The Meaning of Becoming a Wolf in a Dream (or are you a dream werewolf?)

Becoming a wolf in a dream can be a profoundly transformative experience
Becoming a wolf in a dream can be a profoundly transformative experience

Welcome to the first of our Halloween specials!  This post is a follow up to the very popular post about “Wolf in a dream,” here on the Dream Well, and is inspired by several people I wish to thank, notably Roger Brantes and “Thepotatokiller” (a commenter), but to all have commented on the original post and shared their mystical wolf dream experiences.  I wish to humbly thank you all for progressing my own wisdom.

After much musing and researching on the subject, I have come to realise that wolf dreams are often far more profound and significant than I had previously realised.  It is by far my most popular animal post on The Dream Well (though importantly, it is more relevant to people from Europe, North America and colonised countries than to peoples of other geographical regions, such as Asia or India, where for example, elephants are often more significant – but more on that in another post!)  Freud himself wrote of wolves in a tree as one of his most famous introductions to dream analysis (again, more on that later!)

It has lead to me question, why, of all animals in the world, do we tend to dream of becoming a wolf more than any other?  Why do we have dreams of such mystical communion, of shining green or blue eyes, of sisterhood, brotherhood, or kindredness?  What is it exactly, that is so special about our relationships with wolves?

Pondering this subject has lead me down a rabbit hole of research, and to be honest, as I share this with you, I am not sure I am not entirely cognisant of the true implications of what I am about to write.  I am still wrapping my head around the enormity of it, so I ask you to be patient with me as I explore this theme at a deeper level.

I think there are three key developments that most importantly influence our relationship with wolves, and hence their symbolic meaning to us:

  • the first “domestication” or befriending of wolves when humans were still hunter gatherers – when human beings and wolves lived in a similar way, as part of nature, at times competing for food, when we were both just two different types of animals living on the earth
  • the human development of agriculture and the beginning of humans moving away from a wild type of life, the destruction of wolves natural habitat and the occasional incidences of wolves attacking newly domesticated livestock
  • the rise of Christianity in the 13th century and the vilification of all that was wild, the association of the wolf with the devil, the rise of the fear of werwolves and their persecution along with witches

So to start.  Human Beings evolved with wolves… but only certain wolves developed relationships with people, those who displayed attributes that made them amenable to humans: they were both bold and friendly.  Timid wolves did not befriend humans, and nor did aggressive ones.  So from earliest times, character traits that singled out some wolves from others; lead them to form relationships with humans who were equally receptive, neither aggressive nor timid.  Those that weren’t domesticated were “other” – these wolves could be identified as some how “lesser” than the wolves that had come over to the “other side” of human relationships.  From this early union the basis of today’s domesticated dog was formed. This was arguably the very first domesticated animal.  (See the article linked below from National Geographic “We didn’t domesticate dogs, they domesticated us”)

Wolves who approached early humans served many functions, they helped in the hunt, they formed companionship, but they also are likely to have served as a source of food in dire times.  Some postulate that this may have been the very first inception of farming – the idea of “keeping” a wild animal that may help you survive when you were starving.

And here we come to one of the critical points of wolf symbology on the human mind.  The relationship of humans with wolves predates agriculture.  Once humans moved from hunter gather societies to farming agricultural ones, the idea of a “wolf” began to metamorphosise.  Now we have two types of canines: the “wild” wolf – the one who does not serve human needs but runs free, potentially attacking newly caged livestock (especially as the wolves hunting domain was diminished due to the human need to farm the land) versus the domesticated version – the early form of what we now call a dog, “man’s best friend.” And so the vilification of the wolf begins.  As humans moved from wild hunters in tune with the land, and moved to farmers trying to control the land, wolves became our mortal enemy.

Now we overlay another profoundly significant influence: the rise of Christianity.  (Disclaimer: I am not anti-Christian in any way.  But in addressing the impact of modern Western society on traditional/indigenous/pagan communities we must in all humility and consciousness explore the controlling influence early aspects of this religion had.)  Here we see the real beginning of the persecution of the wolf.  No other animal in history (that I can identify, please correct me if I am wrong) has endured such targeted and merciless obliteration as the wolf.  Snakes have been vilified and feared, but I am not aware of any situation that has sought to entirely exterminate the species, to the point of putting a price on their head and their skins. In my (albeit limited) research, I cannot find another animal that human beings have deliberately sought to wipe out as the wolf.  Why?

And here we come to the crux of the question, and why wolves still play such an important role in our dreaming lives today.  I can identify two core influences: wolves are symbols that correspond to one of the most fundamental shifts of human evolution: that from hunter gather societies to agricultural based/farming ones.  Wolves do not just represent a “wild side” of our nature as may have been intimated from my original post, wolves represent our very basic core being.  Wolves remind us of who we once were, before farms, before business, industry and compromise.  At some very deep level, wolves represent our core being, our connection with nature itself.  Secondly, wolves came to epitomise the “pagan” or “uncivilised” aspects of society once Christian missionaries began their works of conversions.  At a most deep, integral aspect of the (Western) human psyche, wolves represent the move from living “with nature” to “dominating nature” (we must dominate the other peak, competing predator, as we must dominate our unruly, uncivilised behaviours and beliefs with godly, civilised ones), and a move from the freedom of the”wildness” of a pre-agricultural society to the necessary rules and regulations required to ensure the proper functioning of a sedentary, farming one.  That which we cannot tame must be killed.  And in order to be spiritual beings, we must suppress our instinctive, animal nature.

So, coming to the point of this post, what does it mean when we dream of becoming a wolf?  While I have read of many people dreaming of interacting with other animals, few people actually become the animal they dream of, except in the case of the wolf.  It seems the wolf really does live within us, in a way it is us.  Perhaps the idea of a werewolf is not as far fetched as we might think, at least psychologically…

The idea of a part human/ part wolf being has a history that predates Christianity in the Indo/European culture, where the wolf human rite was part of being initiated as a warrior.  This highlights the early respect and understanding humans had for wolves.  By classical antiquity (and the development of what we would call “modern civilisation”, things had taken a turn for the macabre, with very early tales of people being turned into wolves for a period of time often as punishment.  Early tales of human/wolf transformations were not always a bad though, for example some Norwegian wolfmen were excellent warriors, strong and greatly resistant to pain.

But widespread belief in werewolves in Europe really began in the Middle Ages, and parallels of the persecution of humans who became wolves can be drawn to the witch trials of that time (though on a smaller scale).  It is easy to see the associations between the Christian Church trying to subdue the pagan/shamanistic elements of society and the persecution of wolves, along with the concurrent belief in werewolves.  Historically, Christianity was trying to bring “civilisation to the savages” (or to convert the indigenous/pagan societies to a new monotheistic tradition, and to instil a new authority that came from without, a judgemental overseeing god via the church fathers, rather than from within, through nature or the shared community.)

Dreams of becoming a wolf seem to lack the notable sense of distortion we so commonly associate with werewolves.  Rather than a subversion of human nature, dreams of becoming a wolf seem to often involve a sense of nobility, or authenticity, and of connection – with nature, with another wolf or even the whole pack.

If we dream of becoming a wolf then, we are potentially tapping into a deeply profound aspect of human nature that predates our agricultural, farming societies.  To dream of becoming a wolf is tap into an archetype that I don’t think Jung ever wrote of (please let me know if I am wrong!)  It is to dream of our truest and most basic nature, something we have carried within us for generations. If you become a wolf in your dream, you may be sharing the shape-shifting experience of shamans who have been before you (see my post on Shapeshifting here), indeed I believe there is a strong case to mount the argument that the Wolf Archetype, being non-human, is actually a symbol for the commonality of all animals, even all living things.  A wolf dream symbolises not just our wild nature but Nature herself. Beyond that, you may be accessing the deepest and most profound aspects of what it means to be human – and to be an animal.  As technology, cities and our modern lifestyles separate us further and further from nature, a wolf dream is like a howl from your soul, asking you to reconnect, to remember what has been to lost, to awaken to your most authentic Self.  It is our wild nature prowling at the doors of consciousness, demanding that we pay attention to the highest authority of our inner world, and our most basic animal biology.  This can be at once exhilarating and terrifying.  Will you heed your call of the wild?  What do your instincts tell you?

Original Meaning of Wolf in a dream post

Meaning of a Wolf who wants to be tamed dream

Meaning of Wild animal dreams Part 1 and Part 2

National Geographic source: “We Didn’t Domesticate Dogs, They Domesticated Us”

“The Wolf Within” by Roger Abrantes

 

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14 Comments

  1. Amy, please seek publication of this elsewhere as well. It is an extraordinary piece. Thank you for it.

    “That which we cannot tame must be killed. And in order to be spiritual beings, we must suppress our instinctive, animal nature.”

    And what is more naturally instinctive than women’s reproductive cycle, culminating in bloody placenta spilling onto the clean and controlled “farmers’ land” (institutional church)? This wild wolf knows experientially that she is not welcome there. At least I wasn’t a medieval woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your continued support Rita. I still feel this post rambles a little, and my thoughts are not as coherent as I would like. But I had to get past my need for perfection and post a “near enough is good enough” entry or else I would have remained stuck on wolves and run out of time for my other Halloween specials I would like to write! I will muse over this a bit more and see if I can tighten it up a bit more, then yes, I will see if there is other interest in this. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  2. I had a dream just tonight that I was running as human on my hands and feet when I became a wolf running trying to be free and find my land. At some point. During my running through all the empty plots of land, which were between housing developments, I realized my girlfriend was running behind me trying to catch up, she was human running on her 2 feet. So I slowed to keep pace with her. We came across land that was filled with puddles, rather deep averaging2 feet, 3 feet at some points, and I was running through them. They were filled with warm water and it was so much fun! I came across 2 dogs while running through these puddles and I slowed down and was sniffing at the puddles and ground hard when I thought they were fine and of no threat. I sniffed them and continued on my way, running to find a certain open place. Ny girl friend somehow motioned me to look up, and then I wa shuman on 2 feet looking at the most beautiful mountain I have ever seen with a very large beautiful valley beneath it. Completely untouched by humans, except for ski trails on the mountain (which is what I thought the lines on the mountain must be). No place in my dream was familiar in real life, and the only recognizable person was my girlfriend. Sorry for any typos. I really wanna know what this means or what I should interpret from this.

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  3. Hi, Ive been having wolf dreams for about two years, they aren’t overly frequent but I always remember them better than any other dreams. What’s even more interesting is that in my dreams I freely shape shift between human and wolf, when I turn into a wolf I feel a rush of excitement and adrenaline but also fear. I’m never afraid of what I’m becoming, that itself is actually reassuring and empowering, I’m always afraid of what I’m about to do. I almost always change for protective reasons, when I see a threat to people I love or to myself I become a tall wolf or sometimes werewolf. I also dream about my two brothers turning into Bears either side of me and we almost work together, that was last nights dream. I saw a great black dog and I immediately knew what I needed to do, I started becoming part wolf and my brother ran either side of it and then I let out an enormous howl. Three times I howled and I drew the dogs attention, but then I saw several other wild animals (wild cats and bears) coming out of a nearby cave and I knew I needed to run, this was the first time I have been scared of something in my dream. I’m really keen to understand why I turn into a wolf in my dreams, people often associate me to a dog, (friendly, loyal, protective but I want to be everyone’s friend, I don’t like my own company) but I always have this nagging inside me that I know I could be a destructive force if I needed to be. I don’t know, this might be too deep but I hope you might have just a little insight as to what these dreams could mean. Thank you.

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  4. Ever since I was a small child, I have been a wolf in my dreams. Every single one. Even when I meditate I sort through my thoughts as a wolf on a snowy landscape.
    This was definitely food for thought.

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  5. I’ve only had one ‘wolf dream’ in my life, and this was years ago. It was only now that I wanted to find some answers as to what it meant.

    There was no transformation, I was the wolf. The dream felt so real, and I almost want to think it was a memory from a past life.

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  6. I found this piece today because I was searching for the meaning of a dream that I had last night. In my dream I didn’t become a wolf, I was a wolf from the start. I live in South Africa all my life and do not have much interest in wolfs as we have other animals here, And yet, even though the leopard is my favorite animal – the one I actually associate myself with – I was a big wolf in my dream. There were about 25 other wolfs as well and it felt normal to be a wolf. Too weird.

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  7. I have had several dreams including wolves, however, I had one last year that really stuck with me as profound. In fact, much of the dream I experienced that night is still vivid in my memory, but I am only going to describe the wolf portion for the purposes of being concise.

    In my dream, I was in an arid desert surrounded by merely cacti, and other desert plants, but they were rather scarce. The ground was dried and cracked in configurations as if it has once been underwater or wet. Looming in front of me was the most beautiful, and most terrifying wolf I had ever seen or dreamed. It was a hulking wolf, impossibly large with a dark grey coat. It seemed incredibly alert and ready to attack. It was looking directly at me while growling, and as I looked back into its eyes, I saw my own eyes – literally. The wolf had my eyes.

    The wolf charged me, and I tried fight back, but I quickly perished. I took my last breath and closed my eyes. But then my eyes suddenly opened, and I was staring down at my own dead, human body. I was the wolf.

    Thoughts?

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  8. Hi

    I have had these weird dreams where I feel like im wolf and even once howled as one, but i still have humanly features ( because i keep seeing hands). I also keep fighting with other wolves in my dreams and killing them.
    Maybe you have some kind idea what that could mean, i cant figure it out.

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  9. HELP!
    I have had a reoccuring dream that I am a wolf (no transformation) and go hunting in the woods near my house. Last night I ran into a lynx and we had a brutal fight, resulting in wolf me getting a scratch down my right hind leg and a thorn in my paw. When I wake up from these dreams, I usually have blood in my mouth that tastes different depending on what I caught that night (honestly I really enjoy squirrel) (I don’t know why) and ocasionally cough up fur. When I fought the lynx, I woke up with my own blood in my mouth, a scratch about the size of the one I got, and a cut in my foot about the size of a large thorn. They are already healing, and I have noticed my vision slowly getting better (night included) along with my sense of smell. I can now know when someone I know is around me because I can identify them by how they smell. I’m not kidding- my vision is now 20/16, something I previously thought was impossible, and I can tell the weather and what’s to come by smelling the air. If you know what the heck is going on, PLEASE TELL ME! I’M KIND OF FREAKING OUT!
    Thank you for your help!

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  10. Last night I had a dream where I spoke to my subconscious and it told me three different times to “become the wolf”. I read this to gain an understanding, but was just left with more questions than answers. Please help me understand what my subconscious was ordering me to do!

    Like

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