What is a Seawolf?
So what exactly is a “seawolf”? Depending on your age and cultural heritage, you might tell me that a seawolf is
- an orca or killer whale.
- a voracious marine fish, such as a wolffish or seabass.
- an elephant seal or sealion.
- a pirate or privateer.
- a certain military class of submarine.
However, there is one last definition, which I like the best – a seawolf is a fabulous sea beast, a mysterious mythical creature which can fire up the imagination.
My ancestral and cultural heritage is Celtic, and this heritage is reflected in much of the artwork that I create. Like many other cultures, the Celts also had animal totems and allies. However, in the Celtic system most people were associated with more than one animal. Historical reconstruction has suggested that the Celts had a lunar, 13 month calendar divided into quarters based on the seasons. Each month was assigned a letter from the early Celtic alphabet, referred to as the Ogham. The Ogham is sometimes called the “Celtic Tree Alphabet” as the result of a high medieval tradition of ascribing the names of trees to the individual letters. As a result, each of the 13 months also had a tree association. Based on the gods and legends of the Celts, there would also have been several animals associated with each tree. The tree and its associated animals would have formed the birth totems of a person born in that month. Like the First Nations cultures of northern British Columbia, many Celts also had a clan totem or emblem which they inherited from either their maternal and paternal heritage. Finally, as observed in the Celtic legends, some Celts appeared to have a personal spirit guide that provided protection, guidance and inspiration. Spirit guides were usually animals that appeared to the person at times of need or during important decisions, or were animals to which the person was particularly drawn. Common Celtic totems included the deer, bear, badger, raven, eagle, swan, otter, mouse, boar, cat, horse, wolf, hound, eel and salmon. Thus, from my birth month and my family history, my animal clan totem would most likely be a salmon, and my birth totems would be the rowan tree and the crane. Throughout my childhood, I was fascinated by canines, and wolves specifically. They have worked their way into my artwork and my life. Indeed, I have had more than one amusing encounter with real wolves, unlike the terrible fairy tales that tell about big bad wolves eating peoples’ grandmothers! It seems to me that the wolf is my spirit guide, and this is why the wolf is present in Ocean Ecology’s crest and why I am calling the newest endeavor in my life “Seawolf Publishing”. The fantastical embellishment of the wolf into a “seawolf” is my own invention, based on my love for the sea.