Celebrating Wolfenoot as a Pagan

Celebrating Wolfenoot as a Pagan November 13, 2018

So, what are you doing for Wolfenoot?

Wolf-a-what you say?

Wolfenoot, the new holiday on November 23 that celebrates wolves, dogs, and people who are kind to dogs.

Never heard of it? Have you been on a social media fast? It’s been all over Facebook and Twitter.

In case you missed it, or if you saw it but didn’t give it a second thought, here’s the story.

sled dogs in the Yukon – 2011

The story of Wolfenoot

Wolfenoot was invented by a seven year old boy who lives in New Zealand. His mother isn’t sharing his name, which is good and proper, because when he’s an adult he may want to distance himself from it. Goodness knows I had plenty of wild ideas when I was seven that I’m glad are forgotten to the world.

But I think this one may have staying power. Here’s the official story from the wolfenoot.com web page.

My son has invented a holiday called Wolfenoot.

It is when the Spirit of the Wolf brings and hides small gifts around the house for everyone. People who have, have had, or are kind to dogs get better gifts than anyone else.

You eat roast meat (because wolves eat meat) and cake decorated like a full moon.

A holiday to the spirit of wolves that celebrates people who are kind to dogs? I can 100% get behind this. So we will be celebrating Wolfenoot. It’s on the 23rd November if anyone else is moved to celebrate it. If you do, please post pics, so he can see how his idea has spread.

This is resonating with a lot of people. Some of them love dogs, some are enamored with wolves, and some just want something to do the day after Thanksgiving that has nothing to do with shopping.

Not Pagan, but organic

Wolfenoot is about spirits and Nature and celebrations – all stuff we Pagans love. But let’s be clear – this isn’t our holiday. There is nothing on the Wolfenoot site or its social media presence to indicate that this holiday or the people who invented it have any connections to any religion at all. They want it to be for everybody. The Wolfenoot FAQ says “as long as you retain the core of being kind to wolves and dogs, everything else can be interpreted as you wish.”

I frequently knock the “spiritual but not religious” crowd for being shallow and non-committal, but Wolfenoot is a good example of how spirituality without religion can produce good things.

In 2014 I wrote a post titled Organic Religion, where I explored the question of whether humans are innately religious or not.

Even if religion were to completely disappear, it would quickly return because people have religious experiences all the time. This is organic religion, a religion not of doctrine but of experience, not of rules but of relationships, not of the intellect but of the soul.

Wolfenoot is an excellent example of this. It didn’t come from anyone’s holy book, anyone’s theology, or anyone’s’ doctrine or creed. It came organically.

And then it spread with the speed of 21st century technology and interconnectedness.

Humans celebrate what’s meaningful

Wolfenoot isn’t religious, but it’s definitely spiritual, and it has a quasi-religious tone to it. I don’t have to think too hard to imagine some of the complaints from the more stridently religious… and the anti-religious.

I can hear fundamentalists whining “see, if people don’t worship our God they’ll worship anything.”

I can hear atheists whining “you’re worshipping dogs – that’s stupid.”

[As I was writing that line I typed “you’re worshipping gods” twice before I finally got it right. I am not dyslexic. Make of that what you will.]

Both the fundamentalists and the atheists are missing the point. Humans celebrate what’s meaningful: birth, life, and death. Ancestors and descendants. The changing seasons. Successes we want to remember and defeats we want to honor. And for some of us, first-hand experiences that defy materialistic explanations.

Dogs are still sometimes called “man’s best friend.” They have been our companions and helpers for at least 15,000 years. People treat their dogs like members of their family.

It’s a wonder it’s taken us this long to come up with a holiday for dogs.

Anpu (Anubis) the Egyptian God with the head of a jackal

The future of Wolfenoot

Wolfenoot 2018 happens at a very fortuitous convergence of events. November 23 is also a full moon, although the actual moment of the full moon will be on November 22 for everyone in the US Central Time Zone and points west. Remember – the moon is full for three nights, not just for one moment in time.

And November 23 is Black Friday in the United States, which is already a holiday for many of us. But Wolfenoot began in New Zealand, where Black Friday isn’t a thing.

Future years won’t have this fortunate timing.

I asked him this one, because I liked the full moon thing, and I was told in no uncertain terms that it has to be the 23rd November because that is the anniversary of ‘The Great Wolf’s Death’. There is a whole story there, but I am going to wait till he gets home (he is currently away at his Dad’s for the school hols) until I write it down.

Next year November 23 is the Saturday before Thanksgiving and the moon will be only a sliver of a waning crescent. Not quite as magical, and not as convenient.

But when things are meaningful, people make time for them. We will see. For now, let’s enjoy this one.

My own Wolfenoot

Those of you who know me well know I’m not a dog person. I’m told that when I was two, I tried to play with some puppies and the mother dog bit me. I have no memory of that. I just know I’ve always been afraid of dogs – including “friendly” dogs.

Still, many of my friends love their dogs, and it’s clear that love goes both ways. And I hate – hate – people who are cruel to animals. So I have no problem getting into the spirit of Wolfenoot, eating some roast meat (and if I can find a good clean cut, perhaps some that’s not roasted), and making a small donation to a wolf rescue organization (just make sure you’re not giving to somebody who encourages people to keep wolves or wolf-dog hybrids as pets).

Who knows – in the years to come, Wolfenoot may turn into a worldwide celebration. And then you can tell everybody “I was there for the first Wolfenoot in 2018!”

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