The wolf (Gr. lykos) holds great significance in the cultures and religions of the nomadic peoples, including that of the Eurasian steppes. In proto Indo-European mythology, the wolf was presumably associated with the warrior class who would “transform into wolves” (or dogs) upon their initiation. Aesop featured wolves in several of his fables playing on the concerns of Ancient Greece’s settled, sheep-herding world. Quoting from Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the Malleus Maleficarum states that wolves are either agents of God sent to punish sinners, or agents of the Devil sent with God’s blessing to harass true believers to test their faith 78.

Hecate was shown as wearing three wolf heads. In another Greek myth, a king named Lycaon was turned into a wolf by the god Zeus (the name Lycaon survives today in the gray wolf subspecies Canis Lupius Lycoan, the eastern timber wolf) 79.

“Therefore we start seeing ideas manifest of wolves in company with Artemis and Hekate where never before have wolves been associated…

In Hellenic religion in which you have god (such as Apollon, Pan and Zeus) with very specific epithets that refer to wolves that generally speaking refer to a more wild/untamed and often solar destructive feature of a god, and goddesses (such as Artemis and Hekate) with very specific epithets that refer to dogs which seems to refer to their more liminal roles, as well as Ares”. 80

In the Magical Papyri of Ptolemaic Egypt, (whereupon Papyri were scribed under both Greek and Roman rule), Hecate is called the Bitch and the She-Wolf and her presence is signified by the barking of dogs.

While almost every depiction of a canine when associated with Hekate deems to be a dog, or black dog/s, the probability was that in Hecate’s era there were few domesticated dogs thus it stands to logic it was likely to be wolves that accompanied her.


78 Lopez, B. 1978. Of Wolves and Men. USA: Scribner, pg 320

79   Wolf Country, 2011. Greek Wolf Myths. Available from: http://www.wolfcountry.net/information/myth_stories/greekwolfmyths.html

80   Lykeia, 1 February 2012. Blogpost: Of dogs and wolves. WordPress. Available from: https://lykeiaofapollon.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/of-dogs-and-wolves/

The Symbols of the Goddess Hekate
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