From the Old Lodges…

By Jack Wolf

 

At the base of the Thornwood there are deep roots…

Long ago there was a gathering of men in deep forest lands…in the land that once was known by many names by the many tribal people that lived upon it in balance, yet now is called North America.

Of this gathering: They were hunters and Warriors, sages and holy men. They came together because they had a common desire: They sought to honor the Old Ways  and protect the Lore of those Old Ways from the disease of so-called progressive society: The disease of colonialism.

To keep it safe from the seething black mass of destruction known to them as the LIE.  They wanted to preserve their traditions so that those who came after them would never forget the Ancient Elder Kin and Spirits of the land; that the old customs; the old heroes would not be forgotten.

This society of men was unique. As far as anyone knew the forging of a circle of this kind had never been attempted before. A gathering of such iron had never before been forged in the green depths of my northern homeland. But indeed it was forged and forged well. The Lodge-Fires were lit and they burned long into the night.

This gathering of the wise and the strong forged two veins of Earth-Fire together as one: It took men whose ancestors had walked this land since the beginning and brought them to stand with their brothers from across the sea. Where many of their kind fought and did not embrace in tradition, these men did embrace one another in tradition. And from each other they learned a great many things. They fought together, they sang together, and they told the old stories: They shared, over the span of many years, their very tribal essence with one another.

And there in the circle of the ancient trees, shadowed by even more venerable mountains, men became as brothers.  They were men of the spear and the bow; of the sword and the dagger. Beneath the watchful eyes of the Raven Spirit and the Wolf Winds they forged a weapon greater together than they ever could have made apart. Ancient Gods and spirits met and danced in the realization of their common source in deep-time. In time these hale brothers brought sisters-of-the-spear into their circle and realized a great increase in power and sacred balance…

Over years; over decades, and even longer, the tradition persisted. It was secret; it was the sacred bond between the folk of the storm and the song of the night. The people of this sacred tradition never broke their oaths to the Lodge; they never forswore their promise to their brothers and sisters, and while the black tide of the LIE crept ever further upon the land, despoiling all it touched with its essence of filth, these hale ones did not relent. They maintained their link to the sacred places; to the circle of steel that had fused their hearts with those of their hearth-kin and with the Gods themselves.

More time passed. Men aged and drifted away to the lands of their ancestors. The LIE crept ever forward, destroying the land and indeed scarring the very landscape of men’s dreams. Yet, the circle of steel did not die: Like smoke from a lightning struck tree it drifted silently, deliberately deeper into the green; further away from the carnage of the heart and of the land; further back, toward the promise of our creators.

The LIE is nefarious and within its blackened core there pulses a venom-edged intellect. It knew of the men of the Lodges even if its semi- mindless herd-folk did not. In its jealousy, fed by the oily flames of commandment from its malevolent source, it could not stand the thought of such might and Frith upon it’s land: Land it had stolen, poisoned and ravaged. It was relentless in its quest to rid the land of all that was whole and hale and in its malevolence it sought the men; sought to destroy them or worse; make them into a twisted reflection of itself.

The Tradition survived, yet it grew smaller. Folk of whole and hale nature became more and more rare as even many of the best were sucked into the maw of the LIE. The landscape changed; the culture of humankind changed. Wars came and took even more potential brothers away to meet their ends on foreign fields; fodder for the enrichment of the Cabal, the primary servant to the LIE.

Yet despite this the Tradition did not die. It became keener, wiser, stronger and while in its essence it drifted deeper into the wild glades it kept watchers on the edge of the forest of the world; ever seeking those who might one day take up the spear in defense of the Old Ways.

The Tradition I speak of has its roots in deep time. From all I have been told it has been in the world for many more years than I have lived; for many more years than my teacher had lived; or his grandfather as well. The Tradition I speak of was formed by men who wished to protect and continue the Lore of the Old Ones and of the Old Ways, yet it did not do this so as to exist simply as an archive of old songs and wild tales. It was forged that it might be a spearhead from the past to be thrust violently and deliberately into the future. It was created as a sacred tool; even a weapon, that the hale people of THIS time could have the help of seekers of times past.

In the days when this Tradition was formed; even then, the sages of the Lodge knew that the tide of the LIE would turn; that the forces of nature would drive the sickness from our shores; that the darkness would abate. It was known even then that such a time would come and when it did there would be men who would emerge to take back what had been stolen – that they would rebuild what had been destroyed; that they would not let our Ways be forgotten.

Over time the Tradition became rather small. It kept its secrets yet it eroded with time. It was, for many years, difficult to thrive beneath the ever watchful eye of the LIE. Yet as always there have been men and now women – of Vision who would not let the dream die.

My teacher was one such man. He was an initiate of that society; that Tradition of the deep green places. He was a holder of that spear. He told me many tales of that gathering. He taught me that when we teach in a good way the power of our knowledge flows forward in time…it heals and grows.  When our knowledge flows forward in time those who come after us are empowered.

The Old Lodges then, are not really gone: they have not faded into the past. Instead they are at the strong core of the tree which grows yet… in the hearts of the clans; of the new Lodges… ever persistent  in the Thornwood.

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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.
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