Wolf Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of Seeing Wolves

Photo: Holly Kuchera / Shutterstock
wolf in the snow
Contributor
Self

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 & Spiritual Meanings Of Wolves

Whether you see a wolf in your dream or out in the wild, these beautiful creatures symbolize many things. In fact, wolves represent protection and loyalty, strong intelligence, the desire for freedom, family and friendship, and are even a warning sign of threats or lack of trust in others or yourself.

While we may often use terms like a lone wolf to describe a person who is very independent and solitary, wolves themselves are social animals who live in packs. And just like wolves rely on their intuition and sharp instincts to survive, their spiritual meaning is quite similar.

RELATED: Spiritual Animal List & The Symbolic Meaning Of Power Animals

Wolf Encounters and Omens

Wolves tend to get a bad reputation due to their hunting of livestock, but they have actually co-existed with humans in many representations over the decades. Unfortunately, it's rare to see one in the wild as wolves are considered an endangered species.

Still, seeing a wolf in dreams or even its likeness or symbol has its own meaning, usually a warning to tread lightly and be careful of your surroundings.

What Wolves of Different Colors Symbolize

The most common color of a wolf is brown or grey, but most have mixtures of colors. However, in dreams and other representations, the color of a wolf symbolizes something specific.

White Wolf Meaning

Known as Arctic wolves, the white wolf is a symbol of intuition and spirituality. If a white wolf appears in your dreams, it’s a message that you need to balance your energies, while recognizing your psychic abilities.

Grey Wolf Meaning

As the most common colored wolf, grey wolves are symbols of forming strong connections with others. If you see one in your dream, it's a message to work through any conflicts in your relationship, or friends in your "pack."

Black Wolf Meaning

Black wolves are extremely rare, but symbolize your own negativity holding you back from success. They provide a warning that if you don't face your internal struggles, you'll never reach a place of healing.

Yellow or Golden Wolf Meaning

While yellow wolves don't exist in the wild, gold is associated with wealth and riches, while yellow means happiness and creativity. A yellow wolf represents both of these concepts, including good health and peace.

Red Wolf Meaning

Another color of wolf that doesn't exist, seeing a red wolf in your dreams is associated with a transformation of some kind. It means you need to follow your true passions with high energy and cheer, and allow things to come to fruition.

Brown Wolf Meaning

Just like the color brown is associated with the earth and the ground, a brown wolf is also associated with the planet, as well as the powers of the universe. Seeing one is a message to trust nature and what the universe has in store for you.

RELATED: What It Means When You Dream About Dogs

Wolf Symbolism 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, specifically, represents a conflict that you're having with someone who is close to you.

Dreaming of fighting a wolf or a wolf attack

If you dream of killing a wolf, it means you're going to find success in the future. A dream of fighting a wolf means your real-life enemies won't be able to harm you physically or spiritually.

However, if you dream of being attacked by a wolf, it's a sign that you are fearful due to the behavior of another person; similarly, getting attacked by a pack of wolves is a signal of coming danger.

Dreaming of a wolf in motion

If you dream of a wolf running, whether towards you or away from you, it's symbolic of your ambition to create a successful and affluent life.

A flying wolf, however, means you're currently on a path of growth and have the opportunity to live your life confidently and openly.

Dreaming of a wolf's body

Dreaming of the different parts of a wolf's body mean various things.

A dream of a wolf's eyes are symbolic of your personal ambitions to find success and be productive, as well as the intuitive part of yourself; a three-eyed wolf, however, means you're in denial of changes in your life, and you need to come to terms with it.

A red-eyed wolf symbolizes your internalized emotions that may be hidden from your personality; a yellow-eyed wolf represents your passions and following through with them; a blue-eyed wolf symbolizes self-respect.

Dreaming of a wolf's head represents your need to intimidate others, and serves as a warning to consider how your behavior affects those around you; a three-headed wolf, not to be confused with Cerberus (Hades' three-headed hellhound), means you're rife with knowledge and should use that to help others.

Other dream meanings

While some dreams of wolves can be anxiety-inducing, when you have a pleasant dream of a wolf, it's reassurance that your life will take a positive turn for the best. Similarly, a wolf protecting you represents your real-life desire to be adored and loved by those around you.

A wolf howling symbolizes your need to express yourself and speak your truth, while a growling wolf represents your need to tell someone you dislike exactly how you feel.

Turning into a wolf carries with it the meaning of not showing others who you really are inside, and the need to do so for a fulfilling life.

Wolf Spirit or Totem Animal

A spirit animal is a life guide who teaches us lessons as they guide us in the right direction; totem animals are also spiritual guides, but are protectors, appearing when we aren't acknowledging our higher purpose.

You can't choose your spirit animal; rather, they select you. However, you may still see wolves in personal visions, or have an experience that alters your thinking in a grand way.

You'll know if a wolf is your spirit animal if you resonate with the creature somehow.

Those with a wolf spirit animal experience a strong connection to their inner power, as well as with nature and the world around them. A wolf spirit animal guides you in how you confront others, and protecting your positive energy from the negativity of others.

A wolf as a spirit animal also guides you in the importance of following your instincts and staying connected to family.

The wolf totem is said to be a helpful symbol that represents breaking free of restrictions in life. Those with a wolf totem are dedicated to family, trust their instincts, and is also said to be connected to the cycles of the moon.

Wolf totems serve as a reminder to trust yourself and use your knowledge to further your prosperity.

RELATED: Spiritual Meaning And Symbolism Of A Black Panther

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Hey You! Want more of YourTango's best articles, seriously addictive horoscopes and top expert advice? Sign up to get our free daily newsletter!

Spiritual Meaning of Wolves in Christianity

Although wolves are symbols of protection, intelligence and freedom, in the Bible, they are represented as dark parts of the wilderness, as well as the evil side of humanity.

The New Testament talks of being wary of a wolf in sheep's clothing, or people with ill intentions, specifically in Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves."

This metaphor refers to Jesus protecting his followers, or his "flock" as he's depicted as a shepherd, from evil forces and false prophets.

However, there's a positive portrayal of wolves in the story of St. Francis and the Wolf.

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 Symbolism in Mythology and Folklore

Wolves have been prevalent in folklore and mythology for centuries, often being portrayed as a dangerous predator to be aware of. However, some cultures revere the wolf, thinking of it as a symbol of a fighter.

Native American Wolf Symbolism

Each Native American tribe has their own interpretation of wolf symbolism, though most consider the creature to be a guide to connecting with nature.

The Tale of Two Wolves is a popular legend that historians often attribute to the Cherokee 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, bogged down by its sense of inferiority and false pride. The other wolf is good, full of joy and kindness; it values compassion, serenity, and truth. When the grandson asks, “which wolf will win,” the grandfather says, “the one you feed.”

In addition, the Ojibwe creation story describes wolves as guards of the underworld. And the Pawnee tribe believed that the first-ever death was a wolf killed by humans, which triggered the floodgates of death.

Celtic Wolf Symbolism

Where wolves are considered evil in some religions or cultures, a wolf symbolizes a brave and valiant warrior in Celtic symbolism and mythology.

One Celtic myth, in particular, is about the High King of Ireland, named Cormac mac Airt, who was raised by a female wolf. Other myths involved humans transforming into wolves, and then changing back into humans.

Wolf Tattoo Meaning

A tattoo can mean anything you want it to, but getting a wolf tattoo is a sign of inner strength or strong family ties. It symbolizes your desire to protect those closest to you, while valuing your ambitions and independence.

RELATED: Dog Symbolism: The Spiritual Meaning Of Seeing Dogs

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