Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Wolf's Head

In merry old England, the term "Wolf's Head" was a title of an outlaw. A "Wolf's Head" was also a name for certain archers in England who used long bows. There are some groups of archers today that specialise in this sport who call themselves "Wolf's Head". In Norse legend, the wolf-headed warrior is called "Ulfhednar" that means "wolf's head". It is also another name for "werewolf". An earlier shorter term is "werwolf" and this is like "war wolf".  The "were" and "wer" is man, and "wear" as in to adnorn, since warriors wore the pelts of wolves.

As it was associated with men and warriors, had it been ever associated with women? Most people today generally forget that the term "Man" as in everyone and all, is also plural of humans and that includes women. So the earlier languages will have "wer" for human and not just men (males) but also women. The name "man" comes from the rune Mannaz, plural for both sexes. The woman was once called a "wifman" or "wif" that became "wife" after marrying. "Wif" sounds like "wolf". The name for a young woman or girl used to be "maiden" and is still used today, such as "bridesmaids".

There is a wolf's head woman in the English legends of Robin Hood. Her name is Maid Marian and she is often considered the lover and wife of Robin Hood. She is like a medieval aspect of the Valkyrie: Huntress, chooser of the slain, a maid of Odin (Odin has been associated with Herne the Hunter). The Old English name for Valkyrie was "wælcyrge". Valkyries rode upon wolves in some particular versions, and one Valkyrie named Gondul who was considered a shapeshifter and she turned into a wolf. She was also regarded as a wand Valkyrie, and a wand resembles a bow. Gondul's name aso means "enchanting wand", "magic wand" and "stave". A wolf changing Valkyrie of the wands. In Tarot there is a wand weilder, the Queen of the Wands.

There are many other valkyries of Norse and other Germanic myths who represent battle, warfare, death, fighting and magic. Brynhildr (Brunhild) is another valkyrie in Norse myth with an appearance in a fairytale of the sleeping princess, The Sleeping Beauty or Briar Rose. The opera version of her, where she's called "Brunhilde", sleeps in a circle of flames until she's woken by Sigmund or Sigfried the hero and dragon slayer. He is the lover of Brunhilde, but in the story Sigfried falls under a witchcraft spell so that he is lost to her and she's broken-hearted. In the 80's TV series "Robin of Sherwood", the episode of the Second season "The Enhantment", a theme appears then. Robin falls under a similar spell so that he no longer recognises any of his friends and doesn't love Maid Marian.

Love is, they say, like a magical spell and some use enchantment or witchcraft. It (love magic or spells using witchcraft) draws someone close enough but not too close. In a sense a werewolf woman can use her occult made charms. The wolf woman/she-were wolf is both or either a fighter or an enchantress. The female outlaw is viewed generally as being more of a witch than a criminal. That doesn't mean all Therianthrope females are witches and outlaws. The etymology of these terms link somewhere far back in time when it's in ancient history and it has different root words.

In movies and series and books, female werewolves are sensual, dangerous and magical. In the horror film Ginger Snaps the main she-werewolf character is different to the she-werewolves in the Howling series. The movie she-werewolf is always attractive and on the prowl for mates but there is a message of destruction. Once upon a time, a woman who behaved a certain way was condemned by society and made an outcast of. It's interesting that criminals (including outlaws and outcasts) are connected linguistically to wolves in Germanic languages. The merry men of Sherwood Forest live wild and free like a wolf pack. The alpha male, Robin Hood, is a central figure and also a very mysterious man. He's considered one of England's national mythical heroes. His mate is the alpha female Lady Marian of Leaford. It's said that her character may have been added later to the folkore and she comes from a tradition based upon solar worship.     

Middle Ages
The Original Valkyries
Robin of Sherwood
Robin Hood myth and folklore
Werewolf movies

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