I remember in the original “Werewolf the Apocalypse” Player’s Guide that they said the special name that Wendigo give their theurges is “shaman,” which struck me as yet another example of how ridiculously cliched and culturally illogical the game often got. After all, “shaman” isn’t a First Nations term — it’s a Siberian term. Why would a First Nations werewolf tribe adapt that as their own word? In fact, if there was a tribe that would place get great importance on the word shaman, it would be the Silver Fangs, the Russian tribe. The most iconic shamanic cultures are those of northern Asia and north-eastern Europe: the Sami, Finns, Russians, Siberians, Mongolians. In fact, it would make a lot of tense for the ruling tribe of a group of shape-shifting spirit-warriors to be the Russian tribe, because they would consider themselves the First Shamans: “the Earth-Mother talked to us in the ice and the cold before she ever talked to you.”
So anyway, here are some thoughts on a reinterpretation of the Silver Fangs as a tribe dedicated around northern Asian shamanism, who consider themselves to be the great shamans of the Garou Nation.
The Silver Fangs claim they were the first – the first wolves that learned how to wear the skins of men, the first to invoke the powers of the spirits, the first to speak with the Earth-Mother. It was the Mother’s messenger, the Eagle, who appeared to the first shaman, and showed him how to travel up the World Tree to the bosom of the Mother, and how to travel down with the secrets to teach the others. And the place where she kissed him became silver, as a sign of her favour.
The Silver Fangs trace their lineages through the people of Russia, Siberia, and other parts of northern Europe and Asia: the Slavs, Sami, Finns, Turkics, Evenks, Mongols, and more (they take great pride in Genghis Khan). They are the people of the Ice, the Reindeer, the Horse, and the Steppes, but most importantly they are the people of the Eagle and the Falcon, for those were the heralds of the Earth-Mother and those are the forms that the Silver Fang shamans take when they fly into the Umbra.
Silver Fangs call their theurges “shamans” and often get quite scornful when other tribes apply that term to themselves. After all, it is a Russian term, from the Evenki, and the first shaman (or so they claim) was a Silver Fang. All others are pretenders.
Though shamans are rarely alphas, sept leaders, etc., this is mainly because most Silver Fangs feel the shamans have better things to do than lead. After all, they must keep their minds on the Goddess and the words she whispers in their ears. However, when a shaman speaks, all Silver Fangs listen. A Silver Fang chief would be foolish in the extreme if he ignored the wishes of his shaman.
The importance of the Silver Fang shamans has resulted in a lot of friction between them and other tribes. These shamans believe that no one speaks for Gaia more than they do, and the other tribes frequently take offence to that. In particular, the Shadow Lords and Glasswalkers are scornful that the so-called leaders of the Garou are guided by starry-eyed half-crazed mystics, the more conservative Get of Fenris are offended by this devotion to male seers (when the Get traditionally believe that theurges should be female), and the Uktena are insulted that the Silver Fang claim that their shamanic wisdom is superior to all others. Many Silver Fangs are offended in turn that many Garou of Siberian and Mongolian descent are now part of the Uktena tribe instead of the Silver Fangs. They accuse the Uktena from “robbing” from their people, not recognizing the irony in such an accusation.
Their main totem is Eagle, with Falcon as a secondary one. These birds are commonly featured on Silver Fang iconography, and falconry has always been an important part of their culture. They use birds of prey for hunting, combat, to deliver messages, and simply to stand there as symbols of nobility (no Silver Fang would be so profane as to call an eagle a “pet”) Indeed, Silver Fang leaders still frequently have a trained eagle perched on their wrist or the back of their throne. Many believe the totem is there to represent their nobility and warlike spirit, and indeed that’s part of it, but it is even more significant to their shamans than to their chiefs. The eagle represents the shaman’s ability to fly through the Umbra, into the presence of Gaia, and also Gaia’s ability to send her herald to the shaman and whisper in his ear while he sleeps. Warfare, nobility, breeding, and shamanic wisdom – the Eagle embodies all that the Silver Fangs value.
Lineage is incredibly important to the Fangs. After all, their great claim for rulership of the Garou is being descended from the First Shaman. Thus, they care very strongly about their lineages, both their actual bloodlines and the previous people they replace. For example, when a shaman dies, his disciple will frequently make a necklace from his bones to wear in his honour, and to show that the previous shaman lives on in him.
Many other Garou claim that this obsession with lineage is why so many Silver Fangs seem to be suffer from madness. The Silver Fangs loudly dispute this, instead claiming that the reason for the madness is because their ancestor was kissed by the Goddess. The force of her presence shaking up their perception of the universe is a sign of her blessing. Indeed, often the insane Silver Fangs are chosen to be shamans, something else that the Shadow Lords and Glasswalkers take great offence to.