An excerpt from issue 30 of Hag Stone Journal:
In some versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Red’s encounter with the wolf is so transformative that she becomes a werewolf– a human that transforms into a wolf, or a human-wolf hybrid.
In some stories, Little Red escapes the wolf, kills it, and trades in her signature red for a new wolf skin cloak. It was widely believed, throughout Medieval Europe, that one could become a werewolf by wearing a wolf skin cloak or belt.
In a Medieval version of the Red Riding Hood tale, the wolf tricks Little Red into eating some of her dead grandmother’s body. Cannibalism and werewolves were linked in the minds of Medieval European folks. There were numerous werewolf trials that took place at the same time as the infamous witch trials, in which accused werewolves were tried for cannibalism, and accused cannibals tried for werewolfery.
In 1589, the Werewolf of Bedburg, Peter Stumpp, was accused of witchcraft, cannibalism, and werewolfery. Peter was a German farmer who had lost his left hand, which is where his name Stumpp came from. It was said that his paw was cut off while in his wolf form. While he was tortured by authorities, it is said that Stumpp admitted to eating 14 people, practicing black magic, and turning into a werewolf with the aid of a wolf skin belt given to him by the devil. Stumpp was executed, rather gruesomely, on October 31st, 1589, and his severed head was placed atop a torture wheel decorated with the figure of a wolf.
Just as we have reinterpreted the message and meaning of Perrault’s original translation of Little Red Riding Hood, werewolves have taken on a more sympathetic role in our modern media. Today werewolves can be romantic leads, lovers, and heroes. Symbolically, these days, werewolves are associated with a connection with nature, primal urges, and the moon, as well as with the sometimes painful and disorienting process of transformation.
In many of the modern takes of Red Riding Hood as werewolf, we are reinterpreting her/our story. Red is an innocent that meets danger in the woods, and that meeting changes her. She incorporates the danger and the ability to be dangerous into her repertoire. She is no longer an innocent defenseless child, but a young woman to be reckoned with.
You can do this Red Riding Hood inspired full moon ritual on April 19, the night of the full moon. You’ll need a red cloth, a knife, bread, red wine, butter, salt, and a goblet.
Place the red cloth on a surface and use as a tablecloth.
Pour the wine into the goblet.
Hold the goblet to the full moon and say, “I drink to the full moon and my abundant strength.”
Tear or slice the bread with the knife.
Smear it with butter.
Sprinkle salt on it.
Hold the bread up to the moon: “I honor the earth and my own continual transformation.”
Bite off a mouthful of bread and eat it.
Pour a splash of wine onto the ground for your deity.
Soak up the light of the Full Moon, knowing it will always come again to guide you on your journey through the unknown.
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