc.
An example of the transforming power of the robe we find in Bulletin 26, of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, 1901, Kathlamet texts, p. 156 fol.:—A woman ate of some of the fat of a bitch, gave birth to five male dogs and one female dog. When they grew older, she discovered one day that they could transform themselves into real children. While they were down at the beach, she entered the house, and now she saw the dog blankets. She took them and burnt them. Then the children retained their human form (like Sigmund and Sinfjötli in the Völsungasaga). Page 58 fol., is the Myth of the Elk, according to which an old man transformed himself into an elk by putting on an elkskin.
W. Golther, Handbuch der germanischen mythologie, 1895, p. 100, writes, “Die Fähigkeit von Leuten, die sich verwandeln können, heisst ‘sich zu häuten, die Hülle zu wechseln’. Das Umwerfen eines äusserlichen Gewandes kann den Wechsel der Gestalt hervorbringen, wie Freyjas Federgewand, die Schwan- und Krähenhemden der Valkyrjen, Odins Adlergewand. Die Wolfsgewänder (úlfahamir) wenn angelegt, verwandeln den Menschen zum Wolfe”. See also Meissner, Ritter Tiodel, Zeitschrift für deutsches altertum, XLVII. 261.
65 Ethn. Rep. 1901-02, p. 392:—The owner of fine beads fears that some witch, prompted by jealousy, will strike him with disease.
As another example of the pretended assumption of superhuman powers to gain influence over others, we may cite the instances given by Andree, p. 68 fol., according to which Livingston met in Africa a native said to have power to transform himself into a lion. As lion he would stay for days and months in the forest, in a sacred hut, to which however his wife carried beer and food for him, so we may judge that at least this lion did not cause much devastation amongst the wild beasts. He was able to reassume human form by means of a certain medicine brought him by his wife. Again Andree, p. 69:—In Banana, Africa, the members of a certain family transform themselves in the dark of the forest into leopards. They throw down those they meet in the forest, but dare not injure them nor drink their blood, lest they remain leopards. (See note 83.)
The motive of personal gain is exemplified by our American Indians, who put on a wolf’s mantle to steal, or to recover stolen animals (Grinnell, Pawnee hero stories, p. 247, also the story of robbery entitled Wolves in the night, p. 70 fol.). Similarly in Abyssinia, Andree, p. 69, where the lowest caste of laborers are believed to have power to transform themselves into hyenas or other animals, as such, plundering graves. They employ naturally various artifices to help along their cause, since it yields such returns. They are reported to act like other folk by day, at night though to assume the ways of wolves, kill their enemies and suck their blood, roaming about with other wolves till morning. They are supposed to gain their supernatural powers by a secret beverage made from herbs. They are not likely to be discovered to be only sham animals, since their roaming and plundering is done in the night; in the daytime they of course conceal the animal skins (see Andree, p. 72).
Ethn. Rep. 1880-81, p. 68:—Among the Chaldeans, Egyptians and Greeks, the success of magic depended upon the ignorance of the masses and the comparative learning of the few who practised it. Among the American Indians the medicine-man and the more expert sorceress have little learning above that of the body of the tribe, and their success depends entirely upon their own belief in being supernaturally gifted, and upon the faith and fear of their followers.
The Iroquois believed in people who could assume a partly animal shape. See Grinnell, Blackfoot lodge tales, p. 79:—“An old blind wolf with a powerful medicine cured a man, and made his head and hands look like those of a wolf. The rest of his body was not changed. He was called a man-wolf.”
66 Ethn. Rep. 1880-81, p. 73:—Witches could and did assume animal shapes. For example a dog seen by a man which had fire streaming from its mouth and nostrils. It was night. The man shot at it, and the next morning tracked it by the marks of blood from its wound. At a bridge a woman’s tracks took the place of the dog’s, and finally he found the woman. She had died from the effect of the shot. Page 73: Likewise a hog, when pursued, disappeared at a small creek, and finally reappeared as an old man, who said it was he, whom they had been chasing. So they, the pursuers, knew he was a witch. Page 74: A Canadian Indian one evening pursued a white bull with fire streaming from its nostrils. He had never seen a white bull on the reservation before. “As it passed in front of a house it was transformed into a man with a large white blanket, who was ever afterward known as a witch.”
Ethn. Rep. 1901-02, p. 395:—A man going out at night noticed a queer-looking burro. Upon his return home he was told that a large cat had entered the house. He went out again, discovered a man wrapped in a blanket, but not in the Zuñi fashion, his head was sunk low in the blanket. He knew this creature to be a wizard.
Ethn. Rep. 1887-88, p. 458:—That the medicine man (Shaman) has the faculty of transforming himself into a coyote and other animals at pleasure and then resuming the human form, is as implicitly believed in by the American Indians as it was by our own forefathers in Europe. And page 459: The Abipones of Paraguay credit their medicine-men with power to put on the form of a tiger. The medicine-men of Honduras claimed the power of turning themselves into lions and tigers. Also the Shamans of the Nicaraguans possessed similar power. Hertz, p. 133 fol.:—“In der christlichen Zeit wurde der heidnische Cultus Teufelsanbetung und hier entstand mit dem Hexenglauben die Vorstellung von Menschen, die sich mit Hilfe des Satans aus reiner Mordlust zu Wölfen verwandeln. So wurde der Werwolf das Bild des tierisch Dämonischen in der Menschennatur.”
67 Ethn. Rep. 1887-88, p. 467:—The medicine-men of the Apache are paid at the time they are consulted, the priest beforehand among the Eskimo. Ethn. Rep. 1889-90, p. 187: “The magnitude of the disease is generally measured by the amount of the patient’s worldly wealth.” Page 416:—Sioux sorcerers prepared love-potions for those who bought them. Ethn. Rep. 1901-2, p. 568:—“The shaman, like the theurgist is usually paid after each visit with calico, cotton, or food, according to the wealth of the family, since it is always understood that these doctors expect proper compensation for their services.” Page 387:—“The Zuñi doctor is paid according to his reputation.” Grinnell, Blackfoot lodge tales, p. 284: “In early days if a man remained sick for three or four weeks, all his possessions went to pay doctors’ fees.”
Ethn. Rep. 1887-88, p. 462 fol.—The American Indian’s theory of disease is the theory of the Chaldean, the Assyrian, the Hebrew, the Greek, the Roman—all bodily disorders are attributed to the maleficence of spirits (that is of animal spirits, ghosts or witches), who must be expelled or placated. Gibberish was believed to be more potential in magic than was language which the practitioner or his dupes could comprehend. Page 468:—The medicine-men are accused of administering poisons to their enemies. Ethn. Rep. 1889-90, p. 416:—Sioux sorcerers were thought to cause the death of those persons who had incurred their displeasure. Ethn. Rep. 1887-88, p. 581:—“When an Apache or other medicine-man is in full regalia he ceases to be a man, but becomes, or tries to make his followers believe that he has become, the power he represents.” The Mexican priests masked and disguised, and dressed in the skins of the women offered up in sacrifice.
So the shaman practiced sorcery, medicine and was a priest. Ethn. Rep. 1887-88, p. 594:—The Indian doctor relied far more on magic than on natural remedies. Dreams, beating of the drum, songs, magic feasts and dances, and howling were his ordinary methods of cure. Grinnell, Story of the indian, p. 210 fol.:—They have “firm confidence in dreams.” “Their belief in a future life is in part founded on dreams,” etc.
69 An example of fabulous invention for pure personal gain occurs Andree, p. 77: If the Greenlanders catch too many seal at one place, the latter will take a terrible revenge. Assuming human form, they attack their enemy in the night at his home. This is the transformation of an animal into a man, but the inventor of the story was no doubt looking towards his own gain. It is the same old fight for seal protection which in another form is still going on to-day. Andree, p. 72. In Siam stories are told of people who by magic formulae become tigers and roam about at night in search of booty. One of the man-tigers was actually a priest.
73 Grinnell, Blackfoot lodge tales, p. 283: “It is said that wolves, which in former days were extremely numerous, sometimes went crazy, and bit every animal they met with, sometimes even coming into camps and biting dogs, horses and people. Persons bitten by a mad wolf generally went mad, too. They trembled and their limbs jerked, they made their jaws work and foamed at the mouth, often trying to bite other people. When any one acted in this way, his relatives tied him hand and foot with ropes, and, having killed a buffalo, they rolled him up in the green hide, built a fire on and around him, leaving him in the fire until the hide began to dry and burn. Then they pulled him out and removed the buffalo hide, and he was cured. This was the cure for a mad wolf’s bite.”
74 Sometimes the professionals even became possessed of a monomania themselves, as in witchcraft. Andree goes into this widespread disease or delusion (of the first century till late in the middle ages), p. 76 fol.: “The sick” ones would prowl about burial places at night, imagining themselves to be wolves or dogs, and go about barking and howling. In the middle ages such people would even kill children and grown people. When they came to themselves again, or were cured, they claimed to know nothing of what had happened. Ethn. Rep. 1888-89, p. 491: Amongst the Shamans feats of jugglery or pretended magic rivaling or surpassing the best of spiritualistic seances are recounted. Page 207: The use of robes made of the hides of buffalo and other large animals, painted with shamanistic devices, is mentioned. Page 235: The speaker terms himself a wolf spirit, possessing peculiar power.
77 Page 71.
78 Andree, p. 69.
79 Ethn. Rep. 1889-90, p. 263. gives the following story of the origin of the wolf: “The wolf was a poor woman, who had so many children that she could not find enough for them to eat. They became so gaunt and hungry that they were changed into wolves, constantly roaming over the land seeking food.”
81 Ethn. Rep. 1885-86, p. 152: It is impossible to imagine the horrible howlings, and strange contortions that these jugglers (shamans) or conjurers make of their bodies, when they are disposing themselves to conjure.
82 Page 71.
83 Andree, p. 70, gives an account of the chief magician (Abyssinia), who demands as yearly tribute of his subordinate animal-men the teeth of the persons whom they have killed during the year, with which he decorates his palace. See also pp. 72, 75, etc.: Ethn. Rep. 1885-86, p. 151, about sorcery among American Indians: Societies existed. The purposes of the society are twofold; 1. To preserve the traditions of Indian genesis and cosmogony, etc. 2. To give a certain class of ambitious men and women sufficient influence through their acknowledged power of exorcism and necromancy to lead a comfortable life at the expense of the credulous. Page 162: “Each tribe has its medicine men and women, an order of priesthood consulted and employed in all times of sickness. It is to their interest to lead these credulous people to believe that they can at pleasure hold intercourse with the munedoos,” etc. Sometimes one family constitutes the class. See note 65; Andree, p. 69.
84 Grimm, Teut. Myth. III. 1104: To higher antiquity witches were priestesses, physicians, fabulous night-wives, never as yet persecuted. Maidens might turn into swans, heroes into werewolves, and lose nothing in popular estimation. The abuse of a spell was punished. A wise woman, healing sickness and charming wounds, begins to pass for a witch only when with her art she does evil. In course of time, when the Devil’s complicity with every kind of sorcery came to be assumed, the guilt of criminality fell upon all personal relations with him. Ethn. Rep. 1901-2, p. 393: “Though the witch may be regarded as all powerful, none but the poor and unfortunate are condemned. Few others are even brought to trial—their prominence prevents public accusation.” This again reminds us some of our customs; namely, that of overlooking the transgressions of the rich and powerful. See note 91, and for outlaws note 112.
85 Such artificial frenzies had a serious effect upon the body, and more particularly the eyes, so that many shamans (Siberia, America, etc.) become blind.
86 Encyc. Brit., XV. under Lycanthropy: In Prussia, Livonia and Lithuania, according to two bishops, werewolves were in the 16th century far more destructive than “true and natural wolves.” They were asserted to have formed “an accursed college” of those “desirous of innovations contrary to the divine law.” Also see note 90.
90 Andree, p. 72. This same tiger-man in Asia killed a woman, whose husband set out in pursuit, followed him to his house, got hold of him later in his man shape and killed him. Feats similar to some performed by him are cited in Ethn. Rep. 1887-88, p. 470: The medicine-men of the Pawnee swallowed arrows and knives, and also performed the trick of apparently killing a man and bringing him back to life, like the Zuñi.
91 Grimm, Rechtsalterthümer, II. 566: Hexen waren fast alle aus der ärmsten und niedrigsten Volksklasse (see note 84). Literary Digest, March 9, 1907, p. 378, article on Spiritualism and Spirituality: “Many, very many, spiritualists seem to care for communion with spirits only that they may more surely keep physically well, and earn their bread and butter and clothing the easier.” Encyc. Brit. under Lycanthropy: The absurdity of the superstition would have much sooner appeared, but for the theory that a werewolf when wounded resumed human shape; in every case where one accused of being a werewolf was taken, he was certain to be wounded, and thus the difficulty of his not being found in beast form was satisfactorily disposed of.
95 See note 11, also Ethn. Rep. 1897-98, I. 263: “The deer, which is still common in the mountains, was the principal dependence of the Cherokee hunter, and is consequently prominent in myth, folklore, and ceremonial.” see note 42. Page 264: “The largest gens (clan) in the tribe bears the name of ‘wolf people.’” Page 420: The Cherokee have always been an agricultural people, and their old country has a luxuriant flora, therefore the vegetable kingdom holds a far more important place in the mythology and ceremonial of the tribe than it does among the Indians of the treeless plains and arid sage deserts of the West.
96 The St. Louis “Westliche Post” for January 9, 1908, furnishes another example: A tame wolf which for the past two years has been a pet in a farmer’s family at Marshfield, Wisconsin, escaped and attacked a chicken. The farmer’s daughter called to the wolf, but it had become wild from the taste of blood, attacked her, and bit her on both arms and one leg. It held so fast that the young lady could not be released until she had nearly choked the wolf with its collar.
Also the following clipping from the same paper, January 13, 1908, shows the prevalence of wolves to-day in even quite populous districts: “Wolf-Plage. Aus dem nördlichen Wisconsin wird gemeldet, dass Wölfe in diesem Jahre zahlreicher sind denn je, und dass sie, durch Hunger getrieben, sich nahe an die Ortschaften wagen, und Hausthiere und auch Menschen angreifen. Zwei grosse Wölfe griffen in dieser Woche das Pferd der Frau Branchard an; das Pferd scheute und jagte in den Wald, wo es durch Arbeiter angehalten wurde, welche die Bestien verscheuchten.”
102 John Fiske, Myths and myth-makers, p. 78, fol., gives the origin and development of the werewolf as follows: From the conception of wolf-like ghosts it was but a short step to the conception of corporeal werewolves.... Christianity did not fail to impart a new and fearful character to the belief in werewolves. Lycanthropy became regarded as a species of witchcraft, the werewolf as obtaining his powers from the Devil. It was often necessary to kill one’s enemies, and at that time some even killed for love of it (like the Berserker); often a sort of homicidal madness, during which they would array themselves in the skins of wolves or bears and sally forth by night to crack the backbones, smash the skulls and sometimes to drink with fiendish glee the blood of unwary travelers or loiterers.... Possibly often the wolves were an invention of excited imagination. So people attributed a wolf’s nature to the maniac or idiot with cannibal appetites, then the myth-forming process assigned to the unfortunate wretch a tangible lupine body. The causes were three: 1. Worship of dead ancestors with wolf totems originated the notion of transformation of men into divine or superhuman wolves. 2. The storm-wind was explained as the rushing of a troop of dead men’s souls or as the howling of wolf-like monsters (called by Christianity demons). 3. Berserker madness and cannibalism, accompanied by lycanthropic hallucinations, interpreted as due to such demoniacal metamorphosis, gave rise to the werewolf superstition of the Middle Ages. The theory that if one put on a wolf’s skin he became a werewolf, is perhaps a reminiscence of the fact alleged of Berserkers haunting the woods by night, clothed in hides of wolves or bears. A permanent cure was effected by burning the werewolf’s sack, unless the Devil furnished him with a new wolfskin. Primitively, to become incarnated into any creature, the soul had only to put on the outward integument of the creature. The original werewolf is the night-wind—a kind of leader of departed souls, howling in the wintry blasts. Encyc. Brit, under Lycanthropy:—The Berserkir of Iceland dressed in the skins of bears and wolves, and further on: “Beastform is in mythology proper far oftener assumed for malignant than for benignant ends.”
106 Grinnell; and Ethn. Rep. 1888-89, p. 737.
107 Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, III. 1094, fol. says: Our oldest native notions make the assumption of wolf-shape depend on arraying oneself in a wolf-belt or wolf-shirt, as transformation into a swan does on putting on the swan-shirt or swan-ring. Page 1095: “The transformation need not be for a magical purpose at all: any one that puts on, or is conjured into, a wolf-shirt, will undergo metamorphosis.... With the appearance, he acquires also the fierceness and howling of the wolf; roaming the woods, he rends to pieces everything that comes in his way.” This is like the belief of the American Indian that the wearer of a mask becomes imbued with the spirit of the being which his mask represents (note 57); or that the shaman in full regalia becomes, or tries to make his followers believe that he has become, the power he represents (note 67).
108 Thus some American Indian stories represent men transformed into wolf, turkey or owl turning into stone or piece of decayed wood when pursued. And mantles of invisibility are mentioned in note 60.
109 See Hirt, Die Indogermanen, I. 187: “Unter den grossen Raubtieren treten uns Bär und Wolf mit alten Namen entgegen. Der Wolf ist freilich überall in Europa verbreitet gewesen, der Bär ist aber ganz sicher ein Waldtier,” etc. Encyc. Brit, under Lycanthropy: “In England by the 17th century the werewolf had long been extinct. Only small creatures, the cat, hare, weasel, etc., remained for the malignant sorcerer to transform himself into.” See note 11.
110 Amongst the American Indians, where various larger animals were common, the designation “wolf-people” (see the sign-language of the plains) was bestowed especially on the Pawnees, because, as we have seen, they best imitated wolves. In Europe, where, of the larger animals, the wolf alone was universally common, the designation “wolf-people” (or if we choose, later, werewolves) was not restricted to any one locality or people, but was bestowed in general on those who assumed the manner of wolves, and because of their crimes became outcasts like the wolves. They best imitate wolves, and no doubt, to escape detection, disguised themselves as wolves (see note 102), and for this reason the warg or outlaw came to be called a wolf (see close of note 112). Thus Golther, Mythologie, p. 102, says: “Wird ein Werwolf verwundet oder getötet, so findet man einen wunden oder toten Menschen.” The werewolves, as we have seen (ante p. 25), keep to the woods and the dark, of course in many cases to avoid detection. Similarly witches, Ethn. Rep. 1901-02, p. 393: “They say that witches love the night and lurk in shadows and darkness. Witches are believed to be able to assume the shape of beasts.” Sigmund and Sinfjötli dwelt as wolves in the woods. Also the progenitor of the Mýramenn in Iceland at night could leave his house in wolf’s form. Another Norwegian account reports how earlier many people were able to take on wolf’s form, then dwelt in grove and woods, where they tore people to pieces, etc. See Paul, Grundriss, III. 272 fol.; also note 113.
111 Names. See note 31. The development in the case of names was perhaps the same as in the case of masks (note 57), and of the werewolf superstition itself (ante p. 15, fol.); namely, a) protection against outside agencies was sought; b) growth of supernaturalism; c) element of humor.
a) See Encyc. Brit. under Lycanthropy: “Children are often named wolf, are disguised as a wolf to cheat their supernatural foes” (for similar assumption of characteristics or the nature of animals for personal advantage see note 33). See also Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, III. 1139: “The escort of wolf or raven augured victory;” and in the note: “A name of happiest augury for a hero must have been the O. H. G. Wolf-hraban (Wolfram), to whom the two animals jointly promised victory. Old names are no product of pure chance. Servian mothers name a son they have longed for, Vuk, Wolf: then the witches can’t eat him up. O. H. G. Wolfbizo was a lucky name, i. e., one bitten by the wolf and thereby protected,” like our modern curing of like by like in medicine.
b) With growth of supernaturalism came probably the development mentioned by Meringer, Indog. Forsch., 1904, XVI. 165, about the conferring of secret names, since one could harm a person by his name alone, and could summon a foe merely by mentioning his name: “Wenn man den Wolf nennt, kommt er g’rennt.” Again in XXI. 313 fol.: It was dangerous to name bear or wolf in regions infested by these animals, so people, out of fear, avoided calling the name of such animals; called the bear for example honey-eater, etc.
c) Finally, when man could better cope with animal foes, his fear of them disappeared, the elements of fearlessness and humor enter in, and such names arise as are mentioned in note 53; and such stories as that of Romulus and Remus, suckled by a wolf.
112 Outlaws. The notion of werewolves (see Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, III. 1095) also gets mixed up with that of outlaws who have fled to the woods. A notable instance is that of Sigmund and Sinfjötli in the Völsungasaga. In regard to this W. Golther, Handbuch der germanischen mythologie, Leipzig 1895, p. 102, says: “Die Sage mag auf einem alten Misverständniss beruhen. Warg, Wolf hiess der Geächtete in der germanischen Rechtssprache. Warg wurde wörtlich als Wolf verstanden, und so bildete sich die Werwolfsgeschichte.” Golther again, p. 424:—“Gefesselt wurde Loki als Ächter in den Wald getrieben, er wurde “Warg”, d. h. Wolf. Wölfe heissen die friedlosen Waldgänger.” As to warg, Schade in his altdeutsches Wörterbuch defines it as a räuberisch würgendes wütendes Wesen, Mensch von roher verbrecherischer Denk- und Handlungsweise, geächteter Verbrecher, ausgestossener Missetäter; warg ist Benennung des Wolfes, in der Rechtssprache ein treu- und vertragbrüchiger Mensch, vogelfreier Mann, der den Frieden durch Mord gebrochen und landflüchtig geworden, oder nun im wilden Walde gleich dem Raubtiere haust und wie der Wolf ungestraft erlegt werden darf; im jetzigen Gebrauche auf Island Bezeichnung einer gewalttätigen Person. Similarly, J. Grimm, Gesch. d. d. Spr. p. 233. For customs amongst the American Indians relating to the outlaw see Ethn. Rep. 1879-80, p. 67 fol.: An outlaw is one who by his crimes has placed himself without the protection of his clan, is not defended in case he is injured by another. When the sentence of outlawry has been declared, for example among the Wyandots, it is the duty of the chief of the Wolf clan to make known the decision of the council.... In outlawry of the highest degree it is the duty of any member of the tribe who may meet the offender to kill him like an animal. Page 60 fol.: “The chief of the Wolf gens is the herald and the sheriff of the tribe” (see also Ethn. Rep. 1893-94, p. cxiv). Criminals kept to the woods and the dark. Many of them lived like animals, dressed in animal skins, and to terrorize others assumed the role of werewolves. Since therefore so many outlaws lived, dressed (note 22 close) and acted like wolves, to all intents and purposes became wolves, wolf and outlaw became synonymous terms.
113 The widespread custom of keeping windows closed at night in Germany is perhaps a relic of heathen days, when people believed that werewolves, etc., entered houses at night. In place of the earlier harmful werewolf is now the “harmful” night air.
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Behaghel, Otto. Die deutsche sprache. Leipzig, 1902.
Braune, Wilhelm. Althochdeutsches lesebuch. Halle, 1907.
Brockhaus, F. A. Konversations-lexikon. Leipzig, 1901 fol.
Bureau of American Ethnology. Bulletin 26. Washington, 1901.
Dilthey, Wilhelm. Erlebnis und dichtung. Leipzig, 1906.
Edda. Die lieder der älteren edda. Paderborn, 1876.
Encyclopaedia britannica. New York, 1883, etc.
Erman, Adolf. Reise um die erde durch Nordasien. Berlin, 1833.
Fiske, John. Myths and myth-makers. Boston, 1892.
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Golther, W. Handbuch der germanischen mythologie. Leipzig, 1895.
Grimm, Jakob. Geschichte der deutschen sprache. Leipzig, 1878.
Grimm, Jakob. Rechtsaltertümer. 4te auf. Vol. II. Leipzig, 1899.
Grimm, Jakob. Teutonic mythology. Translation by J. S. Stallybrass, London, 1882.
Grinnell, George Bird. Blackfoot lodge tales. New York, 1892.
Grinnell, G. B. Pawnee hero stories and folk-tales. New York, 1893.
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[The pages are in roman numerals, the notes in italic.]
- Abipones, 9, 66.
- Abyssinia, 9.
- Africa, 5, 23; 9, 47, 65.
- Alligator, 9.
- America, 5; 9, 85.
- American Indians, 5, 14, 21, 23, 27; 9, 27, 66, 110.
- Anglo-Saxons, 9.
- Animals, 42.
- Animal fable, 15.
- Arabia, 9.
- Arawaks, 9.
- Arcadia, 9, 15.
- Asia, 5; 9, 12, 16.
- Assyrians, 15.
- Bear, 5; 9, 15, 16, 38, 102, 109, 111.
- Belgium, 12.
- Benignant, 4, 38.
- Berserkr, 1; 102.
- Bird, 5.
- Bison, 12, 27, 31, 32, 73, 74.
- Bohemia, 9.
- Borneo, 9.
- Bretons, 9.
- Bulgaria, 9.
- Burchard von Worms, 9.
- Burmah, 12.
- Celebrations, 21.
- Ceylon, 12.
- Charms, 10, 16.
- Clothing, 8, 9, 11, 16, 28.
- Coyote, 13.
- Dancing, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16; 32, 33, 34, 37, 42, 57.
- Dante, 24.
- Death, 22.
- Decoy, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 28; 29, 30, 31.
- Denmark, 9.
- Dog, 5, 21, 27; 19, 64, 73, 74.
- Dreams, 21; 67.
- Edda, 15.
- Enemy, 8, 12, 14, 21, 26, 29; 48, 60, 65, 102, 111.
- English, 9, 109.
- Eskimo, 30, 31, 67.
- Europe, 5, 7; 9, 12, 16, 110.
- Fenrisûlfr, 9, 51.
- Finns, 5.
- Fish, 5.
- Fisherman, 29.
- Food, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 28, 29; 27, 29.
- Forest, 25; 22, 65, 102, 107, 110, 112.
- Fox, 5, 12; 9, 15, 21.
- French, 9, 12.
- Germany, 2, 4, 5; 9, 22.
- Greece, 1, 7; 9, 15, 22.
- Greenland, 12, 69.
- Harmful, 1, 11, 13; 42, 51.
- Herds, 9, 12, 20.
- Herodotus, 1; 15.
- Hindoos, 9.
- Homer, 24.
- Hunter, 7, 8; 15, 31, 52, 53, 64, 95.
- Hyena, 5, 23; 9.
- Iceland, 9, 110.
- India, 5; 9, 12.
- Indogermanic, 7; 9, 20, 42.
- Insanity, 21, 22, 24; 24, 73, 85, 102.
- Iranians, 9.
- Ireland, 9.
- Italians, 9.
- Jackal, 12.
- Jaguar, 9.
- Japan, 9.
- Kadiak, 29.
- Kelts, 7; 9.
- Knut, 9.
- Lapps, 5.
- Leopard, 5; 9, 65.
- Leubuscher, 6; 9, 20.
- Lion, 5; 9, 45, 65.
- Lithuanians, 9.
- Loki, 14; 9, 112.
- Lycanthropy, 2; 9, 19, 20, 22, 74, 102.
- Lykaon, 9, 15.
- Magic, 23, 24; 22, 37, 60, 64, 65, 67, 69, 74, 81, 83, 84, 107.
- Malignant, 24; 4, 84, 102, 109, 113.
- Mask, 8, 11, 15; 29, 37, 42, 57, 64, 67, 107, 111.
- Mastodon, 20.
- Medicinemen (Shamans), 20; 52, 63, 66, 67, 74, 81, 83, 85, 90, 107.
- Mexico, 12, 67.
- Middle Ages, 22; 9, 74, 102.
- Murder, 24; 20, 22, 52, 102, 112.
- Myths, 7, 27; 24, 95, 102.
- Names, 42, 53, 109, 111.
- Netherlands, 9.
- Neurians, 1; 15.
- Night, 1, 12, 13, 23, 24, 25; 63, 65, 66, 69, 74, 84, 102, 110, 112, 113.
- North America, 12.
- Norway, 9.
- Odin, 15.
- Island Oesel, 9.
- Otter, 29.
- Outlaw, 24, 26; 84, 110, 112.
- Owl, 5, 30; 64.
- Pawnees, 12, 13, 23; 110.
- Persia, 9.
- Plants, 42, 95.
- Poles, 9, 14.
- Portuguese, 9.
- Posen, 14.
- Priests, 22, 67, 69, 83.
- Professionals, 22, 23, 24, 25; 74, 81, 83, 86.
- Provencal, 9.
- Prussia, 14.
- Reindeer, 5.
- Religion, 22, 24, 57.
- Revenge, 14, 17, 24, 28; 52, 69.
- Robber, 12, 13, 14, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28; 15, 20, 44, 53, 65, 112.
- Romans, 7; 9, 27.
- Russia, 2; 9, 12, 16.
- Scandinavia, 9.
- Scout, 12, 13, 14, 16, 22, 23, 28, 29; 47, 48, 60.
- Scythians, 6.
- Seal, 29, 31, 69.
- Serpent, 5; 9.
- Servia, 9.
- Shepherds, 15, 20.
- Siam, 12, 69.
- Sinfjötli, 15, 64, 110.
- Song, 9, 10, 15; 33, 64.
- Skins (or dress) of animals, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 22, 23, 25, 28, 29, 30; 21, 22, 31, 34, 52, 53, 57, 60, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 74, 102, 107, 108, 110, 112.
- South America, 5; 12.
- Speech (animals), 7.
- Stories, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29; 9, 27, 60, 69, 102, 111.
- Supernaturalism, 10, 17, 18; 57, 65, 102, 111.
- Superstition, 1, 4, 5, 14, 23; 20, 64.
- Sweden, 9.
- Tiger, 5; 9, 45, 69, 90.
- Totemism, 2; 47, 102.
- Transformation, 5, 15, 21; 9, 11, 19, 22, 52, 64, 65, 66, 69, 107. 
- Traps, 8; 31.
- Tschechs, 9.
- Turkey, 5; 108.
- Volhynia, 2; 9, 16.
- Völsungasaga, 15, 112.
- Wales, 9.
- Warfare, 12, 13, 16; 60.
- Weapons, 7, 8, 9.
- Werewolf, 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 21, 22, 28, 29, 30; 9, 15, 20, 22, 45, 64, 84, 86, 91, 102, 107, 109, 110, 112, 113.
- Wiener Hundesegen, 15.
- Witches, 11, 19, 23; 65, 66, 67, 74, 83, 84, 91, 102, 109, 110, 111.