Wolves, Myth, and the Legend of Wolf Boy, by A.K. Morgen
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved mythology. The various ways society has interpreted life, religion, and the mysteries of the Universe over the years fascinates me. As a writer of paranormal and fantasy romance, I often find myself searching out obscure myths with the hope of someday incorporating them into the worlds I build.
One of my favorite subjects is the wolf. Every culture views wolves a little differently, so there are an abundance of myths and legends out there dealing with this majestic, fierce animal.
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 in Roman mythology, a wolf was responsible for the founding of Rome after having saved Romulus and Remus.
In 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 that sit at the center of Norse culture.
In Norse mythology, Odin’s most beloved pets were wolves named Geri and Freki. Odin fed the pair from his table and took them everywhere with him. When Odin and the Æsir created man, they sent Geri and Freki to teach them how to care for and love one another.
The warriors of the Norse people were also said to be able to transform into wolves during battle, and were better able to defend their people as a result. And, on the other end of the spectrum, of course, sits Loki’s son, Fenrir. According to Norse belief, Fenrir is destined to kill Odin at Ragnarök after the twin wolves Sköll and Hati devour Mani and Sol, the moon and sun gods.
The wolf myths of the Norse people take center stage in my upper young adult/new adult series, The Ragnarök Prophesies, but oddly enough, my favorite wolf legend doesn’t come from the Northern people. It comes from the Kiowa in a story called the Legend of Wolf Boy.
The story tells 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 do as she requires. He refuses, so she leaves him there, tells his brother he died, and then returns with her husband to their home.
Eventually, a pack of wolves hear the boy crying in the hole and ask him why he’s down there. When he explains what happened, the wolves rescue him. They raise him as one of their own.
Many years later, the boy’s people find him, and he tells them what happened so long ago. The wolves then tell 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 love how accurately this legend portrays the real-world behavior of wolves. Obviously, wolves aren’t running around chatting with people, but they are pretty amazing animals. When wolves mate, they mate for life. A wolf is faithful to his or her mate, and they’re very much a “family first” species. In most instances, the pack itself is a nuclear family unit, and they are very nurturing of one another.
When a pack adopts a new member, the new member is accepted into the family without reservation. While adopted members tend to be young wolves, there are numerous accounts out there of wolves adopting abandoned human children into their packs and raising them as one of their own, too.
The Kiowa legend captures this reality perfectly, I think. Not only do the wolves rescue the young boy, but they reward his loyalty to his brother by adopting him. And years later, when they come across the boy’s deceitful sister-in-law again, they punish her for her sins against their pack-mate as much as for her disloyalty to her mate.
About A.K. Morgen:
A.K. Morgen (Ayden) lives in the heart of Arkansas with her childhood sweetheart/husband of eleven years, and their five furry minions. When not writing, she spends her time hiking, reading, volunteering, causing mischief, and building a Spork army. Ayden graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology in 2009 before going on to complete her graduate degree in CJ and Law. She currently puts her education to use in the social services and CJ field.
Ayden is signed with Curiosity Quills Press, Limitless Publishing, and Cobblestone Press. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or via her website at http://aydenmorgen.com.