The Lady of Saintonge and Eliphas Levi’s commentary on Lycanthropy

Another story in which the human being suffers from the wound inflicted on the werewolf concerns a fine lady of Saintonge, who used to wander at night in the forests in the shape of a wolf. One day she caught her paw in a trap set by the hunters. This put an end to her nocturnal wanderings, and afterwards she had to keep a glove on the hand that had been trapped, to conceal the mutilation of two of her fingers. Eliphas Levi, the occultist, has endeavoured to explain this sympathetic condition between the man and his animal presentment.

“We must speak here of lycanthropy, or the nocturnal transformation of men into wolves, histories so well substantiated that sceptical science has had recourse to furious maniacs, and to masquerading as animals for explanations. But such hypotheses are puerile and explain nothing. Let us seek elsewhere the solution of the mystery, and establish—First, that no person has been killed by a werewolf except by suffocation, without effusion of blood and without wounds. Second, that werewolves, though tracked, hunted, and even maimed, have never been killed on the spot. Third, that persons suspected of these transformations have always been found at home, after the pursuit of the werewolf, more or less wounded, sometimes dying, but invariably in their natural form….

We have spoken of the sidereal body, which is the mediator between the soul and the material organism. This body remains awake very often while the other is asleep, and by thought transports itself through all space which universal magnetism opens to it. It thus lengthens, without breaking, the sympathetic chain attaching it to the heart and brain, and that is why there is danger in waking up dreaming persons with a start, for the shock may sever the chain at a blow and cause instantaneous death. The form of our sidereal body is conformable to the habitual condition of our thoughts, and in the long run it is bound to modify the features of the material organism. Let us now be bold enough to assert that the werewolf is nothing more than the sidereal body of a man whose savage and sanguinary instincts are represented by the wolf, who, whilst his phantom is wandering abroad, sleeps painfully in his bed, and dreams that he is a veritable wolf. What renders the werewolf visible is the almost somnambulistic over-excitement caused by the fear of those who see it, or their disposition, more particularly among simple country-folk, to place themselves in direct communication with the astral light which is the common medium of dreams and visions. The blows inflicted on the werewolf really wound the sleeper by the odic and sympathetic conjestion of the astral light and by the correspondence of the immaterial with the material body….”