On the precipice of a mountain, under the light of the full moon, the lone wolf sits and howls. To whom, no one fully knows. As it bellows its song into the night sky, it is met with only the crackling of branches in the distance and birds taking flight. No other wolf adds their voice in symphony, but that doesn’t stop the song. No one may know to whom the lone wolf sings, but what is known for sure is that its howl is a primal desire given expression. The desire for a pack.
The rite of passage of awakening is the inevitable split from the natal pack—The community or group of individuals in our lives that have provided emotional sustenance, social interaction, and belonging. Sometimes we may proactively separate as a result of recognizing the incompatibility of beliefs, while other times we unintentionally alienate and trigger our rejection and expulsion from the pack. Either way the split down the line of our relationships occurs, a lone wolf is born. The isolation that the rite of passage sparks is the first chapter of our spiritual heroes journey that teaches and lays the foundation for self-sufficiency, conviction, and individualism. Once the lone wolf treks out into the unknown without the protection of the pack, it must learn how to survive, to leads its own path, and trust its own leadership.
The romanitization of the lone wolf has inspired important narratives of independence and self-support down the centuries, but the story of the lone wolf doesn’t end there…The solitary wolf continues to howl. But for whom if it chose or was forced to leave its pack behind?
As the wolf wanders the mountains and tundras, drifting between and avoiding pack territories, it is presented with a few options. The lone wolf can go back to the pack either under the same or improved conditions; it can join and integrate itself into a non-natal pack; it can establish a new pack; or it can continue wandering its habitat as a separate entity.—the last of which, increases the chances of succumbing to starvation, attack from other packs and predatory animals, and social deprivation.
The spiritual lone wolf is presented with parallel options. Similar to the wolf, human beings are social creatures. While a wolf may choose or be forced out of good standing within his or her pack, the wolf thrives under the right pack conditions and will seek out companionship more times than not. During the beginning of our spiritual journey, especially, it is necessary to be a lone wolf in order to define our character, conviction, and—a term coined by Carl Jung—to achieve of personality. But the necessity of isolation in awakening and spiritual growth doesn’t negate the human need for connection. Human beings thrive under the right conditions within family or the family we create with others. While being a lone wolf comes with many benefits and important life lessons, there is value in finding or creating the solace of a group of individuals that can aid in our continued spiritual, emotional, and mental health.
Once we are initiated into the world of the lone wolf and learn the necessary lessons that come with it, the desire for companionship—the desire to hear another howl—will make itself known. The need for connection and belonging will likely draw us to begin to create/search for a spiritually conducive community. The pack that we seek and create could be as small as one person or as big as dozens, but the purpose is that those we connect with should add more value than our previous life of complete solitude. The people in our circle should help us to grow spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Our pack should be a mutually beneficial ecosystem by which everyone that is a part grows and improves. In the case of the wolf, being a part of a healthy pack provides security, protection, and substantial social connection. Human beings are not much different.
Being a lone wolf or being a part of a pack are both necessary and fluctuating realities for both the canis lupis and the spiritual homo sapien. There will be periods of isolation and independency and there will be seasons of togetherness and interdependence. Choosing indefinitely to be either, however, negates the benefits that the other have to offer. A staunch individualist will lose out on being able to broaden his or her perspective about the world via the conduit of other people’s thoughts. The steadfast collectivist will melt into and lose their own sovereign mind to the whole, whether that be a group of 3 or 1,000. Embracing both sides rationally in separation and in tandem creates a holistic spiritual journey—the ability to walk alone and with others.
One of the beauties of the lone wolf is that it continues to howl to the moon. It knows that the phase of its life is necessary, important, and fulfilling for its season, but it will eventually honor its nature for togetherness when the conditions are right. So that, when it sings its song into the night sky, others will join in the symphony.
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