The wolf is calling…
Last night I went for a walk at about 11pm. Walking in the dark I noticed a wild, four legged friend playing with me. It ran circles around me a few times, sat, looked, sat up, ran a circle closer to me. I joined in playing. I sat, looked, sat up, spoke to it, walked a little more. We got closer and closer. The mutual play was real, it surprised us both. For a moment it was beautiful.
Until the image of the wolf entered my head.
The wolf is a symbol of instinct, intuition and wildness, but also a danger that lurks in the dark. It was dark — 11pm — and the thought of being attacked by this four legged wild-ling, although far fetched, was momentarily real. I said to the creature, “you know if you attack me I’m gonna f**k you up, right?” And with that it went and crouched under a tree and stopped playing. In my moment of fear the connection was severed.
My late night companion was clearly a fox, but in this tame land with few creatures more wild it is revealing that the kind and cunning fox can bring stories from more ferocious distance relatives.
The wolf is a symbol for our shadow selves. Our wild, intuitive, instinctual selves — an unconscious part of the self that the ego denies. Our shadow selves often represent repressed parts of our inner nature learned through conditioning. It is perhaps not surprising that the wolf makes a great symbol for the shadow self in our modern world — a world in which wild, instinctual and intuitive selves have been repressed for the sake of civilisation. At the moment ‘tuning into our intuition’ and ‘listening to our instinct’ is fashionable. Re-wilding, of the earth and ourselves. The wolf is calling.
The symbolism of the wolf, however, has a far more sinister side. The wolf is dangerous. The wolf might eat the one that walks alone in the woods. The wolf is fierce, oft killed in the fairy tales. We have learned to fear the wolf. Avoid the wolves at all costs. Only danger is to be found in the company of the wolf. It is no coincidence that the wolf is its most terrorsome when it is unseen.
Intertwining danger with instinct, intuition and wildness can be viewed as a key to social structures. The message is clear that if we don’t walk within the safety parameters set for us by others then we face grave danger. Here there is truth, but there is also paradox. Of course we are safer in a collective. But does the collective really want our safety or is there something else to be gained if we walk the line. Who is defining the boundaries? What do they have to gain?
We find ourselves in a world in which the boundaries serve powerful institutions and structural inequalities. Walking within them we ourselves serve these power structures. Perhaps the wolf represents the spirit guide for our times. The wild, intuitive, instinctual selves that lie in our shadows reveal the strength to walk a path outside of the boundaries set for us — a path that confronts oppressors and enables us to dismantle the systems that force us to serve them.
We have created a world of scarcity based on a fear of not having enough. Because of these fears we continue to walk within the boundaries set for us. The fear is certainly not unjustified — life is hard, and is particularly hard when structural inequalities and power dynamics keep you from having your share. Fear is a rational response to the risk of having less. But the fear is pervasive. Racism, ecological collapse, oppression — all are built and propagated by this fear. As the earth’s ecosystems shut down and economic collapse ripples around the world the threat of scarcity is becoming increasingly stark.
We live in challenging times. But we were born for these times. Perhaps our work is to bring our shadows into the light. Once our wild, intuitive, instinctual selves are not hidden in fearful shadows but instead bask in our light, only then can we understand their gifts. This is where our truest power lies.
To walk this path we must face the fear — the fear of our shadows. This is the part of ourselves that harbours the oppressive, racist, ugly, dark sides that we try to convince ourselves don’t exist. We all carry the oppressor inside. To destroy the oppressor we must look in, and love and heal that part of ourselves.
This work is hard, but the fear is the killer. The fear of the unknown four-footed friend that dances in the dark. This fear severs our connection to ourselves, our personal power, our friends, collaborators, our allies, fellow humans, and our earth.