Releasing ourselves

By Jack Wolf

These days I hear the world tribal bandied about quite a lot in the Pagan community. I especially hear this term used more and more in the heathen community. From the context in which I have heard the world tribal the most I am given to wonder whether most people actually know the true meaning of the world.

A man who graciously took the time to instruct me once, told me that in order for a person to find their way back to the tribal fires, one first needed to:

Fervently desire a return to tribe

To educate oneself – and be educated by others if possible – about the meaning of tribe.

The learn to think like a tribal person.

To dream like a tribal person.

And to live like a tribal person.

“If you want to take the journey to the tribal fires you need to go all the way. There should be no stopping part way along because if you do that you will become a pathetic and deluded creature. Returning to the old circles of the ancestors requires full dedication, not witless musing.”

– Jeremy Black

To ‘be’ tribal one must think as a tribalist. One must strive to BE a tribalist in every way; on every level. This is certainly not easy in today’s age, as most of us were not raised in a tribal way and have had to fight our way ‘back’ as it were. I have noticed along my journey that most pagan people stop only a portion of the way towards becoming truly tribal. many simply gloss over the abrahamic indoctrination of their youth (or the indoctrination of the modern media) and for some perverse reason seem to want to call this spiritual and mental half-measure a tribal way.

Such a thing is not tribalism. It is not even really Paganism but rather some soul-less hybrid that is very often good for nothing except creating yet another ignorant consumer of overpriced books and trinkets. People who subscribe to this half-measure Paganism are also more likely that others to get caught up in various new age cults or even – in the case of Heathenry or Theodism – may even find themselves witnessing (or complicit to) various ego wars, abuse cycles or even crimes.

Tribes are about gatherings of people who are either related by blood or oath who have dedicated themselves to the old ways. Tribes are about these true relations who are bonded together through experiences and respect and who forge together a lasting circle of honor and yeah, love.

In my opinion and experience, to be tribal takes a lot of work. It takes a metric tonne of letting go; of purging the lion’s share of the materialist and power-driven ego, not to mention a lot of ‘stuff’ (possessions) in physical form. Becoming tribal means seeking out, through ordeal, ritual and will, the old connections not only with the Earth, the ancestors and the spirit people, but also with those other rare human beings with whom you may be fortunate enough to share the tribalist dream. In order for the tribalist to be born, the decadent, possession loving, ego driven, selfish modern day individual must die. From his or her ashes the true self might rise again, no longer imprisoned by a lie, and able to finally walk free.


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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