The wolf is a powerful mythological and spiritual symbol in many cultures around the world, due to it’s widespread distribution across North America, Europe and Asia. Modern dogs are descendants of Asian wolves and the relationships between man and wolves goes back at least forty thousand years.
Wolves were predatory competitors with early man and wolves symbolized ferocity, cunning, stealth, cruelty and even evil – but because of their close-knit pack behaviour wolves also represented loyalty, courage, fidelity and victory. The tendency of wolves to hunt at dusk and dawn and to communicate by howling at night in many cases caused wolves to be associated with the spirit or shadow world, shape-shifters and malevolent or evil spirits.
The wolf symbolized fear of the night, darkness, and even demonic possession. At the same tine men could not help but admire the skill and success of the wolf pack.
In Celtic myth, the sun is devoured by a wolf. In the Norse myths, the giant wolf Fenrir is central to the apocalyptic end of Asgard, the home of the Viking Gods, a symbol of chaos who swallows the sun at the end of the world. Chinese tradition also portrays the wolf as rapacious and a symbol of lechery. There are several myths of wolves in India, including one that Ghengis Khan was descended from one.
At the same time, in Norse legend the wolf is sacred to Odin, and to the God Apollo in Greece. The Romans venerated the wolf, because of the legend of the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, being suckled by a she-wolf after being abandoned. The Roman God of War, Mars held the wolf sacred and to spot one before a battle was an omen of victory.
In North America the wolf is often seen as a teacher figure, a shape-shifter who mentored Shamans and a dancer symbol. Among the Shoshone, the wolf was a creator figure.
In early Christianity, Christ’s symbolization as the Good Shepherd, who protects his flock, the Faithful, from predation, made the Wolf a potent symbol of Satan.
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