full moon can transform man into ox – the wereox (erchitu!)
If all you were worried about during the full moon was werewolves, you might want to think again – the wereox (Erchitu) also lurks around at night!
The Wereox / were-ox (or Erchitu as it’s also known), is a person who has committed a sin and is “cursed” to transform every month during the full moon into a terrifying white ox complete with a set of huge steel-like horns protruding from it’s head. Similar to the werewolf, at dawn, the wereox transforms from ox back into man!
Although transforming into an ox may not seem like a particularly bad fate, noone wants to become an erchitu, and even fewer people want to meet one (or, more correctly, hear one), as this often means you don’t have much longer to live….
Why is being a were-ox a curse?
It is said that the erchitu are doomed to wander the streets of a village or town. Some stories also claim that the shapeshifter is escorted by a “troop of devils” who jab and prod him along with sticks and skewers and also put lit candles on his horns! (It should be noted that the legends that tell of these devils, also claim that one way to “cure” someone from becoming an erchitu is by blowing out the candles on its horns in one breath).
Eventually, the wereox will stop in front of someone’s door and let out three very loud bellows, which, according to folklore, mean that the head of that house is destined to die within a year! For this reason, erchitu are feared and dreaded.
Where can you find the wereox / erchitu?
The wereox seems to be most common in Italy on the Mediterranean Island of Sardinia, as this is where you can find the bulk of the tales and legends of its existence. Here, you’ll find it referred to as the “erchitu”. Depending on the region you’re in, you could also hear the were-ox referred to as other names….
Other names that also refer to the wereox:
- travianu voe – town of Orgosolo
- boe muliache – towns of Mamoiada and Lula
- mulinu voe – town of Ollolai
- on voe corros de attaizu – town of Benetutti
- on oe mudulu – town of Buddusò
How long has the Erchitu (were-ox) existed?
The wereox has been legendary since at least the 1600s when a poet named Cimono put pen to paper to describe the creature – he refers to it as the “erchitu”.
E’rchitu chi cumpassitu est a mie
canno vit bui, in d’una notte vritta,
muttat a boe postu ‘e berritta,
chi galu como nde tenzo paura.
Annate, annate, accurrite a inie,
ma bos ponite cosa veneitta…
mi chi s’anima sua er maleitta
e girat in su munnu notte e die!
Which roughly translates to:
I appeared in the form of erchitu
when he was alive, on a cold night,
turned into an ox with a cap,
and even now I feel fear.
Go, go, come here,
but put yourself on holy shit ….
because his life is cursed
and travel the world night and day!