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Monday, October 19, 2009

Spotlight On: Shapeshifters

Today's Spotlight? Shapeshifters. You may think that this is just a fancy term for werewolves, but the fact is that there are many types of shapeshifters, and that girl you know who's as annoying as the gnat in your room that you can't seem to get rid of -- well, she may just be that gnat.
(quick side note: the most disturbing thing about this --->
picture for me? His feet.)

So I think it's time to shine the spotlight on shifters and learn how to tell a friendly shifter from the kind that views you as dinner.

But this is easier said than done. There is no tell-tale way to, well, tell this tale. Some shifters are influenced or even controlled by the moon; some aren't. Some seem to need a specific item to shift; some don't. Some are especially hairy or seem to like to squirrel things away; some don't. That guy you know who always seems to wear loud, garish clothes? May be that he's a wereflamingo. But he may just like Hawaiian shirts. The best rule of thumb is to trust no one, of course. But if you must interact with other "humans," be cautious and commit the following to memory:

5 Myths about shapeshifters:
  1. All shifters are controlled by the moon. False. The truth is, moon-related incidents from other strange phenomena (naked cavorting in a clearing: witches and lunatics.) have crossed into the shifter lore, but are often incorrect.
  2. Shifters can be recognized by their copious amounts of hair. False. Some may be especially hairy, but there are hairless breeds of shifter, too (bald werecats, naked weremole-rats, etc) as well as only slightly hairy shifters (werepigs, wereelephants, etc). And of course, you can't forget the non-mammalian breeds, like werealligators and various werebirds. [note: if you see a feathery human, that is a good indication of a shifter, though a generally harmless one, so long as you stay away from the beak area.
  3. Shapeshifting is a curse from God, so as long as I go to church and am pious, I'm covered. There are many schools of thought on this, and there are reports of shifting being punishment, but really, the truth is that whether the first shifter was cursed or a natural FON*, going to church isn't going to save your skin (from ripping into shreds when you shift uncontrollably and eat your congregation. Though that will teach Mary with the good brownies at the church bake sales. Pride cometh, Mary...)
  4. Shapeshifting is a disease that is easily communicable. False. Maybe. Though shifting may be a symptom of a disease, there hasn't been any concrete evidence to suggest that it is easily communicable. At least, according to the government. It is true that there is no vaccine, however. So put down the bottle of anti-snake oil and walk away.
  5. If you kill a shifter in their animal form, they will retain that form. False. When a shifter dies, they revert to their human form. So be careful if you swat that gnat. You may have some 'splaining to do.

Tricks to protect yourself:
  1. Trust no one.
  2. Stay in on nights of the full moon, just in case.
  3. If you are bitten by anything, ever, seek treatment immediately. Better yet, cut off the infected limb.
  4. Carry a package of Snausages at all times. These are invaluable if you come across a hungry werewolf/dog/coyote and some types of werebear and -cat.
  5. Beware Berserkers. They may have started this whole ball rolling, and they're most certainly bad news.
  6. If their name is Justinian, just walk away.
  7. Stay away from Calvin's Transmogrifier
Famous Shifters:

Traveling American werewolves --
London version:

Paris version:

Coyote Shifter:

Teen Idol Weres --

Jacob Black:

Scott Howard:


My all-time favorite were --

For more, check out:
Shapeshifter movies
Shifter books
The shapehifters entry on Super-Wiki.
Dark Pretenses
Cryptozoology [dot] com
The Clan of the Cats
Rialian's Realm where you can find out if you are a werecat.
The Werewolf Cafe
This article on western Michigan shapeshifters (makes me glad I'm from eastern Michigan)
A sample chapter of Moon Called, Patrica Briggs' series about a shapeshifting coyote.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to become a shifter yourself, stock up on tear-away clothing. Shifting can get expensive.

Watch the video of TV On The Radio's "Wolf Like Me", or watch this fan created vid (using Final Fantasy, I think):

So who's your favorite shifter?*
*freak of nature
* +5 Helluva Halloween points.


  1. I <3 shapeshifters :)

    My fav is Jacob Black of course.

  2. Great post!

    The picture just makes me crack up. I think it's because he's looking down at himself, like he just got castrated.

    Just had to put it out there...

  3. Oh, yeah! Wolf! That was a cool miniseries. Long, but cool.

  4. I wasn't expecting a post on shapeshifters, but I'm glad to see one! The shapeshifter book list was really good as well. Thanks!

    Natalie @ Mindful Musings

  5. I believe the term is neutered, L.H. He is rather furry, after all...

  6. Thanks for another fascinating post. Not really into such film but I make an exception for An American Werewolf In London - I'm no expert but I think the transformation scene has yet to be beaten. As for my favourite, it has to be George from Only Human. I don't know if you have seen this but it's a comedy/drama tv series in which a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf all share a house and it's brilliant.

  7. Ginger of Ginger Snaps is my favorite werewolf. She rocks!

  8. Some of these are just creepy! Fun Halloween post!

  9. I've never heard of Only Human. Definitely going to have to check it out, it sounds right up my alley.

  10. oooh, great post. i have a shape shifter for you which i'll post tonight. non-wolfy.

  11. Re: Only Human - there has been only one series here on BBC2 in the UK though it was shown again on BBC1 which is always a good sign that something has proven popular. We are awaiting a second series any time now. If you get the chance to view it, you must.

  12. Only Human is actually called Being Human - click the link, and episodes can be watched. :)

    My favourite shifters are the werecats in Rachel Vincent's Shifters series. They're awesome!


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