When someone befriends an animal, s/he obtains the ability to unite their souls together and take on the form of that animal as well as its abilities. S/he also gain some properties of that animal even when they are no keener t transformed, such as resistence to cold or senses. If s/he really wants to s/he can half transforms taking on characteristics of the animal and their normal form
The size and number of knots in hair, tied around neck, or hanging from belt could signify family, importance, worship, guild affiliations. Being able to translate the meaning of the size and placement of knots can give you a a large understanding of who somebody is.
May be used in a more barbaric society. Where in cities peoples clothes and crests show who they are, barbarians have no need for this so use knots.