The Six Shields – A Thornish Teaching

Intro by Jack Wolf

Excerpt from the book:  A Voice from the Thornwood -by Shaara Corva

I’d like to share briefly, an excerpt from a book originally written by a tribal sister of mine. Carolyn came to the Thornish tradition years before I did and I must say that I did not have the honor of knowing her as well as I might have liked to. One of the problems that we encounter when we are younger is that we live in the illusion that we have all the time in the world. Not so; at least in these material bodies we inhabit. As such the time I got to spend with this amazing woman was limited but still highly enlightening.

Anyway what I did get to know about Carolyn, whose tribal name was Corva, was that she was a bright, intelligent and wise woman who was deeply connected to the Earth and just as seriously dedicated to the Old Ways. She truly embodied what it was (and still is) not only to be Thornish, but also to be a person of the Earth and of the Deep Green Spiritual Reawakening that is bringing hope to a world long drenched in lies and poisons. Corva was what we Thornish folk call a Farer; that is, a person dedicated to walking the deeper paths of spirit, healing and oracular work. She was highly gifted in this regard and did us all very proud.

Corva passed on to the ancestors some time ago but she left us a legacy: A good sized collection of her journals and other notes. She had been working on writing a book about her experiences for some time and unfortunately never finished it before her body died. To honor her, my Lady and I have spent the last year putting this book together and editing it into a finished piece. We hope to have the entire volume available through the Thornwood Press site by the end of the summer.

What follows is a little sample of Carolyn’s work in action. Here she is describing a very foundational subject in Thornish thought known to us as the Six Shields. The Six Shields is a kind of mnemonic way of describing six things that all Thornish people should know in order to more fully (and efficiently) survive and thrive in the green places.

I hope you enjoy this little taste.

– Jack


Ari then explained to me the nature of each of the Six Shields.

The First Shield was the self. It was concerned with becoming friends and allies with oneself. Ari explained that most people in the modern times often had an uneasy alliance or sometimes even hatred held within each individual. Until a person can come to grips with and learn to trust oneself there can be little progress.

The Second Shield was the craft of shelter. Ari taught me that when a person is out in the wild it is always good to have shelter. This shelter can not only protect a person against the elements but it can also provide a powerful psychological and spiritual tool with which a person can survive even the harshest conditions.

The Third Shield is concerned with Fire. Ari taught that the fire-people are very much alive and conscious and they have long had a generally friendly relationship with human beings. The teachings of the Third Shield were centered around fire and the making and maintenance of fires.

The Fourth Shield was concerned with water. Water is deeply sacred and human beings are designed so that they require water to survive. In a situation out in the wild, Ari taught, it is important to have access to clean water.

The Fifth Shield is the teaching of food gathering in the wild. As Ari spoke about this Shield I could tell that it was something especially sacred to him. He told me of how he had, as a boy, dedicated himself to the teachings of Ullr and how that god as well as many other helpful spirit people had shown him many powerful things over the years. He emphasized several times during this initial talk how deeply sacred the acquisition of food was and how it was so very important for Thornish people to never, ever take their food for granted.

“Every single thing we put into our bodies dies so that we can carry on,” he said, quite emotionally. “Eating is a holy act because you are being trusted to carry the life-energy of those who died so you can live. You are carrying them with you and a piece of everything you will ever consume stays with you in spirit.”

Finally, Ari spoke of the Sixth Shield, which was centered on the aspects of spirit when one is out in the wild. Without proper respect for the world of spirit, he said, there can be no true experience and learning.

“We will go out into the green and teach you and test you and in the end we will see whether you are more comfortable with a spear or a stang in your hands,” Ari said.



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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