Shapeshifter myths can be found in almost every region of the world.The
oldest being in Romania or Greece.
The most basic definition is that they are either a being (usually human)
with the ability to change its shape into that of another person, creature, or
other entity or they are involuntarily changed into it by someone else
They very popular within early mythology and folklore
Most commonly known is the Werewolf
Many authors believe that they were used to
explain serial murders in early day cultures
In some Native American cultures they hold a legend
of people with the ability to transform into animals
by wearing the pelt or a piece of the pelt of the
In the Navajo culture they have shapeshifters that
are witches called the yee naaldlooshii who have
killed a member of their family or has committed
another cultural taboo and has done a specific ritual
which has given them the power to turn into any
animal they wish.These skinwalkers are greatly
feared and rarely talked about within the culture.
Folktales have been told that a lot of skinwalkers
turned duringThe Long Walk and ran away to escape
white men's oppression
The only way to kill a skinwalker is to dip a bullet in
white ash and shoot him with it.
In Japanese lore foxes are intelligent being
who posses magical abilities, one of these
abilities is to change into human form. In
some legends they use this ability to play
tricks on humans but in other legends they
are faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and
A fox can only gain the ability to shapeshift
after it reaches a certain age (some legends
say 50, most say 100 years old).They are
normally beautiful women but are also known
to take on the form of young girls and elderly
In some legends they have difficulty hiding
their tales which is the most popular way of
telling a kitsune from a human, other ways of
telling a kitsune is sometimes they will have a
fine coating of hair, a fox shaped shadow, or
In the Japanese culture the Tanuki or Japanese Raccoon
Dog is known to be mischievous and jolly, a master of
disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and
absentminded. They are generally portrayed as males.
Tanuki’s can shapeshift by putting a leaf on their head
and would often take human form. Tanuki’s shape
shifting isn’t limited simply to human form or even into
a breathing form, in one famous folk story ‘Bunbuku
Chagama’ a Tanuki father transforms himself into a
Japanese style teakettle which his wife sells to an
antiques dealer to make money for his family.
Most commonly they use their shapeshifting to get
free food and drinks, and many of their tricks, such as
kidnapping brides and impersonating them to attend a
wedding feast, are simply to get good food and drink.
Native to South America, especiall Argentina, Brazil,
and Bolivia, the Kanima is a werejaguar.
In some tribes shamans were thought to have the
ability to turn into jaguars.
Female were-jaguars are thought to have an extra
pair of nipples. A woman with an extra pair of nipples
are immediately suspected of being this creature.
In the early 1900s legend of this creature ran to
rampant that infants were killed or abandoned to
keep them from turning.This stopped after 1920s
when a law was passed declaring any infant
suspected of being a Kanima was considered the
Were-hyenas of African and Eurasian cultures, they are
generally considered negative beings.
In Ethiopa it is believed that Blacksmiths and Metalworkers,
especially if the trade is past through generations, are thought
to be wizards and witches with the ability to change their
shape into hyenas. In the Sudanic people, were-hyenas are
normally magically powerful healers, blacksmiths, or
The Berber people generally regard
Bouda’s as women or men who nightly turn
into hyenas and turning back into human
form at dawn.
Many Ethiopian Christians believe that
they are Ethiopian Jews that unearth
Christian corpses and consume them at
night; Jews of this region are commonly
blacksmiths which may be the connection
between the beliefs.
Selkies are from Iceland, Ireland, and Scotland.
Unlike most shapeshifters their original form is
seals and when they choose to walk to the
shore they change into beautiful humans.
According to legend if a man finds the skin of a
female selkie he may force her to be his wife
but only if he can keep the skin hidden. Once
she finds her skin she will leave him and her
children behind to rejoin the sea.
On the other hand male selkies commonly like
to seduce dissatisfied women. All a woman has
to do is stand at the shoreline and shed 7 tears
into the sea and a beautiful selkie male will
appear to comfort her.
Are minor nature deities in Greek culture.They inhabit the mountains,
woods, waters and seas of the world.
They are always in the form of beautiful women and are attendents to
Artemis, the goddess of the hunt.
Every element has its own type of
Nymph. oreads lived in the
mountains, while the naïads were
nymphs of the water, such as the
spring and lake.The nymphs of the
trees were called dryads,
hamadryads, alseids and meliae.The
Nereïds were sea-nymphs.
They’re known to change into trees,
springs, or flowers when startled or in
need of an escape by unwanted
The most commonly thought of shapeshifter is the
Most of the legends of werewolves come from
Europe though the belief has spread to all around
In some legends a witch has either cursed the
person or has given them a salve to be able to
change into a wolf. In other legends there was also
a simpler way by, like Skinwalkers, putting on an
enchanted belt made from a wolf’s pelt. It was also
seen as a divine punishment, in which, like a witch,
a saint could curse a person to become a werewolf.
Some ways to tell a werewolf in human form were if
the eyebrow met at the bridge of the nose, low set
ears, swinging stride, and, if cut, had fur
underneath the skin. In wolf form it is most
commonly said to be exactly like a wolf but with no
tail ( a common sign of a witch in animal form) and
the eyes and voice of a human.
In Greek myth there was an evil king of Arcadia named Lycaon who had 50 sons.
One of these sons, Nyctimus, angered his father and was killed and prepared into
a dish. Hearing the evilness Lycaon had been doing Zues decided to test him, he
transformed himself into a poor beggar and asked the king for shelter.The king
obliged and gave him a plate of cooked Nyctimus. Zues, sensing that the dish was
made of human, became angered and threw the table over, killed the sons with
lightening, and transformed Lycaon into a giant wolf.The wolf ran into the
country side, followed close behind by the king’s hunting dogs who ended up