You thought that a wolf was just a wolf? Nope. There are some seriously supernatural types out there. And, let's have a look at them. We'll begin with a well-known writer and paranormal investigator. Dion Fortune was an occultist, mystic, and the author of a number of acclaimed works, and whose real name was Violet Mary Firth. Fortune, who died in 1946 at the age of fifty-five, was someone who was skilled at creating monsters in the mind and who then unleashed them into the world around her. Fortune made it very clear, however, that creating a mind-monster rarely has a positive outcome. It is something that each and every one of us should take careful heed of. Her story is as fascinating as it is disturbing: “The artificial elemental is constructed by forming a clear-cut image in the imagination of the creature it is intended to create, ensouling it with something of the corresponding aspect of one’s own being, and then invoking into it the appropriate natural force. This method can be used for good as well as evil, and ‘guardian angels’ are formed in this way. It is said that dying women, anxious concerning the welfare of their children, frequently form them unconsciously.
“I myself once had an exceedingly nasty experience in which I formulated a were-wolf accidentally. Unpleasant as the incident was, I think it may be just as well to give it publicity, for it shows what may happen when an insufficiently disciplined and purified nature is handling occult forces. I had received serious injury from someone who, at considerable cost to myself, I had disinterestedly helped, and I was sorely tempted to retaliate. Lying on my bed resting one afternoon, I was brooding over my resentment, and while so brooding, drifted towards the borders of sleep. There came to my mind the thought of casting off all restraints and going berserk. The ancient Nordic myths rose before me, and I thought of Fenris, the Wolf-horror of the North. Immediately I felt a curious drawing-out sensation from my solar plexus, and there materialized beside me on the bed a large wolf. It was a well-materialized ectoplasmic form. It was grey and colorless, and had weight. I could distinctly feel its back pressing against me as it lay beside me on the bed as a large dog might. I knew nothing about the art of making elementals at that time, but had accidentally stumbled upon the right method - the brooding highly charged with emotion, the invocation of the appropriate natural force, and the condition between sleeping and waking in which the etheric double readily extrudes.”
On December 10, 1904, a startling story appeared in the pages of the English newspaper, the Hexham Courant. Under the heading of “Wolf at Large in Allendale,” it read: “Local farmers from the village of Allendale, very near to Hexham, had reported the loss of their livestock, so serious that many sheep were being stabled at night to protect them. A shepherd found two of his flock slaughtered, one with its entrails hanging out, and all that remained of the other was its head and horns. Many of the sheep had been bitten about the neck and the legs – common with an attack made by a wolf.” The newspaper article continued: “Hysteria soon set in. During the night, lanterns were kept burning to scare away the wolf, and women and children were ordered to keep to the busy roads and be home before dusk. The ‘Hexham Wolf Committee’ was soon set up to organize search parties and hunts to bring down the beast using specialized hunting dogs, the ‘Haydon Hounds’, but even they could not find the wolf. The Wolf Committee took the next step and hired Mr. W. Briddick, a trained tracker. But he was also unsuccessful, despite searching the woods.”
Then, on January 7, 1905, however, there was a major development: the Hexham Courant reported that the body of a wolf had been found dead on a railway track at Cumwinton, Cumbria – which was approximately thirty miles from where the majority of the attacks had been occurring. However, it was the newspaper’s firm opinion that this was not the same creature, but yet another one. In other words, the mystery beast of Hexham was still out there. Indeed, according to some theorists, there was a whole pack of such animals wildly roaming the countryside of northern England by night. And although the searches for the animal, or animals, continued for some time, they were finally brought to a halt when the attacks abruptly stopped. Hexham’s mysterious and wolfish visitor was gone. In 1972, however, it may well have returned – albeit in a slightly different guise. And as evidence of this, we have to turn our attention to the bizarre story of the Hexham Heads. The strange saga all began in February 1972. An eleven-year-old boy, Colin Robson, and his younger brother, Leslie, were digging up weeds in their parents’ back yard in the town of Hexham, when they unearthed two carved, stone heads, slightly smaller than a tennis ball and very heavy in weight.
Crudely fashioned and weathered-looking, one resembled a skull-like masculine head crowned by a Celtic hairstyle; while the other was a slightly smaller female head that possessed what were said to be witch-like qualities, including the classic beaked nose. Shortly after the boys took the heads into their house, a number of peculiar incidents occurred in the family home. The heads would move by themselves. Household objects were found inexplicably broken. And at one point the boys’ sister found her bed showered with glass. It was, however, the next-door neighbors who would go on to experience the most bizarre phenomena of all. A few nights after the discovery of the heads, a mother living in the neighboring house, Ellen Dodd, was sitting up late with her daughter, who was suffering with toothache, when both saw what they described as a hellish, “half-man, half-beast” enter the room. Naturally, both screamed for their lives and the woman’s husband came running from another room to see what all the commotion was about. By this stage, however, the hairy creature had fled the room and could be heard “padding down the stairs as if on its hind legs.” The front door was later found wide open and it was presumed that the creature had left the house in haste.
Soon after that incident, one Anne Ross – a doctor who had studied the Celtic culture and who was the author of several books on the subject, including Pagan Celtic Britain and The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands – took possession of the stone heads to study them herself. She already had in her possession a number of similar heads and, as a result, she was certain that the Hexham Heads were Celtic in origin, and probably nearly two thousand years old. The doctor, who lived in the English city of Southampton and about 150 miles from Hexham, had heard nothing at that time of the strange goings-on encountered by the previous owners of the heads. Having put the two stone heads with the rest of her collection, however, Dr. Ross, too, encountered the mysterious werewolf-like creature a few nights later. She awoke from her sleep feeling cold and frightened and, on looking up, found herself confronted by a horrific man-beast identical to that seen at Hexham. For a while the saga of the Hexham werewolf continued. Now, to another strange saga:
Solomon was someone I interviewed back in 2003 – when he was in his mid-80s – about a startling encounter he had with a shape-shifting creature no less than seven decades earlier, when he was just a young teenager. The location was a dense area of woodland in Orange, Texas. It was a normal, Sunday morning when Solomon and several friends were exploring the woods and having a good time. After a couple of hours of scouting around, they found a place to sit and heartily tucked into the lunches they had brought with them. All was good until one of the group experienced that eerie sensation we all get from time to time. Namely, that of being watched. And watched very closely.
Then, the rest of the group experienced it too. Almost in unison they looked across the small stream that was before them, only to see nothing less than a large, wolf-like head peering directly at them, and from within the dense foliage. When the creature realized it had been seen, however, it suddenly broke through the undergrowth and paced along the water’s edge in a disturbing, prowling fashion. All four boys wondered if they were being sized up for lunch. As the beast made its presence fully known, the friends were shocked to see that although it resembled a wolf, the monster-thing was around ten-feet in length and had a huge, muscular body – far beyond that of any normal wolf. On several occasions the monster stopped and stared at the boys, growling at them in a dark and deep, low and guttural, fashion. Not surprisingly, the friends were too frightened to move. Then, suddenly, something very strange happened.
The massive wolf-creature suddenly sat down and “started to shake,” as Solomon worded it. Even more amazing, it was suddenly surrounded by an eerie, green fog, at which point the monster changed it stance: its hind legs noticeably morphed, to the point where it was able to rear up onto those same hind legs and loom over the now near-hysterical boys at a height of around ten feet. As for its front limbs, they took on distinctly human-looking form, albeit covered in thick hair. For a few moments the man-beast snapped and snarled at the group, still from the other side of the stream, after which it suddenly turned and vanished into the woods – never to be seen again. It was the one and only paranormal experience in Solomon’s life – and he was very happy to keep it that way, too.
And, there is the pioneering work of Linda Godfrey who has brought the werewolf into the modern era. Since 1991, the Wisconsin town of Elkhorn has been the lair and hunting ground of a terrifying creature that is the closest thing one can imagine to a real-life werewolf. And, just maybe, that’s exactly what it is. The monster has become known as the Beast of the Bray Road – on account of the fact that many of the initial sightings were made on that particular road. Without doubt, the expert on all-things of a lycanthropic nature in Wisconsin is author and journalist Linda Godfrey, who has penned half a dozen books on werewolves, and who I interviewed about her research into this malignant beast. She told me: “The story first came to my attention in about 1991 from a woman who had heard rumors going around here in Elkhorn, and particularly in the high school, that people had been seeing something like a werewolf, a wolf-like creature, or a wolf-man. They didn’t really know what it was. But some were saying it was a werewolf. And the werewolf tag has just gotten used because I think that people really didn’t know what else to call it.
“I started checking it out. I talked to the editor of The Week newspaper here, and which I used to work for. He said, ‘Why don’t you check around a little bit and see what you hear?’ This was about the end of December. And being a weekly newspaper that I worked for, we weren’t really hard news; we were much more feature oriented. So, I asked a friend who had a daughter in high school and she said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what everybody’s talking about.’ So, I started my investigations and got one name from the woman who told me about it. She was also a part-time bus driver. In my first phone call to the bus driver, she told me that she had called the County Animal Control Officer. So, of course, when you’re a reporter, anytime you have a chance to find anything official that’s where you go. I went to see him and, sure enough, he had a folder in his file draw that he had actually marked Werewolf, in a tongue-in-cheek way. The werewolf (or the weird wolf!) is still with us. People had been phoning in to him to say that they had seen something. They didn’t know what it was. But from their descriptions, that’s what he had put. So, of course, that made it a news story. When you have a public official, the County Animal Control Officer, who has a folder marked Werewolf, that’s news. It was very unusual." Indeed, it was!