By: Jayden Lukas
Lycanthropy is a complex illness. It does not end with being bitten by a transformed werewolf, should you even be fortunate to survive such an attack. It is really not that easy to become a werewolf. In order to become a werewolf one must be bitten by a transformed werewolf during the time of the full moon. The illness is transmitted when the saliva of the werewolf mixes with the blood of the victim. It should be noted that most muggles will die from the extent of the injuries they receive in a werewolf attack. Very few muggles actually survive to become werewolves themselves. For the wizards or witches who do survive being attacked by a transformed werewolf their life is forever changed. However if a werewolf is in human form and bites someone, that person will not become a werewolf. They will gain wolf-like tendencies like a fondness for rare meat for example. Any bite or scratch that is gotten from a werewolf, regardless of the form it is in, will leave permanent scars. A mixture of silver powder and dittany can seal the wound and allow the victim to live on as a werewolf or as a human with a permanent scar. For those whose blood has been contaminated by the saliva of a transformed werewolf, there are occurrences when victims will actually beg for death as opposed to the alternative they are forced to face. An alternative that includes that fact that they will become a murderous beast every month come the time of the full moon. A beast that has the ministry classification of XXXXX and once transformed will not hesitate to kill their own best friend if given the opportunity. Even without the wolfsbane potion a werewolf will still remember everything that they experienced while in their werewolf form upon regaining their human form.
Just what does the wolfsbane potion do anyway? Let me first say that it is NOT a cure. There is NO cure for Lycanthropy, at least not at this time. The wolfsbane potion allows the werewolf to keep their human mind and senses while transformed. Without the potion they are a highly dangerous threat to humans who are no match for their immense strength and power. An unpotioned werewolf cannot be reasoned with. This very necessary potion was invented by Damocles, sometime after the mid 1970’s. This garnered him the coveted Order of Merlin award and would allow werewolves the chance to become more integrated into wizarding society. However things are never that simple. The cost of the ingredients and the complexity of the potion makes it nearly impossible for werewolves to afford. As the Ministry official, a senior member of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Mister Lucifer Gillespie, told a small group of assembled students myself included, “Wolfsbane is actually quite expensive. There is a minimum cost of 1000 Galleon per vial last I looked, and that was before the dwindling supplies of late. That’s 7000 Galleons per moon. That’s just for one werewolf. 12 to 13 moons a year. 84000 a year per werewolf.” These figures would strain even the wealthiest households. When you combine these facts with the hatred and ongoing persecution that werewolves receive making their job prospects difficult to say the least, it is no wonder that many werewolves forego the potion and many times live in destitute conditions. Mister Gillespie went on to tell us that there are “Less than thirty estimated werewolves in the UK. It isn’t easy for a werewolf to hide, attacks are noticed since there are no wolves here in Great Britain to blame things on.” Those are the werewolves that the Ministry knows of at least. There may be others who are as yet unknown reluctant to come forward and reveal themselves. Is it any wonder when faced with such a life altering illness that many beg for death rather than living a life such as this?
I also spoke with Matron O’Rourke and found what she had to say very enlightening about this illness. Werewolves must not only contend with the physical effects of this illness but also with severe psychological and emotional effects as well. Many times they are ostracised from their families for their affliction. Not only must they deal with the whole trauma from the attack,but also with the stigma that this terrible illness carries with it. It is her own very personal belief that it is “we who make them into monsters, far more than their illness. I have had patients whom I have known for years, full of life, full of .. everything, and they suffer an attack and have become nothing more than a shell of who they once were, pulling away from people, isolating themselves.” While she spoke it became quite obvious that this is something she feels very strongly about. She goes on to explain how nightmares, insomnia and anxiety disorders are all elements that come with being infected. As she said most succinctly driving the point home, “the part that really is a sin, is that it’s not because of the infection, but because of how everyone else treats the infection.” Strong words yet food for thought as we must instead seek a solution instead of dwelling on our fear and hatred.
We need only look to the not so distant past to see that there was a time when people said that muggleborns should be killed at birth, that witches should be drowned or burned alive or that anyone not pure blood should be enslaved or killed. This is xenophobia pure and simple and it will not help us towards a solution. At present the only option that werewolves have is an outrageously priced potion that few can afford. As the Matron suggested there is another alternative if people would stop their fear and hate speech long enough to consider it. She suggested that the establishment of Werewolf Ranges, protected areas where Lycanthropes could go voluntarily once a month safely away from those that could harm them or that they could harm. Those lycanthropes who are out hurting people should be treated like criminals, not monsters, while the ones that are just struggling to help themselves should be given all the compassion and assistance that we can afford them.
When asked if she had any further words for the readers she did have this to say, “Every person, no matter their race, species or magical aptitude, has a basic right to live and to not be persecuted just because they live. The actions of the few should never be applied to the whole. There are dark and evil people in all walks of life. We have seen some of them walk through these very halls. Let us not forget that not so long ago the entire wizarding world was brought down by one man, who was not a half breed or creature, but was just a man. A very dangerous man who had ambitions for a certain type of supremacy. He came to a bitter end. Let us learn from the past. Stop being close minded and embrace the future or be doomed to fall victim to the very hatred you sow.”
Exceptional words but very fitting in these times. Let us look at Lycanthropy for what it is. It is an illness not an excuse to spread hatred and feed our fears. It is Fear that leads to Anger. It is Anger that leads to Hate. It is Hate that leads to Suffering not just for others but for ourselves. We must instead be the change and help the unfortunate victims of this tragic illness with NO cure. Their lives do not need to be filled with such hopelessness and despair that they end their own lives. Matron O’Rourke has seen this first hand. Werewolves are not freaks. They have an life altering illness. We should be doing all that we can to help alleviate their condition instead of condemning them to death. The choice is ours to find compassionate solutions. Let us work towards those solutions and be the change that is needed.