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The Woman - Wolf

(This is an adaptation of a legend told in the village of Loureses, in the municipality of Os Blancos, reflected in its original version in the book Un caso de Lycantropia (O Home-Lobo), from Vicente Risco (1971))

Many, many years ago, close to the village of Cebreiro, some peasants look after the cattle that pastures in the huge extensions of heathland that cover the nearby mountains. They are frightened about the wolves: while taking suspicious looks to the surroundings, they tell stories about how, during the last months, a new female wolf became the chief of a wolves pack, and how in the nights of full moon they fiercely attack livestock and people. However – as the older peasant comments, followed by the deep silence of the others - this night there is no reason for worries, as there isn’t full moon in the sky.

Meanwhile, in the middle of one of the holly forests that cover the shady part of the lower hillsides, a beautiful girl, showing a deep sadness in her face, makes a fire for the wolves that sit all around. Like in a dream, she recalls her past as a child, joyful memories of her family and a home surrounded by the cereal plains in the nearby region of Castilla. Then, as an almost grown up girl, a conflict with her father, and a word with evil intention pronounced by him, resulted in a curse which turned her in a wolf-woman.

Suddenly, some distant voices take her away from her thoughts. Silently, she moves with the herd through the dark forest until she has a wide gaze of the scene: in a near path, people are passing by guiding some beasts carrying cereal coats. She wonders if that cereal would come from the extensive plains of her motherland, the same that denied her an imprecise amount of time ago, or from the hilly, sometimes steep cropland that climb the mountains of the land that now hides her movements.

Wolves begin to feel anxious with the proximity of the possible prey. But the girl quietly talks to the wolves, telling them not to make any damage to the people that night.

Some nights after, a shiny full moon crowned the dark blue sky up in the Cebreiro Mountains. Using the moonlight to follow the right way, the same group of people unaware of the stalking eyes of wolves days ago, guides beasts with new loads of cereal to a local muiño (watermill). They put the load inside the mill, and after a brief, friendly talk with the mill owner, they left him alone. When the miller is starting to make the flour from the cereal, terrific howls are heard from the outside: the wolves have arrived. The mill owner, full of fear, secures the door. But it has a hollow in its bottom part, and the female wolf inserts one of the front legs on it, and begins to scratch fiercely the floor inside. After a desperate search the man finds a knife among his tools, approaches reticent to the door, and makes a cut in the wolf’s leg. A terrible woman’s scream is then heard, making the surprised wolves flee away.

After a while, the miller cautiously opens the door to see, astonished, a girl sat in the floor, with a bleeding cut in her hand, looking at him with silent tears in her eyes. None of them speak even a word, and then the girl seems to remember something of a distant past, stands up slowly, and after a while, turns and go away. The curse is over.

The girl makes her ways to the East, walking down the mountain paths, leaving behind oak, birch, and beech forests, fresh grasslands, and the terrible recall of the curse, and with a growing joy inside, asks village after village to find the way to her home in the plains of Castilla, where she is warmly welcomed by the first surprised, then jubilant family and neighbours.

Almost a year after, some neighbours of the Cebreiro mountains arrive to the Castillian fields to work in the cereal ripening, a temporal labour that the Galician people make from a long time ago. Without purpose, they arrive to the house of the former woman-wolf. She asks them where they come from. When they tell her, the recall of her cursed past come to her mind, and the atrocity of the facts made put her in a deep sadness…


Cebreiro mountains
Cebreiro mountains