The Catholic Church Against Lycanthropy

Lycanthropy has gone through various phases throughout history. One of the most difficult times for those accused of lycanthropy was in the Middle Ages. The Christian church saw the figure of the werewolf as something demonic and to be persecuted. Although they were seen as a work of witchcraft, curiously a priest could curse someone to become a werewolf.

Another thing that was believed in the Middle Ages is that whoever was born on Christmas Day would be a werewolf. The main reason was that the church thought that babies born on the same day as Jesus Christ were blasphemous. All this led to the persecution of lycanthropy, in the same way that witchcraft and paganism were persecuted. The testimonies of having seen werewolves was something very common and the church was that she always interceded. Many were accused of being lycanthropes. Most ended up tortured and executed.

There are also cases of serial killers claiming to be werewolves. One of the most popular cases was that of Peter Stumpp. In this case the church officially said that Stumpp was a true werewolf. His execution was one of the most brutal in memory. He was tied to a wagon wheel and was cut off pieces of meat with red-hot tongs until he died. On the other hand, many think that his execution was for a political issue.

Werewolves and vampires were very much alike

Vampire and werewolf legends have always gone hand in hand in ancient times. The Greeks thought that werewolves rose from the grave like vampires. They were thought to attack and kill people by taking their breath away. It was also believed that one of her favorite hobbies was going into houses and taking babies. It is clear that the Greeks viewed lycanthropes in a very different way.

He was not the only ones who mixed vampirism with lycanthropy. In the ancient Serbian they had a being called vlkoslak, which was a mixture of vampire and wolf-shaped beast. They only came out on freezing winter nights. The belief was that they sometimes held parties in the woods, where they removed their wolf fur and hung it on trees. If someone was able to steal the skin and burn it, the vlkoslak would heal and go back to being human.

The quest to become a superhero

It sounds silly but becoming a werewolf was not always a curse or a punishment. In ancient Germany it was said that there were people who voluntarily became lycanthropes to possess their powers. They did it in a very curious way. They thought that if they put on a belt made of wolf fur and then went out at night on a full moon, they would become werewolves.

The truth is that many people believed that they became real wolves. It was psychological, but they were so convinced that they even attacked other people or livestock. It was also believed that the best way to take power away from werewolves was to throw a metal object at them. That would nullify the powers of the belt temporarily, causing them to become men again.

The punishment of the gods in the form of lycanthropy

Lycanthropy can be seen in ancient times and it is not something that has existed for a couple of hundred years. We are talking about very old myths where the transformation into a wolf was something that was believed as a fact. One of the first stories comes to us from a king named Lycaon, who became a wolf as a punishment from the Greek god Zeus.

Curiously, this punishment came to test the humanity of King Lycaon. Zeus reportedly made forays among the men dressed as mortals to see if they recognized him. If they did not recognize him they were cursed but if they did they were in no danger. King Lycaon challenged Zeus saying that he was a complete hoax of the priests. So he wanted to do a test of divinity. He took a common prisoner and cut his throat, cut him up, and cooked him to give to Zeus disguised as a human.

Lycaón, the first werewolf

Lycaón was a cultured and virtuous king, father of fifty children, loved by his people, founder of Licosura in which he erected an altar in honor of Zeus Lykaios. On that altar human beings were sacrificed. But on the other hand, Lycaon was a really bad king and a real disaster as a hotelier. In this other version, Lycaón and his people dedicated themselves to sacrificing human beings. In both stories we find the living eating meat from the slaughtered.

The other day I was watching a program on Canal Extremadura (and that lately I don’t see much on TV) in which they talked about the Extremaduran tradition of lobisomes (werewolves) in certain areas, especially in those near Portugal and in the Hurdes. If you are interested in the subject, I refer you to the program in question, which is called “After the Myth” and its presenter, the journalist Israel J. Espino. It is interesting to know these fantastic beings rooted in the most hidden of our lands, archaic figures who resist disappearing, devoured by mass cultures, by mere science and modernity. But I was struck by an anthropologist who spoke about the mythological origin of werewolf, focusing on Greek mythology. And we can find the first werewolf in history in Arcadia. Specifically, it was King Lycaon (also known as Lycaon). However, given the antiquity and vagueness of the history that reaches our days, I have found two versions that the reason why this king ended his days turned into one of the most fabulous monsters of popular imagery.

According to some, Lycaon was a cultured and virtuous king, who had fifty children (the same number of children of Danáo and Egypt if you remember the article on the Danaides). He was very loved by his people, whom he made to abandon the wild life that they had been carrying until then. Well, abandon it up to a point. Lycaon founded one of the oldest cities in Greece, Lycosura, and there erected an altar in honor of Zeus Lykaios on top of Lycaon Mountain (it had the same name as the king). The problem is that on the altar he made human sacrifices to please the god, breaking the necessary goodwill between people and the unwritten law of hospitality with foreigners. It turns out that Zeus, who should not have been very clear that this custom existed, went to stay at Lycaon’s home as if he were just any pilgrim. This realized that he was the god and instead of sacrificing and serving him in pepitoria (it would not have been very strange on the other hand), he preferred to invite him to dinner and served him what he played on the menu of the day: humans mixed with a little bit of animal meat. Zeus was extremely angry (the gods have a knack for angering and cursing the staff that I would already like) made him the first werewolf and not only him but the rest of his fifty sons, who were apparently wicked. However the Arcadians ignored the curse and continued to sacrifice Zeus Lykaios humans on their altar annually. When this happened one of those present became a wolf after tasting the meat that contained human remains. The transformation was not always final and if for nine years they did not consume human flesh they could regain their humanity, but if during that period they violated the norm they were condemned to howl and wander the rest of their existence like wolves.

The other legend does not leave Lycaón well at first, he describes him as an extremely evil king and a disastrous hotelier. Turns out he had a gorgeous daughter (plus forty-nine others) named Callisto. She had sworn an oath to the hunting goddess Artemis, to remain a virgin until the end of her days, like the goddess herself. However Zeus set his eyes on her (it is bad luck!) And began to woo her until the girl fell surrendered to his charms and that is that the gods can be very convincing when they propose (another version speaks of rape, what which further worsens Calisto’s situation). Hera, the wife of Zeus, a prisoner of jealousy (I do not understand it because Zeus was in trouble right and left and it was so that she was more than used to it) looked for the poor girl to take revenge on them. What happened? That the curse of three gods, in the form of a sour comedy, struck her down. Zeus wanted to protect her by hiding her from his daughter Artemis and his wife Hera and turned her into a bear so that they would not find her. Artemis angered by the betrayal of the sworn oath turned her into a bear (it seems like a joke). And Hera to harm her and turn the beautiful maiden into an animal that men feared and turned her into … yes, you guessed it, a bear. I don’t know if it’s a curse or an Olympic bad taste joke. When Lycaon learned what had happened to the poor girl, he ignored her, leaving her unprotected.

And this is how with changes, mutations, more or less voluntary bites and various variations, the legend of the werewolf has arrived to this day. The story wandered first by word of mouth, before the bonfires for amusement and horror of those who paid attention. Then werewolves lived (and live) in books that weave stories that keep you awake, and finally in movies, in which men and wolves are willing to twin in the curse of survival, with or without Zeus. , with or without Lycaon.

In the meantime, we will let the Extremaduran, Portuguese (and surely there are some Andalusian) lobisomes wander freely in our nightmares with the hand of those who want to remind us of them. You see that mythology bites, but it is boring. My wish for this week: that Lycaon, his children and devotees flee from your presence as from Zeus himself.

Lamboyo, our brother from India

The Poso-Alfures of central Celebes believe that man has three souls, the inosa, the angga and the tanoana. The inosa is the vital principle; it can be detected in the veins and arteries; it is given to man by one of the great natural phenomena, more especially the wind. The angga is the intellectual part of man; its seat is unknown; after death it goes to the under-world, and, unlike the inosa, which is believed to be dissolved into its original elements, takes possession of an immaterial body. The tanoana is the divine in man and after death returns to its lord, Poewempala boeroe. It goes forth during sleep, and all that it sees it whispers into the sleeper’s ear and then he dreams. According to another account, the tanoana is the substance by which man lives, thinks and acts; the tanoana of man, plants and animals is of the same nature. A man’s tanoana can be strengthened by those of others; when the tanoana is long away or destroyed the man dies. The tanoana seems to be the soul of which lycanthropic feats are asserted.

Among the Toradjas of central Celebes it is believed that a man’s “inside” can take the form of a cat, wild pig, ape, deer or other animal, and afterwards resume human form; it is termed lamboyo. The exact relation of the lamboyo to the tanoana does not seem to be settled; it will be seen below that the view seems to vary. According to some the power of transformation is a gift of the gods, but others hold that werwolfism is contagious and may be acquired by eating food left by a werwolf or even by leaning one’s head against the same pillar. The Todjoers hold that any one who touches blood becomes a werwolf. In accordance with this view is the belief that werwolfism can be cured; the breast and stomach of the werman must be rubbed and pinched, just as when any other witch object has to be extracted. The patient drinks medicine, and the contagion leaves the body in the form of snakes and worms. There are certain marks by which a werman can be recognized. His eyes are unsteady and sometimes green with dark shadows underneath. He does not sleep soundly and fireflies come out of his mouth. His lips remain red in spite of betel chewing, and he has a long tongue. The Todjoers add that his hair stands on end.

Some of the forms of the lamboyo are distinguishable from ordinary animals by the fact that they run about among the houses; the wer-buffalo has only one horn, and the wer-pig transforms itself into an ants’ nest, such as hangs from trees. Some say that the werman does not really take the form of an animal himself, but, like the sorcerer, only sends out a messenger. The lamboyo attacks by preference solitary individuals, for he does not like to be observed. The victim feels sleepy and loses consciousness; the lamboyo then assumes human form (his body being, however, still at home) and cuts up his victim, scattering the fragments all about. He then takes the liver and eats it, puts the body together again, licks it with his long tongue and joins it together. When the victim comes to himself again he has no idea that anything unusual has happened to him. He goes home, but soon begins to feel unwell. In a few days he dies, but before his death he is able sometimes to name the werman to whom he has fallen a victim.

From this account it might be inferred that the lamboyo was identical with the tanoana; the absence of the lamboyo seems to entail a condition of unconsciousness, and it can assume human form. In other cases, however, the lamboyo seems to be analogous to the familiar of the sorcerer. The Toradjas tell a story of how a man once came to a house and asked the woman to give him a rendezvous; it was night and she was asleep; the question was put three times before the answer was given “in the tobacco plantation.” The husband was awake, and next day followed his wife, who was irresistibly drawn thither. The werman came to meet her in human form, although his body was engaged in building a new house, and caused the woman to faint by stamping three times on the ground. Thereupon the husband attacked the werman with a piece of wood, and the latter to escape transformed himself into a leaf; this the husband put into a piece of bamboo and fastened the ends so that he could not escape. He then went back to the village and put the bamboo in the fire. The werman said “Don’t,” and as soon as it was burnt he fell dead.

In another case a woman died, and, as her death was believed to be due to the malevolence of a werwolf, her husband watched by her body. For, like Indian witches, the werwolf, for some reason, wishes to revive his victim and comes in human form to carry off the coffin. As soon as the woman was brought to life the husband attacked the werwolf, who transformed himself into a piece of wood and was burnt. The woman remained alive, but her murderer died the same night.

According to a third form of the belief, the body of the werman is itself transformed. One evening a man left the hut in which a party were preparing to pass the night; one of his companions heard a deer and fired into the darkness. Soon after the man came back and said he had been shot. Although no marks were to be seen he died a few days later.

In Central Java we meet with another kind of wer-tiger. The power of transformation is regarded as due to inheritance, to the use of spells, to fasting and will-power, to the use of charms, &c. Save when it is hungry or has just cause for revenge it is not hostile to man; in fact, it is said to take its animal form only at night and to guard the plantations from wild pigs, exactly as the balams (magicians) of Yucatan were said to guard the corn fields in animal form. Variants of this belief assert that the werman does not recognize his friends unless they call him by name, or that he goes out as a mendicant and transforms himself to take vengeance on those who refuse him alms. Somewhat similar is the belief of the Khonds; for them the tiger is friendly; he reserves his wrath for their enemies, and a man is said to take the form of a tiger in order to wreak a just vengeance.

Lycanthropy, what is it?

The lycanthropy is just a delusion zooanthropic, a survivor of the era in which the man was an animal and the lifestyles of primitive men and the wild today.

For advocates of this theory, become a wolf is to reverse the chain hominization, a return to the animal from which we come by evolution. We survive on ideas, attitudes and behaviors of our ancestors.

We ancestral tendencies in us, and these can manifest itself in certain moments of our lives, and can disturb our consciousness today. Behavior that have resulted from lycanthropy memories and totemic influences and evil, magic, that take us back to a certain point in the chain of hominization and remind us of the states through which we passed before reaching the current state. Is identified with a love that serves as a totem.

Werwolf Peter Stump

Peter Stumpp (died 1589) (whose name is also spelled as Peter Stube, Peter Stubbe, Peter Stübbe or Peter Stumpf) was a German farmer, accused of werewolfery, witchcraft and cannibalism. He was known as ‘the Werewolf of Bedburg’.


The most comprehensive source on the case is a pamphlet of 16 pages published in London in 1590, the translation of a German print of which no copies have survived. The English pamphlet, of which two copies exist (one in the British Museum and one in the Lambeth Library), was rediscovered by occultist Montague Summers in 1920. It describes Stumpp’s life, alleged crimes and the trial, and includes many statements from neighbours and witnesses of the crimes. Summers reprints the entire pamphlet, including a woodcut, on pages 253 to 259 of his work The Werewolf.

Additional information is provided by the diaries of Hermann von Weinsberg, a Cologne alderman, and by a number of illustrated broadsheets, which were printed in southern Germany and were probably based on the German version of the London pamphlet.The original documents seem to have been lost during the wars of the centuries that followed.

Contemporary reference was made to the pamphlet by Edward Fairfax in his firsthand account of the alleged witch persecution of his own daughters in 1621.


Peter Stumpp’s name is also spelled as Peter Stube, Peter Stub, Peter Stubbe, Peter Stübbe or Peter Stumpf, and other aliases include such names as Abal Griswold, Abil Griswold, and Ubel Griswold. The name “Stump” or “Stumpf” may have been given him as a reference to the fact that his left hand had been cut off leaving only a stump, in German “Stumpf”.[citation needed] It was alleged that as the “werewolf” had its left forepaw cut off, then the same injury proved the guilt of the man. Stumpp was born at the village of Epprath near the country-town of Bedburg in the Electorate of Cologne. His actual date of birth is not known, as the local church registers were destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). He was a wealthy farmer of his rural community. During the 1580s, he seems to have been a widower with two children; a girl called Beele (Sybil), who seems to have been older than fifteen years old, and a son of an unknown age.


During 1589, Stumpp had one of the most lurid and famous werewolf trials of history. After being stretched on a rack, and before further torture commenced, he confessed to having practiced black magic since he was twelve years old. He claimed that the Devil had given him a magical belt or girdle, which enabled him to metamorphose into “the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws.” Removing the belt, he said, made him transform back to his human form. No such belt was ever found after his arrest.

For twenty-five years, Stumpp had allegedly been an “insatiable bloodsucker” who gorged on the flesh of goats, lambs, and sheep, as well as men, women, and children. Being threatened with torture he confessed to killing and eating fourteen children, two pregnant women, whose fetuses he ripped from their wombs and “ate their hearts panting hot and raw,” which he later described as “dainty morsels.” One of the fourteen children was his own son, whose brain he was reported to have devoured.

Not only was Stumpp accused of being a serial murderer and cannibal, but also of having an incestuous relationship with his daughter,[3] who was sentenced to die with him, and that he had coupled with a distant relative, which was also considered to be incestuous according to the law. In addition to this he confessed to having had intercourse with a succubus sent to him by the Devil.


The execution of Stumpp, on October 31, 1589, and of his daughter and mistress, is one of the most brutal on record: he was put to a wheel, where “flesh was torn from his body”, in ten places, with red-hot pincers, followed by his arms and legs. Then his limbs were broken with the blunt side of an axehead to prevent him from returning from the grave, before he was beheaded and his body burned on a pyre.His daughter and mistress had already been flayed, strangled and were burned along with Stumpp’s body. As a warning against similar behavior, local authorities erected a pole with the torture wheel and the figure of a wolf on it, and at the very top they placed Peter Stumpp’s severed head.


There are a number of details of the text of the London pamphlet that are inconsistent with the historical facts.

The years during which Stumpp was supposed to have committed most of his crimes (1582–1589) were marked by internal warfare in the Electorate of Cologne after the abortive introduction of Protestantism by the former Archbishop Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg. He had been assisted by Adolf, Count of Neuenahr, who was also the lord of Bedburg.

Stumpp was most certainly a convert to Protestantism. The war brought the invasion of armies of either side, the assaults by marauding soldiers and eventually an epidemic of the plague.

When the Protestants were defeated during 1587, Bedburg Castle became the headquarters of Catholic mercenaries commanded by the new lord of Bedburg—Werner, Count of Salm-Reifferscheidt-Dyck, who was a staunch Catholic determined to re-establish the Roman faith.

So it is not inconceivable that the werewolf trial was but a barely concealed political trial, with the help of which the new lord of Bedburg planned to bully the Protestants of the territory back into Catholicism. If it had been just another execution of an alleged werewolf and a couple of witches, as occurred about this time in various parts of Germany, the attendance of members of the aristocracy—perhaps including the new Archbishop and Elector of Cologne—would be surprising. Furthermore, the trial remained a singular event.

However, this does not mean that the charges were without basis in fact. The execution of a mere Protestant convert would have been deeply unlikely to have drawn the aristocratic attention Stumpp’s trial did, and while it was unlikely for the elite to attend to any given werewolf or witch trial, the sheer scale of Stumpp’s alleged crimes would have made it more visible to the public at large and the nobility.

In popular culture

English black metal band The Infernal Sea recorded a song called Skinwalker about the werewolf of Bedburg on their 2017 e.p Agents of Satan. The U.S. metal band Macabre recorded a song about Peter Stumpp, titled “The Werewolf of Bedburg”; it can be found on the Murder Metal album.

The German horror punk band The Other recorded a song about Peter Stumpp, titled “Werewolf of Bedburg”; it can be found on the Casket Case album.
In the Pine Deep Trilogy of novelist and folklorist Jonathan Maberry, Peter Stumpp is the supernatural villain Ubel Griswold. Since Griswold is actually one of Stumpp’s historical aliases, Maberry decided to use the name of Ubel Griswold instead of openly telling people that the villain was the infamous werewolf Peter Stumpp until later on in the third book of the series, Bad Moon Rising.

In the Jim Butcher book Fool Moon there are several characters that use enchanted wolf pelt belts to transform into a wolf form, similar to the belt Peter Stumpp claimed to have.

A reference to Peter Stumpp is also made in William Peter Blatty’s book, The Exorcist. When Father Karras and Kinderman talk about Satanism they say “Terrible, was this theory, Father, or fact?” “Well, there’s William Stumpf, for example. Or Peter. I can’t remember. Anyway, a German in the sixteenth century who thought he was a werewolf”.

The direct-to-video Big Top Scooby-Doo!, uses a portion of Lukas Mayer’s woodcut of the execution of Stumpp in 1589, though in the movie no mention of Stumpp is made. The portion used depicts a man cutting off a werewolf’s left paw (supposedly Stumpp in werewolf form) and a child being attacked by a werewolf. The woodcut scene shown in the film restores the werewolf’s left paw and removes the child in the second werewolf’s jaws, making it appear as if the swordsman is fighting one of the werewolves while another flees.

In the Doctor Who audio drama Loups-Garoux, Pieter Stubbe was in fact a werewolf. He managed to escape before he was executed and lived for another five centuries. He was defeated by the Fifth Doctor in Brazil in 2080. It is implied that he ate both the Grand Duchess Anastasia and Lord Lucan.

Journalist and fiction writer J.E. Reich partially based her short story “The Werewolves of Anspach,” on the life of Peter Stumpp.

The story of Peter Stumpp was also told in episode 3 of the podcast Lore, released on April 6, 2015. In 2017, the podcast episode was adapted into the fifth episode of the TV series adaptation of Lore, where he was played by Adam Goldberg.

The case inspired Neil MacKay’s novel, ‘The Wolf Trial’ (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2016. ISBN 978-1-910449-72-1)

Peter Stumpp is referenced in ‘The Werewolf of Bamburg’ by Oliver Potzsch. It briefly mentions his execution and crimes.

Peter Stumpp is referenced as a werewolf in “The Secret Life of Cooper Bennett” by Golden Czermak (ISBN 978-1976241550)