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Werewolves

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225 pages3 hours

Summary

THE wolf is not the only animal whose shape, it is stated, man may possess the power of assuming; and it may be of some interest to inquire briefly into the varying branches of lycanthropy, comparing them with the one already under discussion. In Orissa, the power of metamorphosing into a tiger is asserted by the Kandhs to be hereditary, and also to be acquired through the practice of magic; many who have travelled in this country have assured me that there is a very great amount of truth in this assertion; and that although there are, without doubt, a number of impostors among those designated wer-tigers, there are most certainly many who are genuine. As with the werwolf, so with the wer-tiger, the metamorphosis is usually dependent on the hour of the day, and generally occurs cotemporaneous with the setting of the sun. But the lycanthropy of the wer-tiger differs from that of the werwolf inasmuch as there is a definite god or spirit, in the shape of a tiger, that is directly responsible for the bestowal of the property. This tiger deity is looked upon and worshipped as a totem or national deity—that is to say, as a divine being that has the welfare of the Kandh nation especially at heart. It is communed with at home, but more particularly in the wild dreariness of the jungle, where, on the condition that the prayers of its devotees are sufficiently concentrated and in earnest, it confers—as an honour and privilege—the power of transmutation into its own shape.

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