During the middle ages, wolves were ascribed magical powers and wolf parts became an important part of many early pharmacies. Powdered wolf liver was used to ease birth pains. A wolf's right paw, tied around ones throat, was believed to ease the swelling caused by throat infections.

* It was widely believed that a horse that stepped in a wolf print would be crippled

* The gaze of a wolf was once thought to cause blindness

* Others believed that the breath of the wolf could cook meat.

* Naturalists of the day believed wolves sharpened their teeth before hunting

* Dead wolves were buried at a village entrance to keep out other wolves (a bizarre belief echoed today by farmers who continue to shoot predators and hang them on fence posts to repel other predators.)

* Travelers were warned about perils of walking through lonely stretches of woods, and stone shelters were built to protect them from attacks. Our modern word "loophole" is derived from the European term "loup hole," or wolf hole, a spy hole in shelters through which travelers could watch for wolves.

Responses to "Wolf Myths of the Middle ages"

  1. Kimberli Offet says:

    Interesting! The wolf has gotten a bad rap in most fairy tales, perhaps this is why.

  2. Joanne E Trost McGuire says:

    When I was young (50+yrs ago) I witnessed, from the school bus, dead wolves hung by the tail on fence post by neighbors. It let the "wolf bounty hunter" know they had wolves to pick up. We did not do this. The wolves never bothered our livestock. That is more than can be said for the neighbors dogs. We kept small, & or young livestock close to the barns or house where it was easy to care for them and they were never bothered. Big stock went out in the pastures further away & were OK.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Current anti-wolf prejudices are scarcely more intelligent/educated.
    I am always interested in etymology, the "metadata of words" that enriches their perception and understanding. I did not know the etymology of loophole, and learnig it here has made my day. The next time I see or hear the expression "tax loophole", I'll be picturing the greedy rich taking shelter from the horrible wolfish taxmen!
    Erik in France

  4. Anonymous says:

    However, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language has:
    " loop 2
    "n. Archaic
    "A loophole through which small arms may be fired.
    [Middle English loupe; akin to Middle Dutch lupen, to lie in wait, peer.]"

    This is probably more correct, but now I will unavoidably be associating loopholes with wolves, the way I associate Beethoven's Fifth Symphony with clothes pegs, because of a silly French song about clothes pegs set to the same chords...

  5. L7 says:


Write a comment