Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Werewolf Cathedral

It is probably an occupational hazard of blogging on the topic of skepticism and gullibility that I occasionally have a hard time deciding if something is a prank.

The site Werewolf Cathedral is an excellent case in point.  Here we have the following points arguing that no, these people are completely serious:

1)  They claim to be a religion.  People who use the r-word usually don't joke about it, with the exception of the dude in Austria who fought for three years for the right to wear a spaghetti-strainer on his head in his driver's license photo, because he was a Pastafarian.

2)  They begin with a very grim sounding manifesto talking about how the Werewolf represents the merging of a person's base, animalistic nature with his/her human intelligence, using impressive words like "exemplar," "ideology," and "archetype."

3)  They admit, up front, that the idea of transforming into a fanged, hairy, Lon Chaney-style werewolf is ridiculous.

4)  They don't mention Twilight, or, god forbid, Team Jacob.

Arguing against their being serious is:

1)  A Werewolf?  Really?

2)  They imply that since barbarians back in the Dark Ages didn't blow people up with nuclear weapons, they were actually way better than modern humans, conveniently ignoring such charming features as human sacrifice and the lack of general anesthesia and indoor plumbing.

3)  Despite at first ridiculing the whole turning-into-a-wolf thing, they don't actually state that this doesn't happen, they just say that people who do this are "Pseudo-werewolves."  Whatever that means.

4)  Their leader, High Priest Christopher Belmont Johnson, appears in a YouTube video clip in which he looks more like a geeky computer programmer than he does like a werewolf.

Other interesting features, which could fall into either column, depending on how you see it, include:

1)  To be a werewolf, you're supposed to hide it if you're smart.  A direct quote from their doctrine:  "The Werewolf knows that intelligence is not an asset but a liability in our modern society. The Werewolf learns to play dumb so he fits in with the common folk.  Utter stupidity being the most common trait among all peoples of modern society.  If the Werewolf possesses a truly superior intellect he will already know the dangers of allowing his brilliance to be seen by the stupids."  So there you are, then.  Some people around you who appear to be catastrophically dumb may actually be brilliant, but are hiding their brains from the rest of us because they're actually werewolves.

2)  Science is wrong.  Again, to quote their doctrine:  "Science is merely a sub religion of the Stupidians.  It tells everyone that unless they claim it is real then it isn't.  The Ministers of this sub religion then go forth and speak of theories, aka fantasies with no proof, as if they are real."  So, this means, um, that as a scientist, I'm telling people what is real, and then... no, wait.  It means that you have to claim something is real before... no, that's not it, either.  Okay, I honestly have no clue what the hell that means.  Maybe he thinks that if we nosy-parker scientists would stop going around demanding that gravity be real, we'd all be able to levitate.  I dunno.

3)  They call themselves a "secret society" despite the fact that they have a website with photographs and contact information.  Of course, the same is true of the Rosicrucians, Masons, and a variety of other groups.  I guess if you're a secret society, you can't be so secret that no one can find you, or your secret society ends up only having one member.  Plus, then no one can be suitably impressed at how amazingly scary and secret your society is, because no one knows about it.

Anyhow, I'm inclined to think that the Werewolf Cathedral is serious.  But I'm not really sure.  As I was reading through this stuff, I kept expecting the site to say, "Ha-ha!  We're just joking.  We're actually a bunch of bored software engineers in Oakland who were messing around on our coffee breaks and decided to pretend we were werewolves."  But they didn't.  These people seem pretty determined to express their animalistic nature, and to show no pity for those whom they Seduce With Their Magick.  (That was clause #13 of the Werewolf Oath.)

I found myself wondering, as I read, how many werewolf wannabees they've inducted (or whatever it's called when you officially join the Pack).  However, I couldn't find out how many members there are, because that was on the Members-Only page of the site, and I'm damned if I'm gonna join just to find out.  (For one thing, I'd have a hard time reciting the Werewolf Oath without guffawing, and I have a feeling that would disqualify me.  Plus, if I laughed at their oath, they'd probably be honor-bound to disembowel me, or something, which would be unpleasant.)  So I don't know if there are branch offices and local sub-packs all over the world, or if maybe it really is just the four people who were listed as officers (High Priest Johnson, High Priestess AngelWolf, Reverend Yusuf Eisner, and a guy who calls himself Reverend Vargulf whose bio states that he is a retired army guy who is a "wolf of ancient lineage").

My suspicion, however, is that there are lots of members.  This sort of thing appeals to a certain type of person ("delusional").  And there are lots of folks like that out there.  So, anyway, I'll leave you to decide whether you think it's serious or not.  If you decide that it is, and you end up joining the Pack, please don't tell me, I don't want to know.  I would, however, prefer it if you didn't try to Seduce Me With Your Magick.  My wife would object.


  1. I concur. I always found this lot a little sad and completely mislead. The so-called "High Priest" seems to have been grasping at straws in his attempts to formulate a philosophy congruent with his obvious fascination with werewolves and associated lore. Werewolves do exist;however(think Berserkers) and did so in many cultures since the dawn of civilization. Some of us out in the big bad world still practice its traditions.
    The differences being we aren't a bunch of role-playing, pasty-faced, internet jockeys still living at mom's.
    We are a bunch of role-playing, pasty-faced, internet jockeys living all on their own.
    Lol. Just kidding.
    We are real and we do share a love of skepticism as well as a sense of humor.

  2. I suspected I'd find you commenting on this, Atrox. ��

    I belong to a religion (which was sometimes referred to as a "non-religion" by its very founder) that seems to have basically been ripped off by The Werewolf Cathedral. They have pretty much just taken the philosophy and traded out the symbolism with that of the werewolf. I suspect that The Werewolf Cathedral's founder is a follower or ex-follower of the same religion as myself but wasn't satisfied with his rank in the organization that represents that religion, so, therefore, he founded his own organization. Of course I'm just speculating.

    I find no harm in identifying with certain traits of mythical archetypes, silly as it might seem to outsiders to label oneself a werewolf. As Atrox said, taking on the characteristics of the wolf and merging them with human intellect has been a long-standing and useful practice.

  3. So this doesn't sound like a "werewolf" cathedral to me. Sounds more like a haven for pretenders