The 80 yr old Livonian Werewolf Shaman

Theiss of Kaltenburg was an 80 year old man of Livonia, tried for heresy in the late 17th century.

He claimed to be part of benign cult of Werewolves who fought the devil and brought back stolen grain and property.

The judges in the case did not agree with his defence, and he was sentenced to flogging and banishment.

Historian Carlo Ginzberg, in his 1966 paper “The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries” suggested this was linked to the agrarian Benandanti cult of Northern Italy. He further theorised that it was evidence of an ancient shamanic shape shifting cult.

Unfortunately an interesting story does not always make for the best theory and Ginzbergs intriguing hypothesis has been strongly criticised; most notably by Dutch historian Willem De Blécourt in his 2007 paper “A Journey to Hell: Reconsidering the Livonian “Werewolf””.

However, recently Bruce Lincoln gave a measured reappraisal of the notion. In his 2015 Hayes-Robinson lecture ‘The Werewolf, the Shaman, and the Historian: Rethinking the Case of “Old Thiess” after Carlo Ginzburg’

Full audio of Lincoln’s lecture can be found here:-

Boundaries of Wilderness and Civilisation

This intriguing book by Hans Peter Duerr was a slightly controversial bestseller in its time, but includes a fascinating perspective on Medieval Werewolves.

Duerr posits the theory that those accused of witchcraft, possession and werewolf behaviour in early modern Christianity were actually having hallucinogenic visionary journeys with the aid of a herbal salve.

Although mostly dismissed by anthropologists, its contemporary sales likely had a larger impact on the emerging pagan culture, in a similar same way to Margaret Murray’s 1921 Witch Cult in Western Europe.

The author also readily admits to esoteric practices, in an opening statement that warns the reader not to try and make their own salves.

In the past few years, I have frequently received letters from readers expressing interest in the composition and dose of witches’ salves. I have also found in the American ‘freak’ literature totally irresponsible ‘recipes’ that were praised as ‘tickets’ California-style. I discussed the matter with some nightshade spirits who are friends of mine, and they asked me to transmit the following to the readers of this book:

1 They do not want to be called just for fun or out of craziness. If they feel like striking up a friendship, they will let the respective person know.

2 The tickets they issue are often one-way, singles i.e.: the return part is missing.

This sort of admission is either a positive or negative recommendation depending upon one’s view of the mystical.

Nevertheless the chapter topics alone should prove enticing to those interested in werewolves

  1. Witches’ Salves: for Flying to the Sabbat or into the Trap of the Demon?
  2. From the Lioness of Women to the Night Travellers
  3. The Vagina of the Earth and Venus Mountain
  4. Wild Women and Werewolves
  5. The Bedevilling of the Senses, especially those of Women
  6. Wolves, Death and the Island of Ethnographers
  7. The Upside-down World or ‘Pot in Every Chicken’
  8. A Midsummernight’s Dream?
  9. Fear of Flying
  10. The Half-truths of the Coyote or Castaneda and the Altered States of America
  11. Dreamtime and Dream Journey
  12. Road Bilong Science

Most surprising of all is the notes and bibliography which comprise nearly half the book!

Published in Germany in 1978, Felicitas Goodmans English translation was published in 1985.

Indo European Wolves – 3

“The sign of the wolf (or the wolf-pack) is clear enough in Greek age set confraternities such as the Athenian ejhbeia and the Spartan krupreia the adolescents in these peer- groups prepared for full warriorhood by behaviour that was exactly reversed from the norm: they prowled at night, were hidden and covert in their actions, used trick, trap, stratagem and ambush and all the techniques forbidden to the true adult warrior-hoplite, in his daylight discipline.

“However, these young warriors-in-training eventually would be reintegrated into their societies, while a “wolfish” activity or character, from Hittite times on (but especially well illustrated in the Germanic sources) defined an outlaw, one whose crimes had put him outside society, and who can be hunted like the wolf, i.e., be both “killer” and “to be killed”; cf. Germanic warg. Werewolf or man-wolf activity may not be simply solitary, as shown by a widely-recurring belief in destructive, night-roaming bands or confraternities of lycanthropes who had abjured the laws of society.

“These “secret bands” have also been connected to the German Wilde Jagd or Wutende Heer, legendary affiliates of Death and the Devil, and instances of bloodthirsty and destructive werewolf bands are also known in the Iranian sources and in Baltic and Slavic folklore.”

Excerpted from “Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture” edited by J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams

Image is by Svartvarg on deviantart (deactivated)

Indo European Wolves – 2

?*𝗱𝗵𝗼́𝗵𝗮a𝘂𝘀 (gen. *dhh̥aṷós) ‘± wolf’. Phrygian – δἀος ‘wolf’, Greek – θώς‘jackal; wild dog; panther’. Latin and Greek show a derivative with a new full-grade, * dhéhau-nos: Latin – faunus ‘deity of forests and herdsmen’ (whose feast was part of the Lupercalia), Greek (Hesychius) θἀῡνον ‘± wild animal, beast; the constellation Lupus’ (compare the neo-Latin derivative in New Modern English – fauna). In both Latin and Greek there is at least the possibility that *dhéhaunos had some reference to wolves. Perhaps a late dialect word in PIE-originally an epithet for wolves or other large carnivores. Often, though not compellingly, related to Old Church Slavonic – daviti ‘strangle’. The latter may better be related to New Modern English – die, etc.

Excerpted from “Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture” edited by J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams

Image is a detail from a poster for Valhalla Rising – original poster is by Scott Wool and can be found here:-

Scott Wool

Indo European Wolves – 1

*𝗵²/³𝘂̭𝗲́𝗱𝗿̥ (gen. *𝗵²/³𝘂̭𝗲́𝗱𝗻𝗼𝘀) ‘creatures, (wild) animals, wolves’. ref. GI 413 (weit’-n-); Puhvel 3:355]. Old Norse vitnir « *h2/3ṷedni̭os) ‘animal; wolf’, Hittite – huetar (gen. huetnas, pI. huitar) ‘creatures, (wild) animals, wolfpack’. Though only certainly attested in these two stocks, the archaic heteroclitic stem argues strongly for PIE antiquity Probably from *h2ṷed- ‘be alive’, otherwise seen only in Luvian. Possibly belonging here too are certain Slavic words for werewolf: Slav vedanec (- vedomee – vedavee) ‘werewolf’, Ukr vis̆c̆un ‘werewolf’, Old Czech vĕdi (pI.) ‘she-werewolves’, though particularly in Ukrainian this word has been subject to phonological deformation. The agreement of Germanic and Hittite would seem to assure a reconstructed meaning ‘(wild) animal’ but the association with ‘wolf’ is obviously very old (as the ‘wild animal par excellence’?).

Excerpted from “Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture” edited by J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams

Image is “Away” by Sergey Demidov his work here

𝗙𝗿𝗮𝘂𝗲𝗻𝗯𝘂𝗻𝗱 – 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝟭 – 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗹𝗲 𝗪𝗼𝗹𝗳 𝗖𝘂𝗹𝘁?

There is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that a female analogue to the männerbund existed…

There is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that a female analogue to the männerbund existed amongst the Proto-Indo European peoples and continued in their daughter cultures, such as the Ancient Greeks.

The Frauenbund, if it did exist, is unlikely to have been a female warrior group, in the sense of the ritualised adolescence of the early männerbund structure. (Although the Scythians did reputedly have female warriors).

The connection to women and Wolves in the earliest Greek myths suggests a very different identity for this hypothetical Frauenbund.

The recurring aspect of female mythic identity in early Greek myths is that of spells/magic/incantation or some kind mysticism.

It is therefore likely in the Proto indo european era that while adolescent boys were living outside the village and learning war and ritual, adolescent girls were learning the equivalent rituals of medicine/herb-lore.

An education in end-of-life care would also likely have been a core component of this education, given the recurrent Goddesses/death/wolves connection.

The (admittedly circumstantial) evidence for the Frauenbund will be posted on the usual 𝗢𝗳 𝗪𝗼𝗹𝗳 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗠𝗮𝗻 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸 social media over the coming days/weeks.


Chonac smólach marbh sa choill é seargtha ar an screablach.

It’s been a while since the last post, so here’s something a little different for 2020, a poem by Tralee born Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh.

Chonac smólach marbh sa choill

é seargtha ar an screablach.

Bhíos ag déanamh trua de

nuair a tháinig madraí de rúid

is thugadar ruathar fúm

ag snapadh, ag glamadh

agus drant orthu.

Uaimse do tháinig liúbhéic,

gach bagairt is buille coise:

Bhí ina bhúirchath eadrainn.

Chorraigh na ba sna goirt

is chuireadar leis an gcór allta.

Theith lucha is dallóga fraoigh

isteach faoin doire donn,

sheas madra rua ar shiolpa,

a cholainn iomlán righin.

Chuimhníos ar mo choisíocht;

bhí ceithre chrúb fúm.


I saw a thrush-corpse shrivelling

on the woodland’s scrabbly floor.

I was busy pitying it

when there came a harrying pack

of strays that set about me;

they bayed and snapped,

growling bare-toothed.

From my throat such roaring;

my every curse and foot-swing

made a bellow-war between us.

Fields of agitated cattle

augmented that wild choir.

Mice and shrewmice shrunk back

into the oakleaf brown interior

as a fox reared upward on a stony ridge,

its stance utterly rigid.

I remembered to run,

felt the four paws under me.


translated from the Irish by Billy Ramsell


Image is a detail from a design for a Medieval Wolf Patch (originally sold by Kings Hand Press Etsy store (now closed sadly))


#werewolf #conriocht #billyramsell #AilbheNíGhearbhuigh #wolf #wolves #poem #poetry #irish #Gaelige #irishgaelic #kingshandpress

“Wolfing”, Díberg and Fianna

“Brigandage that is the activity of organised bands of killers, was particularly abhorrent to the Church, and in the Old Arraí is associated with Druidism and satirising among the sins for which there could be no remission of penance. It was regarded as a Pagan practice and evidently had its own ritualistic code of conduct.” Díberg as defined by R. Sharpe.

O’Mulcronys Glossary describes the etymology of díberg as “dí-bi-arg – ‘non-be-hero’ for he is not reckoned with heroism like the hero of the fianna, for denial of God and and clientship with the Devil is not proper to heroism.”

This may very well be a later interpretative gloss by Christian scribes, as older sources make no distinction between those described as fiannas or díberg.

In the Togail Bruidne Da Derga, Connaire son of Eterscél, King of Tara, and the sons of Dond Désa, the féindid or fían-champion are fostered together. But when Connaire fulfils his destiny and succeeds his father as King of Tara – where taking of díberg is now taboo. Ultimately the three brothers continuing violent behaviour (díberg) in verses 19 and 20 is explicitly linked with Wolves:-

They took up díberg with the sons of nobles of Ireland around them. A hundred and fifty of them under instruction when they were wolfing in the territory of Connachta.

𝐓𝐨𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐥 𝐁𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐝𝐧𝐞 𝐃𝐚 𝐃𝐞𝐫𝐠𝐚

#Fianna #diberg #díberg #oldIrish #fiannas #Connacht #Connachta #donddesa #TogailBruidneDaDerga #Connaire #Tara

Ancient Irish Wolf Warriors

𝐖𝐨𝐥𝐟 𝐂𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐀𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐈𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝

The warrior and dogs/wolves are often synonymous in ancient Irish lore. Particularly telling is an ancient Irish term for wolf, “mac tire” (literally translated as “son of the land”). It is plausible that this is connected with the even older concept of the adolescent Indo European Wolf Cult – especially as “vagabond warrior” the original meaning of “Mac Tire” gradually came to mean “wolf.”

In Ancient Ireland, as in Old Norse Culture, it was common for Kings and warriors to have canine aspects to their names. Cú Chulainn is perhaps the most well known taking the name “Culainn’s hound,” after killing the smith Culainns guard dog. The Fíanna were renowned for their hunting hounds.

The Cóir Anmann (The Fitness of Names) is a late medieval Irish tract where each verse/entry explains the meaning of an epithet associated with a character in early history or mythology. Verse 215 in particular contains a very revealing description

𝘓𝘢𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘤𝘩 𝘍𝘢́𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘥, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴, 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘧𝘵 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘢́𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘥, 𝘪.𝘦. 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘧-𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘦𝘴. 𝘏𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘰, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦𝘥, 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥, 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘮 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴, 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘥𝘴. 𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘓𝘢𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘤𝘩 𝘍𝘢́𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘥, 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘰 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘢 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘧-𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘦.

“Fáelad” translates to “wolf-shape” or “wolfing” and this was also connected to the activity of warrior bands called díberga (marauders, brigands) in the Togail Bruidne Da Derga.

𝐂𝐨́𝐢𝐫 𝐀𝐧𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐧

𝐓𝐨𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐥 𝐁𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐝𝐧𝐞 𝐃𝐚 𝐃𝐞𝐫𝐠𝐚á_Derga’s_Hostel

Image adapated from original by 𝘀𝗮𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗶 on deviantart

#Ireland #wolfcult #CúChulainn #IndoEuropean #TogailBruidneDaDerga #Fáelad #CóirAnmann #LaignechFáelad #díberga #mannerbund #männerbund #männerbunde

Wolves and Yggdrasil

In the Germanic tradition wolves were sacrificed to Odin/Wotan (Öld Icelandic “Óðinn”, Old High German “Wuotan”, Old English “Wōden”), who is associated with the Cosmic Tree; they were hung on ritual pillars called ‘wolf trees’: Old English “wulfheafod-treo” ‘wolf-head tree’, “waritreo” ‘wolf- criminal tree’, cognate to Old Saxon “waragtreo” ‘criminal tree’, Old Icelandic “vargtre” ‘wolf tree’.

In addition to such obvious correspondences, there are noteworthy combinations of ritual animals which were unlikely in the ecological context of the historical Germanic tribes: a wild boar and a lion on a Germanic shield from the fourth century B.C. (cf. the same combination in the Anittas text) and even the combination of leopard and lion with boar and bear attested in medieval Germanic tradition in the genre of dreams about wild animals (see Beck 1965:138-45, q.v. for a possible reflex of the same tradition in the Song of Roland). In other Indo-European traditions we find further correspondences both to individual elements of the set of Middle-World animals (especially cattle and hoofed animals such as deer, wild boars, and wild goats) and to the set as a whole.

Excerpted from “𝐼𝑛𝑑𝑜 𝐸𝑢𝑟𝑜𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐼𝑛𝑑𝑜 𝐸𝑢𝑟𝑜𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑛𝑠; 𝑎 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑢𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐻𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝐴𝑛𝑎𝑙𝑦𝑠𝑖𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑎 𝑃𝑟𝑜𝑡𝑜 𝐿𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑢𝑠𝑔𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎 𝑃𝑟𝑜𝑡𝑜 𝐶𝑢𝑙𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒” by T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov (translated by Johanna Nichols)

Image is by 𝘀𝗮𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗶 on deviantart

#Wolf #wolves #indoEuropean #werewolf #wolfcult #oldicelandic #oldsaxon #oldenglish #oldhighgerman #linguistics #protoindoeuropean #songofroland #wildboar #cattleworship #gamkrelidze #ivanov