|Homepage Ralph Häussler||
Sucellos - God with Wolf Skin? // Gott mit Wolfsfell //
This also leads us to an important South Gaulish deity, Sucellos, the "mallet god", sometimes wearing a wolf-skin and usually accompanied by what seems to be a dog (in the 1st-3rd century AD, when adopting the image of the Roman god Silvanus to represent their native deity, the Gauls also adopted the dog as the god's companion from Roman iconography; was it meant to symbolise a wolf?). Again, Sucellos is a chthonic god, like most deities (we also should not forget that, for example, mother goddesses are equally 'chthonic' in nature). And although this might have been the deity that Caesar interpreted as Dispater, Sucellos is more than just a god of the underworld; he can also be a healing deity (e.g. at Glanum, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence). We see wolves closely associated with a powerful Celtic (or Gallo-Roman) god. Unfortunately, as is common in Antiquity, all these pieces of evidence are still not sufficient to create a precise understanding of the associated myths and religious significance. Although a certain image of wolf and deity/deities emerges in the Celtic world, we are still far away from really understanding what is happening here.
Curchin, in his Romanization of Central Spain, also reminds of other pieces of evidence: like Appian (Iberica 48) mentioning a Celtiberian herald who wears a wolf-skin; and Francisco Marco Simón (1991: 96) discusses vases from Numantia wearing wolf skins. Paralells with Sucellos are perhaps less likely, but the wearing of wolf skins obviously had "magical" roles in numerous cultures.
Cernunnos on a Wolf (?)
Also see Gundestrup cauldron depictions, above
God with Wolf Skin
Celtic Wolf Children: Cormac Mac Airt
Similar to the Romulus & Remus story in Rome, we also find some "Wolf Children" in Celtic Mythology. For example, in Irish mythology, for example, we find king Cormac Mac Airt who was adopted and reared by a she-wolf with her cubs in the caves of Keash (County Sligo).
Of course, we should not ignore the more recent stories of "feral children", raised by wolves, like the famous (and dubious) case of Kamala and Amala in the 1920's (see Singh and Zingg, Wolf-Children and Feral Man, 1942 and one of the critical reviews) - probably a story as unbelievable as Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli in his Jungle Book from 1894. But perhaps not? After all, there seem to be countless stories of this kind across time and space! - Can they be all a hoax...?
Scythia: wolf shape-shifters
Talking about 'shape-shifters', this story is interesting. The 5th-century BC Greek historian Herodotos (4.105) has recorded a story he heard about the Neuri who are said to have lived north of Scythia (roughly northern Ukraine, southern Belarus today): "It may be that these people are wizards;  for the Scythians, and the Greeks settled in Scythia, say that once a year every one of the Neuri becomes a wolf for a few days and changes back again to his former shape. Those who tell this tale do not convince me; but they tell it nonetheless, and swear to its truth". But perhaps we need to understand Herodotos' story quite differently: "becoming a wolf for a few days" could be part of an annual ritual, a 'rite de passage', perhaps comparable with NW American Indians (see page 2 of website).
Taboo words & wolf people
One linguistic note: one can notice over and over again that wolves are not always called wolves (and that terminology changes in many languages... the original word might get limited to a mythical context, or even tabooed, while new words develop to describe contemporary, mortal wolves. The word for dog is also used as a metaphor for wolves!
'Celtic' Wolf Coins
Pictish Wolf ?
Gaul / Gallien / Gaule