What Happens to a Werewolf in the Harvest Moon?

The condition of  shapeshifting into a wolf in the full moon is, of course, known as lycanthropy. September brings us the full moon closest to the Autumn equinox.  The Harvest Moon will appear bigger and brighter tonight and will inspire increased activity from werewolves. According to some folklore, they will be compelled to leave their hunting grounds in the woods and make their way to open fields where they will prowl about howling at the moon. Farmers were traditionally at danger of being attacked by werewolves as they worked the fields late into the evening by the light of the harvest moon. Tonight, werewolves will more frequently be found crossing roads and gardens to make their way to these open fields. It might be that there is not increased aggression, as there is with the October Blood Moon coming soon, but there will be increased activity!!

If you spot one, be advised they can run to 66 miles per hour, and stay away from open fields or areas with large power cables – some say werewolves are drawn to electrical radiation!!

Werewolves are frequently sighted in places in the UK where there were once wolves, the Yorkshire wolds for example. These are werewolf hot spots. Many people believe that there are no British werewolves, but this is not true. There are a number of  intriguing werewolf myths in the UK. The Dogdyke Werewolf in Lincolnshire is one example, and Old Stinker, the Hull Werewolf. He’s a nine-foot werewolf who stands upright and has a very human face. He frequents the ill-smelling Barmston Drain area of Hull, supposedly the site of murders and suicides. He has very, very bad breath, possibly the result of eating corpses – hence his name! You can read my essay on Old Stinker and the English Eerie in the OGOM special issue of Gothic Studies on Werewolves and Wildness. You can find out all about the issue here

The myth of the Werewolf of Dogdyke in Lincolnshire  was first recorded in 1926 when one Christopher Marlowe, who lived in nearby Langrick Fen, supposedly found a skeleton of a half-wolf half-man creature buried in the peat. He took the corpse back to his house and was later awoken by the head of a large wolf looking at him through the window. This creature is very shadowy, appearing also in wolf form. It is worth noting too that the Hebrides, the Vale of Doones in Exmoor, and Merionethshire in Wales have similar earlier records of eerie werewolf hauntings, thought to be the earth-born spirits of werewolves recorded by Elliott O’Donnell in 1912.  

These werewolf hauntings fit well with the theory I developed around the werewolf as spectre wolf. In Why We Should Welcome the Return of Old Stinker, the English Werewolf, I give my reasons as to why this dark, gothicised creature has replaced the extinct flesh and blood animal in the popular imagination in Britain.

If you are in a werewolf hotspot in the UK tonight for the Harvest Moon, you might want to stay indoors!!

About Lucy Northenra

Senior Lecturer in Literature, University of Hertfordshire
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