Why We Should Welcome the Return of ‘Old Stinker’, the English Werewolf

Why We Should Welcome the Return of ‘Old Stinker’, the English Werewolf

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Sam George / The Conversation

In 2016, there was something of a folk panic in Yorkshire, northern England, following reported sightings of an eight-foot werewolf with a very human face.

The werewolf “Old Stinker”, also known as “The Beast of Barmston Drain” is not a recent phenomenon – it was first reported in the 18th century. But these sightings – concentrated around the town of Hull – are especially intriguing considering that English folklore is rather barren of werewolf stories. Most wolves were extirpated from England under the Anglo-Saxon kings and so ceased to be an object of dread to the people (though wolves did in fact survive in the UK up until the 1500s). So what could be behind these new werewolf sightings?

In literature, accounts of lycanthropy – humans transforming into werewolves – can be traced back to the epic of Gilgamesh in 2100BC, whereas wolf fables begin with Aesop’s The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which was written at some point between 620 and 520 BC. Voluntary lycanthropy does appear from time to time – Virgil’s Eclogues are thought to be the first such account (42-39 BC), but becoming a werewolf is more commonly seen as “a curse” or a sign of bestiality, or at worst of cannibalism.

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A werewolf devouring a woman. From a XIX c. engraving. Mansell Collection, London. ( The Conversation )

Most people have heard of witchcraft trials but werewolf trials are less well known – and those who were executed in werewolf trials in 16th and 17th-century France were believed to have a taste for human flesh. But these cannibalistic fears died down with the rise of psychoanalysis in the 19th century, when lycanthropy came to more commonly represent the “beast within” or everything animal that we have repressed in terms of our human nature.

History, then, provides us with two possible answers as to why people might think they’ve spotted werewolves in the English countryside. The first is a fear of violence, manifesting in anxieties around cannibalism. The second is a return of the repressed (perhaps the population of Hull are having a particularly Freudian spell?).

Needless to say, I cannot support these theories. I would argue instead that the answer lies in our cultural understanding of the werewolf and its connection to our native wolves. By reconsidering these primal links, we can begin to understand why people think they see werewolves – and this is pertinent to the appearance of Old Stinker himself.


It is important to consider the werewolf as the specter brother or shadow self of the wolf and to perceive the history of lycanthropy as being inextricably bound up with humankind’s treatment of wolves. For example, the case of Peter Stumpf , who was executed in Germany for being a werewolf in 1589, gained much notoriety in 16th-century Britain. It is notable that this interest corresponds with the extinction of the wolf in England in the 1500s.

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16th century German wood cut of Peter Stumpp, in his wolverine form. (Public Domain)

Back to today. In 2015 the Open Graves, Open Minds project hosted the first international conference on werewolves at the University of Hertfordshire. This research drew attention to attempts to re-wild the wolf in the UK and scholars began to question what would happen if wolves returned to our forests, as was prominent in associated media reports .

Our collaborations with the UK Wolf Trust generated further discussions around the possibility of rewilding large species in Britain including wolves and lynx. It is in this climate that new sightings of the Hull werewolf had begun to appear.

In July 2016, newspapers reported that Old Stinker was terrorizing women with his human face and very, very, bad breath (hence his name). The two most recent sightings were reported on in August: “Woman met eight-foot werewolf with human face” proclaimed the Metro newspaper. A full-scale werewolf hunt ensued after Old Stinker was spotted prowling an industrial estate. The werewolf had apparently eaten a German Shepherd dog and was seen leaping over fences like a modern day Spring-Heeled Jack (the folk devil that plagued Victorian London).

Wolf guilt

Importantly, Old Stinker supposedly inhabits a landscape that is thought to have seen some of the last UK wolves. So the emergence of the Hull werewolf can reopen debates about the specter werewolf’s relationship to the flesh and blood wolf. This coincides with a phase of severe environmental damage. It has not taken the form of sudden catastrophe, but rather a slow grinding away of species. The result is a landscape constituted more actively by what is missing than by what is present, a “spectered”, rather than “a sceptered isle”. He represents not only a nation’s belief in him as a supernatural shapeshifter, but its collective guilt at the extinction of an entire indigenous species of wolf.

This woodcut shows the 'breaking wheel' as it was used in Germany in the Middle Ages. ( Public Domain )

Far from dismissing the myth, my instincts are to embrace it and see it as a response to our cultural memory around what humans did to wolves.

The Old Stinker story tells us that belief in werewolves lives on beyond the actual lives of the wolves that were thought to inspire them. Rather than being dismissed as a rather fishy tale, Old Stinker can activate the wolf warrior in all of us and allow us to lament the last wolves that ran free in English forests. Far from being a curse, he is a gift: he can initiate rewilding debates and redeem the big bad wolf that filled our childhood nightmares, reminding us that it is often humans, not wolves or the supernatural, that we should be afraid of.

Old Stinker

El Old Stinker (traducido literalmente como Viejo apestoso), también llamado The Hull Werewolf (traducido como El hombre lobo de Hull) es una supuesta criatura legendaria que merodea los bosques de Hull, en Inglaterra. Según reportes, su aspecto se asemejaría mucho al de un hombre lobo convencional, con excepción de su gran tamaño. Aunque algunos reportes indican que cuenta con un rostro humano. [ 2 ] ​ Otra característica destacable sobre la criatura es su penetrante y pútrido olor, de ahí su nombre. [ 3 ] ​ [ 4 ] ​

Desde el siglo XII, el condado de Yorkshire, en Inglaterra, fue reconocido por el elevado número de lobos salvajes que habitaban en sus bosques, hasta su aparente extinción. [ 5 ] ​ [ 1 ] ​ [ 6 ] ​ Incluso, durante la época sajona, fueron construidos albergues a lo largo de los caminos para que los viajeros nocturnos pudieran refugiarse en casa de ser acechados por una manada de lobos. [ 6 ] ​ [ 7 ] ​ Los primeros avistamientos de la criatura se remontan al siglo XVIII, cuando fue descrito por primera vez como un hombre lobo particularmente fétido y con una larga y fuerte cola, que utilizaría como arma, y ojos rojos brillantes. [ 7 ] ​

En 1960, el Old Stinker regresaría a la conciencia pública tras presentarse el reporte de un camionero que afirmó haber sido interceptado durante un viaje saliendo de Hull, por lo que él describió como "un lobo bípedo, de ocho pies de altura y con ojos rojos brillantes". [ 7 ] ​ [ 6 ] ​ Aparentemente fue el último reporte, hasta el año 2015, cuando una mujer reportó haber visto a una criatura peluda de ocho pies de altura cerca del drenaje pluvial artifical Barmston Drain, en el bosque The Wolds, en Yorkshire. Según el relato de la testigo, la criatura se movilizaba caminando en sus cuatro patas cuando súbitamente se puso de pie en dos patas para continuar así el resto del trayecto hasta que la perdió de vista. [ 8 ] ​ [ 9 ] ​ [ 2 ] ​ [ 7 ] ​ [ 6 ] ​ [ 4 ] ​ A partir de entonces, los reportes de avistamiento de una supuesta criatura, a la que atribuían ser el Old Stinker, se hicieron presentes en el área de Hull, casualmente la mayoría de los reportes afirman su presencia cerca del mismo desagüe. [ 7 ] ​

El 21 de mayo de 2016, noche de luna llena, un historiador y un folklorista locales reunieron un grupo de personas en el cementerio de Saint Mary, para darle caza a la bestia, sin embargo, las inclemencias del clima hicieron imposible su búsqueda. [ 6 ] ​

Un académico local, doctor en literatura, Sam George, quien encabezó la primera conferencia internacional sobre hombres lobo, en la Universidad de Hertfordshire, atribuyó la creencia en el Old Stinker a un sentimiento de culpa colectiva producto de la extinción de los lobos que alguna vez habitaron con abundancia el área de Hull. Para el doctor George, el miedo que las personas se generan en ellos mismos es una clase de justificante para la extinción de los lobos de la zona. [ 10 ] ​

Reader Interactions


Can you please email me… I have questions too for you. [email protected]

My apologies for the delay in acknowledging your comment. I will email you as requested.

With great training comes great ability

I visualize my guardian angels with the shape of a humanoid wolf…..yes…i hate to visualize them as “humans with wings” i prefer to see them as werewolves

Thank you for visiting Timberwolf HQ. We all have a preferred way of visualising our guardians. Angels are one way, animals another. Anthropomorphic visualisations are not unusual in any way. Our guides/guardians appear to us in whatever form we are most comfortable with.

How would one become a shapeshifter? I see myself in my dreams shapeshifting into a wolf not werewolf and I would like to know what this means and if one could actually attain the instincts of a wolf?

Dreams are uncertain things. Interpreting them is sometimes difficult. I feel that your dream is your spirit guide attempting to reach out to you with knowledge that you need. Instead of waiting for your dreams, try meditating and see if this brings you any clarity.

Lately I’ve felt like there’s always something watching me and I’ve had an important destiny and just now I’m being watched by seviral shapeshifters whatching me and I would like some answers soon about why I’m so important that I have shapeshifters whatching me and my friend feels the same way and I’m sure there are others too. I’m afraid of the haunting feeling I get when I go to certain places. Plz give me awnsers to this mystery…

Welcome to TimberwolfHQ. Thank you for your question. Perhaps you should try to meditate on the reason you feel that you are being watched. Try calming your mind and concentrating on your breathing. It may take a while to reach the right state of calm, however you will feel it when you are there. Once you have reached that state of peaceful awareness, pose the question to the Great Spirit and wait. You may be surprised by the answer you receive. Please come back and let my readers and I know how you progress with this.

Um hi how hard is shift physically i TRIED last night and nex day i had intense pain in My chest legs and wrists now its hard to move my finger espeially thumb plz help Me

Top 10 List of Ways I Learned How To Become A Werewolf

Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by monsters and cryptids. But of all the creepy crawlers out there, none has enthralled me quite like werewolves. In fact, as a young child, every night I used to wish that I could figure out how to become a werewolf.

As an adult, the longing never went away despite my parents insistence that I needed to let go of childhood fantasies. Quite the opposite – the rationale behind this particular desire makes even more sense to me now. And compared to other cryptids, the choice is crystal clear.

For example, learning how to become a vampire (which sounds utterly annoying to me) and giving up my entire human life seems less palatable. On the other hand, werewolves can live more or less normal lives for the majority of the month. But I digress, this isn’t a wer vs. vamp hit piece it’s my personal opinion. I’m just quite fond of those quirky werewolf abilities that come along with the package.

So why do I want to become a lycanthrope? Well, for starters, I’ve never fit in with humans, although I get along well with them. To be honest, the thought of being ordinary, carrying on a monotonous life, figuratively sucks the oxygen from my lungs.

I feel like a cryptid on the inside – I want to be one on the outside!

To help bring my lifelong dream to fruition, I began researching all available options. Surprisingly, I found a diverse list of possibilities offering me the hope of choosing between the life of a human and deciding to become a wolf when the moon is full. But enough about me, you came here because you want to answer the question, “How can you become a werewolf?”

I’m sharing a bit of what I learned with you for two reasons. First, we must have something in common or else you wouldn’t be reading my words. My gift to you. Second, hopefully, you can succeed where I have failed and return the favor.

Before I run through my list of 10 ways I learned how to become a werewolf, it’s important to consider carefully the potential ramifications of making the decision to inflict yourself with the werewolf disease. A disclaimer if you will. If success finds you, keep in mind your life would be permanently altered, for better or worse. There’s no guaranteed way, aside from death, to cure the lycanthropic affliction.

If you’re acutely aware of these factors and still wish to transform yourself into a werewolf, then perhaps the following information will help you on your journey.

Get Bitten by a Werewolf

Everyone knows this – the most direct way to catch lycanthropy is to be bitten by a werewolf. In reality, getting chomped on by a shapeshifter is also one of the least successful ways to become a werewolf. The odds of being bitten by a werewolf (and living) are slim to none, especially if you don’t know a lycanthrope willing to hold back.

True, you could improve your chances by taking a full moonlit stroll through the woods, but there are obvious reasons this would be unsafe. Any werewolf roaming the forest is bound to be on the hunt, and if it found you, then my best guess is no one else ever will.

You’ll probably need to utilize an alternative method unless you know where to find a werewolf.

Author’s Note: Beware scam artists, sexual predators, and criminals pretending to be werewolves.

Be the Child of Two Werewolves

Unless both your parents were secretly werewolves you’re already out of luck. As for the odds of that, I’d say even rarer than being bitten by a werewolf. Besides it still might not work. The werewolf gene is recessive. Ergo, human genes in a family line, could still result in a human child even if two werewolves mated. This site has the right idea:

Author’s note: The recessive gene is one reason I believe there are fewer werewolves alive today than two hundred years ago.

Be the Recipient of the Werewolf Curse

Here’s the deal, those black & white werewolf movies involving Gypsy curses aren’t that far from the truth. True, those films hammed it up quite a bit but don’t let that dissuade you from respecting Gypsies or their curses.

Ironically, we’re now talking about how to get cursed and how to become a werewolf in 2016 whereas a hundred or so years ago, people would be pleading with Gypsies to remove the curse. In 1916, this list and entry might have been called Top 10 Ways I Learned How To Break The Werewolf Curse: How to break a Gypsy’s curse.

You need to start by finding a gypsy who both knows the curse and then convincing him or her to grant your request. I don’t recommend starting off with the question, “How can I become a wolf?” Try being strategic. An excellent resource detailing the many Gypsy and Traveler Groups in the United States and their origins is The Gypsy Lore Society.

Author’s Note: It hasn’t gone without my notice that the recent discovery of werewolf sightings in Southern California happens to be in the same general vicinity of a Gypsie enclave. Back in 2009, I was well aware that there was a community of 100+ gypsies living in the area.

You need to start by finding a gypsy who both knows the curse and then convincing him or her to grant your request.

Harness Your willpower With a Self-Visualization Spell

While I’ve run across many variations of spells to turn into a werewolf I tip my hat to for perhaps the easiest spell yet. Although the spell is simple, it has two parts and requires diligence. You must first accept your humanity and then choose to put it aside.

To accept your humanity, you’ll need a mirror, a dark room, and a small light – a candle will do. For five days in a row, at the same time, enter the dark room and shine the light just brightly enough to make out your reflection in the mirror. Spend the next ten to fifteen minutes focusing on every physical aspect of your human form. Don’t think about becoming a werewolf during this time. Instead, reflect on your humanity and give yourself positive affirmations.

After the fifth day, the time has come to put your humanity aside. Discard the mirror and the light. Spend three more weeks visualizing yourself as the wolf you wish to become. Keep up this routine at the same time each day and for the same duration as you did in the first part of this spell.

If done correctly and with enough will, advocates of this magical werewolf spell say you’ll become the wolf you envisioned during the next full moon.

Finding spells to become a werewolf in real life isn’t easy. Unfortunately, this spell never worked for me because I have the attention span of a gnat and spending three weeks repetitively doing anything is a lost cause. Perhaps you have more willpower than me and with it, greater success.

An Old, Bizarre Russian Ritual

Because a list of anything isn’t complete until it includes a Russian ritual, right? Russian folklore speaks of a very precise ritual transforming a person into a werewolf. Unfortunately, I only know part of the ritual and I wouldn’t consider this one of the easiest spells to become a werewolf.

The ritual starts by entering a forest and finding a fallen tree. Once you find one, jump over it and then stab it with a copper knife. Reciting a verse is supposed to accompany this ritual, but the exact text was lost to history. Ah, don’t be sad, you may be in luck.

As it turns out, in 1872, Ralston published “The Songs of The Russian People” which included a section on werewolves. You can, by the grace of Google, read his entire book for free. Starting on page 404, you’ll find all the werewolf goodness. It’s a really awesome section if you haven’t read it.

In the ocean sea, on the island Buyan, in the open plain, shines the moon upon an aspen stump, into the green wood, into the spreading vale. Around the stump goes a shaggy wolf under his teeth are all the horned cattle but into the wood the wolf goes not, in the vale the wolf does not roam. Moon, moon! golden horns! Melt the bullet, blunt the knife, rot the cudgel, strike fear into man, beast, and reptile, so that they may not seize the grey wolf, nor tear from him his warm hide. My word is firm, firmer than sleep or the strength of heroes (p.406)

Create a Magical Potion

Here’s the deal with werewolf shapeshifting potions. They contain ingredients known to be fatal. I caution anyone exploring this path to take the time to understand any health risks associated with drinking home brewed concoctions. I’m not going to give you the exact recipe because I don’t want to be responsible for your death.

Back before modern science told us it was impossible, the world accepted that witches could transform into werewolves by drinking potions containing northern Wolfsbane (Aconitum). They’d grind it up into the carrier liquid of their choice and gulp it down, in its entirety.

Over 400 years ago, Olaus Magnus wrote in A Description of the Northern Peoples of magical “ales” that transformed men into wolves.

He achieves this means of changing shape, in direct opposition to Nature’s laws, if someone skilled in sorcery, repeating certain words, offers him a beaker of ale to drink…Later, whenever he finds it appropriate, he can transfer completely from a man’s form to that of a wolf… (18:46)

Although the shapeshifting elixir, if correctly made, still might work today, you need to be careful. Aconitum is incredibly poisonous and lethal. If you don’t believe me, then read this article about a poor gardener who died by just touching the plant. This stuff isn’t called the devil’s helmet for nothing!

The groundsman, from Aldershot, was experienced at looking after the gardens at the mansion but collapsed and died after apparently brushing against the deadly flower aconitum – also known as devil’s helmet and monkshood – which was growing in the grounds.

Author’s Note: Best you discuss your needs with an old world apothecary before venturing alone down this road.

Back before modern science told us it was impossible, the world accepted that witches could transform into werewolves by drinking potions containing northern Wolfsbane (Aconitum).

Rub a Magical Salve on Your Body

I know, it sounds kinky but just go with it. As an alternative to drinking potentially lethal potions, magical salves are touted as effective techniques for achieving the transformation into a wolf.

This particular salve recipe requires some unusual ingredients. Witches are believed to have been proficient at creating the mixture for themselves and also readily supplying those with the desire to become a werewolf. If you can’t find a recipe that works, try contracting with a reputable witch. I’d keep an eye on the price, though witches are shrewd negotiators.

I’m not going to give you the exact recipe because the ingredients are known to be harmful and possibly fatal. Not to mention some are psychotropic so at a minimum you might hallucinate that you’ve become a werewolf and end up like this fool.

At a high level, the ingredients call for henbane, the root of deadly nightshade, silverweed, bat’s blood and soot suspended together into a salve. Apply the magical salve on your body outside, underneath the light of the full moon.

One of the earliest references linking ointments to lycanthropy is found in the Restitution of Decayed Intelligence written in 1628 by Richard Verstegan. Again you’re in luck because you can read Restitution of Decayed Intelligence for free thanks to Google.

The Werewolves are certain sorcerers, who having anointed their bodies, with an Ointment which they make by the instinct of the Devil. (237)

Author’s Note: I can’t warn you enough – be very careful with deadly nightshade.

As an alternative to drinking potentially lethal potions, magical salves are touted as effective techniques for achieving the transformation into a wolf.

Find a Wolf’s Paw Print in the Forest

Perhaps the easiest and less dangerous method, one of the most enduring werewolf legends is that anyone who drinks water from a wolf’s paw print will turn into a lycanthrope. The only catch is that it must be a real, wild wolf.

Jumping over the fence at a zoo or drinking from your German Shepard’s print in your backyard won’t work. Please don’t ask me how I know, just trust me, it doesn’t work. If it makes it a bit easier, the paw print need not be filled with rain water. No rain storm, no problem. Just make sure you have some water with you that can be poured into the print before you drink it.

Keep an eye out for tracks the next time you’re backpacking through the wilderness. You may just get lucky!

Author’s Note: If nothing else, telling your comrades you know how to turn into a wolf makes a great campfire story. Don’t forget to drool and run off abruptly into the night – that should put the fear of death in them.

Find a Wolf’s Paw Print in the Forest

Strap On A Wolf Belt

The advantage of a wolf belt, or girdle, over smelly balms or potions is that the wearer becomes a lycanthrope whenever and for however long they would like. Upon removing the belt, the transformation is reversed.

Your best bet for finding a wolf belt in modern times may be to start visiting antique and occult stores. Here’s a tip on what to look for – wolf belts, or wolf girdles, were made from either the flesh of a human or wolf. For clarity purposes, let’s draw a distinction between the two.

Wolf belts made from human flesh were used primarily by werewolves who preferred the taste of human flesh. Belts made from wolf skin and fur were preferred by werewolves seeking the transformation for other reasons. Best to be careful with your selection.

You can also find references to wolf belts in Restitution of Decayed Intelligence written in 1628 by Richard Verstegan.

And putting on a certain enchanted girdle, does not only unto the view of others, seem as wolves, but to their own thinking have both the shape and nature of wolves, so long as they wear the girdle. (237)

I wouldn’t advocate making a deal with the Devil like Peter Stubbe. His price for learning how to shapeshift into a wolf was quite high.

Eating a Wolf’s Kill (This one is gross)

If a wolf or werewolf kills another animal without subsequently eating the entire carcass, you may be in luck. That pile of rotting flesh may be just what you need to transform.

Get ready to go all zombie because legend has it that eating the brain of a werewolf or wolf’s kill transmits the werewolf infection just like being bitten. Be cautious, though, interrupting a wolf’s meal or consuming food not adequately cooked may be hazardous to your health.

Author’s Note: If the prey were human then it would be a homicide scene, and you’d be committing a crime. Just a thought.

Bonus Round: Eat the Brains of A Werewolf

Since we’re on the topic of brains, if you happen to have the opportunity, eating the brains of a werewolf would be your best bet to confer lycanthropy onto yourself. As I understand it, the disease doesn’t survive long in a dead body. Relatively quickly, transferred blood or saliva loses the ability to infect a new host. We’re talking a matter of hours. However, the disease survives much longer, up to several days in a werewolf’s brain.

Author’s Note: Be careful, though. Whatever killed the creature can’t be too far away and obviously has a taste for shapeshifters. Don’t put yourself on the menu.

How D໚ de los Muertos is Celebrated in Latin America 

In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, All Souls’ Day, which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Halloween. Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast.

Did you know? D໚ de los Muertos festivities often feature breads, candies and other foods in the shape of skulls and skeletons.

Candles and incense are burned to help the deceased find the way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of their departed family members. This can include snipping weeds, making repairs, and painting. The grave is then decorated with flowers, wreaths, or paper streamers. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some gatherings even include tequila and a mariachi band.


Almost nothing is known about Gerard's life prior to his introduction in the series. He was born to two Hunters (with his father presumably being an Argent) and had at least one sibling, a younger brother named Alexander. According to Gerard, he was not very close with his mother, and his relationship with his father is unknown as well. ( " Fury " ) In 1977, Gerard's brother was attacked and bitten by an Alpha Werewolf during a hunt (who, according to Gerard, was Deucalion), which led to him committing suicide, as per the Argent Hunter Code, by shooting himself in the face with a shotgun in the Glen Capri Motel. ( " Motel California " )

At some point, Gerard seemingly married or had a similar arrangement with a woman who bore him two children his firstborn son Christopher (referred to as "Argent"), and his second-born daughter Katherine. He raised both of his children in the Hunter tradition, where Argent learned to obey the Code like it was the law, while Kate took her father Gerard's very loose interpretation of the Code that allowed them both to essentially do whatever they wanted. In 1988, after Argent successfully learned all of the skills necessary to be a Hunter and graduated by forging a silver bullet as a testament to the Code, Gerard sent his eldest son to Japan for his first gun deal. However, he purposely kept the fact that Argent would be dealing with the Yakuza, or Japanese mafia, as he wanted to test his son's ability to improvise and survive under pressure. ( " Silverfinger " )

In the early 2000s, Gerard, accompanied by Argent and several other Hunters, returned to Beacon Hills to catch a Werewolf (who happened to be a Beta in Ennis' original pack) who was accused of killing two of their own. Though Argent was insistent that they follow the Code, it was clear that Gerard intended to do things his own way. It was during this time that he learned about the Nemeton and its use by Celtic Druids. When Deucalion, concerned about the losses on both sides in the war between the Argent Hunters and the central Californian Werewolves, proposed a truce, Gerard agreed to meet with him and his representatives at an abandoned distillery.

However, it was then revealed that Gerard had set this up as an ambush when he let off a great deal of wolfsbane fog that incapacitated both his own Hunters and the Werewolves in attendance. After injecting himself in the leg with an antidote, Gerard grabbed a spike mace (made from a wooden baseball bat covered in Werewolf claws that he had extracted from his victims), which he first use to kill his own men, as he was angry that they, too, wanted to make peace with the Werewolves, and he knew that the claws on the mace would resemble a Werewolf attack so closely that he could later blame the ambush on Deucalion's pack. After killing his men, Gerard took out Deucalion's Betas while Deucalion himself crawled out of the distillery to get away from the wolfsbane fog. Gerard quickly caught up with him, and after Deucalion insisted he had a vision of peace, Gerard joked that it sounded "short-sighted" before stabbing him in the eyes with two flash-bang arrows, blinding Deucalion permanently, though he could see somewhat with his Werewolf vision. It was this attack that led Deucalion to create the Alpha Pack, who would cause even more destruction in the years that followed. ( " Visionary " )

The True Story of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I

Mary, Queen of Scots, towered over her contemporaries in more ways than one. Not only was she a female monarch in an era dominated by men, she was also physically imposing, standing nearly six feet tall.

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Her height emphasized Mary’s seemingly innate queenship: Enthroned as Scotland’s ruler at just six days old, she spent her formative years at the French court, where she was raised alongside future husband Francis II. Wed to the dauphin in April 1558, 16-year-old Mary—already so renowned for her beauty that she was deemed “la plus parfaite,” or the most perfect—ascended to the French throne the following July, officially asserting her influence beyond her home country to the European continent.

As Mary donned dual crowns, the new English queen, her cousin Elizabeth Tudor, consolidated power on the other side of the Channel. Unlike her Scottish counterpart, whose position as the only legitimate child of James V cemented her royal status, Elizabeth followed a protracted path to the throne. Bastardized following the 1536 execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn, she spent her childhood at the mercy of the changing whims of her father, Henry VIII. Upon his death in 1547, she was named third in the line of succession, eligible to rule only in the unlikely event that her siblings, Edward VI and Mary I, died without heirs. Which is precisely what happened.

From the beginning of her reign, Elizabeth was keenly aware of her tenuous hold on the crown. As a Protestant, she faced threats from England’s Catholic faction, which favored a rival claim to the throne—that of Mary, the Catholic Queen of Scots—over hers. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Elizabeth was the illegitimate product of an unlawful marriage, while Mary, the paternal granddaughter of Henry VIII’s older sister Margaret, was the rightful English heir.

The denouement of Mary and Elizabeth’s decades-long power struggle is easily recalled by even the most casual of observers: On February 8, 1587, the deposed Scottish queen knelt at an execution block, uttered a string of final prayers, and stretched out her arms to assent to the fall of the headsman’s axe. Three strikes later, the executioner severed Mary’s head from her body, at which point he held up his bloody prize and shouted, “God save the queen.” For now, at least, Elizabeth had emerged victorious.

Robbie provides the foil to Ronan’s Mary, donning a prosthetic nose and clown-like layers of white makeup to resemble a smallpox-scarred Elizabeth (Parisa Tag/Focus Features)

It’s unsurprising that the tale of these two queens resonates with audiences some 400 years after the main players lived. As biographer Antonia Fraser explains, Mary’s story is one of “murder, sex, pathos, religion and unsuitable lovers.” Add in the Scottish queen’s rivalry with Elizabeth, as well as her untimely end, and she transforms into the archetypal tragic heroine.

To date, acting luminaries from Katharine Hepburn to Bette Davis, Cate Blanchett and Vanessa Redgrave have graced the silver screen with their interpretations of Mary and Elizabeth (though despite these women’s collective talent, none of the adaptations have much historical merit, instead relying on romanticized relationships, salacious wrongdoings and suspect timelines to keep audiences in thrall). Now, first-time director Josie Rourke hopes to offer a modern twist on the tale with her new Mary Queen of Scots biopic, which finds Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie stepping into the shoes of the legendary queens. Robbie provides the foil to Ronan’s Mary, donning a prosthetic nose and clown-like layers of white makeup to resemble a smallpox-scarred Elizabeth.

All too frequently, representations of Mary and Elizabeth reduce the queens to oversimplified stereotypes. As John Guy writes in Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart (which serves as the source text for Rourke’s film), Mary is alternately envisioned as the innocent victim of men’s political machinations and a fatally flawed femme fatale who “ruled from the heart and not the head.” Kristen Post Walton, a professor at Salisbury University and the author of Catholic Queen, Protestant Patriarchy: Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Politics of Gender and Religion, argues that dramatizations of Mary’s life tend to downplay her agency and treat her life like a “soap opera.” Meanwhile, Elizabeth is often viewed through a romanticized lens that draws on hindsight to discount the displeasure many of her subjects felt toward their queen, particularly during the later stages of her reign.

Mary Queen of Scots picks up in 1561 with the eponymous queen’s return to her native country. Widowed following the unexpected death of her first husband, France’s Francis II, she left her home of 13 years for the unknown entity of Scotland, which had been plagued by factionalism and religious discontent in her absence. (Francis’ younger brother, Charles IX, became king of France at just 10 years old with his mother, Catherine de Medici, acting as regent.)

Mary was a Catholic queen in a largely Protestant state, but she formed compromises that enabled her to maintain authority without infringing on the practice of either religion. As she settled into her new role—although crowned queen of Scotland in infancy, she spent much of her early reign in France, leaving first her mother, Mary of Guise, and then her half-brother James, Earl of Moray, to act as regent on her behalf—she sought to strengthen relations with her southern neighbor, Elizabeth. The Tudor queen pressured Mary to ratify the 1560 Treaty of Edinburgh, which would’ve prevented her from making any claim to the English throne, but she refused, instead appealing to Elizabeth as queens “in one isle, of one language, the nearest kinswomen that each other had.”

Mary is alternately envisioned as the innocent victim of men’s political machinations and a fatally flawed femme fatale who “ruled from the heart and not the head” (Liam Daniel/Focus Features)

To Elizabeth, such familial ties were of little value. Given her precarious hold on the throne and the subsequent paranoia that plagued her reign, she had little motivation to name a successor who could threaten her own safety. Mary’s blood claim was worrying enough, but acknowledging it by naming her as the heir presumptive would leave Elizabeth vulnerable to coups organized by England’s Catholic faction. This fear-driven logic even extended to the queen’s potential offspring: As she once told Mary’s advisor William Maitland, “Princes cannot like their own children. Think you that I could love my own winding-sheet?”

Despite these concerns, Elizabeth certainly considered the possibility of naming Mary her heir. The pair exchanged regular correspondence, trading warm sentiments and discussing the possibility of meeting face-to-face. But the two never actually met in person, a fact some historians have drawn on in their critique of the upcoming film, which depicts Mary and Elizabeth conducting a clandestine conversation in a barn.

According to Janet Dickinson of Oxford University, any in-person encounter between the Scottish and English queens would’ve raised the question of precedence, forcing Elizabeth to declare whether Mary was her heir or not. At the same time, Post Walton says, the fact that the cousins never stood face-to-face precludes the possibility of the intensely personal dynamic often projected onto them after all, it’s difficult to maintain strong feelings about someone known only through letters and intermediaries. Instead, it’s more likely the queens’ attitudes toward each other were dictated largely by changing circumstance.

Although she was famously dubbed the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth only embraced this chaste persona during the later years of her reign. At the height of her power, she juggled proposals from foreign rulers and subjects alike, always prevaricating rather than revealing the true nature of her intentions. In doing so, the English queen avoided falling under a man’s dominion—and maintained the possibility of a marriage treaty as a bargaining chip. At the same time, she prevented herself from producing an heir, effectively ending the Tudor dynasty after just three generations.

Mary married a total of three times. As she told Elizabeth’s ambassador soon before her July 1565 wedding to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, “not to marry, you know it cannot be for me.” Darnley, Mary’s first cousin through her paternal grandmother, proved to be a highly unsuitable match, displaying a greed for power that culminated in his orchestration of the March 9, 1566, murder of the queen’s secretary, David Rizzio. Relations between Mary and Elizabeth had soured following the Scottish queen’s union with Darnley, which the English queen viewed as a threat to her throne. But by February 1567, tensions had thawed enough for Mary to name Elizabeth “protector” of her infant son, the future James VI of Scotland and I of England. Then, news of another killing broke. This time, the victim was Darnley himself.

Mary, Queen of Scots, after Nicholas Hilliard, 1578 (National Portrait Gallery, London)

Three months after Darnley’s death, Mary wed the man who’d been accused of—and acquitted of in a legally suspect trial—his murder. James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, was a “vainglorious, rash and hazardous young man,” according to ambassador Nicholas Throckmorton. He had a violent temper and, despite his differences from Darnley, shared the deceased king’s proclivity for power. Regardless of whether sexual attraction, love or faith in Bothwell as her protector against the feuding Scottish lords guided Mary’s decision, her alignment with him cemented her downfall.

In the summer of 1567, the increasingly unpopular queen was imprisoned and forced to abdicate in favor of her son. Bothwell fled to Denmark, where he died in captivity 11 years later.

“She had been queen for all but the first six days of her life,” John Guy writes in Queen of Scots, “[but] apart from a few short but intoxicating weeks in the following year, the rest of her life would be spent in captivity.”

The brief brush with freedom Guy refers to took place in May 1568, when Mary escaped and rallied supporters for a final battle. Defeated once and for all, the deposed queen fled to England, expecting her “sister queen” to offer a warm welcome and perhaps even help her regain the Scottish throne. Instead, Elizabeth placed Mary—an anointed monarch over whom she had no real jurisdiction—under de facto house arrest, consigning her to 18 years of imprisonment under what can only be described as legally grey circumstances.

Around 8 a.m. on February 8, 1587, the 44-year-old Scottish queen knelt in the great hall of Fotheringhay Castle and thanked the headsman for making “an end of all my troubles.” Three axe blows later, she was dead, her severed head lofted high as a warning to all who defied Elizabeth Tudor.

Today, assessments of Mary Stuart range from historian Jenny Wormald’s biting characterization of the queen as a “study in failure” to John Guy’s more sympathetic reading, which deems Mary the “unluckiest ruler in British history,” a “glittering and charismatic queen” who faced stacked odds from the beginning.

Kristen Post Walton outlines a middle ground between these extremes, noting that Mary’s Catholic faith and gender worked against her throughout her reign.

“[Mary’s] failures are dictated more by her situation than by her as a ruler,” she says, “and I think if she had been a man, … she would've been able to be much more successful and would never have lost the throne.”

Janet Dickinson paints the Scottish queen’s relationship with Elizabeth in similar terms, arguing that the pair’s dynamic was shaped by circumstance rather than choice. At the same time, she’s quick to point out that the portrayal of Mary and Elizabeth as polar opposites—Catholic versus Protestant, adulterer versus Virgin Queen, beautiful tragic heroine versus smallpox-scarred hag—is problematic in and of itself. As is often the case, the truth is far more nuanced. Both queens were surprisingly fluid in their religious inclinations. Mary’s promiscuous reputation was largely invented by her adversaries, while Elizabeth’s reign was filled with rumors of her purported romances. Whereas Mary aged in the relative isolation of house arrest, Elizabeth’s looks were under constant scrutiny.

The versions of Mary and Elizabeth created by Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie may reinforce some of the popular misconceptions surrounding the twin queens—including the oversimplified notion that they either hated or loved each other, and followed a direct path from friendship to arch rivalry—but they promise to present a thoroughly contemporary twist on an all-too-familiar tale of women bombarded by men who believe they know better. John Knox , a Protestant reformer who objected to both queens’ rule, may have declared it “more than a monster in nature that a Woman shall reign and have empire above Man,” but the continued resonance of Mary and Elizabeth’s stories suggests otherwise. Not only were the two absolute rulers in a patriarchal society, but they were also women whose lives, while seemingly inextricable, amounted to more than their either their relationships with men or their rivalry with each other.

Mary, Queen of Scots, may have been the monarch who got her head chopped off, but she eventually proved triumphant in a roundabout way: After Elizabeth died childless in 1603, it was Mary’s son, James VI of Scotland and I of England, who ascended to the throne as the first to rule a united British kingdom. And though Mary’s father, James V, reportedly made a deathbed prediction that the Stuart dynasty, which “came with a lass”—Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert the Bruce—would also “pass with a lass,” the woman who fulfilled this prophecy was not the infant James left his throne to, but her descendant Queen Anne, whose 1714 death marked the official end of the dynastic line.

Ultimately, Guy argues, “If Elizabeth had triumphed in life, Mary would triumph in death.”

The queen herself said it best: As she predicted in an eerily prescient motto, “in my end is my beginning.”

Wer (2013)

An American family on vacation in France finds tragedy when something emerges from the woods, kills the father and young boy, and severely mauls the mother. The police arrest a local man who fits the description of a large, hairy, human-like being, but the public defender assigned to his case isn’t so certain of his guilt.

I’m not exactly sure why this one doesn’t get more love. It’s far from flashy, but it’s got a high body count, lots of bloodletting, an interesting angle on the werewolf mythology, and some bonkers action in the third act including a werewolf killing a cop, throwing the body at a helicopter, and then walking away triumphantly from the ensuing crash and explosion. Director William Brent Bell (The Boy, 2016) also incorporates some found footage into the mix but wisely keeps it to a minimum via home video, police body cams, and news footage.

It’s interesting in part for how it moves from legal thriller to werewolf horror with the latter including a heavy dose of action. Multiple SWAT teams go up against the beast with disastrous results (for the authorities), and the action varies in its geography from urban landscapes to forests. The cast is strong if mostly unfamiliar, but Westworld fans will recognize Simon Quarterman as an animal behaviorist helping investigate the case. Is he enough reason to watch a movie? Probably not, but luckily it’s an engaging thriller that should grab and hold your attention pretty quickly.

Wer is available on DVD and streaming.

The Haunted Landscape: Magic and Monsters of the British Isles

Paul Devereux is a prolific book author, with 27 mainstream books published, some of them international titles. Among many others, titles have included Secrets of Ancient and Sacred Places, Re-Visioning the Earth, The Sacred Place, The Long Trip, Sacred Geography and Lucid Dreaming.

Richard Sugg is the author of eleven books, including Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires (2015), A Singing Mouse at Buckingham Palace (2017), Fairies: A Dangerous History (2017), and The Real Vampires (2019). His newest book, Our Week with the Juffle Hunters, is a children’s story inspired by fairy folklore. He is currently writing Talking Dirty: The History of Disgust. He lives in Cardiff.

Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft

Belief in magic and particularly the power of witchcraft was once a deep and enduring presence in popular culture people created and concealed many objects to protect themselves from harmful magic. The principal forms of magical house protection in Britain and beyond from the fourteenth century to the present day. Witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, written charms, protection marks, and concealed shoes were all used widely as methods of repelling, diverting or trapping negative energies. Many of these practices and symbols can be found around the globe, demonstrating the universal nature of efforts by people to protect themselves from witchcraft.

Brian Hoggard is an independent researcher who has been studying the archaeology of magical house protection for many years. He has a popular website Apotropaios through which he receives reports and requests for advice about these objects from all over the world. He is the author of Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft.

Deborah Hyde wants to know why people believe in the malign supernatural, approaching the subject using the perspectives of psychology, sociology and history. She writes and lectures extensively about superstition, cryptozoology, religion and belief in the paranormal, with special regard to dark folklore. Deborah is Editor-in-Chief of The Skeptic magazine and is a fellow of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. @jourdemayne

Hollow Places: The Dragon Slayer's Tomb - Christopher Hadley

In the Middle Ages a remarkable tomb was carved to cover the bones of an English hero. For centuries the grave spawned tales about dragons and devils, giants and winged hounds. To understand why this happened, Christopher Hadley takes us on a journey through 1,000 years of history.

The story begins with a Hertfordshire dragon-slayer named Piers Shonks but soon draws us into the company of outlaws and stonemasons, antiquaries and champions. Full of wonder and always surprising, the story takes us to the margins of the Bayeux Tapestry where strange creatures gather, to ancient woodland where hollow trees hide secrets, and to the scribbled clues about folk heroes in eighteenth-century manuscripts. Along the way, we discover how long bones will last in a crypt and where medieval stonemasons found inspiration.

The story of Piers Shonks is the survivor of an 800-year battle between storytellers and those who would mock or silence them. It stands for all those thousands of seemingly forgotten tales that used to belong to every village. It is an adventure into the past and a meditation on memory and belief that underlines the importance and the power of the folk legends we used to tell and why they still matter.

Christopher Hadley is the author of Hollow Places: An Unusual History of Land and Legend.

England's Historic Graffiti: Voices Preserved in Stone

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