Forest Spirit: The Wolf Within

January 21, 2011
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When we are born we know nothing of this world. Our only thought is of what we smell when we breath in the scent of the earth, what we hear as our ears are cleared and unplugged, what we see as we first open our eyes. These are our first impressions of this world and always have been. My earliest memories have faded to the back of my mind engulfed by the fire that consumed my home before I had begun to know it. Yet now I stand here beside the great gap in which I have come to call a river and recall memories I had long forgotten. A raven sits in the tree above me crying out his sorrowful dirge his song landing upon deaf ears. When we are born we are given a gift, a beating heart that travels with us through our lives. The raven sings of the other life, the life through which our hearts do not travel with us. It sings of the life after death and as I look up to meet its beady eyes with my gaze I think of this after life, this life I have witnessed others pass onto and heard so much of and yet have never seen. I recall the words of my mentor and surprise myself as a whimper escapes my throat. I feel lost in this dark world, forgotten, and yet it is here that I belong. I stare at my black paws outlined by the chilling white powder of winter and recall the warmth of my barn. But was it truly mine? “You are a wolf,” he had told me once when we first met and then again when I bid him farewell. I had once mistaken him for the same as I but he said it was not so. “I am a dog, you are a wolf,” his explanation seemed so simple and yet puzzling. We were two of the same yet we were called by different names. We had lived in the same world, a world I found I did not belong to. I closed my eyes reliving a dream; a nightmare I wished could melt away deep in the recesses of my mind where my memories of birth seemed to be buried.

It was a hunt, Dog had told me we were going on a hunt. I had bounded toward our human master as I heard his call. Dog followed slowly behind me. He hadn't slept much that night and I had lain awake by his side. Dog seemed tired while I was a pure ball of energy ready to obey my master’s commands. It was as if the peaceful quiet of the night had revived me even whence I deprived myself of sleep. I leaped gracefully into the back of our master trunk while Dog was carefully lifted and placed beside me. It was a hunt, and I couldn’t wait. I had been on many hunts, hunting was my calling and I was good at it. Sitting in the back of the truck I recalled my first hunt, the bumpy truck ride into the forest, the thousands of question I had asked Dog and the confusing answers I had received in turn.

"We are going on a hunt," Dog had told me as he had done every time sense. Our master whistled and Dog turned toward the door of the barn offering me a reassuring smile before bounding out towards our masters truck. I watched my held tilting slightly the side as he crouched and leaped landing with a soft thump in the back. It only took me a second to catch up as I sped after him bounding over to the truck leaping in as if I had been doing it forever. An odd sensation had overcome me as our master started the engine, my tail wagged with anticipation and my mind buzzed with fantasies I had dreamt up while Dog had gone alone to hunt with our master. "What is the hunt like?" I asked Dog excitedly my bright gaze revealing my excitement to my mentor. "It is exhilarating and thrilling," he told me closing his eyes. He laid beside me a look of serenity crossing over his face contradicting the look of pure joy that was displayed upon my own. "What is it like to kill," I asked him. "It is scary but makes you feel very powerful," he said. "How long will we hunt for?" I asked him. "Until our master is satisfied with our efforts," he said before opening his eyes to meet my gaze. "You ask many questions little one," he told me and I laughed looking up at the sky. A lone hawk soared overhead and for some reason as I watched it I felt like singing. I leaned my head back and howled as Dog watched and listened. I missed the look of approval he directed toward me as I gazed up at the hawk with glee. A tap on the window from our master ended my song and a frown spread across my lips as I noticed the hawk had gone away. "What happens to the animals once we hunt them?" I asked Dog. "We bring them home and Master eats them," he said but I shook my head. I already knew that, it wasn't what I was asking. "I mean where do they go? The animals that are within the bodies Master brings home?" Dog seems puzzled by my question before he realized what I was asking. "You are speaking of the animal’s spirits," Dog told me not knowing what he means I nodded. "They are free," Dog said. "No longer bound to wander this earth, and we set them free." I looked at him, now I was the one puzzled. "Are we free?" I asked him and saw the sorrow that passed over his face. "No my little one, we are caged," he told me. I frown looking away from him; he must have sensed my sadness for he rubbed his nose against my cheek smiling.

The truck had stopped at last and I stood tail wagging all thoughts of the past pushed aside. Dog rose slowly beside me and though our master did not aid him I could see the pain it caused him as he leaped out of the truck landing by my side. I did not speak as the two of us headed out knowing our jobs well. We were our master’s trackers, we hunted down his prey and he killed them with the shiny stick named Gun. Gun was a killer, a deadly, dangerous killer and we were the ones that found his prey. It was I that spotted it grazing in a patch of dry earth. The doe and her fawn stood out against the whiteness of the wilderness unaware of my presence. I heard the click that warned me Gun had spotted the prey I had happily tracked down for him. I waited for the loud bang that would mark the end for the doe and her young one but Dog had spoken first. Dog’s call was filled with distress and he immediately caught the attention of our master and me. Turning my ears fell to lay flat against my head as Dog let out a fierce growl towards the large grizzly that had rose to stand behind us. The grizzly’s roar was louder than Dog’s growl but that did not stop Dog from charging. I backed away as our master raised Gun high and my tail gave a slight wag. Gun was a mighty killer, the grizzly was doomed. I yelped as Gun gave his battle cry crouching down as I saw Dog go flying into a nearby tree, the grizzly still stood Gun had only managed to anger him more. In that moment I felt something awaken within me, like a fire that had been given a fresh log to feed upon, it was in the bowels of my stomach, the center of my chest, it was an old instinct that had finally chosen to surface. My snarl met that roar of the grizzly as I charged fangs sinking into his hind leg ripping flesh from bone before darting away my fur standing on edge. A new sensation filled my veins the blood pumping towards my heart burning with an animosity I had never encountered before. We danced, I and the grizzly, we danced the dance of the wilderness until Gun let out another battle cry and the grizzly roared once more toppling over. In that instant I had come to realize that I to was strong, that like Gun I to was able to kill. I stared down at the lifeless eyes of my enemy and I felt powerful, the spirit within me having finally broken the chains that had encased it.
As our master set Gun down and examined the corpse of the grizzly I turned my attention to Dog running to his side whining as I lay beside him. He looked up at me weakly smiling lifting his head slightly before it fell. "You're okay right?" I asked Dog sadly the animosity drifting with my blood away now from my heart. Dog tried to nod but was unable to. "I don't think so young one..." he finally said closing his eyes.”I have grown old and weak, my time is almost up,” I heard his words but refused to listen whimpering as tears fell to the cold earth melting away into the snow. "You however," Dog said continuing. "You have so much life...so much to learn...leave Master, he will find a new dog, you are wolf, you belong here," his voice was faltering, weakening as he talked. "Go rejoin your kind, live free my little spirit, live free Aren," he said. I watched him waiting for him to say more. "Dog?" I whispered. "Dog..." I said just as Master approached pushing me aside examining Dog as he had done only seconds ago with the grizzly. I watched terrified Dog's words echoing in my mind. "Live free my little forest spirit, live free Aren..." he had said.

The raven cried as it took off from the branch hovering in the air before flying away. I could hear the distant calls of our master but I did not return to his side. I knew Dog’s body lay beneath the tree he had died beneath. I knew our master would not take it back to the barn. He would leave Dogs body there. He would leave his loyal companion alone in the woods; he had no need of the body only of the dog that had been within. I had run when I realized that, I had run from our master to be free with my beloved dog. I had no name; to our master I was girl. “Come girl, sit girl,” I obeyed because it was right, Dog obeyed so I obeyed. But Dog had given me a name that day a name I planned to carry with pride.

There is an old Indian story Dog had once told me. He said he heard it often when our master took him to town. He said the others like him spoke of this tale to those who stopped and listened. "Once there was a wolf goddess so beautiful that all wolves that set eyes upon her fell instantly in love. She had a coat of red said to be made from the suns core and eyes as golden as the sun's rays. Her name was Owayodata, she traveled the earth taking in all of its wonders however, there was one thing the goddess wanted most and that was a mate. She had seen many wolves grow old with their mates and die peacefully. She wanted to do the same, though she knew she would never grow old. Immortality was a gift of the gods but to her it felt like a curse. She had come to accept her fate though she lived in sorrow until the day she came upon Kangee. He was a magnificent black wolf, Alpha of the Maikawee Mountain Pack. She gained his trust and soon his love. But it would not last and Owayodata knew this. Kangee grew old with every year. Owayodata stayed by his side however, taking the torment and dread of knowing that he would one day leave her and the world. She remained helpless against the passing time watching her lover weaken in age. But when the day came for him to pass on she could not bear it and so she pleaded with the gods. In exchange for his life they took Owayodata’s immortality away from her the two grew old together and finally died leaving the earth free to be together forever. However, they left behind a legacy, a daughter to carry on in their footsteps. She was Arennia, after the death of her parents she took over the pack. Instead of breaking apart as many packs did the Maikawee pack remained one long after Arennia's death. Stories of her were passed down through generations and soon myths of the Maikawee Mountains began to be told. For it is said that long after Arennia joined her parents in the heavens and the last of the Maikawee Mountain Pack vanished a lone wolf began to travel the Mountains keeping it safe from intruders and those who mean to cause it harm. The wolf became known as Aren, the forest spirit, who will forever protect her home."

That night as I lay alone beside the river I recalled the tale of the forest spirit and the calmness of Dog’s voice as he told it. I recalled the serene look that I had become fond of over the few years I spent with my mentor and the smile that plagued his lips as his heart had finally stopped and his spirit was set free.
He had called me little forest spirit, more importantly he had called me Aren. But I couldn't see how I could be Aren; the great lone wolf that protected her home even after all had gone. I couldn't see how I could be anything but an obedient dog to my master. But dog had said it many times before. I wasn't a dog, I was a wolf. I heard my master call though I knew by now he had retired to the warmth of his home. For the first time I understood the serenity that Dog experienced as he sat in back of the truck beside me. It was here in this wilderness that I experienced the same serenity, here I was not property, I belonged to no one. I was a wolf free to go where I wanted. A forest spirit able to travel anywhere I pleased. I was Aren.





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TillaBoog said...
Jan. 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm
I love this it is very good. I love wolves so reading this was like an aawweee moment for me. I've always wondered how wolves felt and now I think I have a pretty good idea. If this turns into a published book you can be sure I'll buy it :)
 
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