Primal Thoughts

Following the publication of the Way of the Odin Brotherhood a couple of years ago now, I discovered that there were unexpected effects to this event. Probably the most interesting of them was the fact that members of several other old traditions; orders which had been associated with my own tradition many years in the past, came forward to offer their best wishes on getting the word out – the word of the reawakening. There was no mistaking the authenticity of these folk; their words and references made it quite clear that I was not dealing with pretenders. How they managed to put two and two together and know me for who I was after all of these years is beyond me – but they have their ways I imagine.

To hear from these people was truly a treasure for they have helped me fill in quite a few gaps I had in my understandings of my own tradition. Indeed there have never been large numbers of us and there were times when, after an Elder passed with no written legacy, some of our ways went with them to the other worlds.

From among the contacts which were made was one that came as a considerable surprise to me: It came from a man with whom I had lost contact decades ago and whom I thought by now might have been deceased. It was a great joy to hear that he was still in the Middle World and had in fact, been living in Northern Europe for the past decade or so.

His name is Shale and he is one of the Thornish Masters with whom I had had the pleasure of training when I was in my twenties. He is also a very special kind of Thornsman – a Vardyr (pronounced ‘Var-Deer’) – which, as I have mentioned in my writings variously, are a form of wandering Thornish mystic. There have never been many Thornish people in the world since the Founding and indeed there are even fewer Vardyr. To be Vardyr means to swear powerful oaths; sever many community ties and give up much of what most people consider essential to a happy life: They give up the connections of family and usually forego deep relationships that lead to marriages and  social circles. Instead they find family in the deep places of nature, often regarding only other Thornish folk as their kin.

Even when I trained with him, Master Shale was only in my life sporadically and never for long stretches of time. He was strict in his manner of teaching, but also wise and fair. I remembered him well.

Thus when he contacted me I was very pleased to say the least. With this contact I saw the opportunity to fill in a great many blanks I may have had in my own education.

He did not disappoint me. He indeed was willing to speak with me on a goodly number of subjects and as I had hoped for he filled in those blanks – which were actually far fewer than I thought. He told me that it seemed to him that my training had been quite thorough – and yet he was pleased to add to what I already knew.

As a part of this he gifted me with the notes of a manuscript he had been writing. He had never considered himself to be much of a writer and as such he wanted to hand over what he had created to someone who he could trust to present it properly to the world. He told me that he had never dreamed that he would be able to find another Thornish person with writing talent to do this for him – and yet, the Way of the Odin Brotherhood had led him directly to me. Indeed, as he said to me, the Shaeda and the Elder Kin move in very mysterious patterns.

Shale’s manuscript was very intriguing. It chronicled a portion of what he had encountered in some of the darker places of the world and in particular a set of teachings he had received from a Naar’Qa; a kind of spirit-teacher, some years ago. He was quite specific about wanting it to be made available to the public. He told me that the time of the shadows was over for our tradition and he wanted those who were so destined, to be able to find our teachings.  Needless to say it was my honor to work on his manuscript and indeed Cassandra and I are in the midst of giving it what may be its final edit. We hope to make it available by Yule.

The text of Shale’s book which is entitled The Doctrine of the Black Wood by the way, is quite dark and visceral in nature. It is certainly not a light-hearted read but it gets its point across very well I think. As a sample from the work I have decided to include a quote from the being who taught Shale some powerful things during their time together.

“Tear away the fat and the woolen coating and you will find a wolf beneath the guise that some men and women wear. Not all waddling herd animals contain a wolf however, so there is always the risk that one might find nothing but simpering bloody meat in this freshly torn carcass. The wolf will be grateful at having been freed from the prison of lies whereas the sheep…well at least now there will be meat for the wolf’s pot.”

The Dark Man


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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