Monster Month: Amarok/Amaroq


Now, we’re getting into the more obscure beasts.  How obscure are we talking?  Well, it’s not as easy to find information on some of these.  So, the posts might be getting a little thinner.

The Amarok (or Amaroq) is from the Inuit religion and is simply a giant wolf.  They are solitary hunters who go after anyone foolish enough to hunt alone at night.  Probably not hard to figure out how this legend came about.  In fact, giant wolves are found in multiple religions and mythologies.  Most times, they aren’t altered beyond being made enormous, which comes with the usual super strength and durability.  The Amarok is not that different and was probably born from the concept of dire wolves.

There are some differences among the Inuit.  Those in Greenland use Amarok solely for this creature while others use it for any wolf.  Even with its ferocious reputation, the Amarok is typically put in a positive light.  The story I ran into the most was the following:

‘A young boy was weak and considered an outcast by his village.  He prayed to the gods for strength, which resulted in an Amarok being sent to him.  He wrestled the Amarok’s tail until small bones fell out of him.  These were stunting his growth.  He went back to wrestle the Amarok every day in order to build up his strength.  Eventually, he was strong enough to earn the respect of his village.’

Others stories have people killing an Amarok as a sign of strength or just because.  There wasn’t much else to these tales, except for one that stood out to me:

‘A mourner and their friend go in search of an Amarok they hear is nearby.  They find the pups and the mourner kills them.  Running away, they hide nearby to see the mother appear with food.  The mother Amarok goes to a lake and drags out a human form.  The mourner drops dead because the Amarok took their soul.’

That’s also the closest I could come to finding any supernatural powers.  Mostly, the Amarok is a giant wolf used in mythology either as a benevolent guardian, dangerous predator, or test of strength.  Some tales talk of them appearing to pick off sick reindeer when the herds get too large.  This helps the herds grow in strength and be better sources of food for the Inuit.

Beyond all of that, it got tricky finding clear information.  I noticed that some people used the term ‘Amarok Wolf’ for general large wolves.  This is regardless of their origins.  So, I saw it getting used for Fenrir and the wolf who raised Remus and Romulus.  I don’t think that’s right though.  Kind of muddies the waters.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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15 Responses to Monster Month: Amarok/Amaroq

  1. L. Marie says:

    I never heard of this, but when you mentioned the use in Norse mythology, I was like, “Okay. I can see that.” But you’re talking about wolf guardians, right, not wargs ridden by orcs?


  2. Great learning here, Charles.


  3. noelleg44 says:

    Interesting legends!


  4. I haven’t heard of this one. Thanks for sharing it.


  5. Taking a well known creature and expanding it to enormous size is always a good trick. I did it myself in The Tower in the Mist. Badgers have a reputation as tough and fearless. What if the badger was giant???

    Big things are extra scary. In the same way, making a creature tiny will always be funny.


    • Badgers are actually fairly common in mythology. They’ve been omens of death and spring. Forgot the culture that gradually shifted the strength symbolism from bear to badger. China and Japan even had them as shapeshifters. Can’t find any large ones outside of modern fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

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