Shapeshifting is a common theme in folklore and many cultures tell stories of people turning into ferocious animals at night, particularly during a Full Moon. Symbolically these stories can be associated with the Moon's dark aspect and its links with the occult. They also represent a fear that humans are easily overtaken by base animal instinct. Involuntary shapeshifting signifies confinement, while voluntary forms symbolize liberation. Werewolf myths were common in Europe, but elsewhere animal shapeshifters include werejaguars, weretigers, werefoxes abd werebadgers. (Sometimes even Werebears) Shamans and witches were credited with shapeshifting powers, traveling in this form between the human and spirit world.
"Signs & Symbols" - An illustrated guide to their origins and meanings.