Gateways to the Thornish World – Part II

By Jack Wolf

Awhile ago I posted an entry here entitled Gateways to the Thornish World. In that post I noted that I would follow up on the ideas discussed there so that those who were interested might have access to more information.

Well, as promised, here it is.

What exactly is a Thornish Fellow then?

As I touched on in the last article of this mini-series of posts, a Fellow is an avenue of potential entry into the Thornish tradition which does not require direct, face-to-face instruction from a Thornish Master or Thornish Elder. The category of the Thornish Fellow is based upon self-directed learning and self-initiation into this area of affiliation. The way of the Fellow was created to accommodate the desire of those seriously interested in walking a Thornish path but who for whatever reasons are unable to present themselves for in-person teaching. The way of the Thornish Fellow is a relatively new category of learning in the tradition, but it is no less valid than any other entry point.

Basically put, the Thornish Fellow is a pagan person who has become deeply interested in the Thornish tradition through reading books and having access to other information about Thornish culture.  Becoming a Thornish Fellow is the result of  such a person having consciously and with all seriousness decided that the Thornish path is the way for them, and  then performing a two specific rituals.

So what are these two rituals?

The first is an old tradition within the Thornish way and it is called a Hollowing. The second is called the Declaration which is a form of oath-taking.

The term Hollowing refers to large lightning struck or otherwise fire-killed trees that have fallen over in the forest. These fallen giants later give a foothold to new life as smaller plants grow from them, new trees grow and the black earth is nourished. Like these hollowed-out trees the Thornish ritual named after them requires that one meditate upon their place in the world and allow themselves to open up to the reality of their existence. The purpose of this ritual is to allow for an understanding of where one sits in the world and what one might do to create in one’s heart a more fertile environment for a regrowth/recreation of elements of the self. The Hollowing ritual is something that many people find emotionally challenging and uplifting at the same time. It is not as easy as it sounds and even Thornish initiates avail themselves of it from time to time in order to re-center themselves on the path.

The Hollowing at its most basic *

To perform the Hollowing ritual a person will look for a green space where they can spend time in peace, in solitude, with little chance of being observed or interrupted.  For the purposes of this ritual the parameters are not overly strict. While a wilderness location would be ideal even the solitude of a park or a backyard garden, for instance, may be used.

The person performing the ritual will then find a place where they can sit comfortably and there they will begin the process of light meditation. Any simple method that calms and centers the mind will do so long as this method is not distracting.

When a person is suitably centered the next step is to begin looking at one’s place in the world. Questions like; “Where do I belong?”, “What have I done with my life thus far?” and “Have I served the sacred balance of the world in my life?”  are excellent questions to ponder. In these things it is very important to see oneself in terms of what we have done that serves the balance – both within ourselves and in the context of the greater world.

The Hollowing ritual is an experience in openness and humility – not one of ego. It is about connecting within to the self and to the sacred Earth we call home. It is about making a connection with the spirit of the land – with the great essence of the world herself. It is like calling your own mother on the telephone after a long absence and telling her how much you love her. It is about apologizing for past wrongs and imbalances and proposing hale changes which will re-create a new and better person.

As I have said before; this may seem like a relatively straightforward process but it would be unwise not to take it very seriously. Done properly this ritual can literally open the floodgates of emotion and reveal powerful insights to the person performing it. It goes without saying – but I will say it anyway – it is advised that persons suffering from medical or mental health issues would seek counsel with their physician before attempting anything like this.

How long a person chooses to sit out in the green space re-connecting like this is a matter of personal choice, but for the sake of approaching this with sincerity and humility the ritual should take an hour at the very least. There have been instances in the tradition where the Hollowing has been held anywhere from an hour to the entirety of a day. Individual preference and experience is the key to this aspect of the thing.

Following a successful Hollowing one will very likely feel somewhat tired. This is not surprising considering the emotional release and the re-connecting with the green divine that often occurs. In such cases it is suggested that the person having performed the ritual return home or to a suitable place of comfort, see to their physical needs and ponder the truths which have been revealed to them.

The Declaration:

The Declaration is something which is performed by a person who has decided to dedicate themselves to the Thornish way and who has spent considerable time pondering the consequences of that choice. Following these things, said person has decided to declare themselves as a Thornish person. The most basic declaration may be performed in private or in the presence of trusted friends or family. It may also be kept to oneself if that is preferred.  The declaration does not have to be an elaborate affair. In fact it is in keeping with Thornish tradition that it be kept simple.

A silent, secluded place free of distraction and observers (if the Declaration is to be kept private – most are) is a good place to hold the Declaration.

An example of a simple Declaration can be found in the following:

“I have decided to change my path, to walk in a different way.

I have decided to further awaken myself and work towards becoming a true

Warrior of the Earth; a Steward of the land.

I declare myself to be Thornish and hope I am worthy of the role.”

As you can see the actual words can be quite simple and to the point. The words can be created by the individual. What matters is that the dedication to walking the Thornish path and a sense of sincerity in one’s words.

So what comes after this?

Well if one has declared themselves to be Thornish the next step is to continue learning the Thornish ways and live life as a Thornish person. We provide a lot of information in our books and soon in other areas of media so we hope that this kind of thing will be helpful to those aspiring Thornish green-ones.

Grow closer to the Earth and to the many multitudes of spirit and material beings with which we share the world. Help the planet; work toward the clean-up, care and preservation of the green spaces and other wild locations. Offer your help and support to others you may find like yourself and join forces in helping the Earth. Live by example; be a paragon of wisdom and balance. Cultivate contacts among other interested persons and teach them what you have learned.

…and most certainly make contact with us to let us know what you have accomplished! With each new, dedicated observer of the Thornish ways we grow stronger. With each new Fellow our goals of helping the world grow yet again.

For those who truly desire to walk in the way of the Thornwood, such a path may just start here.

Best regards

– Jack

*   More detail on this ritual can be found in various Thornish publications such as Tales from the Red Moon Lodge, A Voice from the Thornwood, Blood and Stone or The Thornish Path


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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