Lycanthropy is often confused with transmigration; but the essential feature of the were-animal is that it is the alternative form or the double of a living human being, while the soul-animal is the vehicle, temporary or permanent, of the spirit of a dead human being.
Nevertheless, instances in legend of humans reborn as wolves are often classed with lycanthropy, as well as these instances being labeled werewolves in local folklore.
The great seer, Prentice Mulford, believed that the spirit of an animal could actually be re-embodied in a man or woman, and he thought that its prominent characteristics would appear in that man or woman.
“Remember,” he writes, ” that as to size and shape the spirit of a horse need not be like the horse materialised in flesh and blood. Spirit takes hold of a mass of matter and holds that matter in accordance with its ruling desire and the amount of its intelligence. An anaconda is but the faint spark of intelligence only awakened into desire to swallow and digest. Such low forms of life as the reptile or fish have not even awakened into affection for their young.
The reptile, as to spirit or intellect, is but a remove from the vegetable. Trees have life of their own ; they are gregarious, and grow in communities. The spirit of the old tree reanimates the new one. There is in the vegetable kingdom the unconscious desire for refinement, for better forms of life.
For this reason is the entire vegetable kingdom of a finer type than ages ago, when the world’s trees and plants, though immense in size, were coarse in fibre and in correspondence with the animal life about them.” – Gift of Spirit (1917).