Wolf myths – between fear and fascination

Wolf myths – between fear and fascination

wolf silhouette illustration
wolf silhouette illustration

With the return of the wolf from Eastern Europe to Germany, where it was more or less extinct for more than 100 years, fear returned in equal measures. Farmers worry about their livestock, residents in rural areas for their lives, or that their children. And while there have been incidents of farm animals being killed by wolves, humans have not been attacked by wolves in Europe.

So why do we fear wolves?

Well, they are predators, hunt in packs and not to show a healthy respect for an animal that can take down a wild boar would be stupid. Still, there is no need for irrational angst, because we are simply not an item on their menu. A healthy wolf is a shy, smart animal that doesn’t fancy human flesh.

Little red riding hood has a lot to answer for

Historically, the wolf has been portrait as a vicious, murderous animal, cunningly eating grandmothers and aiming for little girls. Folks seem to have forgotten that little red riding hood outsmarted the wolf.

Family of white wolves copyright Jacqueline Abromeit 2017
Family of white wolves photo by Jacqueline Abromeit 2017

A symbol for individualism, freedom and beauty among other things

The lone wolf has widely been used as a symbol for many things: strength, beauty, freedom, individuality, stealth, aggression and all with an air of mystery. In reality, the wolf is mainly a family animal, living in packs with a strong hierarchical order. It is also rather shy, primarily hunting at night, which only adds to its mystery. Wolf images are used commercially selling everything from literature (the wolf is a popular book cover design), fashion, music, leather goods and jewellery. It is easily associated with the outdoors, travel and anything that wants to convey independence.