Thursday, 27 November 2014

lycanthrope or heutoscopic

I had always thought that the majority of the corporeal menagerie of beastly creatures could be chalked-up to dull glances and keen imaginations, like witnessing the novelty of horseback riding and constructing the centaur—to be later embellished with a mythological pedigree and literary tradition.

I am learning, however, that chimera—and not just to philosophically quizzical kind from Greek lore (like our old friend, poor sad Cyclopes, whom was just a normal oafish giant until he traded one eye for the ability to see into the future—however, that gift of foresight was limited to being able to see his time of death), often carry a pretty heady cerebral burden as well, which may not have followed too long after or may well be the manifestations our mental-constructs were looking to project.  I had believed that werewolves and were-bears (Beowulf means bee-hunter or rather honey-bear) were frightened hearsay from survivors who had encountered fierce warriors who dressed in animal skins and head-dresses, and while that may be the original inspiration from an outside perspective, there was also something highly ritualistic and complex going on for those who donned and doffed the pelts themselves. Like the game-face of the brutal Achaean fighter Ajax, the ancient Vikings also had a tradition of working themselves into a frenzied rage before going into battle, making themselves berserk.
These possessed Berserkers were named after the bear-shirts that the wore and fought with super-human strength. From the psychological perspective of the Germanic peoples, however, the warrior was not transformed into an animal—at least not in a straightforward manner. These people put stock in the belief of out-of-body experiences and though the human soul, which was taken to be a shadow of its corporeal self—a Doppelgänger, would vacate the body to allow an animal spirit to inhabit it and the displaced human soul popped up somewhere else, usually as one of the relief crew sleeping through the first phase of the skirmish while its Berserker-self was engaged in the fight. Heutoscopy is the clinical term for seeing one’s divided self. It was a very bad omen to encounter one’s own evil twin, and usually the strength was sapped from both.