For the Dark Ages Path, see Path of Thorns (V20)

The Path of Thorns is a metaphor for the road to Ascension. The term was first used in the Renaissance and survived as parlance among elder magi.

The Path of Thorns is detailed as leading up a perilous mountain called the Mountain of Enlightenment. On the way, the magus is faced with the brambles on the road: Arrogance, Envy, Fear, Ignorance, and therelike. The Path is surrounded by the Pits of Despair, Pride, Madness and Damnation - fates of those mages that succumb to the Thorns and lose their soul. At the summit of the mountain, the Zenith awaits and the Path of Thorns transforms into the Road of Gold, symbolizing the transcendence of all desires and the reaching of the peak of Ascension.

The journey the mage undertakes on the Path of Thorns is divided into four steps: The Hours of Enlightenment, during which the Mists of Sleep part and the mage Awakens to the Path before him; the Hours of Apprenticeship, during which the magus surrenders himself to the greater knowledge of his Daemon and wiser magi; the Hours of Reckoning, during which the mages struggles to climb the Path against the odds and the Hours of Sovereignty, during which a mage either Ascends or falls into the Pit to embrace the Path of Screams, the treacherous road of the Nephandus. Each Path, however, is unique to the mage who treads it, no two Paths up to the Zenith are alike or tested.