January is known as Wulf-Monath, according to the Saxons. Why? Well, people were more likely to be devoured by wolves in the month of January. Or it could be that the lonely sound in the cold hills would only come from the one animal still hunting, the wolf.
Wolves held a prominent position in our ancestors' minds. The Wolf has stood for both the Warrior and the Devourer. Let's start with the Warrior.
When Odin first wandered the earth he wandered alone. To spite his loneliness he created the first wolves, Geri and Freki, a pair of wolves who never left his side, and as they traveled, populated the Earth with the first wolves who sired the canines we recognize as our best friends today. Odin fed his wolves food while he himself subsisted on wine. Even the prayers to both Odin and his Wolves have striking similarities as they consider the strength, the wisdom, the wanderings, and the call of the warrior of each.
This doesn't address the devourer side of the wolf, though, but Odin and his stories have this version as well. Fenrir, the eldest child of Loki and Angrboda, grows too large for his bonds and devours Odin at Ragnarok. The image of the wolf as Fenrir, the devourer, is what we see as being passed down through the stories and fairy tales that have reached us. Think of the Big, Bad Wolf, or even the half-man/half-wolf hybrid known as Werewolves, and how they're always found in the dark wood. The dark wood represents the unknown, and what is unknown is feared.
I think to start the New Year, that seeing the Wolf as a Warrior, and emulating the the wisdom, strength, and willingness to wander is what will serve one well. Don't live in fear of the Wolf, become the Wolf and face life head-on in your wanderings.
Photo taken in Yellowstone National Park. 12/17/2016