By Jack Wolf

During a conversation last week with a Thornish elder, I was particularly struck by a term he used to describe Thornish people. He referred to us as “Neo-Paleo Tribalists” and of course that really got me thinking: It got me thinking of primitive people living in hide shelters and hunting (or being hunted by) the many megafauna which were present in the Pleistocene age for instance. The picture of hunters, returning victoriously from the hunt to their camps, or aged elderfolk casting oracle bones in caves came also to mind.

I related my thoughts to Master Shale who smiled and commented that this was “not at all” where his line of thinking was coming from.

“Modern history is terribly skewed.” He said simply. “It has been edited and manipulated for generations by various groups of humans who see the obscuration of the truth as being somehow to their profit.”

He went on to tell me how there had been more than a few elders, seers and other wise-folk in his experience who believed that the nature of human development and history was far deeper – and far older than is currently permitted to us by the so-called academic or scientific authorities.

“Human history is not a mere seven or eight thousand years, my brother.” He said. “This is sheer nonsense promoted by a system which is dedicated to propagating selective ignorance in the people. No, the record of what we can call ‘civilized’ humanity is so much longer and deeper than that. It goes back tens of thousands of years…and more… and is so much richer than you might think.”

Shale told me of the many visions he had experienced in his seventy plus years of life in this world, and of the many more experiences he’d had with elders from a great many different tribal cultures. He told me that there was indeed a consensus that people were quite articulate and in many ways quite ‘civilized’ back in the times when the last Glacial Period was ending.

“There were periods of technological development followed by the collapse of civilizations.” He said. “That we in the modern age think that we are the first to invent high tech stuff on this planet is highly arrogant. If you look to the Indian Vedas you will see ample evidence of earlier high technological advancement, as well as at many archaeological sites throughout the world. No, we are just one ‘wave’ of many, and the Old Ones watch to see if we will be the ones who make it to the stars at last.”

Master Shale reminded me that ancient or primal certainly does not necessarily mean ‘savage’ or ‘uncultured.’ He told me that what he meant by ‘neo-paleo’ was that we as Thornish people practice a way of ‘being’ with the world that always seeks the deep roots of spirit and balance and tries not to be colored or otherwise influenced by the permutations… and distractions of the things that are promoted as ‘modern truths’. We try to see the roots-of-the-world and live in a reality which shares many levels of understanding, from the material through to the spiritual and beyond.

“Our way has always been syncretic.” Shale told me. “We have sought the truths of the many worlds through direct contact, through experience and the ritual interactions  which we have. However, over the centuries a lot has been lost due to the depredations of christianity and of course the modern corporate age. We have had to fill in the gaps in our practices and we learn from many sources.”

I thought about the history of our people as I had been taught it and recalled the words of another elder, the late Master Raven, when he said that the Thornish tradition came out of the old Black Talon Society – and that had come from the meeting of Native and Norse/Germanic men on Canadian soil a very long time ago.Culture had been shared then too, but always in a deeply respectful manner.

“But in our ways we always say that we seek the Black Root.” Master Shale said. “And the Black Root, also known as the First Knowledge or the root understandings for humanity, is situated in the ancient times. In order to fully understand the way of these First Teachings we need to reach back in time, in both our practices and our perceptions.”

Master Shale smiled. “And since many primally oriented people see time as ever processing and circular or even spherical, everything that has ever happened and ever will happen is continually in progress – at some point or another in the continuum – the idea of reaching back isn’t as difficult to ponder as most modern people might think.”

Reaching back to the primal is done mostly through meditation and ritual along the Thornish path. We try to keep it simple, so to speak. We talk to the winds and the other elements. We are fast friends with the animals, the insects and many others who share this world with us. We are hard animists in that we see spirit in everything.

We also stay in contact with the ancestors and the many spirits of the land. We honor the Elder Kin who are always connected to the First Knowledge and we wander a kind of wending way as we make our way through life in this world.

As more than a few Thornish people have said, they don’t feel like they belong here, in this time or this place – yet they know that they are here for good reason and its best to make the most of the opportunities we are given.

And so, as Master Shale says, we seek the deep primal truths and we often look for them in the times that modern folk might call the paleo- period, where people were much closer to the land and spirit. So I guess the term Neo-Paleo might fit, yet it is one of many other terms that Thornish people seem to flow into.

We are stewards of the land and the keepers of our own unique ways.

We are here for a reason.



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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