My blog is about why my fantasy and paranormal novels center on wolves as main characters, or spirit guides. In my debut fantasy novel, The Stone of the Tenth Realm, my hero is a Scottish werewolf, an alpha of his own pack. My current work in progress is an epic lycan series, which I hope to sell soon. I’m not alone. Numerous authors are following the call of the wild.
Why is the wolf a common archetype in many myths and stories, even today? Nothing sends a chill down your spine more that hearing a wolf’s howl in the night. While at a wolf sanctuary, I spent the night in a trailer on the grounds and was privileged to hear night after night of thirty wolves in their nightly serenade. No sound is more awesome.
Yet in the past the wolf had a more sinister reputation. During the development of agriculture and domestication of livestock people settled down and pushed out old hunting deities. Wolves were vilified as part of pagan beliefs and turned the wolf into Satan’s ally. Fear of the wolf once ruled Europe. Wolves were hunted and exterminated. Legends of werewolves were rampant. Little Red Riding Hood and the story of Bisclaveret brought fear to the hearts of many. Many accused of being werewolves were tortured and or burned at the stake.
Today there is more of a movement to save the wolf and what was once considered a savage killer is now becoming a spirit guide for folks who need a strong archetype and for environmentalist who see the wolf as a “spokes creature” for nature. So why is the admiration and fear of the wolf so universal? My own explanation is that the wolf’s biogeography, high intelligence; and social interaction helped them enter the mythos and literature.
The wolf is ubiquitous, found throughout most of the world from the icy Tundra in the Northern Hemisphere to the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. Even in countries where the wolf is not found such as Australia, there are canines that serve as a wolf proxy such as the dingo. Here in our modern homes and cities our pet dogs are constant reminders of our “wolfen” companion. We after all, created the dog from the ancestral wolf, as our most loyal companion.
Wolves display common social and intelligent behavior similar to our own. They both play and have a strict social status, just as some of our cultures have. They communicate with their kind, much the same way we do, both vocally and in non-verbal ways. We have kings and presidents they have the alpha pair. Humans low in status such as slaves and peasants certainly were low on the pecking order or in a wolf pack the omega. Wolves also mate for life, which endears them to people who long to have a long and loving relationship with a mate. How romantic! What impressed me the most about the wolf sanctuary was the relationship between two wolves, Bernard and Barksalot. Bernard a white wolf had been rescued from a cruel man who gouged his eyes out, leaving the wolf blind and helpless. He was brought to the sanctuary and became friends with another rescued wolf, Barksalot, who literally became his “guide dog”. Bernard grabbed on to Barksalot’s tail and would be lead around. Barksalot would also bark to communicate with Bernard. Barking is unusual for wolves. These similarities to human behaviors let us see the good and bad in us in them.
We long to emulate their hunting prowess. Wolves use team strategy and their powerful carnassials to bring down a much larger prey. Imagine a hero that can do damage without a weapon.
The wolf is universally regarded as creatures of prophesy and omens, and have connections between the worlds of the living and the dead. The wolf is affiliated worldwide with magic, medicine, healing and transformation. In Native American culture the wolf is important archetypes. They had great respect for the wolf and often offered prayers before a hunt to the wolf spirit. Wolf spirit was also powerful medicine for shamans who traveled to the world of the dead. In the New World, there never was an attempt to eradicate the wolf from their land. In Europe just as in the New World, myths and stories about wolves are universal. Early Europeans Respected the Wolf as Protector and Teacher. From the Steppes of Asia Minor to the British Isles the Wolf and Raven were mighty totemic protector. Hecate, an Ancient Greek deity was worshipped as a goddess with three wolf heads. Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus who were fed by the she-wolf, Alcala.
Ancient Celts respected the wolf as a totem and often as a spirit guide. In the Viking world to be a member of the Wolf Clan, Ulfhednar was the greatest honour. Viking warriors believed that if they died a heroic death they would be turned into magnificent wolves. Vikings also believed wolves chasing and devouring the sun and moon caused eclipses. Two wolves accompanied Odin, ruler of the Norse Gods. He created the wolves Freki (Hungry One) and Geri (Greedy One) as loyal companions.
Today the wolf is once again a positive force in literature and as an important part of the predator/prey relationship that keeps nature in balance.
Check out Eva’s novel as a fun winter read.