The wolf is one of the most feared (at the same time, most revered) creatures in many myths across the world. With its piercing eyes, sharp canine teeth, and robust body, it is widely known as a symbol of danger or fearlessness.
In this blog post, let's look at three of the most popular stories about the infinitely interesting wolf.
Wolves in Norse mythology mainly have a bad reputation. This notoriety surrounds the most famous wolf, Fenrir, who is the son of Loki and the giantess Angrboða. Because he was so ferocious, he was brought to an island to be bound by an enchanted ribbon. However, he bit off the hand of the god Týr before they succeeded in binding him. Ancient literature foretold that Fenrir would kill Odin during Ragnarök.
Two other wolves who share this bad reputation are Fenrir's offspring, Sköll and Hati Hróðvitnisson. Sköll spent his time chasing the sun, while Hati chased the moon. At Ragnarok, the two wolves finally caught up with the sun and moon and swallowed the heavenly bodies whole, thus plunging the world into darkness.
Not all Norse wolves are portrayed as evil, though. Odin had two wolf companions, Geri and Freki. It is said that Odin grew tired of traveling alone that he created the two wolves, which remained by his side until the end.
Unlike tales from Scandinavia, Native American folklore depict wolves as wise, benevolent creatures. For the Native Americans, wolves (as with every living thing) were great teachers. Wolves taught humans how to help each other out, by showing the ways of hunting while also protecting their young.
Almost every tribe has a wolf story. In fact, some tribes believe that they descended from their wolf ancestors. The Cherokee respect the wolf and as a rule, never set out to kill one, otherwise the wolf would avenge its death.
One Lakota tale tells of a woman who was separated from her tribe and was adopted by a pack of wolves. She learned many valuable skills - including the ability to sense the enemy from afar - which she taught to her tribe when she finally returned.
Another Cherokee tale is about the dog and the wolf. The story goes that once upon a time, Dog lived high up in the mountain while Wolf lived with humans. Winter came and Dog became cold, so he asked Wolf to trade places. Wolf actually liked living in the mountain and eventually formed a family there. Sadly, humans hunted Wolf down and killed him. Wolf's brothers, in turn, attacked the villagers, prompting the humans to never kill any wolf again. Thus, dogs became "man's best friend" and the wolves continue to roam the wild.
Any history buff would right away know that there wouldn't have been a Roman Empire if not for a She-wolf that raised Romulus and Remus. The grandsons of an overthrown king - and said to be the offspring of the god Mars - Romulus and Remus were found floating inside a basket along the Tiber by a she-wolf. Lupa, the she-wolf, raised the twins as her own until a shepherd found them and carried them home. Today, Italy's national animal is the wolf.
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