In the last episode, we meet Little Red. In this one, we’ll delve deeper into an even more terrifying aspect of the story—the wolf. We’ll step into a little known corner of history and find out the truth behind the beast.
You'll want to read or listen to the first episode before this one.
Few things are as frightful as wolves, which is why the wolf in the Little Red Riding Hood story easily engrains itself within young minds. What most adults now believe to be a childhood tale of warning, may actually have a darker truth few could imagine.
The Little Red Riding Hood story is fiction, right?
If you follow the historical origins, it turns out… it may actually be true. At least, partly.
We spoke about how the wolf is symbolic of the predatory nature of man in the last episode, but what if the wolf is an actual man? A living, breathing member of society who preys on young girls and women…
What if he is both? Man and wolf – werewolf.
We're all familiar with witch trails throughout history, but many were accused and executed for being real-life werewolves.
One can't mention werewolf trials without talking about Peter Stumpp. Peter Stumpp was executed on Halloween in 1599 after confessing to practicing black magic since he was twelve-years-old. Peter, you see, had made a pact with the devil. He said that the devil had given him a belt that allowed him to transform into...
the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws.
In a pamphlet that documented the trial, Peter said that he'd discarded the belt before his arrest, and no belt was ever found on his property.
While being threatened and possibly succumbing to torture, Peter confessed to murdering and consuming fourteen children and two pregnant women–later referring to their unborn children as "dainty morsels."
According to the trail and the people of the village, Peter had an insatiable appetite for murder, and he also had an insatiable appetite---for women.
Peter was believed to have been in an incestuous relationship with both a family member and his daughter, who bore him a son. He also was known to have a relationship with an extraordinarily beautiful woman in the village.
Shockingly, one of the fourteen children Peter killed was his own son that he shared with his daughter. He even confessed to eating his brains.
His mistress was thought to be a demonic force taking shape as a woman—like a succubus. And Peter confessed to having intercourse with a succubus that was sent to him from the devil.
Both women were tried and executed alongside Peter.
Peter's death was notoriously brutal. He was put on a wheel and stretched until flesh tore from his body and his limbs were broken to prevent him from returning from the grave. His body was then burned along with the women's bodies.
The town—hoping to prevent any other people from forming a deal with the devil—put up a pole with the torture wheel with the figure of a wolf carved into it, and Peter's severed head was placed at the top.
Some believe that Peter was falsely accused of the crimes, citing that it could have been his Protestant faith. During the time of the trial, there was a great push for Catholicism and the trial could have been a political and/or religious statement.
Or perhaps he suffered from mental illness, and maybe his confession was merely a plea for a lighter sentence or to make his suffering stop.
There are many reasons for false confessions, that I've come to believe. But to confess to not only killing your own child but eating his brains—makes one wonder, why? Confessing to everything else is one thing, but to that… well, it's hard to understand.
To muddy the waters even more, Peter wasn't the only man to confess to being a real-life werewolf. Between 1527-1725 in the Baltic (Estonia and Livonia), 13 men were accused of having caused harm in their werewolf shape. Many of those confessed to having gotten their wolf shapes from a man in the woods or by a demon.
One eighteen-year-old, named Hans, confessed to receiving the wolf body from a man in black. He also admitted that he'd hunted as the beast.
Two things are clear in historical texts.
People believed in werewolves.
Some confessed to being one.
These startling truths make the simple childhood story take on a whole new life. Maybe fiction is never far from the truth. And the fact that the story is still around today makes one wonder if there's still some truth left in it.
Do we subconsciously believe in the lore we've been told? Have you ever caught yourself looking over your shoulder while walking alone at night in the woods? I know I have, even though I'm not sure what I'm looking for.
A beast. A person. Something lurking in the shadows?
I'm not sure. Are you?