Instinct and Intuition
Unless you live in a relatively rural area, it is unlikely that you will encounter many wolves as you go about your day-to-day activities. However, wolf symbolism abounds in literature, art, and media, and it’s not unusual to meet up with all kinds of animals in our dreams. Wherever you meet up with a wolf, it is important to take note of what has happened. Often, such a meeting is a message from Spirit that is being directed toward you. Sit with this message, and try to parse its meaning so that you can make use of this experience.
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The Lives of Wolves
Like humans, wolves are unique in appearance and demeanor. Wolves are sensitive and loving with their pack members, all of whom have distinct personalities. They also have an intricate language they use to communicate through various vocalizations and body language. They have actual rituals and hold certain territories as sacred ground.
The pack lives as a large family with an alpha male and female who look out for their well-being. In times of hardship, only the alphas will mate, but the whole pack will care for them as their own.
There are also omegas who are the lowest in the hierarchy whose job it is to initiate play and take the pack out of its hierarchy establishment long enough to have some fun. Even though omegas are the bottom of the hierarchy, they are still an integral part of the pack. And when a wolf dies, the whole pack will mourn the death, sometimes for weeks on end. As part of their message of spirit, we must learn to live among each other, but still have the courage and ability to step out on our own occasionally, like the “lone wolf.”
The Wolf’s Role in Balancing Nature
The wolf is a highly misunderstood creature. In fact, without knowing much about them other than their predatory behavior, wolves were sought after for sport, furs, and for pure elimination purposes throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe and North America. It was a sad reminder that humans often fear what we don’t understand. This is yet another spiritual message the wolf brings.
During the early 1920s, wolves reached near extinction. In Yellowstone National Park, this elimination caused drastic and unpredictable damage to the ecosystem. Every animal, every grazing field, and even various waterways felt the impact. Nearly 70 years later in the 1990s, the U.S. took wolves from Canada and reintroduced them to Yellowstone, and the ecosystem began to thrive once again.
Of course, wolves hunt prey to eat, but in doing so, they maintain a delicate balance in nature. Their reintroduction to the wild pushed back other populations that were growing out of proportion to their environment, while also allowing the animals most suffering from this imbalance to come back and resume the natural order of things. Now that the wolf is no longer on the Endangered Species List, their numbers in states like Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, are again dwindling.
The Symbol for Living Instinctively and Intuitively
As a spirit animal, the wolf symbolizes instinct, intelligence, and ingenuity. A wolf sighting is a reminder to rely on our instincts and to trust our intuitive abilities. Wolves mirror our need to sometimes separate ourselves from the pack. It’s important to be self-reliant, but we also need to recognize the importance of family and social bonds. If the wolf is your totem animal, you have a deep connection with nature and are a freedom seeker.
Generally speaking, spirit animals bring us messages from the spirit world. These messages can come in the form of an animal sighting or in a dream. In our dreams, one of the things that wolves symbolize is our need for survival through self-confidence. Running from a wolf in a dream can indicate a need to confront problems and to face our fears instead of hiding from them.
Within various tribes across North America, especially in the western states, the wolf is a teacher animal or spirit guide. He represents the cycle which starts with the creation of life and ends with death, which leads us to the spirit’s rebirth. In the Lakota language, the word for wolf, sunkmanitu, means “divine dog.”
Other cultures have had different understandings of wolves. In Norse mythology, Fenrir is a massive wolf, son of trickster god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. Fenrir proves to be nearly uncontrollable and is bound by the gods, only to finally release himself at Ragnarok, an apocalyptic event that will bring about the death of many of the Norse deities and the rise of a new generation of gods.
Positive and Negative Traits
On a positive note, the wolf represents a reliance on intuition and our deep connection to both the physical and spiritual worlds. Inversely, a wolf sighting may bring awareness to our inability to trust our own intuition or indicate a lack of trust in the people in our lives.
Generally speaking, for the tribes who hunt, the wolf is the great hunter and guide. He is also seen as a shape-shifter and a trickster (like the coyote and fox) mostly because he can adapt to the various places he travels.. His instinctive abilities help him become one with his environment. This was an important trait for warriors and hunters to have in order to be successful in their endeavors, especially when it leads them into unexplored territory.
Lone Wolf Symbolism
Because wolves are naturally pack animals, it is relatively rare to encounter a wolf on its own. when you do find a wolf that is not with its pack, this may be a sign that the wolf has been excluded by the others. This may be due to a desire on the part of the younger wolves to move into a new area.
Whatever the reason, it is important to note that lone wolves can oftentimes be far more dangerous to humans and other animals than wolves in a pack. A lone wolf must learn self reliance if it is to survive, as well as extremely strong fighting skills, so a lone wolf who opts to remain alone is a formidable force indeed.
In most cases, however, a lone wolf does not remain so for long. Instead, these wolves are surplus females who are seeking to join another pack. Experts have noted that this strategy can help prevent inbreeding in the wolf population.
There is, of course, the human understanding of what it means to be a lone wolf. The term is used to describe individuals who prefer to keep to themselves and avoid entanglements with larger social groups.
When you encounter a lone wolf either in dreams, visions, or in real life, this may be an indication that it is time for you to seek solitude or a new social group. Unfortunately, relationships can at times become toxic and hold us back from personal, professional, and spiritual growth. On the flip side, lone wolf sightings could also indicate the potential for danger from somebody who doesn’t have a lot of alliances and therefore has little to lose by behaving badly.
If you’re interested in our other animal sighting articles, you can find them here.
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