In classic fiction, the werewolf is a loner, or roams the wild in packs every full moon, nearly as terrifying as the blood-drinking revenant of the same age that was more zombie than what we today call “a vampire”. In some classical tales, the werewolf is a guardian or protector of the vampire, a furry bodyguard if you will. In recent fiction, much was made of a hostile relationship between vampires and wolves, portrayed in movies such as the Underworld series as “Lycans”, and the fable of a war between vampires and werewolves was created, casting ripples into the world of real alternative or non-human identity communities – the Vampyres and the weres/therians.
While we who form part of the real Vampyre Community in South Africa have only just come to know of the existence of our own community in a manner of speaking, many are still unaware that there are other communities out there as well, also reaching a point of self-awareness. Yes, there are individuals who like we Vampyres, recognize their nature as being something other than “ordinary” human, those who identify as being what we would call werewolves.
The ancient myths and legends describe werewolves as “were” – an old Germanic word meaning “human”; and wolf – a supernatural creature which can go about the world on either two legs or four, and which can change between the two either at will, or only at the full moon. Some legends describe them as killing people and eating of their flesh, or drinking their blood. Others claim they only terrorized farmers by killing off their livestock. Witch-hunters of the Inquisition accused some of their victims of being vampires and werewolves, though few are known to have been murdered exclusively on such charges. Older greek and Roman myths described lycanthropes, vampires and witches with the same word – stryx – a word that formed the basis of the later Romanian “strigoi”. The bite of a werewolf in legend is said to either kill a human, or transfer the affliction to the victim – turning them also into a werewolf.
Modern werewolves do not claim to physically transform into a different species – after all, to do so would require a high level of magickal skill, or the breaking of every single bone in their body come shifting time. The same could be said of the mythical ability of vampires to transform into bats. No, the modern wolf or lycan claims that the transformation is a spiritual one, a phase in which their mental state or personality if you will, transforms into that of their animal persona. Some view the relationship with their animal or wolf persona as a kind of “totem”, or that they are reconnecting with a past life in which they had been a wolf.
On a few forums I have encountered people who identify as Vampyres, or werewolves, or lycans, who speak of some ridiculous “war” between us, as though our communities should be sharpening stakes or casting silver bullets in real life. Most often they are tolls – or people who have awakened alone and been weaned on the Underworld fiction. Respect to the fiction – of course, it’s very nicely made and a very good story – but it’s not real.
There is no historical account of any “war” between Vampyres and werewolves, other than that which has been presented in fiction. In fact, while there may be some banter and even a little rivalry among real life groups in places like the USA where such groups may be far more open than here, any interaction is usually friendly and good-natured. Interaction between vamps and weres and therians is generally seen to be respectful of each other’s cultures and nature. Some will even get their costume fangs from the same fang-makers. Individual vampyres and weres will often rub shoulders at the various sub-culture conventions held around the world – without re-enacting any scenes from Underworld, thank you very much.
As a matter of interest, it’s only since Underworld came along in 2003 that suddenly Vampyre-lycan “hybrids” came onto the scene. Up until that time, “hybrids” were Vampyres who could employ either or both sanguine and psi feeding methods. As a result “hybrid” Vampyres have sought a new name for themselves, such as “adaptive feeders” and so one – here in South Africa, we call them “omnivores”.
Nowadays, we get all manner of mix ‘n match combos, some that don’t seem to make any sense to plain old Vampyres – and (I’m guessing) plain old Wolves too. There are folks who come online in the guise of “vampire-witch-lycan-fae-unicorn hybrids” etc, and I have to admit, it just doesn’t compute for me, but hey – to each their own I guess. I am dying to say “Pick one, ffs!” – but who am I to argue? After all, I’m just a Vampyre.
Here in South Africa of course, where everything is nicely hidden away, there are few known wolves mingling with Vampyres in our new community, and this begs the question – where is our local culture on this issue? How should we receive the interaction and interest of others who like us, identify with a “non-human” identity?
Vampyres are known to be hierarchical, aristocratic and even somewhat arrogant by nature, even though we try hard to accommodate everyone and to be as fair as possible. Where Vampyres have Covens, Houses and Courts, wolves have packs – each forming clusters of individuals in a social structure which when joined together might form a community. There are few known wolf packs in South Africa.
It is my feeling, and I’m gauging the general feeling in our local community, that should wolves want to befriend us, we should return the gesture in kind. After all, “ubuntu” is not just for the Shinai.