I thought I would take the time to take about shape-shifting. One thing I have noticed, and find to be quite interesting and intriguing is the fact that almost everything I have posted upon this blog, near every creature of myth and lore all have one thing in common, and that is they are all granted the ability to shape-shift. The ability to shape-shift has appeared time and time again in almost all of my posts. According to some legends even the Vampire has been granted the ability to shape-shift, and even some of the counts of witchcraft included accounts of shape-shifting.
So the question is, what is it about the act of shape-shifting that makes it span across the globe, and appear in just about every culture. I have mulled this over, to try and find some possible psychology reason for this, and what shape-shifting might represent to make it such a universal, as I do not think it is a simple coincidence that so many people in the past have included this ability in their lore.
And to me it seems to touch back the basic fear, of what today we call “A wolf in sheep clothing” that is the simple fear that perhaps the people we meet might not be who or what we think they are, and that evil can hide anywhere. There is no true sanctuary and safety. It is a cautionary tale to always take care and be upon the look out. That the things which may appear most harmless could in fact be a monster in disguise. It if it is considered how dangerous and dark the world once have been. People were very superstitious and fearful of the world around. It can also be applied in a rather practical sense. The fact that many animals might appear to be harmless, but can weld deadly poisons if one is not careful. So it is best to be leery of all things.
The idea, that evil can hide its true face and move among the people going undetected, this also makes anyone susceptible and a possible victim. It is also interesting to note the gender differences in the nature of some shape-shifters, which cannot be ignored. As in many cases, male shapeshifters use their abilities in order to lure women, and there are equally many stories of female shapeshfiters using their talents to lure in men.
It is interesting to note that the women who fall prey to these creatures in many cases, usually end up being violently assaulted in someway, which often leads to her death. While the men often who are taken by some enchanting woman, are taken away somewhere to be held prisoner, and have their free will taken from them, and while many survive they are often left devastated.
We can see the clear implications within this. Man’s physical power over woman. The fact that as have been mentioned before, woman’s greatest virtue was her “purity” and “innocence” and how if a woman is not careful, and if she allows herself to be seduced, how easily she can be taken advantage of, used, and in the past, it would ruin a woman, she would become an outcast of society, and so she might as well be dead.
While on the other hand, men must be cautious of the charms of women, and how easily he could loose his freedom if he is deceived by a woman who uses her beauty to try and tempt him, and than ropes him down.
But there is more to shapeshifting than just this. Shapesifting also has a deep “natural” quality to it, it is often something that is seen as being tied to the earth in someway, something a part of nature. Many of those who are granted with the ability of shapeshifting are elemental beings, or other nature spirits, and it is common in addition to their abilities to take the form of men and women, they also tend to have a host of animals in which they can hide themselves as.
One thing that is interesting about this, is that these creatures all have some unnatural quality to them. Naturally creatures of myth and lore, are abnormal, they are often from some other world, or plane, they are not something that can be found in the natural world. Yet they are granted with the ability to disguise themselves and take form of something “normal.”
Now there is the obvious reason for this. Which is the fact that if many of these creatures tried to appear in their true form, their victims would run before they were allowed to get anywhere near, as many of them are often rather hideous and frightening looking. So they must take another form in order to get near enough their pray to strike. There are many stories of some form of deception that is used to lure in their prey. Which touches back to the universal idea of the trait of evil to hide itself. Even today people say psychopaths do not always look like psychopaths, you cannot tell just by looking at a person if they are going to turn out to be an axe murder. And this idea is tied into the undercurrent of fear, of the unknown.
But again, there is something deeper under this I think.
I have tried to do research to see if anyone else has written about the subject of the prevalence of shapeshifting through so many different cultures, and what theories on the issue might be floating around out there, but it seems that this aspect of the issue has not been addressed. At least not that I could find. There are many articles about the many different aspects of shapeshifting, and the fact that it does appear in almost every culture, and different types of shapeshifting, but nothing exploring why it is such a universal myth.
There are so many different forms of shapeshifting that it would truly take years to give a proper in depth analysis and research to this subject to begin to really understand it and begin to peel back some of the layers. This article is really only half-formed theories and only the basis for a complete understanding of the subject. Though it is a subject that has captivates my interest and one I plan on sticking behind. This is but a mere draft of an attempt to try and explain some of the many varied aspects of such a complex subject.
There are shapeshifting that involves human to animal.
shapeshifting that involves some sort of demon, elemental, entity, into animal, or into human
There is also the spiritual side of shapeshifting which I have not explored here. Most of what I have spoke of above, referred to shapehsifting as some form of evil, as such follows along the lines of the nature of this blog. Or at least what humans perceive as evil, but in some cultures there is also shapeshifting as a sacred and wise art to be revered. And that is a topic I have not even began to touch.
Each of these different forms comes with their own implications, but there is still an undercurrent connecting all of these myths and stories which span not only the globe, but time as well.