Wolf Tattoo Meaning
A good friend of mine, John, has a wolf tattoo. It's impressive, a little menacing and really big. I never knew he had it until our canoe toppled over in a sudden river rapid. Upon shoring, John changed into a dry shirt and I saw a magnificent wolf tattoo leaping at me from his left pectoral.
Every tattoo has a story. Being a curious sort, I couldn't resist asking John what tale his wolf tattoo had to tell.
"It's quite simple, really." John said. "When I was a kid, I lost my family. I didn't experience the trauma of that loss until later in life. In my early teens I got on an all-too-common path of self destruction. Joined a gang, got into drugs, did some bad things. Eventually, I got wise. I straightened out. I met a woman who showed me how to function in society without rebelling. In my experience, the wolf is a symbol of strength. But it's also a symbol of bonding. It reminds me of the bond I had with other gang members. That might sound unhealthy, but my bros in that life really felt like my brothers. We were a clan. When I ended my ties with the gang, I felt like a lone wolf. This is where the strength of the wolf helped me endure another loss of family.
"Debra, the woman who helped me regain my footing in life, was Native American. She told me how every wolf does their part to help the whole. Each has a role that insures the survival of the pack. She further explained that a lone wolf is simply a soul who is free to make bold choices."
"Bold choices? What did Debra mean by that?" I asked.
John continued with his wolf tattoo story, explaining: "Well, she described the wolf as the ultimate freedom-seeker. Although content to function in a pack, the wolf is also driven to be free and wild. This hit home for me. I desperately wanted the normalcy of the true family I had lost when I was young - and found that in the gang. At the same time, I wanted freedom to be me, to feel accepted no matter who I am. That was kind of a conflict, and it made me wild - like a wolf.
"Ultimately," John concluded, "My wolf tattoo meaning is about self-love and doing what needs to be done to live a whole, healthy life - no matter what my external environment throws at me. The wolf means strength, respect and a quiet kind of integrity. My tattoo reminds me I always have the support of a pack when I need it, but also have the freedom to be independent."
I was struck by John's honesty in telling his wolf tattoo story. I spent a lot of time thinking about what he said. I suspect there are a lot of people who can identify with John, and the power of the wolf. With that suspicion in mind, I'd like to elaborate on the limitless aspects of the wolf tattoo meaning.
It seemed to me, after telling his story, John was in dire need of some major strength after all he had been through. I can't think of an animal-energy better equipped to provide just that.
In fact, in many myths and legends, the wolf is a warrior symbol. Genghis Khan, for example, was considered to be a quintessential warrior, and created one of the largest empires in the world. Interestingly, Mongol myths say the wolf is a direct descendent of Khan. Yep, a brilliant blue wolf is thought to be Khan's direct ancestor. Now, Khan's methods for creating his empire were brutal, but it's interesting this leader shared two prime qualities with his wolf-ancestor, 1) Strength of a warrior and 2) Community. Khan used his warrior prowess and united nomadic tribes to make a unified whole - a pack, if you will.
The wolf is also a symbol of light and life. This comes from the wolf's ability to see keenly in dark environments. In many philosophies the wolf is connected with the power of the sun. Consider Apollo, the classic Greco-Roman sun god. The wolf is Apollo's totem and it conjures themes of life, light, renewal.
The wolf (and wolf tattoo meaning by association) is also a symbol of protection. In certain Japanese myths, the wolf is called upon to protect humans from harm. In Siberian lore, the wolf is called upon to protect the innocence of children - and is especially invoked to insure healthy childbirth. In old Eurasia, the wolf was a protector of secrets. Apparently if you told a wolf your secret, you were rid of the burden of carrying it while the wolf would protect the knowledge forever.
It seems to me, many of these themes (protection, light, strength, unity) all relate to John's wolf tattoo meaning, and the purpose for getting his wolf tattoo. In essence, the wolf offered him the light of hope that he would find his place (or pack). It gave him strength to endure great hardship. And the presence of the wolf reminded John that he is, and always will be, a survivor.
I've set out some pretty intense aspects of wolf tattoo meaning here. And I'm so thankful to John for sharing his story. His experience is one among many worthy purposes for connecting with the wolf. Indeed, the wolf is a remarkable icon that represents so much. This article only covers the surface of wolf meaning. I've written more about Wolf Symbolism and Meaning here, if you're interested.
To be sure, the wolf is an excellent catalyst for personal growth. Just keep in mind, the wolf is a potent, commanding energy. Wolf does not take its responsibilities lightly, and neither should we. When we contemplate getting a wolf tattoo (or any tattoo for that matter), it's vital to pay due respect to the representation of this noble beast.
As always, thanks for reading!
Wolf blessings and happy tattooing,
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!