Spiritual werewolves

There are some stories about werewolves in which the subject in question undergoes not a physical transformation, but a spiritual one. It is not the physical manifestation of a creature, nor is it a mental condition, but rather more akin to the dream quests that a shaman may take.

It is believed that the spirit of the shaman/subject projects apart from the body, and takes the shape of one’s totem animal/spirit during astral projection. The transformation on the astral plane permits intensely surreal experiences.

The idea of the soul leaving one’s body as a animal can be found in many cultures around the world. The wolf is present throughout various Scandinavian myth and also Scottish and Irish, but these cultures also had myths of physical werewolf transformations.

Similarly, it was believed that in both physical or spiritual transformation, the wounds made in their wolf form would appear on their human body – and when they eat raw meat as a wolf, the meat can be seen in the teeth of their human form.

In the writings of Bishop Patrick from the eleventh century, we hear about another interesting case of these sorts of werewolves, wherein if their human body is disturbed, they cannot actually return to their human form…

There are some men of the Scottish race,
Who have this wondrous nature from ancestry and birth,
Whensoever they will, they can speedily turn themselves,
Into the form of wolves and rend flesh with wicked teeth,

But whilst they act thus, they leave their true bodies,
And give orders to their women not to move them,
If this happens, they can no longer return to them.
If any man harm them or any wound pierce their flesh,
The wounds can be plainly seen in their own bodies,
Thus their companions can see the raw flesh in their jaws,
Of their true body: and we all wonder at the sight.

In recent times, a subculture has developed that has adopted the word therianthropy to describe a sense of inner spiritual or psychological identification with a non-human animal. Persons who belong to that community are called therianthropes or therians and believe that while they have a human body, some important part of their mind, identity, or spirit is that of a non human animal. Some therianthropes refer to themselves as “lycanthropes” from lycanthropy.

A theriomorph is a shapeshifter; a being who can assume an animal as well as a human form. A spiritual theriomorph is someone who at least sees aspects of animals in his or her personality and actions, and those aspects shape who he or she is.