Wolf Symbolism: The Spiritual Meaning Of Seeing Wolves

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Wolves howl at the full moon, blow houses down, disguise themselves as grandmothers, eat little pigs, and get into complicated love triangles with vampires.

Wolf symbolism is everywhere, but what significance do they hold?

Wolf symbolism ranges from representing protection and loyalty to a major warning sign that danger is afoot.

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Native American Wolf Symbolism

The Tale of Two Wolves is a popular legend that historians often attribute to the Cherokees and Lenape.

It focuses on a grandfather who tells his grandson about an internal battle between two wolves, which exists in everyone.

One of the wolves is evil and jealous, who is bogged down by its sense of inferiority and false pride.

The other wolf is good, full of hoy and kindness. It values compassion, serenity, and truth.

When the grandson asks, “which wolf will win,” the grandfather says, “the one you feed.”

The Ojibwe creation story describes wolves as guards of the underworld.

The Pawnee tribe believed that the first-ever death was a wolf killed by humans, which triggered the floodgates of death.

Wolf Meaning in Dreams

If you dream of a wolf, it can mean a variety of things.

In dreams, a wolf represents a source of fear that is dictating your decision-making or something that is negatively impacting your life. 

It can also serve as a warning for needing to rely on the people around you or commending your ability to do so. 

A grey wolf represents a conflict that you're having with someone who is close to you. 

Wolf Spirit Animal Meaning

In the spirit world, the wolf is a symbol of sharp intelligence, strong instincts, a desire for freedom, and distrust in the self or in others.

White Wolf Meaning

The white wolf is a symbol of good luck.

If a white wolf appears in your dreams, it’s a sign of victory.

You have recently achieved something or been able to see the light in moments of darkness.

Lone Wolf Meaning

A lone wolf is a term typically used to describe a person who is very independent and solitary.

Instead of following the crowd or going with the flow, they prefer to follow their own rules — and by themselves.

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Meaning of a Pack of Wolves

A pack of wolves, or a wolf pack, is a phrase that is used to describe a family of wolves. 

Wolf Totem

The word totem is derived from the Algonquian word “odoodem,” which translates to “kinship group” in English.

Totem poles convey recent ancestors’ and living people’s experiences. Or they can symbolize mythological events and characters.

The wolf totem is said to be a helpful symbol that represents breaking free of restrictions in life.

Wolf Symbolism in Literature

Wolves are often depicted as villainous creatures in literature.

In CS Lewis’ "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," for example, depicts wolves as the evil allies of the White Witch.

In Ovid’s "Metamorphoses," the King of Arcadia, Lycaon, serves the roasted flesh of his own flesh to Zeus, to test if Zeus is truly all-knowing. As punishment, Zeus transforms Lycaon into a wolf.

Sometimes, however, wolves are depicted as caring, protective, and good-natured.

In "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," however, Remus Lupin is a shape-shifting wolf, that tries to protect Potter from Lord Voldemort.

In Jack London’s "The Call of the Wild," a dog named Buck must learn to live with the wolves when his owner is killed. A wolf family takes him in, cares for them, and he soon becomes the leader of the wolf pack.

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"She-wolf" is not just the name of a hit Shakira song. White Fang, the next book in the London series, follows a she-wolf who gives birth to a litter of five cubs.

Wolf Symbolism in the Bible

The Wolf at the Gate explores St. Francis Assisi’s endeavors in saving the people of Gubbio from a menacing wolf.

In this story, the wolf starts to attack the livestock and then the humans, which he later decides to feast upon.

It was St. Francis who decided to take matters into his own hands and meet the world outside the city gates.

Upon first sight, the wolf charges towards St. Francis, ready to devour him. Instead of fleeing, St. Francis makes the sign of the cross and in the name of God, commands him to stop.

The wolf bows his head to St. Francis in mercy.

Wolf Meaning in Different Cultures

A wolf symbolizes a brave and valiant warrior in Celtic symbolism and mythology.

In Norse mythology, wolves Freki and Geri accompany god Odin. In addition, the wolves Skalli and Hati are responsible for the sun and moon’s movements.

The two chase both the sun and moon across the heavens, then eat them up at the end of the world. Without them, day and night would be nothing.

Romulus and Rumus is a story of twin brothers that’s very well-known in Roman Mythology.

In a cave, which is now known as Lupercal, the twin brothers were suckled by a wolf.

Wolf Tattoo Meaning

Of course, a tattoo can mean anything you want it to.

Generally speaking, a wolf tattoo is a sign of inner strength or strong family ties.

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Izzy Casey is a writer who covers pop culture, news, and entertainment for YourTango.