Going Native

By Jack Wolf

It happens almost every time I find myself in the bush – in the real bush that is: The edges of deep forest and mountainside…with trails, rivers and passes that lead off…somewhere.  What happens is that there is a part of me that emerges and simply wants to take off into that green, never again returning (or only extremely rarely returning) to the haunts of so-called civilized men.

Sometimes this urge is very simple and relatively subdued: It pops up and says something like; “Gee wouldn’t it be nice if we could just keep following this trail and see where it lead, then just build a cabin and live?”

At other times it is strong and compelling. Its message is more like; “We have endured the lands-of-the-herd long enough, brother. Let’s be rid of the stink placed upon all who dwell here and go…NOW.”

And much of the time my ‘head for the hills’ urge is somewhere in between those polarities.

I have met others who think like this too. It seems, at least to me, that this number of people with similar escape urges is growing.

This time of year seems to have a particular propensity for the stronger of the urges to come upon me as well. I am not sure why this is considering that at my latitude here in North America winter is barely over and access to the deep backcountry can be limited. I think perhaps it has to do with the aftershock to the psyche which is always brought upon by exposure to the hedonistic decadence that occurs near the end of December.

“Too many celebrations followed blindly are the mark of a decadent and decaying society.” Wrote an early contributor to the Thornish culture, Augustus Schmidt.

I tend to agree with that statement and thus consider that to be yet another possibility as to why there are times when the escape urge is stronger.

To leave the borders of a decadent and decaying society behind and embrace the possibility of a new life in a clean place somewhere…

There are many tales as well, of the explorer or traveler who has become involved with an alien society only to eventually become so attracted by it that he ‘goes native’; he abandons much or all of his former social identity in favor of embracing the new one.

I sometimes think about that even when I am alone in the wild place, because there are many tribes and indigenous cultures in the deep green that are not necessarily human in nature or origin. I think about the many races of spirit people; wights and other dwellers of the Middle World and the spaces-in-between that bring them partway into the world that most humans are capable of perceiving. To me it is equally possible to ‘go native’ in such an instance, should the folk of these other realms offer suitable enticement.

I remember once speaking to an old friend of my Uncle; a lifelong trapper who seldom ventured out of the deep northern woods. I naively asked him if he ever became lonely and he smiled at me and said: “How could a feller get lonely in the deep woods? They are just full of people – though those people are not necessarily humans.”

Those of us who walk the Thornish Way perceive the world somewhat differently than most humans do: We see much where others might see little; we seek the deeper places and are open to contact and communication with folk who dwell there. We often have difficulty in understanding the logic (or lack thereof) that drives modern day society, but we have very little difficulty in perceiving better ways through the balance of nature’s laws.

In today’s world however, walking the old ways is not as easy in practice as it might be in mind or principle: There are these days, a great deal of mechanisms in place to prevent free thinking folk from realizing their dreams of natural, sustainable, spiritual lives. The reason for these mechanisms is quite simple: The powers that be have little interest in an independent, free thinking labor pool. They want to keep people in general, where they are: Living shallow little lives and believing that the existence they have is a good one – and believing themselves to be free when the reality is quite the opposite.

Thornish folk and indeed most Pagan people don’t accept such mental prisons: they are awake – no longer trapped in the matrix as it were.

Being awake is both difficult and painful…

Escaping the man-prison is not without its challenges either.

And it is difficult to live in a world where the planet around us is being killed a little bit more every day by the decree of a relative few demented people and supported in this by a population that is largely of the slave-mind. It is difficult to play along in this thing that a Thornish Elder called the Charade; to pretend that we are a drone in a hive rather than a fox in the hedgerow between worlds…

And for some of us this difficulty; this pain is ample reason for them to want to simply run away.

For others, people like me; it is a bit more complex than that: I see the deeper places as locales where much more growth and learning can be achieved than might be attained in the shadows of the city. I see the spirit-places as areas where we can grow in power so that we might be more efficient implements of the Elder Kin – only so much of this kind of spiritual growth can be achieved in places where the very ground has been rendered sterile and covered in concrete…

I also see the deeper glades as being fertile land where the seeds of a much stronger pagan people might be planted; where folk born much closer to the truths of the Black Root; the First Knowledge than I ever was might one day have a chance to truly blossom.

And thus, for such reasons and many more, the urges to simply walk away grow with each passing season.

Yet still I resist.

I consider myself fortunate to live in a land which still has so much wilderness abounding. I consider myself lucky that I was born in a time when the lands have not all been consumed by a seething overbred and all-consuming herd. There is still time for us to prevent that black and loathsome future from descending; to help instead to help a New Springtime come to pass… but it will take a great effort by a relative few to see this dream of springtime grow.

And for that there are people who must yet remain in the lands of concrete and steel; in the jungles of the Hollowmen; the places of the herd. Such people remain to help others awaken, to teach and if necessary to fight for what is right.

And so I, like a good number of my kind, will remain in these places and learn what I can, do what I can and try to foster the seeds of that new sunrise…

…for now…until the pain of playing in the charade becomes too much…and I disappear into the green.

Until I truly go native – in the most elemental meaning of the word.


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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