Unlearning the Lie – Part 2

By Jack Wolf

The teacher and his student were going off on a long hike though the woods. They had been planning to walk into an area which contained a sacred hot-spring and had been readying their gear since earlier that morning.

At last, as they prepared to load their packs into the truck the teacher gestured to the corner by the door. He asked the student which implement he would take on this journey: The two meter long iron tipped Faring spear or a white colored staff of silver birch, of equal length, leaning next to it. The birch staff had been coated with a light waterproof finish and it stood out quite brightly in contrast to the darker hue of the spear-shaft.

The student at first was unsure of what his teacher was asking of him and so he chuckled, thinking this was a joke.

The teacher did not laugh but instead stood where he was in the room, looking at his student seriously and waiting for an answer.

Finally, still not entirely understanding the question he spoke: “I suppose the spear would be my choice.” He ventured. “Better to have a spear on the road.” He added, referring to an old saying he knew.

“Are you sure?” Asked the teacher, still wearing the serious expression.

“Why do you ask?” queried the student after a somewhat uncomfortable silence.

“Well, “said the teacher, “I want to know if you would take the spear simply because it is a spear or if there is some other reason you would take it.”

“It is sturdy and of a good length.” Said the student. “I have handled it before so I know it would be a good tool to have in a scrape – assuming we needed such a thing.”

“Okay.” Replied the teacher, still not having changed his expression. “Why not the birch staff? It too is strong and study.”

“I don’t like the color if you must know.” The student said.

“Indeed?” Asked the teacher. “Or is it perhaps that the staff reminds us of the walking stick of the blind?”

The student paused for a moment. He looked at the birch staff again and back at the teacher. “I hadn’t really considered that.” He admitted.

“Perhaps you should.” Said the teacher. “Because indeed most of us do go through the world much like blind people. Most cannot truly see and it scares them even though they choose not to do anything more about it. Given the choice many would poke about in the dark with a sharp instrument rather than take a stout helper such as the birch stave to help them along.”

“What you are teaching me helps me to become a little less blind every day.” The student replied.

The teacher grunted an affirmation and walked past the student to the door. At the opening he tossed the birch stave to the student.

“I will let you know when you are ready for the spear.” He said, grinning.


Many of us do indeed go through life in a fashion which makes us seem blind. We struggle through our days and for the most part do what is expected of us in an almost machine-like fashion. Every day millions upon millions of human beings awaken at a predetermined time, feed and clean themselves then go off to work for some faceless entity for the bulk of their working day. Then they return home, eat and usually indulge in some form of media indoctrination such as television, video games or social media.

Indeed they are for the most part indoctrinated; they are modern day serfs and most of them welcome this as some kind of high level of living.

Indoctrination. Think about it: It is going on every day.

Those who have awakened realize that there is something woefully wrong with the lifestyle described above; they see through the façade of what modern society portrays as the responsible, productive life and understand that what is advertised as proper behavior is quite the opposite of hale living.

Yet we who are awakened are small and number – and though our numbers grow we still represent but a tiny fraction of the world’s population. Perhaps this is the way it is supposed to be: Perhaps it will always be thus – that a small portion of humanity is required to maintain the balance while the rest mill away in ignorant servitude.

So what is to be done with our knowledge and our small numbers?

We need to advance ourselves and then, when we are suitably prepared (best that we not take too long doing this however) we should go out and teach others.

Does this mean to go out and preach ?

Certainly not. In the way of the Thornwood and indeed the way of many other awakened groups it is seen that the way of organized religion was an aberrant path for humanity to take; a very dangerous detour of the spirit that has almost cost the lives of every living being on Earth. To preach is to attempt to indoctrinate and it is seen as a violation of the First Law; the primordially ancient law of the cosmos.

Instead we should try to live by example – for examples are the best modality of teaching.

Secondly we should educate those who are interested in hearing what we might have to say. There need be nothing formal about this process and indeed when those who are already awakening see the example of a hale life-path before them, many will ask questions. It is then that the awakened person perceives the duty to teach.

Thornish people don’t preach; they blaze one particular kind of trail in a good way. Others who might be interested may also be taught to walk in that way if they so wish.

The late Master Raven, who was among the greatest of the Thornsmen, once said that in order to rekindle oneself it was important to embrace certain truths about the world. He said that the first one is this: There is only truly one law and that is the law of nature; however that might be manifested in any particular world.

Next, it is important that we understand that everything is in one way or another, alive and interconnected to everything else.

Thirdly, we humans were put here for a reason and that reason is to function as a part of nature – never as anything superior than that. We humans were made to be stewards of the world we live on, not conquerors or despoilers of the world.

Next was that we, as individuals are the peak product of all of the ancestors who went before us and that we are the representatives of many thousands of other individuals and many thousands – if not millions – of years. For now we have a responsibility to bring honor to our ancestral lines while we exist in this temporal world and then, we will take our places as ancestral spirits when the next generation comes along. We owe our existence not only to those who went before but also we owe a debt of legacy to those who will come after us.

Do we wish to honor our ancestors with slave-behavior and do we wish to pass subservience on to our descendants – or – do we wish to shift trails away from the lies so that our bloodlines and threads of destiny can once again be clean, silver streams glowing in the sun of reason?

Master Raven taught that the idea of ownership was a lie; that nothing in existence can truly ever be owned. He taught that the idea that one being can actually have total control over anything else was  complete and utter nonsense. This was not his idea originally but had been given to him by tribal elders of various different traditions. To think that a person can ‘own’ land or a river or a stream, or that one can ‘own’ another living being is a kind of thinking which at least, according to many tribal people, borders on the insane.

The concept of ownership is an utter lie. We are here on borrowed time at the best and what things or people which come into our lives are transitory at best.

And yet this lie is at the foundation of almost every problem on Earth. It is like a house built on shifting sand. People labor under the mistaken idea that life is about ‘stuff’ – that getting stuff will make ones life better. There are other kinds of people to whom having control or power is the important thing.

But for a great many human beings it is all about the stuff or about having control.

The stuff is transitory. At best we are only borrowing it…even our material bodies are only borrowed. The only thing we really have is some control over our own material forms and minds and the opportunity for experience which come into our paths. We have choices, certainly, but what we do with those choices determine what form our visit here to the Middle-World will take: Will we serve the sacred balance as we are meant to? Will we help our planet and aid our relations here in fixing what has broken? Will we try to re-establish harmony, or will we take an ignorant step backward and only add to the problems of the world?

We all have our hardwired destinies, each of us, but within those threads there are many avenues of choice left open to us…if we are willing to consider where we are going with each step.

If we can learn to pare down our material expectations in this world and stop wanting for more and more we will see that there is a very promising trail awaiting us. A trail which can lead us back to the original road that our ancestors were put on – the road to healing, to enlightenment and to re-connecting with our original purpose.

Right now many of us – among the awakening ones at least – are still taking our baby steps back to the full realization of what and who we are. We are squinting our newly opened eyes to the blinding glare of everything that has been done which now needs to be undone. We are preparing ourselves now, in these tumultuous times, to embark on a sacred journey which may just be the key to saving what we have left.

There is, I think, much promise in this new breed of awakening ones. I believe that the crossroads of our planet’s destiny will be decided based upon the actions of those who dare to seek and who dare to challenge the old lies – and those who will selflessly give…and who will willingly teach.

The movement of the new seekers on this deep green road has started slowly but indeed it gains momentum every day. Baby steps lead to walking and then running and then…who knows? Flying?

Perhaps, as I illustrated in the story at the beginning of this post, we should be satisfied with the staff of the seeker. As we are still somewhat blind we will need its support as we begin to wade out into the whirlpools of chaos and despair which cloud the trails before us.

Destiny will tell us when we are ready for the spear.


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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