“I wrote this short little fable with a goal in mind: create a short backstory for a different spin in werewolves. I created it for a group project that didn’t get off the ground, but I liked it enough to let it rattle around in my Dropbox until now.
The thing is, I really love werewolves. It almost doesn’t matter what lore or style; I can find something I love about any werewolf. That said, there are lots of common threads. Your typical werewolf story focuses on the transformation element (usually symbolic for puberty or some other relatable body change) or the ‘pack’ element, and there is usually some sort of commentary on the wilder side of human nature.
All of that stuff leads to great stories. I dig it – but I wanted to try a different angle. Not to say that others haven’t, either! There are tons of cool and unique spins on the werewolf out there. For this project, I wanted to go outside familiar territory, too. I imagined a secluded, scholarly culture of werewolves tasked with keeping ancient knowledge, forbidden magic, and unspeakable secrets.
Talking to the Moon is an origin story for this culture, so to speak.”
They say that somewhere, far away from the hum of civilization, lies a forest as old as the world itself. Within that forest is another realm, hidden away from outside realities. Those who enter that realm find a place without time or permanence. Ancient knowledge is whispered by the wind, and where the trees shudder with magic.
Travelers find themselves drawn to the center of the wood, where a great spirit is said to live. It is said that this wise spirit will bestow a blessing upon visitors, if only they manage to find it.
Many have tried, but most become enamored with the beauty of the forest. They move in circles and wander endlessly, never to return.
That, at least, is what the stories say.
Long ago, a man walked into the forest. He was a strong soul, filled with nervous bravery. He had no lofty ideals, no powerful weapon, nor even allies to rely upon. He had nothing, and he knew he was weak. Yet he took the first step into that wood, through the tangle of vines which marked its boundary, seeking not blessings, but answers.
He was from a tribe whose name is now lost. They were forest people, who loved the Earth and all its wonders. They adorned themselves with flowers and bones. They carved their dwellings into the faces of ancient trees, always with the permission of its spirit. Their idols bore the features of animals that they revered. But above all, the tribe loved the sun. The sun, they said, was a provider. Its arms caressed the world, bringing warmth and light.
The tribe reveled in their love of the sun, but they lived in mortal fear of the moon. When its pale form appeared in the fading daylight, they knew that darkness would follow. The darkness brought all manner of evils, from the snapping jaws of beasts to the murmurs of sinister, formless spirits.
If the moon was the bringer of evil, then wolves were its heralds. When wolves howled in the night, the little forest tribe huddled in fear, for they believed that the wolves courted the moon, waking it from its rest and drawing it into the sky. The wolves were in love with the moon, they said. They called to it.
Though superstitious and frightened, that lone man took to the enchanted wood. He wanted to know why.
His trials were many, but they are not what this story is about. A thousand tales could be told of this gentle warrior’s time in the enchanted wood. But this story is about what he found in the center. There, it is said that he met the spirit. And the spirit appeared to him in the form of a great wolf, whose pelt shined like silver in the moonlight.
“How can this be, spirit?” the man asked. “Wolves call to the darkness. They bring us fear and pain.”
“Not so,” said the spirit. “Your people fear what you do not understand. The wolves howl because they speak the language of the moon. They wish to converse with her.”
“But the moon is wicked,” said the man.
“Again, you are mistaken. The moon is not wicked, and neither is the night. Friend, I ask you – take a step back, and look at your world. If you are honest with yourself, I think you will see that the daylight holds just as many perils.”
At first, the spirit’s words felt hollow. Yet, the man still considered them. He thought of the monsters which walked in the daylight, of the diseases which struck as they pleased, and the black magic which flourished wherever it was found. The world was a dangerous place, in the darkness or the light. Perhaps it was merely the lack of sight which made the darkness seem more deadly. It was an illusion, nothing more.
He frowned, and again he asked the spirit: “If this is true, then what is the moon’s purpose? Why do the wolves wish to speak with her?”
“The moon is the keeper of knowledge,” said the spirit. “Just as the sun is the bearer of strength and vitality, the moon is the bearer of knowledge and wisdom. She knows what the universe forgets. And she shares only with the wise.”
The man did not argue, for he could feel the truth in the spirit’s words. “Forgive me for my ignorance, Great Spirit,” he said.
“You need not apologize,” said the spirit. “You came a great distance, and overcame great temptation and enchantment to reach this place. You were made to confront your own superstition, and you welcomed new knowledge into your heart.”
“As a reward for your wisdom, I will grant you a blessing. You will become as a wolf – your body will become as strong as your spirit, and you will speak the language of the moon. Go now, and take my blessing to your people.”
As the man’s mind opened, his body changed. He turned his new eyes to the moon, and he called out.
In the distance, the wolves were singing.
That, my friends, is how werewolves came to be. To this day, the descendants of that tribe inhabit the remote places of the world. They are revered as grand scholars, keepers of lore and secrets. They carry her wisdom and his strength, but also, just a touch of her darkness.
Do you believe?