Deep copper eyes stare straight into my soul. Piercing whatever mask I’m wearing, they demand “who are you? Why are you here?”
My heart quickens. I take a deep, calming breath, remembering my instructions. Soft eyes. Steady breathing. A deep, deliberate inhale and exhale and, from time to time, a leisurely yawn.
A mixture of longing, excitement and primal fear thrills my stomach and yet I feel strangely calm.
Big black Chemuhk, the Protector of the family, is the first to come within sniffing distance. He circles around slowly, steadily, to assess me from all angles, and finally approaches from behind. His ears twitch, picking up my every heartbeat, every breath, asking questions of me and feeding my unconscious answers back to the rest of the wolves.
I hear him – feel him – close behind me, lightly panting. Moist tongue lolling between enormous, sharp canine teeth. He could snap my neck in a single bite, if he chose.
He reaches out gingerly, sniffs at my elbow, my hand, then gives me a gentle, curious lick. His ears flatten backwards, and Kim assures me it’s an invitation to reach out and stroke his cheek. Sharp eyes soften and close in pleasure and his fierce wolfness melts temporarily into dog-like softness. He folds his ears back further, crimping them in a final testing question: “I’m no threat to you, are you a threat to me?”
I touch his forehead. “No, I’m not a threat to you, you can trust me.” He bows his head and leans in for a juicy lick on my mouth. The ultimate sign of trust and friendship.
Sheer joy and love bubble up inside of me and I can’t help but grin. It’s not every day you get French-kissed by a wolf! With Chemuhk’s seal of approval, Mackenzie, the sociable “numbers” character feels brave enough to join in, and after a few cautious sniffs lets me sink my hands into his thick, cream-coloured fur. I get a kiss from him too and for a few moments humbly breathe in the acceptance of these magnificent creatures.
To be accepted by these wolves is an experience and an honour quite unlike any I’ve ever known. They see everything. They know me – just through scent and intuition and a deep, animal perception – better than I even know myself.
With the help of Kim and Shaun’s interpretation, the wolves help me understand my natural place in the family, in groups in general. Like Mackenzie, I am a “numbers” character. Friendly, easy going, loyal, comforting. Managing the energy of a group and bringing joy or calm as needed, without even thinking about it.
In the wolf family, all characters are needed and valued. The family doesn’t function well if a key character is missing, or if an animal is forced to perform a role that doesn’t suit it. Older, experienced wolves teach the younger wolves and their stages of development can be mapped onto those of dogs, and even of humans. When a development stage is disrupted, perhaps due to trauma or a lack of security or role-modelling, development itself is disrupted, causing challenges, behavioural issues and anxiety in later life. The result: a young pup’s psyche unleashed in a grown wolf body. Child let loose on the world in grown adult form.
No wonder there are so many problems in the world today.
We can learn a lot from wolves, both as individuals and in society. The art of connection, of listening, of tuning into each other and our individual and collective strengths. The practice of calling in an entire village to raise a child. The honouring of the delicate balance of nature. The humility of remembering we have not always been, and might not always be, top predator. The consciousness of and connection to the wild, to the world around us. Remembering to breathe, to look deeply into the eyes of another and courageously whisper “you can trust me”.
I recently spent time with Kim and Shaun Ellis and their wolves at the Wolf and Dog Development Centre in Cornwall, as part of “The Wolf, The Wild and Me” run by WildWise Events Ltd. if you’d like to find out more about the work of Kim and Shaun – with wolves, dogs and humans – you can find out more on their website: https://wolfanddogdevelopment.org/
Or for more information about WildWise’s programmes visit: https://wildwise.co.uk
If you’re interested in rediscovering your own wild soul, have a chat about working with me 1-1. I combine my training as a women’s life coach, my passion for Nature as therapist and my experiences from varied wild adventures, to help you discover and reconnect with your own inner wildness.
You can book in a free call with me here: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=15895141&appointmentType=6848755