Nov 13, 2022 I Nick Redfern

My Fascination with the World of Werewolves: Yes, the Real Ones

People often ask me why I have such a fascination with the world of the werewolf. Yes, the real ones. They do exist. Or, at the very least, a certain type of strange wolf lives among us and can rise up on its back limbs; something that makes it look like a werewolf. With that said, I'll share with you now how and why I got involved in the domain of the werewolf. As a kid I grew up near to a large, dense area of forest in central England called Cannock Chase. And, I loved forests. And, I have to say that I still do. Not only was the Cannock Chase home to the normal animals, such as deer, rabbits, snakes, and squirrels, it was also the home to – wait for it – bands of dangerous and deadly werewolves. No, I’m not lying or exaggerating, at all. Sightings of nothing less than upright, hairy creatures have been seen deep in the heart of the mysterious forest for decades. Some say way longer than that. There’s something else, too: I had my own experience with a werewolf in 2002. Except that it occurred while I was deep in a state of paralysis in my bedroom – and I was half awake. That I was unable to move didn’t do me any good. In fact, it was a nightmare. As I am someone who believes that the phenomenon of sleep paralysis sleep has an external, supernatural aspect to it (rather than it being due to the mysteries of the mind), I feel it’s relevant to share the story here. In other words, it was not just a dream. It was around 4.00 a.m. and I was awake and yet not awake. And I couldn’t move. I was suddenly aware that something was slowly heading down the corridor of my duplex that linked the bedroom to the living room. 

(Nick Redfern) Beware of the Dogman / Werewolf / Upright wolf

That “something” was nothing less than a humanoid figure with the head of a huge wolf and equally huge fangs. It was attired in a long, flowing black cape. Not just that, it emitted strange and rapid growling noises that seemed to be an unintelligible language. And the creature, whatever its origin was, seemed mightily pissed off about something. As it closed in on the room, I made a supreme effort to move my rigid, paralyzed form and finally succeeded, just as the beast entered the bedroom. In an instant it was gone and I was wide-awake. It was a bizarre and terrifying situation. And, for a couple of days, there was a hard-to-explain, menacing atmosphere in the home. It was a one-time experience; the vile creature never returned. There’s yet another thing, too, that made me become very enthusiastic for this new idea. Read on: I grew up in a small village in central England called Pelsall, which is a very old village, to say the least: Its origins date back to 994 A.D. But, far more important and relevant than that, Pelsall is located only about a ten minute drive from the site of what, ultimately, became one of the most controversial, weird, and - some even said - paranormal-themed events of the early 20th Century. And it all focused upon a man named George Edalji.

Edalji, who was the son of a priest, lived in the very nearby, old town of Great Wyrley, and was thrust into the limelight in 1903 when he was convicted, sentenced and imprisoned for maiming and mutilating horses in the area - reportedly in the dead of night, and, some believed, for reasons related to nothing less than full blown occult rite and ritual. Collectively, the horse slashing and deaths generated not only a great deal of concern at a local level, but also anger, fear, and a distinct trust of the Edalji family, who the locals had consistently frowned deeply upon ever since they moved to the area years earlier. Notably, however, such was the publicity given to the case of George Edalji, and his subsequent lengthy prison sentence, that even none other than the creator of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself - sat up and took careful notice of the case, its developments, and the outcome for Edalji. Actually, Conan Doyle did far more than just that. Fully believing that there had been a huge miscarriage of justice in the Edalji affair, he highlighted it, wrote about it, and even loudly complained to the government of the day about it - events that, combined with the work of others, ultimately led to Edalji’s early release from prison. 

But, for me, growing up practically on the doorstep of where all of the old bloodthirsty carnage occurred decades earlier, what I found fascinating - even as a kid - were the weirder aspects of the matter. And, I hasten to add, there were a great deal of them, too. Stories did the rounds locally for years suggesting that not only was Edalji not the culprit, but that the attacker wasn't even human! A giant, monstrous bird; a large ape trained via hypnosis, no less; and an equally-well-trained group of wild boar were all suggested as being viable candidates for the attacks. However, in whispered words, there were rumors that Edalji was – by night, of course – a rampaging werewolf. And, there’s another thing; a last piece of information that I find very intriguing: as a kid, I was fascinated by werewolves, both in fiction and fact. I don’t know why. But, my fascination for werewolves started around the age of five or six, and it’s never gone away. Along the winding path, I have had a deep look at the world of shape-shifting, witchcraft, the occult, psychedelics, multi-dimensions, and just about everything else that comes into the domain of the werewolf.

(Nick Redfern) The old church that George Edalji's father ran. It still stands

The article that you are reading now deals with a subject that many people might assume falls solely into the domains of folklore, mythology and legend. They would, however, be wrong. In fact, they would be acutely wrong. Shapeshifting, for most people, provokes imagery of nothing more than centuries-old tales of savage, murderous werewolves and of big-bucks movies, such as An American Werewolf in London, Underworld, Dog Soldiers, and The Wolfman. That is not the case, however. As incredible as it may seem, shapeshifters are not merely the stuff of Hollywood and urban tales of a friend-of-a-friend variety. Rather, they are all too menacingly real. And, they are not all of the man-turns-into-wolf variety, either. Quite the opposite, actually: shapeshifters come in all kinds and sizes and have done so for countless millennia. While the traditional image of the werewolf is, without a doubt, the first thing that springs to mind when a discussion of shapeshifters takes place, the truth of the matter is that there is a veritable menagerie of such infernal things in our midst. Were-cats, were-tigers, were-hyenas, and were-coyotes are also near the top of the monstrous list. Then, there are the ancient beliefs that those who died violent deaths – or those who were, themselves, murderers – were often destined to return to our plain of existence in the forms of hideous beasts, including wild and savage ape-like animals, fearsome black dogs with glowing and blazing red eyes, and mermaid-like things. There are also beings from other worlds: aliens, extraterrestrials, and Men in Black. Yes, you did read that correct.

Even the legendary monsters of Loch Ness, Scotland, are believed – in certain monster-hunting quarters – to be paranormal beasts that have the ability to alter their appearances at will. As are legendary vampires, who, the old legends suggest, can transform into the likes of bats and wolves. Collectively, all of these “things” amount to an absolute army of otherworldly creatures, and half-human monsters that have plagued and tormented us since the dawning of civilization. And, they show zero signs of slowing down anytime soon. The things you thought were only fit for campfire tales, late-night stories intended to thrill little children, and entertaining monster-movies, are, in actuality, creatures of the real world. Of our world. Shapeshifters are everywhere: they lurk in the shadows, in the deep woods and expansive forests, in dark and dank caves, and in the murky waters of our lakes and rivers. Maybe even, after sunset, in the recesses of your very own backyard, patiently waiting to pounce. And many of them like nothing better than to terrorize and torment us, the human race. With that all said, it’s now time to take a wild and weird road-trip into the mystery-filled domain of creatures that so many will assure you simply do not exist. I’m here, however, to tell you otherwise. Shapeshifters are disturbingly real. And you’re about to meet them, in all their savage and sinister glory. As you read this book, and as day becomes night, keep those silver-bullets close at hand. Very close. You know. Just in case.

As for what werewolves really are, well, there's no-one better to go to for the answers. You may have guessed: Linda Godfrey, the expert in the fields of werewolves, Dogmen and shapeshifters. When I put this issue to Linda, she told me the following: "I’ve had a woman write me who insists it’s a wolf. And I think a lot of people subscribe to that theory; yes, it’s definitely a wolf and can’t be anything else. But that doesn’t explain the large size. We’ve had all sorts of theories; mental patients escaping or some crazy guy running around. A hoaxer is another theory; that it’s somebody running around in a werewolf suit. One or two could have been that, but I tend to have my doubts about that, because the incidents are isolated and not close together. One of the sightings was on Halloween, but that’s also one of the people who got a really good look at it and they’re sure it wasn’t a human in a costume. Otherwise, most of them have been in really remote locations where, if you were going to hoax, the person would have to have been sitting out there in the cold just waiting for somebody to come along. So, if it’s a hoaxer, my hat’s off to them. But I tend not to think that’s the case. I don’t rule it out completely because once publicity gets out, things like that can happen.

(Nick Redfern) Me and Linda Godfrey debating on Dogmen and werewolves

“Two hunters quite a bit farther north saw what looked like two ‘dog children’ standing up in the woods. They were too scared to shoot when they saw them. They were not tall; they were juvenile-looking, standing upright, which is what scared them. But, otherwise, it’s a single creature. Most of the sightings I receive aren’t recent, and so people can’t remember too well what the moon was like. But most of the sightings occur around the fall when the cornfields get big and there’s really good hiding cover. So, that’s anywhere from late August through November. And I’ve had some sightings from the spring. But there are other theories as well for what is going on. “Occasionally I’ll get letters from people who say they are lycanthropes themselves and their theory is that this is an immature, real werewolf and it cannot control its transformation, and that’s why it allows itself to be seen occasionally. They are completely convinced of that. And there are people who believe it’s a manifestation of satanic forces, that it’s a part of a demonic thing. They point to various occult activities around here. There are also people who try to link it to UFOs. Then there’s the theory it’s just a dog. One woman, a medium, thought that it was a natural animal but didn’t know what it was. And there are a lot of people out here that do wolf-hybridizations, and I’ve thought to myself you’d get something like that. But that doesn’t explain the upright posture. Then there’s the theory that it’s a creature known as the Windigo or Wendigo, which is featured in Indian legends and is supposedly a supernatural creature that lives on human flesh. But none of the descriptions from the Windigo legends describe a creature with canine features."

“There’s another possibility," said Linda," I think a lot of these people are seeing different things. And that when they heard somebody else talk about something, there’s a tendency to say, ‘Oh, that must be what I saw.’ There’s really no way to know. And there are differences in some of the sightings. I’ve had people ask me, ‘Are you sure this isn’t Bigfoot?’ Most of the sightings really don’t sound like what people report as Bigfoot. But a couple of them do. There’s one man who saw it in the 1960s in a different area of the county, who insists positively that he saw a Bigfoot, but doesn’t want anyone saying he saw a werewolf. And the terrain around here isn’t really the typical sort of Bigfoot terrain of forests where people usually report these things. We do have woods and a big state forest, but it’s a narrow band of forest. It’s a lot of prairie and is not what you would think a Bigfoot would live in. But you never know. I’ve also had the baboon theory, which I find extremely unlikely." So, as Linda's words demonstrate, there are multiple theories for what is going on. But, what we can say for sure is this: whether you believe in literal werewolves or not, there are strange creatures out there that look like wolves, that can walk like us, and that seem to have a paranormal aspect attched to them. Look out! You have been warned: werewolves - or something like them - hide in stealth in our world.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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