Cry of the Wolf – 1

I’ve always been fascinated by wolves and it’s no secret at this point that they are my favourite animal. I just find everything about them to be so cool, from their howls to their hunting strategies. They truly are an amazing creature and I’ve been enjoying every minute researching them as well as the lore that surrounds them.

Wolf lore however is frustratingly dense, with just about every culture on earth have a story or two that feature wolves. My take on this is because humans and wolves have been interacting with each other since the Stone Age or maybe even earlier that it is not surprising the species that would have evolved into our closest animal companion would be the source of so much fascination. Wolves, in my eyes, are our mirror image as they show us what we strive for and what we fear.

Warriors and wolves are almost interchangeable in quite a few different cultures and I will be doing a deep dive examining this relationship going forward but right now I just want to share my theories. It’s my belief that it’s not so much the warrior that the wolf is tied to, but rather the hunter.

Humans have always studied the world around us and I believe that we would have studied the wolf while it was hunting so that we could become better hunters ourselves. We might have tried to mimic their cooperation since we are social animals like they are and our hunting parties, later war bands, would have tried to emulate the wolf pack’s structure. As we watched the wolf, some of them were watching us, curious as to what this strange bipedal ape was up to. They may have been drawn to our food or just wanted to interact with us as friends, either way the bond was formed and neither of our species have been the same ever since.

While I am focused on Gaul, this ancient friendship is very interesting to me so it’s going to be something I’m going to be diving into more on this site. Just like how we are influenced by our ancestors, the Gauls would have been influenced by their own ancestors and so on. It’s my belief that in order to truly know Gaul, one needs to know what came before it as Gaul didn’t exist in a vacuum nor did it just spring into existence out of nothingness. So expect a strange mixture of Gaulish, Proto-Indo-European and Stone Age research and theories going forward. This wolf lore rabbit hole is extremely deep and I’m enjoying every minute I spend looking into it.

Uirocû

The Gaulish word for werewolf is uirocû, from uirocû meaning “man” and meaning “hound or wolf”. The Gauls did not leave us with any stories of their own regarding this creature either. I have used the similarities found across other cultures to see what may have influenced them so that I can attempt to recreate it. In order to do this I have explored werewolf lore and wolf cults from Greece, Rome, Germania, Ireland and other areas across Europe around the time of the Gauls. The uirocû of today will not be the same as they may have been back then because of this but hopefully it will be close enough.

When this curse, because it is a curse as will be explained later on, was taken on voluntarily by warriors in the war-band, it was an extremely dangerous undertaking as the bloodlust was overwhelming. We see this warrior rage in the Germanic berserkers and Greek lyssa, where practitioners become more animalistic in their fighting. Even the Irish warrior Cú chulainn was known to enter into intense episodes of wild fury that would warp his body. As such in the war-band, murder and rape were excused because it wasn’t done against members of one’s own tribe and the warrior wasn’t exactly human at the time. If they did commit these crimes against their own however, they would be hunted like animals for they have revoked their humanity. This would be a temporary transformation and the afflicted would be allowed to return to their tribe after a certain period of time. There are stories of wolf cults in Arcadia of a person being cast out of the village as a wolf and if they did not consume human flesh for 9 years, they would become human again.

The uirocû are often warriors but they are always outlaws that have gone against their tribe and the Dêuoi. The line between warrior and outlaw is quite blurred at times however, as in the case of the Sigmund the Volsung, who had to live as an outlaw in foreign lands when his family was slaughtered while he plotted his revenge. He and his son (or nephew depending on the telling) came across sleeping outlaws with cursed wolf pelts, which the pair stole. They used these pelts to conquer their enemies but became lost in the wolf and no longer recognized each other, which ended in Sigmund nearly killing his son and only then could they take the pelts off. People who live outside of society, whether by choice or exile, run the risk of becoming one through their actions if they commit crimes that offend the Dêuoi. Serious crimes such as murder and rape of members of one’s tribe would result in the offender being punished severely. They are shunned from their tribe and cursed by the Dêuoi into becoming a uirocû permanently. Vile acts such as cannibalism, when lines between man and animal are blurred beyond recognition, will also cause the offenders to be transformed into these monstrous creatures as punishment for their crimes. This was the fate of Lykaon, a king in Ancient Greece who feed an infant to Zeus and was changed into a wolf because of it.

As wolves also have chthonic ties, which I will discuss in a future article about wolf Gods, I think it is safe to assume that the uirocû have ties to the darkness of the night as well. There are references to hunting and fighting being done at night by the war-bands in various tales about many of these warriors and their groups. While the transformation under the full moon did not appear until much later, I do believe that uirocû would be more active as the daylight hours fade. Like wolves, they would most likely stalk their prey, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike with vicious fury. Since wolves also have ties to the Underworld, I believe that the uirocû would reside in Dumnos during the day and prowl the forest of Bitus during the night. This is not a creature that you want to become, as much as popular culture would have you believe that it would be cool to be a werewolf. Uirocû are savage beasts, unable to tell friend from foe as they are all prey to be devoured. This is not a beast that can be reasoned with as all it knows is the hunt, should you encounter one, please be cautious and avoid it if you can. Do not seek out this creature, it will smell you before you even know it is there, and it is always hungry.

Sources:

Thank you to Ṷailogenos and Suturcos for their help with the Gaulish. The word for werewolf has been changed from doniouailoi to uirocû as I have been informed that uirocû is an attested word in Gaulish.

The Three-Faced Wanderer

In Mantalon Uiducûnos, Lugus is associated with ravens, bags of coins, lyres, and spears. Husband to Rosmertâ, Lugus aids her with the harvest during the autumn. He is usually depicted with three faces which I believe makes him a God of Knowledge, as he sees the past, present and future all at once and may be called upon when seeking advise or aid in a creative endeavor. As many of the Dêuoi were absorbed into the enigmatic “Gaulish Mercury“, Lugus may have been one such being.

Lugus is the Master of All Skills. Forging the destinies of all who live as he forges his Great Spear. Lugus bestows the gifts of creativity and wisdom to those skilled enough to use them, even if they do not realize it themselves. He also sends omens, on written on the wings of ravens, for those with the abilities to read his prophecies.

The Inventor of the Arts, Lugus is skilled in all manner of artistic abilities and shares those skills with the people. God of Arts, Lugus creates beauty in the world around us and may be called upon when working on an artistic project. He may be credited with investing the lyre that Gaulish bards were fond of playing.

He is a guardian of travellers and merchants, keeping wanderers safe as he himself wanders the land. Ruler over commerce, he ensures that business is conducted fairly and free of deception. Pacts made by invoking Lugus are as binding as chains, for to go back on an oath is to anger the God himself.

It is my belief that as he is a wandering God, that Lugus is only one of his names. There is very little evidence for him in archeology so it is my belief that this is a name that he uses now but may have gone by another in the past. As the most we have is the Roman name of “Mercury”, as well as several other Gods who could fit that title, anything written about Lugus will be heavily based in gnosis.

Sources:

  1. Lugus – Segomâros Widugeni in Nemeton Segomâros http://polytheist.com/segomaros/2015/07/13/lugus/
  2. Lugus: the Many Gifted Lord – Alexei Kondratiev https://web.archive.org/web/20201106052850/http://www.imbas.org/articles/lugus.html
  3. tThe Gods of Gaul and the Continental Celts – J. A. MacCulloch https://worldspirituality.org/gods-of-gaul-html
  4. https://nouiogalatis.org/2019/12/27/deuoi-gods/

What is Mantalon Uiducûnos

Mantalon Uiducûnos or “Way of the Wolf” is a reconstructed path of Gaulish Polytheism based around the ancient war-bands of Gaul during the Bronze Age to early Iron Age. While focused on warriors and hunters, Mantalon Uiducûnos does not promote violence. Rather it emphasized the importance of inner strength, honour, loyalty, and duty so that you are able to take care of yourself, your family, and your community.

Mantalon Uiducûnos is a return to the primal, reconnecting with the Spirits of the Earth and the Dêuoi through an animistic approach. Just as the young men of Gaul and older Proto-Indo-European cultures would view themselves as animals, namely wolves, during their time serving in the war-bands, so too must we view ourselves not as separate from the natural world, but a part of it. No different than the birds in the sky, the fish in the rivers or the animals hunting in the forest. Agriculture plays a large role in Mantalon Uiducûnos as one should always be mindful of where their food came from and the work required to put that food on our plates.

The Dêuoi worshiped in Mantalon Uiducûnos are as follows:

  • The Wolf Lords
    • Sucellos, Wolf-cloaked Guardian and Caretaker of the land
    • Entarabos, Wolf-cloaked Protector and Shepherd between rivers
  • The Divine Queens
    • Nantosueltâ, Queen of the Valley and Lady of the Vine
    • Rosmertâ, Queen of the Fields and Lady of the Harvest
  • The Three-Face Wanderer
    • Lugus, Master of all skills and Lord of Prophecy
  • The Horned Lords
    • Carnonos, Antlered Watcher on the Water and Guide to the Dead
    • Camulos, the Ram-Horned Fire and Defender of the people

Each will have their own article that goes into more detail as to who they are and what their role is in Mantalon Uiducûnos. Stories are being written as well that will tell the tales of the Dêuoi in a way that an article on them simply cannot. This article is to serve as an introduction to this path. Mantalon Uiducûnos is currently being constructed so more articles will be written in the future that further expands on it.

Antumnos

When the final breath escapes your lips, the Antlered Lord will come to claim you. Silent Carnonos will take you by the hand and you will be free of the weariness of the world. A child once more, you will walk with the White Stag King to the Great River where he will ferry you to Gates of Antumnos. There you will meet the kind Sucellos and the gentle Nantosueltâ, who will take you from Carnonos and lead you through their garden to a place you can rest. Food and drink will be waiting for you along with all your loved ones, once lost now found. Rest if you wish, for life is hard and death is peaceful. The meadows here are vast and sunlit, the rivers slow and cool. Every tree is filled with fruit and the bread is always warm. Sweet music fills the air, inviting you to dance should you wish. Some of your kin may choose to move on but worry not as you will see them in life as you now see them in death. Others will choose to stay, and you will see them again when you come back to this realm. When you are ready to taste the joys of living, you will rejoin Sucellos and Nantosueltâ in their garden. They will bring you back to the Gates where the River Father Carnonos awaits to begin the cycle anew.

Lugus & Rosmertâ

Roaming the land with his hounds, the young Lugus was wild and free. He wanted for nothing, for the hunt provided him food, the forest provided him shelter, and anything else he could take through strength or cunning. He was a renowned hunter, master of all forms of combat and strategy. Never had he tasted defeat at the hands of man or beast. A proud warrior, golden of hair and quick of wit, Lugus was fearless in the face of any challenge, but he soon found one that would put him to the ultimate test.

Bounding through the forest, his spear seeking blood and his hounds at his side, Lugus chased after a great boar. The hunt consumed him, and he was close to his kill when a soft voice echoed throughout the woods. A gentle singing filled the air and mesmerized brave Lugus. Dropping his spear and abandoning the hunt, he began looking for the source of that beautiful sound. In search of the melody, he came across a farm surrounded by fields of golden wheat. This was the home of the fair Rosmertâ, Lady of the Harvest. Lugus was struck by her beauty and swore to make her his bride at any cost. He approached the auburn-haired woman and declared his love for her, however she rejected him. “I see you, brave warrior, and I have no need for a man who knows nothing but death.” she said as she returned to tending her fields.

Not to be deterred by his scorned affections, Lugus sought the aid of the wise Sucellos. “Great Sucellos, Lord of Wealth and Guardian of the Gate, what must I do to win the hand of the sweet Rosmertâ?” The King in the Deep reached out with his mighty hand and clasped the warrior on the shoulder, with booming voice he spoke “You show promise, young Lugus. Rosmertâ wants someone by her side to care for the land with her.” Lugus thanked Sucellos for his aid and travelled into Antumnos to meet with the Smith Gobanos to craft him a new spear. The Master of the Forge was unimpressed that Lugus had shown such disrespect towards his tools when he had abandoned his spear in search of Rosmertâ’s singing. The Smith refused to make Lugus a weapon but offered to teach the youth the art of craftsmanship so that he may make the spear himself. Lugus trained under Gobanos day and night until the spear was forged, hard won through sweat and blood. With his weapon now made, Lugus returned to the home of Rosmertâ and declared he would be her protector in exchange for her hand, however she again rejected him. “I see you, skilled craftsman, and I have no need for a man who knows nothing but battle.” she said as she returned to tending her orchards.

Pondering his next move, Lugus sat near a lazy stream when he was approached by the silent Carnonos. “Great Carnonos, River King and Watcher of the Worlds, what must I do to win the hand of kind Rosmertâ.” The Antlered Lord was quiet for a moment and in a voice barely louder than a whisper he spoke “You show promise, young Lugus. Rosmertâ wants someone to be her equal in matters of the mind.” Lugus thanked Carnonos for his aid and, struck with inspiration, he travelled the land in search of materials for something to impress Rosmertâ. Once he had acquired what he needed, Lugus crafted the first lyre and practice day and night until his music was as beautiful as the singing that first drew him to Rosmertâ’s door. He returned to her home and serenaded her with songs so wonderful that the birds wept in jealously, however she rejected again him. “I see you, gentle artist, and I have no need for a man who knows nothing but his desires.” she said as she returned to collecting the pots for the mead.

At last defeated, Lugus wandered until he came to the vineyard of Nantosueltâ. “Great Nantosueltâ, Lady of the Vine and Queen of Antumnos, what must I do to show Rosmertâ that my heart belongs to her and that I only wish for her to love me as I love her?” The Lady of the Valley smiled and extended her hand for him to follow her, with gentle voice she spoke “You show promise, young Lugus. Rosmertâ wishes only for someone to be by her side.” Guiding him through the vineyard to the apiary, Nantosueltâ taught Lugus how to care for the hive and how to gather honey for the mead. Lugus asked if he may take it to Rosmertâ himself and Nantosueltâ agreed. He thanked her for her aid and returned to the home of Rosmertâ. He offered her the honey and asked simply if he could help her with the mead making, which she accepted. “I see you, kind Lugus, and I will gladly be yours as you are mine for you know my heart as I know yours.” She said while taking his hand. And so, they made the mead together, cared for the orchards together and tended the fields together ever since. Lugus would continue to roam the forests with his hounds from time to time but now he is accompanied by his children as well, born of his beautiful Rosmertâ.