Werewolf lore: A Supernatural twist on an iconic legend

Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR
Photo credit: Supernatural/The CW bySergei Bachlakov, Aquired via CW PR /

When you think about supernatural creatures (and not just from the series), werewolves are often at the top of the list. Where did the lore in Supernatural come from?

Supernatural has used and developed a number of legends and horror stories. Just recently at C2E2, Robbie Thompson shared that the writers are encouraged to use any lore out there but put their own twist on it. That’s certainly something the writers have done in recent years and there was a small twist on the classic werewolf lore.

Just where did this legend come from and how much connects to reality? Here’s a look at the legends of lycanthropy and shapeshifting wolf-life creatures.

The Supernatural werewolf lore

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Let’s start with the lore used in the series. For the most part, it’s your classic, iconic legend. A human is scratched or bit and turned into a werewolf. Every full moon, that person then becomes a werewolf.

However, a person will only turn if they are sleeping that night. Madison in “Heart” never turned when she remained awake to watch the moon lower and the sun to rise. Had she decided to stay away for the three nights (take time off work and sleep during the day?) then she would have likely lived her life with very little issue.

There was the talk of a cure, but it wasn’t possible. It turned out in a later episode that the cure had to be administered before the werewolf attacked. Madison had already killed the first time, but the cure was used successfully on Claire Novak, who hadn’t eaten a human heart or even scratched a person accidentally (although she tried).

Supernatural — Diyah Pera/The CW; Acquired via CW TV PR
Supernatural — Diyah Pera/The CW; Acquired via CW TV PR /

Killing a werewolf required a silver bullet to the heart.

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There are pure-bred werewolves and those that have been turned from human. Garth married into a family of pure-breds, who believed themselves to be superior because of their lack of tainted blood. That family is gone, apart from Garth’s wife.

Real lore surrounding werewolves

For the most part, the real lore around lycanthropy is the same. The slight twist Supernatural gave it was that a werewolf had to be asleep to turn. Oh, and werewolves tend to be hairy, like wolves, in most lore instead of just humans with claws and fangs.

There is lore all around the world about werewolves (and other were-creatures). In fact, just like witches, people were accused of being werewolves. During the Middle Ages, the mentally ill and epileptics were thought to be these creatures, which were believed to be creatures of the devil. In France, many of the accused were actually guilty of cannibalism or murder, so it’s easy to see where the wolf connection came in.

Latvian folklore combines werewolves and skinwalkers together. Skinwalkers have also been mentioned on Supernatural, with some links to the shapeshifter lore.

Killing a werewolf can be done in a few ways, with the silver bullet to the chest the most commonly used method. Hitting a wolf in the head with a knife three times would also kill them and it is possible to repel and kill with iron and even by dropping three droplets of blood. There is also lore about turning a werewolf back into their human form, including by throwing iron over the werewolf’s head, submerging in fresh water and even watching others turn or watching themselves turn on film.


Becoming a werewolf

In Supernatural, a scratch was enough to turn someone into a werewolf. Bites and the transfer of blood was also possible, if the werewolf didn’t eat the heart of its victim. In real werewolf lore, there are multiple ways to turn. While scratches and biting are common, there are also pacts with the devil, family curses, eating a wolf’s brain, and even drinking from the water of a wolf’s pawprint was ways to turn into one of the creatures.

In parts of South America, the seventh son or daughter was often viewed as a creature or someone damned to become a monster. Argentinian seventh sons would often be abandoned or killed because of the fear they would turn. This wasn’t even a recent problem. The President of Argentina was made the godfather of every seventh son in the country from a law passed in 1920. It helped to bring an end to the abandonment of children, and traditions such as the seventh sons being given seals remains a tradition.

The method of becoming a werewolf links to Supernatural‘s idea of pure-bred and turned werewolves. Those voluntarily a werewolf were considered those who had made devil pacts. People who were involuntarily a werewolf were considered curserd or turned in some way.

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How much of the real werewolf lore did you know? Do you like the twists Supernatural put on the lore? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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