Why Siberia?

A reader of “Alpha’s Mate” asked me recently why you placed your Lycanthropes in Siberia. The answer to that journey of discovery starts with the question. “Where in the world could you hide a large group of people who turn into wolves?”

So, I looked at a map and thought of several places:

China might work. But even though I love Jackie Chan movies, I couldn’t see him turning into a wolf. A tiger maybe or a dragon, but not a wolf.

I hesitated to put them into the United States because up until recently wolves were an endangered species in most states. So a group as large as I needed would stick out like a sore thumb and couldn’t possibly stay hidden. I hoped to give my world a sense of possibility, even in its paranormal structure.

Then I looked at Russia. Siberia is a huge part of the continent and is mostly forest and streams. The weather can be brutal, so having a warm fur coat would come in handy. Wolves are known for being a part of the eco-system.

Hhmm. Next step, let’s look at the country’s history.

Siberia was originally settled by different ethnic nomadic tribes and is regarded as the locus classicus of shamanism. It is inhabited by a variety of ethnic groups, many of whom observe shamanistic practices even in modern times. Many classical ethnographic sources of “shamanism” were recorded among Siberian peoples.

I liked this idea. My world of shifters would be very connected to the Earth, so shamanism would make sense for their belief system. We move on:

In the Far East is the Sakha (Yukutia) Republic. This is a large area almost the size of India and has a population of less than one million inhabitants.

That means a big place with few people. Okay, this sounds like a possible place to hide a group of wolf shifters. Let’s look on:

The Yakut or Sakha language belongs to the Northern branch of the Turkic family of languages. There are about 444,000 ethnic Yakuts (Russian census, 2002) mainly in the Republic of Sakha.

Now the find, which made it imperative to place my shapeshifters here in Sakha, Siberia.

The Wolf (Böri) symbolizes honor and is also considered the mother of most Turkic peoples. Asena (Ashina Tuwu) is the wolf mother of Bumen, the first Khan of the Göktürks.

The legend runs as follows. After a battle, only an injured young boy survives. A she-wolf finds the injured child and nurses him back to health. He subsequently impregnates the wolf which then gives birth to ten half-wolf, half-human boys. One of these, Ashina, becomes their leader and founds the Ashina clan that ruled the Göktürks and other Turkic nomadic empires.

What a great connection to my lycanthrope world! A mythology that has a she-wolf as a mother to ten half-wolf, half-human boys. It wasn’t hard to think they could shift between forms. And so the Lycanthropes of Siberia are born. Welcome to my world! Thank you for joining me on this journey of discovery and your interest into why I placed my Lycanthropes in Siberia.