I love all animals but have always felt an almost sacred kinship with wolves. To me they represent wildness of heart and freedom of spirit. Their piteous howls seem to encapsulate, in a single sound, all the despair and anguish of the human soul.
Wolves have always been dichotomous; for over ten millennia they have been feared and despised by some, loved and respected by others. They are woven into folklore and superstition as symbols of menace and mystique (the iconic ‘Big Bad Wolf’ of Grimms’ fairytales). Shakespeare’s Macbeth, about to murder King Duncan, views the wolf as the companion of Hecate (Greek mythological goddess of night, witchcraft, the moon and necromancy):
“Now o’er the one halfworld
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain’d sleep; witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate’s offerings, and wither’d murder,
Alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace.
With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his design
Moves like a ghost.”
But wolves have also been used to represent kindness and motherhood (the she-wolf suckling the twin babes Romulus and Remus, or the boy Mowgli raised by a wolf pack).
Sadly, man has often treated the wolf with unspeakable cruelty and many species are now endangered. The grey wolf (Canis lupus lupus) – or ‘gray wolf’ for those across the pond – was once native to British shores but was hunted to extinction around 300 years ago. In recent years, views have been polarised regarding the controversial proposal to reintroduce it in the Scottish Highlands.
I found the lovely lady in the image tucked shyly behind the bushes at the Skansen Museum, Stockholm. For a long time we locked eyes and she allowed me the honour of capturing her beauty on film. She was only hours away from giving birth and her blazing heart, for once, was passive and peaceful. I marvelled that anyone could think of harming these noble creatures.