Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Werewolf trials6hcz9
Werewolf_trials6hcz9 SUMMARY KEYWORDS werewolf, people, moral panics, cannibalism, wolf, trials, called, fascinating, human, true, accusations, absolutely, world, witch trials, real, person, devil, book, witches, accused SPEAKERS Liza Kurtz, Stephen Bradford Long
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Stephen Bradford Long 00:34 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. All right, well, we have a really fun episode for this week, we're talking about werewolves and moral panics and history three of my very favorite things. But before we get to that, I do have to thank my patrons. So I believe in bringing these conversations to the world for free. I think that we need long form, in depth conversations online now more than ever. So I am delighted to bring these conversations to all of you for free. But I need help to do that. Because it is an incredible amount of work from booking to recording to editing, then finally posting and marketing. It's a lot of work, and I am a one man show. So in order to make that possible and sustainable, I do need your help. So for this week, I have to thank Sam Megan and ash mania for becoming patrons. Thank you so much. You're my personal lords and saviors. And I truly could not do this without you. And anyone who is listening to this who might be interested in joining their number, please go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long, or just use the link in the shownotes you will get extra content. My house of heretics podcast with Timothy with Timothy McPherson, former minister turned heretic from the Salvation Army and we talk about all kinds of interesting things going on in the world religion, politics, various controversies online bullshit, what have you. If that interests you then do please become a member on Patreon? There are other ways to support the show. However, I understand that we're all still struggling from the COVID pandemic, the economy is on fire. And I really need you to take care of yourself first and foremost. So if you're unable to support me financially, I completely understand the best way to support this show is to just listen to it, enjoy it, subscribe to it wherever you listen, and share it with your friends. Also, this show is sponsored by the satanic temple.tv. The Satanic Temple has an incredibly interesting and creative community. And there's all kinds of fascinating stuff on tst. TV, live streams, talk shows or rituals, lectures, all kinds of fascinating stuff. And if you're into new religious movements, and weird occult stuff, then TST TV is for you. And you can get one month free by using my promo code, sacred tension all caps, no space at checkout. All right. Well, with all of that out of the way. I'm delighted to welcome Zee Kay [real name: Liza Kurtz] to the show. Hi, how are you?
Liza Kurtz 03:38 I'm great. Steven, thanks for having me.
03:40 So we were both presenters at the I forget when this was was that was this in 2020 or 2021. Like all the years are blurring together now.
Liza Kurtz 03:52 Oh, one long pandemic year, but I think it was the end of 2020.
03:57 That sounds right. Yeah. So we were in the we were both presenters at the World Congress on moral panics put on by gray faction, which is a campaign of the Satanic Temple. And you gave this just amazingly fascinating lecture about the werewolf trials, which is like a much lesser known event in history of like analogue or comparable to the witch trials. But we all talk about the witch trials we all know about the witch trials is like embedded in our collective memory. But no one knows about the werewolf trials. And so before we get into this, tell us some about who you are and what you do and your area of study.
Liza Kurtz 04:45 Sure. So as you already mentioned, I'm see I am a member of counsel for the Satanic Temple, Arizona, and I am I want to make sure I frame this conversation by saying I'm not a historian by trade. I'm actually a sociologist by Academic Training undergraduate students. And so I'm coming at this really from the perspective of someone who is interested in moral panics as a sociologist, and on a personal level as a Satanist because it affects us all so profoundly, and also just a person who is a werewolf enthusiast. Not say that I'm welcome theist as much as some people who maybe dress up in first suits and go to conventions about it. But I do think that werewolves have gotten short cultural shrift, as particularly in the face of that much more famous monster the vampire. But to me wearables represent all these incredibly interesting sociological and societal and psychological things. They're really they're grappling with many questions of nature versus nurture, and what it means to be human versus animal and where we fit in the evolutionary scale. And as Anton LaVey once famously said, there's a beast and man that must be exercised, not exorcised. And I think werewolves are a perfect encapsulation of that tension between how we feel about ourselves as higher order beings versus the reality of living as animals.
Stephen Bradford Long 06:12 I mostly just think they're super hot. I just, I love werewolves ever. So okay, so actually funny story ever since that, ever since I like came out in high school, I just have had this massive, massive crush on werewolves, I just think that they're irresistibly hot. So there's also that
Liza Kurtz 06:31 there is also that a genre of romance fiction for you after this call? I can't, if you will, of Werewolf romance fiction, I think is appealing for all the same sociological questions, right? I mean, what's sexier than someone really giving in to animal instinct?
Stephen Bradford Long 06:50 Absolutely. Yeah, let's, let's definitely talk about that and share notes about how hot werewolves are. So let's back up some and define a moral panic. Because you know, those of us in TST, and those of us who are Satanists are very familiar with what a moral panic is, but a lot of people listening to us might not be familiar. So define what a moral panic is. Sure. So
Liza Kurtz 07:19 I will give a definition. But I sort of loosely based on my reading on this topic, although I'm certainly not a professional scholar of new religions, who are most of the people who deal with moral panics as scholars. But moral panics, the essential core of a moral panic, I would say, is really a subversion of concerns about something else into the form of a psychological frenzy of fear about something that has no factual evidence, but is rooted deeply in a particular belief system. And that's really abstract. So maybe an example, will, will give some some context. So we had a moral panic over Satanism in the 80s, and 90s. And there's all kinds of reasons that that happened. But some of them were that this fear of cultural and sociological phenomenons that were happening at the large scale, like women working outside the home for the first time, or the push of feminists to have the idea that childhood sexual abuse was much more common than anyone realized, those things became impossible to grapple with on this sort of cultural psychological scale for everyone. And so the inability to grapple with those things got put into the context of abutting evangelical Christian movement, and it became pushed down below the surface into this panic around there are Satanists around every corner who are harming our children. And so that's what I mean, when I say it's a concern at a large cultural social level that becomes sublimated into something else that doesn't have factual evidence.
Stephen Bradford Long 09:03 Yeah. And I feel like we're living in an age that's particularly ripe for moral panics because of things like Twitter and Facebook that just, you know, feed on, algorithmically feed on human insecurities. So it's important to understand this stuff right now, in the our current digital age. So give us kind of a brief history of what happened with the werewolf trials. How did this begin? And what time period was it and what happened? Sure. So
Liza Kurtz 09:39 it's hard to talk about the werewolf trials without talking about the witch trials, which were probably all more familiar with that period in early modern history. From the mid 1500s, sorry, the mid 1400s to about 1650 ish, depending on where you were, where many, many people were persecuted as witches under or the authority of the Church, and in the guise of various anti religious practices like that classic going into the woods into a Sabbat, the devil signing your name in the book, having intercourse with the devil, I think we're all sort of familiar with that context. The werewolf trials were a subset of those trials were something very unique happened. And they didn't happen everywhere it was, it was particular regions of certain countries, usually rural areas, although not exclusively, you would have witch trials that followed the same pattern largely. But instead of people being accused of being sorcerers are witches are working curses on their neighbors, they were accused of being werewolves. And what's more interesting to me about, or what sets apart the werewolf trials is they were often connected to very specific physical events. So there's records of things like murders, and there's records of things like shepherdess is being found, you know, gored to death in the woods and these horrible, horrible murder scenes, that kind of thing. And so unlike the witch trials, where you have this sort of very tenuous connection between cause and effect, in the sense that like, it could be something like, Oh, my cattle are not getting milk anymore. And I think it's because my neighbor cursed me. And my neighbor is a witch, which is sort of a tenuous connection. There's this very physical reality of someone turned up dead or multiple someone's or children were going missing, and then figuring out the explanation became about werewolves.
Stephen Bradford Long 11:33 So that's really interesting to me, because from your lecture, it sounded like the majority of people accused of being werewolves were men. Whereas the majority of people accused of being witches were, of course, women. And and I wonder if that division between, you know, accusations of witchcraft were far more ephemeral, whereas accusations of against werewolves were far more involved far more like carnal and bloody events. And I wonder if that? I don't know. I, I wonder if there's a gender divide there in terms of those accusations like, like in terms of the types of things that men and women would be accused of? Does that make sense? Am I making any sense about that?
Liza Kurtz 12:29 Absolutely. That gender division of between how we think about how women violate social orders, and how many?
Stephen Bradford Long 12:35 Exactly exactly like men, men being more, there being greater physicality, and I guess you could say strength and bodily leanness to men's crimes, and then something far more, I guess, unfalsifiable. With women's crimes? I don't know. Does that make sense?
Liza Kurtz 12:57 It does. I want to be careful here to say that the White Wolf trials have not received a tremendous amount of scholarship. So it's hard to talk about them very definitively. From the records we do have, it does appear that men and women were accused of lycanthropy, and approximately the same numbers, but you're not wrong in the sense that what they were accused of was difference. So women were more likely to be seen as being part of a werewolf pack, who was subordinate to a usually a male leader. And they were often accused of crimes like sexual promiscuity, whereas men were assumed to be the ones who you are going out and eating children, you are performing familial cannibalism, you're doing all these very bloody, very raw, very sort of physically powerful things. So you've hit the nail on the head, they're just not quite at the right angle. It was about equal numbers of men and women. But what they were accused of was very gendered. And I should be clear, too, that there weren't that many werewolf trials that we know of, which kind of also makes them interesting. They were probably in the hundreds, not the 1000s, as opposed to, you know, 10s of 1000s of witchcraft trials over the period. And that's really interesting, because that tells us there's something unique happening with these particular trials that they only crop up every so often, they're not universal in the same way.
Stephen Bradford Long 14:17 What do you think that unique element is in the werewolf incidences?
Liza Kurtz 14:26 Yeah, this is a really interesting question. I think some of it is rooted in geography. I think some of it is landscape. So we know from an amazing review done by a scholarly lanell and his team that really went back and scoured a lot of historical data about wolf attacks in Europe, we know that if you lived in a rural area, wolf attacks were a real thing. And that's kind of hard to think about now.
Stephen Bradford Long 14:53 I only know that because I played the Witcher three on PlayStation four and so I know all about wolf TAC wolf attacks. It's in rural areas, but that's the extent of my knowledge. Yeah, it's
Liza Kurtz 15:03 like Skyrim, right? Absolutely. The first thing I do in any Skyrim game is get the perk that lets you call them animals. So I do not have to kill wolves. That is like my number one priority when I start a new character. But yeah, it's it's partially areas that have real contact with wolves. Witchcraft can be anywhere, but you're not going to find accusations of lycanthropy in a city context as much because it simply isn't present in the mind as a fear in the same way. Part of it is also and this is what I think is maybe the most fascinating thing of all about the wolf trials, where they turn up is related to continuing folk traditions around wolf magic. And I'll backtrack a little back a bit here and say, I think we're probably all familiar if you if you are interested in the witch trials at all. There's multiple hypotheses around how the actual practice of witchcraft if it existed at the time related to what church authorities reported about it. So there's the the Margaret Murray hypothesis, it's been largely discredited that the church was finding these very direct evidence of familial practices that had survived Christianization. And that there were these sorceress witch families who were still practicing their pre Christian tradition, that there's not especially good evidence for that that was very popular in the 70s. And it's the 80s partially as a way to justify the existence of Wicca and other Neo pagan religious movements. That has since pretty much been discarded as a credible theory. Then you have the author of Europe's inner demons. I don't remember his name offhand. He propagates this idea of it. There was no witchcraft actually being practice. These were just bog standard people who happen to get in the way of church authorities, and then Church authorities exercised on them. This sort of Freudian panic around Oh, witches walk among us, the devil is real. Do you have that author? You? I
Stephen Bradford Long 17:09 do? I just looked him up Norman Cohn?
Liza Kurtz 17:12 Thank you. Yes, that's the current hypothesis, which is very much connected to psychological fears, expressing themselves on these, these innocent people who had nothing to do with it, it was really an externalization of what church authorities feared. And then you have a hypothesis that somewhere in the middle that many scholars think is probably true. And it's sort of a balance of the two, it's saying that probably there were some fragmentary survival of folk magic pre Christian practices that people used, or that became syncretized into Christianity, and that those people who were notorious for doing that were probably more likely to be persecuted as witches due to the connotations of that kind of practice. But that that doesn't constitute a living tradition stretching back into the unbroken time back to see the druids or the original pagans or anything like that. All of that is a little bit speculation, because our sources outside of the trial, transcripts themselves are so spotty. What makes the world trials so interesting is, it's easier to make a direct connection, the places they cropped up, had a tradition of what was called particularly in Anglo Saxon and dramatic areas, Wolf charming. And that was the idea that there were certain people who had developed this relationship with the natural world and new ways to keep you safe from walks. And it wasn't necessarily connected to Christian tradition. The speculation is that it predates that by quite a bit. And so these, these charm workers were people would come to them, if you were a shepherd, you would go get your wolf charm, and that they had special powers connecting to wolves. And that is where the world files show up. And so it's this really interesting connection between a an established and documented pre Christian tradition of wolf charming, making that twist and transfer being transformed by church authorities into this idea of somebody has an unnatural relationship with wolves. And something's going on there.
Stephen Bradford Long 19:17 Yeah, that's fascinating. And, you know, this is just a speculation of mine. I wonder, I've wondered whether because the lore of the werewolf goes back eons I mean, it's very, very ancient, and I feel like
Liza Kurtz 19:37 so for Yeah, say that one more time. Ancient Greece and before
Stephen Bradford Long 19:41 Yeah, exactly. And, you know, I feel like every culture has kind of this archetypal creature of some kind, that is, that transforms into something animalistic that that that trespass is the boundary between In human and animal and and does terrible damage to other human beings in some way. And this might just be because I'm a huge True Crime fan. But I wonder if part of the root of that is occasionally, every so often a person being born into one of these ancient cultures, who is essentially a serial killer. And you know, we have our own lore today about people like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed geen and Ted Bundy and all of these people. But I can totally see how kind of in a pre modern society that is imbued with the supernatural how the only explanation for someone as horrific as like an Albert Fish or a Ted Bundy is a myth. And that maybe there's, you know, and so maybe in the deep past, somewhere there, there was a monster, there was a human monster, who became the prototype for these myths. Four, what do you think of that? Do you is that all four? I don't know. That's something that I keep thinking about.
Liza Kurtz 21:20 No, I think that that Well, I mean, I think it's scientifically problematic in the sense that that's basically not ever provable, right?
Stephen Bradford Long 21:28 But it is unfalsifiable. Yeah, for sure.
Liza Kurtz 21:31 But it intuitively makes a lot of sense. It's not like serial killers were made in the 80s. One of the famous cases actually of a serial killer, who was connected to werewolf flora is Gilda ray in France, who was a famous child serial killer, who became sort of a bogeyman, he was so terrible. And it doesn't make sense that if you have no other explanation, you're going to put it in the context of what's around you. So think about being in a small village in the dark woods of France in the 1500s. You're probably almost unreachable by Paris and the government at some point, depending on where you are, depending on whether, depending on the road system, things like that. And you're in a natural environment where there are these large predators who have been known to prey on humans under the right circumstances. In that sense, you're probably you're very tightly socially connected with everyone else in your community, right for survival. And so a violation of that norm through something like serial killing or a terrible murder. That's an even stronger violation than it is today, in many ways, because you are dependent on each other for survival. And what's the only thing that you have any experience with that would do that? Well, it's probably a wolf. And so yes, I think there's a very intuitive psychological connection between the idea of sort of an ultra violet person who violates this extremely important social bonds that everyone relies on for survival and the biggest predator you're likely to meet in those dark woods. There's also a really interesting connection with true crime in the sense that a little later on one of the things that drives the interest in werewolves, particularly the beast of Jebel doll, which is later in the 1750s in France, I believe, is that became a huge story, because it was just around the time that the first newspapers were starting to publish what they call and I will slaughter the French on this, I'm sorry. fete de ver, which was diverse tales, it was a beginning of what we would think of as sort of the scandal sheets, or the true climb tabloids. And so the beast of J with all those a tremendous amount of its existence, and its storytelling, to this sudden burgeoning interest in true crime that came with the ability of people to read the newspaper.
Stephen Bradford Long 24:03 That's fascinating. Yeah. And tell us if you might not have this off the top of your head. But is there a particular case that you find most interesting, like, is there a particular trial case of a werewolf, as well of somebody accused of being a werewolf that you find most interesting? Or illuminating? And if so, what what's the story of that case?
Liza Kurtz 24:31 Yeah, so I want to make sure I get these dates, right. But my favorite and most interesting case, and one of the most favorite, most famous is of a man in Germany named Peter stump, or stupid or stump. It's one of those things where you wrote down the name however, you've heard it in the record set, therefore, it's a little different. And he was accused of Werewolf three and witchcraft and cannibalism sort of a trick I added a bad thing. He was known as the werewolf of bed Berg. And he was found guilty. And he was executed by breaking on the Catherine Wheel, which is probably one of the most horrible ways to die imaginable.
Stephen Bradford Long 25:13 Tell us what that is. Tell us what?
Liza Kurtz 25:16 Sure. So take a wagon wheel, or a large book a
Stephen Bradford Long 25:20 content content warning everyone by the way. Okay, carry on.
Liza Kurtz 25:24 Yes, this is the last podcasts on the left would say Goldstar. territory?
Stephen Bradford Long 25:28 Yes, absolutely.
Liza Kurtz 25:31 So take a wagon wheel or another large wheel and think of threading a shoelace to the spokes. But you're going to do that with the person that you are torturing lips. So that's already extremely uncomfortable, I might just locate them. And now you're going to take a hammer, and you're going to hit every part that's on top of the wheel. So it's a way of polarizing that person's bones when they're already in a position of extreme discomfort and dislocation. And at that point, by the time you're done, I can't imagine that decapitation is not something of a mercy.
Stephen Bradford Long 26:07 Yeah, fun. So yeah, so a truly horrific way to die. And so what what happened to him? Well, where does this story go?
Liza Kurtz 26:20 Sure. So this is bedbug Germany, probably around 1530. He was considered to be aware, Wolf, because of this classic thing that you I mean, you're it's gonna ring true for fairy tales. They were hunting a wolf in the woods that was supposed to have killed many people in the village. And it's left Paul was injured, right? You know where this is going. And when they came back to the village, Peter stump had a matching wound in his left hand. And that was the proof that they he was the werewolf. And what's fascinating about this is he so he was stretched on the rack before he was broken on the wheel. This guy did not have a good end to his life. But being stretched on the rack, of course, you will say anything. It's torture. So he confessed to having practiced black magic since he was 12. He confessed to being part of a family of werewolves. He claimed the devil had given him a magic belt or a girl that when he put on he could transform into a wolf that is a very common narrative. You see across the the werewolf trials, that he ate children and sheep and lambs and goats, and men and women like everything imaginable. I think he specifically confessed to eating 14 children. And there's a great quote from the trials that he says he ate their hearts, panting, hot and raw. And he described them as dainty morsels. One of the kids was his own son. He was also accused of having an incestuous relationship with his daughter, which is sort of piling taboo on taboo breaking here. And what's so fascinating about Peter stump is not necessarily that his trial was unusual for the world trials, it kind of takes the form of most other trials. One is that it's so well documented, which is always great to have. And the other is, if you look on Wikipedia, Peter stump is listed as a German serial killer, based on no evidence whatsoever than his trial transcript under torture. And I think that's fascinating that the echoes of that trial are still being presented as facts today.
Stephen Bradford Long 28:27 That is fascinating. And oh, I know, he just had a question, where did it go? Hold on, it was right there. It was right at the tip of my tongue. And it's gone. It happened,
Liza Kurtz 28:43 and say something else that I think probably should be contextualized in this conversation, which is not everyone thought werewolves were real. At this time. I dislike the history speaking about history as though everyone thought the same thing. Of course, humans were as diverse in their thinking as they are now they were smart as they are now. They just weren't operating with the same level of information. And so you actually get somewhere with trials, you have physicians giving testimony in both directions. You have physicians saying, Yes, this person to wear is a werewolf, but you also have physicians saying, No, this person thinks they're a werewolf and they're what we would now call mentally ill. And so physicians would turn up and say, This person has melancholia, which we would understand is like crippling depression, and other types of mental illness. They think they're a werewolf. They're laboring under this delusion, they're really not. And what's even more fascinating is that, in some ways, the idea of werewolves being prosecuted by the church goes against directly against a strain of Christian thought, who thought it was heresy that anyone or anything that any power other than God could transform human flesh. And so even within the church, you have this tension between werewolves are real and of the devil. And only God has the power to do that. And the mere idea of believing and werewolves is in a certain way heretical.
Stephen Bradford Long 30:06 That's fascinating. It sounds like what Joseph Laycock, in a few interviews I've done with him, called What was it? Matisse, medical materialism, which, which he described as this idea of, at least, I mean, this will probably be a total bastardization of what he said, everyone should just go back and listen to my interview with him about demon possession. I did that, I think three years ago, and it's, he's still one of my favorite guests. But he talks about how we have this assumption that people in the past were just stupid people, people in the medieval period or whatever, they were just all dupes. They were just all willing to believe stupid shit for stupid reasons. And that there was a, but also that there is a unanimous stupidity. And that's just not true. It's a far more like a complex picture. And they are the they were operating with the exact same operating systems and brains that we have today, like it is the exact same brain. And we have the exact same cognitive glitches that they did back then.
Liza Kurtz 31:24 Absolutely. I think that's spot on. And, I mean, consider not to bring up a touchy topic and what is supposed to be a fun episode. But I mean, consider how much access to scientific information and resources and education we have now, and we can't even convince everyone that COVID vaccines are safe in the modern world.
Stephen Bradford Long 31:44 Right, exactly. Exactly. This, this stuff is ancient, like, like human stupidity is ancient and AI,
Liza Kurtz 31:51 why wouldn't we assume the same type of diversity of thought in the past?
Stephen Bradford Long 31:56 Absolutely. Yeah, that's, that's true. And you know, and then human nature just collides with new innovations, like the internet, or the printing press, or whatever. And, but it just, but it's, it never changes, it's just always the same. It it just, you know, enters a new technological context. And we have to, like, deal with it in new ways. But it's ultimately just the exact same human nature that we've been dealing with the entire time, and just listening to you talk, like, you know, this person being put on the wheel after being put on the rack and then being decapitated, because he had a wounded Paul, a wounded hand. It was just like, Oh, thank God for, you know, my immediate thought was, thank God for rationality, thank God for, you know, standards of critical thinking. And that's true, but also that initial thought, Is there were there were people back then trying to think critically about this stuff? There? Were there there were people trying to critically examine this subject.
Liza Kurtz 33:05 Yeah. And also, I think it's probably a misnomer to say it was only because his hand was wounded. I mean, think about when we make accusations of each other. And I think anyone who's in a small community, like Satanism, or any any subculture that has a tight knit community is familiar with this. If you find someone who is not to your taste, or doesn't work the way you do, or you feel as immoral, and you feel should be removed from that community. If you are presenting a public case, the reason you give is probably not the only reason. So when we know that stuff, we don't know anything more. We don't it's not like the Salem witch trials where there's enough, sort of, there's enough of a paper trail to be able to speculate. We do know he was a wealthy farmer. We know that he may have been a widower who remarried, we know that he may have had an A son of unknown age and potentially an inappropriate relationship with a stepdaughter, like there are so many potential reasons why he mended may have ended up as the pariah of this community. And he had a wound on his left hand after we heard a wolf is probably only one and probably only the surface level, even if that wasn't conscious on their part.
Stephen Bradford Long 34:24 Yeah, so so it's a post hoc rationalization, it would be like a post hoc rationalization of it's like here, here are all of these kind of intuitive reasons for why we dislike him and think he might be a werewolf. And then there's the post hoc rationalization that comes along of Oh, his, his hand is wounded, or something like that. Is that basically what you're saying?
Liza Kurtz 34:48 Absolutely. And it could have also been a strategic move to get the authorities involved. It could have been you really was a monster that he was a murderer that everyone in the village knew it that they didn't have proof and that you Using the forum and the mythology of the werewolf was the fastest and most efficient way to get someone who could do anything about this person involved in the trial. I mean, I have no evidence for that it's pure speculation, but people were not stupid. And it certainly could is a lever that could have been moved to bring the church into a bad situation.
Stephen Bradford Long 35:21 So your you approach this as a sociologist, which makes me wonder if you find this topic fascinating because of what it might say about our current society, or human nature right now. If that's true, what What draws you to the subject? And what what makes you? I don't know, in what way? Are the werewolf trials kind of still applicable or like a lesson for our current situation as human beings? Does that make sense?
Liza Kurtz 35:59 Absolutely, yeah. I think there's some some generality, or some general comparisons that can be drawn in terms of the particular interest that people have in bringing individuals to justice, whether or not there's a lot of evidence, right. So there's the the very broad scale comparison of maintaining the social order is almost always more important than whether or not any one individual is innocent or guilty of a particular thing. And I'm not advocating opposition, I'm just saying that's how societies tend to work. And so you can certainly draw the direct connection there of it was very important for these societies, to ensure that with who they perceived as werewolves were brought to justice, partially to ensure the reification of the church as authority and the realistic existence of the devil. Belief in the devil is like a power in the world, that kind of thing. But I think also, it's just a cautionary tale maybe around how we think about taboo breaking, and what we assumed taboo breaking to be. And maybe the best example I can give for this directly, or the best line I can draw is sort of how we think of other cultures. And so when we think about animalistic behavior, and what looks like animalistic behavior to us, I think the immediate knee jerk reaction is animalistic behavior is anything we deem uncivilized. And what civilized means and who gets to define that. And whether or not civilized is according to your culture, or according to my culture. All of those things have really direct connections to the idea of the werewolf as someone who breaks with human society by acting like an animal. I also think that the werewolf maybe holds some some lessons for us. And this is really interesting. There's there's a few cases where werewolves were actually presented as positive in the werewolf trials. There is in fact, a man who was accused of being a werewolf. And he said, Well, okay, fine. Yes, I'm a werewolf. But the thing you don't know is that every year in the fall, the devil and his minions come to steal the villages, grain stores, and we would all starve. But I'm a werewolf, and I take on my wolf form, and I chased the devil away, so the village can prosper. And he completely flipped the script. He said, It's true. And your entire cosmology is true. But think about it from this angle. And that was a really interesting way of using that animalistic, taboo breaking idea in service to his community. And so I think sometimes it would benefit all of us to think about what kind of civilized behavior am I doing that I don't need to be doing? What kind of uncivilized behavior can I break the mold with, but that is in service to the community?
Stephen Bradford Long 39:09 I think Joseph Laycock used that story and Speak of the devil to kind of explore the role of modern Satanism of, you know, I think he described it as the underworld, you know, asserting itself into the overworld. And it's like, you know, suddenly the underworld is, you know, a being from the underworld is good. My brain is all foggy this morning. So I'm probably getting all of that wrong, but but the idea of subversion and, and, you know, taking on something that has historically been seen as evil and, and flipping the narrative on its head and using it in the service of good and what you were just saying about taboo and and being animalistic, really having to do with culture. I just finished a book by Bill Schut called cannibalism, a perfectly natural history. And there's a whole section of that book and he's he's a zoologist. So he really delves into cannibalism in the context of different species. And then he explores it culturally for humans. And he says that there's very, very little evidence of the cannibalism that was claimed in the new world, when the colonists came and started colonizing the New World and invading and massacring, and just doing all of the horrific, horrific, horrific things in the new world, and that the accusation of cannibalism was a way of solidifying indigenous peoples in humanity, in the mind of Europe, and in the mind of the old world, right. And that it was a very, very effective tool to solidify their in humanity. And it sounds like this rhymes with that, that that in a different way, you know, not necessarily against indigenous people, but there but it is a a, a weapon of dehumanization of to ensure that someone is not seen as human. And I feel like we see similar we've seen similar things through history, with, you know, against gay people, against trans people of, of, against black people, against Jewish people, any minority of, of, you know, lobbing accusations against minorities, to kind of solidify in the mind of the majority, that they are inhuman and therefore not deserving of human respect. And so the I see this, what you were just saying is, is just another like ancient trope of human nature where we demonize we we attribute inhumanity to people through various myths or through various accusations or whatever so that then we don't have to treat them as human.
Liza Kurtz 42:27 Absolutely. And I think cannibalism is a huge is a perfect one to hit on for that because it's such a huge taboo and it's such a part of almost every every moral panic really, if you think about it is absolutely wild. The Witch Trials themselves there were accusations that like unlike the were will trials, that which is raping children hold but there was certainly the accusation that they were using infant blood in their rights. And that goes all the way back to Christians accusing other early Christians they did like of child sacrifice and anti Jewish panics and all of that. cannibalism in particular, I mean, it's a dream to curl now, right? Exactly. In a panic, there's, there's something about cannibalism and the use of the human body that is particularly used to other people. What is fascinating to me about the new world accusations of cannibalism is it's my understanding from friends who are Southwestern archaeologist, that the evidence is very up in the air, whether or not there was cannibalism or not. But the other thing is, if you're going to accept the evidence that there was cannibalism in the new world, there's about an equal base of evidence that there was cannibalism regularly in Europe in prehistoric times. And so it's like, you can't accept one and discard the other either everybody was cannibalizing or nobody.
Stephen Bradford Long 43:50 Absolutely. So fast forward to the modern day. We still have an infatuation with werewolves, I, for example, still find them ravishingly hot. And what is that? What talk some about why. And I know that this is probably too broad a question to be useful. What is it about werewolves that we find fascinating and kind of irresistible?
Liza Kurtz 44:24 I think a huge part of it is in werewolves, we have a stripping away of everything that is unnecessary, and in many ways, everything that is dangerous except the physical. My human lover might lie to me about how much he likes me. He might lie to me about why he's with me. She might tell me I look great in those pants when I really don't write a werewolf is not capable of that when they are in wolf form or when that beast form there is it is a very you direct and very trustable like to get to take it to the logical, like romance novel extreme if you are chosen as a werewolf mate, you know, there's nothing else going on there. There's no ulterior motive, there's nothing. It's just that base level like, this is my person in the sexual and romantic sense. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 45:21 there's a carnal sincerity about it.
Liza Kurtz 45:23 Exactly. And then the same way I think sometimes. And this is maybe a messed up thing to say. But for modern people dealing with modern dangers, there's almost a restfulness in the sense of like, the only thing this werewolf can do to hurt me is physical. Right? That's a very straightforward danger. It obviously isn't a danger that mixes in a lot of adrenaline, which can be very sexy, right? That fear, death, sex response getting all mixed up together. But also, you're not like, you're not in a state where you're worried that this werewolf is going to hurt me by not paying the bills next month. Right? It's purely like if I come out of this alive, I'm fine. And I think there's something very, very appealing about the simplicity of that and very appealing about the carnality of that. And also, then being in that state gives you as a hypothetical partner as the reader or the stand in to be the same way it gives you permission to be exactly the same way. By having the werewolf unleash the beast within so to speak, it gives us permission to put our humanity aside to
Stephen Bradford Long 46:33 Yeah, and by humanity, we don't actually mean our fundamental humanity, but those like superfluous and unnecessary, civilizing impulses that restrain us that, you know, the super ego, for lack of a better word that the societal norms, and I don't know, it's, this is all reminding me I haven't thought about this in years, Jesus Christ. This is like the first time I'm thinking about this, like when I was in high school, and, you know, I was in a Christian called super conservative Christian high school. And I was in the closet and I was just beginning to grapple with my orientation. I started writing this cringy as fuck High School Story, you know about the a teenager who discovers he's a werewolf, of course, like the most the most cringy, like high school thing you can imagine. And, but what it really was, it was, it was a metaphor for my own orientation. And discovering that I was a werewolf discovering that there was something not human about me, I interpreted it at that time as something not human, something deeply animalistic, and an anti human that was deeply frightening. And it's, I think that's one of the reasons why I am drawn to the werewolf myth, because I think we all have something like that inside of us, be it a fetish, or be it a a sexual orientation that is or a gender identity that is unaccepted within our society, or or a various religious belief, like Satanism, or whatever it is, you know, I we all have something that feels out of step with society, and feels inhuman when it might first rear its head inside of us. And so the werewolf story. You know, I think that scary stories that that scary myths and scary stories that they stick around, they're valuable, because they they help us process our own nature in many, many different ways. You know, and so that's why the ghost story is still around. That's why the horror story exists, because I because it serves a very important psychological need for people and I. And I think that the werewolf story is similar. And I totally internalized it, it was totally helpful for me in coming to terms with my own sexuality. It's like it was the first thing that I reached out to and grabbed on to when I started to experience my gay orientation.
Liza Kurtz 49:17 I think I had a very similar thing with werewolves in the sense that I grew up in the South as a, I am a sis woman, I'm a sis white woman, there's a certain demand of femininity and whether or not you do it is up to you, but you pay a price. But werewolves are the exact antithesis of that, particularly for people who have been socialized female or otherwise expected to be non physical and submissive. And so when you learn about werewolves, at least for me, it was like, Oh, hell yeah, I want to run naked under the moon through the woods once a month. Absolutely. I want to eat deer with my teeth. Like I want big claws and big fangs. And I want to be completely unconcerned about whether or not I'm pretty because I'm a motherfucking. Wolf. And I, and there were times right where we've all been in the place of like, and I would just love to rip the people. I don't likes hearts out and eat them in front of.
Stephen Bradford Long 50:18 Please don't, please don't you know, dear listeners, isolate that one bit of audio and post it on YouTube or Twitter, please. This is this is my request.
Liza Kurtz 50:28 Make it your ringtone? I don't care. Cool. This has not been there. Right. And so I think that was part of the appeal of the werewolf is just, it's this pure power that we may or may not have access to in our daily lives, depending on how we're socialized and what we're expected to do.
Stephen Bradford Long 50:50 That's fascinating. Is there any Have you ever come across a story that you know, I'm I'm pretty much a materialist. I'm a skeptic. I'm an atheist. And I come across every so often, though, I come across a story that just kind of blows my mind. And I'm like, What the fuck happened there? Like, what what actually happened is, do you ever come across a story studying this stuff? Where you're like, maybe this is true? Like, do you ever have a pause? Do you ever have a moment, like at at 3am, when you're when you're reading about something, or you're listening to something and you're like, Fuck it, werewolves are real, they exist. Because like, I have the I have this moment on a semi regular basis. Like I remember, I've told this story several times on the podcast now, but a year or two ago, it was like 3am, I was falling down the YouTube rabbit hole, couldn't go to bed. And, you know, I was watching this spelunker guy who explored caves. And then he, he did this video where he claimed to have discovered Paranormal Activity deep in this cave somewhere. And it was, and I was like, it's real. It's all fucking real. And, you know, it only took a Google search to, you know, see how he had faked it, and so on. But do you ever still have moments like that, where you're where you're like, this shit is real werewolves totally exist?
Liza Kurtz 52:28 I, I'm so glad you asked this question, because I didn't even think to tell the story. But that was the genesis of my entire interest in werewolves was, and I'm gonna walk you into it a little complicated. I had just graduated college. And I had a gap between my graduation and my first like, real big girl pants job. And I was like, I want to do something totally unrelated to what I've been doing for four years, I want to do be way out of my comfort zone. I want to go somewhere new. And I ended up doing wolfing, which is worldwide opportunities on organic farms. And it is an a program where you provide labor in exchange for food room and board and training and learning how to take care of these animals. And so I drove from eastern Tennessee, to the deepest part of Southern Missouri in the Ozarks to a it's not even a town. It's an unincorporated community with a population of like 42 called Falcon, Missouri, to work on a goat farm there. And this was I probably had a cell phone but not GPS, it was like only for making calls and texting. And I did have a GPS unit. But my GPS unit absolutely did not know where I was. It was one of those cases where you're like driving and it's filling in the roads behind you. And the only the only like road markers. It was all county roads and even state roads and they just had numbers. And deep in the Ozarks where I've never been before. It's heavily forested, it's beautiful. It's incredibly difficult rolling hills, its rivers, there's absolutely nothing. It's the middle of Mark Twain National Forest. And for some company as it's getting dark, I turn on the radio. And all I have is radio. I don't have anything else My car is old. And I hear a very proper radio announcer voice with no explanation and no lead in just say this is the proper way to deal with werewolves and then give an explanation in very nice, like proper English like announcer English about how you deal with a werewolf problem in your town. And I'm totally alone. I'm going somewhere I've never been it's dark. I haven't spoken to people for like I've been driving for 12 hours and There is a sheer moment of absolute short circuit in my brain where I was like, fuck me entirely. Werewolves are real. I got it wrong this whole time, somehow my entire life, I've just assumed they're not real. And now I'm finding out that they are. And that lasted about five terrifying minutes as I'm in the darkening woods by myself and my old car. And then the announcer actually comes on and says, and that was a reading from Sabine baring Gould's the book of werewolves and what was happening that the local radio station didn't have a budget for anything. And so they would just play LibriVox Recordings when they weren't actively broadcasting. And so this was a Librivox recording of Sabine baring goals, the book of werewolves, and I was hooked from then on. I mean, it was an absolute like, Okay, but what if werewolves were real? What if this was really like the world we were living in? And that is my werewolf interest origin story is that five minutes of bone chilling, not just fear, but this sense that I have been completely wrong about how the world works, and what's real my entire life until now.
Stephen Bradford Long 56:15 I love that story so much. I think you told that story during the your talk at the World Congress moral panics and no, I love that story so much, because it's, it's so human like Oui, oui, I've Well, I won't speak for everyone. But I at least have those moments. I would say quite frequently, I think that my brain is just designed to just trust people. Like, my brain is just designed to believe shit. And that might have something to do with my upbringing, where I was raised by an exorcist. Like, who knows? I can tell you all about that later, at some point. Yeah. And, and I, I have these moments on a near regular basis of just experiencing total enchantment, and terror, and all and surprise and astonishment. Because suddenly, a piece of information hits my world. And it feels like it instantly reconfigures everything. And then a few minutes goes by and I'm like, Oh, wait, no, no, that doesn't add up. What? What? Like, no, that's, that's not true at all. But no, I love that story. And so I think we're coming to the end of our time here. But this has been so much fun. For people who want to read more about this subject or kind of related subjects. Are there any books that you'd recommend?
Liza Kurtz 57:59 There are and I will bring them up right now I have a nice little list. So one of the first things that I would recommend is a couple of academic articles on the werewolf trials. One of the really interesting ones is by Mexico, and it's called battling demons with medical authority. And it's really about this tension between doctors position on werewolves and the two conflicting church positions on werewolves. The other person I would really recommend is a writer called Black court, who wrote a number of articles and books, particularly one called the werewolf in gender, that's really good. Where we'll histories and a really interesting sort of synopsis of a case called a journey to hell reconsidering the lives of oni and werewolf. There's also Matthew Beresford, the white devil, the werewolf in European culture. And there's another one that touches on werewolves, but it's just generally fascinating. It's well shelters, man is which male witches in Central Europe. And that's a really interesting overview of gender and witchcraft that also addresses werewolves, but is a little bit broader in scope.
Stephen Bradford Long 59:16 Awesome. Could you send me could you email me that? Those those titles, and I will, I will put them in the show notes for people who are interested.
Liza Kurtz 59:26 And there's also a great sort of more accessible pop book on the beast of Jabba Dawn specifically called Monster so this ship and Dawn by Jay Smith that I will also send to you
Stephen Bradford Long 59:35 beautiful and for people who want to follow you on social media, where can they do them? Let me try that again. Jesus Christ for people. That's when you know that it's at the end of the hour. I start being not able to communicate. And for people who want to follow you on social media, where can they do that?
Liza Kurtz 59:57 They can find me on Twitter I am at cat phrenologist all one word like,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:02 the best fucking twitter handle on the planet, I love that.
Liza Kurtz 1:00:07 I could not believe it was not taken. So that's Tak, Kitty and phrenologist as in someone who measures heads to determine personality types. Yeah, you
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:17 know, I was just gonna say as it you know, scientific racism.
Liza Kurtz 1:00:21 Exactly. I don't yet charge for my cat phonology services, but I feel that I should as in $75, in a picture of your cat and I will pseudo scientifically tell you all about its personality. This is actually just a way for me to make your money and see pictures of people's kitties.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:37 I'm going to send you so my iPhone recently very helpfully informed me that I have over 600 pictures of my cats on Yeah, I don't have like, okay, look, you don't need to call me out like this, like. So I'm going to send you all 600 pictures of my cats. And I can make you can analyze
Liza Kurtz 1:01:01 measurements. Yeah, I will tell you that your cats have distinct personality traits such as cannot decide if they want to be indoor or outdoor from a closed door that they are inopportune Cooper's so that they like to stink the place up at exactly the times you don't want that to be true. And then further populations who will have to await the photos. All the information is amazingly gained just by walking, seeing the walk. That's the camera.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:34 So we're totally launching your cat phonology business. Now this is totally happening. We are doing this.
Liza Kurtz 1:01:40 It's like wait, wait my dick pic. Right. Opposed to but it's cats. That's actually where it came from. Yeah. You can also email me directly anytime at ms like MS or manuscript dot z dot k firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:00 Beautiful. Well, z, this has been a lot of fun. And you can come back anytime.
Liza Kurtz 1:02:05 Thank you so much. I really appreciate you having me. And remember to always save that. That 5% of suspension of disbelief in your heart, just in case where wills do turn out to be real.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:15 Absolutely whatever. No. So they might act all they might actually be real. All right. Well, that is it for this show. The music is by eleventy seven. You can find them on iTunes, Spotify, iTunes doesn't exist anymore. You can find them on Apple Music.
1:02:34 I just realized I've been saying that for like years now and iTunes is no longer.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:41 Yep. All right. Well, that is it for this show. The music is by eleventy seven. You can find them on Apple Music, Spotify or wherever you listen to music. This show is written produced and edited by me Steve and Bradford long and as a production of rock candy recordings. As always, Hail Satan. And thanks for listening