Werewolves and Dogmen is the new book from Rosemary Ellen Guiley – and it’s an excellent new addition to subjects that are as fascinating as they are undeniably controversial. There are a couple of reasons why I like this book: (A) it’s actually a collection of Rosemary’s favorite articles on werewolves; and (B) a lot of them were written not just years ago, but decades ago. On this latter point, many of these older features would, otherwise, be near-impossible to find. In that sense, Rosemary has done us all a great service by presenting these same articles to what is in all likelihood a new audience. So, what do you get in the pages of Werewolves and Dogmen? Let’s take a look.
In the last decade or so, a great deal of attention has been given to the strange saga of what has become known as “The Beast of Gevaudan.” It’s a story that began in 1764 and tells of a monstrous creature that roamed Gevaudan, in southeastern France. Men, women and children became the victims of a deadly and violent predator. Was it a wolf of enormous size? Might it have been a hyena? A serial-killer using werewolf-themed legends to hide his tracks? Or, could it have been a real werewolf? Or, something else entirely? The controversy has gone on for centuries – and there is still no 100 percent consensus. In 2001, an excellent movie on the subject, Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte Des Loups in its original French title) was released. In 2009 monster-hunter Ken Gerhard starred in a History Channel show on the beast. Its title: The Real Wolfman. And, in 2016, Beast: Werewolves, Serial Killers, and Man-Eaters hit the bookshelves. Its authors: Gustavo Sanchez Romero and S.R. Schwalb.
In Werewolves and Dogmen, Rosemary shares with us two excellent articles on the monster of Gevaudan. One is from cryptozoologist Loren Coleman. Penned in 1998, Loren’s paper makes an intriguing observation. Loren and cryptozoologist Michel Raynal have suggested that the culprit may have been one Antoine Chastel, who Loren describes as “a hermit on Mount Mouchet (still untouched forest today), with a menagerie of beasts, including a hyena.” Legend suggests that Chastel’s father – Jean Chastel – killed the beast with nothing less than silver-bullets. Andrew E. Rothovius’ article, originally published in 1961, is titled “Who or What Was The Beast Of Le Gevaudan?” It’s an important paper, as it contains some intriguing nuggets of data that will be of interest to those fascinated by this enduring saga.
Gordon Stein, in “Black Dogs: Fact or Fancy,” addresses the similarities between werewolf legends and those involving the “Phantom Black Dog” mystery, as does Trevor Beer, in “Black Magic.” Combined, they provide notable parallels. Beer – who died in June of this year – focused on the “Black Shuck,” while Stein covers such issues as the PBD links to the realm of the dead, premonitions of death, and the controversial “ley-line” connection. Chris O’Brien tackles the world of the ominous Skinwalker. In doing so, he addresses the beliefs of the Pueblo Indians. Like so many accounts of this particular entity, this article – “Skinwalkers and the Witchery Way” – is filled with menace and a sense of supernatural evil. Indeed, the Skinwalkers are not to be trifled with.
In a 1969 article titled “Would You Believe A Werewolf?” Douglas Hill and Pat Williams make a good observation: “…adding together all the possibilities – unconscious archetypal fears and memories, garbled and exaggerated history transmitted orally, mental disease, hallucinatory drugs, and man’s age-old fear and hatred of the wolf – it is no wonder that the werewolf legend grew up, spread so widely and persists today.” Indeed!
Bringing matters up to date, it’s time to take a look at the modern-day version of the werewolf: the Dogman. Simon A. Thalmann addresses the issue of the Michigan Dogman, which is described as a bipedal wolf. Thalmann says that Linda Godfrey – the leading expert when it comes to Dogmen – suggests “…the Dogman could be a large species of wolf that has adapted over time to walk upright, an adaption that also could have led to an increase in intelligence, to the extent that the creature could keep itself hidden.” Len Faytus tackles sightings in Wisconsin – form where most of today’s Dogmen reports emanate – but with a twist: he has found reports of such creatures dating back to the middle of the 19th century. And, we’re treated to an interview with Linda Godfrey by Brad Steiger.
And, there is much more too, including Sandra J. Wilson’s “Navajo Witchcraft,” “Berserkirs and Other Raging Shapeshifters,” by Rosemary herself, and Charles A. Coulombe’s “Witches, Werewolves, and Madness.” All in all, this is an excellent and varied study of the werewolf in all its forms, and in relation to legends, tales, mythology, eyewitness testimony and more.