Dec 06, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Werewolves That Don't Shape-Shift: Dog-Men and Wulvers

When it comes to the matter of werewolves, most people think of silver bullets and shapeshifting. Not so, though. The fact is that most people who have encountered the Dog-Men, haven't seen the creatures morph. There's another such creature that is just the same: it's called the Wulver. It, too, doesn't shapeshift, but looks just like a werewolf. With that said, let's have a look at the lore and legend of the Wulver. In her 1933 book, Shetland Traditional Lore, the noted folklorist Jessie Margaret Saxby, wrote: “The Wulver was a creature like a man with a wolf’s head. He had short brown hair all over him. His home was a cave dug out of the side of a steep knowe, half-way up a hill. He didn’t molest folk if folk didn’t molest him. He was fond of fishing, and had a small rock in the deep water which is known to this day as the ‘Wulver's Stane.’ There he would sit fishing sillaks and piltaks for hour after hour. He was reported to have frequently left a few fish on the window-sill of some poor body.” Unlike the traditional werewolf, the Wulver was not a shape-shifter. Its semi-human, semi-wolf appearance was natural and unchanging.  One of the most fascinating, and certainly disturbing, accounts of a Wulver came from Elliott O’Donnell. Shortly after the start of the 20th century, O’Donnell interviewed a man named Andrew Warren, who had a startling story to tell. O’Donnell carefully recorded every word that Warren had to say. The priceless account reads:

“I was about fifteen years of age at the time, and had for several years been residing with my grandfather, who was an elder in the Kirk [Church] of Scotland. He was much interested in geology, and literally filled the house with fossils from the pits and caves round where we dwelt. One morning he came home in a great state of excitement, and made me go with him to look at some ancient remains he had found at the bottom of a dried-up tarn [lake]." '‘Look!’ he cried, bending down and pointing at them, ‘here is a human skeleton with a wolf’s head. What do you make of it?’ I told him I did not know, but supposed it must be some kind of monstrosity. ‘It’s a werewolf’ he rejoined, ‘that’s what it is. A werewolf! This island was once overrun with satyrs and werewolves! Help me carry it to the house.’  “I did as he bid me, and we placed it on the table in the back kitchen. That evening I was left alone in the house, my grandfather and the other members of the household having gone to the kirk. For some time I amused myself reading, and then, fancying I heard a noise in the back premises, I went into the kitchen. There was no one about, and becoming convinced that it could only have been a rat that had disturbed me, I sat on the table alongside the alleged remains of the werewolf, and waited to see if the noises would recommence. I was thus waiting in a listless sort of way, my back bent, my elbows on my knees, looking at the floor and thinking of nothing in particular, when there came a loud rat, tat, tat of knuckles on the window-pane. I immediately turned in the direction of the noise and encountered, to my alarm, a dark face looking in at me. At first dim and indistinct, it became more and more complete, until it developed into a very perfectly defined head of a wolf terminating in the neck of a human being. 

(Nick Redfern) The Dog-Man looks dangerous, but it's just from the depths of our own minds

“Though greatly shocked, my first act was to look in every direction for a possible reflection - but in vain. There was no light either without or within, other than that from the setting sun - nothing that could in any way have produced an illusion. I looked at the face and marked each feature intently. It was unmistakably a wolf’s face, the jaws slightly distended; the lips wreathed in a savage snarl; the teeth sharp and white; the eyes light green; the ears pointed. The expression of the face was diabolically malignant, and as it gazed straight at me my horror was as intense as my wonder. This it seemed to notice, for a look of savage exultation crept into its eyes, and it raised one hand - a slender hand, like that of a woman, though with prodigiously long and curved finger-nails - menacingly, as if about to dash in the window-pane. Remembering what my grandfather had told me about evil spirits, I crossed myself; but as this had no effect, and I really feared the thing would get at me, I ran out of the kitchen and shut and locked the door, remaining in the hall till the family returned. My grandfather was much upset when I told him what had happened, and attributed my failure to make the spirit depart to my want of faith. Had he been there, he assured me, he would soon have got rid of it; but he nevertheless made me help him remove the bones from the kitchen, and we reinterred them in the very spot where we had found them, and where, for aught I know to the contrary, they still lie.”

Dr. Karl Shuker, who has made a careful study of this particular case, says: “Quite aside from its highly sensational storyline, it is rather difficult to take seriously any account featuring someone (Warren’s grandfather) who seriously believed that the Hebrides were ‘...once overrun with satyrs and werewolves’! By comparison, and despite his youthful age, Warren's own assumption that the skeleton was that of a deformed human would seem eminently more sensible - at least until the remainder of his account is read. Notwithstanding Warren's claim that his account was factual, however, the arrival of what was presumably another of the deceased wolf-headed entity's kind, seeking the return of the skeleton to its original resting place, draws upon a common theme in traditional folklore and legend.”

Now, let's turn our attentions towards the Dog-Man: nearly all of the cases involved relate to an upright, wolf-like thing. But, there's hardly any shapeshfting going down. There is a very good reason for that: the Dog-Men don't act like flesh and blood animals, but as nothing less than Tulpas. And, if you're not familiar with Tulpas, read on: Born in 1868, Alexandra David-Neel had a rich and fulfilling life; it was a life that lasted for just short of an incredible 101 years. She was someone for whom just about every day was filled with adventure and excitement. She was a disciple of Buddhism, was strongly drawn to the concept of anarchy, and had a particular affinity with Tibet and its people, much of which is described in her acclaimed 1929 book, Magic and Mystery in Tibet. It’s a fine and entertaining tale of road-trip proportions and with a large dose of the supernatural thrown in. It was while in Tibet that David-Neel became acquainted – deeply acquainted - with the phenomenon of the Tulpa. Like so many people that came before her and since, however, she found herself in the icy grip of a thought-form that, when primed, activated and called forth, was determined to keep the priceless life to which it had quickly become accustomed. David-Neel used her very own experiences to demonstrate to her readers the extent to which one creates a Tulpa at one’s own eternal peril: “Once the Tulpa is endowed with enough vitality to be capable of playing the part of a real being, it tends to free itself from its makers’ control. This, say Tibetan occultists, happens nearly mechanically, just as a child, when his body is completed and able to live apart, leaves its mother’s womb. Sometimes the phantom becomes a rebellious son and one hears of uncanny struggles that have taken place between magicians and their creatures, the former being severely hurt or even killed by the latter.”

(Nick Redfern) "A kind of guest"

You would have thought all of this knowledge would have dissuaded David-Neel from following the path that so many trod earlier and paid the price. But, no. She was ready and fired up for the challenge.  David-Neel knew precisely of what she wrote way back in the 1920s – as well as of the inherent dangers. Indeed, on one occasion in Tibet she unwisely chose to create her very own Tulpa. She did so in the form of a rotund, beaming, jollity-filled monk. By the end of the experience, however, there was nothing fun-filled or even chubby about her strange creation. As David-Neel described it, she performed certain procedures and rites – all taught to her by her Buddhist friends in Tibet, and all designed to place her into a state of mind that would make the manifestation of the monk an all but guaranteed reality. It was a long and drawn-out procedure, one which lasted not for days or even for weeks: it went on for no less than months. Dedication was most definitely the order of the day. Finally, the day came when David-Neel saw her creation – in her very own abode, if not exactly in what we would call the flesh. At first, at least, the monk was a character that could only be seen as a brief, shadowy manifestation of something barely recognizable. As time progressed, however, the monk became more and more physical and substantial. One can see this clearly in David-Neel’s own words. She said that he eventually “became a kind of guest, living in my apartment."

It was shortly after her monk was “born” that David-Neel temporarily left her apartment behind her and “started for a tour, with my servants and tents.” By now, the creature had a strong presence in David-Neel’s environment, to the extent that she no longer needed to focus on the monk to make him appear. The monk would now materialize when and where he wanted to appear, regardless of what David-Neel’s plans might have been for him. This was far from being a good sign: the tables were slowly, carefully, and less than subtly, being turned. As its time in our world progressed, said David-Neel, so did the monk’s progression from a shadowy figure to that of a physical entity. And, to the extent that, on several occasions, she felt his robe brush softly against her. One time, she even felt his hand grip her shoulder. There was nothing playful about any or all of this, however, as David-Neel soon came to realize – and to her cost. As time progressed, and as the monk became far less like a fragmentary thought-form and far more like a fully-formed person, something ominous happened. The Tulpa began to physically change. Its chubby form altered; it became noticeably slimmer and far more toned and lithe. A fat visage was replaced by sculpted cheekbones of the kind that an up and coming Hollywood star would kill for. His original, smiling and beaming appearance was soon gone. It was replaced by a slyly and knowingly evil face. The creature became “troublesome and bold.” Then, there was the most terrifying development of all – if “development” is the correct word to use. David-Neel said that the day finally arrived when her monk-of-the-mind “escaped my control.” The monster was now fully free of its moorings .

What had begun for David-Neel as an interesting and alternative experiment concerning the issue of what amounts to reality, was now a downright state of emergency. There was only one way to solve the problem, a knowledgeable lama told her, and that was for David-Neel to destroy her creation. It wasn’t quite so easy. Just like the unfortunate doctor in Mary Shelley’s classic gothic novel of 1818, Frankenstein, David-Neel didn’t just come to rue the day she created her supernatural thing. She also found it extremely difficult to end its life. It took close to half a year, David-Neel said, before the manipulative creature was finally dissolved and forever wiped from the face of existence. It was far from an easy task, as David-Neel admitted: “My mind-creature was tenacious of life." Very much the same could be said of Eric Knudsen’s version of the Slenderman: it’s likely now relishing its lease on life. And, it scarcely needs saying that the Slenderman hardly seems to be the kind of character who would be willing to give up everything that he has now attained: countless numbers of eager followers, the ability to manipulate our minds as he sees fit, the means to create mayhem and death, and a sense of overwhelming power.

(Nick Redfern) Tulpas: The creations of us, whether we realize or not

The primary reasons why I say the Dog-Men might be Tulpas are several. Strange wolf-like creatures - that have the ability to walk, and run, on their back legs (hence the werewolf imagery) - have been seen for centuries, but now they are growing in number. That is exactly what happened when the Tulpa version of the Slenderman surfaced: more and more people believed it was real. And, as a result, it came to life. And more and more Slendermen were seen. There's also the fact that the Dog-Men appear on so many occasions crossing roads. And at crossroads, where so many supernatural events occur. And, although the creatures terrify people, they never actually slice them into pieces or kill them. It's like a loop going over and over again. In conclusion: (A) the Wulver doesn't shapeshift because it's a flesh and blood animal (it doesn't have the supernatural powers that might have allowed it to change its form); and (B) the Dog-Man-Tulpa wasn't primed to shapeshift and kill in the first place. It was just primed to terrorize, like a huge, frightening guard dog. And that's why we don't see the creatures shapeshifting.

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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