Before the dawn of our modern society, word of mouth was the main mode of transportation for information and stories. Anyone who has every tried to pass on a piece of information via word of mouth would know that this information often becomes jumbled and misconstrued. Some historians believe this process of orally passing along stories and information is what resulted in our current folklore of werewolves and vampires. But, did you know that some Medieval Europe societies believed there was a very strong connection between werewolves and vampires?
During the 19th century, the Greek culture would completely destroy the corpse of anyone believed to be a werewolf. If the corpse was not destroyed, they believed it would rise in the form of a vampiric wolf, which would stalk battlefields and drink the blood of dying soldiers. To save the lives of their soldiers, they had to destroy these beastly creatures and ensure that they never killed another soul. Now, it is one thing for a single culture to believe this notion, but it gets strange when other parts of the world follow it, too.
Around the same period of time as when the Greeks were destroying werewolf corpses, Germany, Poland, and parts of France were destroying the corpses of people who died in mortal sin. These countries believed that individuals who perished in this manner would come back as a blood-drinking wolf; however, unlike the Greeks, these countries viewed the wolf as an undead apparition, rather than a living creature. During the night it would stalk and hunt its prey, but when the sunlight returned, the creature would take on a human form, making it nearly impossible to discover the identity of the vampiric werewolf.
To destroy the corpse of a vampiric werewolf found in Germany, Poland, or France, priests were brought in to perform exorcisms. If that failed, decapitation with a spade was the next best option. Once the head was severed from the body, it was thrown into a river, where it would sink under the weight of its own sins, supposedly. If there was no river nearby, the same methods for disposing of a vampire would be used on the werewolf.
In Haitian culture, there is a belief in something very similar to the traditional European werewolf – the jé-rouges. Resembling a wolf-man, these creatures stalk the Haitian landscape, looking for mothers of young children. Upon finding one, they daze the mother and ask her to willingly release the child into the custody of the jé-rouges. Differing from their European cousins, these werewolves actively spread their lycanthropic disease to as many individuals as possible, resembling a key trait of the traditional vampire.
If you are anything like me, you love werewolves and vampires, and now you can enjoy both of them together, like peanut butter and chocolate, but more horrifying.