In one tale, Demeter transformed herself into a mare to escape Poseidon, but Poseidon counter-transformed himself into a stallion to pursue her.
The Greek/Roman Gods transformed people reguarly for punishment - such as Arachne, turned to a spider for her pride in her weaving, and Medusa, turned to a monster for being vain/unfaithful. Also, Zeus turned himself into a bull, a swan, a bear and a cow on various occasions
British and Irish:
Faeries, witches and wizards were all noted for having shapeshifting abilities, and the ability to cause others to shapeshift. Witches would commonly turn into hares or cats. Folklore such as 'The Black Bull of Norroway' featured shapeshifting from human to animal, most commonly as a curse.
Welsh stories tell of Gywidion and Gilfaethwy, who are transformed into stags, sows, wolves, hinds, boars and she-wolves, a year for each respective animal. Scottish folklore refers to Kelpies luring travellers into bogs by transforming into horses, and a famous Irish story tell of how Aofe turned her step-children into swans.
Many of the Norse Gods, such as Loki and Odin, frequently shapeshifted during stories, with animals including falcons, boars, mares and dragons. In the Volsunga saga, Siggeir's mother changed to a wolf to help torture two men. When one, Sigmund, survived, he, his nephew and son Sinfjötli killed men wearing wolfskins; when they donned the skins themselves, they were cursed to become werewolves. In Scandanavia there is a curious legend about 'Maras' female born werewolves, with a slow and painful transformation every night.
Common Turkic folklore holds a different, reverential light to the werewolf legends in that Turkic Central Asian shamans (after performing long and arduous rites) would voluntarily be able to transform into the humanoid "Kurtadam" (literally meaning Wolfman). Since the wolf was the totemic ancestor animal of the Turkic peoples, they would be respectful of any shaman who was in such a form
Chinese, Japanese and Korean folklore all contain stories of animals transforming into humans and vice versa. The most common shapeshifter in china was the fox spirit 'Huli jing', the most common in Japan the fox spirit 'Kitsune', and in Kora the malicious fox spirit 'Kumiho'
Shapeshifters were typically evil men who transformed due to deals made with the devil, although there are stories of female or willing shifts. In 16th Century France there were thousands of 'Loup-Garou' (werewolf) sightings, and men were often trialled and found guilty, yet the female 'lupin' was considered to be shy and gentle, although still malicious, and very few were brought to trial.
Shapeshifting among Native American tribes was mainly believed in by the Navajo, as well as some Hopi and Yaqui. Skinwalkers were considered evil, shamans who could shift were regarded in the highest honour.
This is (hopefully) a neutral list of different beliefs of the cause or origin of therianthropy. I personally lean towards biological and genetic therianthropy.
Biological: Therianthropy is a biological phenomenon, rooted in the hindbrain and showing up in physical characteristics and changes. Or there’s an abnormality of the brain, a genetic mutation. (Can be said to go along with the ‘genetic’ theory.)
Dissociation: Therianthropy is related to or due to a dissociative disorder, whether it be full dissociative identity disorder or a lesser form of dissociation. Shifting is dissociation from higher thought processes and emotion, the ‘human side’.
Dual Souls/Walk-In: Two souls occupy the therian’s body, one human and one animal, or his soul is part animal and part human.
Everyone’s a Therian: Everyone’s a therianthrope, everyone has an animal side. But very few people become aware of or accepting of this fact, and so there aren’t a lot of awakened therians. Anyone can awaken, though, and become therian.
Genetic: Therianthropy is passed from generation to generation, like body type or mental disorders.
Imprinting: When young, the human imprinted on an animal of a different species, and thus grew to believe (at some level) that she was that animal, imitating the behaviour and mannerisms of that animal.
Links to Gaia: Therians are links to nature and the primal side of humanity, an attempt by nature or deities or some other power to return balance to the world. Therians are to fight for this and protect the environment.
Mental: Therianthropy is a mental fabrication, where the person desires so much to be something other that s/he tricks his mind into experiencing shifts of perception, phantom limbs, etc. It’s an elaborate game of ‘let’s pretend’ taken to a new, more vibrant, more serious level. (Similar to the ‘dissociation’ theory.)
Primal Association: Everyone has a primal side–this is the part of the brain and personality which is instinct-driven. It may be that in some persons, the primal side is very well-developed. On top of that, the person may identify their primal nature with an animal or animals, similar to the way a dissociative has separated different personalities in their mind.
Psychic Connection: If a person, when very young, developed a very deep psychic link with a certain animal, then they may take on–or take in–the mind of that animal to such a degree that it becomes a part of them, and remains so even after the link is severed.
Reincarnation: The therian was her animal in a past life, and shifts are past life memories. Or her soul is animal, but instead of being reincarnated into the corresponded body, something happened to reincarnate her as a human. Or she spent enough lifetimes as a certain species (or had a lifetime as that species that heavily impacted her soul) that the energetic nature of her soul (or something of the like) is that of a certain animal.
Shamanistic/Totemic: Therianthropes are people with a natural affinity for shamanistic practices, astral shape-shifting, etc. and their theriotype is their power animal, not who they are. Or the totem animal of the therianthrope has more influence over the therianthrope’s behaviour and mannerisms, or they’re more in touch with their totem.
Soul Parts: The soul has many parts (such as with the Egyptian concept of the soul) and one or more of those parts resonates with, has the nature/shape of, or in some other way is animal. This can also explain polyweres, if each part is, in some way, a different ‘species’.
Soul Splitting/Shattering: Souls can split, break, fission, or shatter into more than one piece, and often do. Soul-pieces sometimes/often fuse onto other soul-pieces, and sometimes a nonhuman soul-piece fuses to a human soul, resulting in a therianthrope.
Spiritual Link: The therian is linked to an animal or animal spirit (similar to the concept of daemon in the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman). This link provides him/her with some animalistic behaviours and instincts.
The Modern Therian Community seems to be a product of the last decade of the 20th century. It can be traced back to activity on the werewolf movie fan site, Alternate Horror: Werewolf (alt.horror.werewolf). In 1993, discussion arose about common life experiences among some of the participants which seemed to indicate that they shared some of the characteristics of the more extreme movie characters they discussed. Specifically, they seemed to be, in some way, nonhuman animal minds living in human bodies.
According to the Alt. Horror: Werewolf FAQ page, AHWW was founded on November 16, 1992. This was a forum for fans of Werewolf media but soon became the first forum for the (then) Were Community. According to AHWW lore, the first poster to bring up the concept of real Werewolves was a Therian called Otter.
Modern therianthropy certainly existed before the Internet. Many Therians, including some born long before the advent of personal computing report realizing their nonhuman nature before knowing of the existence of any other such person. At this time, the oldest known Therians in the community are in their 50s although there is some mention of an individual in his 80s and there is a possibility that some of the clinical lycanthropes described in the literature were Therians with coincident mental illness. It is not at all certain how far modern therianthropy extends back in time or the relationship between modern Therians and their counterparts in more distant periods of history.
It is, nevertheless, safe to say that the modern Therian Community was born in 1993. It is quite gratifying to notice how quickly the Community has developed. In a scant ten years, solid offline relationships between individuals in the community were forged, stable constellations were formed and a budding community with stable folkways was established. Regardless of the weakening online controversy concerning the existence of any real community of Therians, the Therian Community, seventeen years later, seems to be doing quite well.
July 11, 1997, on an episode of Art Bell's radio show, on which Father Malachi Martin was a guest, a Therian calling himself Lance Foxx called in and began a discussion on therianthropy. This is, perhaps the first open public discussion on the topic.
Gathering of Therians in the West, from the beginning called "Howls" started soon after the inception of the Therian community, the first organized by Smash Werewolf, and later the Howlapalooza organized by Goldenwolf. In 1997, at least 5 Howls were organized including the long running NCHowl in North Carolina.
Also in 1997, SlashNet and the Werenet BBS were formed online, and the Flame Wars that lead to the fall of AHWW began. AHWW was eventually disbanded, and the various members spread onto other sites, leading to a boom in cyberpacks and therianthropic forums.
Note: This is basically a very, very shortened and summarised version of Wolf Van Zandt’s work. I would advise you to read his work, rather than this shortened version. (Why re-write what’s already been expressed perfectly eloquently?)
2.6 million BC - Earliest known stone tools
1 million BC - Earliest evidence of controlled fire
600,000 BC - Modern Humans split
330,000 BC - Earliest evidence of shelters
220,000 BC - Neanderthal appears
150,000 BC - Anatomically modern Homo sapiens
125,000 BC - Earliest evidence of modern humans in Africa
100,000 BC - Earliest known burials
75,000 BC - Earliest known human altars, include evidence of a bear cult
60,000 BC - Earliest firm evidence of humans in Australia
39,000 BC - Earliest evidence of modern humans in Europe
31.000 BC - Earliest known cave paintings
28,000 BC - Latest Neanderthal evidence 10,000 BC - Domestication of wolf-like dog
9,000 BC - Most recent ice age ends
6,000 BC - Catal Huyuk cave drawings depict men hunting in wolf-skins
4,000 BC - Cities begin to appear.
4004 BC - Bishop Ussher's calculated date of the creation of the world.
500 BC - Herodotus inserts a passage into his description of the Scythians about their neighbors the Neuri who were said to change into wolves once a month.
400 BC - The Arcadian Werewolf, Demarchus, is said to have won medals in the Olympics boxing.
100-75 BC - Virgil, in his Ecologues, mentions an instance of a man changing himself into a wolf using certain herbs.
55 AD - Petronius includes a Werewolf story in his masterpiece, The Satyricon
70 AD - Pausinius describes the Werewolf rites of Arcadia
175 AD - First Scythian (Iazyge) migration to Britain under Rome. If the Neuri were, indeed,the original werewolves, this and future migrations of Scythians to Britain as mercenary troops under Rome would explain the occurrence of lycanthropy in the British Isles at an early date.
617 AD - A recurring theme in early church writing occurs in the writing of Baronius, He relates that a pack of wolves attacked a group of heretical monks and tore them to pieces. The pattern showed wolves in a positive light as protectors of the church and of Christian individuals.
1017 AD - The word "Werewolf" first appeared in the English language.
1101 AD - Prince Vseslav of Polock dies. He is described in the epic poem Igor's Tale as a Werewolf.
1182 AD - AD A priest is called in Ireland to administer last rights to a Werewolf's mate, herself also a Werewolf, both in lupine form, as related by Giraldus. Giraldus also wrote a tragic tale of a Were-ox in Ireland.
1189 AD Marie de France composed the Lais of Biscavret concerning a Werewolf who is hero of the story.
1194 - The earliest known version of Guillaume de Palerne, another story in which a Werewolf is the hero, is written in France. A more recent version was published in France in 1552.
1486 - The handbook of the witch hunter is published by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, who includes a discussion about whether Werewolves changed form in reality or by a demonic illusion (glamour).
1550 - Johann Weyer takes up the post of doctor at Cleve. He would later publish his medical observations of lycanthropy.
1573 - Gilles Garnier is burnt as a Werewolf.
1584 - Reginald Scott's, The Discoverie of Witchcraft was published in which the term "lycanthropy" was used for the first time in an English publication. It was used in its current sense to denote a mental illness.
1589 - Perhaps the most famous Werewolf trial in history, the trial and execution of Peter Stubb. He is tortured to death and then burned with his daughter and mistress.
1598 - Whereas Jacques Roulet's sentence was commuted after he confessed to theft, the murder of a 15 year old boy, and lycanthropy, the "Werewolf of Chalons" was executed in Paris and the Gandillon family was burned in Jura.
1597 - King James I of England includes a section on "Men-Woolfes" in his Demonologie. 1603 - Jean Garnier is tried and sentenced to life in monastery as a Werewolf.
1607 - A translation of Simon Goulart's Admirable Histories, by Grimestone, appeared in London. In it, he gives a medical critique of lycanthropy including an instance in which he personally observed a case.
1610 - Two women are condemned at Liege as Werewolves.
1621 - Robert Burton's includes a description of lycanthropy as a form of depression. 1663 - Robert Bayfield includes a brief section on "wolf-madness" in his 'A treatise De Morborum Capitis Essentiis & Prognosticis'
1684 - Stephen Blanchard published in his Physical Dictionary "Lycanthropia: a Madness proceeding from a Mad wolf, wherein Men imitate the howling of Wolves." This is the first medical dictionary published in the English language. (Noll, 1992, p 83)
1692 - Theiss, the Livonian Werewolf, is brought to trial by the Inquisition in the town of Jurgensburg, and boldly maintains that Werewolves are the servants of God who protect the world against evil and destructive entities. Because of his advanced age (80 years), he is not executed, but is beaten and sent home.
1920 - "Operation Werewolf", a secret right-wing terrorist group in Germany indulged in initiation rites that, in some ways, resembled those of shifter communities in Africa and North America. It was revived in World War II under the Nazi regime.
1927 - Hermann Hesse authors Steppenwolf, a novel about a lonely man who considers himself to be a were-wolf or "wolf of the steppes" and is miserable in life. Particularly notable for the circus scene, which offers a startlingly apt metaphor for the inner struggles and repression issues that therians often face: the protagonist observes a wolf and its trainer constantly reversing roles, with the wolf forcing the man to eat blood and the man forcing the wolf to eat chocolate. Originally written in German, the novel was translated into English in 1929. (Review by Lenowill)
1933 - Long after the demise of the theory that lycanthrope is a demonic affliction, Mantague Summers resurrects it in his book The Werewolf.
1935 - The Werewolf of London was Universal's first foray into the Werewolf genre.
1941 - Wolf Man establishes the modern cinematographic Werewolf legend. 1944 - House of Frankenstein introduces the silver bullet into the modern Werewolf mythos. 1954 - Lindskog publishes a study on the African Leopard Men.
1957 - I Was a Teenage Werewolf ties lycanthropy to teenage sexuality. 1964 - Illis proposes that Werewolves were sufferers of the disease porphyria in the article On Porphyria and the Aetiology of Werwolves in volume 57 of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine. (Otten, 1985, pp 140, 195-199)
1970 - African wereism is described in detail by Ruel in his study of the Banyang os the Cameroon in Africa (Ruel, 1970, Noll, 1992, p 95)
1978 - Following Rosenstock and Vincent's published case history and in response, Pauline M. Jackson publishes another case history of a clinical lycanthrope in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
1979 - An American Werewolf in London has the first four-legged Werewolf in movies (ignoring the abortive Werewolf of 1913).
1981 - Daniel Merkur (1981) publishes an account of the Navajo Coyoteway ceremony and discusses the associated symbolic lycanthropy.
1985 - Following the trend in the Canadian and American journals, Patrick G. Coll, Geraldine O'Sullivan, and Patrick A Browne publishes yet another case of clinical lycanthropy in the British Journal of Psychiatry (Noll, 1992, pp 119 - 123)
1985 - Teen Wolf portrays the Werewolf as a heroic and completely sympathetic character. Again, lycanthropy is related to puberty. 1988 - "Lycanthropy: Alive and Well in the Twentieth Century" is published in the journal Psychological Medicine.
1987 - J. Devlin writes a scholarly work on the beliefs of French peasants in the 18th and 19th century conserning werewolves and monsters, The Superstitious Mind: French Peasants and the Supernatural in the Nineteenth Century. .
1991 - D. White extensively documents the literature on cyanthropy (Weredogs) in Myths of the Dog-Man. 1992 - Alt.Horror.Werewolves is founded.
1992 - One of the best popularist accounts of Werewolves, The Beast Within, is written by Adam Douglas and published by Avon Books.
1995 - According to an article called 'Foundation's Edge: The History of the Online Were-Community', an individual calling theirself "Storm" conned several Therians out of money with the promise of the secret to physical shifting.
1996 - Elizabeth Lawrence publishes an investigation of the development of the modern fictional image of the Werewolf and the archetype.
1996 - In September, the IRC channel #pshift is formed as an alternate to AHWW to allow free discussion of Were issues including the possibility of pshifting. Skeptics are originally barred but later, in 1997, a new rule is added allowing skeptics inside.
July 11, 1997 - Art Bell interviews Father Malachi Martin on his radio talk show. On the call section, Lance Foxx called and opened the discussion to therianthropy.
1997 - SlashNet the predecessor of AHWW is formed and later that year, the WereNet BBS is formed. The first NCHowl took place that year, hosted by Pinky. At least 4 other Howls took place that year.
1997 - Lion Templin coined the term "contherianthrope" (Templin, 1997)
1997 - The Flame Wars begin on AHWW that eventually lead to it's demise.
1997 - The first NCHowl takes place (according to a 2000 planning FAQ for the 2000 NCHowl) in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.
1998 - According to a copy of the Online Howl Resource, Windking hosted the first SEHowl in the spring of 1998. It did not occur in 1999 but was hosted in 2000 by Guardian. It has been held every year since then. Hosting duties were taken over in 2003 by Wolf VanZandt.
1998 - According to the introduction to his Creature Comforts, Lanmaru (Bad Tiggy) places his Anti-Were and Furry Resource on the Web.
1999 - The Shifter's Legend, an early online fanzine for Therians, is founded by Uath. 1999 - Moselhy and Nasr publish the descriptions of 23 cases of clinical lycanthropy.
1999 - The dead #pshift chat is revived as the popular #Werechat.
2000 - The PathwaysToDarkness party at the 2000 DragonCon in Atlanta brings together Vampires and Therians from the PathwaysToDarkness website in a peaceful and productive real life meeting.
2003 - Bones Studio in Japan releases the anime series Wolf's Rain, a post-apocalyptic story of four wolves searching for the way to a legendary Paradise. The series is notable for the wolves use of illusions: the wolves blend into human society by projecting a human appearance. (Review by Lenowill)
2004 - Nehi the Canchark self publishes a rather extensive personal account of his therianthropy on the 'Internet as Therianthropy: An Insight Into the Animal Within'. 2009 - On October 18, KAPS Paranormal Radio aired a program featuring Savage and Night Firewolf who presented a fairly balanced view of therianthropy to a non-Therian audience. 2012 - In July, Dr. Gregory Reece's Creatures of the Night (Reece, 2012) was published which included an interview with Wolf VanZandt. The modern Were Community was described in a positive manner. The presentation of "monsters" in socio-religious terms is a valuable addition to the understanding of the attraction of humanity to the macabre.