|Image by Martin Mckenna.|
|Also Known As||Gruune, Kludde, Stoepstaart|
|Natural Habitat||Inhabited Areas|
A Weerwolf (translation: Werewolf) is a human being with the ability to transform into a wolf. "Weer" was derived from the latin word "vir," which meant "man." The werewolf is a different word for man-wolf, so to speak. Werewolves were sometimes given the names "Gruune" or "Stoepstaart". The Kludde - while originally a monster from Brabant and Vlaanderen - was also used as a synomym for Werewolves. The Nachtmerrie is believed to be the female counterpart of a werewolf.
A Common Mistake
Contrary to popular belief, the Dutch werewolf does not transform unwillingly during a full moon. Instead, werewolves are witches; practitioners of magic. In olden days, the word "Werewolf" was a synonym for a "male witch" or "shapeshifter". Both men and women changed themselves into animals, but only men showed themselves in wolf or dog form. A human wolf sometimes gave away their secret identity through appearance; a bristly unibrow and hair growth on their palms.
Changing Into A Werewolf
Transformation supposedly takes place when a man trades his soul to the devil for ointment and a piece of clothing (usually a belt). This belt gives men the ability to transform into a wolf. Alternatively, male witches have used wolfskin to merge into their animal form. If one were to burn the magical garment, their reign as werewolf would end. A werewolf is very protective of this magical item, and even feels an empathic connection that may cause a rage when endangered. Yet another theory explains that the seventh son in a family is offered werewolf abilities by the devil (seventh daughters would become Nightmares). And then some say werewolves didn't shapeshift at all, but rather controlled animals in their sleep.
Supposedly it is part of a werewolf's deal to follow the devil's instructions. For that reason werewolves are known to cause trouble. They attack live stock and sometimes even people. In some cases the werewolf acts as a Tormentor, known to stalk unsuspecting people in the darkness. As soon as their target starts showing fear, the wolf jumps on their back and becomes increasingly heavy. He won't let go until the break of dawn. In Groningen they call this wolf the "Gruune."
A Re-Occuring Story
Dutch folklore speaks of a werewolf boy who's in love with a girl. One day he takes her to the forest when he feels the urge to wolf about. Before he disappears out of sight, he advices her to throw a handkerchief, should she encounter a wild animal. A wild animal indeed appears. She throws him the piece of cloth which the wolf carefully rips to shreds, fiber by fiber. The girl escapes. When the boy visits her later, he plays it off well, but the girl spots the tatters in his teeth. She tells the townfolk and they burn his belt.