We could write books upon books about the rich symbolism of a wolf. Since ancient times, the wolf reincarnated a warrior allegory, the bearer of death and destruction, for many people; totemic animal for the American Indians, up to oriental mythologies, in which the image of the wolf, together with the white doe, has always symbolized the advent of a hero or a high lineage leader.
In our Western culture, the wolf has always been seen as a ferocious and fearful animal that popular tradition identifies as anything but positive.
A wolf’s throat is a cave, a dark cavern, a hellish night. Yet, by studying their behaviors closely, we understand how the wolf is not a very different animal from man. It survives nature both alone and in a pack, and when it mates it practices monogamy until the death of its partner, also showing a tender side in raising its offspring with dedication; in fact, in some civilizations, the wolf appears as a parent or founder of peoples and, as such, associated with the idea of fecundity.
Just think of the legend of Romulus and Remus, the founding twins of Rome. The Turks also trace their origins back to a herd of wolves and Aristotle said that the she-wolf of Leto gave birth to the twins Apollo and Artemis; therefore, the wild beast manages to hide many different values and magic.
But what are the main deities associated with the wolf? Let’s find out together!
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Apollo was represented as a beautiful, very tall god, notable above all for his long black curls with bluish reflections, like the pansy petals. He had numerous loves with nymphs or with mortal women.
Apollo changed into a wolf to seduce the nymph Cyrene, daughter of Ipseo and mother of Aristeo; it is also true that Apollo was the son of Latona and that the latter, under the guise of a she-wolf, came from the cold Hyperborean regions (or wolves’ districts, whose sun was the moon).
Illuminating the streets at night with the moonlight, she was considered the protector of travelers and their guide, especially in the woods. The woods, however, on moonlit nights, are populated by animals: hares, deer, foxes, and all other woodland animals; for this Artemis was also the goddess of the hunt, accompanied by the nymphs of the woods, the Dryads, and followed by dogs.
She walked the woods, wearing a short dress, a bow, and a quiver. She hunts the beasts but loves and protects them. Her love for the woods, hunting, and free life in the open prevented Artemis from submitting to the marriage bond; like Athena, she disdains marriage and the homage of men and gods.
It is said, however, that once Artemis had fallen in love with a beautiful shepherd, Endymion, who tended to the flocks on Mount Latmo: she went down every night into the cave where the shepherd slept to watch him.
Artemis was represented as a young woman with a delicate and beautiful face, with a bow and quiver and with a short dress; due to her quality as a goddess of the moon, she had a crown of stars on her head or, more often, a crescent moon.
The doe, the dog, the boar, and the wolf were sacred to her among the animals; among the plants, the laurel, the cedar, and the olive tree.
Loki’s son Fenrir is a giant legendary wolf from Norse mythology. Fenrir’s name, which means “Wolf of the moor”, or “Wolf of the swamp”, is also used metaphorically to indicate giants, compared to wolves in several texts. Fenrir was generated by the union of the god Loki with the giantess Angrboða: the serpent Jormungand and his sister Hel were born with him. He was later raised in the forest of Járnviðr (“iron forest”) by a witch.
Fenrir is a very particular wolf: just like his father, he has a sharp intellect and even manages to speak, thus making himself a strong opponent both physically and mentally.
Odin’s Geri and Freki
Geri and Freki (from Old Norse “miser” and “greedy”) are a pair of wolves from Norse mythology, companions of the god Odin. Their existence is attested in the poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems compiled in the 13th century based on previous sources, and in the first part of the prose Edda by writer Snorri.
Gylfaginning tells of how Odin feeds the two wolves meat when he is in Valhalla, because he does not eat it himself since his diet consists only of mead.
The pair of animals have been compared to similar figures found in Greek, Roman, and Vedic mythology, and may also be connected to the beliefs inherent in the Úlfhéðnar, warriors from Norse mythology who dressed in wolf skins.
Morrigan is a complicated goddess since she is the most uncontrollable and powerful aspect of Nature and of woman. She is a difficult figure to understand. She appears in myths as both young and old.
Sometimes he helps a hero and the next time she despises him, marking his death. She is a shapeshifter and can take the form of a crow or wolf and she is also a sorceress, versed in the use of magic, which she often uses to destroy her enemies. But most of all, she is not a single Goddess, she appears in the myths in triple form, as the sisters Macha, Anu, and Badb.
These are the main deities associated with the wolf. The wolf’s strong energy and determination can be amazing to work with to change your life and channel this kind of energy into yourself!