Nov 3 2011

#187 “The Amulet”

From a stranger in Roanoke, Virginia

This isn’t the first wolf picture that WBS has received with connections to the fantastically creative world of role-playing games, but it is the first role-playing wolf to be wearing an awesome necklace. Well, to be fair, I’m not sure if this item is so much of a necklace as it is what you might call an amulet. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, an amulet is any item that possesses some sort of supernatural power and aids a hero on his quest. An amulet might take the form of anything from an article of clothing to a special weapon, but a consistent feature of all amulets is their ability to guide, guard or instruct the hero.

What the specific powers of this lupine amulet are, I don’t rightly know. But what I do know is that the whole concept of an amulet can be closely connected with the very idea of the wolf for those who are closely tied to its spirit. Just as this wolf carries with it an amulet for some sort of protective purpose, if we so choose, we may carry the lupine spirit with us to ward away the cares and worries of this world that assail us everyday. For although it might sound silly to carry the soul of a wolf within us, I do believe that a sincere adherence to a simpler, more lupine mindset instead of one bogged down worldly cares and desires can only work to our advantage.

But unlike most amulets (which are usually guarded by dragons or hidden deep within ancient mines), the spirit of the wolf can be accessed at any time by any person who is truly willing to reach out for it. It may not necessarily be easy to hold onto, and for those who are steeped in the worries of this world, it can be difficult to grasp, but it possesses a magical power far greater than any ring, necklace, or sword.

So take hold of the sacred wolven amulet today, and in doing so… take hold of your own destiny. After all, weren’t you meant to play the role of a hero?

Jun 15 2011

#46 “Princess Mononoke”

From Katy in Chattanooga, Tennessee

To be honest, I had never heard of Princess Mononoke before I laid eyes upon this illustration. In saying that, I know that there are some of you gasping in shock and horror right now while others of you are scratching your heads in confusion. For those of you who don’t know, it appears that Princess Mononoke is a Japanese anime film which has been hugely successful both at home as well as here in the states. In fact, Roger Ebert even listed it as one of his top ten films of the year in 1999 when it was released in America. In Japan and abroad the film has received numerous awards and was supposedly the top-grossing film in Japan untilTitanic came along.

Anyway, I don’t want to give too much of the storyline away, but I will tell you that Princess Mononoke is a character in the movie (also known as San), who was raised by wolves. This instantly drew me to the story, but what I found most intriguing is that the film closely adheres to the famous “monomyth”  or “hero’s journey” format that is described by Joseph Campbell in his 1949 bookThe Hero with a Thousand Faces.

According to Campbell, all great epic tales consist of a series of about 17 specific elements that include titles such as “The Call to Adventure,” “The Road of Trials,” “The Ultimate Boon,” and so on. In many ways, I really agree with Campbell’s theory because many of our most popular stories from yesteryear and today truly do fit this format. Example range from classics such as The Illiad and The Odyssey to modern day blockbusters like Star WarsThe Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.

As is often the case, the elements of the monomyth appear to get a little mixed up and switched around in Princess Mononoke, and from the little that I know about the story, the character of San could be viewed as either a “helper,” a “test,” or a “temptress” to the protagonist who is known as Ashitaka.

If you would like to read more about the monomyth, there is kind of simplified version of it available at this site: