The wolf has been a major character in stories for centuries, more often than not he played the “bad guy”. The word “WOLF” has been known to strike fear in children worldwide based on fables and stories such as Peter and the Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood. Just about every culture has a wolf story to tell, Scotland tells of killer wolves that ate children, China has Lon Po Po (which is very similar to the Little Red Riding Hood story). The history of wolves in fables goes back as far as written history can remember. Not all of the stories, however, make the wolf out to be a sinister creature. Some cultures held the wolf in high regard and wrote epics about how brave and loyal a wolf was. It is amazing to see such a diverse standpoint in story telling over one animal.
Even wolves have their own folklore legends. A wolf called “Old Lefty” is said to have killed over 380 head of livestock in 1913. He got his name because he’d lost his right paw in a trap. Another wolf legend, “Three Toes”, names for an incident with a trap, was reported to have taken approximately $50,000 worth of cattle in 1925. A gold watch served as a reward as a 150+ man wolf-hunt the great Three Toes was found and killed. His legend lives on.
The Pacific Northwest of the United States and southwestern Canada is possibly home to a creature more bizarre than the area’s most famous inhabitant, Bigfoot. If Indian tales are to be believed, the waters near British Columbia are home to a creature they called sea wolf, sisiutl, wasgo, haietlik, or any of several other names; this creature is unique among cryptids by having been a totem animal of several tribes, an honor shared only with the thunderbird. Several native representations of the creature have been retrieved; all depict a long, serpentine animal with small forelimbs and a doglike or crocodilian head.
A vivid description of the monster appears in an Indian legend. Shortly the water of the lake began to churn, and the head and finned forelegs of the Sea-Wolf, which some call the Wasgo, appeared near the surface. As the huge beast rose through the open trap, snapping at the bait…the split cedar snapped shut on the monster, breaking its back. In spite of this injury, the Sea-Wolf snarled and pawed and thrashed.
The Kwakiutl tribe, who lived on the British Columbian coast north of the present city of Bella Coola specified that sisiutl was an animal that was “of the earth”, not one of the mythical creatures of the sea; this distinctly shows that the Pacific Northwest tribes were convinced of the animal’s existence. As far north as Alaska, the Inuit (Eskimos) spoke of the tirichik, mauraa, nikaseenithulooyee, akhlut, or palraiyuk, a creature which seems analogous with the Sea-Wolf of further south, if not for its six legs.
Roy P. Mackal sums up reports of Canadian lake serpents in Searching for Hidden Animals; the picture he ends up with is of a creature very much like the Sea-Wolf. He goes on to speculate that the lake monsters are actually a surviving populations of a type of primitive whale called a zeuglodon. Is the Sea-Wolf, too, a zeuglodon? As a final note, depictions of what may be the same animal as the Sea-Wolf have been found as far south as the Nazca Plain, in Peru. One of the famous “Nazca lines” depicts a whale-like sea monster, complete with two forelimbs, crocodilian snout, and large eyes.
Michel Meurger, and Claude Gagnon. Lake Monster Traditions: A Cross-Cultural Traditions
Michael D. Swords “The Wasgo or Sisiutl: A Cryptozoological Sea-Animal of the Pacific Northwest Coast of the Americas”
The Sun, The Turtle, And The Wolf
Once upon a time in a green valley next to a river and by a hill there lived a Sun, a Wolf, and a Turtle. Above them lived and watched over them their goddess, Zeuss. One day by the river, Sun was bragging about how fast he was. Wolf and Turtle overheard him and challenged him to a race. The race was whoever got the first cloud that they saw that morning would win the race. It was really rainy, so they agreed to do it the next morning. Sun was still thinking about how he was going to get the cloud first. Sun thought and thought and finally, he knew what he was going to do. He was going to go up right before the race. That morning Sun was still bragging to himself while he was walking by the stream. Wolf was walking by and heard Sun bragging to himself and told him that he was going to win the race. Then Turtle walked by and said the same thing as Wolf. That morning they all met on top of the hill, but Sun wasn’t there. Wolf and Turtle looked up to see if there was a cloud but instead, they saw Sun crying up in the sky. Turtle and Wolf understood. Zeus talked to Turtle and Wolf and explained everything. And that is how the Sun got stuck in the sky.
How Rabbit Fooled Wolf
Two pretty girls lived not far from Rabbit and Wolf. One day Rabbit called upon Wolf and said “Let’s go and visit those pretty girls up the road.” “All right,” Wolf said, and they started off. When they got to the girls’ house, they were invited in but both girls took a great liking to Wolf and paid all their attention to him while Rabbit had to sit by and look on. Rabbit of course was not pleased by this and he soon said, “We had better be going back.” “Let’s wait a while longer,” Wolf replied and they remained until late in the day. Before they left, Rabbit found a chance to speak to one of the girls so that Wolf could not overhear and he said, “The one you’ve been having so much fun with is my old horse.” “I think you are lying,” the girl replied. “No, I am not. You shall see me ride him up here tomorrow.” “If we see you ride him up here,” the girl said with a laugh, “we’ll believe he’s only your old horse.” When the two left the house, the girls said, “Well, call again.”
Next morning Wolf was up early, knocking on Rabbit’s door. “It’s time to visit those girls again,” he announced. Rabbit groaned. “Oh, I was sick all night,” he answered “and I hardly feel able to go.” Wolf kept urging him, and finally Rabbit said: “If you will let me ride you, I might go along to keep you company.” Wolf agreed to carry him astride of his back. But then Rabbit said, “I would like to put a saddle on you so as to brace myself” When Wolf agreed to this, Rabbit added: “I believe it would be better if I should also bridle you.” Although Wolf objected at first to being bridled he gave in when Rabbit said he did not think he could hold on and manage to get as far as the girls’ house without a bridle. Finally Rabbit wanted to put on spurs. “I am too ticklish,” Wolf protested. “I will not spur you with them,” Rabbit promised. “I will hold them away from you, but it would be nicer to have them on.” At last Wolf agreed to this, but he repeated: “I am very ticklish. You must not spur me.” “When we get near the girls’ house,” Rabbit said “we will take everything off you and walk the rest of the way.” And so they started up the road, Rabbit proudly riding upon Wolf’s back. When they were nearly in sight of the house Rabbit raked his spurs into Wolf’s sides and Wolf galloped full speed right by the house.
“Those girls have seen you now,” Rabbit said. “I will tie you here and go up to see them and try to explain everything. I’ll come back after a while and get you.” And so Rabbit went back to the house and said to the girls: “You both saw me riding my old horse, did you not?” “Yes,” they answered, and he sat down and had a good time with them. After a while Rabbit thought he ought to untie Wolf and he started back to the place where he was fastened. He knew that Wolf must be very angry with him by this time and he thought up a way to untie him and get rid of him without any danger to himself. He moved around a thin hollow log fan beating upon it as if it were a drum. Then he ran up to Wolf as fast as he could go, crying out: “The soldiers are hunting for you! You heard their drum. The soldiers are after you.” The Wolf was very much frightened of soldiers. “Let me go, let me go!” he shouted. Rabbit was purposely slow in untying him and had barely freed him when Wolf broke away and ran as fast as he could into the woods.
Then Rabbit returned home, laughing to himself over how he had fooled Wolf and feeling satisfied that he could have the girls to himself for a while. Near the girls’ house was a large peach orchard and one day they asked Rabbit to shake the peaches off the tree for them. They went to the orchard together and he climbed up into a tree to shake the peaches off. While he was there Wolf suddenly appeared and called out: “Rabbit, old fellow, I’m going to even the score with you. I’m not going to leave you alone until I do.” Rabbit raised his head and pretended to be looking at some people off in the distance. Then he shouted from the treetop: “Here is that fellow, Wolf, you’ve been hunting for!” At this, Wolf took fright and ran away again. Some time after this, Rabbit was resting against a tree-trunk that leaned toward the ground. When he saw Wolf coming along toward him, he stood up so that the bent tree-trunk pressed against his shoulder. “I have you now,” said Wolf, but Rabbit quickly replied: “Some people told me that if I would hold this tree up with the great power I have they would bring me four hogs in payment. Now, I don’t like hog meat as well as you do so if you take my place they’ll give the hogs to you.”
Wolf’s greed was excited by this, and he said he was willing to hold up the tree. He squeezed in beside Rabbit, who said, “You must hold it tight or it will fall down.” Rabbit then ran off, and Wolf stood with his back pressed hard against the bent tree- trunk until he finally decided he could stand it no longer. He jumped away quickly so the tree would not fall upon him. Then he saw that it was only a leaning tree rooted in the earth. “That Rabbit is the biggest liar,” he cried. “If I can catch him I’ll certainly fix him.” After that, Wolf hunted for Rabbit every day until he found him lying in a nice grassy place. He was about to spring upon him when Rabbit said “My friend, I’ve been waiting to see you again. I have something good for you to eat. Somebody killed a pony out there in the road. If you wish I’ll help you drag it out of the road to a place where you can make a feast off it.” “All right,” Wolf said, and he followed Rabbit out to the road where a pony was lying asleep. “I’m not strong enough to move the pony by myself,” said Rabbit “so I’ll tie its tail to yours and help you by pushing.” Rabbit tied their tails together carefully so as not to awaken the pony. Then he grabbed the pony by the ears as if he were going to lift it up. The pony woke up, jumped to its feet, and ran away, dragging Wolf behind. Wolf struggled frantically to free his tail but all he could do was scratch on the ground with his claws. “Pull with all your might,” Rabbit shouted after him. “How can I pull with all my might,” Wolf cried, “when I’m not standing on the ground?” By and by, however, Wolf got loose and then Rabbit had to go into hiding for a very long, long time.
Fenrir, in Norse mythology, a monstrous wolf who was a major threat to the gods until they found a way to chain him, using a magic fetter. The name Fenrir means “from the swamp.” Also known as the Fenris wolf, he was the offspring of the trickster fire god Loki. His sister was the goddess Hel and his brother the evil serpent Jormungand. It was because of Fenrir that the god Tyr lost his right hand. The Vikings believed that during Ragnarok, the battle that would take place at the end of the world, Fenrir would swallow the principal god Odin; Odin’s death would be avenged by his son Vidar.
According to the myths, the evil Loki himself gave birth to Fenrir, after eating the heart of a giantess, the witch Angerbotha. After his birth, the gods received prophecies of disaster concerning Fenrir and his siblings. Even when Fenrir was a pup, the only god courageous enough to approach him was Tyr.
Despite the dire prophecies, according to the ‘Prose (or Younger) Edda’, the gods could not kill Fenrir because it would have defiled their sanctuary. But they sought some way to tie up the beast, who grew noticeably larger each day. They attempted to restrain him with two different iron fetters. The wolf broke the first, called Leyding, with a single kick. The second fetter, called Dromi, was twice as strong. The wolf strained a bit at this one but soon broke it as well. Then the gods became more afraid of the wolf’s power. Odin sent Skirnir, Frey’s messenger, down into the world of the dwarfs and had them fashion a magic restraint called Gleipnir. It was made of six ingredients: the sound of a cat’s footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, a bear’s sinews, a fish’s breath, and a bird’s spittle. When it was done, Gleipnir was smooth and soft, like a silken ribbon. Skirnir brought it back to the home of the gods, and they took it to the island of Lyngvi by the lake Amsvartnir. They called the wolf, showed him the silky band, and challenged him to test his strength again.
Fenrir was suspicious because of the thinness of the band. The gods agreed to free him if he could not break out of the fetter himself, but Fenrir was still reluctant to have it put on him. He asked that someone put their hand into his mouth as a pledge that the gods were acting in good faith.
None of the gods was willing to take such a risk, knowing full well the deceit, but then Tyr stepped forward and put his right hand into the wolf’s mouth, making the sacrifice that would keep the gods safe. Fenrir was bound with Gleipnir, and he tried with all his might but could not snap it. The gods laughed to see the wolf’s distress–except for Tyr: Fenrir closed his mouth on Tyr’s hand at the wrist.
Once the wolf was bound, the gods took a cord, called Gelgia, that hung from the fetter, and threaded it through a great stone slab called Gioll.They fastened the slab deep into the earth. Then they took a huge rock, called Thviti, using it for an anchoring-peg.
The wolf, in his anger, struggled violently and stretched its jaws frighteningly wide, trying to bite them all. The gods thrust a tall sword into Fenrir’s mouth as a gum prop, with its hilt touching his lower gums and the point touching his upper gums. Fenrir continued to howl horribly, and saliva ran from his mouth. In this subdued condition, according to the myths, the terrible Fenris wolf would remain until Ragnarok, when the gods and the giants would fight to the death.
Fenrir appears in both the ‘Poetic (or Elder) Edda’ and the ‘Prose Edda’. According to the ‘Prose Edda’, by the time of Ragnarok, the wolf would have grown so large that when he opened his mouth, his lower jaw would be against the Earth and his upper jaw would scrape heaven. Flames would burn from his eyes and nostrils. At Ragnarok, the wolf would break loose and join the giants and other monsters in all-out war with the gods. Fenrir would kill Odin by swallowing him. Odin’s son Vidar would then come forward and step with one foot on the wolf’s lower jaw. Vidar would be wearing a thick shoe made of all the accumulated waste pieces that were cut from the toe and heel of all the shoes ever made from the beginning of time. Thus securing the wolf’s lower jaw, Vidar would grasp his upper jaw with one hand and tear his mouth apart, killing the beast at last.
Compton’s Encyclopedia Online v3.0 © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.
The Legend Of Romulus and Remus
The legendary founders of the city of Rome were Romulus and Remus. They were said to be the twin sons of Mars, the god of war, and Rhea Silvia, the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Rhea had been forced to become a vestal virgin by her uncle, Amulius, who had deposed Numitor. When Rhea gave birth, Amulius imprisoned Rhea Silvia and ordered servants to cast the infants adrift on the Tiber River. The Tiber was in flood, and the high waters safely carried the twins’ basket to the riverbank, where they were deposited under a fig tree. There a she-wolf and a woodpecker, animals sacred to Mars, found the boys. The animals nursed, fed, and cared for them until they were found by Faustulus, the king’s herdsman. He and his wife reared the twins.
When Romulus and Remus grew to manhood, they killed Amulius and restored Numitor as king. The twins then determined to build a city on theTiber. Remus selected Aventine Hill as the site; Romulus insisted on PalatineHill. Remus was killed in the quarrel that followed, and Romulus was declared king.
To hasten the city’s growth, Romulus made Rome a refuge for outcasts and fugitives. Because there were no women, he persuaded the Romans to lure the neighboring Sabines to a festival and to kidnap the women. A war was averted when the women said they would stay with the Romans. After about 40 years of rule, Romulus was miraculously taken to Mount Olympus to become a god and to dwell with his father. The ancient Romans then worshiped Romulus under the name of Quirinus.
Compton’s Encyclopedia Online v3.0 © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.
St. Herve and the wolf
The mythological story of St. Herve tells the tale of a wolf who devours Herve’s plow ox. But when Herve preaches so eloquently, the wolf is moved to make atonement for his sins by serving in the ox’s place and pulls the plow faithfully for Herve.
Goddess Holle is the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone, representing the three stages of womanhood. Destined to marry Holler, King of Winter and Frost, Holle was tested by a riddle to prove her worthiness. She was to arrive at his palace neither naked no clothed, riding or walking, alone or with companions, in neither light nor darkness. Holle came wrapped in fishing net, sitting on a donkey with one toe dragging the ground, surrounded by 24 wolves at twilight.
Sol, the sun goddess, is chased during the day by the wolf Skoll. Her brother Mani is chased by the wolf Hati at night. Both wolves are the children of Hrodvitnir, the giantess who lives in the Iron Wood.
Odhinn had two wolves as constant companions in Valhalla. When there was an eclipse it was said that the wolves temporarily swallowed the globe.
The Valkyries were sometimes shown riding wolves, in their aspect of soul-collectors. This idea may have survived in the belief during the middle ages that witches in the form of werewolves rode wolves through the night.
An old Indian Grandfather said to his grandson who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice.
“Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many
“It is as if there are two wolves inside me; One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. He saves all his energy for the right fight.
But the other wolf, ahhh!
He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked…
“Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said…
“The one I feed.”
The Dog and the Wolf
Discouraged after an unsuccessful day of hunting, a hungry Wolf came on a well-fed Mastiff. He could see the Dog was having a better time of it than he was an he inquired what the Dog had to do to stay so well-fed. “Very ggars, guard the house, show fondness to the master, be submissive to the rest of the family and you are well fed and warmly lodged.
The Wolf thought this over carefully. He risked his own life almost daily, had to stay out in the worst of weather, and was never assured of his meals. He thought he would try another way of living.
As they were going along together the Wolf saw a place around the neck where the hair had been worn thin. He asked what this was and the Dog said it was nothing, “just the place where my collar and chain rub.” The Wolf stopped short. “Chain?” he asked. “You mean you are not free to go where you choose?” “No,” said the Dog, “but what does that mean?” “Much,” answered the Wolf as he trotted off. “Much”
The Wolf and the Lamb
One very hot day a Lamb and a Wolf happened to come on a stream the same moment to quench their thirst. The Wolf was some distance up stream but called out asking to know why the Lamb was muddying the water, making it impossible for him to drink. The Lamb, quite frightened, answered as politely as he could that he could not have muddied the water as he was standing downstream. The Wolf allowed that might be true. But he claimed he had heard the Lamb was maligning him behind his back. The Lamb answered, “Upon my word, that is a false charge.” This irritated the Wolf extremely and drawing near the Lamb he said, “If it wasn’t you then it was your father. It is all the same anyway.” And so saying, he killed the Lamb.
The Wolf and the Mouse
A Wolf stole a sheep and retired to the woods to eat his fill. When he awoke from a nap he saw a Mouse nibbling at the remains. When the surprised Mouse ran off with a scrap, the Wolf jumped up and began screaming, “I’ve been robbed! I’ve been robbed! Stop This thief!”
The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf
A Shepherd Boy was watching his flock near the village and was bored. He thought it would be great fun to pretend that a Wolf was attacking the sheep, so he cried out Wolf! Wolf! and the villagers came running. He laughed and laughed when they discovered that there was no Wolf. He played the trick again. And then again. Each time the villagers came, only to be fooled. Then one day a Wolf did come and the Boy cried out Wolf! Wolf! But no one answered his call. They thought he was playing the same games again.
The Wolf and the Hunter
A hunter killed a goat with his bow and arrow and then, throwing the animal over his shoulder, he headed home. On the way home he saw a fine boar. He dropped the goat and let fly an arrow. The shot missed the heart and the boar fatally gored the hunter before he too expired.
A Wolf caught the smell of blood and found his way to the scene. He was beside himself with delight at the sight of all of this meat, but he decided not to be prudent, to start with the worst of it and finish with the softest, most delectable pieces . The first thing to eat was the bow string. Taking it in his mouth, he began to gnaw. When it snapped the bow shaft sprung and stabbed the Wolf in the belly and he died.
A vilkacis is a mythological creature, usually considered malicious. Literally translated as werewolf, vilkacis is a human that transforms into a wolf through a curse at a certain time and place but then turns back into a human.
Cin-an-ev is a wolf culture hero and trickster of the Ute Indians.
Native Americans said that when the wolf howled, he created wind. If he continued to howl, fog came. They considered the Moon it’s power ally.
Wolves are important totem animals in many Native American cultures. Wolves are not perceived as competitors but respected as teachers and guides in the ways of the wild.
The Egyptian God Wepwawet was either pictured as a wolf or with a wolf head. A banner bearing his image was carried before the Pharoah in victory processions. However, both the Hindus and followers of the Zoroaster considered the wolf to be evil and a symbol of evil in human nature.
Plato and Pausanias both wrote about the wolf cult in Arcadia, the initiates of the cult worshipped Zeus Lycaeus, called themselves Lukoi, and sacrificed and ate wolves. The wolf was also associated with Apollo.
Among the Celts, wolves were considered to be powerful, but helpful animals. Legend says that Cormac, King of Ireland, was always accompanied by them. The God Cernunnos was pictured with a wolf.
In pre-Christian Europe the wolf was a popular clan totem. Many clans were accused of turning themselves into wolves at certain times of the year. The reality behind this is that these clans dressed in wolf skins and masks for certain religious rites.
At one time wolves were so common and dangerous in Britain that the month of January was set aside for hunting them. January was called Wolfmonat, or Wolf Month. Although wolves were exterminated in England in 1509, they could be found in the mountains of Scotland and Ireland until the beginning of
the 18th century.
In Greek mythology, Charon – the ferryman of Hades who rowed the dead across the River Styx – was said to wear the ears of a wolf.