There is a story of a woman who lives in a cave in the deepest desert. Far out upon the sands, where snakes wind their pattern as they move, she lives. A desert surrounded by the tallest, craggiest cliffs. It is not banishment, but choice that lead her, the Wolf Woman, to here in this dry place.

In her cave there are carvings on the wall of wolves – so many wolves. Wolves that play, wolves that are still, wolves that run, and wolves that howl to the moon. And under all these carvings, gently laid down, are many, many wolf bones. Some are short and some are long. Some are small and some large, but all are placed in sacred ways under the carvings, waiting…waiting…

For every 28 days, when the sun has made its way across the sky, slipping into the high hills that surround the desert, the full moon rises. Slowly at first, and then silver and bright the moon climbs the nights’ sky. The stars are like diamonds strewn across black velvet, and the moon is the biggest diamond of them all.

And the full moon calls to the wolves.

Like shadows in the night, the wolves climb out of their hidden places, with fur that is dark, and fur that is light. Whole tribe of wolves make their way to stand under the moonlight. And they howl. They sing to her all night. Those who have heard it, say that it echoes through you, even as it rings out across the desert.

Wolf Woman also feels the rise of the full moon. Like the wolves, she is beckoned forth from her cave. She stands beneath the moon and feels the power of it move through her, like a tide. Strength runs through her limbs, and deep breaths move her body. The magick of the moon enlivens her whole being, and she trembles with the force of it.

With purpose, she returns to her cave, and using a smoothly shaped bowl, she picks up this bone, and that bone. She knows exactly which bones she needs. Short bones and long bones she gathers in her bowl. When the last has been chosen, she leaves the cave and stands once more under the moonlight.

With the moons magick rippling through her, she kneels on the sands, and slowly, so gently, she begins to place the bones on the ground. One bone, and then another, and another, placing them in a pattern. As the moon gracefully arcs across the sky, and as the wolves howl into the night, the skeleton of a wolf takes shape. From the skull down, down, down the spine to the tail tip.

But there are bones still missing. And this night, under this full moon, the Wolf Woman can hear the call of those missing bones out in the desert. And like the wolves, she becomes a shadow dashing out into the night to find those missing pieces.

The first bone leads her deep into the desert. She runs, so fleet of foot, barely making tracks in the sand, barely disturbing a single grain. She comes closer and closer to the missing bone – it is like a pull in her body, like it is her own bone that she is finding. Then she is digging down, and her fingers are bring it forth – a small bone from the spine. So small, but she knew where it was. She felt it. She felt the loss of it.

There is a new pulling now, to the next missing bone. Again she is swiftly across the sand. Again her fingers are dipping into the sand. Again she is finding it: a small bone from the back foot this time. And again she is called to the next bone, and the next. So she goes all night, seeking out those missing bones, finding them, and gathering them to herself.

When the final bone is her hand, her quick feet bring her back to her cave, and the skeleton that is laid out in front of it, almost shimmering in the moonlight. She takes those last missing bones she has collected, and reverently lays them in position. She has a gentle smile for each one, and a soft word whispered to them as they take their place.

As the last bone is put in place, a pulse of energy runs down the skeleton from tip to tail. She can feel the completeness of it within her own bones. The full moon is now at its peak, and it would seem that even the song of the wolves has become louder.

It is time.

The Wolf Woman places her hands above the bones, and she begins to sing. So very softly at first, as soft as a breeze. The words, if you could hear them, would be ancient…

Come, wolf brother, come.
Let your howl rise up from these bones,
Let it echo across the desert.
And as your voice grows,
Let life return to your bones,
Let living flesh weave together,
Let softest fur spill forth,
So you may run once more under the moon.
Come, wolf brother, come.

Hands above the bones and voice weaving her song, it seems as though even the moon hears her words. Like even the moonlight around her, and on her, is brighter and glittering with power.

The bones, they begin to shake under her hands, rattling on the sand. And louder her song becomes. Stronger those ancient words become.

And then muscle and vein are rippling down the skeleton. Like the undulation of a wave, her song calls the flesh to weave upon the bones. The Wolf Woman is singing even louder now, and the howling of the wolves is growing too.

Now fur is spilling forth. Soft and pale, like moonlight, it covers the flesh and the bones. From the fur white ears, to the brush tail, the wolf pelt thickens.

Her song is almost shaking the ground now, but she is not done yet. The Wolf Woman leans close to the wolf’s mouth, and sends her song like a kiss of life. The song rushes through the still body, waking it up. Her hands, so full of the moon, she places on the fur as the wolf takes its first breath, sending more magick into it.

See the wolf is rising, shaking life fully into itself, golden eyes snapping open. It faces the Wolf Woman, and they reach for each other, nose to nose. A brief touching.

And then the wolf is rushing out into the desert, a wind that cannot be stood against. The song of the wolves has become one of welcome as their lost brother joins them.

The Wolf Woman finishes her song, her voice now husky. The glow of moonlight is disappearing from her skin, and the pull of the moon is lessening. For the rest of this night, she will sit outside her cave. What was lost – the bones that had been scattered to the desert – have been found and reclaimed. The spirit of another wolf is now running free.

And when the next full moon cycles around, the Wolf Woman will once more search for more bones, reclaiming more life.

A modern retelling of the Wolf Woman
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