Wolves are one of several creatures that are found in mythology and folklore throughout the world. One of the things I've always found fascinating is how vastly different wolves are viewed by different people.
In Finland, for instance, wolves have long been hated. They've also had a bad rap with the Christian faith, where they're often viewed as an enemy of man, or as a representation of various sins and evils. And in the Hindu faith, Krishna created wolves at one point specifically to frighten the Vraja into doing as he required.
Other faiths and people have a much more positive view of the wolf. In Chechnya, Mongolian and Japanese myths and folklore, wolves are revered and were often worshipped. In Roman mythology, a wolf was responsible for the founding of Rome after having saved Romulus and Remus.
And in yet other areas of the world, wolves fall somewhere in the middle. They play many roles and are viewed in many different ways. This is nowhere as true as in the myths and lore of the Northern people.
In Norse mythology, wolves such as Geri and Freki are the revered pets of Odin. They were fed from his table and were his constant companions. When man was created, it was these wolves that Odin sent to them to teach them how to care for one another. The warriors of the people were said to be able to transform into wolves during battle, and were better able to defend their people as a result. And, of course, Fenrir (Loki's son) is destined to kill Odin at Ragnarok after his sons, twin wolves Skoll and Hati, devour Mani and Sol, the moon and sun.
The list of wolf mythology is endless. One of my favorite wolf myths is from the Kiowa people, though. It’s called the Legend of Wolf Boy, and is probably one of the most accurate representations of wolf behavior found in mythology.
It’s the story of a young boy who refuses to betray his brother by sleeping with his wife. This angers the boy’s sister-in-law, so she traps him in a hole in the ground and tells him that she will only release him if he agrees to what she wants. He refuses, and she leaves him there before returning with her husband to camp. Eventually, a pack of wolves hear the boy crying in the hole and asks him why he’s down there. When he explains what happened, the wolves rescue him, and care for him for many years. Eventually, the boy’s people find him, and he tells them what happened. The wolf then tells his people to bring the woman to them, and they kill her for the wrong she committed against the boy and her mate.
You can read a version of the entire legend here.
I just adore the story found within the legend and how much of an accurate representation it is of actual wolf behavior. When wolves mate, they mate for life and are faithful to their mate. In most instances, the pack itself is a nuclear family unit, and they are very nurturing of one another. When a pack adopts a member, it tends to be a young wolf, and once adopted, they are accepted fully into the pack.
The Kiowa legend captures this reality perfectly.
In Fade, Arionna is introduced not only to Norse mythology, but to a pack a lot like the one in the Kiowa legend. And, as she discovers, they’re a whole lot more human-like than contemporary fear of wolves would lead one to believe. I just love that I was able to incorporate both the Kiowa legend and Norse mythology into Fade, and I especially love how it turned out. I think you wolf lovers will, too. :)
What's your favorite myth?
See you for Six Sentence Sunday in a few hours!