The Power of Silver

GNC

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#1
Where does the idea that silver kills werewolves and even vampires come from? I heard that it was all derived from the 1940s film The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney Jr, and had no grounds in ancient mysticism at all, is that true or have I been misinformed?
 
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Anonymous

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#2
I always thought the silver/werewolf thing had something to do with alchemy.
Of the seven metals known to alchemists, gold was the purest, and silver followed closely. Silver was associated with the moon, and the astrological symbols used for the moon usually were the same as the alchemical symbols. Silver was also used in medicine as a healing substance.

But then a quick search on google turned up this site here that says:
The Wolf Man is the true source of the idea that werewolf transformations are triggered by the full moon, as well as that of silver being ideal to kill them, and of wolf-bane. All are inventions of Universal screenwriter Kurt Siodmak


Seems it's true that the whole thing isn't that ancient or mystic after all, then.
 

GNC

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#3
Thanks for that. It's a bit disappointing, I suppose.
 
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Anonymous

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#4
Silver is the only precious metal that can be fashioned into a reasonably strong weapon. That might play a more historical role in its demon slaying abilities. A gold sword wouldn't hold up very well against much, but silver could be just as deadly as any iron weapon. the werewolf thing might be a creation of the movies, but I find it hard to believe cause reports about the Beast of Gevaudan say hunters armed themselves with silver bullets to hunt this supposed werewolf
 

pintquaff

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#5
Search said:
Silver is the only precious metal that can be fashioned into a reasonably strong weapon. That might play a more historical role in its demon slaying abilities. A gold sword wouldn't hold up very well against much, but silver could be just as deadly as any iron weapon. the werewolf thing might be a creation of the movies, but I find it hard to believe cause reports about the Beast of Gevaudan say hunters armed themselves with silver bullets to hunt this supposed werewolf
Er no ;) silver is so soft it would'nt stand a chance against an iron weapon, no way:gaga: in fact a dense peice of wood such as oak if wacked onto the side of the blade wood (spot the pun) render it usless, at least thats what happend last full moon :D
 
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Anonymous

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#7
PintQuaff said:
Er no ;) silver is so soft it would'nt stand a chance against an iron weapon, no way:gaga: in fact a dense peice of wood such as oak if wacked onto the side of the blade wood (spot the pun) render it usless, at least thats what happend last full moon :D
I wasn't making a comparison to iron though. Compared to gold (the only other known precious metal known before the 19th century when platinum and palladium were discovered) it is incredibly stronger. Still it's not that soft, silver knives, forks, and spoons etc. where the standard fare for table settings back in the day. copper was far too soft, iron rusted, and wooden was so... well, proletariat would be the word to describe wood lol. I don't know about you, but I've bent and snapped a few blades of stainless steel into tough wood using a machete to clear brush etc, so don't underestimate either. The best metal for edged weapons is forged steel, but its still not a precious metal ;)
 
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Anonymous

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#8
How is precious metal defined? Aluminium was once more worth than gold, does that make it a precious metal?
 

rjmrjmrjm

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#9
"Wolfman stalks through the shadowy ruins of an old cathedral, the weather worn gargoyles leer and snarl from their lichen-marked parapets. He sniffs the air. Humans! Four of them... perfume, mud, tobacco... smells stong.

But it is dark, and the wolfmans eyesight is not as good as it should be, he cannot see his prey in the deep shadows.

Suddenly a flash, moonlight reflected in the silver blade of the hunters only a few meters away. Silently, he smiles. The night is his."

Silver is not very practical for hunting werewolves.
 

river_styx

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#10
Silver and I think gold both have long held medicinal properties. Silver especially is good for purifying the blood.
 
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Anonymous

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#12
i believe the reason silver, gold and platinum are precious metals is a combination of their beauty, their scarcity and the fact that they are very un-reactive....therefore generally not reacting adversly when worn close to the skin.

silver is too soft to make an effective edged weapon. it will not hold an edge for very long. the reason that lots of cutlery can be made from silver is through alloying the silver with copper. this both lowers the melting temperature, making it easier to work, and makes it harder.

this is why you can see '925' stamped on silver jewellery, and i beleive cutlery was made in 950 and 900 alloys. one of them was called brittania silver i think...can't remember.

the number is referring to how many parts out of 100 is 'pure' silver. ingots of silver or gold are always stamped 999, because the purity can never be assured.

the medicinal uses of gold and silver...isn't there a schnaps that has 22ct gold in it that's supposed to be good for you? also, there;s that colloidal silver stuff.
 
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Anonymous

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#14
hey, i'm actually pretty impressed! i replied after a few beers :)

i forgot to say that electrum is a 50/50 alloy of gold and silver.

don't forget gold teeth!
 

rjmrjmrjm

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#15
Cant get a compound of gold, it doesnt react. Alloys are not compounds, no chemical reaction has taken place, its just a mix.

The ancients knew gold was very unreactive and so it was perfect. What else was perfect... well God. So it would only be fitting if statues of the Gods were made from the perfect metal.
 
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Anonymous

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#17
wasn't gold mixed with mercury, painted on an object, and then heated so the mercury evaporated and left the gold behind...plating the object?

when the gold dissolves in the mercury, is this a chemical reaction?

when i say that gold etc is un-reactive, it's in comparison to other metals sometimes used in jewellery such as copper and brass. these metals react with teh acids in sweat and leave marks on the skin.

this is why a lot of people have problems with piercing jewellery. because it is so popular now, and even some hairdressers are doing 'piercing'...they stick 9ct gold in.

9ct gold has a very high copper content, and so is quite reactive....which leads to adverse reactions when pierced through areas where there is a lot of blood, sweat and sensitive tissue.

not nice to have this through your belly button, let alone your bell end.

wern't the irish fae folk abhorent of iron?
 

intaglioreally

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#18
Gold plating used that technique it is the process of amalgamation.

What happens is that Mercury being essentially monomolecular has a small enough atom to slip into the crystal structure of a metal slackening up the bonds. Essentially the Mercury disolves in the solid until the solid can disolve in the mercury
 
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Anonymous

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#19
rjm said:
Cant get a compound of gold, it doesnt react.
this is not true, it reacts with tellurium to form tellurides in nature (calaverite is one form), but I don't think its used to cure arthrhitis.
Gold is dissolving in mercury, like anything dissolving in solution is not a chemical reaction. its like mixing alcohol in water, it doesn't form a new compound, it merely dissociates and forms concentrate it does not form a gold-mercury compound or give off energy or absorb etc. which are trademarks of a chemical reaction.
guttersnipe, .925 silver is 92.5% silver, so yes its alloyed but its over 90% silver and very strong, most weaponry that is silver (i.e. ceremonial swords, etc.) is made from 92.5% (sterling) silver, its a very hard and strong alloy. Gold is often alloyed with other metals in jewelry, 14 and 18 karat gold is far from pure, but its significantly harder ;) still nothing severs the head from the shoulders like a forged stainless blade :D
 
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Anonymous

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#20
no, i would dissagree on 925 silver being very strong. it is still quite a soft alloy, and so pretty useless if intended to be used as an effective edged weapon.

it just won't hold an edge very long.

this is just from my experience at work. undoubtedly someone is going to start quoting shit from a text book and probably prove me wrong. but from working with the stuff for 10 years, i reckon it's too soft.

anyway, how many hits would be needed from a silver pig sticker to kill a werewolf? one? a couple?

if you needed a one shot wonder, then a silver sword would probably do the job.

also, doesn't the silver weapon have to be pure (or 9999) silver anyway? then it will deff be too soft. you would probably end up bludgeoning the poor lupine to death.
 

stu neville

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#21
Well, personally I'd always go with the word of the bloke who actually works with the stuff :).

Thinking about bullets in particular, silver's easily strong enough to make a usable slug - far harder than lead, for a start. As for silver daggers or swords, I imagine they'd keep these for special occasions anyway - in day to day use GS is dead right in that they'd never keep their edge, but if only used once in a while...

Back to the original point, though, the idea that silver kills werewolves way predates Universal studios - the use of precious metals as a replacement for more commonplace ones has held mystical significance for centuries. I remember reading that the Beast of Gevaudan was stalked by hunters with silver weaponry, too.
 
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Anonymous

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#22
yeah, i reckon they would have to be kept for 'special'. ahahah.

isn't it supposed to hurt vampires from some cultures too?

there's a really crap film called billy the kid versus dracula. it's awesome. in that billy goes into a silver mine to make bullets to shoot dracula. well....that's how i remember it.

i'm actually listening to 'kill van helsing' - a surf/punk/greaser band from bristol! :)

what about the irish faerie (???) aversion to iron? was this correct?
 

stu neville

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#23
Well, certainly in ancient British myth fairy folk had no power against iron (hence the tradition of putting an iron horse shoe on the door).

It's been postulated IIRC that this is a race memory of when the Celts invaded, bringing iron with them, giving them superiority over the indigenous bronze-using peoples.
 
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Anonymous

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#24
sterling was used for coinage for years I can't see it being so soft to render it useless. Various common high content silver alloys can have a hardness of 3-7. Now a hardness of 3-4 isn't very good for weapons, but 5-7 certainly would be. Compare to steel which has varying hardnesses from 5.5-8 depending on the alloy. native silver has a hardness of 2.5 so yes its very soft. But keep in mind that a razor sharp edge isn't necessary for hacking away at something; I've got a machete here, not the strongest iron (It can bend rather easily), and the blade is dull as a butterknife, but with enough strength behind it, and a direct (not angular) swing, it can smash through a 3" round piece of fresh wood with one blow and can do this repeatedly. the effect on a watermelon is even worse, literally explodes the thing, not a clean cut, but a nasty one and I reckon this to mimic the kind of damage it can do to a head. So a silver weapon is impractical, still can be quite deadly and effective. Perhaps a silver sword isn't best suited as a long sword, but rather a broad sword, better for a crushing blow than a razor edge.
 

intaglioreally

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#26
Actually a leaf bladed sword would be even better. The central ridge would reinforce the weapon for thrusts
 

Jerry_B

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#27
stu neville said:
Well, certainly in ancient British myth fairy folk had no power against iron (hence the tradition of putting an iron horse shoe on the door).
Hazel wood is also supposed to be another thing which wards them off.
 
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Anonymous

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#28
Wouldn't a silver sword simply be too heavy and therefore unsuitable as a proper weapon? As opposed to steel that's a hard metal you can make rather thin blades out of, that yet won't break or bend out of shape.

I think silver or gold weapons could be used for ceremonial or ritualistic purposes only, not for actual self-defense or something like that.
But then there's something ritualistic about people preparing to slay a werewolf, isn't it? ;)

I've never heard of silver being used against vampires, though.
Maybe people confuse the, umm, facts, because vampires and werewolves are usually believed to belong to the same category of vaguely transsylvanian undead B-movie creatures.
(Even though I seem to remember some slavonic people think they are directly linked, because when a werewolf dies, he always becomes a vampire. No silver mentioned in this theory, though.)
 
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Anonymous

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#29
Fledermaus said:
I've never heard of silver being used against vampires, though.
In the Encylopedia of Magic and Superstition (octopus books press) it says that a vampire can be dispatched by a silver bullet along with werewolves and witches. The publishing date for the book in 1974, its kinda old, and is very factual in nature. I don't think this is a blurring of myths but much rather just another way to dispatch some evil beasties according to another culture.
 

_Lizard23_

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#30
According to the ol' western esoteric tradition, silver is lunar by correspondence and so associated with the astral plane, the closest non-physical sphere, the mysterious, illusory dreamworld that the various entities, the ghosts and monsters, we can easily encounter mainly inhabit.

For this reason it would seem to be a suitable substance for making tools to deal with such entities, one that they can interact with.

Basically if you suspect it ain't quite of this world, then silver's the weapon to go for, if it's weapons you are after.

In the story "The Sea Lure" in "The Secrets of Doctor Taverner", a fictional work by the occultist and psychologist Dion Fortune, a chap who's having a bit of bother with the 'etheric body' spirit manifestation type thing of a girl makes silver bullets with which to shoot it and explains
"It was a thing often related of the witches, that they could project the astral double out of the physical body and so appear at a distance. I had something of that kind at the back of my mind when I made the silver bullets. Old country-folk believe that it is only with silver bullets you can shoot a witch. Lead has no effect on them."
It's ok though ... they get together at the end in spite of the two bullet-wound stigmata on her physical body.

Aw.

That was written in 1926 I believe and certainly pre1940s.
 
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