The Custom of the Thornish Lore-Stone

By Jack Wolf

The Thornish Lore-Stone is one of the most common outward symbols of a Thornish person. In its most basic form the Lore-Stone is a holed pendant which is hung on a thong or chain around one’s neck.

The Lore-Stone comes to Thornish tradition from three roots. One of these is the idea held by some Native American cultures, that finding a river stone with a natural hole in it is lucky. Another comes to us from the Northern European traditions where these kinds of stones were also known as fortune-stones, hag-stones or even Odin-stones. Again it was believed that finding such a stone and having it on one’s person could bring luck. In the Thornish tradition there is a third avenue of inspiration and it is found in a Thornish story from the old days. In the story a young warrior was taught a valuable lesson about Frith and honor by an Elder spirit known as a Hearthmother. As the tale goes, the venerable female spirit gifted the young warrior with a sacred holed stone as a gift and a memento of her visit.

Thus all three of these root-ideas have led to the Thornish custom of the Lore-Stone. Like other traditional folk, Thornish people consider naturally holed-stones to be lucky and treasured things to find. However in Thornish custom it is not an absolute requirement that a Lore-Stone be found in a naturally occurring state – this for purely practical reasons.  In fact the only stipulation is that the stone be of a certain size (not too large not overly small) and be either a found stone or a holed-ring created out of some natural material. Synthetic materials are not acceptable in the case of this Thornish custom but there are no specifics saying that the Lore-Stone cannot be created from a naturally occurring material such as marble, jade or soapstone for example. Indeed there have been two interesting instances in the Thornish tradition in which one Lore-Stone was carved out of green jade and another was created by hand from naturally sourced ceramic clay. My own Lore-Stone is carved from black pipestone.

A Lore-Stone may be plain or adorned as the creator feels appropriate, although in keeping with the Thornish way of thinking most stones are quite plain in appearance.

A Lore-Stone should be created by the person desiring to walk the Thornish path – if it is not a naturally occurring river stone. However there have been cases in the past where people have had their stone carved or created for them. The idea here though, is that since one wishes to establish a close physical and spiritual connection with their stone it is best to have a part in its creation and dedication.

The Lore-Stone represents several things to the Thornish person. It is seen as a kind of protective amulet as well as a lucky charm. Lore-Stones are also thought of as receptacles in which one can store portions of one’s life-force-energy (also known as Chi, Ki, Prana and in the Thornish tradition, Önd or Qaa) and as such can be used as healing talismans. Finally it is thought that due to the nature of such things, a stone with the right connection to the world of spirit might be used as a kind of spy-hole or key-hole through which one might have a glimpse of certain spirit people. Naturally the kinds of stones found already holed by nature will probably be better suited for this last application.

When a person establishes a good connection with their Lore-Stone they will find it to be a valuable ally and source of inspiration in their lives. Indeed Thornish people are seldom found without their Lore-Stone and wear them most of the time – especially during sacred acts and other rituals.

The origin of the name

The term Lore-Stone comes to us through the idea that each of these stones becomes something highly personal and connected to the spirit of each Thornish person who holds one. Lore-Stones are viewed by Thornish people as being alive themselves; as a form of sentient helper that has formed as the result of sharing the person’s life energy and experiences. As such it is believed that a tiny portion of the Thornish person is resident in their individual Lore-Stones and may remain here in the world even after the Thornsman or Thornswoman passes on. As such it is thought that their Lore-Stone becomes a piece of the tapestry of tradition which Thornish people share in common; part of Thornish lore as it were.  Indeed it is customary for the Lore-Stones of departed Thornish folk to be held in trust by their Thornish kin, and kept in a place of honor in a home or hall. It is considered to become the ward of one’s Thornish family after one passes to the world of spirit.

Who holds a Thornish Lore-Stone?

This can happen in two different ways. The first and most traditional way is when a person becomes accepted as a student by a Thornish master or Elder. Usually then one of the first exercises is for the new student (or Learner) to be tasked with finding a suitable Lore-Stone or in crafting one which is acceptable. Once this is done the student is instructed in the way of the Hollowing ritual, which is a very simple form of sitting-out in meditation and self-evaluation. Once this has been completed to the satisfaction of the teacher the student may don the Lore-Stone.

The second way is the process by which a person declares themselves a Thornish Fellow. I have added a number of entries in this blog entitled Gateways to the Thornish World and the first two of these deal with the Thornish Fellow.

In the case of a Thornish Fellow the process of creating or acquiring a Lore-Stone is very similar to the one I have just discussed, only in this case the person who has determined to become Thornish themselves decides on the time to go out and get a Lore Stone… since there is no Master to help with this. Once the Lore-Stone is acquired or created the Fellow-to-be may perform the Hollowing ritual, after which they recite a short declaration. Fellows hold to the custom of the Lore-Stone in the same way as any other Thornish people do.

Though in the Thornish context the custom of the Lore-Stone is not overly ancient (some mere fifty years or so), it is based on much older ideas of talismanic connectivity and tribal symbolism. No doubt there are a number of other traditions which hold similar attachments to such ideas and customs… and it is easy to see why: They hold a deep spiritual connection to the energy of the world and the multitudinous beings which dwell here.

Though it is but one of several special markers of a Thornish person it is often held as one of the most important, simply because it was the milestone which marks where the individual crossed the line from their former world… to the Thornish one.


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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