The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings Brad Steiger
There are two basic ways by which one might become a werewolf: voluntary and involuntary.
According to the ancient Greeks, any skilled sorcerer who so chose could become a werewolf. Throughout history, self-professed werewolves have mentioned a "magic girdle" or "magic belt," which they wear about their middles, or a "magic salve" which they apply liberally to their naked bodies. Others tell of inhaling or imbibing certain potions.
Magical texts advise those who wish to become a werewolf to disrobe, rub a magical ointment freely over their flesh, place a girdle made of human or wolf skin around their waist, then cover their entire body with the pelt of a wolf. To accelerate the process, they should drink beer mixed with blood and chant a particular magical formula.
Some werewolves claim to have achieved their shapeshifting ability by having drunk water from the paw print of a wolf. Once this had been accomplished, they ate the brains of a wolf and slept in its lair.
One ancient text prescribes a ritual for the magician who is eager to become a shapeshifter. He is told to wait until the night of a full moon, then enter the forest at midnight. Then, according to the instructions:
Draw two concentric circles on the ground, one six feet in diameter, the other 14 feet in diameter. Build a fire in the center of the inner circle and place a tripod over the flames. Suspend from the tripod an iron pot full of water. Bring the water to a full boil and throw into the pot a handful each of aloe, hemlock, poppy seed, and nightshade. As the ingredients are being stirred in the iron pot, call aloud to the spirits of the restless dead, the spirits of the foul darkness, the spirits of the hateful, and the spirits of werewolves and satyrs.
Once the summons for the various spirits of darkness have been shouted into the night, the person who aspires to become a werewolf should strip off all of his clothing and smear his body with the fat of a freshly killed animal that has been mixed with anise, camphor, and opium. The next step is to take the wolfskin that he has brought with him, wrap it around his middle like a loincloth, then kneel down at the boundaries of the large circle and remain in that position until the fire dies out. When this happens, the power that the disciple of darkness has summoned should make its presence known to him.
If the magician has done everything correctly, the dark force will announce its presence by loud shrieks and groans. Later, if the would-be werewolf has not been terrified and frightened away by the dark one's awful screams and groans, it will materialize in any one of a number forms, most likely that of a horrible half-human, half-beast monster. Once it has manifested in whatever form it desires, the dark one force will conduct its transaction with the magician and allow him henceforth to assume the shape of a wolf whenever he wears his wolfskin loincloth.
By far the most familiar involuntary manner in which one becomes a werewolf is to be bitten or scratched by such a creature. In the same category would be those men and women who are transformed into werewolves by being cursed for their sins or by being the victim of a sorcerer's incantations.
Another involuntary means of becoming a werewolf, according to some old traditions, is to be born on Christmas Eve. The very process of one's birth on that sacred night, according to certain ecclesiastical scholars, is an act of blasphemy since it detracts from the full attention that should be given to the nativity of Jesus. Thus, those born on that night are condemned to be werewolves unless they prove themselves to be pious beyond reproach in all thoughts, words, and deeds throughout their lifetime.
Sources: Eisler, Robert. Man into Wolf. London: Spring Books, n.d. Spence, Lewis. An Encyclopedia of Occultism. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1960.
Copyright (c) 1999 Visible Ink Press