Silver??

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Silver??

Post by BloodStar_Moon »

Where did the myth killing a werewolf with silver come from?I've been looking...but haven't found much yet.I'll look more...but if you could please send me a private message with the link as to why and how this legend came about,i'd appreciate it!I'm just so transfixed by this perplexing myth!Thank you!I'll be checking on this thread too,so you can also drop a comment here!
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Post by Vilkacis »

According to the link you posted in your other thread, it originated with The Wolf Man (Universal, 1941):
The screenplay, by Curt Siodmak, is the first work to establish the werewolf's well-known vulnerability to silver weapons, and the first that links the creature's transformation to the full moon.
And according to Wikipedia:
It was The Wolf Man that introduced the concepts of werewolves being vulnerable to silver (in traditional folklore, it’s more effective against vampires), the werewolf's forced shapeshifting under a full moon, and being marked with a pentagram (a symbol of the occult and of Satanism). These are considered by many as part of the original folklore of the werewolf, even though they were created for the film.
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Post by Set »

I have a book called Monsters by John Michael Greer. He discusses alot of things in it besides werewolves, but there is a section in there about how silver relates to the etheric plane. I'd reccomend you take a look at it. It's a facinating book. I'll quote some of it for you.
Magical teachings about the etheric body also make sense out of the lore surrounding methods of wounding or killing werewolves. Dense etheric patterns are more or less invulnerable to most ordinary physical objects, but can be damaged by metals, especially highly conductive ones like silver. Since a shapeshifter's own etheric body provides at least some of the substance of the body of transformation, and since the etheric body forms the framework on which the dense matter of the physical body is arranged, any damage to the animal form will be mirrored in the shapeshifter's human body as well. This is known as reprocussion among magicians, and forms one of the potential hazards of any sort of out-of-body experience.

More drastic results are caused by a conductive metal object that passes through the core of the body of transformation. If the shapeshifter is projecting the animal body at some distance from his or her physical body, the result is usually sudden death. The body of transformation implodes, and the shapeshifter-with no way to reconnect to the physical body-passes though the Second Death instantly.

If the shapeshifter is physically present within the body of transformation, on the other hand, the results are less immediately fatal, but the shapeshifter is likely to be pretty dazed from the etheric rebound, and may slip into a life-threatening state of shock. Either way, the werewolf's traditional dread of silver makes a great deal of sense in magical terms.

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Post by Jamie »

Silver seems to have become part of the legend after bullets were invented. I've yet to find any legends about silver knives, swords or arrows. Also, it RARELY appeared in werewolf legends, and even then, most of those legends that I've found have been German (http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/werewolf.html contains a couple). I found one American werewolf legend that mentions a silver bullet, but this was Pennsylvania Dutch (which means, German!).
However, silver bullets are a fairly common feature in the legends of some other werebeasts, especially hares. I think that about a third of the were-hare legends I've come across have involved either actual silver bullets or an implied silver bullet belief (i.e. the hare could not be hit by normal bullets).

However, silver bullets are not common in shapeshifter legends. They are mentioned more often in legends involving witches, giants, ghosts and fairies than they are in shapeshifter legends. It seems that some people considered silver bullets as an all-purpose solution to get rid of any magical creature that could not be killed by normal means. I've heard that some occult shops still carry silver bullets, for "killing" ghosts and apparitions.

As to how this idea started, it is hard to tell. My best guess is that it is modeled on the idea that iron (and, often, other metals) are especially harmful to creatures from the fairy world. In folklore, werewolves are often considered more akin to fairies than most modern people would ever accept if such a relationship were presented in a piece of fiction.
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Post by vrikasatma »

I came up with a system/story that has the werewolf's changing initiated/fueled by elemental fire, and silver, "the Moon's flesh" and hence connected with water, cancelling out that power temporarily.

Since the Flame "rekindles anew" with every waking, the werewolf is continually rejuvenated and effectively eternally young, however long it exists — so the touch of silver cancelling out the flame alchemically means the flesh returns to the age it would have been. Needless to say, to a werewolf that's only, say, 32 years old, this is not that big a deal, but what if he was 80, 450, 1000 years old and loses his Flame?

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Post by Anubis »

actualy i predates holly wood i saw a documentery about werewolves on the history channel people back then tought that silver had magical properties or some thing like that.
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Post by celtwolf »

you're right anubis.
as i said in my other post about this, silver is symbolic of the moon.
in alchemy, silver represents the moon because it has the same properties (don't ask me what te properties are, i don't know). and a werewolf is controlled by the moon. if the moon controlls a werewolf, wouldn't something that has all of the same properties of the moon affect it?
and so, if silver is fashioned into a weapon, like a daggar, it culd hurt or kill a werewolf. but if silver is worn by a werewolf, the silver won't hurt it. it's pretty much what the intention of the item fashioned is, if the intention is to harm, then it will harm. simple as that.
and, of course, pure silver is the only thing that will work this way. basically, alloys of silver would have no special affect on a werewolf. and seeing as pure silver is VERY weak, a daggar or knife would probably only be able to be used once or twice before it would need reforging.
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Post by Shadow Wulf »

Oy lad! Arent we a bit too knowledgable on such a mineral. :laddie:
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Post by white »

But the moon thing came from the movie too... :/
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Post by Scott Gardener »

Silver was popularized by The Wolf Man, but the silver bullet bit was part of the lore surrounding the Beast of Gevaudan.
Taking a Gestalt approach, since it's the "in" thing...

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Post by Akela »

Though it is kind of ridiculous how they still have the silver vunerability even in a modern setting, I fail to see how silver could be so much more effective than let's say a..... flamethrower or fragmentation grenade and/or other exploding projectiles.

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Post by greniar »

Scott Gardener wrote:Silver was popularized by The Wolf Man, but the silver bullet bit was part of the lore surrounding the Beast of Gevaudan.
true, the beast was killed with silver bullets forged, not because silver was a widespread method of killing werewolves, but rather because it was holy silver made from a melted down holy chalice from the lokal church.
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Post by greniar »

Ralith wrote:But the moon thing came from the movie too... :/
More correctly the "shapeshifting during a full moon" thing came from the movie. The ritual to become a shapeshifter is actually said to have to take place during the full moon.

fun fact even though the full moon was an important part of the wolf man's story it was never seen during the movie.
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Post by shey »

I read that the silver legend was started by the Roman Cathlic church

during the werewolf hesteria in the middle ages it was like the simble of

pureity but it started around their from the reading i have done. :|

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Post by Uniform Two Six »

Like anything regarding mythology, ask one question, get ten answers. Keep in mind that when much of this mythology was coming about, Europe was a very provincial place. People could go their entire lives without ever going more than ten or fifteen miles from their birthplace. As a result you find an enormous amount of variation in myths depending upon the exact region you're talking about -- and if you think it's bad with regard to werewolves, you should see some of the variation in vampire myths. People back in the middle ages were often much more fearful of vampires than they were of werewolves.

Anyway. The entire silver thing isn't entirely an American invention of Hollywierd (remember I said not entirely). Silver was often considered useful in warding against werewolves when the local mythology held that werewolves were tied in some way with the moon. As has been mentioned, in alchemy silver was the element symbolic of the moon. Yet, this association with werewolves and silver was never really widespread for the simple reason that werewolves were only rarely tied to the moon in the mythology. There were all kinds of other things that were associated with werewolves depending upon what region you were talking about. In the regions that are modern-day Germany, iron was considered the metal thought to harm werewolves, not silver. In fact, in the areas in and around the Black Forest werewolves were believed to be only possible if one were to wear a magic belt forged from iron links (other parts of Germany still hold that the belt had to be made from a wolf pelt and specially prepared by a witch). And this is just one fairly small region. It varied widely from place to place. Other wards included Nightshade, Holly, Birch, Mistletoe, salt, holy water, forged iron, non-forged iron, cold iron, and running water (I especially love that last one, since that's been associated with vampires as well).

As confusing as all that already was, when the Catholic church began muscling in on Northern Europe in a big way, things got even more screwed up as werewolves got mixed up in the whole God/Devil Christianity worldview thing. The most common re-interpretation of the werewolf was that it was the result of a pact between a witch or some other kind of magic-user and Satan. Somewhat less common was the interpretation that werewolves were a sort of demon sent by Hell. The main thrust of these myths was a sort of moral instruction session. The deal cut with the Devil was almost always some kind of Faustian Bargain in which the witch (or sometimes just an ordinary person) got the worse end of the deal and something really bad happened to him/her. In the demon version, the werewolf was typically in the role of fooling people (typically "good Christians") into straying from a virtuous path. It is probably in this role that the werewolf became associated with sex and wanton debauchery.

Generally though, the werewolf as a single unified concept didn't really happen until the 20th century and Hollywood's depiction. Furthermore, the only reason that the "Hollywood" werewolf became the "standard" werewolf (so to speak) is that it was the first time that you had a wide-scale medium which really transmitted the concept over a wide area. Previously, the written word remained somewhat provinical in nature (at least with regard to werewolf myths) due to the language barrier. Stories in Czech tended to circulate only in the Czech Republic, and not get translated into other languages (and French in France, English in England, and so on). Motion pictures changed all that since for decades they were all silent, and it was much cheaper to take the hideously prolific American films and replace the dialogue plates with other languages, than to shoot new movies (a tradition which endures to the modern day -- I wonder how many languages "I Love Lucy" is available in).

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Medieval "Silver"

Post by RedWolf »

If a medieval legend described magical "silver," might it actually be describing quicksilver, commonly known today as mercury, instead of actual silver. As quicksilver is liquid at common temperatures, it has been regarded as supernatural for centuries. Medieval alchemists were obsessed with using it for transmutation of lead into gold, believing it had all sorts of occult powers.

Quicksilver / mercury is also a very toxic metal, causing insanity in death in humans and most mammals. In contrast, silver "poisoning" in humans, known as argyria, is characterized largely by changed skin color. Consume enough silver and you'll turn blue. See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argyria

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Post by Kaebora »

Jamie wrote:However, silver bullets are a fairly common feature in the legends of some other werebeasts, especially hares. I think that about a third of the were-hare legends I've come across have involved either actual silver bullets or an implied silver bullet belief (i.e. the hare could not be hit by normal bullets).
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Post by Jamie »

greniar wrote:
Ralith wrote:But the moon thing came from the movie too... :/
More correctly the "shapeshifting during a full moon" thing came from the movie. The ritual to become a shapeshifter is actually said to have to take place during the full moon.
The full moon is very rare in werewolf folklore. Even the ceremony you speak of (I think you're talking about the French one?) was one that I could only find one source for. In other words, it was not a widespread belief, and Europeans of all nationalities did not expect that they would only see werewolves when the moon was full.
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Post by Rhuen »

The Only none hollywood use of silver against a werwolf I have ever encounter was that if you threw a piece of silver over the top of a werewolf it would force it to become human again.

In folklore silver relates far more to vampires than to werewolves.
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Post by Jamie »

Rhuen wrote:The Only none hollywood use of silver against a werwolf I have ever encounter was that if you threw a piece of silver over the top of a werewolf it would force it to become human again.

In folklore silver relates far more to vampires than to werewolves.
I've read in folklore that if you throw a piece of iron over the head of a werewolf or a swan-maiden, it will force it to return to human form.
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Post by Rhuen »

Jamie wrote:
Rhuen wrote:The Only none hollywood use of silver against a werwolf I have ever encounter was that if you threw a piece of silver over the top of a werewolf it would force it to become human again.

In folklore silver relates far more to vampires than to werewolves.
I've read in folklore that if you throw a piece of iron over the head of a werewolf or a swan-maiden, it will force it to return to human form.
there is definetly more out there for Iron as it was a cheaper metal and easier for the common folk to get ahold of. Like Iron Bars preventing a vampire from leaving a grave site, or the lucky horse shoe.
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Post by ABrownrigg »

hmmm

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Post by RedWolf »

I found a website tonight that supposedly was about the "Medieval European Werewolf"
http://www.eclipse.net/~rms/me-were.html

However, I spotted a problem in its initial section, an excerpt from Milton's poem "Lycidas."
Although the poem describes the "grim wolf with privy paw," it was written in the 17th century.
Also, the wolf described in the poem isn't a werewolf, but a religious allegory.
In fact, many observers think Milton used the wolf as a symbol of Rome and the Roman Catholic Church,
referring back to the ancient myth of Rome's founders being suckled by a she-wolf.

>Invulnerable to all harm save by silver and blessed weapons,
>this hell-born monster indulged its sadistic desires upon his neighbors every night

While the vulnerability to blessed weapons might correspond with a actual medieval beliefs,
why would silver weapons be particularly useful? There's no explanation.
Perhaps a silver item would only be a weapon if it were a religious symbol, such as a silver cross.

At any rate, no one had silver bullets in medieval Europe! Silver wouldn't be useful in close combat, except,
according to Celtic myth, as a magical metallic hand. See http://www.loggia.com/myth/nuada.html However, arrow tips could be marked with symbols inlaid in gold or silver. Also see http://pubs.acs.org/cen/80th/silver.html

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Post by Snowskin »

i think that i have heard somewhere that the silver bullet was origonally a way of killing vampires
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Post by Lena »

When my grandpa would tell me stories he said blest by priest weapons or cold iron. But this is cossack legend story. I will think to remember more stories he tell us. My grandpa Artun is Don cossack.
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