The REAL Dark Side

By Jack Wolf

As most of you know, the latest installment of the Star Wars saga has been unleashed on the public. I haven’t seen it myself yet but from what I have heard it’s a pretty good film, hearkening back in quality to the original three films we all liked so much. But like anything in today’s day and age the marketing and media overload that often accompanies such things can be pretty overwhelming – and at times annoying.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens is no exception to all of this and already I can see the influence it is having – particularly on young folks.

Star Wars, in my view anyway, is a classic tale of the heroes’ journey. It’s the timeless struggle between what some folks might call ‘good’ and ‘evil’. The films were designed to do two things I imagine: To entertain and to make money, something they have certainly been more than successful in achieving.

Still it surprises me in some ways just how much the average person believes in the concepts of good and evil as absolutes – how much people buy into the idea that there are good guys and bad guys and nobody in between.

Just the other day, at a local Starbucks, I was sitting having a coffee when I happened to overhear these young guys talking about the new Star Wars film. These weren’t youngsters mind you; they were big kids – late teens, maybe early twenties. Specifically, and its difficult not to overhear people in a crowded coffee shop, they were discussing the Dark Side of the Force as portrayed in the films. The thing here, is that from their tone they were speaking as if what they knew from the films was reality; that there really is good and evil – and they thought it was “waaaaaay cooler” to be on the evil side; the Dark Side.

I will admit that I can see the fascination people might have with the ‘bad guys’ of the movie. After all they have cool names, dress all in black and have those neat powers and lightsabers…. But it is important for people to know that these things are all fantasy. And to be sure, some folks really don’t seem to be aware of the demarcation between what is fantasy and what is of a more ‘real’ nature. Perhaps it’s a sign of our times that the bad guys are admired, the good guys are seen as not-as-cool and the neutral characters are rarely referenced.

I personally will admit to being a great admirer of the Star Wars films. I was a bright-eyed, bushy tailed youngster of about 16 years of age when the first film released in May of 1977. I was caught up in the spectacle and the interplay of the heroes versus the villains and the magic that George Lucas and his team brought into the world that summer has been with me, as it is with many others, ever since.

However, as I grew older I came to understand that not all in the world is polarized and that its not all as simple as ‘good’ versus ‘evil’ after all. Hey maybe it would be easier for everyone if this obvious demarcation between white hats and black hats was the case, but I have come to know that its not so simple.  As I entered the Pagan world and more specifically, the Thornish world I grew to fathom the reality of the world in a much different way than many of my contemporaries did. I was shown that in fact there are really no such things as black and white; good or evil in the world – that it was all a large canvas consisting of a great many shades of grey, with a few splashes of extreme contrast here and there – but no cut and dried good or evil.

Thornish people see human beings as being largely neutral in attitude and psychological or even moral alignment. Most just want to live happy lives and tend to their families. There are extremes along this spectrum of course – the positive and not so positive – yet we see these as being either folks who are either in more advanced stages of awakening, or who have descended into states of mental or spiritual illness.

During my training I was taken a step further than this, beyond the idea that human beings could be so easily categorized; that nature herself in all of her aspects could be so simply and conveniently labelled. I came to know that indeed there is a Dark Side, but it is not the same as it is so often depicted in stories.

To Thornish people the Darkness is the ultimate source of power. It is the source of life and all things that we have come to know in our current reality. The light is simply a way that the multiverse from time to time chooses to highlight things that have already been created by darkness.  I once heard a saying not long ago that I found quite interesting:

“Light travels at blinding speed, over 300 thousand kilometers per second, yet when it arrives at its destination, wherever it goes, it always finds darkness there, waiting for it.”

Yes. This is an aspect of the nature of Darkness. It is everywhere. It is timeless and seemingly…endless. Thornish folk see it as a sacred source and something to be embraced with great respect and love. To us the darkness is not a place for monsters, or things we should fear; it is a place where all things begin and all things ultimately end. Indeed, one of Thornish culture’s most sacred icons is an avatar known as Doqqa Mor, or the Dark Mother. She is a symbol of a personification of the darkness; of the source of life. She is also seen as a psychopomp – or one who bears the spirit after the expiration of the physical body. She is revered and much loved by Thornish people, never feared or reviled.

Thornish tradition does indeed depict the Darkness as a place of power and of ‘enlightenment’ – or should it be ‘endarkenment’. It is not a place where one acquires strength for nasty purposes (or taking over the galaxy), but instead where one might develop and grow further as a person and a contributor to the sacred balance of nature.

 

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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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