The Path to the Thornwood

It seems like centuries ago now, that I found myself as a much younger man, descending from the dusk-cloaked mountains on the very cusp of winter. My journey had been long and hard over the previous days – indeed over the previous months – as I was still trying to come to grips with the loss of my beloved and revered grandfather.  My grandfather had only appeared in my life at a relatively late stage in his own; he was already a man of advanced years yet when I first became acquainted with him he had the spark of life of a man much younger.

But all things, even the brightest lights, eventually fade from the world. It is the way of things. A brother of mine once remarked that inevitable death was the universe’s way of keeping us all honest – nobody escaped the eventual transformative journey from one phase to the next – not even stars and galaxies. And so it was with my grandfather. At last, as he approached a century of life as a human being, the thing he referred to as his wolf-robe ; his body failed him, and he took the long journey back to be with his relations.

I was still quite young, barely into my twenties and I took it very hard. It had been a very tumultuous year to begin with and over the course of the year Dark Mother Death had visited my tribal circle on two separate occasions, taking with her two of those whose love and attention had changed my life for the better.  Little did I know that there would be one more to go before the year was out but at the time I had been preoccupied with the loss of my brother earlier in the year and more recently, my grandfather.

Reeling from the blow that destiny had delivered I had gone into the mountains to be alone. On the surface I told myself that it would be good to get away and contemplate the meaning of life in the stillness and green. I was only kidding myself and anyone who had asked of course.

The reality was that I had gone into the wild lands hoping that the Dark Lady would take me too: That I would meet my fate there in the snowy peaks and go to be with my kin on the other side.

But this was not to be. Although it was not what I had gone looking for I received a powerful visitation from the worlds-beyond and given very clear directives concerning the fact that it was not my time to walk upon the Dark Road. I was told that I still had much to learn and to do and that the teachings which I had received from my grandfather were not really over. Instead I was to  continue learning from others that my grandfather had known and trusted – and with them the flame of knowledge, understanding and power would grow.

First among these was a man named Ari; a powerful and wise man who had been my grandfather’s friend for a great many years. A person of many gifts, including to some extent, the way-of-knowing or, precognition, Ari had gleaned my intentions from the beginning of my trip to the mountains and had somehow also known of my directives to return.  As such it came as no great surprise, really, when even though I had told no one of the location of my sojourn to the mountains (foolish, I know), I found Ari waiting in his battered old pickup truck by the side of the road where I had once again emerged.

Ari did as he had promised my grandfather he would do. He took me under his wing, helped me return to emotional good health and then revealed to me a doorway that I had not suspected before: It was a doorway that opened up into a world of green magic – where dedicated Pagan warrior-stewards honed their skills on the trails of deep wilderness and sought to serve the world on the level of the deep-primal.  My grandfather’s friend thus became my friend and indeed my teacher and in the years which followed I became a part of that mystical, powerful world of wending green knights: A gathering of gifted, passionate and powerful folk which was called the Thornish tradition.

One of Ari’s fondest wishes was that the tradition which he had co-founded would continue on after him, just as it had been the wishes of the people who had instructed him. There have never been great numbers of Thornish people in the world and in the earliest days this was by design, but in later years it was determined that in order for the of Tradition to follow its purpose; the reawakening and quickening of the Earth-Stewards, then more people should be allowed to know of the potential that it represented.

In keeping with the wishes of those founders and especially in keeping with the wishes of my old friend and teacher, there have been those of us who have been writing about our tradition now for around twenty five years – roughly since the passing of Ari in 1990. However none of these works were ever released (at least to my knowledge) until about five years ago, when some small amounts of information was released into the world.

Now, in these troubled times, as it seems the world is spinning out of control and lines are more and more being drawn – between the world-killers  and the awakening ones, it has been my experience that there are people from all walks of life – including those from formerly obscure societies – who are coming forth and sharing what they know. More than ever before human beings are waking up and realizing what has been done to our sacred  world – and are determining to do what they can to assist in the rescue and repair of our green mother.

How could we, as Thornish people, do any less.

The awakening is now and more than ever, the time is right.



– Jack


About Jack Wolf

Canadian author Jack Wolf has been a practicing Pagan for over 30 years, walking a path that encompasses both his Northern European and Native American heritage. He counts the late Heathen Goði and writer E. Max Hyatt, Professor Mark Mirabello, Dakota tribal Chief William Hoff and American author Allan Cole among his mentors. An avid outdoorsman, Jack has spent a considerable portion of his life exploring the deep wilds of British Columbia, a vast province on Canada’s west coast. He brings a great deal of his wilderness experience to his spiritual path. Over the past 15 years Jack has studied and written about a number of northern pagan traditions, having published for the most part independently or in small journals, blogs or websites. His recent works for Mandrake of Oxford Have certainly opened up his writing to a larger audience. Jack is also the author of several other books, including Circle of Bones (2012), The Way of the Odin Brotherhood (2013), Blood and Stone (2014) co-author of Tales from the Red Moon Lodge (2014) and co-editor of A Voice from the Thornwood (winter 2014). Forthcoming works include The Thornish Path, Ullr’s Road and The Urban Tribalist, all of which are planned for a mid-2015 and early 2016 release respectively. Spiritually, Jack identifies himself generally as a Deep Tribalist and more specifically as Thornish. He is a member of a primal pagan tradition whose spiritual path involves questing for the First Knowledge – that held by our most ancient ancestors whose hearts and spirits were deeply connected to the land. The Thornish path is the way of the warrior-steward; a Deep Tribal tradition which Jack has practiced since the late 1980’s Jack holds a degree in anthropology from the world renowned University of British Columbia and has long held an avid interest in history, tribal peoples, spirituality and the reawakening of pagan peoples worldwide. He currently resides with his wife and co-author Cassandra Wolf and their daughter, in Squamish, British Columbia.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.