This post is to be an overview of some of the main spirits involved in this tradition.
This is not ALL of the spirits involved. That would be literally impossible to list, let alone describe. But this is a primer, an overview of the primary spirits and deities involved. As with anything, any given person’s interactions with spirits and deities will be different. It’s entirely possible that the deities involved if you are pulled to this tradition will be quite different than they are for me, even if they are the exact same entities. I was originally going to try to separate things into gods, greater spirits, and lesser spirits. But frankly that line is so damn blurry and unimportant I’m not going to bother. So, onto the list:
The Pack: The Pack is a Míkilvaettir or Great Spirit. The Pack is inherently plural. It is one entity made of many, a gestalt force. And it is MIGHTY. It is in fact connected to every wolf, physical or spiritual. As a rough gloss, think of the Platonic Form of what Wolf Pack is and you’ve got a fair handle on things. It is the manifestation of ALL wolf packs, and as such, all wolves. Even wolf packs of one are still packs. This is one of two primary spirits associated with this tradition. If you deal with no other spirits on this list (unlikely, but I’d rather not make a liar of myself by stating absolutes), The Pack and The Wolf form the necessary foundation on which this tradition is built.
The Wolf: The Wolf is the singular to The Pack’s plural. While The Pack is the manifestation of all wolves in plural, The Wolf is the manifestation of every wolf in singular. To quote Rudyard Kipling, “The strength of The Pack is The Wolf, and the strength of The Wolf is The Pack.” The two Míkilvaettir are inextricably linked, tied to each other so deeply that I would have a hard time telling you where one begins and the other ends. They are separate and distinct spirits, but when it comes to such things, the lines get blurry. Suffice it to say that when you think of the word “Wolf” pretty much every possible thing you can think of is tied into this spirit. And the same goes for “Pack”.
These two spirits are truly the foundation of this tradition. They are massive, and mighty. They also don’t necessarily desire worship, at least not as we Westerners tend to think of it. They appreciate it, and in my experience They generally won’t tell you no, but I’ve never had Them ask me for offerings. In my experience They enjoy gifts of water and raw meat. Other offerings may or may not go over well. That’s between you and Them. If you work with no other spirits on this list, if you want to be involved in this tradition you will be involved with these two spirits.
The Earth: Every polytheist religion that I know of has at least one god or goddess that is in some sense the embodied Earth. There’s a reason for this. The Earth is potent in all its physical and spiritual significance. I could write a dozen books on this topic and not cover everything. If you already work with or worship an Earth deity, working with them directly, or asking for their help here is generally a good idea. Personally, I am exploring a connection with Pachamama, a Q’ero deity (I am not of the Q’ero peoples. I am not professing to be an expert. I have a deep respect and admiration for the Q’ero people. I do not claim any kind of heritage or expertise. I am merely doing my best to follow the deities that call to me while respecting the culture and peoples with whom they first found good relation.). In whatever way works for you, connection the The Earth is important. It ties you to physicality, to the here and the now. You are here. You live in a body, on The Earth. That is important and beautiful. Finding that connection to an embodied Earth, to physical spirituality is incredibly important to this tradition. While I won’t say it’s necessarily required, but I’d say that 9.9/10 times, you’ll be better off for it. Think of it this way: This is a tradition about wolves, physical beings whose primary concerns are food and pups and safety. Spirituality and physicality are not opposing forces. They are one in the same. Connecting to The Earth is a way to manifest that.
The Sky: Just the same as there are gods and goddesses of Earth everywhere, so too are there gods and goddesses of The Sky. And much the same principles apply here. Please keep in mind, I’m not talking about checking boxes here. Quite the opposite. I’m talking about cultivating real, powerful relationships. Relationships that can and will change you. Whether that means connecting to a classical sky deity, or simply to the embodied Sky itself, these connections to something greater than ourselves are important. The Sky has seen countless lives play out beneath it. It is greater and older than the human mind can really grasp. This is what we are connecting to, a living being older than we can imagine that has witnessed the lives of countless humans, and not humans, each as unique and vivid and complex as yours. Be grateful for this connection. It is more than worth it.
The Hunt: The Hunt? But that’s an action. How can that be a spirit? Honest answer: If I understood how all of this worked, how spirits and gods worked, I wouldn’t be writing this blog, I’d be worrying about very different kinds of things. It isn’t my place to understand such things, only to describe and pass along my experiences as best I can and hopefully help someone while I’m at it. The Hunt is hard to describe as a spirit, because it isn’t like most of the other spirits on this list. It isn’t embodied like Earth or Sky; it isn’t a collective expression like Wolf or Pack. It is the spirit of an action, of the drive behind it, and the emotions (emotions isn’t the right word, we don’t have a word in english for this I don’t think) during it. But the spirit is there, reaching out, guiding, driving us along in its way. The Hunt is not malicious, nor is it benign. It can be brutal, but is far from unthinking, and it has a unique and necessary wisdom to share.
The Silence: The Silence is death. We approach it with caution. We approach it with reverence. We approach it with fear. We approach it with respect. We carry it within us, we enter into it to usher Prey into it, and we know that one day we will enter and never leave, at least not in our current incarnations. We worship death because we are death, because we bring death, because death will claim us. This is right and good. This is the natural order of the world. And The Silence has so very much to teach us. For The Silence contains all the hidden things, that which does not wish to be seen or that which we do not wish to see.
The Howl: The Howl is life. All over the world, from India to South America, from Ancient Greece to Viking Norway, breath is life. As true for a wolf as it is for a human. And The Howl is the expression of breath, sent up in thanks to The Sky. The Howl is the spirit of life that resides in every wolf. It isn’t The Wolf, it is the spark of life, the will and drive that animates. The Howl has many brother and sister spirits (that’s not the right word, but there isn’t one really. I’m running across a lot of things that don’t translate well to english, go figure.), Ond, Prana, and on and on. Related, connected, but unique. As we approach The Silence with respect and reverence and fear, so we approach The Howl with love, with joy, with trepidation. For we know that while it blesses our lungs in this moment, in the next it may be gone.
The Prey: Make no mistake, we are not *better* than our food. We are not *worse* than our food. It is an ongoing, dynamic, living relationship. And the spirit of Prey deserves our respect and worship and thanks as much as any other spirit on this list. Never forget, one day we will be prey for the worms (or other decomposers). The Prey, in my experience, is a collective spirit, possibly a collective of spirits but that doesn’t feel quite as right, a Míkilvaettir, another of these Platonic Form type spirits. I don’t pretend to understand them entirely. I don’t think it’s possible. But they give their lives so that we might live. I’m not going to pretend that it’s pretty, or loving, or a willing painless sacrifice. I’m not trying to make this relationship out to be something that it is not. But the Pack, the Wolf, cannot exist without the Prey. They deserve our respect and love and veneration for that, if for nothing else (and there’s plenty else).
You may have noticed that most of the spirits listed so far match up with the energy centers from my last blog entry. There’s a reason. These are both spirits, entities vital to this tradition, and energies. They can be approached both ways. I recommend respect and reverence with either approach, and I recommend using both as necessary/appropriate. This isn’t an either/or. This is a both. To steal an example from particle physics, just as electrons and photons (and others) can be seen as both a particle and a wave, so too can things be seen as both spirits and energies. In fact, using the energy system is an excellent way for most people to begin interacting with, getting a feel (or scent ha) for these spirits.
Most of the spirits/gods that I describe next are going to seem more straightforward and in some ways they are. Most of them are relatively well known, and at the very least have active followers in the world right now, sources of information to draw on. I don’t have experience with all of these spirits and gods, but I know people who do and have talked to them about their experiences.
Odin: Wise Wanderer, Old Bastard, Runatyr, Grimnir, Ulfhednarfather, Allfather. Odin has many names, many faces. As I’m sure you’ve noticed from my name, He is also my patron god. Interesting then, that it was not Odin who led me down this path or taught me the ways of The Pack. Now, I’m not saying He isn’t involved. He is. But for reasons I can only guess at, He had others teach me (at least so far). For those of you not familiar with the Old Man, I recommend you tread carefully. Odin can and will chew you up and spit you out if you let him. My love for Odin runs to the core of my being, and very often He is the loving father there to pick you up when you fall down. But let us not pretend that he isn’t who He is. He will give you knowledge, at a terrible price. He will gladly give you what you want, but it may well cost more than you are willing to pay. All that said, myself and many others have wonderful relationships with Odin, and he is certainly a wolf deity, willing and able to help people along this path. He is the Ulfhednarfather, father of the wolf-skinned, and it should come as no surprise that many of His people are drawn to wolves.
An Morrígan: The Great Queen, The Phantom Queen. Celtic goddess of sovereignty, death, war, magic, and prophecy. I’m sure I’m missing things here. An Morrígan is a complex and wonderful goddess who has many sides as well. One of those sides is a wolf. The Great Queen led me on my final initiatory Hunt for the first level of Pack Magic. If you choose to seek Her out, or if She seeks you out, be ready for a wild ride. In my experience She demands respect in a way that other deities often don’t (not that I recommend disrespecting gods in general…). The Great Queen is a demanding mistress, but She also loves Her followers with all the fierceness of the She-Wolf. As with any deity, do your research. And know that every relationship is unique. My experience with An Morrígan is very different than that of my friends, and will change and grow with time.
Cernunnos: As a devotee of Cernunnos I am constantly appalled by the wild misinformation that is out there about Him. I will be devoting at least one article at some point entirely to Him. For now, suffice it to say that Cernunnos was the one who originally led me down this Path. It was at His hands that I first learned what I needed to of Pack Magic, He who led my first initiatory Hunts. Make no mistake, Cernunnos is a predator god just as much as He is a prey god. He is predator and prey both, and a deity of death besides. He is, in many ways, a nearly perfect deity for this Path (Ha, who would’ve thought right?). If Cernunnos calls you down this Path, do not be surprised, or think that it is strange.
Herne: I will be frank: I know almost nothing about Herne the Hunter. My experience with Him is entirely based on some light UPG I’ve had, and the experiences of others I know. I do know that He is involved in bringing people into this Path already, and that He is, obviously, a hunter deity. My lack of experience with Him does not preclude Him from Pack Magic.
Lupa: The She-Wolf. Lupa is the wolf who saved and suckled Remus and Romulus, the founders of Rome. She is the great Mother-Wolf. She has Her fierceness, but, in my experience, She is gentle, nurturing, caring. A reminder that the wolf is not all savagery and flashing fangs. She is also the She-Wolf nursing Her cubs, and adopting strange, fur-less children as her own, protective and nurturing. For me, and confirmed by a trusted friend, She resonates very much just between Earth and Pack.
Loki: The Shapeshifter. Uncle Fox. Trickster. Loki gets a bad rep, mostly cause people don’t know how to separate out their Christian baggage. Don’t get me wrong, Loki can be a jerk, but in a lot of ways that’s his job. Loki is the father of Fenrisulfr. He’s the master of shapeshifting (making Him a great ally to a Path where shapeshifting can play a key role). He is the Cleverest, and has many lessons to teach (though I won’t make promises of their price). I love Him deeply. And He loves His people with a fierceness I cannot begin to describe. Bear in mind, where Loki goes, Odin is often close behind and vice versa. The two are a matched pair, reckless and ruthless. Loki is a wonderful ally and a terrible foe. He’s also a loving father and husband, and a beautiful friend.
Fenris: Fenris gets a worse rep than Loki. I fully expect to get hate mail for including them on this list. But people can fuck right off. I say this as an Odinsson, Fenris deserves respect. I don’t worship Him, but that’s not because I’m opposed to it necessarily. We just don’t have a relationship. However, several of my friends do. And they’ve described Fenris to me as a driving force of Revolution. All the destructive force and anger and ferocity that has ever been attributed to the wolf, all focused on tearing down the status-qo, on ripping down the whole of the system to start from scratch. I don’t know that I agree with scorched Earth revolution. But I won’t sit here and pretend I don’t get it. I will not sit here and play like I don’t understand the rage and frustration at a corrupt system that has betrayed its purpose and its people, or the desire to tear it all down. That is, of course, not all Fenris is. But I cannot speak from personal experience, so I will leave it here.
Apollo Lykeios: Apollo has a long and complicated mythology of associations with wolves, dating back to probably well before the Homeric period. Apollo’s other associations are many, and range from the sun and healing, to hunting, travel, and being a bringer of plagues. Apollo Lykeios has come to me as a sun god of this tradition, and also as a father figure to new pups so to speak. A figure who might be helpful to those newer to their path getting used to the idea of being wolf-spirited.
Dionysus: Dionysus is a complex deity, a primordial entity with a complicated historical record and mythology both modern and ancient. His associations range from animals (including wolves, He is most definitely a wolf god) to parties, to grapes and bees, to utter madness, the hunt, the arts, masks. From my understanding, He can be jovial and fun, even kind and caring. But also absolutely and utterly terrifying and dangerous. It’s good to remember that you can approach a god any way you like (again, I recommend courtesy and respect as a hard rule) but what mask they show you is up to them. And when those masks come off you may not like what you see, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to see it.
Wolf Ancestors: Just as there are Human Ancestors who watch over us, so too are there Wolf Ancestors. They watch. They advise. Much like Human Ancestors They have a vested interested in the continuation of their lines, both genetic and spiritual. Honestly there’s not that much more to say. This can be one of the most potent, vital, powerful spiritual connections you might make. Unlike many of the other entities on this list, Ancestors were once mortal. They get it in a way that other entities might not.
Wolf Spirited Ancestors: Wait, we just covered these, right? No. This is a different group of Ancestors. Those humans born with whole or part of their soul being wolf. Every culture has a different conception of them. For the Norse they were the Ulfhednar. Whatever they were known as, or in modern society *not* known as, these Ancestors were both human and wolf. In many ways They are the perfect guides and guardians for those that do and will walk this Path. For while this tradition may be new, in some ways the Path being walked in the same one that They did and always have.
This is not a complete list. There are wolf cults all over the world. To list every such spirit or deity would be literally impossible. If a deity or spirit on this list comes to you (honestly even if it’s one on this list), do your due diligence. Do your divination. Get blind divination from people you trust. If you don’t have such a person, reach out to me. I can read the Runes and/or direct you to other diviners I know and trust, respected Elders in the community. I have seen people’s lives turned upside down by corrupt spirits. It’s something best avoided if at all possible. Do your homework. I’m not saying “Never trust spirits”. I’m saying do your homework.